There’s a game in the back of my mind that I tinker with whenever I need a mental break from another project. It’s a palette clenser, something that exists to allow my subconscious to work on more pressing matters while I relax. The downside is that, while actually trying to move forward on those more pressing matters, my subconsious is working on a game.
It’s a Frankenstein project, taking and cutting parts from versions of D&D until I have some platonic ideal of the perfect Dungeons and Dragons edition – at least for me. It pulls from OD&D and the Rules Cyclopedia, retroclones, 3rd edition era tweaks and third party revisions (ie, Pathfinder and Trailblazer), chunks of 4th Edition (my personal favorite of all D&D), and even from 5E. I doubt it will every be “finished”, doomed to exist only as a series of Markdown files culled from SRDs and random notes. Unless, of course, I ever decide to stop being just a D&D player and move back to DMing. Which would mean replacing my annual short Traveller game with SHEDD, a Seriously Houseruled Edition of D&D. It’s certainly easier to compile nice-looking PDFs now, with GMBinder and Homebrewery.
Oddly, D&D is the only RPG I ever really feel like messing around “under the hood”. When I play Traveller, I rarely use house rules. It’s more likely that I’d just cut large swaths of rules I don’t use rather than replace or adjust them. It’s the same for Savage Worlds, Mutants and Masterminds, even Fate. Fate especially, since I don’t see it as a generic ruleset but mostly use the rules as redetermined by the setting (ie, using Atomic Robo for Action Science games, and Diaspora for Hard Science games, and not mixing the two).
At the end of the day, I consider it just a fun mental puzzle to take 45+ years of rules, ruling, guidelines and experiences and distill that all down to what makes D&D feel like D&D for me. That particular devil’s brew of nerd gumbo (there’s an image!) won’t be palatable to make folks, I’m sure. Then again, we can always just sit down and play whatever edition suits the group best, whether 4E or Basic, OD&D without supplements or 5E and all the trimmings. There’s things to love and things to complain about in all of them.