Advice on a nice RP-focused roleplaying game

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Scarab Sages

Since you mentioned the cinematic Unisystem (Buffy), you might want to try the full blown unisystem, available for free in the form of the witchcraft game.

Sorry, my experiences make me disagree with you. I play and played not only D&D/Pathfinder, but many other games, from WodD to Shadowrun, BRP/CoC, Unisystem, Amber, etc. I've always found the amount of roleplaying dependent on the presentation of the game by the GM, the mood of the players and the characters created.
Recently we play Rise of the Runelords, and entire sessions are taken by (in player) discussions of harrow readings, socializing wit/learning from NPCs at social events (like the farewell a varisian bard took from her family and her receiving her karpenia), researching and retelling the history of the chopper), no doors kicked in, no monsters slain. I have yet to hear someone tryning to bend his characters development from what developes through the game to achive "system mastery".

feytharn wrote:

Sorry, my experiences make me disagree with you. I play and played not only D&D/Pathfinder, but many other games, from WodD to Shadowrun, BRP/CoC, Unisystem, Amber, etc. I've always found the amount of roleplaying dependent on the presentation of the game by the GM, the mood of the players and the characters created.

We are, for the most part, agreeing. Remember my discussion about the Venn diagram?

The game you get is the intersection of all three:

What the rule system rewards.
What the GM rewards.
What the players enjoy.

When a gaming group is newly fledged, the most important of these is what the rule system rewards, because it's the point of commonality. As the players get more comfortable with the group dynamic, the other two circles do expand - and with the right GM and group, you get a situation where, yes, "Roleplaying just happens."

I find that whenever I talk to someone who says "System doesn't matter, roleplaying just happens..." they have a number of common experiences:

1) They've played something other than D&D/Pathfinder, and had a positive experience with it.
2) They tend to run shorter campaigns.
3) They usually have a stable roleplaying group, or two groups, at most, and those groups have played together for at least two years, if not a decade.
4) They self select for compatible play styles - people who don't meet the predominant play style focus of the group self select and leave.

I am also not saying one style of play is superior to the other - storytelling games and linear adventure games are both fun! I play and run both!

I also tend to favor simpler game engines all the way through.

Scarab Sages

That we indeed agree on. I guess I just misread some of the post you wrote - and I completely missed you mentioning a ven diagram...I guess that is what I deserve for posting after 30h without sleep ;).

One thing from my experience: Point 3 makes the "roleplaying just happens" part easier, but if a group of players with a compatible play style (either by pre chosing through known criteria or by dumb luck) can make point 3 unnecessary - as I experienced with several short campaigns with predominantly unknown groups.

Also, I tend to run rather long campaigns with my regular group, though I take pains to take breaks hither and then, playing something different while preparing the next part (also helps me to keep trying interesting RPGs new to me).

Scarab Sages

I know it's been a while but so glad to read all this feedback I've missed. I'm favoriting this thread.


I found Mystic Empyrean. It looks really interesting. 60$ though, (plus 10 more on top of that if you're going to buy the essential balance cards that decide everything about the game) so pricey, but I might be getting it.

Legends of Anglerre looks fantastic. I don't mind the stats of SoF but could do without them.

Looking through this again got me going on looking them all up again because it's really hard to decide but a lot of this insight from you all has helped so greatly! Thank you tons

All my best

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For free. If you need a book Shawshbucklers of the 7 Skies.

Older versions of the PDQ system include alternative magic systems
Questers of the Middle Realms
Jaws of the Six Serpents
The Zorcerer of Zo

These games are for people who think FATE is too crunchy.

Scarab Sages

Thanks CourtFool. I just checked those out. Jaws of the Six Serpents & Z of Z look amazing. Looking at the basic PDQ system pdf before I buy. Thanks!! Have you played either of these systems?

I have run exactly one Truth & Justice (PDQ for Supers) game and one PDQ# game that was based on the Serenity system.

I was not entirely happy with how attacking multiple opponents in PDQ was handled. There has been some tweaking in PDQ# and I think it would work better for my preferred style of game which is more cinematic than realistic.

The other issue I had that came up in the second game was how to handle languages and/or a broad range of skills. None of the systems I have seen address language and it seems a horrible waste to have to spend one of your Qualities on something that may never come up. One player and I disagreed on whether his Engineer would have an intimate knowledge of Electrical Engineering. I think this could have been addressed with a character background which, through no fault of the players, they did not have time to craft one. I used this session to test a theory I had that I could go from none of the players ever hearing of the system through character creation and up and running in less than an hour. It took about 15 minutes to explain the game and another 30 or so for them to come up with characters. This is one of the best systems to run as a 'pick up' game in my opinion.

Those issues aside, the system worked extremely well. There was very little time spent debating rules and a lot of 'in game' action. Only one player out of either games did not like the system. He was an older gamer and was a big fan of Dragon Quest. Most players were pretty neutral and at least one from each session were enthusiastic about the system. Both said they planned to use the system for one of their own games. I do not know if they ever did.

I believe the biggest paradigm shift for most players will be how damage is handled. There is no Hit Points or Constitution score. When you take 'damage' (and damage can be from social conflicts) you loose Qualities. I have seen a joke around the PDQ discussions that you can get hit in the Basket Weaving. Hit Points are already an abstraction, so I do not mind abstracting damage further, but many may not.

There is not a lot of minutia. The system does not concern itself with five foot steps, attacks of opportunity, blast radius, how many weeks of trail rations you can afford. Simulationist and people who want 'realism' out of their game will feel like they are in free fall. For me, I see this as an opportunity to inject some common sense back into a game where the rules sometimes get in the way. Want to smack someone up close with the haft of a spear? No one needs a feat. It really encourages players to describe their actions, going so far as to reward good narrative instead of punishing it with penalties.

If you have any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them as best I can.

The example I use for PDQ is that you can punch Spiderman in the girlfriend.

I don't like the multiple enemies, or ganging up in S7S either. I haven't really run it any more lately, but I've had some vague ideas for fixes but I haven't had an opportunity to try them yet.

I run a game called Mythender, since the game hasn't been finished/released, I usually have to teach it, including character creation. It takes about 4 hours to run a session, which includes killing a god. It definitely helps you hone your system mastery, read your group faster on what they're enjoying or not, stay within a time slot, etc.

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I would really like to see a PDQ# universal system. I mean, it is already pretty much a universal system, but the terminology needs a more broad based appeal. For instance, instead of Forte and Foibles, something like Advantages and Disadvantages.

I would also like to see PDQ# include super powers and maybe a couple different magic systems. I keep thinking I should try to take a stab at this myself, but I just never seem to have the time.

Shadow Lodge

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Irontruth wrote:
The example I use for PDQ is that you can punch Spiderman in the girlfriend.

I hear the Green Goblin is pretty good at doing that.

Scarab Sages

Hey I checked out those.
I did order Mystic Empyrean & will be getting Legends of Anglerre soonish. So many good things out there haha. I'm trying to see how different it is to straight up Strands of Fate (& I have heard it does fantasy better than the generic SoF system, regarding powers, defining magic, etc.)
Mystic Empyrean seems really designed for its own setting &/aka the settings the group creates. But could be used in a number of ways as well. Really cool concepts.
Also getting Eoris in August. I'll post a review when I have it - seems not many reviews are up.

I looked at a lot of links on the Swashbuckler system you mentioned. I'm not big on swashbuckling, but that's cool to know. Looking more into PDQ. The list grows of things to look at!

Liberty's Edge

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The Burning Wheel is pretty darn good - 600 page book for $25 USD.

KJL wrote:
You might like to look at either Cold City or Hot War, both from Contested Ground (

Yes, though I like Cold City more.

If you like noir style games, look to A Dirty World ( which is a brilliant system mostly using social combat mechanics. It can easily be moved from setting to setting as long as there are bad things happening in the world. I can't recommend it enough. You can also look to Role Playing Public Radio to hear how it plays.

A Wanderers Romance is also out there for free from drivethroughrpg I think, the rules are quick and light but not especially pointed towards role playing beyond not bogging down the book with combat.

I recently purchased Eoris for about 70$. It's a very spiritual roleplaying game, and since I'm a very spiritual person, I'm loving it. I'm amazed at the complexity in it, and the very detailed world (universe) they've created for it. It has a way of seeming transcendent (and transcendence (or exaltation) is one of the main goals of the characters involved), that and the alignment system is much more multifaceted than traditional Dungeons and Dragons... I've always enjoyed alignment-less games. (Arcana Evolved being one of my favorites), even though I sometimes do silly things like reintroduce alignment as a mystical aspect of the universe.

But so far, the books (there are two in the core set), are highly enjoyable. It looks like the website of the manufacturer has gone down, in part though, so they may not be making any further books or supplements for Eoris.

If I may plug my own RPG: Narrative Adventures Made Easy

zabei wrote:

Ars Magica - It sounds fun, but after reading pages & pages of forums, it seems common opinion is that with each edition the Magic system & rules get more complicated. The troupe style could be interesting, but when I GM/ST, I know that not all my friends who are playing will want to play mages. As much as I would want to try it myself, I can't seeing it work with the people who game when I GM.

It is certainly not overly complex. Combat is fairly abstracted and the magic system is a matter of deciding what effect you want to cast and then working from the guidelines to create it.

Troupe style isn't mandatory. I've played in sagas with one Storyguide, and others with one Storyguide and an occasional appearance by one of the other players as Storyguide.

Ars Magica is where the "roll to hit your target number" mechanic was born. The whole medieval history section of the bookstore is your supplement shelf.

Not everyone needs to be playing a magus the way you might be thinking of magus. There are magi who use their magic to augment their armor and weapons but portray themselves as knights. There are crusading magi who hide their effects as they fight to reclaim Spain or the Levant, or Egypt or Southern France. There are those who seek to unite all of Mythic Europe's magi in the Order of Hermes, and those who seek out the lost secrets of antiquity, and those who simply want to keep magical places magic.

With Ars Magica, you get a real sense of the passage of time because the base unit of time for creating things/learning things/completing tasks is a season-- although an adventure might not take a season, and adventures can happen between seasons. We had a game cover 10 years, and I know of many games which have covered decades.

Ars Magica is the stuff. It doesn't talk about how cool it is, because it doesn't need to. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.


I realize Call of Cthulhu was mentioned before but I'll add it again, that and any of the BRP games are to my mind rules-lite, intuitive and don't really reward any type of power-gaming.That said, will agree with other posters the amont of rping is more dependant on the players than the system.

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