Recommend for me a game system


Other RPGs


I'm thinking of putting together a megadungeon-type setting, but I'm not sure what system to use. I love Pathfinder, but combats can take a long time and creating replacement characters (and face it, in a proper megadungeon you're going to need replacement characters) can be problematic at middle levels and up, given the amount of time it takes to craft one and the amount of time it takes to learn to play what you've just crafted. Therefore, I'm looking for something else.

What I want:
* A system with some degree of customizability in characters to allow for, if not system mastery in the 3.x sense, at least some player creativity and choice in character design
* A character creation system that can generate mid-level and up characters efficiently
* A combat system that's got some options beyond "I attack" but is faster than Pathfinder
* A reasonable buy-in cost, since I don't want to spend $300 on books imported from Estonia or someplace (no offense intended to Estonians, I could just as well have chosen Latvia for this example :-D )
* A more-or-less typical fantasy setting; while I'm sure Numenera is great, it's not what I'm looking for

What I do not want:
* A retro-clone; I played the old D&D when it was new and I am under no illusion that it was better than newer incarnations
* Savage Worlds; IME the system isn't robust enough to support a lengthy campaign

What I don't care about one way or the other:
* A d20 system; fine if I have it, fine if I don't
* A point-buy system; ditto

So, does the system I'm describing even exist? Any ideas?


13th age, perhaps?


13th Age would be my recommendation as well.

- Fast Combat
- Low investment (only the core book is published, bestiary and expansion are coming soon)
- Very customizable*
- Simple monsters with a 4e style of encounter design

* In the customization department there are a lot of elements to the game that can be changed to fit your vision. For example, the Icons can be changed to fit the power players of your mega-dungeon. Some the good guys sending in heroes to fix things, others the villains working their nefarious plots. The players then pick relationships with them and help create the story of why they're going into the dungeon.

Not to do with the system, but that gets into one my suggestions for creating player buy in with any game. When you design the dungeon, leave "blank space". Not just on the map, but in the ideas of the story for the dungeon too. Leave room in your plan for the players to give input on the story behind the dungeon, let them add twists that involve their characters. It can do a lot to increase buy in.

It's a concept baked into 13th Age with the icon relationships, the One Unique Thing of each character and their backgrounds.


Another recommendation for 13th Age as a change of pace without requiring a whole new learning curve. If 4E had been more like 13th Age, I may have stuck around. Here is a decent review of the game on RPG.net:

http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/15/15892.phtml


13th Age certainly sounds interesting. Is the system inextricably tied to the setting?

Liberty's Edge

Torchbearer. Crazy awesome dungeon crawling. Check out the GM's screen

D&D 5E. You can see basic character creation for free next month and a full set of basic rules for free in the middle of August. If you buy a PDF of a D&D Next adventure you can get the playtest rules with it right now.

Runequest 6. One book, all the rules. Has dwarves, elves, halflings. And for RQ 6 is "RuneQuest: Classic Fantasy
Rod Leary's excellent guide to traditional dungeon crawling, evoking the halcyon days of fantasy roleplaying's origins, comes to RuneQuest. Rod is adapting his Classic Fantasy rules (first published as an acclaimed BRP monograph) exclusively for RuneQuest 6th edition. This isn't a supplement - it's a complete game specifically tailored to recreating that original dungeoneering experience. Rod's hard at work on the manuscript, and we are anticipating a late 2014/early 2015 release."

Fantasy Hero Complete.

Dungeon World.

HARP Fantasy.

Dungeon Crawl Classics. Not a retro-clone in my opinion and has great adventure support. Can't wait for my boxed set at the end of the year.


Gregg Helmberger wrote:
13th Age certainly sounds interesting. Is the system inextricably tied to the setting?

I wouldn't say "inextricably." The Icons can be unhooked and painted over. Here is one short discussion that may point you in the right direction, Gregg. As always, YMMV.

https://www.pelgranepress.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=1561

Hope you find a system that makes for some summer gaming dungeon romping fun!


Gregg Helmberger wrote:
13th Age certainly sounds interesting. Is the system inextricably tied to the setting?

Yes, but not the way you're thinking. The rules interact with the setting, but in generic and mutable ways.

Icons: these are the powerful individuals who are influencing major events in the game world. If you were playing in Waterdeep, you'd make the masked lords and similar individuals Icons.

Backgrounds: Players create their own backgrounds, and this creates things about the setting. In a recent game my character had Spire Cat +4. What's a Spire Cat? It was a street gang that robbed the houses of the wealthy in the imperial capital. It didn't exist before I made that background.

One Unique Thing (OUT): Each character is unique in some way. Like backgrounds, this creates some sort of truth about the campaign world. My character who was a Spire Cat had the following OUT:

I had been sentenced to death in the arenas, after surviving for several years I was freed by a silver dragon.

Now, prior to my character, we knew there were arenas in the capital city and that no dragon had ever set foot in the arena. But my OUT established a couple of new truths:

1. The arenas are also used as a form of punishment
2. No other person has been pardoned from the arenas (by a dragon).

As a player, I don't make all the determinations about what it means. Like I didn't establish WHY the dragon did it. Maybe he just pitied me, maybe he wants me for something important in the future. Maybe the Emperor told him to do it. I don't know.

So, 13th Age is highly customizable, you can use it for most any generic fantasy setting (it has the standard races of humans, elves, dwarves, etc). You do have to be prepared for players to alter and add their own things to the SETTING, not just their characters though.

Sovereign Court

Man I would love to try some DCC or Dungeon world. Too bad mega dungeon isnt my style.

I have heard 13th age is influenced by 4E but its not a 4.5E by any means. Can some of you fans expand on those thoughts? I had some pretty significant system probelms with 4E but not everything was an issue for me.


Charlie D. wrote:
Torchbearer. Crazy awesome dungeon crawling. Check out the GM's screen

OK, that DM screen is awesome. :-D I don't think I'd ever use it, though, because this will be a Google Hangouts/Rolld20 game. Too bad, because I think my players would get a giggle out of it.

Charlie D. wrote:
D&D 5E. You can see basic character creation for free next month and a full set of basic rules for free in the middle of August. If you buy a PDF of a D&D Next adventure you can get the playtest rules with it right now.

I was thinking about that. I wasn't too impressed during the playtest, but I was looking at it for what it was trying to be: a Pathfinder slayer. It comes up short in that regard, but it there's potential for this application.

Charlie D. wrote:

Runequest 6. One book, all the rules. Has dwarves, elves, halflings. And for RQ 6 is "RuneQuest: Classic Fantasy

Rod Leary's excellent guide to traditional dungeon crawling, evoking the halcyon days of fantasy roleplaying's origins, comes to RuneQuest. Rod is adapting his Classic Fantasy rules (first published as an acclaimed BRP monograph) exclusively for RuneQuest 6th edition. This isn't a supplement - it's a complete game specifically tailored to recreating that original dungeoneering experience. Rod's hard at work on the manuscript, and we are anticipating a late 2014/early 2015 release."

Oddly, one of the systems I'm strongly considering is BRP, and classic Runequest was the progenitor of that. I haven't seen the latest Runequest rules -- are the BRP-derived, or something else?

Charlie D. wrote:
Fantasy Hero Complete.

I was a Hero player for many years before Pathfinder drew me back to D&D. I enjoyed it a lot, but it doesn't have a learning curve, it's got a learning cliff. Once you learn how the whole system works, it's dead easy to play and run, but until you do the whole thing seems random and confusing. Plus I kind of had a falling-out with the guys who ran the company...

Charlie D. wrote:
Dungeon World.

I looked at this one but it's too story-gamer for what I'm looking at. I don't mind story games, but I don't want to dungeon with one.

Charlie D. wrote:
HARP Fantasy.

I confess I know nothing whatsoever about this.

Charlie D. wrote:
Dungeon Crawl Classics. Not a retro-clone in my opinion and has great adventure support. Can't wait for my boxed set at the end of the year.

This one falls into retro-clone for me, though the adventure support is fantastic (if a tad uneven).


Gregg Helmberger wrote:


Oddly, one of the systems I'm strongly considering is BRP, and classic Runequest was the progenitor of that. I haven't seen the latest Runequest rules -- are the BRP-derived, or something else?

From what I understand, RQ6 is by the same authors as Mongoose's RuneQuest II, which in turn was the successor to Mongoose's RuneQuest which was heavily BRP-derived and licensed from and built atop the previous RuneQuest edition.

Another option would be to pick up RQII's successor at Mongoose, Legend (currently only $1 from DTRPG) - which was basically a rebadged RQII with the Glorantha stuff stripped off as they lost the license.


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Matt Thomason wrote:
Gregg Helmberger wrote:


Oddly, one of the systems I'm strongly considering is BRP, and classic Runequest was the progenitor of that. I haven't seen the latest Runequest rules -- are the BRP-derived, or something else?

From what I understand, RQ6 is by the same authors as Mongoose's RuneQuest II, which in turn was the successor to Mongoose's RuneQuest which was heavily BRP-derived and licensed from and built atop the previous RuneQuest edition.

Another option would be to pick up RQII's successor at Mongoose, Legend (currently only $1 from DTRPG) - which was basically a rebadged RQII with the Glorantha stuff stripped off as they lost the license.

I just picked up Legend (because $1) so I will give it a look. It's backwards-compatible with all Runequest II products too, so it would have a lot of support. I'll take a peek at it and see what it's like.


Pan wrote:

Man I would love to try some DCC or Dungeon world. Too bad mega dungeon isnt my style.

I have heard 13th age is influenced by 4E but its not a 4.5E by any means. Can some of you fans expand on those thoughts? I had some pretty significant system probelms with 4E but not everything was an issue for me.

Things taken from 4e:

Recoveries: The individual healing mechanic that's basically a reserve of HP. Most classes only access them after the fight (you can use one per fight, but it gets harder after that) unless you're a healing class, like Cleric of Paladin, who have abilities to allow additional usage during the fight.

Power cycling: The use of at-will, recharge and daily mechanics. Not all classes use these though. For example the Barbarian just uses basic attacks (though rage is a daily ability and can gain some additional ones).

Also, some classes operate differently on these mechanics. Examples:

Wizard: pretty straight forward, you have your selection of spells and you use them.
Sorcerer: They have spells like a wizard, but they also have Breath spells. Once they cast one of these they get to check at the beginning of their turn if it's available again. This is to reinforce the somewhat unpredictable and inherent nature of Sorcerers (they have some other options to help reinforce that as well).
Rogue/Fighter: They don't necessarily use these mechanics, but rather have triggering conditions and natural die results that make abilities available.

A fighter might have two abilities...
1. On a natural odd number (the die result, no bonus) they can increase their critical threat range by 1 (goes away once they crit).
2. On a 16+ they increase their AC by 2.

So if the fighter rolls a 17, he could choose which one happens (only one). But both abilities would still be available for future use.

Milestones: Okay, 13th Age doesn't really use milestones, but they use pacing mechanics inherent to the system for the number of encounters "per day". You have short rests (once per battle abilities are returned and recharge abilities are checked) and full rest (all abilities are gained, can reselect spells/powers).

A "day" is 4 encounters, after the 4th encounter the GM could either allow them to rest for the night, or present some sort of supernatural option that allows the party to recover and keep fighting (a friendly being gives them ambrosia or something). Conversely, the "day" might actually last longer than a day, if you don't care about fudging such things. Also, if the party chooses to rest BEFORE their 4th encounter, the GM is supposed to apply a campaign penalty, like the bad guy achieves part of his evil plot, making it harder to defeat him in the long run.

Every full rest the party gets an incremental advance. You choose to take one portion of next level's benefits, such as the feat, HP, skill bonus, one spell slot (but not the bonus to attacks or defense). On the 4th full rest, you finish the level, gaining whatever bonuses you haven't already.

They don't use XP, but this is the pacing mechanic for how long a level takes, basically 16 encounters (which is pretty close to what it takes if you use CR appropriate encounters in PF). You could of course adjust the number of rests to make leveling faster/slower.

Those are the things I can think of they used from 4E, with some of the twists they applied.

Liberty's Edge

Gregg Helmberger wrote:
Charlie D. wrote:

Runequest 6. One book, all the rules. Has dwarves, elves, halflings. And for RQ 6 is "RuneQuest: Classic Fantasy

Rod Leary's excellent guide to traditional dungeon crawling, evoking the halcyon days of fantasy roleplaying's origins, comes to RuneQuest. Rod is adapting his Classic Fantasy rules (first published as an acclaimed BRP monograph) exclusively for RuneQuest 6th edition. This isn't a supplement - it's a complete game specifically tailored to recreating that original dungeoneering experience. Rod's hard at work on the manuscript, and we are anticipating a late 2014/early 2015 release."
Oddly, one of the systems I'm strongly considering is BRP, and classic Runequest was the progenitor of that. I haven't seen the latest Runequest rules -- are the BRP-derived, or something else?

Here's a link to a

preview

Runequest 6 follows the traditions of earlier RQ. So really close to BRP but with some differences.

Unlike BRP it has hit locations and combat has many options. Special effects happen when an attacker or a defender rolls really well against an opponent. Some examples: Accidental Injury, Bypass Armor, Disarm Opponent, and Pin Weapon.

There are five magic systems. GMs can pick and choose which to use.

Liberty's Edge

If you like BRP Magic World is out as is the first magic supplement. And Classic Fantasy is currently out for BRP (getting updated to RQ 6 later this year or early next year).

Liberty's Edge

marketing blurb and website:

HARP FANTASY
- the new road to High Adventure

Heroes Wanted, No Previous Experience Required. On the Job Training Provided. Flexible Hours. Travel Opportunities. Profit Sharing. Health Plan. You Kill it, you Loot it.

Are you ready for action, excitement and adventure? Then you're ready for High Adventure Role Playing: Fantasy.

HARP Fantasy brings you all the flexibility, simplicity, and drama you crave. HARP Fantasy has everything you love about fantasy role-playing: flexible character creation, exciting combat, critical hits, potent magic and challenging foes.

Drawing upon years of actual play from the fan base, HARP Fantasy is an enhanced version of the original HARP game published in 2003 and 2004, with many improvements to the rules without compromising fast and fun gameplay.

FEATURES

Fast, Exciting Character Creation – choose from nine professions, six races, and seven cultures, and dozens of skills and talents

Combat that leaves you breathless with one roll combat resolution

Truly flexible and dynamic scalable spell system

A bestiary of diverse monsters to challenge any adventurer

A veritable treasure hoard of magic items, mystical herbs and deadly poisons

Rules for fantasy adventuring and guidance on customising the rules to suit your needs

Compatible with HARP SF

Everything you need to play in one book

WEB SUPPORT

A selection of HARP character creation software: Create, update, and print your characters without fuss!

Visit our HARP Vault, a treasure trove of free HARP downloads written by the fans for the fans: new professions, spells, monsters, adventures and more.

Visit the HARP forum. Find other HARP players, get answers to rules questions, or just share your HARP thoughts.

You can find these and much more, at Iron Crown Enterprises.

Your journey into high adventure begins now as HARP is reborn with new sourcebooks, fantastic settings, thrilling adventures and great computer software support. Take your first step into a new world of gaming with HARP Fantasy!

Liberty's Edge

Of all the systems mentioned, I do like RQ 6 the best. Here is a link to the free GM pack which has lots of info.

I like RQ 6 because of the combat, the ways campaigns get designed, and for the cults that PCs can join to learn new magic and skills and gain contacts and influence in the world.

Sovereign Court

Irontruth wrote:
Pan wrote:

Man I would love to try some DCC or Dungeon world. Too bad mega dungeon isnt my style.

I have heard 13th age is influenced by 4E but its not a 4.5E by any means. Can some of you fans expand on those thoughts? I had some pretty significant system probelms with 4E but not everything was an issue for me.

Things taken from 4e:

Recoveries: The individual healing mechanic that's basically a reserve of HP. Most classes only access them after the fight (you can use one per fight, but it gets harder after that) unless you're a healing class, like Cleric of Paladin, who have abilities to allow additional usage during the fight.

Power cycling: The use of at-will, recharge and daily mechanics. Not all classes use these though. For example the Barbarian just uses basic attacks (though rage is a daily ability and can gain some additional ones).

Also, some classes operate differently on these mechanics. Examples:

Wizard: pretty straight forward, you have your selection of spells and you use them.
Sorcerer: They have spells like a wizard, but they also have Breath spells. Once they cast one of these they get to check at the beginning of their turn if it's available again. This is to reinforce the somewhat unpredictable and inherent nature of Sorcerers (they have some other options to help reinforce that as well).
Rogue/Fighter: They don't necessarily use these mechanics, but rather have triggering conditions and natural die results that make abilities available.

A fighter might have two abilities...
1. On a natural odd number (the die result, no bonus) they can increase their critical threat range by 1 (goes away once they crit).
2. On a 16+ they increase their AC by 2.

So if the fighter rolls a 17, he could choose which one happens (only one). But both abilities would still be available for future use.

Milestones: Okay, 13th Age doesn't really use milestones, but they use pacing mechanics inherent to the system for the number of encounters "per day". You have...

Sounds like they kept the combat as sport mentality but ditched the blanket AEDU. When im looking for a classic old school dungeon crawl this isnt what im hoping for. Sounds like a nice alternative though for folks who want a lighter system than 4E/PF.


Combat has always been sport in D&D based games.

And no, 13th Age is not a retro clone. The OP asked for NOT retro-clones.

Sovereign Court

Irontruth wrote:
Combat has always been sport in D&D based games.

There are some playstyle definitions on the net im using. Combat as war and combat as sport are just a couple of different perspectives.

. wrote:
And no, 13th Age is not a retro clone. The OP asked for NOT retro-clones.

Yeah thats my bad. I high jacked the thread to talk about 13th age and my own perspectives. /thread jack


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Well, I was going to recommend Savage Worlds until you nixed it.

I'm a big fan of GURPS, but mainly for modern-day play. Its magic system leaves much to be desired.

FATE comes to mind as a possibility. I've only played it twice, but it might be what you're looking for.

Another alternative is Pathfinder, but stripping out the tactical combat rules. Run the combats more abstract, without minis. This will make a more free-form, old-school gaming experience. You'll need to compile a list of feats that wouldn't be applicable, so your players wouldn't take them.


D&D Next


If you like to romp through a,dungeon, Dragon age is great
Fast play, easy to learn, very robust pc's.!!, no clerics!

Sovereign Court

thenovalord wrote:

If you like to romp through a,dungeon, Dragon age is great

Fast play, easy to learn, very robust pc's.!!, no clerics!

isn't it only level 1=5 and you have to keep buying more supplements to keep going?

Shadow Lodge

Irontruth wrote:
And no, 13th Age is not a retro clone. The OP asked for NOT retro-clones.

Nor is DCC.


DCC seemed okay. I played one of the character funnels, which was fun.

My survivor ended up a cleric and the first spell I picked was bless, which was like 5 pages long. I immediately lost interest in playing at that point. There are neat concepts, but I don't want to HAVE to reference the book every single time I cast a spell.


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I'm going to be running this in an online format (Google Hangouts/rolld20) and, crucially, in short sessions (2-1/2 hours) every two weeks, so I want something quick and clean even for long battles. I'd love to run it in GURPS because that has exactly the gritty combat feel I'd enjoy implementing, but it's way too crunchy for what I can do in this format.

I picked up Legend (for one American dollar, no less) and it looks like it will serve. Pretty much anything BRP-based runs smoothly, and I think it will do what I need it to do. Plus there's so much support for it out there, given that I can yank anything RuneQuest into it.

So thanks everyone who participated in this thread. I really appreciate all the advice.

Liberty's Edge

You may also want to add in RuneQuest Essentials. It is Pay What You Want so you can get some extras for Legend for a good price.


I looked into Magic World as a BRP fantasy alternative to Legend/Runequest. Unfortunately, the book is so poorly organized that I can't recommend it.


Gregg Helmberger wrote:

What I do not want:

* A retro-clone; I played the old D&D when it was new and I am under no illusion that it was better than newer incarnations

This is curious to me, because several retro-clones appear to me to fit your listed criteria quite closely. It seems you noticed as much as well, which is presumably why you felt the need to explicitly exclude them.

That leaves me wondering what your other criteria are? What is it that 13th age offers (for you) that, say, Labyrinth Lord doesn't? That is -- in your own words -- what makes the advantages of 13th age less "illusory"? Specifying those other hidden criteria might help drive the discussion towards the best suggestions for you.


Irontruth: DCC Spells are exactly one page long because of the skill based casting where you get bigger result with higher roll. The base assumption of the game is that randomness/unpredictability of the result is funny, which results in referencing the book often. This could be houseruled out though IMO, so that the description is two sentences.


Zmar wrote:
Irontruth: DCC Spells are exactly one page long because of the skill based casting where you get bigger result with higher roll. The base assumption of the game is that randomness/unpredictability of the result is funny, which results in referencing the book often. This could be houseruled out though IMO, so that the description is two sentences.

I don't own the book. The little bit I played didn't amaze me enough to want to buy it and modify it for my purposes. There are games that I like better, so I'd rather modify those.

I'm sure other people like the game and I don't fault them for it. I personally like Dungeon World or 13th Age better.


13th probably is better ballanced system and is really fun to GM. DCC is a random fest and it was fun just to let things flow. If there was a thing I'd love to have there itwould be some system table to see how to make creatures and traps on the fly with more predictable results. DW is entirely different kind of beast IMO. It isn't this dice dependent, like many of the old school games are.

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