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thoughts on different RPG game systems

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Heya folks,

I haven't ever really played rpgs aside from Baldur's Gate on the computer.

I currently have the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for 3.0 cause I like the Forgotten realms.


What i am trying to gauge is the general overview of the different fantasy systems.

What do you play? Why did you choose it over another?



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Well, the new updated Baldurs Gate is coming out in November (unless those bastards delay it again). That will by my "RPG" of choice for a while.


But for pen and paper, I've not played in quite a while. But I'm very excited about the Pathfinder rules and World. Hoping to start a game with some friends the first of next year.

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HoooooOOOooooo boy. Here's a subject that'll start fights.


I have played D&D 2e, 3e and 3.5e, using several different campaign settings in each. I have also played World of Darkness (the older stuff like Vampire:the Masquerade), Shadowrun, Deadlands, a variety of d20 system (modern, Star Wars, etc), Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Alternity, Rifts, and a few others.


All my group's current games use the D&D3.5 rules, and we're pretty happy with it. There are a few house rules we throw in, but nothing that really changes the fundamental aspects of 3.5. From what I understand, Pathfinder is very similar to 3.5 (it's billed as the continuation of 3.5, since much of the fandom loathes 4e), and I love the look of some of their adventure paths, but I've never actually looked at the crunch of their ruleset.


Why do we play 3.5? Here's a list.


>A large part is because we've been playing it for over a decade at this point and inertia is strong.


>The DMs in our group have looked at the 4e rules and don't like them enough to change.


>D&D supports the kind of fantasy world we want to play in.


>The system is restrictive enough to breed some creative worldbuilding, but flexible enough to allow house rules without destroying the game.


>The gameplay style of the rules (and of the DMs; this is important) supports our players who want lots of roleplaying and social challenges as well as the players who just want hacky-slash killemall adventures. We have both in our group (and some severe munchkinning on both sides of that line), and everyone is pretty happy with the balance we've struck. This is a wierd one, though, because a lot of it is on the DM, not so much on the game system itself.


Why do we not play other systems? Well, again this is mostly inertia, but we are about to start a Fudge-based game in the Firefly 'verse. So why not other things?


>Other systems may be too restrictive. Rifts, World of Darkness and Deadlands are all fine games, but their rulesets are firmly entrenched in their worlds. It'd take a lot of tweaking to houserule the WoD system into a steampunk setting, for example. If nobody wants to tell a wierd wild west story, there's no reason to play Deadlands.


>Some systems encourage a style of gameplay we don't want. I've read through the core rules for 4e and it felt too much like an MMO for my tastes, and the other DMs in my group and I all felt that it put too much emphasis on kick-in-the-door-and-kill-it-whatever-it-is playing. My usual line about 4e is that "it looks like a fine game, but I don't think it's D&D." Which is funny if you think about it, since the original rules were very focused on killemallantaketheloot. Regardless, not for us.


What it boils down to, really, is try a few different things and find one you like. If you want a wide open, high-fantasy game that has a lot of options, 3.5/Pathfinder works great. Other folks will say the same for 4e. Some will tell you GURPs is the way to go (but they're insane :;): ). Read the core rulebook for a few different things and pick one.

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These kinds of topics have a tendency to degenerate into edition wars :down: hope we can keep this civil.


I currently play Pathfinder because I mostly played 3rd edition & 3.5 edition D&D and Pathfinder is basically that with improvements. I tried 4th edition D&D and didn't like it at all. One of the guys in my Pathfinder group likes it, the rest either don't or are new players and haven't really had the opportunity to try it. One of the new guys has only been playing 2 years and he's into retro stuff (Red box D&D and Labyrinth Lord) much more than 4th edition.


I also like Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium. I'll play old school D&D or retro clones. About the only thing I won't play RPGwise is 4th edition D&D.


You asked why I play the current game. I compare everything I play to "3rd edition" (by that I currently mean Pathfinder) and usually find them lacking. When i convinced our group to try the D&D next playtest, they participated. After the first night they basically said "it's OK but why would we give up Pathfinder for this?" I had no sensible answer and we haven't played it since.


I expect Pathfinder to fill most of my fantasy RPG needs for the next couple of years at least. Call of Cthulhu will fill in the Pulp/Horror gaps and we're looking at Fantasy Flight's Star Wars beta for a bit of Sci Fi action soonish.

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it really depends on how crunchy you like your rules, some are light (savage worlds) some are medium (D&D 3.5) and some are crunchy (Rolemaster), do you like point buy (Fantasy Hero) or random roll (Warhammer FRP), high fantasy or low. the reason there are so many rules is there are so many different variations on how people want to play.


That being said...

High fantasy, I stick with 3.5 cause that is the one I know

Sword and sorcery: Barbarians of Lemeuria.

Pulp, Westerns and Espionage: Ive decided to make my own system based off of Cyberpunk 2020, with bits of Adventure!, Hollow Earth Expedition and d20 Call of Cthulhu thrown in.

Horror: d20 CoC or Mayfair's Chill

Cyberpunk: Cyberpunk 2020

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I was sort of in the same situation, i had always wanted to pick up and try a pen/paper game but never really got around to it. I found a group about a month ago and jumped into pathfinder and i love it... Since its my first pen/paper game i don't have much to comment on the rules.

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Well I started playing pen and paper with WoD stuff like Vampire and Werewolf and they were fun, then we played 3.5 a few times before the group went separate ways. But the group I am with now plays 2E DnD almost exclusively due to having just about every book they ever printed. Although now we are looking into trying out the pathfinder system just to have a change of pace. But really you just have to find the mechanics you like and then adopt whatever source material from other settings/editions.

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Well, since the topic was originally on FANTASY, I'll try to leave sci-fi out of the equation, but...


My personal preference is toward games that facilitate use of miniatures, and -- even better -- which have fairly simple and fast mechanics for quick resolution.


* Of the various versions of D&D / d20, I think 3.5 probably worked best for me, provided that I stuck just to monsters and treasure items and such straight out of the book, and steered well clear of the various third-party d20 add-ons as a matter of general principle. (There was some good stuff out there, but I ran into some pretty imbalanced stuff, too -- and a bad precedent was set when my players felt free to pick up some shiny new d20 third-party hardcover at the game store and expect to use the new spells, Feats, Prestige Classes, etc., in my campaign because it's in PRINT, so it must be okay.) If I ever go back in this direction, I'll probably check out Pathfinder.


* Advanced HeroQuest will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first fantasy game system (even if it's nominally a "board game") that pushed things in that direction. With a few house rules, and with a GM moderating instead of deferring to tables to make every decision, I found this game (from Games Workshop circa the mid-1990s) to be perfect for "quick pick-up" games at conventions, and also for short campaigns. (It started to fall apart with longer campaigns, as character improvement had a definite cap, and there were long-term power balance issues.) My job as a GM was fairly simple, because there were so few rules, and outside of basic combat, a great deal depended quite simply on the GM making a spot decision, rather than hunting through a collection of books to find some obscure rule.


* Savage Worlds is my current system of choice, as it's very miniatures-friendly, fast-paced, and makes my job very easy as a GM. It's not perfect, as there are certain points at which things get clunky if you use the rules-as-written, but it's the most painless "generic" system I've played so far.

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Preferred systems:


Fantasy Hero (customizability plus the fact that it's far easier to knock someone out than to kill him)


Seventh Sea (brilliant disadvantage system, very cinematic design, though the world is pretty wonky)


RuneQuest, by preference 2nd ed.(Best BRP implementation, IMO, with a fascinating world and good mechanics to support players and GM)


What I play:


Pathfinder (GCD, and it's the most usable D&D version)

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Thanks for the insights so far.

I am thinking classic fantasy similar to BG is what I would like, although I could jump into a steampunk type thing as well.

Could I pick up Forgotten realms 3.0 and 3.5 books and use them together or is there too much of a difference?

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I got a bunch of FR books for 3. & 3.5 that I've been meaning to get rid of. If you want to off board we can discuss details. (only thing missing is the Player's Book (pretty sure it's the 3.5 one) & that one went to Marie @ RCon this year ^_^ ). Really there isn't that much difference between the 2. Pretty much they updated FR to the 3.5 ruleset. They do add some nice options for FR gaming thou. Just don't get 4.0 version of FR :angry:::(: (Wizard pretty much nuke it)


I find myself with just 2 systems these days. Pathfinder (essentially D&D 3.75 if you want to put it that way) & Swords & Wizardry, which is a OD&D ruleset (original D&D rules). I grew up on a bunch of rpgs rulesets but D&D will always be my favorite & such.



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Thanks for the insights so far.

I am thinking classic fantasy similar to BG is what I would like, although I could jump into a steampunk type thing as well.

Could I pick up Forgotten realms 3.0 and 3.5 books and use them together or is there too much of a difference?

I started with Talislanta way back in the day, went to 2ed d&d and have moved into the 3.5. The main diff between 3.0 and 3.5 from what I can tell is some clarifications. Almost like they rushed to get 3.0 out and didn't have someone edit the books......so they released a 3.5 to do so. I believe they are pretty much complimentary. The biggest piece of advice that most RPGers will probably give is, the rules are a good guideline, the gaming experience should be fun and enjoyable. Honestly, IMO......that's why there are so many "house" rules if you will. Something doesn't seem right? Tweak it a bit...."tweaked too much?? Tweak it down a notch. It should be enjoyable for each party member. Key is a good DM......... 8-)

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Hmmm What I play:

(take into consideration that the group I play with rotates DM's 1 each sunday of the month, then restarts in the new month, some games have been going for years)

*1st Ed D&D

* Basic D&D

* 2nd Ed D&D

* 4th Ed D&D

* Rifts (with Champions rules/character buildings)

All chosen because the fit the style and preferences of the DM in question. All of the games have their strengths.

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I think Edition Wars are silly and pointless. I mean, nobody burned the old books. They're still out there to be had. The game's about imagination anyway - all anybody needs is a player's handbook, a dm guide, and a book of monsters. All else is fluff.


That said, I play 2nd Edition. As mentioned above, inertia is a factor. I've been playing 2E for 23 years, and my group has played it for 23 years. We know this system, and we've fixed its flaws by now. It's instinctive, and that lets us roleplay better. But even if you go back to when 3rd came out, well - with collectively over $5,000 (possibly double that) invested in books what reason did we have to invest in a whole new system? None, when what we had was working.


Though we do like to joke that THAC0 weeds out the weak.


Maybe 3.5 is awesome. Maybe it's dog puke. I don't know, and I don't care. 2nd does everything I need it to do, and over 20 years of playing we've never run out of freshness and new things to do. Hell, I never even played a thief until six months ago. Still haven't played a druid.


Anyway, I'm told D&D Next will be going back to old school play. This may be worth keeping an eye on, I've heard a lot of chatter that 4th isn't so great. If you don't want to wait but still want access to freshness, then 3.5/Pathfinder might be the way to go. If you want a ton of books on the super incredible cheap? 2nd Edition. I could go out tomorrow and get every single one of the Player's Handbook supplements near mint for under 50 bucks. Heck, I could probably get most of them for free.


But if you're playing with thirders, you might have to handhold them through THAC0 for a little while. :devil:

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Well, I have read through Swords and Wizardry and it looks like fun. I think a lot of "old school" seems to be about description, and perilous exploration by the player, through the locus of the character.


I also just received the Goalsystem Delves PDF and it looks like a great miniatures skirmish RPG hybrid, a bit meatier than Heroquest but still very "boardgame flavoured" which I like. It should also handle small squads advancing in experience, and does handle small straight-up skirmish battles. Very excited about this one, it ticks all my boxes. Now to find out if what I want is really what I want, heh.


If you want a game with a fair number of rules but which plays well and supports political games - including advancing as a politician, or as a merchant - have a look at Burning Wheel.

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