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thoughts on different RPG game systems


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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.

Started playing D&D before they even added the "A" to it. After a few years I switched to GURPS becuase I loved the flexibility of the system and the huge amount of supplementary material (both crunchy and settings). Fantasy, Horror, Scifi, Superheroes, it can do it all with a mostly common rules mechanic. Unfortunatly, it was always hard to get people used to AD&D into it. Most recently I've started to like Pathfinder. Its a mod of the D&D v3.5 rules but with a lot of the problems fixed. Its much more accessable to D&D players and honestly simpler and easier to run than GURPS.

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I started with the Black eye (das Schwarze Auge) before switching over to D&D 2nd E. I played serveral other Systems (WOD, earthdawn, WEG etc. ) before along the way before moving to GURPS wich I still consider my favorite rulesystem. However like MikeD i had a Hard time getting the Lvl gathering crowd behind the System. So I moved to D&D 3.5 then to Castles & Crusades and now back to D&D 3.5 (again with serveral other Systems along the Way.) secretly i am working on a GURPS campaign after we finish Savage Tide. My rule suggestion would be Castles & Crusades. A really simple system and since its just basiclly a slimmer version of the D&D 3.5 its really easy to move on to 3.5 or pathfinder.

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Most of the reason I, and my cohorts, put up severe resistance to GURPS was because it rendered all our fancy polyhedral dice sets into useless trinkets.


I had my set custom made, and I'll be a pink-skin hooman before I'm gonna trade them out for common 6-siders. My only complaint with the system.

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My group runs a troupe style as well. Every one takes a shot at being a GM and will run a campaign arc for a while. When we've reached a good stopping point, we'll switch games and campaigns. This style lets us try new things and avoid burning out the GM.


Systems I play now:




Legend of the Five Rings

Iron Kingdoms 1ed

Mage the Awakening

Exalted 2ed


Things I have played:

D&D ~ DNDNext

Shadowrun (a couple of different editions including the current)

Rolemaster / Spacemaster

Ars Magica 4ed

Traveller 1ed~5ed

FASA Star Trek

Star Frontiers

(et. al)


But all of that has a huge YMMV on it. The question is, what do you want from a game? Many publishers put out quick-start versions of their game available online or maybe at a convention. Those are really good to get your feet wet to get a feel for the system.


I find Pathfinder to be the best of the DND genre which also satisfies the fist full of polyhedrals urge. GURPS does realistic games be they fantasy, modern or scifi quite well. It doesn't handle the fantastic too well. L5R has really neat mechanics. Exalted is awesome high power fantasy and action, but is a difficult and complex system. Traveller is, well, an aquired taste.

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I only very briefly played the Star Trek FASA RPG, but I always lusted over those tactical combat starship minis. Never got around to actually getting any, though.


It's not quite the same thing, but you can get Star Fleet Battles ships in metal still (how long more I'm not sure). There are also larger ones in plastic, but that hasn't caught my fancy. I still have a couple squadrons to paint in metal....

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I found GURPS lacking for fantasy type gaming, but for cyber netics / modern / and superheroes, my first choice.

I would not say lacking, but it didn't do "epic" fantasy well. Much more gritty (and bloody) than typical D&D stuff. Mostly a matter of taste, I think.


I was going to make a crack about Palladium's superhero rules, but then I remembered the old school Marvel and DC games.

You might want to take a look at Mutants & Masterminds. Its my current favorite Superhero RPG and is a heavy modification of D&D 3.5 so its easy for most people to pick up.

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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?


Those are some pretty hefty questions.


I've been a tabletop rpg enthusiast since I was 12 so as of this Winter we're talking about 30 years of gaming so I've been around since the early days.


I cut my teeth on AD&D but the first set I owned was the Moldvay D&D basic boxed set with the Erol Otis cover. After playing Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh under an older boy who was the DM I quickly assumed the mantle of gamemaster, mostly as a response to the older boy's mistreatment of me when one of his buddies joined us. Not a good experience. Anyways I ran D&D and AD&D for quite a while eventuall broadening interests into Star Frontiers, Runequest, and Villains & Vigilantes. Gamma World 2nd edition and Marvel Super Heroes inevitably caught out attentions as did Pacesetter's Chill and Battletech/Mechwarrior. In my senious year in high school Star Wars D6 swept through our group and made for many entertaining sessions. Rolemaster and Spacemaster were popular as was Middle Earth Roleplay but due to the lethality of the systems campaigns were usually cut short by player deaths.


By college my game tastes had matured to appreciate Shadowrun, Dark Conspiracy, Space 1889, Stormbringer, Toon, Ghostbusters, HERO, Skyrealms of Jorune.


So in college we played a lot of different systems including Dangerous Journeys Mythus and AD&D 2e while flirting with a LOT of other games. Earthdawn caught my eye and I ran a 2 year campaign set in Post Scourge Barsaive.


Nowadays I run Pathfinder with two different weekly groups and D6 Fantasy for my adopted nieces and nephews every few weeks. I run demos at my local game shops: Starblazer Adventures, Shard, Barbarians of Lemuria, Space Master, Dicey Tales, and probably a dozen others depending upon my mood.


If you're asking me to suggest alternatives to D&D 3.X there are plenty of worthy options:


Runequest 6 from The Design Mechanism is a hefty tome but there's lots of fun to be had with the gritty realism. Unfortunately the core book is setting free but that's easily fixed and you can easily set the game in the Forgotten Realms if that's your setting of choice.


Barbarians of Lemuria from Beyond Belief Games is great for sword & sorcery games in the tradition of Conan and Kull. The system is simple and content is very easily modified although I must admit for classic fantasy in the Forgotten Realms you'll have to do some work. Check the Lords of Lemuria forum for one fella's conversion notes.


For simplicity you can't beat Ancient Odysseys Treasure Awaits from Precis Intermedia Group. It's dirt cheap, last time I checked it was under $7.00 and as far as mechanics it's 1d6 + attribute + modifiers.


Earthdawn is available again, it recently changed hands from Mongoose Publishing/Redbrick back to FASA. Earthdawn is neat, it's set in a post haulocaust fantasy world with elves and dwarves but also lizard men, rock men, orcs, and trolls and diminutive windlings. Best of all everybody uses magic even warriors and rogues.


There are other systems, I'll check my shelves when I get home.



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I've played many RPG's my current group plays Pathfinder. I don't really like it but I run with it since it's what they like. I've been playing some Dark Heresy online, and the more I play the more I like it.


D&D 2nd and up to me all suffers from an extreme lack of combat realism. Not only that it doesn't differentiate between hard to hurt, and hard to hit. They should remove armor from the AC calculation. Then have it resist damage instead.


Shadowrun is a much better combat system I think. He rolls his skill to hit me, I roll my skill to dodge. The better I dodge the softer he hits if at all. Any damage then goes against my armor.


Dark Heresy he rolls to hit based on his skill. I dodge based on my skill. If I dodge he misses, if I don't he hits then it's damage vs armor and toughness.


Basically both systems have the same effect one uses 6 sided dice the other uses D100. Also being level 22 may make you darn good at what you do. However when you take an axe to the head you take an axe to the head. Hitpoints are fixed, or in the case of Dark Heresy nearly fixed. IE they don't increase with level.


I much prefer these styles of systems over the D20 style with AC and whatnot. However as always it's hard to find a group, and harder to find one playing the system you like most.


As always finding a good GM/DM is the hardest thing no matter the group. Typically to me the DM's job is to be the AI behind the world the players are interacting with. However most twist the rules, and try to force the players down a given path. Which inevitably leaves the players feeling cheated.

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However most twist the rules, and try to force the players down a given path. Which inevitably leaves the players feeling cheated.

I've done a bit of GM'ing over the years, although it sounds like you have much more experience in that role than me. I think this statement, however, is rather conditional.


For example, unless you are playing an entirely create-on-the-fly, totally random campaign, you have to at least to some extent force players down the pathway you have developed for them. You might have multiple pathways developed to try and be ready for the players to react differently, but you can't anticipate every possible choice they make.


I try and be creative with my steering, but sometimes I just get to the point where I just run out of time/ideas/patience and either present them with an insurmountable obstacle, or an endless expanse of empty landscape until they turn around and get back on track.


As far as twisting the rules, I consider RPG rules no more than rough guidelines for play. If slavishly following a rule is going to destroy the player's enjoyment of the game or totally derail a campaign, I have no problem fudging die roles or ignoring prescribed results and just making things up to make the game more fun and enjoyable. I think knowing when to go with the roles, and when to take control, are the marks of a really good GM.


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Driving the players around is ok but you must lay out the road, and let them drive down it. If you take the wheel from them they will quickly get bored or frustrated. Also never ever rob a players of his abilities. IE you have a Rogue who's great at finding traps. You don't make it so he can't find them even with a score of 30+. You don't simply remove all the traps. You let him find the traps, you let him disarm the traps. He's happy because he's a rogue, and thats his job.

You have to provide the entertainment the key to a good quest/adventure is like a good movie. Each character needs to feel he has a purpose. An example let's say you have a Rogue, a Wizard, a Cleric, and a Fighter in your party. Whats a good obstacle for them? Is it putting impossible to find traps in front of them? No because the Rogue is awesome at finding traps, and he's going to get real bent about the 3rd time he steps on a trap after rolling a 30+.

The Wizard well he's into magic give him something magical to do. The Cleric is not the party's nurse maid either. He's the guy who wants to smite some undead, and the warrior wants an epic battle facing insurmountable odds. So you have to force them down a path logically, and willingly, and without bending the rules against them.

And don't make their purpose World of Warcraft. Here comes the monster...The Warrior tanks, the cleric heals, the rogue does dps once the monster is occupied, the Wizard slings spells, etc.

No the Warrior holds off the goblin horde while the Cleric heals him, and takes on any that slip past. The rogue scales the wall to reach the mechanism to open the door. As the rogue climbs goblins start climbing in through a hole in the ceiling. The wizard goes to work holding them off the Rogue. etc.


It's okay to fudge rolls your job is to tell a good story, and entertain them. Don't present a locked door, with no way of opening it, and make them RP bashing through it soaking up an hour. (True story). Might have been interesting if baddies were coming after them or something, but no it's just locked. Have fun chopping wood. lol


Got some power character to deal with he's making it too easy, and to challenge him might kill someone else who's not a twinkie? Simple the one trap the rogue fails to find, that guy finds it and falls down a super dungeon slip n' side. The party has to find another way to get to him. He's on his own now you can challenge the twink. Heck nearly kill him if you want, then let the other players finally come in and save him. Haha! We saved the twink!! Now his uber warrior will stop smack talking everyone.

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