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Webhead
07-29-2008, 12:58 PM
D&D is the epitome of sword-and-sorcery fantasy RPGs. It is the oldest, most developed and most popular fantasy RPG out there. It is responsible for the genesis of the very hobby as it exists today.

But...what are some of the other RPGs that people have played and really enjoyed as an alternate "game engine" for running heroic, sword-and-sorcery fantasy adventure games?

I'm currently researching options for running games in that style without using the D&D (or d20) game system itself.

So tell me, what are your favorite non-D&D (non-d20) sword-and-sorcery RPGs?

michaeljearley
07-29-2008, 01:24 PM
Rifts and Shadow Run, though not exclusively sword and sorcery, more tech and sorcery.

Not counting those, what do you mean not D&D, there are others?

MortonStromgal
07-29-2008, 01:55 PM
As a Direct Replacement for D&D

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition... It does everything I want and includes a wonderful world to explore. The basic book is all you need to play and is written for 2st time GMs and players.

In the main book you get
50 professions
50 advanced professions
Completely optional minis rules
Chaos Magic
Introductory to the Empire
Basic Bestiary of the Empire
An introductory adventure


As a game where I can still use my 3.X books

Mongoose Runequest, conversion is pretty simple. Its also OGL and has an SRD.


When I want a good sword fight

The Riddle of Steel, awesome fencing options but not rules light by any means.


When I want the story driven by character goals

Burning Wheel is a system I think every GM should buy and read. Its up to you if you want to play it or not. nWOD and SR 4 were heavily influenced by the mechanics. Regardless one of the best written RPGs I've seen from a GMs perspective.

MortonStromgal
07-29-2008, 02:06 PM
When all else fails
GURPS you can do 100% of things out there 80% good with GURPS

Valdar
07-29-2008, 02:16 PM
GURPS. I played GURPS fantasy through the time period covered by D&D 2e.

The two gotchas for GURPS are first, you have to impose your own limits on what the players can do, otherwise certain combos will become too good, and everyone will look the same (fencing mage, for instance), or with no guidelines, the party will be a menagerie. If I were to play GURPS again, I'd want to take a top-down approach for starters, determining what kind of party I want to run a game for, and then set limitations from there.

The second problem with GURPS is that the combat is very simulationist, in that a few good whacks with a sword will kill just about anyone, and everyone's only a few missed defense rolls from unconsiousness. Armor is all too necessary, and anyone going without had better find someone to hide behind when the going gets rough.

I guess the above can go for any generic system- start by thinking about what sort of characters you'd like to see (how many of the party are mages, how common are non-humans like elves, or even out-there characters like intelligent animals or vampires or such), and what sorts of things you want to be doing in your game session, and design with those things in mind.

mhensley
07-29-2008, 02:20 PM
HackMaster - what D&D should be. :p

Webhead
07-29-2008, 02:55 PM
Thanks, all, for the responses thus far. Keep them coming.


...Not counting those, what do you mean not D&D, there are others?

What I mean is fantasy RPGs that fit in the style of "medieval sword-and-sorcery fantasy where a party of adventurers battle monsters, explore ancient ruins and discover fabulous treasures". Some examples that quickly spring to mind are Warhammer Fantasy, RuneQuest, Tunnels & Trolls, Earthdawn, Talislanta, etc.

Fantasy HERO and GURPS have a little too much "crunch" for what I'm looking for, so I won't be going that route. Hackmaster was a fun read, but again it was a little heavy for my tastes and too closely married to many "core" D&D rules.

I've read some of Burning Wheel and it was definately unique, but probably not for my group.

fmitchell
07-29-2008, 03:03 PM
Basic Role-Playing is the original inspiration for Mongoose's Runequest -- heck, it's the original Runequest system. Chaosium's new compendium offers multiple options for magic and combat, plus other systems, originally designed for games like Elric/Stormbringer, Runequest, Call of Cthulhu, Elfquest, and other games created by Chaosium over 30 years.

The system itself is laughably easy: basic stats, plus skills expressed as percentiles. Roll a Sword skill check to hit with a sword, roll a Streetwise check to get the news on the grapevine, etc.

Granted, BRP combat is a lot more dangerous than D&D; you don't get buckets of hit points, so one good sword thrust could really ruin a character's day, or life. There are a few "heroic" options, but generally BRP games are more in the "grim and gritty" mold.

Stormhound
07-29-2008, 04:58 PM
HackMaster - what D&D should be. :p

Heh...dunno if it's exactly what D&D should be, but it can certainly be a lot of fun with the right group and had some fun rules.

spotlight
07-29-2008, 05:30 PM
I personally like Fantasy Hero. But there IS a deffinate lake of support in the other areas. I found myself getting out other core books to rebuild all the monsters into FH's format. It is a lot of work and not really worth it to some. Also, the desire to have lots of spells requires the GM to look over the player's shoulder to help keep things in line.

There is a lot of 'crunch' in it, but the GM can simpliefy some things.

I think I might go with the old 'Melee' and 'Wizards' game. That is 'The Fantacy Trip' for those that remember that stuff. SJ design, by the way. Came out about the same time as dnd, and might have been better, if the company and SJ had not parted ways.

For those interested, I still have some of the material and look it over once in a while. Just can't find any willing players.

fmitchell
07-29-2008, 05:30 PM
If you're more into rules-light, "narrativist" games, here's two more:

Prose Descriptive Qualities (PDQ) is a general game engine with minimal rules, available for free (http://www.atomicsockmonkey.com/freebies/di/pdq-core.pdf), but Silver Branch Games offers Questers of the Middle Realms (http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?cPath=4133), a tongue-in-cheek fantasy setting. If it's not what you're looking for, you can steal ideas ... although ideas translate easily into mechanics in PDQ.

I've never played in a HeroQuest (http://www.glorantha.com/) game, admittedly, but it's geared for high-powered fantasy action. If you don't like Glorantha, there's also Mythic Russia (http://www.firebird-productions.com/).

One caveat: because both systems are so simple and free-form, you'll have to give your players a fairly concrete idea of the setting. PDQ may not be so bad, given the relatively few Qualities each character gets, but HeroQuest characters can have a sprawling list of Abilities which I think could easily get out of hand.

boulet
07-29-2008, 10:07 PM
I almost finished reading my REIGN book and it's the best heroic fantasy game I've ever had. The rule system (One Roll Engine) is both elegant and simple. One of the big shiny features is the company system which models any mercenary troop, secret cult, merchant guild or kingdom a player could want to govern. Plus PCs actions make a real difference for the future of the company. One could use REIGN for standard dungeon crawling if needed, but why settle for this when you could fight a whole army while calling lightning or drumming earthquakes ? I've got to run that game.

Skunkape
07-30-2008, 07:00 AM
I'd have to say GURPS first, Fantasy Hero second.

Engar
07-30-2008, 08:24 AM
I always played with the idea of a d6 fantasy game (like WEG SW). Something very system light designed to bring rapid and constant action. Much simpler than 4E, less class based and extremely high energy. A system is one major aspect influencing game style.

Webhead
07-30-2008, 11:04 AM
Thanks again, all, for the further input.

To give a little background on one of the sources where this thread is coming from:

For a long time (ever since it was published in '98) I've wanted to put together a fantasy campaign based on Joe Madureira's short-lived Battle Chasers comic series. For those unfamiliar, it was a fantasy story full of epic heroes, dastardly villains and brimming with intense, over-the-top action. Perhaps it might almost be likened to "what if D&D was done up like the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series".

To play up the strengths of the comic, I've been trying to find a system that would really emphasize the fast, intense action and allow for very easy and flexible character design. This is no "1st level dungeon crawl" type of game. To that end, I naturally want to gravitate toward Wushu as it seems like it would do great justice to the game. It is, however, considered by some of my players to be "too rules-lite" to be appealing. PDQ fits in that category as well (though if I were going to use PDQ, I might instead opt for its sister-game Risus, as I'm more comfortable with it)...not really enough "crunch" to satisfy some of my players. I've given thought to using Mutants & Masterminds, OVA or Unisystem, but haven't fully convinced myself yet.

On the other hand, I wanted to avoid systems that are too rules-intensive because I want the action to come across as furious and boistrous as its source material (aka, no games that require battlemats and minute, tactical movement to work combat).

But ultimately, this brainstorming (for the purposes of this thread) grew beyond "How can I emulate Battle Chasers?" into "What fantasy RPGs do folks play when they're not playing D&D?" because it occured to me that it might be worth looking into games that share D&D's genre of heroic sword-and-sorcery that are not just D&D derivatives.

I've heard of Fantasy Trip before and am tempted to look at it more closely. Please continue with your thoughts, suggestions, sales-pitches and even questions should you have them.

Thanks, all...

michaeljearley
07-30-2008, 11:09 AM
Have you looked at Big Eyes Small Mouth.
While not personally a favorite, the one game I played produced characters I would liken to Battle Chasers (If i'm remembering the correct comic)
I think it might have been the exhalted book that gave me that impression as well. Though again, not a personal favorite, it had that epic flair.

Webhead
07-30-2008, 11:28 AM
Have you looked at Big Eyes Small Mouth.
While not personally a favorite, the one game I played produced characters I would liken to Battle Chasers (If i'm remembering the correct comic)
I think it might have been the exhalted book that gave me that impression as well. Though again, not a personal favorite, it had that epic flair.

I've considered BESM at times in the past. Battle Chasers was almost a "D&D/anime cross-breed" in some ways. As you say, it's not one of my favorite games, but it is flexible. I've also considered OVA (Open Versatile Anime RPG) as a BESM substitute. I do like a lot of the design behind OVA and it seems simpler than BESM and yet nearly as flexible.

Exalted is quite "epic" from what I understand (perhaps even a bit too epic) but it is also heavily tied into it's own "world" (and I've heard its fairly rules-intensive).

But as I've alluded to in my previous post, I'm starting to think beyond just "What would make a good Battle Chasers RPG?" (though that is still ingraved in my brain) to "What would make a good alternative to D&D?".

Mead
08-02-2008, 02:06 PM
Warhammer FRP, Rolemaster, & HackMaster, and I just ordered a big stack of Castles & Crusades to try out on my guinea pig buddies the next time we have a festivus.

Webhead
08-03-2008, 08:11 PM
Warhammer FRP, Rolemaster, & HackMaster, and I just ordered a big stack of Castles & Crusades to try out on my guinea pig buddies the next time we have a festivus.

Cool. I've heard good and bad things about Castles & Crusades. I almost picked it up at one time. Certainly let us know how your experience with it goes.

TAROT
08-06-2008, 12:22 AM
Earthdawn is D&D with an in setting reason for dungeons full of traps and treasure.

I've used Unisystem (Witchcraft/AFMBE). There is the Dungeons & Zombies supplement, but I wouldn't call it essential.

Warhammer FRP as others have mentioned.

Talislanta.

Ars Magica.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
08-06-2008, 12:41 AM
Has anyone purchased Alpha Omega game? I curious to hear opinions.

Link here: http://www.alphaomegathegame.com/store/product.php?productid=16133

Thoth-Amon

James McKinney
09-14-2008, 05:59 PM
I never knew this many alternatives to D&D existed out there! I'm about to do some serious Wiki-ing... :lol:

James McKinney
09-14-2008, 06:07 PM
Check this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_role-playing_games_by_name) out - I found it when I started Wiki-ing some of the systems you guys mentioned (didn't think I was serious, did you?!?). It contains a TON of role-playing systems! :cool:

nijineko
09-14-2008, 06:36 PM
i'm fond of rolemaster, gurps, and palladium as alternatives to fantasy d&d. ^^

Webhead
09-14-2008, 06:48 PM
Cool, thanks for the link, James.

Green Ronin needs to hurry up and release their Warriors and Warlocks supplement so that I can get my Mutants & Masterminds-fantasy on. ;)

MuslixtheMighty
09-14-2008, 06:50 PM
I know I am not the first and won't be the last but Warhammer all the way. I actually like it more then D&D.

Webhead
09-14-2008, 07:30 PM
I know I am not the first and won't be the last but Warhammer all the way. I actually like it more then D&D.

I've thought about Warhammer a few times when Green Ronin released the new edition. I've even flipped through the book at one point. Could be cool. I'm not excited about buying into a whole new line of books though.

tesral
09-14-2008, 09:42 PM
I never knew this many alternatives to D&D existed out there! I'm about to do some serious Wiki-ing... :lol:

There are a snot load of other Fantasy games. D&D so dominates the market that most people never hear of them. Any time I can lay my hands of same cheap, I lay. I might never play them but reading and picking up ideas never did hurt no one.

MuslixtheMighty
09-14-2008, 10:02 PM
I've thought about Warhammer a few times when Green Ronin released the new edition. I've even flipped through the book at one point. Could be cool. I'm not excited about buying into a whole new line of books though.

I am on the verge of selling all of my D&D 3rd edition books to buy Warhammer books, aka, recycling systems. I are smart.

kirksmithicus
09-14-2008, 11:47 PM
Palladium FRPG is long time favorite. But I also like Decipher's LOTR game, which isn't radically different from D&D in game mechanics (and which I got for $3.00, so you can't beat that). Have played some good games with MERP and HARP. Currently reading the Burning Wheel RPG, D&D 4E, and Chaosium BRP. I would also like to get a copy of The Riddle of Steel, and Legend of the Five Rings. I also have a fondness for Harn material though I don't have the game, but I might get it eventually. The free online material is generally pretty good, but made for a low magic setting.

and like Tesral pointed out.....other systems offer some good ideas you can add to your game even if you never play them. Plus I'm a compulsive rules mechanic and RPG collector, when I've got the money and they are cheap.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
09-15-2008, 12:00 AM
I know I am not the first and won't be the last but Warhammer all the way. I actually like it more then D&D.
I started my rpg experiences with DnD back in the 74-75. Love it and will always have a soft spot for it... even playing it today, b u t, i will admit, i will always love WFRP more. It's like DnD on evil steroids.

Thoth-Amon

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
09-15-2008, 12:04 AM
I am on the verge of selling all of my D&D 3rd edition books to buy Warhammer books, aka, recycling systems. I are smart.
Ready to freak, MuslixtheMighty? I have everything WFRP, both editions, including all four of Tim Eccles' The Private Wars' chase campaign, as well as every WARPSTONE, not including(do have on pdf) editions 1,2, and 4.

If anyone on this site has 1, 2, or 4, or know anyone that does, please contact me. I will make it worth your while.

Yes, it's okay to drool.

Thoth-Amon

MuslixtheMighty
09-15-2008, 12:43 PM
It makes me glad that we have become friends and at the same time, I want to smack you good.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
09-15-2008, 01:27 PM
It makes me glad that we have become friends and at the same time, I want to smack you good.
<laughing>

Didnt mean to rub it in. If its any constellation, wish we lived closer so we could both enjoy some WFRP campaigning.

Thoth-Amon

gdmcbride
09-15-2008, 04:15 PM
I started my rpg experiences with DnD back in the 74-75. Love it and will always have a soft spot for it... even playing it today, b u t, i will admit, i will always love WFRP more. It's like DnD on evil steroids.

Thoth-Amon

I love WFRP as well. I am currently running a weekly Warhammer 2nd edition game (using the Enemy Within campaign as inspiration). Great fun.

While I certaintly don't own every WFRP book, I do own most. Some of my prized RPG possessions included 'Slaves to Darkness' and 'Lost and the Damned'. Such strange, beautiful, twisted labors of love.

Gary

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
09-15-2008, 04:40 PM
Very nice books.

Thoth-Amon

MuslixtheMighty
09-15-2008, 09:58 PM
It seems now that there is other reasons for me to move out to Cali. Hot rods, tattooed women and Warhammer, yet at the same time, it is California.

Holocron
09-20-2008, 11:28 PM
GURPS, I used the Banestorm (Yrth) setting. It was awesome, everyone had fun and you had complete flexibility to design any kind of character you wanted, provided it passed the GM's duh factor.

Personally I liked the lethality of GURPS combat, because it brings a sense of reality to the game. If you act recklessly, you could quickly end up dead... And, there are no classes! So no two characters will ever be identicle, even they're created with the same theme. Two different players who both know the character creation system very well and both attempting to maximize their points will still make different choices even when they're both making "human fighters" or whatever.

Inkpot
09-21-2008, 04:45 PM
I'll have to chime in for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay as well. The setting makes the game, truly. I have several of the books, and they're all just plain fun to read.

....now all I need to do is find some gamers in my neck of the woods and all will be right with my world....*SIGH*

MortonStromgal
09-22-2008, 10:26 AM
I'm going to add a new one to the pot.

WitchHunter, a friend of mine is considering running Eberron with it, I think its a great fit for Eberron or Iron Kingdoms.