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Thread: Your system pick for a Fantasy/PA setting?

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    Your system pick for a Fantasy/PA setting?

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    I'm working on a post-apocalyptic fantasy setting. Very low fantasy, a struggle to survive and rebuild civilization. Mutants, reality storms, demons, undead, beastmen, chaotic hybrids, unpredictable magic, and even some rare ancient techno-magical devices. Gamma World meets Glorantha, but really neither of these.

    I've been having trouble picking a game system for it, so I come seeking fresh outside opinions. This may be a pbp, or it may be a face-to-face deal, depending on interest level of my current game group when the current campaign goes on another break. I've basically narrowed it down to three frontrunners, but I'm open to others, as long as they're not class-based, level-based systems (never liked them, never will). Some crunch is desirable, too much is a bad thing. I like my rules the way I like my steak... medium-rare.

    Classic Unisystem
    Pro: Good, gritty system, universal with simple mechanics.

    Con: I don't think anyone in my existing group has played it before, so there would be a learning curve, and it might even affect interest level. I also have no experience running it or playing it, though I like what I see. Information is spread out over a lot of books, and those books have a lot of fluff in them to wade through, which seems like it would make it hard to find the rule you want when you want it. The magic system is somewhat underdeveloped compared to the other systems under consideration (and yes I have Witchcraft and Dungeons & Zombies).

    BRP
    Pro: Again, a good, gritty universal system. The d% mechanic makes it probably closest to the homebrew my local is group is currently playing. I'm familiar with GMing it from years of RuneQuest 2e. At least one other player is an old-school RuneQuest guy like me. There is plenty of source material out there in terms of BRP-based games to steal, errr, borrow from.

    Con: My biggest pet peeve with BRP is the combat. At very low or very high levels of skill, it become a drawn-out affair of either a whiff-fest or a parry-fest. That's great if you're trying to recreate the duel between Wesley and Inigo Montoya, not so great if you want quick-resolving combats. This may be solvable with house rules (I would use the Resistance Table for Opposed Rolls, and may extend this to combat).

    GURPS 4e
    Pro: Played 3e GURPS exclusively for years, have GM'd it. 4e looks like an improvement. The RuneQuest guy in the local group has a ton of GURPS books and is a fan. Combat is adequately lethal. Gobs of source material.

    Con: Maybe TOO much source material. And oh the sheer crunch. I know you can pare it down, and I typically have done so. But I get the feeling once the GURPS supplements come out, any hopes of running it faster and lighter are out the window. Also, some people are instantly put off by the very word GURPS in my experience.

    Other
    Your suggestions and comments welcome.

    Please resist the urge to say "play what you like". I like GURPS and BRP about equally for different reasons. Classic Uni is interesting and I see a lot of potential in it. So, what would you run for this kind of setting, and why?

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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    You've described everything WFRP (warhammer fantasy roleplay) except for the time period. You might look into that system: extremely dark and gritty, rules are simple enough, and the game design itself encourages individual player... and best of all, even generals and kings can die from stupidity.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
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    I am really loving Starblazer Adventures (FATE 3.0). I think FATE is the perfect mix of rules and story. So I have to pitch it. I think it would do PA low fantasy with aplomb.

    For medium crunch on your top 3, classic unisystem would be less crunchy, BRP combat can be modified by not using any options to streamline it. GURPS suggestions for cinematic play, "roll and shout" and leaving out optional rules can tone down the complexity of that rules-set. All 3 are good systems, so it really comes down to aesthetics. What do you like for the feel of your game mechanics?

    For character generation I think BRP and unisystem are faster. GURPS crunch really comes out in char gen BUT in play, it's very fast. GURPS 4e is a wonderful system that leans on the "realism" side for it's "internal engine". If you go with GURPS, be sure to spend a little time up front LIMITING options. Build a campaign sheet and include some suggested (or required) traits. Also, 4e is leaps and bounds better than 3e (IMHO).

    If you're so inclined, check out SBA (FATE) and explore a different approach to more story-focused crunch.

    Happy Gaming!
    Trentin C Bergeron (TreChriron)
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    The thing about GURPS 4e that bothers me the most, is that exotic ads/disads are no longer balanced with respect to mundane ads/disads. (Fortunately, the system does explicitly say that these can only be taken with GM permission. Make sure "No" is your default answer.)

    A major thing I like about GURPS, is that due to the bell curve, you can easily generate NPCs on the fly. On the first meeting, only a couple of attributes and skills are really relevant, and are easily placed on the curve. Grab a disad and a quirk from a pregenerated list (or choose something appropriate/entertaining), and you've got enough of a character for a first encounter.
    You can always flesh it out later, as evil ideas occur to you.

    Speaking of GURPS, this resource sounds like it's right in the ballpark: http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/madlands/

    I like the BRP in theory, but I always had players trying to reverse which d10 was high and which was low at critical points. YMMV, but I've ditched it.

    CORPS is solid, and fits the stated criteria. The downside is that you almost certainly don't have the books. (It has some good innovations with respect to skills. But this aspect will require GM oversight.)

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    Of the three you have narrowed it down to, I've played only GURPS. To me, GURPS is a decent game system, but nothing to write home about. I think it takes a skilled and particular-minded GM to make GURPS worlds come alive, or else sometimes it feels as if the environmental complexity (character gen, etc.) is being amped up solely for complexity's sake. I haven't played versions where the GM has stripped it down to make it feel more cinematic, per Trechriron's suggestion. I second his endorsement of FATE, and similar options come to mind, e.g. PDQ or even Savage Worlds, but I understand that you've probably made up your mind re. the final three.

    BRP I've heard more or less good things about, but again haven't played it myself. Since I'm always looking to try new systems (as a player), I'd probably choose to give BRP a try over GURPS.

    Though I've not played Unisystem either, it does offer two main benefits that would probably sway me if the choice were mine to make. First, it the core system is easily accessible from Eden Studios as a free pdf in the form of the supplement game, WitchCraft. You'd still have the learning curve for mastering a new game, but at leat you won't have to drop a chunk of scratch just to try it out and get started.

    Second, and this is certainly a subjective call on my part, assuming that you liked the system once you mastered it, I think the newer Unisystem supplemental games sound much more interesting than the competition. All Flesh Must Be Eaten, in particular, gets regular rave reviews on every forum I chance to visit, and Ghosts of Albion seems promising.
    There is no path, traveler; the path is made by walking.
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    Honestly I think right now the only two reservations I have about Unisystem is the rules being too spread out, and the fact that as far as I'm aware, no one in our group has played it. I have Witchcraft, AFMBE, and Dungeons & Zombies. Terra Primate (also Classic Uni) is in the mail. I like what I've read for the most part.

    I'm not worried about d100 cheating. Half my local group rolls on their laptops anyway. They're a trustworthy lot. But BRP comparatively lacks character generation depth (and GURPS probably has too much) and as I've stated, after years of RQ I have issues with the parry mechanics among other things.

    Savage Worlds... I've heard so many good things. I wanted to like it. I bought the Explorer's Edition. I couldn't get into it. It never clicked for me, it doesn't have the right "feel". Hard to explain. I don't like "wild dice". Cards-based initiative seems like a hokey tack-on (just roll dice or go by DEX/AGI like every other game for Pete's sake! Why do I need a deck of cards?). I don't like how attributes don't directly impact chances of skill success in some way. All that before I got out of the first couple of chapters... I just stopped reading.

    PDQ and FATE I have looked at, but I don't especially care for "descriptive" systems. I'm more of a numbers kinda guy. It's easier and less confusing to remember 5 is better than 4 than it is to remember "Awesome" is better than "Amazing" or whatever. FATE also has a specialty dice barrier (admittedly small, but present), which I view as just another difficulty to overcome for adoption. I know, you can modify existing standard "pip style" d6, but honestly I have zero of those (crazy I know). You can do 4d6 and subtract whatever, or say "1 and 2 are a negative, 3 and 4 are 0, 5 and 6 are a positive", but almost any other dice convention is less clumsy than that.

    I'm starting to think Classic Unisystem is closest to what I want. I played a homebrew for years that was d10 + skill + attribute (different scales, more Cyberpunk 2020 than Uni) with a 50% chance for exploding dice on a 1 or a 10. It played well and there was some genuine excitement on the exploding dice rolls. The two are similar enough that I'd be going in with some comfort level. I just wish I could get the rules in a book as consolidated, well-formatted, digestable, and easy to find stuff in as the GURPS or BRP core books. It may be all the years of GURPS 2e and 3e talking, but I like to see a solid core rulebook with less fluff, and publish the fluff separately, Steve Jackson style. Eden is clearly not SJG. This has its upside as well as its downside. Unisystem appears to have more style, and a lot of that due specifically to the amount of fluff. But it's a lot to search through. At the end of the day, I think that's a small complaint for what otherwise appears to be a bug-free, fast-playing yet detailed, medium-crunch system.

    I wish the free Witchcraft PDF was bookmarked, it would be much easier to find stuff in. But far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth. I'll just have to go through it and bookmark it myself. That's a very small price to pay, I think.

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    I was thinking WFRP or Unisystem. WFRP has a similar setting but I think overall the Unisystem is better.
    Playing: Pathfinder
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    "I'm beautifully hideous!" - Sven the Nosferatu

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    For me, having only had experience running 2 different PA type campaigns, I've found d20 Modern system to be quiet flexible in that regard. The first campaign was based in present day in the flavor of "Land of the Dead" and the second was a post-nuclear war setting in which I used the d20 apocolypse supplement. Making it a fantasy PA, like something along the lines of recovering after a 1-mile wide by 200 foot tall magical gate that inexoribly draws all fey and faerie creatures to certain doom is spectacularly closed causing world-wide repercussions in magic and the environment at large, d20 works for that as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harwel View Post
    ...Savage Worlds... I've heard so many good things. I wanted to like it. I bought the Explorer's Edition. I couldn't get into it. It never clicked for me, it doesn't have the right "feel". Hard to explain. I don't like "wild dice". Cards-based initiative seems like a hokey tack-on (just roll dice or go by DEX/AGI like every other game for Pete's sake! Why do I need a deck of cards?). I don't like how attributes don't directly impact chances of skill success in some way. All that before I got out of the first couple of chapters... I just stopped reading...
    No shame in that. Savage Worlds (just like every other game system ever invented) is not for everyone. It strikes out boldly into "unconventional" territory in a lot of ways but that's actually one of the reasons its ideas are so appealing to me. The game is not a slave to "tradition". I, for example, have grown to admire the way playing cards influence and speed up initiative but not everyone will agree (each with their own equally valid reasons). I'm also something of a fiend for the "Wild Die" and "Ace" mechanics but that probably stems from the fact that my all-time favorite RPG, Star Wars D6, had an almost identical mechanic...so it makes sense that the "Wild Die" gives me a happy feeling. "One man's trash" and all that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Harwel View Post
    ...I'm starting to think Classic Unisystem is closest to what I want. I played a homebrew for years that was d10 + skill + attribute (different scales, more Cyberpunk 2020 than Uni) with a 50% chance for exploding dice on a 1 or a 10. It played well and there was some genuine excitement on the exploding dice rolls. The two are similar enough that I'd be going in with some comfort level. I just wish I could get the rules in a book as consolidated, well-formatted, digestable, and easy to find stuff in as the GURPS or BRP core books. It may be all the years of GURPS 2e and 3e talking, but I like to see a solid core rulebook with less fluff, and publish the fluff separately, Steve Jackson style. Eden is clearly not SJG. This has its upside as well as its downside. Unisystem appears to have more style, and a lot of that due specifically to the amount of fluff. But it's a lot to search through. At the end of the day, I think that's a small complaint for what otherwise appears to be a bug-free, fast-playing yet detailed, medium-crunch system.

    I wish the free Witchcraft PDF was bookmarked, it would be much easier to find stuff in. But far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth. I'll just have to go through it and bookmark it myself. That's a very small price to pay, I think.
    Once the legendary work of Unisystem vapor-ware, Beyond Human, is released, I will be cackling madly and probably drooling in a corner. Beyond Human is supposed to be a one-stop shop for Unisystem and Cinematic Unisystem sort of like what the BRP and GURPS corebooks represent. That book will be awesome...if they ever release it.
    HARRY DRESDEN ó WIZARD
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webhead View Post
    No shame in that. Savage Worlds (just like every other game system ever invented) is not for everyone. It strikes out boldly into "unconventional" territory in a lot of ways but that's actually one of the reasons its ideas are so appealing to me. The game is not a slave to "tradition". I, for example, have grown to admire the way playing cards influence and speed up initiative but not everyone will agree (each with their own equally valid reasons). I'm also something of a fiend for the "Wild Die" and "Ace" mechanics but that probably stems from the fact that my all-time favorite RPG, Star Wars D6, had an almost identical mechanic...so it makes sense that the "Wild Die" gives me a happy feeling. "One man's trash" and all that...
    See, and I was no fan of Star Wars d6. It was OK and playable, just not great.

    Once the legendary work of Unisystem vapor-ware, Beyond Human, is released, I will be cackling madly and probably drooling in a corner. Beyond Human is supposed to be a one-stop shop for Unisystem and Cinematic Unisystem sort of like what the BRP and GURPS corebooks represent. That book will be awesome...if they ever release it.
    I am so there when that comes out!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harwel View Post
    See, and I was no fan of Star Wars d6. It was OK and playable, just not great...
    I can completely understand. It takes all kinds. I've met people who are nutty as a sundae for Paladium's in-house rules system...a game which sends me into epileptic seizures everytime I think about it. I suppose if something as improbable and undeserved as Paladium-fandom is possible, then certainly there could very well be people out there that...*urk*...don't like Star Wars D6.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harwel View Post
    ...I am so there when that comes out!
    Me too!
    HARRY DRESDEN ó WIZARD
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    homebrew it.

    Make sure your not stepping on any Rifts toes when creating this setting though.

    there are only two Palladium products i will stand by:
    Palladium fantasy and Beyond the supernatural 2nd edition. everything else is a waste of time and unbalanced as all hell.
    Last edited by jade von delioch; 07-03-2009 at 02:40 PM.
    I do not play them here or there, I do not play them anywhere, I do not play them with a fox. I do not mash that button box. I do not like MMO games. In the end ther're all the same.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jade von delioch View Post
    homebrew it.
    Too many good systems exist for this to be worth the effort to me. Making a complete setting is plenty of work as is.

    Make sure your not stepping on any Rifts toes when creating this setting though.
    It would be nothing like Rifts at all. And honestly, why would it matter if it was? It's not like I'm planning to publish it for financial gains or anything.

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    true
    I do not play them here or there, I do not play them anywhere, I do not play them with a fox. I do not mash that button box. I do not like MMO games. In the end ther're all the same.
    -Tesral

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