I've never tried it personally, but a friend of mine reported good results using GURPS Fantasy to get the more deadly combat feel you might be looking for.
Let me cut to the chase. I am looking to run a game for 2 players with the general idea being that they are thieves or assassins in a high fantasy organized crime syndicate. I do not feel that Pathfinder (the game that we were playing for our last campaign) will work well for this game due to the stacking of huge amounts of HP and other factors that make a game of this type not work the way I want. I would like the game to be more story and event driven and less hack-and-slash, and I want the players to have to plan out the actions of their characters because of mortal risk. Basically I want the game to have a feeling like Shadowrun in a high fantasy / low tech setting. I do not have a lot of experience with generic RPGs...matter of fact I have never run a generic RPG, but I do have experience with non-level/class based RPG's in the form of a few White Wolf games and Shadowrun 2e and 3e.
Thanks for taking the time to read this!
I will look into GURPS, I have just heard in the past that it is extremely difficult to learn and run.
I'll speak up for HERO. You can limit how much BODY/STUN (HERO's hp) the players can buy. Add in hit locations, wounding, bleeding and other optional damage effects, it gets pretty deadly pretty quick.
From my experiences, it was a lot easier to pick up HERO than GURPS. Still complicated, but made more sense for some reason.
A simpler system that does fantasy well would be Savage Worlds.
Last edited by Lazarus; 12-05-2011 at 03:17 PM.
You could try Savage Worlds, I've run a few different genres with it and it works pretty solidly - there is a free "test drive" version of it, that is honestly a pretty complete summary of the full system.
You could also look at Basic Role Playing (BRP), the system used for Call of Cthulhu/Runequest, as it has a free version. There is OpenD6, MiniD6, both free. Tristat DX is free. One Roll Engine. Gurps, as mentioned - there is a free lite version of it as well. Branching out again there is non free Cartoon Action Hour and BASH Fantasy. I'm not even up to date with all the new stuff available.
A simple, yet dark and gritty, D10 system I would suggest would be WFRP (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2ed). I am currently running a Gotrek and Felix campaign. Yes, just like the novels. Great fun.
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.
The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet
GURPS and Savage Worlds are both very good systems, but I can think of another one that you might also consider, Basic Role Playing. It's the system that the well known game Call of Cthulhu uses. While I'm not a big fan of Cthulhu based campaigns, I do like the system. You can check it out with the quick start, which you can find here.
The main thing I like about BRP, whenever you use a skill where there is a possibility of a bad result with a failure of the skill, ie not just practicing said skill, there is a chance that the skill will improve. That's right, BRP is a non-class based system. Skills normally range from 0 to 100 percent. Anyway, check out the quick start and see what you thing, won't cost you anything and might be just what you're looking for.
4th Edition Quick Start for free. GURPS is well written and it's designed to be a toolkit. There are LOTS of options, but the basic game works like this. Look at your rating in your skill, add or subtract relevant modifiers for your "effective skill". Roll 3d6 and try and get under that rating. The lower you roll, the better you succeed. Wa la! GURPS.
In combat, you roll to hit and the defender rolls under an applicable defense. If you hit, you roll damage. There are options for tactical combat using a hex grid, examples and options for all kinds of combat options you might want to add in based on the way you want combat to work.
There are rules for weapon types doing more or less damage to various areas of your body, armor reduces damage, there is bleeding, disease, poison, environmental dangers... You can add in what you want and disregard the rest.
The game is WELL supported online. PDFs abound from the Dungeon Fantasy series to Pyramid magazine. Lots and lots of support!
Trentin C Bergeron (TreChriron)
Bard, Dreamer & RPG Enthusiast
I'll second GURPS and Warhammer if you want gritty.
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Third for GURPS and Warhammer (i prefer 2e but YMMV), Savage World isnt a bad choice either but its more "pulpy" however unlike GURPS character creation doesn't scare the players away. Burning Wheel would also be an interesting choice but... idk it would work well but I feel the learning curve is pretty high. You may also want to look at FATE, I forget what the fantasy FATE game is called but much like Burning Wheel, FATE is very belief and goal driven but with less of a learning curve.
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If you want a Shadowrun feel, use Shadowrun. Crank down the tech and crank up the magic. The system is not permanently welded to the setting. They have stats for primitive weapons.
Legends of Anglerre, which is really nice Fate take on fantasy. As a fan, I also make note on Strands of Fate which is generic. Fate is a bit personal though and not for everyone. I have personally come to love it as a GM. If gritty is your aim though, while it is possible with Fate I do feel it requires a bit system know-how to do.
"Yes, I'm a Strands of Fate fan. I seem to like everything about it. Keep this in mind; what I say is my personal opinion and preference." -Tonpa
Playing Dresden Files, Dnd 4e, Running: Superheroes with Strands of Fate
Playtesting PM me if you need playtester for your Fate -based game