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Thread: What's your favorite non-D20 fantasy rpg setting?

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    What's your favorite non-D20 fantasy rpg setting?

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    Pretty much like the title says, what do you like that isn't D20? I generally include modern and post-modern settings in my accounting.

    There are several that I'm pretty fond of: Palladium Fantasy, Chivalry & Sorcery's setting, Bushido, Weapons of the Gods, Nobilis, Unknown Armies. . . I even count Shadowrun in there. And I know there are others, Exalted, Ars Magica, and the GURPS settings for example, that I haven't played.

    I think my all-time favorite setting is Amber, however. There's just nothing like a sprawling mystical setting of bizarre cosmology involving a monstrous intelligence that seems to be much, much greater than your own to really put things into perspective.

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    Way too broad a category. I will instead pick a few that I'm enjoying right now.

    The Zorcerer of Zo -- a great little indie game that seeks to make a Wizard of Oz/Narnia/Fairy Tale realm RPG. A very cool, very colorful little RPG that uses a 'good parts' version of PDQ as its system. Definitely recommended.

    The Hyborian Age -- yes, its most famous in print version was a d20 world published by Mongoose, but that doesn't change the fact that the source material (the sublime writing of R.E. Howard) is system independent. I am using a sliver of the world to run my current Shadizar campaign, but I keep coming back again and again to draw from this deep well.

    Pendragon -- have I harped enough on how marvelous Pendragon 5th edition and The Great Pendragon Campaign are?

    But if backed into a corner and forced to pick just one, it would be Ars Magica.

    Ars Magica -- The RPG of wizards in mythic europe (i.e. medieval europe with magic and monsters existing on the fringes). So full of good ideas it would be tiring to list them here -- The Order of Hermes is the perfect organization for PC interactions, the magic system is revolutionary, the round-robin and troupe style play were way ahead of their time and remain innovative.

    Alas, that I am not currently in an Ars Magica campaign and can see no opening for one on the horizon. But Ars Magica is a classic and some of my favorite games I've ever been in have been run using this system. If you don't know the Ars Magica magic system, you have a major hole in your knowledge of game design.

    Gary

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    I have the 5th edition Ars Magica books but haven't ever had a chance to play it.

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    Setting? Psi World.
    System? Truth & Justice

    Of course, there are many others. I loved reading through Ars Magica, but never played.

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    I love Champions, GURPS, and Cyberpunk

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    As far as non-d20 fantasy goes, I'd have to go Ars Magica as well. But, it has been years upon years since I have played it. I have no idea of what recent editions may be like.
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    I don't know that I've ever played a non-D&D fantasy setting. However, it seems to me that a Pern type world would be interesting.

    Mo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moritz View Post
    I don't know that I've ever played a non-D&D fantasy setting. However, it seems to me that a Pern type world would be interesting.

    Mo
    There has never been an in print Pern RPG mostly because Anne McCAffery keeps a fearsome level of control over her IP (this is also why there has never been a Pern TV show or movie).

    There was an unofficial GURPS Pern manuscript floating around the internet by one of the perrenial GURPS authors. I don't know if that's still available. There is also a very active online RPG Pern presence. Not really my thing, but I've brushed elbows with that set upon the occassion.

    Gary

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    It just seems unique. However, I've never read the books or had an interest in mixing my sci-fi with dragons. But, unique none the less.

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    Vampire: The Dark Ages or if I have to go with a bit more traditional style fantasy Warhammer. Honorable mentions to Shadowrun & Sla Industries.

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    Talislanta all the way. A real swords-and-sorcery setting but with a unique flavor to it.

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    The one currently in my head

    ... is not a useful answer, but I can't pick one I unreservedly like.

    I agree with Gary's choices: Zorcerer of Zo, Conan, Pendragon, and (to an extent) Ars Magica. There are certain aspects of Glorantha (RuneQuest) and Yrth (GURPS Banestorm) I like, and something tells me I should get around to reading Mythic Russia soon.

    At the risk of repeating stuff I've written on other threads, here are my current criteria for an interesting game world:

    • The world should resemble to actual myths, legends, fairy tales, or pre-D&D fantasy literature. All the worlds above follow this pattern to a certain extent. Glorantha invents its own multilayered myths and legends; Yrth assumes that medieval humans dropped into a fantasy world, bringing their own cultures and beliefs with them.
    • Players should have more to do than clearing out unexplained ruins; the world should provide a variety of plausible cultures, well-defined political and social entities, and ongoing conflicts. Conan and Glorantha have that in spades, and the European-based ones leverage historical cultures in conflict: Celts vs. Saxons, Christians vs. Muslims, nobles vs. other nobles ...
    • Magic should be a mysterious and ill-defined force, not a technology. As a corollary, magic-users should be rare, and usually NPCs ... unless all the PCs have magical or superhuman powers as in fairy tales and myths. (Ars Magica sort of fails this test, but at least it acknowledges that people who can command the forces of nature are way more powerful than even the strongest/fastest/smartest people who cannot.)
    • Religions should resemble to some extent the religions of our world, and magic (if it exists) should be tied somehow into the gods or a religious cosmology. I particularly like Pendragon, Yrth and Mythic Europe because, if you're going to have medieval Europeans, you have to have the Church in some form or another.
    • Non-humans should really be not human, and not humans with pointy ears and a few stereotyped personality traits. Glorantha's Aldryami, Mostali, Uz, and Dragonewts have particularly inhuman physiology and alien mindsets. The Faerie of Mythic Europe and Pendragon rely on Celtic and European folklore, not Tolkien. Counterexample: the people of Zo really *are* humans in animal suits, but somehow it works.
    Last edited by fmitchell; 10-25-2007 at 07:33 PM.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
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    That's amazingly close to my philosophy of world-building and is very similar to what I've tried to do with Crimson Twilight (which you can find in the articles/Blogs section), except that regarding magic, a lot of different types of PC's will have access to some type of magical phenomena (psychic abilities, shape shifting, etc.).

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    Me i never truly found a non D 20 game i liked the only one that comes close mostly because of of the story is robotech and even still own it.But any game that has a d20 roll of some kind to me is really a d 20 game so in that case i would pick rolemaster since all it used was d100.
    "DO or DO NOT there is no try"Master Yoda

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhishStyx View Post
    That's amazingly close to my philosophy of world-building and is very similar to what I've tried to do with Crimson Twilight (which you can find in the articles/Blogs section), except that regarding magic, a lot of different types of PC's will have access to some type of magical phenomena (psychic abilities, shape shifting, etc.).
    Yeah, I go back and forth on the magic thing. On the one hand, I really like the ideas in John H. Kim's "Breaking Out of Scientific Magic Systems" (which I cite constantly), and I'm also a little scarred by my first GM experience when the mage PCs ran roughshod over my plots. On the other hand, I realize that many players want to play magic-users.

    I've explored a few alternate magic systems, like Ritual Magic (Fudge "Occultism" or equivalent), psychic powers (True20 psychic-like powers or GURPS 4e psionic advantages), hedge magic, outright fakery and bluffing, or systems like HeroQuest and Zorceror of Zo where there are few if any mechanical differences between magical abilities and mundane ones. Something tells me, though, that some players just want to throw fireballs.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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