View Full Version : Which system to use?: Renaissance Homebrew

2010-07-23, 09:45 PM
Most of my RPG experience has been about wizards hurling spells fireballs everywhere, knights in shining armor that can survive a spear through the chest, and deranged people with guns kicking down doors and shooting demons. I want to try something a bit different.

I've been thinking about how I could pull off a renaissance intrigue RPG. I imagine the players acting as nobles in a 1500s ish english/wales/scottish barony/dukedom. I would like it to be generally historically oriented. When I mean "generally", I mean that it there will be more realism than a DND game, but still with a lot of imagined characters/locations. I might add a fantastic element or two (giants, a curse, divine influences, soothsayers), but they intend them to be few, far between, and not easily accesible by the Player Characters.

I imagine the plot being something like a race for the crown. Each player will portray a possibly contestant for a vacant throne. Unlike conventional games, the players will be in opposition. This will most likely call for a large amount of one-on-one sessions.

Here are my questions:
-Which system should I use as a base? An employee at a local hobbyshop recommended modding the White Wolf D10 system. This is convenient as I am already familiar with NWOD. Are there any other systems that you can recommend? GURPS possibly? This game will be fairly low combat (the occasional wrestling match with an assasin).

-Can you recommend any sources of info on period customs? I'm not looking for a 1000 page tome with every little detail, but would like a general timeline/list of famous individuals/map/traditions reference.

-Any other tips?

2010-07-23, 10:23 PM
d&d 3.5e E6 Variant with lots of other variant rules

By using the E6 Variant you can stop spellcasters from gaining spells higher than level 3. This also facilities the character's set up to gain power over time, but not become ridiculously powerful where they can conquer Germany as a Wizard flying around on a magical fortress with an army of demons.

If you're interested in having everyone play as a human you can modify all of the dnd races so that they are humans that look a certain way and have slight changes to them. This way someone can play an Elf, but in the setting be considered a thin and nimble human with good eyesight and sleeping problems.

2010-07-23, 11:49 PM
7th Sea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7th_Sea_(role-playing_game)) seems perfect for late Renaissance. And it's a least somewhat similar to NWOD (d10s, dots) which you said you have experience with.

It's out of print, but at least RPG now seems to still be selling the pdfs.

2010-07-24, 03:18 AM
Gurps would be my first choice, yes. If you know what you want, it is the best game around - take your picks, model your setting, all that kind of thing is not just simple - it is inevitable.
Besides, especially with somewhat more subtle magic, it is a way better choice than D20.

The usual other suspects - Burning Wheels and Riddle of Steel will be mentioned anyway, so I won't comment much on it, One other alternative from my collection would be Harnmaster, but that's a bit oldschool and has one of the more realistic and therefore gruesome damage models out there.

Reign was supposeldy modeled to deal with larger scale politics in a fantasy game, but the overall rules and so on are pretty bad and shallow, so I would not recommend it.

About period customs and sources, that's a bit tricky. I know some usable sources, but they are almost exclusively in German.

2010-07-24, 05:55 AM
Satyr was right - The Riddle of Steel will be mentioned!

It's hard to get a hold of due to being out of print (online is probably your best shot; my FLGS didn't have the core book, just the Companion and Flower of Battle supplements), but it's an awesome, smooth, and realistic system.

The combat system was designed by and for ARMA scholars, but they weren't just going for realism: they were also going for fun. You use dice pools, allocating dice to various offensive and defensive maneuvers, which creates great tactical depth (you can, for instance, use less than your pool each round to fool your opponent into underestimating you, then launch a feint they'll under-defend against); it can take a while for anyone to land a hit, but once they do, it's often immediately lethal or disabling, and even when it's not, the dice pool penalties caused by shock and injury mean you're more likely to sustain more injuries, unless you get lucky or do something very clever. Everything in the combat system uses the same easy mechanic (roll dice against target number, compare successes to opponent's), so it's very intuitive.

Character advancement is, by default, based on choosing a set of Spiritual Attributes (drives, passions, loves, loyalties, oaths, etc.) that tell you and the GM what you want your character's story to be like. The attributes give you bonuses to rolls in the right situations (including combat, where they add to your dice pool each round - a huge benefit), and when you act according to the attribute, it increases. The Spiritual Attributes are spent to increase your other attributes, skills, and proficiencies. The core book has a system for learning skills by using them, and the Companion has a bunch of alternative advancement systems if you don't like the narrative-based one.

The Flower of Battle is and the Companion are great; TFoB is almost a must, because it adds far more detailed and useful armor rules, better ranged combat rules (including early muskets and pistols, great for a Renaissance game), and a simple and abstract mass combat system.

TROS also includes, by default, fantastic elements, but they are not necessary; the Sorcery system is intentionally, gleefully unbalanced (even though every spell ages you by months or years) because magic is MAGIC and can do practically anything, and there are monsters (a ton of them in the Of Beasts and Men supplement).

The game is generally cool and smooth, but the greatest advantage definitely is the realistic combat, so it may not be worth the trouble to seek it out if your campaign isn't going to use a lot of combat. (Although the maxim in TROS definitely is that combat is to be avoided, and every fight should be important, because it's so damned lethal, and recovering from bad injuries takes ages.)

Then there's RuneQuest, Mongoose's or Chaosium's or Avalon Hill's versions, which is easy enough to use as a generic system; the Mongoose Arms & Equipment supplements even include blackpowder firearms.

2010-07-24, 07:01 AM
Burning W-

The usual other suspects - Burning Wheels and Riddle of Steel will be mentioned anyway, so I won't comment much on it


(In all seriousness, I would use BW for this kind of game. If you're looking for something simple a quick mod of nWoD would do the trick.)

2010-07-24, 11:03 AM
En Garde?

NWoD could be pretty good for this. 7th Sea also, but it has a very different feel. I'd go with the darker WoD feel.

Pendragon? There's plenty of support for intrigue and courtly games in that, but you'd need to tweak.

2010-07-24, 01:10 PM
There's always d20 Past, though you'd probably want to throw on a few more houserules to make combat more realistic...not the best fit, but easy to draw from D&D while keeping players reasonable.