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vitkiraven
2012-01-04, 01:50 PM
Well, I've been gaming for neigh-on a generation. I've DM'd and played multiple different systems, and they have all come up wanting. The Basic Cyclopedia was a nice introduction to gaming, but it did not have enough options. AD&D 2nd was good for a while, but then 3rd edition came out. I tried it, and of course moved on to 3.5. For a while, it was okay. Then I stared into the Abyss that is C.O... it removed the love in my heart for the game. Truly, I can only imagine that it was akin to what my characters must have felt like when they lost sanity by looking into the visage of a Great Old One. I fought to keep the feeling for as long as I could, but much like the fighters in their combats against wizards, I simply just gave up. It was inevitable.
I've tried 4th edition and found little to no pleasure in it. Among other systems: I've done almost all (old and new) of the White-Wolf games, I've tried Rifts and I will NEVER go back to them, or the company that created it, again. Disgust fills me as I remember that company. I've done GURPS, but it left a distaste in my mouth as well when I played in it. Call of Cthulhu was fun, but the game was short-lived.
Legend does not have what I am looking for, even though it is a well-designed game from what I can see. They chopped out encumbrance, crafting items (with skill, not magic), and other realism from what I saw. Another minor quibble, they removed my favorite race, half-elves.

Basically, what I am looking for is a system that has the day-to-day living requirements: rations, encumbrance, fatigue, weather, you know some verisimilitude. It also has to have a decent quotient of fantasy-related capabilities, yet allow established trope things to occur.


BRP might be a consideration; any recommendations for or against?
Any other systems you might recommend looking into?

shawnhcorey
2012-01-04, 02:00 PM
Basically, what I am looking for is a system that has the day-to-day living requirements: rations, encumbrance, fatigue, weather, you know some verisimilitude. It also has to have a decent quotient of fantasy-related capabilities, yet allow established trope things to occur.

BRP might be a consideration; any recommendations for or against?
Any other systems you might recommend looking into?

Have you looked at Hârn (http://www.columbiagames.com/cgi-bin/query/cfg/allharnitems.cfg)? It has a detailed world and realistic combat system. Warning: the combat system is much deadlier than D&D!

It's been a while since I played it but it was a lot of fun.

missmvicious
2012-01-04, 02:25 PM
But... that's D&D 3.5. :smallconfused: The system is vast and complex enough to allow for both the mundane and fantastic. But, it's all about how you play it. You sound like someone who has been playing traditional RPGs for so long, that you know how to build a game-breaker for every scenario... and let's face it, 3.5 is as unbalanced as a system is going to get, overly-complicated, and far too easy to break. But a few house-rules, and a dedication to fun game-play over a brilliant application of game mechanics knowledge, can beat that.

I've only been playing D&D for about a year and a half, and while I enjoy it, I'm B-League at best regarding game/build mechanics, RAW, and the like, but I'm having a great time doing exactly what you're describing.

My modest experiences:
I'm in a survival campaign now. Food, water, encumbrance and rest are all critical elements to surviving in our world. A house-rule that made a Spell Components Pouch hold up to 10 components added to the challenge as well for those of us who didn't take Eschew Materials.

I guess it just depends on the DM. My husband loves the details, and he DMs with all these factors in mind. PCs who don't have a way to carry water have to roll a CON check every hour or begin suffering fatigue damage. We figured this out and did some hunting and made some water skins. But only a PC using a knife-like weapon or tool could actually clean the animal we killed to get to the bladder. Fishing requires the use of a fishhook or a spear. Hunting itself is a side quest... complete with Move Silently and Hide checks as well as surprise attacks and INIT. The animal usually runs if not killed on the first hit unless it is defending pups. If it runs, then we have to use a Track skill to hunt it down and finish the deed or risk inciting the wrath of some Fey who saw us leave an animal to die a slow, painful, and wasted death.


What you want, I believe, is a survival campaign. Have you tried one of those, using the 3.5 system?

Hiro Protagonest
2012-01-04, 02:57 PM
There is no system that you will be truly happy with. It will never be perfectly balanced, have verisimilitude, and be able to tackle everything from completely mundane to high action where everyone has a little magic.

D&D 3.5 is the closest I know of, the tier 1s use buffs, debuffs, and BFC to play nice, and if that's not enough, using ToB for melee and factotum for skilllmonkey.

Delvin Darkwood
2012-01-04, 05:00 PM
My advice would be to houserule your own. Take what you like from some editions/versions, take something else from another, and then houserule everything together to get the system you want. My friends and i play a heavy mix of 1st and 2nd edition with a significant amount of houserules thrown in, to fit the individual needs of our player group. You seem to be a man of very select tastes, and crafting a system to your own works will be a much more rewarding experience then playing the edition roulette for the rest of eternity

vitkiraven
2012-01-04, 05:18 PM
Have you looked at Hârn (http://www.columbiagames.com/cgi-bin/query/cfg/allharnitems.cfg)? It has a detailed world and realistic combat system. Warning: the combat system is much deadlier than D&D!

It's been a while since I played it but it was a lot of fun.

I had not heard of Harn yet, but I will have to check it out. Maybe they have a comparison between any of the other games I have played and Harn somewhere, so I can judge how well it will suit me.

The world isn't as much of a big issue to me, as I spend any down time between running campaigns fabricating new worlds, but if it comes already there, it might be a nice side benefit to the system. :smallgrin:

vitkiraven
2012-01-04, 05:37 PM
But... that's D&D 3.5. :smallconfused: The system is vast and complex enough to allow for both the mundane and fantastic. But, it's all about how you play it. You sound like someone who has been playing traditional RPGs for so long, that you know how to build a game-breaker for every scenario... and let's face it, 3.5 is as unbalanced as a system is going to get, overly-complicated, and far too easy to break. But a few house-rules, and a dedication to fun game-play over a brilliant application of game mechanics knowledge, can beat that.

I've only been playing D&D for about a year and a half, and while I enjoy it, I'm B-League at best regarding game/build mechanics, RAW, and the like, but I'm having a great time doing exactly what you're describing.

My modest experiences:
I'm in a survival campaign now. Food, water, encumbrance and rest are all critical elements to surviving in our world. A house-rule that made a Spell Components Pouch hold up to 10 components added to the challenge as well for those of us who didn't take Eschew Materials.

I guess it just depends on the DM. My husband loves the details, and he DMs with all these factors in mind. PCs who don't have a way to carry water have to roll a CON check every hour or begin suffering fatigue damage. We figured this out and did some hunting and made some water skins. But only a PC using a knife-like weapon or tool could actually clean the animal wew killed to get to the bladder. Fishing requires the use of a fishhook or a spear. Hunting itself is a side quest... complete with Move Silently and Hide checks as well as surprise attacks and INIT. The animal usually runs if not killed on the first hit unless it is defending pups. If it runs, then we have to use a Track skill to hunt it down and finish the deed or risk inciting the wrath of some Fey who saw us leave an animal to die a slow, painful, and wasted death.


What you want, I believe, is a survival campaign. Have you tried one of those, using the 3.5 system?

The main problem I have with 3.5 is the inability to come even close to represent trope things when even the slightest bit of truth to mechanics is employed.
I.E. Wizard-slayers of any kind (except of course other wizards) can never succeed at their job past level 6 or so. Maybr later with optimizing hardcore. It just cannot be done when you are facing someone with an Intelligence to rival Xanatos, with better resources.
As for gaming experience, I might be ashamed to say this, but the last game I was in, there were adults in the group that were younger than my gaming span. Not saying it is all quality (I mean the fact I admitted to playing Rifts should basically discount that) but there is a lot of ennui regarding gaming and myself. :smallbiggrin:

I have run survival type campaigns, and did find them entertaining. The problem is, that I can't create enough houserules to make trope things legitimately work. I'm running two 3.5 E6 campaigns currently, and even then special allowances have to be made for many trope items to work. Although I do have to say that I like the sound of your campaign. :smallgrin:

vitkiraven
2012-01-04, 05:44 PM
There is no system that you will be truly happy with. It will never be perfectly balanced, have verisimilitude, and be able to tackle everything from completely mundane to high action where everyone has a little magic.

D&D 3.5 is the closest I know of, the tier 1s use buffs, debuffs, and BFC to play nice, and if that's not enough, using ToB for melee and factotum for skilllmonkey.

That is kind of what I am doing currently in the two e6 games I am running. I got rid of the tier 6 classes (replacing them with either UA Warrior for those that just NEED feats, or Warblade, and swordsage for monk), and the highest tier classes are a sorcerer (which is weakened in a way) and a druid that will never be allowed natural spell. Both of them have campaign setting issues as well, doesn't balance them out, but it does make them more interesting. The rest is filled out with Gnorman's stuff as a trial run.

It is entirely likely that I will never find a system, but I can at least ask those with more varied experience than my own about systems they have tried.

:biggrin:

vitkiraven
2012-01-04, 05:47 PM
My advice would be to houserule your own. Take what you like from some editions/versions, take something else from another, and then houserule everything together to get the system you want. My friends and i play a heavy mix of 1st and 2nd edition with a significant amount of houserules thrown in, to fit the individual needs of our player group. You seem to be a man of very select tastes, and crafting a system to your own works will be a much more rewarding experience then playing the edition roulette for the rest of eternity

You are probably entirely right in this. I was just hoping that there was something out there already, to minimize the work with getting other people familiar with it. Getting people to game something established is easier than something created, in my experience.

horseboy
2012-01-04, 05:55 PM
If you want "gritty" you're not going to get much more than Harn or Rolemaster.
If you want something a little more mechanically friendly there's Hot Chicks. You actually have to buy groceries and do laundry, and pay bills. Granted it's "Modern Fantasy" but pull out the guns and there you go.

Axon_Viking
2012-01-05, 12:55 AM
You might want to try Hollow Earth (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollow_Earth_Expedition). It is meant to take place in 1920's and can be odd to learn at first, but is easy pick up once you get going. It also has all the fantasy elements but can easily be more realistic. may not be what you are wanting, but is enjoyable as a low power survival game a single person is not going to kill a T-Rex at level one or any level really.

Anderlith
2012-01-05, 01:24 AM
Have you tried Warhammer FRP? Not the latest edition (people seem to hate it) but the one just before it.

vitkiraven
2012-01-05, 11:08 AM
Thank you all for recommendations, I will be checking them out as soon as I can get access to them. Off the top of anyone's head, do any of them go into as much detail as 7th Sea did for fighting stances for the Drachen Swordsmen?

Tyndmyr
2012-01-05, 12:31 PM
Castles and Crusades?

Edit: It seems you're referencing the Drexel school in 7th Sea. Drachen are something else entirely. It's pretty rare for RPGs to get into detail as granular as what position your sword is in, but stances are available in 3.5, via Tome of Battle.

Mark Hall
2012-01-05, 03:19 PM
Depending on your taste for complexity, I'd look at either Castles and Crusades or Hackmaster (currently in Basic, hopefully soon to release the PH).

Castles and Crusades runs on attribute checks. Classes are pretty static, but easy enough to switch out features or mod things to your taste. It's not got a lot of room for character optimization, and I find that the ability to use primes to define your character really lets you make the person you want, even if you have to make some tough choices. Also, it works with AD&D material with minimal conversion.

Hackmaster Basic (also called 5th edition Hackmaster) has a complex character creation system, and a lot of options, but it remains pretty simple and low-powered. Each level in HM is about equivalent to half a level in 1e, so a 2nd level character wouldn't be out of line competing with a 1st level character in 1e (once allowances are made for differing mechanics), and a 10th level HM character is about where a 5th level AD&D character is. It creates a much more finely-grained experience, letting people have the level-ups they like, without getting to the silly realm of power quickly.

Both are excellent games. Hackmaster has, hands down, the best bestiary ever, but its books tend towards expensive; NOT overpriced, but on the high end of the price point. Conversely, C&C books are low-middle on the price point, but tend to be a little more spartan.

Pigkappa
2012-01-05, 03:25 PM
Basically, what I am looking for is a system that has the day-to-day living requirements: rations, encumbrance, fatigue, weather, you know some verisimilitude. It also has to have a decent quotient of fantasy-related capabilities, yet allow established trope things to occur.
Mage: the Awakening comes to mind.

vitkiraven
2012-01-05, 07:07 PM
Castles and Crusades?

Edit: It seems you're referencing the Drexel school in 7th Sea. Drachen are something else entirely. It's pretty rare for RPGs to get into detail as granular as what position your sword is in, but stances are available in 3.5, via Tome of Battle.
That would be it. I was away from book, and couldn't remember it right. I am familiar with T.o.B., it just doesn't specify for weapon type styles. Some weapons can be used with certain stances, but other weapons are not as efficient in those same stances.
Maybe it is something I will just have to HR. I will look at castles and crusades, but I heard it was rather less complex than the things I am looking for. I could have always been told wrong...
Thank you for the correction for the school.
As a side note, from what I've seen, 7th sea took a lot of the info for the schools from old European Fighting Manuals, I do have a large amount of respect for companies that do that much research.

vitkiraven
2012-01-05, 07:22 PM
Mage: the Awakening comes to mind.

One of my favorite NWOD games. I much prefer to do Mortal campaigns though. When I want a spell slinger I go hedge wizard, but it is good game none the less.
:biggrin:

Raum
2012-01-05, 07:59 PM
The main problem I have with 3.5 is the inability to come even close to represent trope things when even the slightest bit of truth to mechanics is employed. Given what you've said, I'd recommend looking at games without level based power increases. You've already thrown out GURPS, yet it seems to have the detail you're looking for, any reasons why you didn't like it?

If it was too detailed, you might take a look at Savage Worlds or, for something different from traditional D&D, FATE. For something more like d20, Unisystem is worth a look...and Witchcraft used to be free (may still be, I don't know). You may also like BRP - I think it's Call of Cthulu's system. For something fast and gritty, Reign is worth a look.

Strormer
2012-01-06, 12:24 AM
Well, I've played a small pile of stuff and I've always found 3.5, and more recently Pathfinder, to be the most fun for long-term play, however I've played a few other systems that keep me rolling into the wee hours.
You've mentioned WW so I won't bore you with my WoD games, but I've taken a blender to the CWoD rules and come out with something fairly fun, ymmv. What I would suggest if you want a long-term, fun system that leaves room for mechanically screwing with players and adding more verisimilitude and/or fantasy as you desire, look up the Cortex RPG from Margret Weis Productions. It was originally made for the Serenity RPG and followed up with the Battlestar Galactica RPG, both of which are excellent games in my opinion, but the Cortex book that they released is more of a blank slate pile of rules options that you can use to construct a game of your own around a intuitive and very easy to use core mechanic. If you've got the time to really build up what you want to do from the ground up then this is a phenomenal system for you. I've often bounced back and forth between using cortex and using 3.5/PF for my homebrew world, but I've always come back to 3.5 for the fact that that's what I started it in and I don't want to go through all the time consumption of fully converting my world to Cortex, still, it will always sit in my mind as something I ought to do. Hope that helps and sorry about the text wall. :smallbiggrin:

Edit: BTW

Wizard-slayers of any kind (except of course other wizards) can never succeed at their job past level 6 or so. Maybr later with optimizing hardcore. It just cannot be done when you are facing someone with an Intelligence to rival Xanatos, with better resources.
I found that the spelltouched feats from UA helped greatly with this build, but take into account that I follow the sage wisdom neither an optimizer nor a munchkin be, so yeah...

vitkiraven
2012-01-06, 01:25 AM
Depending on your taste for complexity, I'd look at either Castles and Crusades or Hackmaster (currently in Basic, hopefully soon to release the PH).

Castles and Crusades runs on attribute checks. Classes are pretty static, but easy enough to switch out features or mod things to your taste. It's not got a lot of room for character optimization, and I find that the ability to use primes to define your character really lets you make the person you want, even if you have to make some tough choices. Also, it works with AD&D material with minimal conversion.

Hackmaster Basic (also called 5th edition Hackmaster) has a complex character creation system, and a lot of options, but it remains pretty simple and low-powered. Each level in HM is about equivalent to half a level in 1e, so a 2nd level character wouldn't be out of line competing with a 1st level character in 1e (once allowances are made for differing mechanics), and a 10th level HM character is about where a 5th level AD&D character is. It creates a much more finely-grained experience, letting people have the level-ups they like, without getting to the silly realm of power quickly.

Both are excellent games. Hackmaster has, hands down, the best bestiary ever, but its books tend towards expensive; NOT overpriced, but on the high end of the price point. Conversely, C&C books are low-middle on the price point, but tend to be a little more spartan.

I will check into both, as I can. Thank you for the recommendations.

vitkiraven
2012-01-06, 01:30 AM
Given what you've said, I'd recommend looking at games without level based power increases. You've already thrown out GURPS, yet it seems to have the detail you're looking for, any reasons why you didn't like it?

If it was too detailed, you might take a look at Savage Worlds or, for something different from traditional D&D, FATE. For something more like d20, Unisystem is worth a look...and Witchcraft used to be free (may still be, I don't know). You may also like BRP - I think it's Call of Cthulu's system. For something fast and gritty, Reign is worth a look.

Well, GURPS gave me a bad taste in how they handled weak level magical items (I mean costing strength for a magical alarm clock?) but my experience with it is over 18 years ago, so it might be time to check it out again. BRP is the system for CoC, and I've had some experience with it. I just don't remember how much detail the system goes into. I do like how you can actually have skills increase as they are used, instead of the whole level advancement theorem.
I will have to check the others as I can. Thank you for the recommendations.

vitkiraven
2012-01-06, 01:32 AM
Well, I've played a small pile of stuff and I've always found 3.5, and more recently Pathfinder, to be the most fun for long-term play, however I've played a few other systems that keep me rolling into the wee hours.
You've mentioned WW so I won't bore you with my WoD games, but I've taken a blender to the CWoD rules and come out with something fairly fun, ymmv. What I would suggest if you want a long-term, fun system that leaves room for mechanically screwing with players and adding more verisimilitude and/or fantasy as you desire, look up the Cortex RPG from Margret Weis Productions. It was originally made for the Serenity RPG and followed up with the Battlestar Galactica RPG, both of which are excellent games in my opinion, but the Cortex book that they released is more of a blank slate pile of rules options that you can use to construct a game of your own around a intuitive and very easy to use core mechanic. If you've got the time to really build up what you want to do from the ground up then this is a phenomenal system for you. I've often bounced back and forth between using cortex and using 3.5/PF for my homebrew world, but I've always come back to 3.5 for the fact that that's what I started it in and I don't want to go through all the time consumption of fully converting my world to Cortex, still, it will always sit in my mind as something I ought to do. Hope that helps and sorry about the text wall. :smallbiggrin:

Edit: BTW

I found that the spelltouched feats from UA helped greatly with this build, but take into account that I follow the sage wisdom neither an optimizer nor a munchkin be, so yeah...

Cortex might be an option, I will have to check into it, as with the others. And as for the Spoiler'd portion, the main problem that I have is that when you actually have the consideration of someone with the intelligence to have those kinds of spells, things like Conan and Aladdin can't hack it anymore for defeating them, even with a lot of those options.:smallmad:

Manateee
2012-01-06, 01:46 AM
Just as a heads-up, you'll want to be careful with Cortex.

The system's engine is fragile - it breaks down in group combat, and its number system makes individual characters' activities prohibitively difficult and group activities trivial.

It works best when you want the game to consist of players convincing one another to cooperate in achieving their conflicting individual goals, and where combat isn't an important part of the game.

meschlum
2012-01-06, 01:53 AM
A possibility would be Reve: The Dream Ouroboros.

1) It's fairly old school, meaning that aking damage in combat is BAD, healing is slow, and tracking your inventory can be quite helpful.

2) Basic mechanics are fairly simple in all, with some unusual features.

3) Skills are improved in two broad ways: succeeding at difficult tasks, which helps you improve the skill you used (and as you get better, formerly difficult tasks no longer qualify), and 'experience', which helps you up to a point.

4) Magic is fairly slow to use, very thematic, and ranges from the silly (turn everything purple in a large radius) to the powerful (teleport gates) with a side of creative (how many uses can you put a spell that turns metal into water to?) It can cause temporary bouts of minor madness, and is generally resistible (though that can be hard) or possible to outwit (or out wait) - so mage killers are an option.

5) Enchanting items is a somewhat difficult magical specialty. You start with the ability to enhance alchemical concoctions (and healing herbs) so they'll deliver their full, improved effect very fast - healing potions put people to sleep in order to work. Then you can pick up ways of making items more (swords that are better for combat, brooms that sweep better...), can use magical effects (flying brooms, instruments that play themselves), or animate to some extent (self moving brooms, safes that only open with the proper password). It's difficult but fairly intuitive, and you have a motivation to go out and adventure in order to get the best materials you can get - though you can work with cheaper products at need.

6) Dying isn't too important - everyone and everything is dreamed by dragons anyway, so they'll dream you elsewhere, where you'll wake up and possibly meet the rest of your party. Though you lose on experience and loot, so it's not a safety net. It's a great justification for one-shot games, too.

7) The setting is fun.

Strormer
2012-01-06, 02:44 AM
Just as a heads-up, you'll want to be careful with Cortex.

The system's engine is fragile - it breaks down in group combat, and its number system makes individual characters' activities prohibitively difficult and group activities trivial.

It works best when you want the game to consist of players convincing one another to cooperate in achieving their conflicting individual goals, and where combat isn't an important part of the game.

The individual vs group is a bit true. The combat we managed to get working with the plentiful application of PP. They do say that PP should be spent as fast as you're earning them, no hoarding. Still, you are correct, the system does break if any player makes the effort to do so.

Manateee
2012-01-06, 03:04 AM
I don't want to sound too harsh on it (I'm actually a big fan of it for some games), just to give a warning for a problem I've seen too many times with Serenity, etc. It's just similar enough to the combat-heavy Savage Worlds that it can be easy to treat it similarly and end up with the game spiraling off in a weird direction because of mechanical quirks.

------------

The system I'd recommend though is Strands of Fate. It's a flavorless toolbox like Cortex that can be applied to various types of games, but its engine uses a mechanic called 'aspects' that I think could be useful here.

In the course of typical gameplay, the players and GM are able to 'tag' characters and situations with aspects - formally applying 'aspects' to characters and scenarios where the circumstances permit. So if players are trying to sneak into a bandit camp in a desert, they can exploit the guards' Thirst or Snow-blindness without complex mechanical systems supporting those concepts.

Jay R
2012-01-06, 11:24 AM
"Established trope things" is a generic phrase. What, specifically, so you want?

vitkiraven
2012-01-06, 02:27 PM
Cortex fragility:

Just as a heads-up, you'll want to be careful with Cortex.
The system's engine is fragile - it breaks down in group combat, and its number system makes individual characters' activities prohibitively difficult and group activities trivial.
It works best when you want the game to consist of players convincing one another to cooperate in achieving their conflicting individual goals, and where combat isn't an important part of the game.
If it's that fragile, I might not want to look into it. I don't mind player competition, and I really like intrigue and multiple layer plots and deceptions. I'll still check into it, but I will be keeping a wary eye towards the fragility. If I have to strive to maintain the system, it will probably get tossed in the no pile.

Reve: The Dream Ouroboros:
A possibility would be Reve: The Dream Ouroboros.
1) It's fairly old school, meaning that aking damage in combat is BAD, healing is slow, and tracking your inventory can be quite helpful.
2) Basic mechanics are fairly simple in all, with some unusual features.
3) Skills are improved in two broad ways: succeeding at difficult tasks, which helps you improve the skill you used (and as you get better, formerly difficult tasks no longer qualify), and 'experience', which helps you up to a point.
4) Magic is fairly slow to use, very thematic, and ranges from the silly (turn everything purple in a large radius) to the powerful (teleport gates) with a side of creative (how many uses can you put a spell that turns metal into water to?) It can cause temporary bouts of minor madness, and is generally resistible (though that can be hard) or possible to outwit (or out wait) - so mage killers are an option.
5) Enchanting items is a somewhat difficult magical specialty. You start with the ability to enhance alchemical concoctions (and healing herbs) so they'll deliver their full, improved effect very fast - healing potions put people to sleep in order to work. Then you can pick up ways of making items more (swords that are better for combat, brooms that sweep better...), can use magical effects (flying brooms, instruments that play themselves), or animate to some extent (self moving brooms, safes that only open with the proper password). It's difficult but fairly intuitive, and you have a motivation to go out and adventure in order to get the best materials you can get - though you can work with cheaper products at need.
6) Dying isn't too important - everyone and everything is dreamed by dragons anyway, so they'll dream you elsewhere, where you'll wake up and possibly meet the rest of your party. Though you lose on experience and loot, so it's not a safety net. It's a great justification for one-shot games, too.
7) The setting is fun.
Hmm... I usually prefer mortality to be some what important, or rather central. Revolving door death is kind of a peeve of mine. Some of the other things are rather decent, and I might have to steal them if I go ahead and make a homebrew.

Individualism in Cortex:
The individual vs group is a bit true. The combat we managed to get working with the plentiful application of PP. They do say that PP should be spent as fast as you're earning them, no hoarding. Still, you are correct, the system does break if any player makes the effort to do so.
That level of fragility is a caution point for me.

Strands of fate:
I don't want to sound too harsh on it (I'm actually a big fan of it for some games), just to give a warning for a problem I've seen too many times with Serenity, etc. It's just similar enough to the combat-heavy Savage Worlds that it can be easy to treat it similarly and end up with the game spiraling off in a weird direction because of mechanical quirks.
------------
The system I'd recommend though is Strands of Fate. It's a flavorless toolbox like Cortex that can be applied to various types of games, but its engine uses a mechanic called 'aspects' that I think could be useful here.
In the course of typical gameplay, the players and GM are able to 'tag' characters and situations with aspects - formally applying 'aspects' to characters and scenarios where the circumstances permit. So if players are trying to sneak into a bandit camp in a desert, they can exploit the guards' Thirst or Snow-blindness without complex mechanical systems supporting those concepts.
Aspects might be something I steal, if I don't end up going with that game. I was already thinking of something to that style, but if their system is already done, then it may be easier to pillage it.


"Established trope things" is a generic phrase. What, specifically, so you want?
Well, the pain parts of my problem with established trope things is that the following list is not really able to be accomplished, without heavy house-ruling:

(Most of this is going to be a complain session about tier 1 characters)

Mage-Slayers: Dealing with someone that has the Power and Intelligence of a Wizard means that the thing devolves from a Conan slays the Wizard to Xanatos Gambits for dummies. There are so many ways around not being effected by magic that it's usually the modus operandi for Wizards to go that route. No real way around this, as once wizards get to like 6th level or so, it's not a real likelihood if they are played (PC or NPC) to their Intelligence. This does not correspond to the types of spells and powers that the wizards that are slain in fiction in this manner have. No normal person with anti-magic will do (even if you can find a way to get anti-magic permanently as a normal person).

Squishy Wizard: After a certain point, with their buffs, a wizard is less squishy than a rogue, or even a fighter. They were much more fragile in 2nd edition, but much of that went away in 3rd and 3.5.

Master Swordsman: Usually not a swordsman after all, probably a Cleric (once high enough level, they have the same BAB (through spells) and better abilities. Warblades might keep up for a little while longer, but really any class that can cast spells can become a better fighter than a fighter.

Master Thief: The best person to steal the crown's jewels isn't someone who has been a thief all of their life, it's a 9th level (or higher) Wizard.

And I get kind of upset at the tropes that they did start, and perform so adequately at, i.e. Linear Warriors/ Quadratic Wizards (and Geometric Priests), A Spellcaster Does it Better, CODzilla, Warriors can't have nice things, and some other problems I have with the system.


Main thing that frustrates me with the Fanservice that Spellcaster players got, even in the Core. So, for now, I'm stuck with GMing strickly regulated E-6, while I search out a better game.

I know people will disagree with many of the things I said, but my experience is that the game has made it that the best person to do ANYTHING is a wizard (or cleric, or druid, etc...) instead of the person that has been doing it their whole life.

The Glyphstone
2012-01-06, 03:17 PM
So, the only trope you actually object to is Linear Fighters, Quadratic Wizards? That seems to be the root of all your issues.

Sidmen
2012-01-06, 11:50 PM
I would like to throw the AGE system into the ring, the system is currently only used by the Dragon Age RPG (http://greenronin.com/dragon_age/), though it has a small (and growing) community that is homebrewing all kinds of stuff into it.

It doesn't (yet) go a full 20 levels, since they're putting out smaller sets and building up the game from the bottom up - as opposed to slamming down a full rulebook that supposedly covers a full adventurer's career.

While I've since modded the heck out of the core game, the core is very stable and doesn't run into problems where Magic-Users become impossible to kill gods (they can still be dangerous and scary) like other systems do.

Anyway... I'd suggest buying the first set - or at the very least checking out the Quickstart (http://greenronin.com/2011/06/dragon_age_rpg_quickstart_guid.php). I've not once regretted using it for my games.

vitkiraven
2012-01-07, 12:57 AM
So, the only trope you actually object to is Linear Fighters, Quadratic Wizards? That seems to be the root of all your issues.

Well, there are other things, but I think it boils down more to "There's a Spell for That" than just pure power. Giving up power now, for power later is a fine concept, which I don't mind. It's just being able to do things better than someone who's job is that thing, at the same (or even lower) level is a bit of a pain for me.

vitkiraven
2012-01-07, 11:04 AM
I would like to throw the AGE system into the ring, the system is currently only used by the Dragon Age RPG (http://greenronin.com/dragon_age/), though it has a small (and growing) community that is homebrewing all kinds of stuff into it.

It doesn't (yet) go a full 20 levels, since they're putting out smaller sets and building up the game from the bottom up - as opposed to slamming down a full rulebook that supposedly covers a full adventurer's career.

While I've since modded the heck out of the core game, the core is very stable and doesn't run into problems where Magic-Users become impossible to kill gods (they can still be dangerous and scary) like other systems do.

Anyway... I'd suggest buying the first set - or at the very least checking out the Quickstart (http://greenronin.com/2011/06/dragon_age_rpg_quickstart_guid.php). I've not once regretted using it for my games.

I'm looking it over, the setting seems dark enough. How does dehydration, starvation, fatigue, exhaustion, bleeding, and other mortal concerns fit into the rules set?

dobu
2012-01-07, 12:52 PM
Well, GURPS gave me a bad taste in how they handled weak level magical items (I mean costing strength for a magical alarm clock?) but my experience with it is over 18 years ago, so it might be time to check it out again. BRP is the system for CoC, and I've had some experience with it. I just don't remember how much detail the system goes into. I do like how you can actually have skills increase as they are used, instead of the whole level advancement theorem.
I will have to check the others as I can. Thank you for the recommendations.

well, there are MANY alternative magic systems available for gurps. I would check it out again, it has evolved quite a bit imho.

[edit] and as a follow up to your last post: these are things that are handled by gurps, straight out of the basic book.

Sidmen
2012-01-08, 03:39 AM
I'm looking it over, the setting seems dark enough. How does dehydration, starvation, fatigue, exhaustion, bleeding, and other mortal concerns fit into the rules set?

It handles them very loosely, allowing you to either make a big deal out of them or to let them slip by the wayside. Dehydration, Starvation and Exhaustion would all fit into Circumstantial Penalties, which can quickly become quite daunting. I once applied all of them (except Dehydration) in addition to hypothermia during one winter campaign - it got to the point where my starving, freezing, exhausted players were debating on killing a kid they were toting around and eating her - they didn't, but it really hurts when you can't seem to succeed at anything because of hunger cramps, frozen fingers, and micro-blackouts.

Unfortunately, it doesn't cover Bleeding at all - though adding that in wouldn't be a problem with the framework provided.

vitkiraven
2012-01-08, 11:35 AM
well, there are MANY alternative magic systems available for gurps. I would check it out again, it has evolved quite a bit imho.

[edit] and as a follow up to your last post: these are things that are handled by gurps, straight out of the basic book.

I'll add it to the list that I have to check out again.

vitkiraven
2012-01-08, 11:36 AM
It handles them very loosely, allowing you to either make a big deal out of them or to let them slip by the wayside. Dehydration, Starvation and Exhaustion would all fit into Circumstantial Penalties, which can quickly become quite daunting. I once applied all of them (except Dehydration) in addition to hypothermia during one winter campaign - it got to the point where my starving, freezing, exhausted players were debating on killing a kid they were toting around and eating her - they didn't, but it really hurts when you can't seem to succeed at anything because of hunger cramps, frozen fingers, and micro-blackouts.

Unfortunately, it doesn't cover Bleeding at all - though adding that in wouldn't be a problem with the framework provided.

So they can only penalize one's actions, you can't die from the above, or is there a mechanic for that as well?

How detailed does the critical hit system get into, and what about targeting specific parts of the body?

Sidmen
2012-01-08, 11:31 PM
So they can only penalize one's actions, you can't die from the above, or is there a mechanic for that as well?

How detailed does the critical hit system get into, and what about targeting specific parts of the body?
Once the "this sucks, I'm starving" period ends, and moves into "I'm Starving to Death!" it would shift from a Conditional Penalty to an actual Hazard (which is a general system for the 101 different things that can hurt you). Hazards, as a general system (as opposed to a specific system intended to model privation) would inflict damage to your health at regular intervals (which you'd have to decide on) potentially killing you if you don't use magic to keep yourself alive.

After reading your question, it literally took me 30 seconds to decide how I'd model starvation with the Hazard system (Major Hazard (3d6 penetrating damage), recurring every 24 hours, TN 13 Constitution (Stamina) for half damage).
I'd start this after (Constitution) weeks of going without food (average: 1-2 weeks). What it literally means is that they'd take 3d6 damage, which ignores armor, every day - half that if they pass a (severely penalized - from the Conditional Penalty) moderately difficult test. For a weakling, this could kill them in a few days without magical assistance.


Now, Critical Hits, this is where I fell in love with the system. Every time you make an attack roll (with Set 2 it extends the possibility to all rolls) you have a chance to generate Stunt Points - which are the system's Critical Hits. With SP you can "buy" a wide variety of stunts. Stunts run the gambit from More Damage, knocking people prone, disarming them, smashing grenades in peoples' hands, moving to top initiative, stabbing people in weak spots in their armor, and on and on.

It doesn't specifically call out individual body parts that you can hit, but a fan supplement includes an injury addon, which adds the possibility to break bones, leave gaping wounds, or give concussions.

Some people won't like the fact that you must wait for Stunt Points to perform maneuvers, I personally do - since it compartmentalizes each maneuver into a single mechanical representation - as opposed to the paragraphs of text that can be found in other systems for each.

nihil8r
2012-01-09, 12:15 AM
anyone have thoughts on rolemaster or fantasycraft or mutants and masterminds? never tried them but heard of them.

Draz74
2012-01-09, 12:42 AM
OP, it sounds to me like you should check out OldSchoolHack (http://www.oldschoolhack.net/).

olthar
2012-01-09, 02:17 AM
So, the only trope you actually object to is Linear Fighters, Quadratic Wizards? That seems to be the root of all your issues.

This does seem to be the case. Instead of playing around with new systems, I'd also suggest that you just homebrew D&D to fit what you want. I'm currently in a 1/3.5 homebrew that leaves much to be desired, but has definitely removed many of the elements of that particular trope.

Were I to have the time to put together my own homebrew, here are a few things I'd do to try and even out some of that amazing power of casters (because it really is more linear warriors infinite wizards/codzillas).
easy ways to even out class powers (some that I've played with and some that I have not).


Restrict the spell lists. Spells like polymorph shouldn't be there.
Make people actually need to have spell components and then limit what they can carry. Then make those components not really easy to find. Everard's Tentacles of Forced Intrusion require a piece of giant octopus or giant squid. That probably isn't sold at any old store.
3.5 removed negatives from spells which is partially why some spells went from usable to amazingly powerful. For example, Polymorph used to involve a system shock roll to save vs. death or Haste would age a character a year. You can't just haste every combat if you have a party of humans and no ways to remove magical aging.
3.5 made a caster memorizes all of his/her spells in an hour. In 1st and 2nd it would take something like 10 or 15 mins per spell level. At low levels this isn't much. If a lv 18 caster used his entire daily allotment of spells then suddenly that's 1840 minutes to fill all slots (without any additional spells for int or anything). So either casters need to slow down the spell use or they can only adventure 6 days in 14.
In older editions clerics had more than just alignment restrictions on spells. Each diety had a few magical spheres and you could only use spells of those types. Putting that back in place restricts the gamebreaking power of clerics (do the same for druids).
Create some of your own items that are specifically anti-magic. Does it need to fit one of the predetermined magic spells? No. If you can point me to the exact spell that creates a bag of holding I'd appreciate it so that I could make one. When you ask why someone would make that, maybe it wasn't a mage made item. Maybe it's prietly magic, or maybe they're created by a sect of anti-wizard mages.
Don't make every magic item imaginable available to buy.
Keep track of encumbrance and stuff like that. Even if your cleric or druid puts points into str they probably don't have the required strength to carry the equipment to make them as versatile as a fighter and Mages start to become encumbered under the weight of their clothes and spell components.
Fix the Feat system. Now that you're keeping track of spell components, rations, etc., remove something like eschew materials that allow casters to use some spells infinitely. Some feats (e.g. dodge, toughness) are huge wastes of feats that other feats sometimes require. Simply remove them. Possibly create non-caster specific feats for fighting casters (like the giant (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0600.html). Also many more feats should be class restricted. Why should a caster who spends all of her time learning to cast be able to take improved initiative which is about acting quickly?
3.5 made magic item creation really easy. Look at what you had to do in 1 or 2e and then look at 3.5. I don't think either system has it right, but 3.5 incentivized taking time off to create amazingly powerful items. It also only pretended to add a penalty for doing so by giving higher amounts of xp to lower level characters. It's actually sometimes in the mage's best interest to create an extra item/scroll to drop down a level so they can get more xp for the next few encounters. Even worse, if you require characters to train to get up a level, then an entire adventure untrained may allow an item creator to pass the group in xp (it's unlikely, but possible).
Edit the skill list. It shouldn't be possible for someone to have everything, but 2 different seeing skills is kind of poorly thought out. Having some skills usable untrained makes them pointless to take (as someone who taught people to swim for 9 years I can tell you that you cannot use this skill untrained and even regular clothes make swimming more difficult so I can't imagine what armor would do). Have the classes in mind while you do this and suddenly that amazing mage versatility will again be dampened.

Honestly, even more than the system, think about what the consequences of magic would be in the world. I don't think anything really did when making 3e which is partially why it becomes so quadratic. In 1 and 2e that can be partially handwaved by the idea that magic is much rarer and more dangerous, but in 3 and 3.5 magic is everywhere. The only 3.5 setting that makes sense to me is Eberron and the whole idea of it makes me kind of sick (magical trains). Think of the technology level that you want and then set the availability and power of magic to fit that level.

In short, mages don't need to be quadratic. I'm not saying remove all versatility, or even any of it. So some of the tier stuff should still come through, but there should be significant negatives attached to the significant positives. If the fighter can go out and fight every day, but the caster can only do that 6 in 14, then the fighter should be levels ahead of the caster among other things. If the party is ok with waiting 30+ hours for the mage after every day, then they have no right to complain that the mage is more powerful because they should have told the mage to conserve spells.
I'm sure there are some comprehensive posts out there that talk much more in-depth than this and can get you partially along the way you want. Plus, you have 20 odd years of experience to direct you where you want to go.

Jay R
2012-01-09, 07:09 AM
The easiest fix is to have several encounters per day. The biggest weakness wizards have is the spell slot limit, and if the number of encounters per day is small, the DM has taken away that weakness. This is one of the reasons that dungeon crawls are more balanced than quests.

Fighters and thieves don't run out of sword slots and "Hide in Shadows" slots.

Friv
2012-01-09, 10:33 AM
This is going to sound a little weird, so hear me out before you start laughing, but I recommend Exalted.

The game can be stripped of the actual Exalts and high-tier monsters pretty easily, and there are rules for nearly all of the things you were discussing - most of them get ignored when Exalts are around, but mortals are squishy and need to worry about bleeding, infection, passing out when crossing deserts and so on. Thaumaturgy provides a lot of cool magic at a low power-tier that doesn't render non-mages obsolete, and you can decide whether or not to allow supernatural martial arts depending on if you want a more western or eastern flavour to the game. There are a host of monsters that are serious threats to a mortal party, and you can just remove the ones that are over the top.

The Glyphstone
2012-01-09, 11:40 AM
The easiest fix is to have several encounters per day. The biggest weakness wizards have is the spell slot limit, and if the number of encounters per day is small, the DM has taken away that weakness. This is one of the reasons that dungeon crawls are more balanced than quests.

Fighters and thieves don't run out of sword slots and "Hide in Shadows" slots.

No, they run out of hit points instead, which are replenished by the caster's spell slots.

Nothing about a dungeon crawl is more balanced than a quest - in fact, a dungeon crawl is less balanced, because it lacks any story-based aspects that prevent the party from squirreling away inside their Rope Trick anytime they feel like recharging to full.

Tyndmyr
2012-01-09, 11:54 AM
Thank you for the correction for the school.
As a side note, from what I've seen, 7th sea took a lot of the info for the schools from old European Fighting Manuals, I do have a large amount of respect for companies that do that much research.

No worries, I've been playing that system off and on for a decade, it's definitely my favorite RPG. It's pretty fantastic at what it does, but it's very, very tightly tied to the setting. I've also not seen it used in a gritty "count your rations" fashion, but I suppose it could be, so long as the party contains no nobility or the like.

I've got a somewhat similar system under development, but it's tightly tied to a modern world, not a classic fantasy one. I suppose there's nothing entirely preventing taking the D10 system in different ways, though.

Castles and Crusades is probably a touch on the light side of complexity for what you're looking for, but there really isn't anything closer than 3.5 to that niche that does it well, IMO. It's a style very reminiscent of the older Avlon Hill games and the like, with fine grained detail, but newer game design has been trending toward more abstraction, not less.

I recall flipping through the Serenity rulebook and not being impressed. I love the world, I love the story, but the mechanics didn't seem that great or well tested.

vitkiraven
2012-01-09, 12:23 PM
Dragonage/ Sidmen:

Once the "this sucks, I'm starving" period ends, and moves into "I'm Starving to Death!" it would shift from a Conditional Penalty to an actual Hazard (which is a general system for the 101 different things that can hurt you). Hazards, as a general system (as opposed to a specific system intended to model privation) would inflict damage to your health at regular intervals (which you'd have to decide on) potentially killing you if you don't use magic to keep yourself alive.
After reading your question, it literally took me 30 seconds to decide how I'd model starvation with the Hazard system (Major Hazard (3d6 penetrating damage), recurring every 24 hours, TN 13 Constitution (Stamina) for half damage).
I'd start this after (Constitution) weeks of going without food (average: 1-2 weeks). What it literally means is that they'd take 3d6 damage, which ignores armor, every day - half that if they pass a (severely penalized - from the Conditional Penalty) moderately difficult test. For a weakling, this could kill them in a few days without magical assistance.
Now, Critical Hits, this is where I fell in love with the system. Every time you make an attack roll (with Set 2 it extends the possibility to all rolls) you have a chance to generate Stunt Points - which are the system's Critical Hits. With SP you can "buy" a wide variety of stunts. Stunts run the gambit from More Damage, knocking people prone, disarming them, smashing grenades in peoples' hands, moving to top initiative, stabbing people in weak spots in their armor, and on and on.
It doesn't specifically call out individual body parts that you can hit, but a fan supplement includes an injury addon, which adds the possibility to break bones, leave gaping wounds, or give concussions.
Some people won't like the fact that you must wait for Stunt Points to perform maneuvers, I personally do - since it compartmentalizes each maneuver into a single mechanical representation - as opposed to the paragraphs of text that can be found in other systems for each.
I might have to look at all of that, some of that was covered in the quickstart, some of it was not there.
Rolemaster, etc nihil8r
anyone have thoughts on rolemaster or fantasycraft or mutants and masterminds? never tried them but heard of them.
I haven't seen much of these either, but does anyone know if they have quickstarts?
Oldschoolhack, Draz74
OP, it sounds to me like you should check out OldSchoolHack (http://www.oldschoolhack.net/).

I will be looking at this more in depth after work tonight, just d/l the pdf from the site. 10's and 12's, my crown royal bag will require some digging through for the required dice. :smallbiggrin:

3.5 revive, olthar
This does seem to be the case. Instead of playing around with new systems, I'd also suggest that you just homebrew D&D to fit what you want. I'm currently in a 1/3.5 homebrew that leaves much to be desired, but has definitely removed many of the elements of that particular trope.
Were I to have the time to put together my own homebrew, here are a few things I'd do to try and even out some of that amazing power of casters (because it really is more linear warriors infinite wizards/codzillas).
easy ways to even out class powers (some that I've played with and some that I have not).


Restrict the spell lists. Spells like polymorph shouldn't be there.
Make people actually need to have spell components and then limit what they can carry. Then make those components not really easy to find. Everard's Tentacles of Forced Intrusion require a piece of giant octopus or giant squid. That probably isn't sold at any old store.
3.5 removed negatives from spells which is partially why some spells went from usable to amazingly powerful. For example, Polymorph used to involve a system shock roll to save vs. death or Haste would age a character a year. You can't just haste every combat if you have a party of humans and no ways to remove magical aging.
3.5 made a caster memorizes all of his/her spells in an hour. In 1st and 2nd it would take something like 10 or 15 mins per spell level. At low levels this isn't much. If a lv 18 caster used his entire daily allotment of spells then suddenly that's 1840 minutes to fill all slots (without any additional spells for int or anything). So either casters need to slow down the spell use or they can only adventure 6 days in 14.
In older editions clerics had more than just alignment restrictions on spells. Each diety had a few magical spheres and you could only use spells of those types. Putting that back in place restricts the gamebreaking power of clerics (do the same for druids).
Create some of your own items that are specifically anti-magic. Does it need to fit one of the predetermined magic spells? No. If you can point me to the exact spell that creates a bag of holding I'd appreciate it so that I could make one. When you ask why someone would make that, maybe it wasn't a mage made item. Maybe it's prietly magic, or maybe they're created by a sect of anti-wizard mages.
Don't make every magic item imaginable available to buy.
Keep track of encumbrance and stuff like that. Even if your cleric or druid puts points into str they probably don't have the required strength to carry the equipment to make them as versatile as a fighter and Mages start to become encumbered under the weight of their clothes and spell components.
Fix the Feat system. Now that you're keeping track of spell components, rations, etc., remove something like eschew materials that allow casters to use some spells infinitely. Some feats (e.g. dodge, toughness) are huge wastes of feats that other feats sometimes require. Simply remove them. Possibly create non-caster specific feats for fighting casters (like the giant (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0600.html). Also many more feats should be class restricted. Why should a caster who spends all of her time learning to cast be able to take improved initiative which is about acting quickly?
3.5 made magic item creation really easy. Look at what you had to do in 1 or 2e and then look at 3.5. I don't think either system has it right, but 3.5 incentivized taking time off to create amazingly powerful items. It also only pretended to add a penalty for doing so by giving higher amounts of xp to lower level characters. It's actually sometimes in the mage's best interest to create an extra item/scroll to drop down a level so they can get more xp for the next few encounters. Even worse, if you require characters to train to get up a level, then an entire adventure untrained may allow an item creator to pass the group in xp (it's unlikely, but possible).
Edit the skill list. It shouldn't be possible for someone to have everything, but 2 different seeing skills is kind of poorly thought out. Having some skills usable untrained makes them pointless to take (as someone who taught people to swim for 9 years I can tell you that you cannot use this skill untrained and even regular clothes make swimming more difficult so I can't imagine what armor would do). Have the classes in mind while you do this and suddenly that amazing mage versatility will again be dampened.

Honestly, even more than the system, think about what the consequences of magic would be in the world. I don't think anything really did when making 3e which is partially why it becomes so quadratic. In 1 and 2e that can be partially handwaved by the idea that magic is much rarer and more dangerous, but in 3 and 3.5 magic is everywhere. The only 3.5 setting that makes sense to me is Eberron and the whole idea of it makes me kind of sick (magical trains). Think of the technology level that you want and then set the availability and power of magic to fit that level.

In short, mages don't need to be quadratic. I'm not saying remove all versatility, or even any of it. So some of the tier stuff should still come through, but there should be significant negatives attached to the significant positives. If the fighter can go out and fight every day, but the caster can only do that 6 in 14, then the fighter should be levels ahead of the caster among other things. If the party is ok with waiting 30+ hours for the mage after every day, then they have no right to complain that the mage is more powerful because they should have told the mage to conserve spells.
I'm sure there are some comprehensive posts out there that talk much more in-depth than this and can get you partially along the way you want. Plus, you have 20 odd years of experience to direct you where you want to go.

For the two E-6 campaigns, I have done things similar things.
I've removed any chance of casting spells in forms other than your own, spell component pouches are needed, the spell slingers are all 1st level, so the spells are not too bad yet, I am toying with the idea of returning to the staple of wizards loosing their spells when they go unconscious but I haven't implemented that yet, I don't have a magic item market in my games also, to prevent people from getting everything they just want (but then again, that isn't a real block to wizards or priests), but the problem with making magic items is that they have to follow the rules of magic items, I do follow encumbrance rules, as I mentioned above, I hadn't come to the thought of class restricting feats yet, that might help. Making the Metamagic feats cost more might help to prevent some abuses, As for the xp/ magic item problem, you gave me an idea. Phantom XP. Lower XP by creating magic items does lower your total XP, but you would be considered to have your total XP for the purposes of what XP you gain. Example: if you have lost enough XP to making items that you are effectively a level or two behind the party, you still get xp as if you were at the level of the party. Same with Spells. You advance from your XP-items, but acquire XP as per your Total XP acquired. choppy, but would help with the river problem. I proposed some of these HR's in a separate forum thread, and got mostly negative responses, with bad results.
I still feel I need to be closer to 2nd edition than to 3rd or 3.5, but many of those changes can help.

Encounters per day quandary, Jay R
The easiest fix is to have several encounters per day. The biggest weakness wizards have is the spell slot limit, and if the number of encounters per day is small, the DM has taken away that weakness. This is one of the reasons that dungeon crawls are more balanced than quests.
Fighters and thieves don't run out of sword slots and "Hide in Shadows" slots.
I wish it worked like that, but unfortunately it doesn't really, at least in the games I've seen.

Exaalted, Friv
This is going to sound a little weird, so hear me out before you start laughing, but I recommend Exalted.

The game can be stripped of the actual Exalts and high-tier monsters pretty easily, and there are rules for nearly all of the things you were discussing - most of them get ignored when Exalts are around, but mortals are squishy and need to worry about bleeding, infection, passing out when crossing deserts and so on. Thaumaturgy provides a lot of cool magic at a low power-tier that doesn't render non-mages obsolete, and you can decide whether or not to allow supernatural martial arts depending on if you want a more western or eastern flavour to the game. There are a host of monsters that are serious threats to a mortal party, and you can just remove the ones that are over the top.
I know exalted is from WW, but I haven't checked out the system, since I looked over their forum boards and decided to not look again, is it really gritty accessible?


Thank you for the suggestions:

I am currently checking out Dragon Age more intently, looking back into 2nd edition, and thus will probably be looking into Hackmaster soon as well.
I am also looking into BRP, to see how compatible it is. I didn't mind the quickstart of Cthulhu: Dark Ages, so maybe it has some promise.

Harn is a little harder to get ahold of, so that might take a few days.
Others will be checked out as I can.

Arbane
2012-01-09, 07:29 PM
Exaalted, Friv
I know exalted is from WW, but I haven't checked out the system, since I looked over their forum boards and decided to not look again, is it really gritty accessible?


The system is fairly gritty. Mortals have to worry about bleeding, infections, sickness, and all that good stuff, and wearing armor is pretty much essential to surviving a swordfight.

The Exalted get to pretty much ignore all of that, as part of the whole 'divine champion' deal, but it is in the rules. One problem will be the need to make up a lot of your own background and antagonists, as most mortals will evaporate on contact with pretty much ANYTHING that's an Exalted-level threat. :smallbiggrin:



I am also looking into BRP, to see how compatible it is. I didn't mind the quickstart of Cthulhu: Dark Ages, so maybe it has some promise.

If you're interested in BRP, check out the RuneQuest version of it. It's specifically for fantasy, and assuming it isn't too big a change from older editions, it gets around the Linear Warriors/Quadratic Wizards problem by letting _everyone_ use a little magic.


anyone have thoughts on rolemaster or fantasycraft or mutants and masterminds? never tried them but heard of them.

I've played Rolemaster, briefly. I am NOT a big fan of it. Too many charts, too many ways to die horribly from one blown die-roll.

I've played Mutants & Masterminds. From what I've seen, it's a pretty good superhero game, and I know it's got at least one sourcebook out specifically for using it for fantasy adventures. This has the advantage that you can customize magic in your world any way you want. (It has the disadvantage that you will HAVE to customize magic in your world to make it work the way you want.)

Gavinfoxx
2012-01-09, 10:30 PM
If you like fighting stances, try The Riddle of Steel, or some of the successor systems being developed (go check the riddle of steel forums, there are a few systems coming along).

Also check out Codex Martialis; using that in an E6 game where player characters are limited to Rogue/Expert/Aristocrat/Fighter does the realistic fighting thing REALLY REALLY well.

Sidmen
2012-01-10, 12:04 AM
Dragonage,Sidmen:
I might have to look at all of that, some of that was covered in the quickstart, some of it was not there.
I will warn you that everything I've mentioned has been confined to a few generic sub-systems in the game, and using them in ways that most people won't think of. The circumstantial penalties/bonuses are literally things that occur "when the ST feels that a situation is particularly stressful or beneficial to the test". Which, if you are using starvation in your game - you will decide it is stressful.

The only real difference is that, unlike in DnD, a -1 penalty actually hurts, and a -3 penalty makes things actually challenging.



Exaalted, Friv
I know exalted is from WW, but I haven't checked out the system, since I looked over their forum boards and decided to not look again, is it really gritty accessible? I've done exactly this with the Exalted engine, I played in a mortal/godblood game. The boards usually talk about the highest-powered exalts (the Solars, Lunars, Sidereals, and Alchemicals), and these trivially ignore most of the game's grit. A solar can trivially kill a dozen ghosts in a single "round" (there are no turns, which makes combat slightly more difficult to wrap your head around).

For a Mortal or a Godblood (slightly more powerful Mortal, mixed with spirit ancestry), death is all but certain in virtually every encounter, and its a struggle to do anything. I played a thaumaturge/enchanter, and we were sent into some sewers to retrieve some carvings from a ruin under the city. I got hit by a crazy cannibal wielding an axe - my enchanted silk-steel armor deflected most of the blow, but I got cut - taking 1 point of damage (out of a Max of 7).

I nearly died, as I bled out on the ground after the cannibals were driven off - trying in vain to stitch my wound up with a strand of my own hair and a needle that I used as a weapon... I managed to get it under control, only to later realize that it had become infected. It literally took divine intervention (or in my case, infernal intervention) to prevent my death from it. The warrior, who had taken 2 (of 8) points of damage, did die from his infection.

Of course, I later consulted a doctor to find out how to... not have that happen... the solution was to seal the wound with a hot iron, or use antibacterial herbs (like mint). And all of this, was in the Exalted ruleset.


Why do I say this, while promoting Dragon Age? Because I want you to find what you want. The AGE system is a great loose system that you can use for many things, and its rules are laid out in a few small books (like 60 page small). Exalted is a very crunchy system whose rules are found everywhere across all its books - which I didn't like since it leads to a GM not knowing all the possible rule combinations. Still, if that is what you want - Exalted can provide a very gritty world for mortal players. (and while mortal sorcerers can kill everyone in s football-field sized area, that will be all they can do that day - before falling back on their mundane skills).

Jay R
2012-01-10, 12:30 PM
No, they run out of hit points instead, which are replenished by the caster's spell slots.

Nothing about a dungeon crawl is more balanced than a quest - in fact, a dungeon crawl is less balanced, because it lacks any story-based aspects that prevent the party from squirreling away inside their Rope Trick anytime they feel like recharging to full.

Oh, yes, that reminds me. You also need to get rid of all low-level risk-free spells that are infallible defenses against any level of threat.

One of the best ways to lower the relative strength of spellcasters is to have the occasional night-time ambush, so they need to keep some spell slots in reserve.

Hiro Protagonest
2012-01-10, 01:12 PM
Oh, yes, that reminds me. You also need to get rid of all low-level risk-free spells that are infallible defenses against any level of threat.

One of the best ways to lower the relative strength of spellcasters is to have the occasional night-time ambush, so they need to keep some spell slots in reserve.

Uh huh. Once they hit 5th level, casters can cast two spells per encounter and still have a few left over in case of things like ambushes or obstacles.

Arbane
2012-01-11, 02:06 AM
Uh huh. Once they hit 5th level, casters can cast two spells per encounter and still have a few left over in case of things like ambushes or obstacles.

Only if you don't have enough encounters.

Where "enough" by the DM's standard is "TOO MANY!" by the players'.

vitkiraven
2012-01-11, 12:32 PM
Maybe 5th edition will be an improvement on things...
:smallbiggrin:

Hiro Protagonest
2012-01-11, 01:19 PM
Only if you don't have enough encounters.

Where "enough" by the DM's standard is "TOO MANY!" by the players'.

Average is 4 per day. A fifth is the maximum recommended, and the fighter's running out of hit points anyway.

Jay R
2012-01-11, 11:09 PM
Average is 4 per day. A fifth is the maximum recommended, and the fighter's running out of hit points anyway.

If the wizard has been doing everything because he outclasses the fighter, per the scenario given, the fighter hasn't lost any hit points yet.

olthar
2012-01-12, 12:36 AM
Average is 4 per day. A fifth is the maximum recommended, and the fighter's running out of hit points anyway.

Average is 4 per day to make casters look amazing and non-casters look useless.

Sidmen
2012-01-12, 01:56 AM
Average is 4 per day. A fifth is the maximum recommended, and the fighter's running out of hit points anyway.

For a trivial amount of money, everyone can have Fast Healing (1d8+1)... Over the course of 5 game minutes you can recover 50d8+50 HP at a cost of 750gp.

KJSEvans
2012-01-14, 06:03 PM
Regarding HackMaster -

Technically, the game has hit the "advanced" stage. The Player's Handbook is available as a beta pdf and is at 330 of its eventual 400 page length.

Some things that I find very attractive about HackMaster...

HackMaster has half-Orcs, gnomes and several unique character races available in their core rulebook - but no absurd races that make play balance extremely difficult to maintain

HackMaster has a dynamic combat system, but a tremendous amount of the game is focused on exploration and roleplay. Story Awards are written into the game as a way to gain Experience Points, and players can sometimes gain more EPs from averting a fight than they could've gained for trouncing their enemies. Not to mention HackMaster takes place in a dynamic setting, one which is rich, established and mysterious.

HackMaster places an emphasis on magic items being extremely special. You won't find minor magical items under rocks in every village - acquiring a magical item is a real accomplishment.

In HackMaster, a variety of races can become knights, but only LG humans can become paladins.

In HackMaster, rolling for good ability scores is part of the challenge. You roll a straight 3d6 and receive in-game rewards for not swapping them around. The average stat is something like 11ish, but it also increases at every single level. The longer you live, the better you get.

HackMaster has saving throws against poisons and magic, not to mention it uses percentage dice for skill checks.

HackMaster has the 9 point alignment system, and also has an honor system which gives in-game rewards to players who play their characters as rolled. This includes their alignment (if you are talented at playing neutral evil, it is to your benefit) and also the option of quirks and flaws, for which having and playing also bestows you with further benefits.

And perhaps most importantly to people who are nervous about new game systems ... HackMaster's mechanics are unique and dynamic, but they also leave you feeling extremely comfortable. If you've played Old School D&D, you'll feel like you've gone home - albeit to a place that has been rebuilt and refurbished. If you've played New School D&D, you'll find a system that improves on a lot of the things you've come to love. But best of all, the rules are extremely modular. Use what you like. Leave out what you don't. It won't hurt gameplay one bit.

Best of all... while HackMaster may someday (long from now) update its core rules and concepts, it is VERY unlikely that there will be any future editions. This is it, and now and in the coming years it is going to be very well-supported.

Maybe somebody here is interested in that type of game, but if you are unwilling to spend $60 sight unseen on a rulebook (which, to be fair, is about twice the size of an average D&D rulebook that costs half as much), you are welcome to check out the free QuickStart Guide (http://www.terminal-studios.com/published-works), which just came out today. You won't be able to build a world/campaign around it or the rules, but you can easily sit down with your buddies, roll up characters in about 5 minutes, and test out many of the core rules and concepts of the game. And if you like it, please feel free to spread the word.