View Full Version : Suggestions for other systems

2016-10-18, 03:33 PM
Does anyone have any suggestions for tabletop systems that do any of the following (I'm not really looking for a single game that does everything, but just games that do some particular aspect well)? And could you provide a short description of how the system handles it that you think is great?

For reference, my exposure to games has been DnD (3.5, 4e, 5e), and Iron Kingdoms, although I've looked through a couple of other games' rulesets (FATE, WRM).

A) Alternate systems for tracking/applying damage.
One of the things I don't like about DnD is that things that are threats at low levels (like falling 20 feet) aren't threats anymore by mid to high levels. I also don't like how there's no difference in capability between full health and 1 HP.
I like Iron Kingdom's life spirals (there's a pretty small range for how much vitality a given PC can have, and if you lose all vitality in a branch you suffer a penalty), but I'm interested to see what else is out there.
I've briefly read through FATE's health system (I don't remember the terms for anything, but there's temporary damage which can be reduced by taking longer-lasting penalties. Other characters can take advantage of your penalties, but only by expending a resource that seems like it could be in very short supply).

B) Food. The systems I've seen all simply handwaive it, and just say "a ration a day keeps the hunger away", and listing an exhaustion chart (but exhaustion from not sleeping, trudging through a desert, or not eating enough often get lumped into the same symptoms). I can't think of anything that tries to do anything interesting with food (i.e. having to eat more to recover from wounds, exhaustion, etc).

C) Systems that walk the fine line between PCs gaining power as they level and making things like a single bear a constant threat for armed individuals at all levels of power.
To me, it seems that 5e makes it possible for low level swarms to threaten high-level characters, but the same encounter that would challenge a level 5 party would simply not be relevant to a level 10 party.

D) Interesting takes on social skills.
In DnD, a character's ability to be social is linked to 2 things (spells and CHA-based skills), while combat has a lot more variables to play with (positioning, buffs, disables, damage, etc.).
Iron Kingdoms is slightly better, since you can use any stat for social skills, and anyone with points in a social skill can spend feat points to boost their chances of success, but the options presented are much more limited.

E) Systems with an expectation of high quantities of weak magic (i.e. no fireballs).

Thanks in advance!

Koo Rehtorb
2016-10-18, 04:44 PM

It doesn't have hit points. It has conditions that you can get independently from each other that have different mechanical effects. Fresh, Hungry/Thirsty, Angry, Afraid, Exhausted, Sick, Injured.

It has a system called "the grind". Every four rolls everyone becomes hungry/thirsty and every 2-4 turns (depending on the type) your light source goes out. If you're already hungry/thirsty you progress through the above condition list until you fill them all up and drop dead. You can get conditions from other things besides the grind, of course. Typically from failing rolls.

PCs level up in the system, but it has a much lower power spread than D&D. Big groups of anything will always be a considerable threat, if they're allowed to engage you in a fight at all. The exception is the might system. Everything is ranked based on how imposing a threat they are on a scale. Kobolds are 1, elder gods are 8, adventurers are 3. You can capture something equal to or lesser than your might, you can kill something +1, you can drive off something +2, you can wage war upon something +3 (if you have an army). Beyond that you simply can't fight them at all.

Social systems. The mechanics to convince someone of something are exactly the same mechanics you use to fight something, except that it uses different skills. I won't go into the conflict resolution system in detail, but it's basically a card game + dice rolls.

I won't say that magic is weak, but magic is costly. You have to roll to cast a spell, and high level powerful spells are very difficult to cast and take up a huge amount of space in your backpack. In effect, you can't go around throwing high powered spells at everything. It's something you save until you really need it.

the OOD
2016-10-19, 01:23 AM
Universal decay by deamoneye publishing sounds like exactly what you want.
it is a d20 system with similarities to 3.5, but almost everything d&d does wrong, it does right.

hit points is CON score +(BAB/2)(scales with level, but only a tiny bit)
all characters have vitality, witch represents physical condition, exhaustion, bruises, and the like
vitality scales with level in a manner similar to 3.5's hit dice. tings like sprinting, losing hit points, not eating/sleeping, using psionics, messing up a spell, and nonlethal attacks all have adverse effects on vitality.
defense score(armour class) describes how hard it is to hit you. DR/ER(damage and energy resistance) describe how mush armour you are wearing. full plate will not make it harder to hit you, but it will make it harder to hurt you.
levels describe how skilled a character is, and what they are skilled at. a 10th level warrior is a soldier of incredible skill and remarkable physical prowess, but they are still human, and a lucky burst from an assault rifle will kill of hospitalize them.
every point an attack roll beats the targets defense score by adds a point of "overage" damage to the damage roll. overage maxes at the amount dealt by the dice, so if you roll 5 damage, up to 5 points of overage can apply.
the game is INCREDIBLY internally consistent, can be used in all kinds of settings with no issues, and almost never has elements that contradict or mix oddly. if you use every settingbook and supplement, from high-fantasy to robotics to steampunk to psionics to superheros to futuristic hard scifi horror to modern fantasy all in one game, the only quirk is that acid damage from industrial acids is slightly different from earth magic acid.
speaking of, the magic is NOT vanceian (spell levels), and is very cool, and the books mix really well.

hit a few of the interesting things, the system is a joy, and got both my work and school groups to switch from 3.5.
PDFs can be bought online, and copied/shared as necessary.

other cool stuff:
FATE. excellent narrative game. if you like it, the Dresden Files RPG might also be worth a look
DUNGEONS THE DRAGONING 40,000 7th edition. free, easily available online and possibly the most awesome system ever designed. words cannot do it justice, but if the first dozen pages can't immediately convince you to play, then helping you is beyond my power.

hope you find a system you like.

2016-10-19, 05:25 AM
I would say GURPS does this

- You HP does not increase (or only by a fraction) irrespective of your “Level”
- You can go from the "a ration a day keeps the hunger away" to far more detail
- While an experienced PC will have a better “to Hit” and a better Parry / dodge if the bear hits you then it could kill you in one blow
- There are a LOT of skills and a lot of Advantages / Disadvantages to allow the DM to have a very complex social system
- Magic can be limited very easily

2016-10-19, 06:39 AM
RuneQuest / Basic RolePlaying.

It doesn't do the food, but other than that not being a class and level based system means combat always carries a risk.

2016-10-20, 02:16 PM
Exalted 3e doesn't hit all the points, but it does hit a few in interesting ways.
A) Damage. You have a limited, increasing-wounds-penalty health track, but most attacks don't target it. Instead, attacks are all about stealing initiative. Doing lethal damage is a much more limited attack, based almost solely on how much initiative you've accumulated-- but almost impossible to resist without magic. So you sort of build up momentum over a few turns, then use it to strike a killing blow.
B) and C) don't really apply as far as I can see; the baseline expectation is that a combat-focused starting character can kill a small army of bears.
D) Social stuff is fantastic, though. All characters have Intimacies, beliefs of varying strengths, and you can't persuade people or resist persuasion without being able to draw on relevant Intimacies. There are rules about establishing, strengthening, and weakening them through conversations, and there are easily as many special powers related to socialization as there are to combat, which is unusual.
E) Perhaps? Every significant character has basically minor magic superpowers, but true sorcerery is rarer.

2016-10-20, 03:00 PM
Burning Wheel or Mouse Guard for simplified version.

Your HP doesn't generally increase much from level one, only different skills do, if I remember correctly.

There is a whole system for "social combat' that allows you to use multiple skills related to, well, talking and specific maneuvers (rebuttals, dismissing evidence, making a point etc)

Magic is kind of complicated but nowhere near D&D's level of power as far as I can tell - I haven't played a mage myself though.

The system is very, very narrative and RP driven compared to D&D and a lot of conflicts outside of combat generally get resolved by player/players making a skill check and either succeeding or 'failing forward' by trading success for various disadvantages.

Oh and its also entirely classless, players pick lifepaths up to decided maximum that let's them, in theory anyways, adequately describe their characters past and pick the skills they want.

2016-10-20, 03:10 PM
Thanks for the suggestions so far, guys!

I started looking at Torchbearer, and its given me some good ideas so far, but I haven't finished reading through much more than character creation.
How similar is that to Burning Wheel / Mouse Guard?

Exalted looks like it might be my second thing to look at, followed by GURPS. (Both of which I've heard people talking about in the past, but I've never looked at myself)

Universal Decay seems very DnD-y from that description, so it might not have as many new and interesting ideas for me to grab and dissect. Still going to look into it, though.
I actually already looked at Dresden Files a while back; the narrative focus didn't really have anything that fits my interests at the moment (but I do like the idea of fate points).
DUNGEONS THE DRAGONING 40,000 7th edition - with the name, I thought you were being silly. Then I learned where it came from, so I guess now I have to look into it?

I've never heard of RuneQuest or Basic Roleplaying (at first, I thought you were just telling me to roleplay better :p), and that description didn't really strike me, so I guess they'll get put on the backburner a bit.

2016-10-20, 03:37 PM
I can't comment on how similar Burning Wheel is to other systems, I only know D&D and Pathfinder... But its definitely very different from just about any edition of D&D that I know of.

I suggest starting with Mouse Guard if you ever end up looking at it, the rules could be adapted to most settings with little work and you don't have to worry about some of the overly complicated mechanics present in BW.

Edit: if anything, there are some great mechanics you can steal from Mouse Guard/BW and apply to even D&D with a little work. Mainly alignment (not a thing, but you have to come up with several core beliefs for a character when you make him and get rewards like hero points to use as a boost when rolling if you play according to these core beliefs, whether to your characters benefit or detriment) and social combat (a combat-like approach to Diplomacy, where instead of just making a single roll against preset DC/ opposing skill, you kind of play it put in several rounds until one side loses or a compromise is found)

Edit2: oh and core beliefs can change, just not on the spot. The manuals suggest a party-wide vote on whether each character plays up to their stated beliefs and whether they should change for the next session, but YMMV.

Koo Rehtorb
2016-10-20, 06:27 PM
Thanks for the suggestions so far, guys!

I started looking at Torchbearer, and its given me some good ideas so far, but I haven't finished reading through much more than character creation.
How similar is that to Burning Wheel / Mouse Guard?

Torchbearer is relatively similar to Mouse Guard. Burning Wheel has a superficially similar framework to both of them but works very differently.

Burning Wheel tends to have a much broader zoomed out focus. It's excellent for playing something like Game of Thrones, with fairly rare but fairly dangerous combat and plenty of political scheming. In my own experience you only break out the detailed fight rules every 5-15 sessions.

Torchbearer is designed entirely for dungeon crawls and doesn't really work outside of that focus.