RPG Fridays: Top 3 Systems
I am currently working on a DHS-exclusive RPG and have been creating a new system mechanic. This is the toughest part so far. I have a great idea, and the words are kind of flowing out of me to create the setting and the three scenarios that will be included. I have even given Nino (our Chief Artist Officer) some basics about the general concept, but the system mechanic is taking some serious time and effort.
Last weekend, I pulled nearly every RPG I own off of the shelf and surrounded myself (thank you to my wife for not disturbing this epic fort of books in our living room).
For inspiration through osmosis, I flipped through each one to refresh myself on things I liked in other systems and was reminded about the joy of reading an RPG. Some of my friends and fellow gamer even got an email asking about their top 3 systems.
So I asked myself the same question, and here's what I came up with:
One word: AWESOME! The game of my youth, the system that I ran my epic six-year World of Darkness campaign (using all of the White Wolf supplements), and simultaneously ran a three-year Vampire: Dark Ages campaign. The system is easy to learn for players; just add your stats and skills together to generate a die pool of d10s. Then roll against a set difficulty. Beautiful. Each additional setting book (Werewolf, Mage, etc.) added additional depth. Power sets built on that mechanic and they were mostly compatible with things like Rage for Werewolves and Blood Pool for Vampires.
Yes, it was easy to break, but it really supported actual roleplaying.
This will not come as a surprise for anyone that has been reading my blog, talked to me, or seen my gaming shelf. I love sci-fi over fantasy--dark gritty futures and people operating on their own moral codes. So the setting instantly won me over. I played 2nd edition when it first came out and loved it.
That visceral thrill of rolling a hand full of d6s, and when you roll a 6, you get to reroll! It's much like the D6 (West End) Star Wars from back in the day, but Shadowrun wins for me due to a better health system, a more inclusive world, more character balance, and the skill matrix. I am currently reading 5th edition and loving it.
#1: Marvel Superheroes
My number one is more about nostalgia than anything else, but I would still run it today if I had the time and a group. But it would have to be the old school Marvel Superheroes (TSR). Let's put the one less-than-stellar aspect of the game up front: character creation! Randomly rolling everything leads to superheroes like Spam (Resistance to Acid, Super Digging and Speed Reading!) with typical stats in everything else. So, in many cases we house ruled character creation. The general house rule was each person has four rerolls for character creation, a set number of points to build a character (like 300 - 400), and two free contacts. For instance, one of my favorite characters today:
Shadowstorm (Alec Winters) was a brilliant (near-Black Panther-level intellect) mutant whose main powers were weather control, regeneration and limited phasing. He was the son of Marcus Winters, the CEO of a multinational weapons manufacturing corporation. After the school for the gifted, and following graduation from college, Alec was placed as head of the special division to "toughen" him up. His father did not know he was a mutant. If he did, he would have turned him over to the government. This leads to a number of interesting stories with tough moral choices.
The system itself was sooooo simple. All you need are percentile dice and the colorful chart that has all the info required. It is still the greatest superhero RPG to date and my favorite system. Even with my love of crunch, dice and skill trees.
Delta Green (there's still time to jump on the Kickstarter for the new edition) and Call of Cthulhu. Both of these are amazing systems with great settings. The new editions will soon be readily available and include incredible advancements that have streamlined a number of issues. I am proud to have been a Delta Green playtester.
The Fate system is another great system. The use of aspects is empowering for the players and adds incredible roleplaying value. Why it did not make my top three? Character advancement is a real issue for the system. Heroes start strong but they don't really seem to get better. This can be great for short-term gaming but I am a campaign man, and I have to consider if my players want to be doing this in 6 months, 16 months or even 60 months. The first game I ever ran to introduce my wife into the wonderful world of gaming was a Fate game, Dresden Files DC. The character and city creation was intense and fun.
For the moment, I am sitting in front of the proverbial drawing board. Does DHS make 1d13 (trademarked) its core die for the system? What about it stands out from all of the other amazing systems? So many choices and they are all good. Stay tuned and keep an eye out for our Kickstarter hopefully to launch in late 2015 or early 2016!
Have a favorite RPG system? Send me ideas!