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View Full Version : DM Help Looking For a System - for a Fantasy, Mid-magic campaign



Max_Killjoy
2016-05-01, 03:44 PM
I'm looking for a system to run a fantasy-genre game. The setting will be my own, with low-to-middle magic.

(Might as well jump right in, right?)


Wishlist:
No classes -- character builds are open.
No levels -- progression is by XP expenditure.
Characteristics and skills both matter.
Dice results are "curved" resulting in somewhat more predictable results.
Resolution is relatively quick, without a massive amount of mathematics or debate before or after a roll, and without needing to look up a dozen of special "talents" and whanot
Can handle magic without magic overwhelming other ways of doing things.
Prefer resource-based rather than slot-based magic.
Combat is smooth, but not highly abstract -- mechanical actions model character actions, not some undefined unit of abstract stuff.
Game scales well -- avoids the issues some games have of the attack/defense/damage/soak relationships radically changing as characters advance.



Maybe that's a tall order -- certainly doesn't match anything I know of, other than trying to build it myself starting with HERO or something.

Yora
2016-05-01, 03:55 PM
That's a pretty long list of wishes.

But I think Barbarians of Lemuria might qualify. Whether combat is smooth and it scales well is rather subjective, but the other boxes it checks.

GrayDeath
2016-05-01, 04:06 PM
The "Not highly abstract" requirement kicks BoL out of the candidate list, sadly.


I do not know any commercial System fulfilling all of the requirements.

My most used Homebrew however does, as the wishlist (with a bit added "should be passingly realistic and quite deadly) is almost exactly what we wanted back when we started building it.
If you want I can PM you the basics?

Overall its a classical Attribute+Skill Rolling System that requires quite a lot to A Lot of effort/Detail for building characters (and allows lots of variations) but is really easy and fast to play.
Plus its free. ^^


PS_ there seems to be a missing half sentence after "without needing".....

Yora
2016-05-01, 04:10 PM
It's abstract in a way, but it still using attack rolls and Agility checks. Not something funky like Fate or Dungeon World.

kyoryu
2016-05-01, 04:26 PM
It's abstract in a way, but it still using attack rolls and Agility checks. Not something funky like Fate or Dungeon World.

Eh, Fate still uses Attack rolls and whatnot. Its "abstractness", IMHO, is overrated.

https://plus.google.com/+RobertHanz/posts/ZABLztsqnLt

And I really don't see Dungeon World as being in any way more abstract than D&D. It has attacks, abilities, hit points, all the stuff you'd expect.

Apart from (arguably) the 'abstractness', Fate does pretty much everything you list.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-01, 04:55 PM
I looked up BoL on RPGnow, looked at the free preview, and in the table of contents an entire column is taken up by "careers". Are these not like "classes"?

Arbane
2016-05-01, 05:43 PM
I'm looking for a system to run a fantasy-genre game. The setting will be my own, with low-to-middle magic.

(Might as well jump right in, right?)


Wishlist:
No classes -- character builds are open.
No levels -- progression is by XP expenditure.
Characteristics and skills both matter.
Dice results are "curved" resulting in somewhat more predictable results.
Resolution is relatively quick, without a massive amount of mathematics or debate before or after a roll, and without needing to look up a dozen of special "talents" and whanot
Can handle magic without magic overwhelming other ways of doing things.
Prefer resource-based rather than slot-based magic.
Combat is smooth, but not highly abstract -- mechanical actions model character actions, not some undefined unit of abstract stuff.
Game scales well -- avoids the issues some games have of the attack/defense/damage/soak relationships radically changing as characters advance.


GURPS, maybe?

JAL_1138
2016-05-01, 05:50 PM
I don't have any experience with D6 Fantasy so take the suggestion with a grain of salt, but I've used the Star Wars version of WEG D6 and it worked pretty well. Less fiddly/crunchy than GURPS.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-01, 06:24 PM
The "Not highly abstract" requirement kicks BoL out of the candidate list, sadly.


I do not know any commercial System fulfilling all of the requirements.

My most used Homebrew however does, as the wishlist (with a bit added "should be passingly realistic and quite deadly) is almost exactly what we wanted back when we started building it.
If you want I can PM you the basics?

Overall its a classical Attribute+Skill Rolling System that requires quite a lot to A Lot of effort/Detail for building characters (and allows lots of variations) but is really easy and fast to play.
Plus its free. ^^


PS_ there seems to be a missing half sentence after "without needing".....

PM sent, editing error fixed in OP.

kyoryu
2016-05-01, 09:56 PM
The "Not highly abstract" requirement kicks BoL out of the candidate list, sadly.

What is abstract about it? I haven't played it, but reading through it I don't see a lot of 'abstract' stuff.

GreatWyrmGold
2016-05-01, 10:06 PM
GURPS is usually a good choice, with the right set of optional rules.



No classes -- character builds are open.
No levels -- progression is by XP expenditure.
Characteristics and skills both matter.
Dice results are "curved" resulting in somewhat more predictable results.

Built into the core of GURPS (if you use bonus character points as XP).

Resolution is relatively quick, without a massive amount of mathematics or debate before or after a roll, and without needing to look up a dozen of special "talents" and whanot
Forbid all but the simplest optional combat rules and you're good.

Can handle magic without magic overwhelming other ways of doing things.
Prefer resource-based rather than slot-based magic.
Default GURPS magic fits the latter well, and in my experience, usually the former as well. Well, as much as anything can when wizards turn people to stone while warriors smack them with sharp sticks. I'd suggest keeping a close eye on potentially-problematic spells, but I'd recommend that for any system with versatile, relatively easy magic.

Combat is smooth, but not highly abstract -- mechanical actions model character actions, not some undefined unit of abstract stuff.
I'm not sure how a non-abstracted combat system is supposed to be quick, but GURPS should provide all of the non-abstracted stuff you could want.

Game scales well -- avoids the issues some games have of the attack/defense/damage/soak relationships radically changing as characters advance.
It depends on how far you scale it and how hard your players try to break it. A fair warning—the default magic system is one of the first things to break at higher point values! But if you start on the weak side of heroic (say, 150-200 points) and try not to go past a few hundred, and your players don't try to break anything, you should be fine. (If you have troublesome players, no system in the world will save your game.)
Or maybe try one of the alternate magic systems (I'm a fan of the advantage-based Sorcery), but you should probably stick to the core rulebooks if you're new to the system.

Yora
2016-05-02, 05:06 AM
I looked up BoL on RPGnow, looked at the free preview, and in the table of contents an entire column is taken up by "careers". Are these not like "classes"?

No, they are the skills. The Thief career is all thief skills, the Magician career is your magic ability, the Hunter career is all hunting skills. Other careers are more unfocused. Slave, Beggar, and Worker is used for rolls where you attempt to act or think like a slave or beggar, for whatever reason. Putting points into a career means you have experience with the work and society of these groups.

lacco36
2016-05-02, 05:19 AM
So, my usual suggestion:

Riddle of Steel. With exception of magic system (which I would borrow from it's daughter system - Blade of the Iron Throne).
If you are aiming for more sword&sorcery feel, I'd go directly for BoIT.

Whys&hows:
No classes - check.
No levels - check.
Characteristics and skills both matter - check.
Dice results are "curved" resulting in somewhat more predictable results - no idea what this means for you, for me this works.
Resolution is relatively quick, without a massive amount of mathematics or debate before or after a roll, and without needing to look up a dozen of special "talents" and whanot - yeah, in RoS you get a dice pool equal to your attribute/combat pool and roll it against target number of skill rating/weapon/set by GM.
Can handle magic without magic overwhelming other ways of doing things - RoS not. BoIT yessss - magic is powerful, but not so flashy. It's easy to transfer BoIT into RoS (needs only switching attributes).
Prefer resource-based rather than slot-based magic. - yes. Using magic accumulates you taint, the more powerful you go, the more taint you will probably (you can offset it) get and the less magic you can cast.
Combat is smooth, but not highly abstract -- mechanical actions model character actions, not some undefined unit of abstract stuff. The learning curve is high at the beginning, as it requires completely different mindset. But the combat is where RoS and BoIT shine - it's one of the best combat sims there are.
Game scales well -- avoids the issues some games have of the attack/defense/damage/soak relationships radically changing as characters advance. Depends on how far you let the players go.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-02, 06:39 AM
By "dice results are on a curve" I'm referring to the way in which XdY has results that cluster around the average, while 1dY or percentile dice have a flat plot.

Firest Kathon
2016-05-02, 06:43 AM
Seems like The Dark Eye/Das Schwarze Auge is a pretty good fit. I think there is no English translation beyond the core book, but if you speak German you can easily get it.


No classes -- character builds are open.
Check. You are free to pick (almost) any abilities as your character progresses, although your profession may make some cheaper.

No levels -- progression is by XP expenditure.
Check. You expend your AP (adventure points) to buy ability increases, talents, skills, spells, ...

Characteristics and skills both matter.
Check. A skill check uses three abilities, you roll a D20 under your ability score and compensate overrolls with your skill ranks. Higher abilities mean less skill points used to compensate, more skill points allow better results.

Dice results are "curved" resulting in somewhat more predictable results.
I guess. 3D20 gives a high probability for average results, and once you have 5-10 ranks in a skill you will be able to make routine checks fairly regular.

Resolution is relatively quick, without a massive amount of mathematics or debate before or after a roll, and without needing to look up a dozen of special "talents" and whanot
You can control the complexity by deciding which optional rules you use.

Can handle magic without magic overwhelming other ways of doing things.
Check. Very optimized, high-level mages can be very powerful, but usually a fighter or two can challenge a mage of equal experience.

Prefer resource-based rather than slot-based magic.
Check. Spells consume mana points, no slots.

Combat is smooth, but not highly abstract -- mechanical actions model character actions, not some undefined unit of abstract stuff.
Check, unless you use all the optional rules. Basic combat is an attack roll (D20 under your combat skill) to hit, and a parade roll by the defender to prevent the hit (D20 under your parade skill). Special maneuvers can be learned, using them makes the attack roll harder.

Game scales well -- avoids the issues some games have of the attack/defense/damage/soak relationships radically changing as characters advance.
No radical but a gradual change. Experienced fighters will have higher attack and parade skills (meaning a higher probability of a successful roll) and possibly heavier armor (negating some damage).


Skill checks
Eugen the rogue is climbing the tree outside the rich merchant's house. His abilities are: Bravery 12, Agility 14, Strength 13. He has 7 ranks in climbing.
The player rolls 3d20 with results 8, 14, 17, which are assigned to the ability scores in order. 8 is less than his Bravery of 12, and 14 exactly matches his agility, so no problems there. 17 is higher than his strength of 13, so he has to deduct 4 points from his 7 ranks to leave him with a result of 3. Any result of 0 or more is a success, more ranks may indicate a higher degree of success if relevant. Eugen successfully climbs up to the window.
Now Eugen has to climb along the branch to get to the window. The GM assigns a penalty of 3 to this task because of the higher difficulty.
With the penalty of 3, Eugen has only 4 skill ranks remaining. His player rolls 14, 13, 17. 2 points are lost to Bravery, 4 points to Strength, giving a result of -2. He does not reach the window and may even fall from the tree.

Combat
The young Lord Fensworth and Evard the Black are dueling with their rapiers since Evard insulted the young Lady Dalrymples honor.
Fensworth has an attack skill of 12 and a parade skill of 10, Evard has an attack skill of 11 and a parade skill of 13.
Evard wins initiative and strikes first. His player rolls a 7, the attack is successful. Fensworth' player rolls 13 for the parade, failing it. The character is hit.
Fensworth has been well trained and knows the feinting maneuver. His player announces a feint of +3, which is his penalty on the attack roll, so he now needs a 9 or less to attack successfully. He rolls a 5. Due to the successful feint, Evard's parade is also penalized by 3. His player rolls an 11, but would have needed a 10 (13-3). Fensworth attack hits.
etc.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-02, 04:22 PM
For reference, here's the Worldbuilding thread for the campaign setting.

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?486832-Esharra-World-for-New-Campaign-Cosmology-and-Origins

Mr Beer
2016-05-02, 10:51 PM
GURPS is a good fit for these requirements.

meschlum
2016-05-03, 02:39 AM
If you can put up with old school mechanics, I'm rather fond of Reve: The dream Ouroboros, though a fair amount of setting adjustment may be called for.



Wishlist:
No classes -- character builds are open.

Yes. There are three 'classes' which are sort of exclusive, but they are extreme broad. Mundane, magic user, and dark magic user. Mundanes are better at physical stuff in the long term (though a mage can be built for physical aptitude). Dark mages learn normal magic more slowly, the difficulty increasing as they get better at dark magic (though any mage can learn any type of magic). Under very rare circumstances, a mundane can become a (very poor) mage. So it's really quite flexible.


No levels -- progression is by XP expenditure.

Yes. There are two sources of xp. Training and practice give small amounts of xp as you test yourself against more and more difficult challenges, but can improve your skills as long as you find challenges. Adventuring gives larger amounts of xp which you can assign as you wish, up to limits you define at character creation (so you can create a mundane with potential for great magic skills, or impressive fencing talents, or both). Your characteristics can also rise (extremely slowly) with experience (except size, which is fixed).


Characteristics and skills both matter.

Yes. You sum your skill and task difficulty (both can be negative) and compare this to your characteristic. A high characteristic will compensate for low skills, and reciprocally, to some extent. Skilled characters can choose to perform more difficult tasks, forcing their opponents to match their talent.


Dice results are "curved" resulting in somewhat more predictable results.

Sort of. It's a percentile die against the value in the table, so a difficulty with a high value (easy to perform) will have you succeed most of the time. But since it's not hard, the result will be less impressive. You also have critical success and failure, with odds depending on your overall ability. If you're good, you critically succeed more often than you fail (and vice versa).


Resolution is relatively quick, without a massive amount of mathematics or debate before or after a roll, and without needing to look up a dozen of special "talents" and whanot

Yes. All skills are resolved with a single roll (players can adjust the difficulty to manage more impressively). There are subsystems for combat (a few maneuvers and rules for damage), healing (rolls to see how long it takes, magic can help), and magic (preparing spells is slow and you're not going to cast many in combat).


Can handle magic without magic overwhelming other ways of doing things.

Yes. Spells are slow to cast and their effects generally do not overlap with skills. There are spells for limited flight, but not acrobatics or climbing. There are spells for invisibility that do not conflict with stealth. There are spells for combat that alter the battlefield but don't kill people. Charm and the like exist, and are dark magic, with consequences.


Prefer resource-based rather than slot-based magic.

Largely. Spells use MP from a quite limited pool (which will increase with a characteristic, so very slowly if at all). You have a limited set of spells known (which can be used fairly creatively within their constraints), cast slowly, and can't really keep more than one copy of any spell in reserve (though you can cast the same spell repeatedly and fairly fast as long as your MP hold out).


Combat is smooth, but not highly abstract -- mechanical actions model character actions, not some undefined unit of abstract stuff.

Reasonably so. The system includes fatigue making long fights harder), stamina (hp you can recover fairly fast) and wounds (which take more time and effort to recover from). A few combat maneuvers, and being outnumbered is bad news if you're on the receiving side. A typical round is one attack (or more if you're skilled and using a finesse weapon) and one parry (so you're in trouble if two people come after you). Damage is rolled on 2d10 to determine the result (short tables are involved), with armor and weapon adjusting by +/- 5 or so.


Game scales well -- avoids the issues some games have of the attack/defense/damage/soak relationships radically changing as characters advance.

Yes. Magic equipment can be made, but it's expensive in cash and personal resources, and won't have a drastic effect on the equipment - another + / - 3 to weapon or armor modifiers is as good as it gets. So light (low fatigue armor) that protects as well as plate is possible, but that doesn't really shift the combat paradigm. And plate that is really hard to get through is possible too, but fatigue exists.

Higher skill lets you hit and defend more easily, but you're still going to fall to superior numbers (maybe 4 foes rather than 2 if you're really good). Going for tactical combat (hit someone hard so he can't follow you, then run to split up your foes) is important in all cases.

Magic can rearrange the battlefield fairly easily, but after a single surprise spell, even the best prepared mage is going to need multiple rounds to bring in more effects - and MP are highly limited.

Developing new horizontal skills (learning to swim, or climb, ride a horse, or studying architecture) are fairly quick to do using adventuring xp, so you can adjust to new environments with minimal trouble - but you won't become a master easily unless it's part of your initial character concept (which works by choosing a dozen or so skills you can learn really well).

hifidelity2
2016-05-03, 03:13 AM
GURPS is usually a good choice, with the right set of optional rules.


Built into the core of GURPS (if you use bonus character points as XP).

Forbid all but the simplest optional combat rules and you're good.

Default GURPS magic fits the latter well, and in my experience, usually the former as well. Well, as much as anything can when wizards turn people to stone while warriors smack them with sharp sticks. I'd suggest keeping a close eye on potentially-problematic spells, but I'd recommend that for any system with versatile, relatively easy magic.

I'm not sure how a non-abstracted combat system is supposed to be quick, but GURPS should provide all of the non-abstracted stuff you could want.

It depends on how far you scale it and how hard your players try to break it. A fair warning—the default magic system is one of the first things to break at higher point values! But if you start on the weak side of heroic (say, 150-200 points) and try not to go past a few hundred, and your players don't try to break anything, you should be fine. (If you have troublesome players, no system in the world will save your game.)
Or maybe try one of the alternate magic systems (I'm a fan of the advantage-based Sorcery), but you should probably stick to the core rulebooks if you're new to the system.

I agree

We general start players off between 75 – 100 points (where there is none or very limited magic the can start as low as 25 points)

For Magic if you want to make it more controllable then just limit the spells they can get
I for instance ban most mind affecting spells from the outset – otherwise the BBEG if a magic user would just charm the party – end of adventure
What I have done is printed off the spell list and just highlighted the ones that are banned (although they may find them later as part of a quest / adventure etc)

Mark Hall
2016-05-03, 11:45 AM
My default answer "Savage Worlds" holds up pretty well.

No classes, though there are some suggested builds.
No levels, though they recognize some "tiers" (i.e. if you've got 100XP, you'd a different beast than a starting character, and the game recognizes that).
Characteristics not only form a soft cap for skills, but matter in a number of other ways.
Dice results are not precisely curved, but the wild die ensures that they are a bit less random... important characters (PCs and any NPCs the GM thinks should) usually roll 1dx (your skill or attribute) and 1d6 (the wild die), with both dice exploding, and you choosing the better of the two dice; most difficulties are multiples of 4.
Magic is available and viable, but not overwhelming. Most magic types will have 1-3 abilities that they can spend power points on, and can use extra power points to beef them up.
And I find it scales well, but haven't redlined the system to check.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-03, 11:54 AM
Skill or attribute? One or the other, not both?

Mark Hall
2016-05-03, 11:58 AM
Skill or attribute? One or the other, not both?

One or the other. As mentioned, Attribute forms a soft cap on skills.

So, let's say I have an Agility of d8.

If I have no firearms skill, I will roll 1d4-2 to shoot a gun, plus a d6-2, for the wild die.
If I have a d4 Firearms skill, I will roll d4 and a d6.

Now, with a d8 Agility, I can easily improve my Firearms skill up to 1d8; it costs 1 point each die increase... 1 pt for 1d4, 2 points total for 1d6, 3 points total for 1d8. If I want to increase my firearms skill to 1d10, however, it is above the soft cap for my attribute, and I have to spend 2 points to do so.

GrayDeath
2016-05-03, 12:24 PM
SW enforces a rather specific Playstyle though, and its exploding dice and "roll Values only" Setup make for a wide variety of "Competence vs. Laugheable" Stories.

If you like that, it works well in its set area, and is quite cheap to boot.
If you like it more reliable/foreseeable, keep away.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-03, 01:16 PM
SW enforces a rather specific Playstyle though, and its exploding dice and "roll Values only" Setup make for a wide variety of "Competence vs. Laugheable" Stories.

If you like that, it works well in its set area, and is quite cheap to boot.
If you like it more reliable/foreseeable, keep away.

Exploding dice do make it hard to control the odds... and thus to tailor encounters to the PCs, etc.

Knaight
2016-05-03, 02:42 PM
Wishlist:
No classes -- character builds are open.
No levels -- progression is by XP expenditure.
Characteristics and skills both matter.
Dice results are "curved" resulting in somewhat more predictable results.
Resolution is relatively quick, without a massive amount of mathematics or debate before or after a roll, and without needing to look up a dozen of special "talents" and whanot
Can handle magic without magic overwhelming other ways of doing things.
Prefer resource-based rather than slot-based magic.
Combat is smooth, but not highly abstract -- mechanical actions model character actions, not some undefined unit of abstract stuff.
Game scales well -- avoids the issues some games have of the attack/defense/damage/soak relationships radically changing as characters advance.

REIGN works perfectly for this. Going straight down the list:
1) There are no classes, you can make what you want.
2) There are no levels, you directly spend XP.
3 & 4) The core die mechanic is that you add your stat plus your skill, roll that many d10, and look for matching sets. So you get a curve pretty quickly, there's diminishing returns (with 9 dice the chance of getting at least one set of 2 is already above 99%, with 10 it increases to 99.99%. Going from 2 to 3 is an increase from about a 10% chance to a 25% chance. Skills also let you get special dice representing special competence, where stats don't.
5) It's fast. One of the cool things about the system is that there are two components to each roll. There's the number of dice in the set (width), and the number on the dice in the set (height). So you get two pieces of information, which in the case of combat rolls in particular establishes initiative, damage, and hit location with no tables and one roll.
6) The magic is more resource based than anything, with the big thing being that powerful magic eats time. The magic systems in REIGN are also really, really cool. You get specific paths that tie to setting organizations (and advice on how to make them), so you get things like the Earthquake Drummers who use their drum skill to shape stone, or the Smoke Sculptors who specialize in the manufacture of an incredibly low density solidified smoke for siege equipment, or the Sunwise Healers who are a healing organization associated with sand and sun who do things like make glass prosthetic limbs and heal - and who get their magic when they're so desperate that climbing a specific mountain and staring into the sun hoping for the best seems like a good idea, which says something about how they roll.
7) It's smooth, and the actions taken represent character actions. It also makes a lot of sense. For instance, to do a called shot you lose 1 die (representing less chance of hitting in general), set one die to a particular number (increasing the chance of that set hitting and reducing the rest), then roll the rest of your dice. It's fast and intuitive, but it can also create more situations than other systems. You can miss, you can hit with a called shot, you can hit with other shots, etc.
8) It scales beautifully.

So, it fits the list. Plenty of things fit the list, it's an easy list. What else makes REIGN good?
1) As I said earlier, the magic system is really interesting. That's worth something beyond just functionality.
2) REIGN has the single best system I have ever seen for handling conflict between organizations and not just individuals. It's simple enough to be usable, complex enough to allow for lots of different types of organizational conflict, and it takes into account the influence of exceptional actions by individuals well.
3) Similarly, REIGN works better with the PCs in positions of authority than most other systems I've seen.
4) It's well written. The rules are clear, the writing style is engaging, the way the book is organized makes sense.

Anonymouswizard
2016-05-03, 03:34 PM
It sounds like GURPS is what you want, it uses a 3d6 roll under system for everything bar damage and a few tables. It's classless and you just get more Character Points to spend as XP (unless the GM wants to use in-character training instead). Skills are almost always what you're rolling against, but Attributes are important as they're the primary factor in how high your skills are (although you'll have the value on your sheet, you actually buy skills as 'stat+/-X'). The die system makes results cluster around 10.5 for everyone who isn't me (seriously, five critical failures in one scene where I made about 10 rolls, including multiple self control rolls). The speed of resolution varies with your ability to subtract if degrees of success are important, but otherwise it's just a quick comparison. Magic is weird, in that the main thing you'll have to realise is that it relies a lot on how you use your spells, the teleport and illusions mage got far more millage out of their spells than my healer/buffer. Magic also costs Fatigue Points, so if you want to be casting those powerful spells without taking HP damage your mage had better shift some CP into Health (unless your GM allows you to just buy FP indefinitely). For combat it depends on what you mean by smooth, I've found that to depend more on the GM than anything, but it's definitely not abstract.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-04, 02:42 PM
Just wanted to say thank you again for all the suggestions and info given so far.

Even if I haven't said something specifically I am looking at each one in depth.



Oh, forgot to mention -- someone elsewhere recommended an (old) World of Darkness adaptation to fantasy -- any thoughts?

2D8HP
2016-05-17, 04:09 PM
The only RPG I have played after the early 1990's is 5e D&D, but "back in the day I played 2e Runequest which IIRC was a great game that fits your request to the tee! It is now available as a pdf:

http://www.chaosium.com/runequest-2nd-edition-pdf/

I never played it but If you want more "high" magic than "Magic World" has similar rules:

http://www.chaosium.com/magic-world-2/

If you want a more "realistic" semi-historical setting than you may like "Mythic Iceland"

http://www.chaosium.com/mythic-iceland-1/

But if an Arthurian setting appeals to you (it does have classes though, you can be a Knight or you can play something else), my absolute favorite game that I've never played is the masterpiece, (King Arthur) Pendragon:

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/81449/King-Arthur-Pendragon-Edition-51

Arbane
2016-05-18, 01:29 PM
Oh, forgot to mention -- someone elsewhere recommended an (old) World of Darkness adaptation to fantasy -- any thoughts?

Was this a homebrew, or an official one?

Officially, Vampire: Dark Ages, Changeling: the Dreaming, and Exalted all kind-of fit that description if you squint.

JeenLeen
2016-05-18, 01:43 PM
Oh, forgot to mention -- someone elsewhere recommended an (old) World of Darkness adaptation to fantasy -- any thoughts?

I was thinking of oWoD after reading your post. I'm not sure if the dice mechanics are what you'd like or not: combat may not be "smooth" but nor is it abstract. I guess dice results are fairly curved, and at least less swingy than a d20: you roll a dice pool (usually Attribute+Skill), and count how many successes (high rolls) you got.
The biggest problem I have with oWoD is that it generally takes several dice rolls to accomplish a round of combat. Player A rolls attack; Player B rolls dodge; if Player A hits, Player A rolls damage; Player B rolls Soak. I generally like oWoD to nWoD, but nWoD wins in the area of rolling mechanics.

In most cases, power scales pretty well, so even a thug (or at least group of thugs) is a threat to even a high-'level' character. Mage (at least the modern-day version) has exponential increases in damage, so you might want to avoid it, but Vampire probably works well. I haven't played the other 'races' to know what works and what doesn't.
You can use the modern-day books in a fantasy setting. Vampire could port over easily, and most Mage Traditions (except Virtual Adepts) work pretty well. You may prefer using the modern-day rules in a fantasy setting because (except possibly Mage) the middle ages powers are more powerful. If you want a system that uses magic but magic doesn't overwhelm, modern day rules fit that better.

Exalted (and maybe Scion) could also work, but having higher Essence (or Legend with Epic Attributes for Scion) makes you so much more powerful than those of lesser-rank that you might not like how it scales.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-18, 01:55 PM
I was thinking of oWoD after reading your post. I'm not sure if the dice mechanics are what you'd like or not: combat may not be "smooth" but nor is it abstract. I guess dice results are fairly curved, and at least less swingy than a d20: you roll a dice pool (usually Attribute+Skill), and count how many successes (high rolls) you got.
The biggest problem I have with oWoD is that it generally takes several dice rolls to accomplish a round of combat. Player A rolls attack; Player B rolls dodge; if Player A hits, Player A rolls damage; Player B rolls Soak. I generally like oWoD to nWoD, but nWoD wins in the area of rolling mechanics.

In most cases, power scales pretty well, so even a thug (or at least group of thugs) is a threat to even a high-'level' character. Mage (at least the modern-day version) has exponential increases in damage, so you might want to avoid it, but Vampire probably works well. I haven't played the other 'races' to know what works and what doesn't.
You can use the modern-day books in a fantasy setting. Vampire could port over easily, and most Mage Traditions (except Virtual Adepts) work pretty well. You may prefer using the modern-day rules in a fantasy setting because (except possibly Mage) the middle ages powers are more powerful. If you want a system that uses magic but magic doesn't overwhelm, modern day rules fit that better.

Exalted (and maybe Scion) could also work, but having higher Essence (or Legend with Epic Attributes for Scion) makes you so much more powerful than those of lesser-rank that you might not like how it scales.

I'd be using it for the system mechanics alone -- the setting I'm looking at running is total homebrew, and has nothing to do with vampires or werewolves, and no mages in the WOD sense.



Was this a homebrew, or an official one?

Officially, Vampire: Dark Ages, Changeling: the Dreaming, and Exalted all kind-of fit that description if you squint.

It was an article talking about using "the generic oWoD rules".

JeenLeen
2016-05-18, 03:48 PM
I'd be using it for the system mechanics alone -- the setting I'm looking at running is total homebrew, and has nothing to do with vampires or werewolves, and no mages in the WOD sense.

It was an article talking about using "the generic oWoD rules".

If you don't mind the dice-rolling, oWoD may work well. (Our group also did some houserules for combat, like reworking how initiative worked to get the overall flow better. Just feel free to adjust some things if needed.)

If you don't plan to take the magic system from one of the oWoD 'races' and refluff for your setting, I'm not sure how well the rules would work for whatever magic you want in-game.
I can see picking a template to base it off of, then refluff as needed. As I think about the ones I've read, they kinda follow this pattern:

Mage - you can buy ranks in different magicks up to your Arete (an expensive skill to raise). Each rank of magic you buy gives you several spells.
So this would work if you want your magic to unlock several abilities for each investment in a given school

Vampire - you buy ranks in different magicks (well, Disciplines, but magicks is close enough), and each one gives a single power (or, rarely, set of related powers.)
So this work if you want players to buy discrete spells, but the spells still increase in rank in different schools

Werewolf - you have a Rank which increases largely by roleplay or DM fiat. You can buy any spells equal to or lower than your rank. (Buying a spell may require a special quest.)
So this works if you want a lot of freedom in how they buy spells. You could buy a level 2 Air spell without having a level 1 Air spell, for example (assuming Air spells are a thing in your setting)


Though, if you aren't porting in the magic systems (under whatever name), I'd recommend nWoD for simpler dice rolls and less skills the players have to invest in. I also like that, in nWoD, Appearance is a merit instead of one of the core attributes.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-18, 04:02 PM
If you don't mind the dice-rolling, oWoD may work well. (Our group also did some houserules for combat, like reworking how initiative worked to get the overall flow better. Just feel free to adjust some things if needed.)

If you don't plan to take the magic system from one of the oWoD 'races' and refluff for your setting, I'm not sure how well the rules would work for whatever magic you want in-game.
I can see picking a template to base it off of, then refluff as needed. As I think about the ones I've read, they kinda follow this pattern:

Mage - you can buy ranks in different magicks up to your Arete (an expensive skill to raise). Each rank of magic you buy gives you several spells.
So this would work if you want your magic to unlock several abilities for each investment in a given school

Vampire - you buy ranks in different magicks (well, Disciplines, but magicks is close enough), and each one gives a single power (or, rarely, set of related powers.)
So this work if you want players to buy discrete spells, but the spells still increase in rank in different schools

Werewolf - you have a Rank which increases largely by roleplay or DM fiat. You can buy any spells equal to or lower than your rank. (Buying a spell may require a special quest.)
So this works if you want a lot of freedom in how they buy spells. You could buy a level 2 Air spell without having a level 1 Air spell, for example (assuming Air spells are a thing in your setting)


Though, if you aren't porting in the magic systems (under whatever name), I'd recommend nWoD for simpler dice rolls and less skills the players have to invest in. I also like that, in nWoD, Appearance is a merit instead of one of the core attributes.


If I were to use oWoD, I'd adopt a conversion of the Ars Magica Techniques and Forms to oWoD that we used in an all-Thaumaturge campaign, and jigger it for a lower "power scale".


I don't have any nWoD books, but from reading borrowed books I'm not a fan of the compressed system.

GrayDeath
2016-05-19, 04:24 AM
oWoD and its dervates are clunky, but they work for the medium popwer setting. Its the High Power area where they falla part (or in Exalteds Case become a "who nukes first" War^^).

Not the best alternative, as having only dice instead of fixed values AND dice CAN result in laugheable results (ask my Euthanatos Covert Operative, who managed to completely fail to get a stealth Success....with 9 dice AND a special that allowed to reroll all 1s once .... ).
But a workeable one.

JeenLeen
2016-05-19, 08:07 AM
If I were to use oWoD, I'd adopt a conversion of the Ars Magica Techniques and Forms to oWoD that we used in an all-Thaumaturge campaign, and jigger it for a lower "power scale".



As an aside, if you do this, would you mind posting it to the "Older D&D/AD&D and Other Systems" subforum and/or PMing me this conversion. I've read Ars Magica but didn't fully grasp and/or like the magic system, but it translated into oWoD terms sounds really cool and interesting.

On topic: that sounds like a good plan. And if you and your group prefer oWoD mechanics to nWoD, sounds good.