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View Full Version : has there ever been a proper guide to different RPG systems?



EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 09:51 PM
Well as can be seen in some of my recent threads, i've been considering a new RPG system. The problem is that i'm mostly going by word of mouth and wikipedia reviews, which is a rather hindered way to get information. So i wondered, is there a proper "guide" to the different games/genres of Table Top RPGs out there, like a book taht can explain to you the background, details, and advantages/disadvantages of varying editions. if there isn't, would anybody be interested in seeing something like that, like a book that briefly covers the basics of a wide range of RPG games?
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Krrth
2008-10-17, 09:52 PM
Not as far as I know. You best bet is to hit the gaming stores, and ask for a demo. Either that, or hit some of the PbP games here and try them out.

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 09:55 PM
there isn't any site/book that just covers the most predominate games and briefly explains them then?
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EE

Krrth
2008-10-17, 09:58 PM
Most likely not. There's just way too many. Just looking at the gaming shelf in my computer room I see 14 different systems.

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 09:59 PM
hmmm, would you be interested if there was such a book? I know i would, just to give me some info on games i've never heard of before
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Krrth
2008-10-17, 10:01 PM
Quite frankly, yes I would. I've found some real gems by accident. Ones that are either out of print, or for some reason never really caught on. For example, in fantasy, Chivalry and Sorcery was actually kind of fun. It's been out of print for almost 20 years, however.

charl
2008-10-17, 10:03 PM
Well, if you are looking for the "perfect" gaming experience, what is stopping you from making your own system tailored to your specific needs?
I've done it dozens of times. It's not hard. There are lots of advantages to this, apart from you getting exactly what you want you can also make changes or come up with rules for new situations on the fly. Not that anything is really stopping you from doing that with an existing system...

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 10:03 PM
yeah, i think that would be great. I mean i'm looking at wikipedia and there are about 150 games there, but they tell so little taht i don't know anything about them.
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EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 10:07 PM
Well, if you are looking for the "perfect" gaming experience, what is stopping you from making your own system tailored to your specific needs?
I've done it dozens of times. It's not hard. There are lots of advantages to this, apart from you getting exactly what you want you can also make changes or come up with rules for new situations on the fly. Not that anything is really stopping you from doing that with an existing system...

I've already played the systems i have, and i want to try something new, expand, see new things. But because everything is so damn expensive, i have to be absurdly careful making a choice and i don't want to regret it when i do it
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charl
2008-10-17, 10:20 PM
I've already played the systems i have, and i want to try something new, expand, see new things. But because everything is so damn expensive, i have to be absurdly careful making a choice and i don't want to regret it when i do it
from
EE

Making things yourself is free, apart from the cost of papers and pencils, or electricity for computers. ;)

Let your creativity flow. Don't like difficulty classes? Then make it so you roll below a set value to succeed. Skill levels getting old? Make the skills binary (like in the Warhammer Fantasy RPG), either you can do something or you can't. Tired of hitpoints? Make up some other system, using different types of "wounds" like KULT. Dice annoying you? Use a deck of poker cards, or tarot even.

That's just scratching the surface of what you could possibly do.

Thinker
2008-10-17, 10:23 PM
I've already played the systems i have, and i want to try something new, expand, see new things. But because everything is so damn expensive, i have to be absurdly careful making a choice and i don't want to regret it when i do it
from
EE

I've always been a fan of try before you buy. I'm sure there are some websites out there that can give you "previews".

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 10:25 PM
Making things yourself is free, apart from the cost of papers and pencils, or electricity for computers. ;)

Let your creativity flow. Don't like difficulty classes? Then make it so you roll below a set value to succeed. Skill levels getting old? Make the skills binary (like in the Warhammer Fantasy RPG), either you can do something or you can't. Tired of hitpoints? Make up some other system, using different types of "wounds" like KULT. Dice annoying you? Use a deck of poker cards, or tarot even.

That's just scratching the surface of what you could possibly do.

yeah i know about all that, but the thing is i like to play actual system and see how they work out. For example, i never played Kult, i don't know how it works. I think it would be great if i could read a review explaining it, or playing it, but looking up each and every system is tedious. I think a single document would be amazing

Would anybody else like that?
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EE

charl
2008-10-17, 10:30 PM
KULT is out-of-print. The latest edition used a system that was very much like the one used by Call of Cthulhu (not the d20 crap, the real stuff) or by the Swedish RPG Mutant (only the latest edition, the older ones used different systems I think, but that's a moot point since I pretty much can assume you don't read Swedish). I know the system has a name, but I can't recall it right now.

EDIT: Basic. It's called basic.

xPANCAKEx
2008-10-17, 10:31 PM
just play FATAL - its clearly the best thing out there

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 10:32 PM
interesting

The thing is, i wish there was some niffty book where you could go and just look this stuff up and find out basic details you know what i mean?
from
EE
edit
FATAL, he Shreeded Mouse of RPGs

Prometheus
2008-10-17, 10:37 PM
There isn't a guide, however there is a service which answers any question you could have about an obscure RPG or will recommend one that fits the descriptions of what you are looking for. What is this service? The boards!

charl
2008-10-17, 10:44 PM
Of course that would be pretty nifty, but it would probably be difficult due to copyrights, and the sheer number of roleplaying games out there. You would also have to look at different countries and regions. Anglophone RPGs go in one direction while Asian ones go in another and European countries are a mess of different preferences in roleplaying, some quite unique.

After looking at different systems you tend to get the hang of how things work anyway. There's a tendency for systems to follow the same basic paths, and there seems to be a set number of paths available on the market, with the occasional innovative product that usually isn't that good anyway.

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 10:54 PM
honestly through, it would be much more convent than just searching through a series of reviews/word of mouth claims. I mean, you could just look through it and find a game you never heard of that you'd be interested in playing. I know I'd buy a book like that, or visit a website like taht
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EE

Zeta Kai
2008-10-17, 10:56 PM
A published comparative guide would be nice. Why do you start writing one EE? I'm sure that you'd do a great job (assuming that you ever learned to capitalize words properly :smallwink:).

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 10:57 PM
A published comparative guide would be nice. Why do you start writing one EE? I'm sure that you'd do a great job (assuming that you ever learned to capitalize words properly :smallwink:).

that actually would be an interesting project, through i'd have to buy a lot of books Oh and shut up:smallwink:
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charl
2008-10-17, 10:58 PM
honestly through, it would be much more convent than just searching through a series of reviews/word of mouth claims. I mean, you could just look through it and find a game you never heard of that you'd be interested in playing. I know I'd buy a book like that, or visit a website like taht
from
EE

Well, we COULD make a thread here about just that thing. People making short reviews and describing different games they have tried in a few short non-copyright infringing sentences, and reserving the first few posts in the topic for summaries or links to specific posts.

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 11:00 PM
that could actually work, through the amount of people with books woudl be a little diffacult
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EE

Calinero
2008-10-17, 11:07 PM
There one was a great gathering of all the greatest gamers in the land. They compiled all the wisdom from the vastest reaches of the internet and word of mouth, and put it all into one master book of the greatest RPG games ever. However, they made a deadly mistake--FATAL was included in the book, perhaps as a joke. It's contamination swiftly spread, and the entire book was ruined. They were lucky to escape with their lives. So....no. There is no complete list.

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 11:11 PM
There one was a great gathering of all the greatest gamers in the land. They compiled all the wisdom from the vastest reaches of the internet and word of mouth, and put it all into one master book of the greatest RPG games ever. However, they made a deadly mistake--FATAL was included in the book, perhaps as a joke. It's contamination swiftly spread, and the entire book was ruined. They were lucky to escape with their lives. So....no. There is no complete list.

huh what is the reference too? FATAL corrupts from within
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horseboy
2008-10-17, 11:30 PM
To my knowledge the best answer would be for you to throw out a question about a system you're interested in learning more about. Someone here has played it. Other options would probably be the Pugknowspro (http://www.youtube.com/user/pugknowspro) series, or the free sections on places like drivethrustuff (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/index.php?free=1&filters=0_0_0) There's usually some introductory modules and demo pdfs there for you to thumb through.

kbk
2008-10-17, 11:42 PM
Okay, lets see what I've played all of these (and run most of these):

DnD (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3.5, 4th):
You likely know about DnD. Most of my experience is 2nd with skills and powers on.

White wolf
(Original vampire, mage, werewolf, demon, mummy, changeling, hunter. New: Vampire, Mage)

Paranoia
While long term games in paranoia are unlikely, the game is just so much fun. Its an autocratic future world run by an intelligent computer. Questioning the computer is treason. Everyone is required to be happy. There are pills to assist. The Computer is perfect. Commie mutant traitors must be found out and destroyed! Everyone has 6 identical clones of themselves, and everyone is a commie mutant traitor of some sort. Questioning the computer is treason, the computer is perfect, and so everyone cloned is perfect.

The system relies on story, and its a basic roll a d20 and describe what you do. The more detail, the more bonuses.

Deadlands (original and Savage worlds).
Cards and dice are an awesome combination. I love deadlands. Western horror.

Call of Cthulu:
Great roleplaying system. Light on survability. Everyone goes insane eventually, and everyone is fragile. Great fun.

Shadowrun; rifts; Torg; Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM); and Obsidian have all also seen some playtime from me. There's got to be about a half dozen more that I can't remember.


Seriously, I recommend White Wolf, call of cthulu, and deadlands.


There just isn't much in the way of comprehensive reviews. Most cites I find are biased or focused on one system or another. There are not too many true cosmopolitan gamers, and its hard to find the ones that are. Your best bet is to try to play some demos in con or a gaming store. Get a friend to try out a product and just give it a shot. Be open, but critical. There is a lot of crap out there too.

elliott20
2008-10-18, 06:46 AM
There just isn't much in the way of comprehensive reviews. Most cites I find are biased or focused on one system or another. There are not too many true cosmopolitan gamers, and its hard to find the ones that are. Your best bet is to try to play some demos in con or a gaming store. Get a friend to try out a product and just give it a shot. Be open, but critical. There is a lot of crap out there too.

a true cosmopolitan gamer would not have enough experience with a system to be a thorough judge a good deal of the time. I know about 3-4 people in my group who came close simply because they devote such a large amount of their time trying games and analyzing games. but even then, their knowledge is limited.

Having said that, my recommendation is to go story-games.com and ask people there for reviews, as the posters there, by virtue of a lot of them being aspiring indy game designers, spend a lot of their time trying out systems, both mainstream and indy. post what kind of things you're looking for and people can usually pull out some interesting advice. (though, highly unorthodox)

The Rose Dragon
2008-10-18, 07:13 AM
I recommend Mutants & Masterminds.

Why?

Because it's the best superhero RPG in the world (it says so right on the cover) plus it is highly adaptable to nearly any situation.

Kiero
2008-10-18, 07:19 AM
there isn't any site/book that just covers the most predominate games and briefly explains them then?
from
EE

There's the Game Index (http://index.rpg.net/)on RPGnet (currently at just under 9500 games). User-entered content, but tries to list most things. Also got the reviews attached to those games. Plus of course just posting there and asking about a game, which will tend to get you a broad(ish) range of responses about the good and bad.

Also there's John Kim's Encyclopaedia of games (http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/encyclopedia/). Not bad as a starting point.

Also worth considering that there's tons of free stuff out there (of varying quality). John H Kim has a massive list of free stuff (http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/freerpgs/)on his website.

Tengu_temp
2008-10-18, 07:23 AM
Well, if you are looking for the "perfect" gaming experience, what is stopping you from making your own system tailored to your specific needs?
I've done it dozens of times. It's not hard. There are lots of advantages to this, apart from you getting exactly what you want you can also make changes or come up with rules for new situations on the fly. Not that anything is really stopping you from doing that with an existing system...

Note - making your own game might sound simple, but it actually requires a lot of effort and playtesting, or else you will end up with something that looks nice on paper, but is unplayable.

elliott20
2008-10-18, 07:31 AM
Note - making your own game might sound simple, but it actually requires a lot of effort and playtesting, or else you will end up with something that looks nice on paper, but is unplayable.

the only time I ever managed to pull that off is when I wrote a game where the mechanics are so simple that the rules fit on a single napkin. it's about as indy as it goes.

Calinero
2008-10-18, 08:42 AM
huh what is the reference too? FATAL corrupts from within
from
EE

FATAL is one of the worst systems ever made....ever. Just....no. Don't play it.

charl
2008-10-18, 09:55 AM
Note - making your own game might sound simple, but it actually requires a lot of effort and playtesting, or else you will end up with something that looks nice on paper, but is unplayable.

Well, that depends on what you focus on. I tend to prefer systems that are extremely simple and not even used most of the time, just being there to sort of aid the GM.

Perhaps I don't need to even mention that I like freeform roleplaying.

Mark Hall
2008-10-18, 11:01 AM
rpg.net has extensive reviews of a lot of systems.

EvilElitest
2008-10-18, 08:59 PM
rpg.net has extensive reviews of a lot of systems.

yeah but that is very much like a wiki in someways
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Draco Dracul
2008-10-18, 09:01 PM
yeah but that is very much like a wiki in someways
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EE

Enough to get you interested, but not enough for you to figure out if you like it or not?

EvilElitest
2008-10-18, 09:02 PM
Enough to get you interested, but not enough for you to figure out if you like it or not?

kinda, but more like if i know something specific its great, but it isn't that good for somebody who wants to know some new systems and what they entail
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EE

elliott20
2008-10-18, 09:51 PM
kinda, but more like if i know something specific its great, but it isn't that good for somebody who wants to know some new systems and what they entail
from
EE
well, I think one of the challenges is knowing what kind of game you like and actually extracting from people whether or not the game's strengths actually apply to your interests.

with RPG.net, the quality of the reviews varies about as much as the taste of the reviewers themselves. and really, one guy may find particular mechanics to be of absolute brilliance while another will think it's idiocy in motion.

I think really, if I were to ever do a database cataloging games, I would rather rank games in their GNS aspects. So say a 1 is "not concerned at all", 5 being "pays attention to it" and 10 is "core prominence in game", I might rank D&D to go to the tune of G8N3S1. Then by allowing other reviewers to submit their own rankings, you begin to slowly figure out a game's GNS ranking.

EvilElitest
2008-10-18, 10:02 PM
i would prefer something that just explained what the game was about, what audience is it intended for, what style it tires to aim for and how it goes about it. Then views on how it holds up to that
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sonofzeal
2008-10-18, 10:35 PM
THIS (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=83622) might be what you're looking for.... if it had ever caught on. Still a start.

elliott20
2008-10-18, 11:24 PM
i would prefer something that just explained what the game was about, what audience is it intended for, what style it tires to aim for and how it goes about it. Then views on how it holds up to that
from
EE
well, okay, let's break that down

what the game is about: basically a two-line description of the game itself. could include genre, theme, or universe it's set in, etc.

audience: this is where the GNS thing comes in some fashion. The GNS approach can pretty easily define the dimensions of it's intended audience.

style: in conjunction to audience is it's style. though, this bears a bit more explanation as other stylistic elements like time period, visual aids, etc, can be included in this part.

mechanics: I personally feel this is a hard section to really judge well. The best you can hope for, I think, is just to talk about the amount of depth and maybe a very general outline of the mechanics.

does it work: this is where the actual review comes in and each person weighs in on their perceived strengths and weaknesses of the system itself. at least, it poses the question in the framework of "does the system do what it was meant to do?" and in that mindset, you obviously can't judge D&D 3E for it's realism component because that's not the focal point of the game.

RPGuru1331
2008-10-18, 11:39 PM
On the note of "Trying before you buy", a lot of websites for RPG systems have a demo for them. It'll have quickplay rules, and some pregenned characters, but it's a legal way to try stuff out.

EvilElitest
2008-10-18, 11:58 PM
well, okay, let's break that down

what the game is about: basically a two-line description of the game itself. could include genre, theme, or universe it's set in, etc.

audience: this is where the GNS thing comes in some fashion. The GNS approach can pretty easily define the dimensions of it's intended audience.

style: in conjunction to audience is it's style. though, this bears a bit more explanation as other stylistic elements like time period, visual aids, etc, can be included in this part.

mechanics: I personally feel this is a hard section to really judge well. The best you can hope for, I think, is just to talk about the amount of depth and maybe a very general outline of the mechanics.

does it work: this is where the actual review comes in and each person weighs in on their perceived strengths and weaknesses of the system itself. at least, it poses the question in the framework of "does the system do what it was meant to do?" and in that mindset, you obviously can't judge D&D 3E for it's realism component because that's not the focal point of the game.

wait do taht agian in more detail, i don't quite understand what your saying
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EE

elliott20
2008-10-19, 12:26 AM
:smalltongue:

just saying, that's how I'd approach it.

EvilElitest
2008-10-19, 12:30 AM
fair enough, but i think it would be better if it focused more upon comparing different editions with each other
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EE

Kiero
2008-10-19, 05:09 AM
i would prefer something that just explained what the game was about, what audience is it intended for, what style it tires to aim for and how it goes about it. Then views on how it holds up to that
from
EE

Some of the better (and longer) reviews do exactly that. Many games have multiple reviews of varying qualities, you just have to do the work to trawl through them.

EvilElitest
2008-10-19, 03:49 PM
There has been: "Fantasy Role Playing Games"; a hardback book by Eric Holmes (who also wrote the original Basic D&D set). A 224 page introduction to and survey of role-playing games published in 1981, covering such gems as Superhero 2044, Bunnies and Burrows, and Melee and Wizard as well as more (then) mainstream games like D&D, RQ, and EPT, miniatures, history of the hobby and computer games etc.

It's a good read but of course totally outdated as a survey now.

oh thank you, did anyone made a modern one
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EE

Raum
2008-10-19, 04:48 PM
Well as can be seen in some of my recent threads, i've been considering a new RPG system. The problem is that i'm mostly going by word of mouth and wikipedia reviews, which is a rather hindered way to get information. So i wondered, is there a proper "guide" to the different games/genres of Table Top RPGs out there, like a book taht can explain to you the background, details, and advantages/disadvantages of varying editions. if there isn't, would anybody be interested in seeing something like that, like a book that briefly covers the basics of a wide range of RPG games?
from
EEWhat are you looking for in a "guide"? Jon Kim maintains the most comprehensive list of RPGs I'm aware of (http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/encyclopedia/fulllist.html). It has a couple of sentences about each game.

For something more in depth I recommend looking for individual reviews. RPG Net has a bunch here (http://www.rpg.net/reviews/).

Are either of those what you're looking for?

EvilElitest
2008-10-19, 05:04 PM
What are you looking for in a "guide"? Jon Kim maintains the most comprehensive list of RPGs I'm aware of (http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/encyclopedia/fulllist.html). It has a couple of sentences about each game.

For something more in depth I recommend looking for individual reviews. RPG Net has a bunch here (http://www.rpg.net/reviews/).

Are either of those what you're looking for?

kinda, but something a bit more orginized and more detailed, but essentially yes
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EE

Kiero
2008-10-20, 05:32 AM
Didn't I just quote John Kim's encyclopaedia (and his list of free RPGs too) a page back?

EvilElitest
2008-10-20, 06:43 AM
Didn't I just quote John Kim's encyclopaedia (and his list of free RPGs too) a page back?

yeah, its very cool, but it is great for listing RPGs, not learning details. It works if your just looking around through
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EE

bosssmiley
2008-10-20, 07:05 AM
There has been: "Fantasy Role Playing Games"; a hardback book by Eric Holmes (who also wrote the original Basic D&D set). A 224 page introduction to and survey of role-playing games published in 1981, covering such gems as Superhero 2044, Bunnies and Burrows, and Melee and Wizard as well as more (then) mainstream games like D&D, RQ, and EPT, miniatures, history of the hobby and computer games etc.

It's a good read but of course totally outdated as a survey now.

There was also "What Is Dungeons & Dragons?" by Butterfield, Parker & Honigmann. That covered similar ground to Holmes "FRPG" book. Similar period, but a useful guide to some of the industry classics. It's odd to see how many are still in print in some form even today. :smalleek:

potatocubed
2008-10-20, 07:32 AM
yeah, its very cool, but it is great for listing RPGs, not learning details. It works if your just looking around through

Well E, that encyclopedia is about as 'on a plate' as you're likely to get. Ultimately, if you want to find a system that's right for you, you are going to have to do some research.

Print off the encyclopedia, then go through it and scrub out all the stuff that sounds totally unappealing. Then scrub off all the out of print games, incomplete games with no support (Qin, I'm looking at you) and games in languages you don't speak (which may or may not include anything by Jenna Moran). Then go look up some reviews and/or score some playtests for all the other games on the list.

Alternatively, list all the things you want from a game and let people recommend you systems to try based on that list. This is probably an easier method.

EvilElitest
2008-10-20, 08:17 PM
maybe i'll write my own RPG comparative guide, it could be really interesting to experience actually
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EE