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    Default Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    The main system I play is D&D 3.5. I like that it's a crunchy system, but the class system just serves to restrict options. I've also looked into exalted (1e, because those were the only books I could get my hands on). I like the system, but the setting is anything but traditional fantasy.

    What are the playground's favorite classless fantasy systems?
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Aside: Like Exalted, but you can look at Godbound for free.

    GURPS 4e

    Savage Worlds with Shaintar (assuming you mean high fantasy is terms of power)

    Ars Magica 5e (this might be more what you want, except mages are better than everyone else)

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Burning Wheel.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Definitely Gurps. It always wins if you want both super crunchy and classless, regardless of the genre.

    Personally I find Gurps so crunchy it's unplayable, but hey that'd be true of D&D 3e if I hadn't spent ten years studying it and getting my PhD in it as a result. Some folks that's the level of crunch they want, so if that's you don't let the mountain of reading it will take faze you.

    Seriously tho, the amount of time I've spent "studying" RPG rules I could be an expert polyglot or something.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Song of Swords. Lots, lots, of crunch. To play “high” versus “low” fantasy, you use pre-selected character start positions. You can play absolutely real-life at the lowest end, up to basically demigods at the highest end. It has a helpful table for where to power characters for a given game.

    But really. When I say crunchy, I mean crunchy.

    Burning wheel is also a strong contender, particularly because it has probably the only social conflict resolution mechanics in gaming that don’t devolve into “roll your social skill/stat”

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by HisHighestMinio View Post
    The main system I play is D&D 3.5. I like that it's a crunchy system, but the class system just serves to restrict options. I've also looked into exalted (1e, because those were the only books I could get my hands on). I like the system, but the setting is anything but traditional fantasy.

    What are the playground's favorite classless fantasy systems?
    I've actually been using Mutants & Masterminds 3E to do this: It's meant for superheroes so you can build characters that can do literally anything, but the rules are all very well-defined and reasonably well-balanced. It's also designed to be fairly agnostic as to what does and does not exist in the particular setting the GM uses (all powers mechanically work the same, whether they come from magic spells, martial art techniques, or sci-fi gadgets), so you barely have to do any refluffing to make it work with the fantasy setting of your choice. All you really need to do is adjust the skill list. There are only a few problems:

    1. You're basically on your own in terms of building the setting, there are no books filled with pre-statted NPCs to use with the system that'll have that high fantasy flavor you want. Not a problem for me since I only play in homebrewed settings anyway, but if you like having a setting book to work from this might be an issue.

    2. The system is really nonlethal: The default assumption is literally no one dies, ever, except as a deliberate storytelling choice agreed upon by the group. The books themselves have recommendations for how to adjust the game to play something Iron Age-ish, which is much more in line with how games like D&D tend to work wrt lethality.

    3. The system is designed to have characters that start out fairly powerful already and don't change much over the course of the game: It's possible to start out a campaign as level 1 characters and progress all the way to level 20 but it... would be really, really painful. If you want level progression that feels good, you're going to have to homebrew up something else for yourself. Also, there's no good system in place for characters to find loot while adventuring. If looting dungeons and leveling up aren't things you care about, this is great, the system is designed to sand off all the awkward edges trying to play D&D in that style. But if you want a classless system to imitate D&D with, this is a big problem.

    4. All abilities are at-wills by default, and the only way to get something that's not an at-will power in the books as written is to use the Unreliable flaw. (And that doesn't get you more powerful abilities due to the PL limits, it just gives you more PP to work with.) If you have a specific magic mechanic in mind you want to use, like vancian casting or spell points or something, you'll have to homebrew it yourself.

    5. Characters are generally very specialized in terms of what they can do: This is mostly a good thing, I think, but you can't really use the system to emulate playing as a party of all T1 characters, if that's the game feel you're going for.

    6. The system is actually rather impressively balanced given how open-ended it is, but it's still very, very, *very* TheoryOP abusable if you have a crafty powergamer among your players. It's not hard, for example, to make a character who's outright immune to all harm, or who can make an infinite number of attacks each round, or who can literally blow up the entire planet with a standard action. There are even a lot of options printed in the book itself (like Heroic Summon) where the authors explain in a sidebar "Yeah, this is stupidly broken, allow players to use this at your own risk." Don't be afraid to say no if a character sounds too ridiculous.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    I'll second Burning Wheel, though it might be borderline on the high fantasy aspect. I'll also add one that might be borderline on the crunchy side, Reign. It's high fantasy, it has a really neat default setting, and the main selling points are that it has some of the coolest magic I have ever seen (setting specific groups with deeply thematic magic, e.g. the smoke sculptors who sculpt smoke into what is basically fantasy aerogel but way more durable) and has a neat overlay for organizational rules built on the assumption that the PCs are in leadership positions for some sort of decently sized group.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Definitely Gurps. It always wins if you want both super crunchy and classless, regardless of the genre.

    Personally I find Gurps so crunchy it's unplayable
    I think some systems do genre better, but I like GURPS. It's really meant to be overkill. It gives you far more in the way of rules than you can ever use and it's up to the GM to prune and modify as needed. Which isn't terribly easy. What GURPS really needs is to approach the game as Software as a Service. Something like DnD Beyond, but better.

    Online interface through a web service with no need to install a local client.
    Delineate between fluff/lore and mechanics.
    All mechanics are in a database as individual entries.
    Mechanics can be purchased on an individual basis (literally rule by rule for pennies apiece) or grouped by subject or sourcebook.
    The system will put all your entries into a standard source-book format.
    You can add your own rules to the database.
    You can add your own fluff to your custom generated source-book in provided fields (it will be stored).
    SJG owns the rights to any rules you put in, but the fluff remains yours.
    SJG provides you with some artwork and lets you add your own. SJG can contact art owners to purchase their works (cheaper than hiring artists and addresses one of the biggest weakenesses of GURPS: Low production values)
    SJG Lore can be purchased as source-books (dollars rather than pennies)
    Creators can publish their custom source-books on SJG. Subject to copyright review and SJG gets a cut of all sales.

    But now I'm way off on a tangent so I'll stop rambling.
    Last edited by jjordan; 2019-09-08 at 01:35 PM.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    You lost me at "software as a service".
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    You lost me at "software as a service".
    On demand publishing? Granular, licensed content? Community engagement?

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    You can add your own rules to the database.
    ...
    SJG owns the rights to any rules you put in
    To put this mildly - hell no. Not now, not ever.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    To put this mildly - hell no. Not now, not ever.
    You're correct about that. It will never happen so it'll never be an issue.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    I think some systems do genre better, but I like GURPS. It's really meant to be overkill. It gives you far more in the way of rules than you can ever use and it's up to the GM to prune and modify as needed.
    That sounds about right. And yeah some systems do genre far better. Its just that it excels so much at over the top crunch and level-less point buy character creation. So if that combination is your primary requirement, its hard to beat.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2019-09-08 at 01:54 PM.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    I have been slowly working on making 2nd Edition AD&D Classless.
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by HisHighestMinio View Post
    What are the playground's favorite classless fantasy systems?
    The Dark Eye is, in essence, the German D&D, and it's 4th and 5th editions ate crunchy high fantasy without classes, and 5e is currently being released in English! It's a lot lower powered than later levels of D&D, but makes up for it with more detail and options. While it does have a lot of Professions in the books in 5e those are just prebuilt packages.

    I'll possibly go into more detail in they morning, but in short you have your humans, elves, and dwarves, your warriors, scoundrels, woodsmen, mages, and thieves, as well as whatever professions you want to make, and an incredibly detailed high fantasy world with diverse cultures that have developed over the game's decades of life.
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    The Dark Eye is, in essence, the German D&D, and it's 4th and 5th editions ate crunchy high fantasy without classes, and 5e is currently being released in English! It's a lot lower powered than later levels of D&D, but makes up for it with more detail and options. While it does have a lot of Professions in the books in 5e those are just prebuilt packages.

    I'll possibly go into more detail in they morning, but in short you have your humans, elves, and dwarves, your warriors, scoundrels, woodsmen, mages, and thieves, as well as whatever professions you want to make, and an incredibly detailed high fantasy world with diverse cultures that have developed over the game's decades of life.
    I should get that for reference if nothing else.

    Hear good things about Splittermond, but it's not available in English, and I don't read enough German to translate for myself.
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Definitely Burning Wheel; a game of all humans will be gritty low fantasy, unless you've got Faithful humans with miracles, but a game with elves, dwarves, or orcs will very much be high fantasy. And honestly, even a game of humans can go high fantasy, because the game is built around playing to characters' ideals and values.
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    The Dark Eye is, in essence, the German D&D, and it's 4th and 5th editions ate crunchy high fantasy without classes, and 5e is currently being released in English! It's a lot lower powered than later levels of D&D, but makes up for it with more detail and options. While it does have a lot of Professions in the books in 5e those are just prebuilt packages.

    I'll possibly go into more detail in they morning, but in short you have your humans, elves, and dwarves, your warriors, scoundrels, woodsmen, mages, and thieves, as well as whatever professions you want to make, and an incredibly detailed high fantasy world with diverse cultures that have developed over the game's decades of life.
    Ah how could I forget the Dark Eye. It's like if GURPS and D&D had lovechild.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    My favorite one is Splittermond.

    I do still play TDE 4th edition but i don't consider it to be nearly as good and even there i tend to prefer the minor side settings with special rules like Myranor or Dunkle Zeiten to be superior rulewise. I avoid TDE 5E and think it is not that well designed. They are both tolerable but with a lot of room for improvement imho.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    I'll just say that I have played both Splittermond and Das Schwarze Auge with excellent DMs, and I highly dislike them both, mechanically. They make things more complicated than they need to be. Especially the DSA system where you have to roll three dice with separate modifiers for every skill check is interesting in theory but highly annoying in practise. Also, I hate how you have to spend tons of points to make a character that feels even semi-competent at their core skills.
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Definitely Gurps. It always wins if you want both super crunchy and classless, regardless of the genre.

    Personally I find Gurps so crunchy it's unplayable, but hey that'd be true of D&D 3e if I hadn't spent ten years studying it and getting my PhD in it as a result. Some folks that's the level of crunch they want, so if that's you don't let the mountain of reading it will take faze you.

    Seriously tho, the amount of time I've spent "studying" RPG rules I could be an expert polyglot or something.
    Look into Dungeon Fantasy RPG. It's an SJG spin-off of their Dungeon Fantasy series for GURPS 4e. It's explictly designed to be a crunchier version of the classic dungeon crawl. The rules are essentially GURPS 4e, but stripped down and streamlined for the genre. And the professional templates speed up character generation, which is always where GURPS bogs down the most, but still allow for tons of options and granular character progression.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    High Adventure Roleplaying (HARP) is not strictly classless but the classes are primarily discounts on Skills and Talents anyone can purchase, and D&D style multiclassing is available for a small surcharge.

    It is very, very crunchy even with (recommended) house rules to tone it down a bit. Characters are unique and very, very detailed.
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Mutants and Masterminds definitely works, but I would suggest the OG. Champions.

    Opinions may vary of course, but I find it a ton more fun that M&M. Better crunch. More customization. The math might be intimidating at first, but even the moth math inept can grasp it if they try. No setting support of course, but at least for me, that's not a problem.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    I think the WOIN system would work for what you want, specifically OLD. Life path system for character creation, verb noun magic system, and plenty of crunch in combat

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by Connington View Post
    Look into Dungeon Fantasy RPG. It's an SJG spin-off of their Dungeon Fantasy series for GURPS 4e. It's explictly designed to be a crunchier version of the classic dungeon crawl. The rules are essentially GURPS 4e, but stripped down and streamlined for the genre. And the professional templates speed up character generation, which is always where GURPS bogs down the most, but still allow for tons of options and granular character progression.
    Seconded, Dungeon Fantasy does a great job of emulating the 'feel' of the D&D world.
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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    The Design Mechanism's Mythras is my go-to Classless system. It is based on Runequest/BRP but uses a newer ACTIONS-based initiative system and has special combat maneuvers that you "earn" by rolling more successfully than your opponent. They now even have a Mythras variant called Classic Fantasy which models D&D's magic system and class abilities. Mongoose Publishing's LEGEND is a cheaper and less "polished" version of Mythras. PDFs of it can be had for a couple of dollars [US].

    Then there's the Riddle Of Steel RPG (if you can find it). It is based on the SUCCESS mechanic as used by White Wolf Publishing and Shadowrun. It used the 1D10, not the 1D6 [of Shadowrun] and is a very detailed and deadly game.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    The Dark Eye is, in essence, the German D&D
    That is nice to know! I have played The Dark Eye videogames from Daedalic Entertainment and loved them (Memoria is still one of my favorite games), but I didn't know there was a RPG system behind them.

    ===

    On the topic, I am actually also looking for a crunchy, classless, and gridless fantasy RPG system. I think will go with Burning Wheel, since it has a very good balance between combat and social interaction, and is focused on character development.
    Last edited by Marcloure; 2019-09-16 at 12:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Crunchy, Classless High Fantasy Systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by olskool View Post
    Then there's the Riddle Of Steel RPG (if you can find it). It is based on the SUCCESS mechanic as used by White Wolf Publishing and Shadowrun. It used the 1D10, not the 1D6 [of Shadowrun] and is a very detailed and deadly game.
    Riddle of Steel really isn't high fantasy by any measure. It's deadly and charging into combat like a D&D character would is likely to end up in an ignominious and unmourned death. Song of Swords, one of its spiritual successors, has options for heroic games, though it will still lean towards realism.
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