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Author Topic: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?  (Read 1281 times)

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Offline ZekromnomnomTopic starter

Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« on: August 22, 2014, 07:05:14 AM »
I've been trying to branch out as far as role playing games and systems go for a while, but I seem to have trouble finding anyone that's willing to give me a lot of experienced opinions about them. I can read reviews and stuff, but it's not nearly the same as getting the kind of information and opinions from people who have actually played the systems.

I cut my teeth on D&D 3.0/5 and have been playing for around ten years, but it has always had its ups and downs. At one point it was my goal to get a job at Wizards of the Coast after college. Then a lot of stuff went wrong (and I'm not talking about 4E *ba-dum pshh!*) I always really liked the settings and atmosphere, but the longer I play, the further I get from the good feeling it always gave me before. Part of it is the changes and part of it is the kinda crappy Pathfinder group I have, but I feel like I need to expand my experiences.

So with that being said, what are some other games people really enjoy? I'll say as a disclaimer that I'm not really that much looking for realism in my games. I know a lot of people like it, and more power to them, but I want my escape to be as far from reality as possible most of the time, you know? And a second disclaimer, I don't know that that many people will post anything or even read this, but I would prefer we keep the discussions civil. If Jim says he likes Caves and Coatls a lot, even if you hate the game or it makes a complete mockery of Aztec culture, please be polite and don't pick apart all the bad things about the game or argue in the thread.

With that being said, one I have been looking at for a while, but never seem to have the money when I'm at a gaming store, is Savage Worlds. I like the ideas behind some of the settings, like Necessary Evils or Weird War. And I hear the system is good for use in multiple genres. So, thoughts? Experiences? Anecdotes? Opinions?

And feel free to submit other things you think I or someone else uninformed might get a kick out of.

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 07:18:32 AM »
In short order Atlas Games will be releasing the second edition of Feng Shui, the game of every Hong Kong action movie ever. Think of it as The Killer & Wong Fei Hung join forces to fight Big Trouble in Little China. Crazy good times, no hang ups about being faithful to any "reality" other than that of the HK action genre.

If you're open to story games, my favorite is definitely Fiasco (www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/fiasco/). Players take a set of story building blocks called a playset & improvise what amounts to a Coen brothers movie. You can watch a game (played on Table Top by Wil Wheaton, Bonnie Burton, Alison Haislip & John Rogers) here: part 1 part 2

In the more traditional fantasy line, Castles & Crusades is a nice light alternative to heavier OGL-based games. I even managed to have fun playing the gnome illusionist, so that says something.

Offline ZekromnomnomTopic starter

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 08:13:02 AM »
While I think I would find something like Feng Shui fun, I get the feeling it would be a hard sell with my friends. And I'm not even talking about the crappy Pathfinder group that all think of themselves as "cool nerds" and call a LOT of people neck beards. But my other friends, like the good roleplayers. But I will definitely take a look sometime.

And I've watched a lot of the other episodes of Table Top but I never watched that one. I'll have to check it out.

I feel like I may have heard of Castles & Crusades, but I may be thinking of something else. I should really be writing these down *runs off to grab a pen*

Some day, I think I would like to try my hand at designing a system, but I don't know if I could really grasp the concept of creating new mechanics or modifying old ones.

Offline Beorning

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2014, 08:15:40 AM »
You could try playing GURPS :) Although the system is more on the realistic side...

Offline ZekromnomnomTopic starter

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2014, 08:56:19 AM »
I've heard of GURPS but never really anything about it. A friend of mine mentioned not liking it once, but he never really said why.

Offline Beorning

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2014, 09:12:43 AM »
GURPS is a generic simulationist system that is designed to be used in different genres and settings. The basic rules are simple enough, but can be expanded with tons of optional rules, if you want to make your game very crunchy :) Also, the character creation can be a bit daunting, as it involves checking through over 100 pages of possible skills, advantages, disadvantages etc. But if you like details...

Overall, GURPS is a bit addictive, as the system has tons of sourcebook for everything. Wanna have more options in combat? Read the Martial Art sourcebook. You don't like the default system for magic? Here's the Thaumatology sourcebook with many different approaches to simulating magic? Wanna have a detailed system for dealing with superpowers? Pick up the Powers sourcebook... There are also sourcebook for specific game genres, historical settings etc. Oh, and the three sourcebooks about equipment are just... nerdgasmic :)

Personally, I like GURPS, although I have yet to run it. But I already own a whole shelf of GURPS stuff... :)

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2014, 09:24:52 AM »
There's also Scion, from White Wolf. The players are the semi-mortal children of one or another god (Thor, Athena, Osiris, Raiden, &c.), & get together to fight monstrous enemies of their divine parents.

Offline Beorning

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2014, 09:32:35 AM »
Speaking of White Wolf, there are also World of Darkness games (basically, horror games with vampire / werewolf / mage / other supernatural creature protagonists), as well as Exalted (epic fantasy with big manga influence).

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2014, 03:11:00 PM »
White Wolf no longer exists.  They're known as Onyx Path now.

As someone who's been a DM/GM for nigh on 30 years, my PM box is always open, Zek.  I've played quite a few RPGs, and if I haven't odds are I've heard of it.  But I'm just one opinion.

Offline Beorning

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2014, 04:20:02 PM »
White Wolf no longer exists.  They're known as Onyx Path now.

True, but the games are still being published. And they will always be White Wolf games for me...

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2014, 04:58:04 PM »
Here's a list of a few systems I enjoy

Dresden Files - Urban fantasy, based in the same universe as the novel series
Scion - Already mentioned
Exalted - Similar to Scion (kinda), except in an over the top magitech setting.
Legend of the Five Rings - Samurai game.
Qin - Roleplaying in Mythic China. If you enjoy Wu Xia movies, this is the same type of game.
Any of the Warhammer 40,000 RPGs - Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Death Watch, Black Crusade

Offline ZekromnomnomTopic starter

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2014, 05:26:31 PM »
Go to sleep for eight hours and my thread is just blowing up :P

That sounds like a lot of options, Beorning. That kind of reminds me of when a friend of mine bought a Mutants and Masterminds game and then we say just how much customization there is for powers in that game. I'll definitely do a bit of research. Though at this point I'm more looking to pick up like...the core book and maybe a book of monsters and a setting book or something (although I realize some games might be better about not making you buy the core three as three, since I got my start with a system that uses three core books). I kind of feel like my group would not be into World of Darkness, both because of its flavor and because of its higher focus on story telling.

I've heard of Scion before, too, but that's the first time someone has summarized it for me. One of my roommates is a big fan of Percy Jackson, so I bet I could get her on board for something like that. And I had a friend who used to play exalted, but he was kind of out there and we don't talk much anymore. He always made it sound interesting, but maybe a little complicated for me at the same time (then again, this was the guy who took an hour to transfer his character making notes onto his 3.5 character sheet because he would write really tiny and precisely and fill the margins with his way too long for the group we were in background).

Chris Brady, outside of a D&D system, what was the most recent thing you've played?

Hairy, what is your avatar from? Also, I never actually tried reading any of the Dresden files. Although I've read most of his Alera books. A friend of mine I haven't seen in like five years had a Legend of the Five Rings book. I think. Did it or one edition of it, anyway, use a d20 system? I love Wu Xia movies, but my friends might not be down for Qin. And I didn't actually know Warhammer had like RPGs associated. I kind of just always assumed it was just a miniatures game or something.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2014, 06:09:12 PM »
Zek, Hairy's avatar is from the 2008 movie The Forbidden Kingdom.

Games I've played, recently.  Well, on top of Hairy's list, and played more recently, I've played FFG's Edge of Empire Star Wars, Pathfinder, HERO system, Margaret Weis' Marvel Heroic Roleplaying and Mutants and Masterminds 3rd.

I'm currently running a M&M 3rd campaign, and a new session this Sunday.

(Scion and Exalted are massive undertakings for a new GM.)

Offline Beorning

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2014, 06:20:10 PM »
Go to sleep for eight hours and my thread is just blowing up :P

But isn't it wonderful? So much to read about :)

Quote
That sounds like a lot of options, Beorning. That kind of reminds me of when a friend of mine bought a Mutants and Masterminds game and then we say just how much customization there is for powers in that game. I'll definitely do a bit of research. Though at this point I'm more looking to pick up like...the core book and maybe a book of monsters and a setting book or something (although I realize some games might be better about not making you buy the core three as three, since I got my start with a system that uses three core books).

Just to help you out: GURPS is currently in its 4th Edition. There are two core books: Characters (which is mostly about character creation, although it gives the basics of rules, too) and Campaigns (which is about GMing, world-building etc.). There is no separate "bestiary book" for GURPS 4E, but there are a few sourcebooks with various creatures for earlier editions. Also, the 4E setting books include various ideas for monsters. Although... they aren't exactly setting books, they're more like "genre" books. GURPS is a crunchy system, but the storytelling aspect isn't neglected. So, instead of specific settings, GURPS has books about fiction genres: Fantasy, Space (meaning, sci-fi), Horror, Mysteries (detective fiction) etc. These books are a great read, because they take a specific genre of fiction and analyze it: they present genre themes, possible variations etc. I'd risk saying that they are worth reading even if you're not playing GURPS.

The thing with GURPS is, it's an ultimate "build your own game" kind of product. Instead of giving you a setting, it gives you ideas you can use to make your own, unique game. Personally, I love it - although I can see that it wouldn't be appealing for those players who just want to pick up one book and have a game ready.

Although... there *are* some GURPS books about specific settings. Infinite Worlds is the system kind-of-default setting, involving groups of special operatives travelling across various alternate realities and having all kinds of adventures. If you ever wanted to tell a story where the protagonists are an elf archer, a cyberpunk martial artist and a four-legged robot, all of them having adventures in, say, Victorian Britain overran by mutants, then it's a setting for you :) Also, there something called Banestorm: GURPS' kind-of-weird take on a fantasy setting. There's licensed sourcebook based on Lois M. Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. There were others made for earlier editons, too...

Some more things I like about GURPS: it's a point-buy system, with no random rolls involved in character creation. There are also no classes or character levels: you create a unique character and, then, he / she evolves naturally by improving skills etc. Also, it's a rather realistic system: I believe the combat is much more deadly than in D&D.

Overall, you might want to explore Steve Jackson Games' website (the makers of GURPS). You'll find detailed descriptions for all GURPS books there. Also, you might get GURPS Lite there - which is a free, stripped-down version of GURPS for those interested in trying it out.

Quote
I kind of feel like my group would not be into World of Darkness, both because of its flavor and because of its higher focus on story telling.

I see. Still, you might want to explore these games, too... They are quite impressive. For instance, Changeling: the Lost? In my opinion, it may be one of the most beautiful RPGs ever made.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2014, 09:24:40 PM »
Scion is probably my favourite RPG. Second edition is currently in the works. One of my favourite moments was beating down a minotaur using another minotaur  ;D Percy Jackson is a fairly good analogy for it.

Exalted is a very rich and detailed setting, but the rules can be a bit heavy for some tastes. Both are good if you enjoy an over the top game.

There was sort of a d20 version of L5R. The 2nd edition rules (IIRC) were playable under d10 or d20. I've played it from 1st to 4th (current) edition and always used the d10. Its a good game, but the Samurai mindset can be tricky for players to get. Honour and duty are far more important than wealth or even life. My longest campaign was 3 years running The City of Lies for L5R. "She bows politely in return and then explodes"  ;D

Warhammer 40k started with the miniatures, but it's spawned spin of games, computer games, novels and RPGs as well. Its another very rich background.

Necessary Evil is a fun campaign, though I'd probably be inclined to look for a different rule set to play it with. Savage Worlds is okay, but I think there are better Supers rules.

Offline ZekromnomnomTopic starter

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2014, 05:14:02 AM »
Well, I'll definitely take a look at GURPS. And Scion. And I mean...I think myself and another of my friends might really like L5R, but I don't know if most would be down for the samurai thing. I can think of at least three of them that decidedly wouldn't.

I was always kind of interested in the idea of Warhammer 40K but it always seemed like I would have to read a LOT about it. But I think I'll give it a look.

I want to look once more at my friend's Mutants and Masterminds book, but I need to find it first.

And if I can find a cheap copy of the core Savage Worlds book on Amazon, since I screwed up and accidentally bought Prime for a year, I might as well pick it up and see how it is.

Anyone here played Little Fears? I bought the PDF for like three dollars and love the idea, but I don't know that my friends would be down for playing little kids.

Offline kylie

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Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2014, 06:38:29 AM »
         Maybe beyond the scope of what you've asked for, but...  Have you considered designing your own system?  Or is that perhaps, anywhere down the road? 

         I don't think you said precisely what nagged you about D&D post-3.5 ...  (And I really have no opinion on 3.5 either.)  In other words:  I wonder what exactly you are trying to find in a system.  I haven't done a lot with system games for years, myself...  But I've found that when I do at least think about running a story with some system (at least a small one), shaping my own miniature system can be a relief.  Presumably you know what sort of genre and particular atmosphere you want to play, so you have some idea what the mechanics should control and how they should feel when they are used.

         For an example of what inspires me though, I would go back all the way to Top Secret SI.  I think it was First Edition, though I've forgotten and maybe it was Second.  I was in like, barely high school.  Hee.  Anyway, I loved the derivation of various secondary character attributes each from two or three primary ones.  I liked having a system that could do a lot with straight percentage rolls, including figuring crits right into the roll.  I liked that it was an elegant numbers system.  No need for ten kinds of dice, or a hundred of them on the table -- pretty as they are.  Who knows, maybe I even liked the brutal simplicity of the notion that each single toss of the dice could be very important -- the system did not seem to demand rolling all that often unless something "serious" was happening?  And if you could think of other professional knowledge areas, you could probably add them (or build a story just around them, if you wanted) and convert them readily into success tests. 

        Twilight: 2000 (I had the 1st ed.) was another game that did much the same thing a couple years later, with a slightly different genre, more gear and some different "primary" stats oriented more toward a combat focus. 

         Many years later, I ran a PM game here with Mia Saisyu using an attributes test system based on that.  Nothing to do with the espionage world envisioned in Top Secret or the postwar dystopia of Twilight...  But a very similar mechanical foundation with very different character and narrative foci.  It wasn't a very complex system, per se.  I had huge leeway to plot the difficulty of challenges and a range of possible outcomes; there was no campaign or creature "source book" purchased in advance with neat tables of what stock encounters might bring.  But kinky and bizarre situations -- inside a computer adventure no less -- are what Mia wanted, and that meant envisioning things in slightly surreal arrangements.  More generally speaking: I like to think there should be room for creative flex (even fudging the stats of the "plan" as you go) when designing something that is supposed to have both story and a kind of paced challenge.  It's sometimes work but if you have enough adventure plan, it can be fun work and you may get more of what you came for. 

          I'm a little dubious about how far any one published system can fit so many particular people (or at least my particular story tastes), though.  I too played some D&D once upon a time, and between finding players and working "around" the particulars of the system, it could be a hassle trying to get what you wanted out of most of the books.  We did have quite a bit of fun, too.  But I think most of it was when we focused on story/ adventure with only a few key mechanics and then things moved so fast dramatically, we were usually happy to leave the rule books out of it.

         Anyway, I hope you can find the kind of system you like.   ;)
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 06:41:59 AM by kylie »

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2014, 08:17:49 AM »
I've heard of Little Fears, but never played it.

If you want to look at some of these games, there are probably quite a few of them have been played out here. I've run Scion, L5R and some of the 40k ones. I expect some of the other games that might interest you may have been run here as well.

It's not as good as sitting around a table, but it might give you some idea of how they play.

Offline ZekromnomnomTopic starter

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2014, 10:27:34 AM »
         Maybe beyond the scope of what you've asked for, but...  Have you considered designing your own system?  Or is that perhaps, anywhere down the road? 

Honestly, yes, I very much want to design my own system somewhere down the road, but at this point, honestly all that I've ever played is stuff based on a d20 system and I'm not really confident in my ability to work through mechanical aspects. Because I do want rolling involved, and possibly a lot of it, but I'm not sure, really. It's just...the task seems really daunting and while I consider myself fairly smart, I'm pretty bad with numbers and such. Part of it is that I think if I had even a little idea of how some other systems work (cause I seriously have no idea with most of them), then when I go and try to design my own, it's not basically just going to be D&D but magic runs on "mana points" and the basic party consists of Priest, Thief, Soldier, and Arcanist or something. At some point, if I can, I might even want to try to get it published, probably as like a super cheap PDF, as I don't really think I could make a hugely popular thing.

So short answer to your question: yes, very much yes, I want to design a system.

Hairy, I suppose I never really thought of that. I might take a look sometime when I have time.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2014, 11:18:27 AM »
There are quite a few different mechanics you can use in a game.

You're familiar with the d20 one. Single dice roll against a target number, with or without modifiers
Percentile dice. Single d100 roll, with or without modifiers, against a target number. (FFGs Warhammer 40k games)
Dice pool, usually derived from characters abilites / skills etc. Roll X dice (maybe keep all, maybe keep some). Total up results and check against a target number (L5R, 7th Sea)
Dice pool, where a score of X or better on a single dice is a Success. Target will be Y success. (WoD, Scion, Exalted)
Weird dice for storytelling results (look at FFGs new Star Wars game)

There are probably quite a few others, but those are the ones I can remember just off the top of my head.

Offline Beorning

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2014, 07:51:55 PM »
Another game proposal for you, Zek: Call of Cthulhu. It's a classic, if a bit archaic rules-wise, game...

And Hairy, you could try running one of WH40K games for Zek and me...  8-)

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2014, 08:43:16 PM »
I've tried running a variety of 40k games before, but unfortunately they never seem to go that well :/

Offline kylie

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Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2014, 09:55:18 PM »
       If you want something less dice-oriented and more talky or ideally character-based, look into Amber.  Where in theory the highest stat in the room just tends to dominate a given situation (all else being equal, which of course should be the rub I'd say). 

       And there's a great deal of excitement around buying additional, original attribute points through player tasks (e.g. composing an actual diary for your character as you go) and "bidding" to see who gets the highest scores in the room, and maybe even deciding whether to put in just a little in some area that might totally change the outcome where others have put in none.

        I suspect maybe Hairy can think of a neat shorthand name for systems of this sort.  ;)   But I've only played it once so I dunno what it's commonly termed (except that they do advertise it as "diceless"). 

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2014, 04:37:17 AM »
Diceless is what it's called, and it's one of the worst RPG experiences I've ever had.  And the DM advice in it is among the most terrible player vs. player schlock I had the misfortune of having inflicted on me.  It's as bad as the Listen Up, You Primitive Screwheads, the Cyberpunk 2020 DM guide, which I owned because I loved Cyberpunk 2020.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Help me out of my Table-Top rut?
« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2014, 07:26:53 AM »
Yeah, Diceless is the term I've seen. The only games I know that use that are Amber and Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, neither of which I've played.

One other slightly odd mechanic was in Castle Falkenstein, which used a deck of playing cards (the rational being the characters were upper class types, who played cards, while the riffraff played dice).