Tabletop RPG Recommendations?

Rubescen

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The Short: What pen & paper RPGs do you recommend ?

The Rest:

So, some friends and I have been tabletop gaming for many years now. We started with Rifts (a terrible system), moved onto D&D (3e, 3.5, and 4e//pathfinder). Played a lot of Shadowrun. A bit of Exalted. Took a long hiatus, and recently have resumed (remotely) tabletop gaming. We've been doing short 2-3 session adventures, trying out different systems and rotating GM/DM.

We've tried: Cthulu, Savage Worlds (weird wars), and just finished a Traveller adventure.

I'm up again to run the game. So I've been looking for another system to try out. Figured this might be a good place to ask for suggestions. Ideally, something that lends itself to short one-off adventures with easily graspable rules and viable via remote video

But any recommendations are welcome! Thanks!
 

Touchfuzzy

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Need more info. What kind of stuff are people into? I've read probably several hundred TTRPG books over the last 30 years.

Just off the top of my head, some interesting ones:

Blades in the Dark
Double Cross
Fight!
Numenera
Mutant City Blues
Rhapsody of Blood
Ryuutama
Kagegami High
FFG Star Wars
FFG Legend of the Five Rings
Pugmire
Lancer
Remnants
Ninja Burger

These two are also interesting, and as an added bonus, are really designed around short campaigns/adventures.

Shinobigami
Tenra Bansho Zero
 

RachelTheSeeker

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@Touchfuzzy, you have no idea how much I'd wanna play Ryuutama! Lot of good ideas in that game, and a great feel to it.

To address @Rubescen's OP: what kinds of games are you looking for, and how important is homebrewing to you? I've got a few recommendations across a sliding scale.

Old-School Renaissance / Old-School D&D Retroclones
These refer to games that borrow design choices from older editions of D&D, both AD&D (1st and 2nd edition) and even older (0e, Basic and Expert or "B/X"), etc. It's fascinating to see the roots of my favorite hobby. I think these are great for homebrew due to less moving parts, especially if you know D&D 3x through 5th edition well. Most are pick-and-choose and cross-compatible, too!

My personal recommendation is Basic Fantasy RPG: it's free (with cheap paperbacks if you want physical copies), has a ton of support for supplements and modules, and has new-school nuances such as ascending AC instead of THAC0. These are mainly retroclones aimed at AD&D and B/X, but aren't the only recreations of older tabletop games. Beware, if played rules-as-written, older D&D is pretty deadly. However, I like to think of the rules as... suggestions; your house, your rules. >;3

Dungeon World
I. Flippin'. Love this game. Dungeon World is based on Apocalypse World rules, and the basic playbooks for each class and GM stuff are also available. It's a narrative-based, fail-forward kind of game with decent crunch, resembling old-school D&D done in its own way. Aside from the basic rules, the game is played loose-and-fast and specific rules are written in plain English. No pedantic explanation of how the stuff works mechanically, but explained skillfully enough that it's easy to understand.

Core mechanic is rolling 2d6 + stat. A 7~9, where the bell curve of a 2d6 roll often lands, offers partial success with consequences. Experience Points are gained through failures at 6- (hence, failing forward) alongside personal and story-based accomplishments at the end of session, and not just loot or battles. Interestingly enough only the Cleric and Wizard have spells, but even quasi-casters like Bards and Druids have had their mystical powers rolled into their movesets without distinct magic.

The game has a core book, but even using the printable playbooks off the website for free, it shouldn't be difficult to grasp for tabletop RPG veterans. The link in the first DW paragraph will take you to the game's SRD, which gives a more in-depth look to GMing and playing the game in a wiki-like format. It also explains stuff that the playbooks alone won't, such as item effects and tags. One last recommendation is this essay by a co-creator, A 16 HP Dragon, which explains how the narrative and tags are way more important than statistics alone... and are fearsome when combined!

Savage Worlds and Everywhen
Looking to make your own custom-built game world? Didn't like GURPS, fearing redundancy in homebrew for Pathfinder, and don't wanna break the mechanics of D&D 3rd through 5th editions? This, my friend, is the wonder of Generic Systems such as Savage Worlds Adventure Edition and Everywhen! Both are pulp-inspired games with different feels, and I'll detail both.

Savage Worlds (or SWADE for its current edition) is described as Fast, Furious and Fun -- the mechanic involves rolling funny-shaped gaming dice based on skill level, trying to get a 4 or higher. It features an exploding dice mechanic, where rolling the highest number on a die means you roll again and add the total. There's plenty of material for various genres, using a skill-based system and feat-like abilities known as Edges. Powers describe generic magical effects to use with Arcane Backgrounds such as Magic, Miracles, Weird Science and more; each of these basic effects are encouraged to be customized. There is a "death spiral" for damage, but it also features reroll points ("bennies") to soak damage. The game has a good blend of crunch with customization, and there's quite a few homebrew settings and rulesets that use the Savage Worlds system floating about the 'net.

Everywhen is a generic system for an indie game known as Barbarians of Lemuria, whose oldest version I'd peeked at can be found at 1kM1kT for free at that link. Characters have three sets of aptitudes with four stats each -- Stats, Combat Abilities, and Careers. One's careers act as skills and character backstory as one. The game only uses d6 dice, and not many of them -- roll 2d6 + stat + career / combat ability, and try to get 9 or higher. Weapons are simple enough, as are Boons and Flaws to customize characters; a bonus is 2d6 and keep higher, and a penalty 2d6 and keep lower. Arcane powers are potentially dangerous to use, but the effects are open-ended and fulfilling certain conditions can lower the MP cost. It's perhaps easier to piece together than Savage Worlds, if that is important.

EDIT: Aside from adding more info on Dungeon World, I hadn't realized you'd already tried Savage Worlds. Whoops!
 
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Rubescen

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Thanks all! A lot of intriguing stuff to consider here consider here. Gonna take some time to parse all this!


@zzmmorgan Seeing GURPS in the center also makes me think, maybe it's time to give it a go.

@RachelTheSeeker and @Touchfuzzy It's really hard to answer what we are looking for, since I think everyone has kind of different interests. For instance, I'm the only who really enjoys Anime among the group. One of us is an avid Warhammer player. Another really likes Mage. Etc. So, mostly we have been settling on systems that aren't too hard to pick up and play without too much effort, since we've been rotating gming/game every few sessions. I did enjoy the Weird Wars II savage world game we played, so could be interesting to go back to that system in some of their other settings.

I'm also interested by Lancer on the list, since I got that in a bundle recently. Seems intriguing. Dungeon world also sounds fun and easy to pick up. Although Ninja coldwar battles also sound fun.

In any case gonna take a closer look through all of these recommendations. Thanks everyone!
 

Touchfuzzy

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@Touchfuzzy, you have no idea how much I'd wanna play Ryuutama! Lot of good ideas in that game, and a great feel to it.
Also it is just a really really pretty book. I have the limited edition version and it is gorgeous.

I actually have a lot of love for JP TTRPG designs because they kind of grow out of a different culture, and so some of the preconceived notions we have about them they just... don't have. If you liked Ryuutama and want to see more unique ideas from JP I'd suggest Shinobigami, Tenra Bansho Zero, and Meikyuu Kingdom (the last one never got an official translation but you can find fan translations on the net).
 

Candacis

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Yeah, Ryuutama! It is really a pretty book and has a lovely charm to it.
Fun Fact, I did a little proof reading for the english version.
 

zzmmorgan

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Back when I was doing a lot of tabletop RPG - back when that basically WAS RPG :) I tinkered with a lot of systems including many that are no longer in print. Many of the group I mostly played with ended up sort of doing our own systems using ideas blended from features we liked of other systems. My own personal system I worked on eventually looked enough like GURPS that I ended up mostly just using that instead with minor modifications. For the most part I just like having fantasy mixed with modern day or sci-fi. You know like a dwarf riding a Harley wielding a magic wand sort of thing :)
We actually never really worried as much about the mechanics as we were doing so much pure role playing. At times we could go for a couple of hours without even touching the dice.... As long as you're having fun the actual system isn't that relevant....
 

RachelTheSeeker

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Back when I was doing a lot of tabletop RPG - back when that basically WAS RPG :) I tinkered with a lot of systems including many that are no longer in print. Many of the group I mostly played with ended up sort of doing our own systems using ideas blended from features we liked of other systems. My own personal system I worked on eventually looked enough like GURPS that I ended up mostly just using that instead with minor modifications. For the most part I just like having fantasy mixed with modern day or sci-fi. You know like a dwarf riding a Harley wielding a magic wand sort of thing :)
We actually never really worried as much about the mechanics as we were doing so much pure role playing. At times we could go for a couple of hours without even touching the dice.... As long as you're having fun the actual system isn't that relevant....
Morgan, this post speaks to my heart, you'd don't even know. Before I ever played tabletop RPGs, with D&D 3.5e as my first "real" one, I used to make tabletop RPGs to play in lunch periods and study halls in school. I didn't even use dice until my mom gave me the surprise gift of gaming dice one day; even then, I used them as capriciously-picked RNG tools, assigning a "DC" or "TN" in my head.

As of yesterday and today, I've begun piecing together a slap-dash tabletop RPG of my own for the first time in many years. I can play all sorts of TTRPGs for various reasons, so why shouldn't I custom-make a game that more closely fits my own settings and characters? That's why everyone makes their own systems and hacks anyway. Besides, to quote the local gaming store owner: "they're all the same".

Personally i reccoment dungeon crawl classics as its my favorite game.
DCC is pretty darn cool! The one premade adventure in the core rulebook, The Abbot of the Woods, was a narrow victory for my characters and tense as heck to play. I haven't felt that uneasy dread since I played Tomb of Horrors, and that was with Pathfinder. I absolutely adore Mutant Crawl Classics, its equivalent of old-school Gamma World.
 

zzmmorgan

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I've not really tinkered with any of the most recent stuff but Humble Bundle has had some cool looking stuff off and on.

My first D&D was the box set with paperback books and dice you filled in with a crayon just before AD&D hardbacks came out.....Dice.jpg

Here's a sample of my dice collection over the past few decades. You'll notice a die that says "mushrooms" on it and on the other side there's a matching one that says "sausage" it's pizza dice to help determine what to have on a pizza :)
And you can safely ignore the laser diodes as I'm NOT building a deathray - or at least not until I retire.......

But yeah the games are pretty similar over all. Minor variations on mechanics is the key difference you find. And if you're a hard core role player the system you use makes no real difference. I've played before where the GM didn't even know the system we used so the couple of us that knew the system just dealt with the mechanics and let him just run things. One thing I like about GURPS is the simplicity with dice - only D6 so you can raid a yahtzee game if needed.

Interesting fact is the lore in the Elder Scrolls series seemed VERY familiar to me so I strongly suspect that at least one person involved in that must have crossed paths with me at some point. I started playing this kind of stuff about the same time as I started tinkering with computers in 1980 and have had the opportunity to play with a wide variety of people mostly in the southeast but as far west as San Antonio and some of them went on to various jobs either in video games or TTRPG companies.
 

Dororo

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Rifts got a GREAT system, the moment you translate Sembieda MESS and you'll understand the combat logic (is probably the only system you can win by not inflicting damages on opponents and using actual unfair combat strategies). The real issue is the USA-centric setting.

THAT SAID...
RISUS is the game.
Try RISUS.
RISUS is the final answer.
 

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