Which Pen and Paper RPG systems are interesting?

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by The Dutch Ghost, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    Hello all,

    I have somewhat of a passion for Pen and Paper RPGs even if I do not play them myself (I really would like though), and I really enjoy going through RPG modules and adventures for systems such as Steve Jackson Games' GURPS as a lot of settings have been made up for this. (and I understand it is quite flexible).
    But what other game systems are also out there that have a lot of modules and adventures with lore? I am sadly not so familiar with this type of gaming but I really would like to know more about it.
    I know there is HERO and I think D6/D20 but perhaps I mix subjects up.

    Could some of the die hard RPG players give me a few names for Google?
  2. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Nov 26, 2007
    MERP by Iron Crown Ent.

    But my favorite was the one in "T.M.N.T. & Other Strangeness".

    In TMNT, your characters could range between holding [usable] PHDs, and/or be black belts in martial arts, and even be (as you might guess) mutated animal life with varying degrees of humanoid appearance (from almost none, to almost able to pass as human ~with some species excepted).

    *The system itself was used in other of the company's games; usually minus the mutation rules. The system allowed (and had rules) for PC insanity as an option; or sometimes as a side effect of traumatic events. This could see your PC develop phobias and/or neurosis as a result of their adventures; often beyond player control.

    In the original rules (pictured above), the PC could start as or become even a necrophiliac. One of my friend's mother read the rules and her jaw dropped.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
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  3. cordelionreaver

    cordelionreaver Where'd That 6th Toe Come From?

    Nov 29, 2015
    Is the ruleset the same as Palladium's other games? Because that system is awful, and doesn't work without massive houserules.

    But speaking of Palladium, some of the Rifts world books have some decent world information, of course you gotta dig through useless equipment stats to get to it.
  4. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Nov 26, 2007
    I disagree.

    But I do think that the MDC system (while good in premise) had problems. TMNT was written before MDC was included.

    *Part of the problem was explaining it... SDC was structural damage capacity (different from hitpoints), MDC was the same, but sterner stuff... [meaning a metal security door had SDC, while a tank had MDC; and where the door could be broken by a hammer, but the tank's armor could not ~no matter how long you tapped at it.]

    **This meant that a torch or laser weapon capable of melting into a tank would cut clean through a person on any hit with almost no chance of surviving it. In RIFTS, this meant that the cheapest MDC capable blaster would vaporize an unarmored [mortal] human; while a shotgun would not scratch an MDC robot, or vampire, or other supernatural being; including some PC and NPCs.

    For people, Hitpoint damage essentially reflected critical injury, while SDC was contusions and minor (though oft repeated) damages ~like you might get from a bar fight... as opposed to having pressure points hit by a professional martial artist, or getting a neck slashed.

    MERP... by Iron Crown, was more akin to Rollmaster IIRC.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  5. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    I have been collecting the following two sets myself, The Ringworld RPG (based on Larry Niven's Ringworld/Known Space) by Chaosium which uses the Basic Role-Playing system. I have the main game and the Companion book, the only expansion released for it.

    And Buck Rogers XXVC by TSR which uses AD&D 2nd edition model. I have the main box and all the expansion modules and adventures.
    I am a little divided on this one, I love the RPG setting and the lore that is made up for it but I am rather disappointed to know that the game was basically made to milk TSR for money as can be read in this article link

    Next to GURPS I am also looking through the modules of the Call of Cthulhu RPG by Chaosium and others (stuff such as Delta Green).
    Not really the science fiction stuff I mentioned earlier but still very interesting and diverse.

    Some of the writers can make up such great ideas and lore, I would love to follow in their footsteps.

    I have also been reading modules of West End Games' Star Wars because the Star Wars wikipedia site makes so much references to it. I have to say that some of the idea in those modules are a lot better than some of the novels that were released before the Prequel Movies, and it helps deepen out the universe a lot more than that old Marvel comic series did.

    Unfortunate I have still not been successful in finding all the RPG modules based on Indiana Jones which I would also love to have a look at. I have only found digital copies of the TSR version of the game which I understand is a little inferior compared to the West End Games version.

    And I have been reading the Ghostbusters RPG modules. This game is suppose to be light hearted but it went somewhat into the idiotic and ridiculous at some point when the writers started to add supermarket tabloid sensation stuff like aliens, though the game itself is definitely more complex than just 'catching' ghosts. Often the little plots were more about solving situations in which the best solutions did not always involve zapping things with proton beams.

    Edit: The Cthulhu one also has all kinds of phobias and mental conditions the player characters start out with or suffer during a session as they loose sanity points.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  6. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    The only PnP I played so far is Pathfinder, which is based on Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. I like it, but I don't really have any comparisons, so that doesn't count much. Would love to try a GURPS or BRP based game, though.
  7. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    BRP? Hassknecht, I am not familiar with that acronym or game system.
  8. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    Basic Role-Playing, it's the system used by Call of Cthulhu and a few others.
    I'm thinking about trying the Fallout PnP as well, it sounds reasonable.
    Damnit, I bought a full set of die once to play Pathfinder with my old flatmate and his friends, and then I moved when I barely reached level 5. And now they all started Shadowrun.
    Well, at least one of my colleagues plays some sort of Star Wars tabletop and does like Fallout, so maybe I'll find some people to play PnP...
  9. aenemic

    aenemic Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Jun 4, 2008
    The latest version of the swedish rpg Eon has a unique and very fun rule system. I have no idea if it's available in other languages though. It mainly uses d6's, with an occasional d10 or d100 for some tables. When using a skill or making a check you roll a certain amount of d6's. Every 6 you roll lets you re-roll that die together with a new one, which could be considered the games way of handling "criticals" - even with a low set of die you have a chance of rolling very high and get unexpected results. There are rules for "confrontations", where the player(s) and the gm agree on a set of skills used to resolve a situation. An example could be a verbal engagement where your character can combine his rhetorical skills with intimidation and knowledge to try to win over an npc.

    The character creation is also very interesting. It's quck and simple but lets you create very intricate backgrounds and skillsets. The game also features a complex but easy to use battle system based on a lot more options than simply attacking or defending, and where pain and trauma play a big role. It tries to steer away from your typical hack'n'slash - combat is not something you want to engage in unless you are certain of your chances to win.

    The setting is your typical fantasy setting but doesn't include elves and orcs, but rather its own variants on some of the typical fantasy cultures.
  10. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    Varg Vikernes also made a P&P ruleset, called "Mythic Fantasy Role-Playing Game", short MYFAROG. It's hilariously racist, surprising exactly nobody.
  11. omphaloskepsis

    omphaloskepsis First time out of the vault

    Dec 13, 2015
    This is bordering on necro, but there are some really interesting games that haven't been touched on at all. So I thought I'd throw in a few.

    Eclipse Phase, transhuman and fairly hard sci-fi, probably my favorite game setting of all time. This recommendation is more about setting than rules, but all of their work is creative commons license (free if you want), which has oddly enough encouraged me to pay for everything. Great art, too.

    Spirit of the Century, pulpy cinematic superheros via a modified FATE system. Lots of critical acclaim.

    For Faerie Queen and Country. Unique magic system. It encourages narrative because it requires multiple steps and trade offs in ad lib ritual magic. Only available in rare hardcopy, but worth checking out.

    Mage, Mage the Sorcerors Crusade, and Mage Dark Ages. All variants of White Wolf's Mage the Ascension system, most people consider the second two better in terms of design.

    Unknown Armies. Great, unique magic system. Just read the descriptions of different types of mages. Every type of mage has a theme, where they essentially power their magic by trading off something of importance. A chaos mage, for example, may charge their power by taking risks, the more dangerous granting more power.
  12. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    It is not bad that you post your suggestions as I am still looking for various good RPG rule systems and supplement books.
    I have been looking into the various settings there are including some of the more realistic ones. It is great that even Pirates and Cowboys inspire RPG settings, realistic and weird version.
    heh through Spoony I even learned that there is an RPG book based on the bible! They didn't stat Jesus though but they did the demon that tried to persuade him in the desert.

    If you come across any RPG settings that involve pulp heroes such as the Shadow or adventurers such as Indiana Jones please post them here.
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  13. omphaloskepsis

    omphaloskepsis First time out of the vault

    Dec 13, 2015
    A couple of settings come to mind. I'll post in a couple of days when I actually have access to the materials.
  14. iridium_ionizer

    iridium_ionizer Mildly Dipped

    Jul 24, 2007
    There are lots of lists on the internet that include both the usual suspects and more indie pen and paper RPGs:
    Top 10: http://listverse.com/2012/02/15/top-10-current-tabletop-role-playing-games/
    Top 48: http://learntabletoprpgs.com/tabletop-roleplaying-games-to-play/index.html
    Top 50 by users: http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/greatest-pen-and-paper-rpg_s-v1
    Advice Columns: http://www.examiner.com/article/choosing-your-first-tabletop-rpg
    and even web applications to recommend one: http://www.selectsmart.com/FREE/select.php?client=tabletopgames

    However, I think the most important factor when choosing an RPG is what would be good for your RPG group. Now unless you live in a magical place where everyone plays pen and pencil RPGs (in the same way that everyone watches football in some places), finding a good group will be the limiting factor not the other way around.

    This essentially means people usually find a group they want to be in, and then try to convince and compromise into playing a system that most in the group like. If you don't like what they are playing, then hopefully they switch it up once in a while or maybe you should find a new group.

    I never hear, "Oh man, I have so many groups that are inviting me to join. All of them play close-by and have cool people that I get along with and have gaming schedules that match mine. Now I just have to eliminate all of those offers except for the group that wants to play Ninja-Zombie-Fight-Magic System."

    To find a group you could use www.nearbygamers.com, find a Meetup group (or other social media group) for your local area, or just talk to people (at work, at a gaming store, or when you see a random person wearing a nerd-themed t-shirt). Lastly you can create your own want ad or online group.

    People write books about this https://gumroad.com/l/howtofindgamers and there are podcasts about it. On my RPG site (http://iridiumionizer.byethost15.com/) I have a survey to help interview players wanting to join your group (among other things).
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  15. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    Well there are the Warhammer 40k PnP series, of which I have Rogue Trader and Deathwatch. They have a nice variety using a singular basic rule structure, though it changes from the more combat orientated Deathwatch (in which you play as Space Marines), to the more 'peaceful' barter and diplomacy with combat added in of course Rogue Trader rules, where you play as the crew of a Rogue Trader, which means yes, you get to make your own customized space ship. There is also three others, in which you can be part of the Inquisition, Imperial Guard or Chaos renegades.
  16. Radwaster

    Radwaster It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Apr 1, 2009
    Waaay back in the late 70's/early 80's there were a bunch of RPGs around riding the back of the Great Beast D&D. Don't know if they would interest you Dutch Ghost but here are a few I can remember. (Yes I'm that wrinkly).

    Tunnels and Trolls was a cheap D&D lite rip off. It lasted a few years so must have had a following.

    Runequest was another FRPG, very different in rules and tone to D&D. It had a fairly complex armour and hit location system as I recall and was a fun setting.

    Gamma World was a post-apocalyptic RPG, maybe the first? I think it was TSR so there were probably a few modules for it. Played it a few times but it didn't really bite.

    Traveller was a great sci-fi RPG. Lots of small rulebooks and expansions, and a beautifully complex looking planetary classification system. I think most people gave up because the whole system looked more complex than it was.

    Call of Cthulhu was cool and creepy.

    You might find scenarios for some or all of these in early editions of White Dwarf, or Dungeoneer, even Tortured Souls. But I guess they would be as hard to find as the games these days. I lost most of mine when the guy I'd lent them to relapsed with the heroin.

    Ah well time to adjust my fez, sit back in the armchair, and light my rustic pipe.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016
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  17. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    Thanks for the lists Iridium_ionizer, I am going to check those out when I have some time.
    There have been so many systems and settings over the years that it sometimes difficult to determine which one are the best and the most enjoyable.
    I hope these lists also mention which games are the best for beginners and which ones are most in tune with some of the franchises they are based on. I read for example that if you would play Star Wars with the GURPS ruleset that players would most probably not pull of all the actions and stunts that the characters did in the movies, even more, Stormtroopers and other hostiles suddenly become a lot more effective in combat and 'opposing' you. (unless you really design them to be more of a nuisance than a challenge)

    Sadly I barely have met persons who play role playing games, I met one group on a regular board games' meet up but all their positions were already filled and these guys already knew each other for a long time. It is difficult to enter a new party when you have no experience with PnP RPG'ing yourself and you are a complete unknown to everybody else.

    Yep, the request for fellow gamers is bigger than the number of offers.

    Hey Radwaster, yep I know several of those settings (and systems) as I came across them while trying to find out which science fiction and other settings there are for Role Playing sessions.
    I went through Gamma World a while back but I don't recall which editions, they tend to become a bit more 'harder' or more representing science fiction concepts and ideas of today regarding mutation/genetic engineering, robots/androids, and so on where as the earlier versions still had somewhat silly stuff like talking humanoid animals complete with their own civilizations/cultures and who sometimes did stuff like dressing up like army officers from Napoleon era France (if I recall correctly)

    I still hope someone will do a decent Fallout based setting one of these days, based on Fallout 1 and 2 (and perhaps Van Buren) and expanding on its themes, factions, creatures, NPCs, technology and so on in the same spirit of thought without bringing in nonsense like Liberty Prime or a nation wide Brotherhood of Steel organization.
    I occasionally try so myself (see the RPG sub forum) but it is not easy to come up with good ideas, plus I have the handicap of not being a native English speaker/writer.

    I have not checked out Traveller yet but I have some modules of it ready to be read when I feel like it.

    As for of Call of Cthulhu, that game has a lot of modules with so many settings; the era of Lovecraft's and other stories, Cthulhu Mythos by Gaslight, and of course Delta Green. Delta Green probably would have most of my fancy as I enjoy the conspiracy setting and 'lone organization trying to save the world or at least prevent the fall of civilization for at least one more week' atmosphere it has. It reminds me a little of similar themed fan made fiction like the SCP Foundation.

    I would probably have to read some of Lovecraft's stories and some of the others who have written in the Mythos but but the setting is pretty dark and depressing (which is the idea behind it, as it deals with cold harsh cosmic truth) and I am already suffering from severe depression moods because of so many uncertainties I am going to wait with that until I am in a more positive mindset that isn't so easily broken.

    Something I have found out about that setting is that sometimes players really try to 'break it', rather than just being investigators or random people that have been thrown into a unimaginable situation, they actually try to fight beings from the Mythos.
    Taking on human characters such as cultists and their hired help is one thing or some of the lower mortal creatures, but when players actually try to fight Elder Beings, Old Ones, or Outer Gods, I think they have somewhat lost the general premise or concept behind the Mythos.

    It doesn't help that some designers actually stat for example Cthulhu.

    Edit; and I hope to find a decent Star Trek based RPG one of these days.
    There is the FASA one but its background lore clashes to much with what has been established in the main Star Trek series and movies (it was first made up back before Star Trek The Motion Picture). I would like to find something that is more in tune with Classic Star Trek, Star Trek TNG, DSN, VOY, and perhaps Enterprise but the last is not necessary as I felt Enterprise also really broke with the previous four series.

    I know there have been two other setting, one by Last Unicorn and another by a publisher I don't recall. But both of these have been discontinued for some time now.
    There have also been GURPS modules based on Star Trek but these all been based on the original FASA setting. (it's a third party game made by licensing the GURPS system)

    There are also a lot of fan versions of Star Trek RPGs but I don't know which ones are the best.
    One of the problems I have noticed is how different a lot of the ship statistics are compared by their on screen portrayal. I know it is a balancing issue to make a game more enjoyable but it is still something I nitpick on.

    I also have not seen any fan written adventure modules I really feel is in tune with the television series. I guess like the video games it is difficult to come up with scenarios more focused on adventure and interaction rather than combat. It probably also helps if you have somewhat of an understanding about science.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
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  18. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    You know, you should make a Fallout RPG using GURPS, or SPECIAL (GURPS is more fleshed out for PnP), because you've got great ideas and you can sure write. I'd love to help if you ever decide it.
  19. Bilharzia

    Bilharzia First time out of the vault

    Jan 7, 2016
    Most of these are very much alive, CoC being the most popular, see the publisher "Chaosium".
    A new version of Traveller was recently developed by Mongoose Publishing, and they are working on another re-launch and re-brand of their version of Traveller.
    RuneQuest was and is my favorite RPG system, there's a free 'essentials' version of the current RuneQuest 6 rules available from the publishers site, "The Design Mechanism" - if you look in Downloads.
    By default the rules are most suited to an ancient world/sword and sorcery/Conan type setting although it's recently had a Luther Arkwright supplement which is in more of a wacky SF genre.
  20. Radwaster

    Radwaster It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Apr 1, 2009
    Well hey! I had no idea RQ and Traveller were still on the go. Good to hear - it must be nearly 20 years since I played any PnP games so apologies for being out of the loop. A friend was playing CoC last year with his gaming gang but I assumed it was from the old rulebooks. His character went mad, of course.

    I'd forgotten the silly talking animals from Gamma World. Bleh.

    Good luck finding a gaming group Dutch Ghost, a decent one can be quite therapeutic. I survived a few years of mindless factory work dreaming up plots and schemes to spring on other players. Looking back i should probably have used the plots and schemes at work but then, hell, I might still be in that damned factory.