Suitable system for a gritty fantasy game



  • I jokingly posted "Ill Met in Novigrad?" in another thread about games we'd like to play on, and it's made me realize how much I, like some others, would love to see a dark and gritty fantasy (non-Lords & Ladies) game, whether it's based on the Witcher, Lankhmar, or whatever.

    So, I find myself wondering what sort of system might work to support the development of one.

    I've been a fan of Blades in the Dark, but I don't think that would scale well (working with the laughable presumption that more than 0 players would ever check this hypothetical MU* out).

    Zweihander is a WFRP 2e retroclone that might work well, but it may be too crunchy (maybe?) for some. Also, there's lots of assumed PC death that MU*ers may not want to deal with.

    Thoughts?



  • A few years ago I made a homebrew mashup of some of my favourite systems. It might work for what you're looking for. I've only really playtested it a few times, but it's super gritty and ganging up is OP. I think this pdf is internally consistent, there might be a few relics still hanging out, though.

    Murderhobo

    Most of the crunch would be mitigated by coding things, all a player needs to know for combat is what move they wish to do.


  • Coder

    I'm actually a fan of Hero Games System for dark and gritty fantasy. You can negate much of the customization crazy by just severely limiting the packages and options.

    Standard humans get standard range with a maximum attribute, racial packages modify that, and add bonuses or negatives.
    Spells can be built in standard format.
    Weapons are already built.
    So is armor.

    It's surprisingly well balanced at the fantasy level and you can remove the nightmare of 'speed' as a stat by just stating everyone has one action per round or whatever.

    With enough time taken to set it up, Hero System is nice and crunchy without being overwhelming. The problem with it is when you /don't/ take the time to set it up. Then it's open system makes it extremely tricky but you can hide a ton of it behind the scenes by just proper setup/coding.


  • Coder

    Burning Wheel. It's almost impossible to get ahold of other than print, but it's the opposite of a Love Letter to D&D; it takes D&D down to the personal level.

    I was wildly impressed by WFRP 2e, so I'll have to check this other system out.


  • Pitcrew

    Let me second Burning Wheel. I've played it once or twice years ago.

    I don't have the book or remember the particulars, but I do remember that I had fun and that it had social combat, which I'm always a fan of.



  • @Lisse24 DriveThruRPG has a preview PDF of the basic rule mechanics. An initial skim suggests it's interesting, but I'll definitely have to read up further on it. If the entire rule set is only available in print, though, that could be a significant obstacle to adopting it.


  • Pitcrew

    Runequest 6 would work, but it's a little crunchy. It's known as Mithras now. It has five magic systems with their own unique flavors and mechanics, and the combat is lethal without reaching un-fun levels. I think the base rules are available for free too.



  • @Ominous Thanks for mentioning Runequest. I have the rules for RQ6 from an old Bundle of Holding but I completely forgot about that system's existence. I'll read back over it for consideration.


  • Pitcrew

    @fatefan I supported their collector's edition Kickstarter and have been impressed ever since. I am just a bit miffed that Chaosium took back the RQ rights, so they had to change their name and weren't allowed to release Glorantha campaign setting book, even though they produced an initial set of like 500 books. They sold the 500 books Gencon and that was it.



  • Runequest 6 may either contain, and would at least be very compatible with Legend and Renaissance, which are all RQ based, but add in things like motivations, social contests, skill and combat feats.


  • Politics

    @fatefan said in Suitable system for a gritty fantasy game:

    I jokingly posted "Ill Met in Novigrad?" in another thread about games we'd like to play on, and it's made me realize how much I, like some others, would love to see a dark and gritty fantasy (non-Lords & Ladies) game, whether it's based on the Witcher, Lankhmar, or whatever.

    So, I find myself wondering what sort of system might work to support the development of one.

    Worked on a dark fantasy setting to use CoD/GMC's system. Stumbled after Mage 2.0 came out, because it really fucked with how I wanted to do magic.

    L5R is nice. Earthdawn is nice, but the game is strongly-tied to the setting.


  • Pitcrew

    If one likes the Earthdawn setting, though, and wants it with a tad less crunch there's the recent Earthdawn Age of Legends edition/port (found here: http://www.vagrantworkshop.com/index.php?categoryid=29) which is based on Fudge rather than whatever FASA calls their system. The die roll resolution is a bit... unique. But it's pretty accessible all things considered.

    Otherwise, have you heard of 'Children of the Sun'? It's another one that's a bit difficult to get ahold of other than from out of print books vendors and the default setting isn't really fantasy (it's self described as 'Dieselpunk') but the system is both pretty scaleable and probably pretty well workable in a MUSH environment.


  • Politics

    @Kairos said in Suitable system for a gritty fantasy game:

    If one likes the Earthdawn setting, though, and wants it with a tad less crunch there's the recent Earthdawn Age of Legends edition/port (found here: http://www.vagrantworkshop.com/index.php?categoryid=29) which is based on Fudge rather than whatever FASA calls their system. The die roll resolution is a bit... unique. But it's pretty accessible all things considered.

    FASA's system is why you play Earthdawn. FUDGE's system is why I take power shits.


  • Pitcrew

    @Ganymede

    I like FASA's system for a lot of things. But mostly things on the tabletop. I wouldn't personally consider trying to unleash that in any form on a MUSH. Which isn't to say that it couldn't or shouldn't be done. I'm quite sure it could (it probably has but I'm not fully up on past MUSHes. There were some Shadowrun games though, right?) and in many ways computer environments are ideal for taking some of the drudgework out of stuff like that.

    Me personally though? I'll take something with a lower 'simulation' factor. Really, as can be seen from the list of games and systems mentioned here, there are a lot of things that'll work for a gritty fantasy game. A lot of it probably comes down to availability and the coder/staff's comfort level with running and teaching whatever it may be.

    Seriously though, that Age of Legends resolution mechanic is a bit strange. It had me scratching my head when I was reading through it. I can totally see why folks might not like it. It's a bit off the wall.



  • @Kairos
    Honestly, if you're doing gritty, low-fantasy, why not just come up with something simple rather than try to use an existing RPG which may have more bells and whistles than you need?

    I'm a fan of the simple system in the OWoD Quickstarts. You have four stats: Physical, Mental, Social and Willpower. You have 7 Health. You have much simplified Disicplines and mechanics, as you roll d6s instead of d10s. You roll dice equal to <pool>; and in combat, each success is a level of damage, plus the damage rating of a weapon (1 or 2). Something like that could be used as a baseline, as there are rules for 'magic' in Thaumaturgy (fireball, flight, etc.) you could expand from. Requires minimal coding, and other than a potential higher damage output, magic-users aren't as more powerful as D&D, for example.


  • Pitcrew

    @Bobotron

    A valid point. For 'simple' my go to is Fate or FAE. But given that it was @fatefan who started the thread I figured I wouldn't mention the obvious. OWoD is a good one and any mortals level WoD does 'gritty' fairly well. As you point out It wouldn't be hard to transpose some of the mortal level 'magic' rules from either Mage or some of the attendant mortal level books (Second Sight and Skinchangers come to mind for NWoD, dunno if they had OWoD equivalents) into a fantasy setting at all. WoD anything has the additional advantage of having a fairly high profile so less explaining will be needed.



  • @Kairos Yep--I was definitely trying to get a sense of the options beyond Fate (especially since it seems to put off quite a bit of the MU* crowd; I figured I'd try a different route than my own preferred fallback).

    Is there a fantasy version of the NWoD system? Like a NWoD Dark Ages or whatnot?



  • @fatefan
    There isn't, but it's not difficult to do fantasy with it. Just use all the medieval equipment stats from the Armory book, and look at REquiem for Rome to see some 'here's some ancient changes to skills'. From there, use the Second Sight book (or the CofD core) and reskin psychic powers as magic. But at that point you're getting out of gritty territory as you're getitng into nickel-and-dime damage portions and such things like that.

    ETA: I just suggested the WoD quickstarts 'cause they're simple and quick to use. I'll link a rar of all of them to my dropbox once dropbox finishes uploading.



  • I'll note I'm also not necessarily opposed to something like FS3 either, but I wanted to try and get a sense of what the most recommended systems might be.



  • @fatefan
    I recall hearing that FS3 doesn't really do anything but scifi and modern very well without serious tweaking.


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