Is a universal system better than a custom system per game?

2 (14.3%)
7 (50%)
5 (35.7%)

Total Members Voted: 14

Voting closed: May 24, 2010, 04:12:44 PM

Author Topic: RPG Systems  (Read 1981 times)

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Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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Re: RPG Systems
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2012, 06:18:40 PM »
Savage Worlds is a universal system; very streamlined, works way better for actually playing games with people than GURPS and the like.  Been using it for virtual pen and paper for the past few months and i'm very happy with it.  Before that it was frakking... Exalted. God, the munchkinism...

Offline Erik Luken

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Re: RPG Systems
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2012, 07:00:00 PM »
The poll (and thread) were geared more to which type of ruleset people preferred, rather than an explicit ruleset.

I've got a fantasy RPG (with roots in D&D type games if you look hard enough), and a space rpg. The space game (Via Astrum) drew upon Shadowrun, Traveller, Cyberpunk, and bits and pieces from here and there along with brain nuggets of my own. I was tempted to use the rules for that as a basis for other games as well. At this time though there are just the two rpgs in development, Eldritch Adventures and Via Astrum. A really quickly aborted attempt to mold EA into the VA rules frame would have required a complete re-write and lose a lot of what I think EA has that is unique.

I do keep the generic rules up-to-date as I work on VA as VA was the precursor to the generic system, very unimaginatively called TAGS. If I decide to work up another genre rpg I'd put it on the TAGS framework, especially since I'll (I hope) have all the kink and bugs worked out of it.

Of course, if anyone wants current playtest copies, let me know :D

Offline Maou Tsaou

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Re: RPG Systems
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2012, 05:08:19 PM »
Seems I've stirred the proverbial pot here.
Still trying to get to a half dozen or so posts so I'll throw in a couple of more cents into the pot.

What is 1 point of a given statistic like Strength or Damage?
No matter what system is being used there's going to be some kind of bellcurve that represents just how much better than Joe Average a given hero is I'd think.
Without this you've got the Spinal Tap problem of "but these go up to eleven".
Of course application of a stat like ST varies a lot between different systems, and different systems have different stats, but the basic concepts are universal like ST moves mass a. k. a.  encumbrance.
I use a figure of 1 pt ST = 5. 5 pounds moved 1 ft per second for a basic measure.
Joe Average has a ST of 10 (1/10th of 1 hp) and a realistic maximum for human strength is around 30 points.
Also, 5. 5 ft.  pounds is sufficient force to pierce skin or cause tissue or bone trauma.
It helps in translation.

Another thing I've always thought was kind of silly for RPG's was a tendency to use wargame mechanics for individual characters.
In TFT a stat is used called MA for movement and is assigned by race with humans starting with a MA 8, Elves a MA 10, and etc.
This fits with its gladiator arena conceptual roots, and the mechanics of the time, but two humans don't get to have a footrace by this metric, it's just who wins the initiative.
It's good to have a generalized measure of human MA for units of them moving around in formations but on the individual level of an RPG this cuts out the "RUN Forrest!" option for bugging out of a nasty area and similar responses.
As a matter of fact, with sports simulating many aspects of combat, it seems very odd that it's easier to hit an Orc (indigenous people) with a sword and kill it than it is to hit a baseball with a bat in the same system say, or block another Figure out of the way creating a hole in the defensive line.
Being genera specific to a gladiator arena sim the combat in TFT axiomatically assumed that players were trying to engage their Figures in combat ah la the classic dungeon crawl and weren't interested in creative ways of avoiding combat.
When all the exp pts and treasure are linked to combat then avoiding combat is a loosing strategy for the most part.

IMHO a good universal system allows players to progress in other areas besides combat.
I try to tie my stuff to existing reference and educational material as quickly and simply as possible and let that serve as my universal system as much as possible.
If for example I can explain the general properties of materials in game terms then I can use reference data to assign specific game stats to specific materials rather than trying to make lists of everything.
It doesn't solve everything like where mythril fits on the periodic chart, but it does point to the region of the chart it'd likely be at least.
The quicker and simpler I can tie a system to a 1001 textbook the better, and then I can leave it alone until some smartassed player starts mucking around in the subject adding wrinkles.
It's tough being a Game Organizational Director sometimes. . .  but for all its burdens apotheosis has its perks too.

Offline Maou Tsaou

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Re: RPG Systems
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2012, 05:11:17 PM »
Oh yes. . .  I'd be happy to playtest if'n you'd like.

Offline ardem

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Re: RPG Systems
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2012, 06:15:59 AM »
To tell you the truth I prefer 'specific designed systems' rather then universal as they normally have more depth for that environment.

Rolemaster for fantasy.
Shadowrun for futuristic fantasy.

On a side note I only just got back into roleplaying, virtually that is. I have no time for get together with a family and needed an avenue to play.

I found a great virtual module called Fantasy Grounds and some nice people in the forums (forums are as pleasent and helpful as aurora that is rare to find ) and now play Rolemaster once every 3 weeks.

Erik you should look at making a ruleset (template) for your RPG's and talk to the FG guys in adding a forum and that for you. It might generate you some more sales for your designed RPG's. Also you could run virtual demo's of the game for interested parties, it would be a good way of getting more exposure.


Offline procyon

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Re: RPG Systems
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2012, 04:37:40 PM »
Quote from: Maou Tsaou
My "universal" RPG of choice is a highly tweaked version of TFT.

Rolemaster for fantasy.

There are two names I don't here much anymore.

I used to play Rolemaster maaany years back in HS and college.  I ran a rather long game based in Middle Earth (there was a lot of support for that setting back then).  We got together a couple times a week.  The kids and wife have seen the box, but they have never gotten around to asking to play it.  Right now they are still deep into their Aftermath and Warhammer FRP campaigns.

And for TFT, I had kind of figured that I was the last person alive out here playing that system on any sort of semi-regular basis.  I and my brothers / friends played it all the time at the local hobby store and at my house on weekends when I lived at home.  It fell on the back shelf after that until I had kids of my own and they started getting a little older.
Now the TFT games, first Melee and Wizard, then Adv Melee / Adv Wizard / ITL are the games all the kids start out on.  Currently the 8 y/o girl is the main player, with her 11 y/o brother occasionally joining in.  The game in its basic form is easy enough for 1st graders.  Just a few stats (STR,DEX,INT,MA) and only d6.  They just have to be able to read a little and add the dice up.  Really helps with math skills, especially adding numbers in their head.

Very cool.
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...

Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: RPG Systems
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2012, 05:47:03 PM »
Our Fantasy RPG of choice used to be Second Edition Runequest. I still have the boxed set I bought back in 1980ish :). Our group used to play 3-4 nights a week in the 1980s. In fact, we played that much we starting calling each other by our RQ names in real life :). The system tracks time and the players aged 20+ years in the game world (Glorantha) over several years of real world time. Several of them actually retired. One eventually bought a tavern, a second founded a temple in the ruins of Pavis and another created a Bison ranch. That character (Storm-Kahn "Slickrick" Chaos Bane) was from the Bison Tribe of the Plains of Prax and rode a Bison called "Chaos Scorn Voyager". His friend Floyd (an uncommon name in Prax) was killed and left his own Bison (Floyd's Flyer) to Slickrick. The players all created wills and kept them with their character sheets.

Slickrick bought 50 female Bison and used Floyd's Flyer and Chaos Scorn Voyager as Stud Bison. I actually had to work out rules for how many female Bison each male Bison would impregnate in a given period of time. That actually came in handy later when he married another player character (in the game) and they decided to have kids. There was a monthly chance for successful for conception based on dexterity and constitution. Much merriment ensused over for several game sessions due to a seemingly endless series of failure rolls :). Eventually we moved on to a new set of characters but the older charcaters became part of the background and new adventures involved the tavern, temple, ranch, etc.. I think one even ended up running the local Thieves Guild.

Another of the original characters lost a leg in an early battle. The healing skills of the party were limited so although they saved his life they couldn't save the leg. I offered a new character but he decided to stick with the one legged one. I created rules for fighting/parrying with his new metal leg and added some movement penalties. He eventually become a Wind Lord of Orlanth and retired to wander the Plains of Prax, popping up occasionally in the adventures of the second set of characters.

Hmm! Must now go and reread the RQ2 rulebook due to a sudden attack of nostalgia :)


Offline Paul M

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Re: RPG Systems
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2012, 07:28:01 AM »
The advantages of generic systems are things like:  time saving as players don't have to learn new system, cost savings as you buy the main rules only once, better defence against munchkin-induced gamer rage plus whatever else fits here

The disadvantages are things like:  no unique systems, possibly poor correspondence to the setting, a lot of prep work may be required by the GM, much cludging on the part of the GM may be required, and other things in this vein.

If a game setting is unique, interesting and vibrant game mechanics don't matter.  I played what I call Baroque-thulu with the Fading Suns rules plus home modifications.  I used the Powers and Perils rules with the price lists from Chivalry and Sorcery and Harn Manor for help in world building.  But Bushido is going to give you a better experience than will "Eastern Adventures."  Using Role Master and the Forgotten Realms source books is surely possible but that is a lot of work on the part of the GM.

Which is better is something each person has to decide based on the situation that exists for them.  For me personally support in world creation/adventure generation is far far more critical than anything else and I find this sort of support is more likely to be available with a specific system then with a universal system.  As much as I like the Role Master/Space Master Systems I would rather have a well supported specific system then something I have to put hours and hours into just universe creation.


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