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Author Topic: What's your recommendation for a "rules-lite" RPG system?  (Read 1749 times)

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Offline Dossta

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What's your recommendation for a "rules-lite" RPG system?
« on: August 20, 2011, 04:34:57 PM »
So . . . I've found from personal experience that D&D 3.5e is a bit too rules heavy for my group.  One of my players simply doesn't have the time to learn, and the other feels a bit constrained by the skills and combat system (though he insists on following both religiously, because "there's a rule for it").  I myself am annoyed at magic item creation and the way that mechanics so often get in the way of the story I want to help tell.

I'm really inspired by A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming by Matthew Finch.  I'd love my games to be more story-centric, flexible and fun.  So far I've skimmed over QAGS (the Quick Ass Game System) and Mini-Six, and even contemplated a romp into AD&D.  Do you guys have any perspective on these systems?  Would you recommend any other?

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Offline Pieh

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Re: What's your recommendation for a "rules-lite" RPG system?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2011, 07:42:46 PM »
I'll throw two candidates into the mix. Savage Worlds and Wushu are great examples of rules-lite games. I really enjoy the diversity offered by SavW's settings and though the rules aren't quite as light as those of Wushu, I think it's worth a look (being relatively inexpensive is a plus as well). Both of these systems are made with versatility in mind, so you might find them somewhat lacking in genre specific content. I wouldn't say that is a problem in Wushu, where how many actions you describe dictates how many dice you roll and the skills are really just concepts you consider your character good at. Oh, there is also a game I haven't tried but have heard many good things about:  1Pg Broadsword. It's hailed as putting mechnics in their place, behind the scenes, and its claim to fame is the entirety of PC rules being only one page (including record sheet). Sorry if these are too rules lite, but when I heard the term these are the 3 that come to mind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savage_Worlds

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wushu_(role-playing_game)

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=27887&it=1 (1PG Broadsword)

Hope you found that helpful.
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Offline Dossta

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Re: What's your recommendation for a "rules-lite" RPG system?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2011, 10:16:28 AM »
Thanks for the ideas, Pieh.  Do you know if any of those systems deal with magic in a fairly elegant way?  From what I hear, the biggest issue that QAGS has is that it devotes little attention to magic (or other paranormal weirdness).

Wushu has a really interesting philosophy, by the way.  Having the players declare their actions and then roll to see how effective they are, rather than to see if they succeed, is a really subtle twist, but one with profound consequences.  Savage Worlds looks like it's a bit more rules-heavy than QAGS, but that's not a problem if it's relatively intuitive and deals with magic well.  Do you have a favorite between the two?

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Offline dark_dragon

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Re: What's your recommendation for a "rules-lite" RPG system?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2011, 05:17:13 AM »
Hey Dossta!

I would recommend FATE unreservedly.  I'd also start by reading The Fate 2.0 pdf and the pyramid reloaded pdf  (both free) to get the concepts before reading through the more recent Fate 3.0 (Also free).

Fate is based around "Aspects" of characters, scenes, situations, and items. The aspect mechanics  allows the spirit or essence of a thing to be used within the game mechanics. Understanding Aspects are keys to getting on with Fate.

For example aspects, here are some straight from the websites:
Quote
Relationships (Mama's Boy, Chosen of the Dread Lord)
Beliefs (The Lord Is My Shepherd, Nothing Is Forever)
Catchphrases (Can't Keep My Mouth Shut, "It's Not My Fault!")
Descriptors (Wiseass Wizard, Rugged as the Road)
Items (My Vorpal Sword Goes Snicker-Snack, My Lucky Rabbit's Foot)
Pretty much anything else that paints a vivid picture of the character (Big Man On Campus, Anger Is My Constant Companion)

Aspects are also juicy ways of anchoring characters into a story, and the more interesting aspects will have lots and lots of implications:
Quote
Bland: Swordsman.
Tasty: Trained Fencer.
Bam!: Trained by Montcharles.

Bland: Strong.
Tasty: Strong as Ten Men.
Bam!: Strong-Man in the Circus of Crime.

Bland: Dark Past.
Tasty: Reformed Evil Cultist.
Bam!: The Ebon Shroud Cult Wants Me Dead.

It has a mechanic for Compelling and Invoking aspects, whereby compelled aspects earn you fate points but cause negative consequences, and invoked aspects loose you fate points but generate a positive effect in the game.

For example, you could invoke the aspect "Trained by Montcharles" to improve your chances of success in a swordfight, but the GM could compel the same aspect to get you into a duel at dawn because of Montcharles's reputation. You could also invoke this aspect when dealing with the opposite gender, to improve your chances in the social arena, but the GM could compel you to aid your old mentor when he's in trouble, even if it would be detrimental to you. The richness of aspects, and how they improve storytelling and encourage role-playing is something I haven't seen done as well in any other system.

It's also simple enough that the entire thing can be explained in under 15 minutes to a table full of people that have never role-played before.

There's a few commercial games based on Fate too: "Spirit Of the Century" and the Dresden Files RPG.  Both are great fun and give more polish and context than the open source docs do.

[EDIT]: I have some interesting drafts of several complete magic systems using Fate somewhere if you want to talk more about magic and the existing systems in the open source docs are unsuitable...

[EDIT2]: Fate games have been repeated award winners: The Dresden Files RPG won several golds at the ENnies 2011: Best Game, Best new game, Best rules, Best writing. As well as two silvers: Product of the year and Best production value. Diaspora, another Fate game, won the 2010 Best Rules.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 07:14:05 AM by dark_dragon »
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