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Monday, 13 January 2014

Help Me, Gaming Hivemind, You're My Only Hope...


I am seeking guidance and advice from the great gaming hivemind. This is an idea I've mentioned several times before but now I want to try and actually do something with it.

I am looking for a game system - not necessarily even a superhero game - that will allow me to emulate the kind of low-level heroics depicted in TV shows like Alphas, Misfits, The 4400 and Heroes or the early days of The X-Men comics where each (player) character has a single special ability (or a small suite of interrelated powers).

I'm looking for a game that is relatively simple and crunch-lite (so no Mutants & Masterminds, Pathfinder-ish suggestions that require a full-page to stat up an NPC with a dozen feats and two dozen skills), yet detailed enough to warrant long-term campaign play.

Maybe it's a contemporary action game that has rules for metahuman abilities or a sci-fi system that can be applied to a modern-day setting. I find a lot of pure superhero RPGs are geared towards the mid- to high-end heroes and don't cope particularly well with heroes that only have a single power

Heck, although I'm an old school grognard at heart I'm willing to entertain some of these trendy new indie game systems if they do what I want them to do (and don't require the instigation of a 'safe word').

Rules-wises I have the following personal prejudices, but all are negotiable (except, really, the setting one) if the system is really cool and elegant:
  • I'm not really a fan of dice-pool mechanics as I believe they slow games down (nor gimmicky systems that use cards, dominoes or, heaven forbid, no dice at all!).
  • Doesn't require the use of tables during combat - everything a player (and GM) needs should be on his character sheet. Again, turning to a table mid-combat slows things down and ruins the moment.
  • Everything I need is contained in a single book (even if it's obscure, I don't mind doing a bit of RPG archaeology to track down a rule book).
  • Mustn't be married to a specific setting, as I have a setting in mind and want to be able to develop it as I see fit.

11 comments:

  1. You basically made a line-by-line list of design goals for my game system. Classes provide characters with either a single power or a small suite of related powers, which are generally concise enough to fit a PC (or NPC) on a single sheet of paper.

    The majority of combat maneuvers normally attributed to every PC in a d20 game have been made the purpose of individual classes. For example, grappling isn't a sub system on a list of combat maneuvers, it's the basis of a grappler class which follows all the normal rules of combat while being different.

    As far as gimmicks go, combat has a fair reliance on a grid/battle map -- this is mostly due to my desire for combat visual aids to speed things along, coupled with a desire for a tactical puzzle in every fight.

    While I've been building the game around a Mediterranean/Near-East setting, I've yet to really incorporate a lot of the setting itself into the rules, and as an exercise have even developed hypothetical firearms rules as part of a thought experiment.

    The main drawback is the system isn't finished. However, I have a Kickstarter project you may be interested in...

    http://rumorsofwarcomic.com/

    I hope you find what you're looking for if not with my game, then another! :)

    --Dither

    ReplyDelete
  2. I forgot to subscribe to the thread... ;)

    --Dither

    ReplyDelete
  3. ICONS would probably be a good choice. The system is simple and the use of Determination Points in-game means it's geared toward a more storytelling/episodic approach.

    Limit the available Origins (no Unearthly characters, or all PCs with the same Origin) and set the number of powers to 2 (or 3) maximum, and you should be there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I also have a system that will work well for your game. If you like I can email it to you. It is a pretty big file though (2.1 mb for the ebook version and 3.4 for the printable version.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would also recommend ICONS as a great system. You could also look at SUPERS by Simon Washbourne, which may be too rules light (but easily hackable to add some complexity) or TRUTH & JUSTICE (based on the PDQ system).

    Or I could just recommend Fate, but that's too easy...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you all for your suggestions. While several of these systems I've already experimented with, there's still plenty of food for thought.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd like to suggest Squadron UK, the new version of Golden Heroes. It's quite a simple system plays really well and whilst designed for mid level characters it can accommodate low level characters by reducing the number of power slots a character can have. Characters are quite quick to create using either allocation or random rolls.

    The other game I'd suggest is Fate. It's very much a story telling system and lends itself to low powered supers. I was thinking of it for a non-supers game where the players are vigilantes like Batman or Green Arrow (inspired by the Arrow TV series).

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for this, Duane. I have Squadron UK on my shelves - along with many other supers games(!!!) - so will give it another look.

    ReplyDelete
  9. How do you feel about Champions? There is a single book that was recently published - Champions Complete. Character creation using the Hero Designer program is pretty easy and Hero Combat Manager will help make the combat go faster.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I own Champions Complete, and back it in the '80s it was our most played supers system (after V&V, of course), it now stands as the antithesis of everything I'm looking for in a game, I'm afraid.

      Although there is much I still admire about the game and its approach to the genre, I'm looking for something more streamlined and elegant - that doesn't require a computer program to design your character or run your combat ;-)

      That said, it's quite feasible that in 12 months time we'll be in the middle of a Champions campaign...

      Delete
  10. Fate Core or Fate Accelerated Edition would seem to fit the bill (assuming you don't object to the token mechanic for fate points). They might take a bit of hacking to get the feel right, though. I personally would consider Champions, but at lower (heroic) point levels.

    ReplyDelete

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