Any crunchy RPG's out there anymore?


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embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
Shadowrun is still in print, right?
Indeed. It is on Sixth World now (hoping to find time AND players).

Additionally, eBay and FLGSes are actual things that actually exist and prior editions can be readily had at at or below their original cover price (making it effectively cheaper than when originally released because inflation is also an actual thing that actually exists).
 

ShinHakkaider

Adventurer
The calculations isn't a problem, but amount of things you need to keep in RAM is.

But more importantly, I don't think that excessive crunch actually adds anything to the game, even from simulationist point of view -- I can't say that GURPS Martial Arts is particularly realistic, at least when it comes to MAs I'm familiar with: BJJ and Muay-Thai.
Okay I hear you and agree with you on that first part. I guess we all have very different thresholds for that.
Personally I've always written things down or done pre calculations on my character sheet or cheat sheets as a GM so that I'm just adding two numbers at most. Even at the height of 3.5 I got good at streamlining calculations. But again, that's just me and not at all typical.

The second thing we might just going to have to respectfully disagree on.
While there are some systems where for what you say is probably true, for me at least, it's not the case for all of them. It also goes to what a person thinks is "excessive" crunch.

I used to use a palladium system mash up of TMNT and Other Strangeness, Ninjas and Superspies and Mystic China for a martial arts based game that I ran for a little while. Mostly based less around the crazy Wuxia martial arts and more around the late 70's early 80's Shaw Brothers and Joseph Kuo movies like THE MYSTERY OF CHESSBOXING, SEVEN GRANDMASTERS and SEVEN COMMANDMENTS OF KUNG FU. My own martial arts training has been a little but of Northern Style Kung Fu, some Capoeira but I'm most proficient in Boxing. I'm by no means an expert in ANY of those. Even boxing which is what Im most practiced in.

But for the purpose of running those games I was trying to emulate a genre. The martial arts themselves didn't need to be completely accurate as long as everyone at the table could visualize what they were doing and wanted to do with those martial arts in question. Personally, I've found almost every depiction of boxing in RPG's to be kind of basic. And for anyone who's trained under a trainer who has actually boxed and knows what they're doing? there's a lot of nuance in boxing that tends to get overlooked. The same with BJJ. The first time I saw ANY BJJ at all (but didn't realize it at the time) was at the climax of the first LETHAL WEAPON. Riggs uses a guillotine choke to subdue Mr. Joshua in the final fight. But later on when watching it in the UFC I couldn't make out what was going on. It took a while to understand that BJJ is pretty complex and theres a lot of setup and payoff in some of those fights. My son started taking grappling / BJJ at 4 and did so off and on up until he was around 11 or 12.

If we had a game that was JUST based around a series of BJJ matches that got into the intricacies of the art I guess that would be great. But using it in a typical RPG? I guess most of us just want to apply that Kimura, armbar or Guillotine to end a fight.

Apologies for being so long winded but your reply actually got me thinking a bit about this...
 

Argyle King

Legend
The calculations isn't a problem, but amount of things you need to keep in RAM is.

But more importantly, I don't think that excessive crunch actually adds anything to the game, even from simulationist point of view -- I can't say that GURPS Martial Arts is particularly realistic, at least when it comes to MAs I'm familiar with: BJJ and Muay-Thai.


I'd say that reducing mathiness is a sign of understanding the constraints of the medium.

Like, the only case where I would design a system with math heavier than comparing two numbers (and maaybe adding single-digits numbers together) is if I also make a solid automatization tools, like dedicated VTT or a companion app.

From your perspective, does adding the amount of pips rolled on d6 and comparing the total to the amount of skill a character has in a martial arts technique violate your design principles?
 

The irony? Rolemaster is fairly simple, but massively crunchy. The majority of complexity is the sheer number of tables and the many, many optional rules; the tables are easy to use, and all player rolls are percentiles, so from a player perspective, Rolemaster's dead simple. Full of picayune little details one needs to track (hits taken, hits delivered, crits taken, crits delivered, distance travelled, and about 10 other factors to find your XP gains...).
Do not mock RM; I used their systems (RM and SM) for many years. 💂‍♂️

The thing about RM is that you can use it in countless ways because of the many optional rules. It has a great deal going for it provided you are a GM who is willing to put some work in setting up a system that suits you.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Do not mock RM; I used their systems (RM and SM) for many years. 💂‍♂️

The thing about RM is that you can use it in countless ways because of the many optional rules. It has a great deal going for it provided you are a GM who is willing to put some work in setting up a system that suits you.
I'm not mocking it. It really is a simple core with a bad rep due to having a ton of tables, and more optional rules than tables. SM was, in fact, the third RPG I owned... I even implemented char gen in Appleworks on an Apple //e. (When I last checked, tho', the file was on a bad sector.) (RM was 3 systems later.)
The few times I've gotten people to play it, they were surprised how well it runs. The problem is the fainting when they find out the the number of calculations in Char Gen... and level up.

The real disincentive is that Experience worksheet. (Everything I mentioned is on it in the editions of RM and SM I've run. And I left out a couple rows.)
 

GreyLord

Legend
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying 4th edition can be somewhat crunchy, especially with how you MUST do math every round of combat to figure out who hit who and damage.

I was going to say Rolemaster, but it seems that I cannot find the actual rules on DrivethruRPG currently. They have many of the other books, but not the actual core rules...which is somewhat disappointing.
 

What ever happened to crunchy games like Aftermath!, Bushido, Phoenix Command, Battlelords or Dangerous Journeys?

Everything now is D&D5, PbtA or Blades in the Dark. The closest thing I could find was Fragged Empire which considers itself "medium crunchy". I miss the old days when FGU and GDW put out some really interesting stuff. D&D4 was really crunchy and played well with my group.

Is there any call for crunchy anymore?

If by “crunchy” you mean “rules-heavy”, Blades (and all FitD games) definitely shouldn’t be lumped in with the other games.

In fact, I would say, in practice, Blades is more rules-heavy than 4e. 4e is not remotely a rules-lite system, but it’s unified mechanics, core resolution, and exception-based design make it somewhere between Dungeon World and Blades (a little tilted toward the former actually...running it is basically Dungeon World with Clocks and weighty combat mechanics) in the actual running.

Blades and Torchbearer are absolutely on the rules-heavy spectrum of games. If you’re looking for a ton of meat and structured, player-facing play, those are the two best games on the market by far (with 4e right behind them).
 

aramis erak

Legend
Blades and Torchbearer are absolutely on the rules-heavy spectrum of games. If you’re looking for a ton of meat and structured, player-facing play, those are the two best games on the market by far (with 4e right behind them).
Torchbearer is less crunchy than Burning Wheel... it is built on simplified mechanics used first in Mouse Guard.
And it is far less complex and crunchy than Phoenix Command or Rhand. Or anything by TriTac.
 

Torchbearer is less crunchy than Burning Wheel... it is built on simplified mechanics used first in Mouse Guard.
And it is far less complex and crunchy than Phoenix Command or Rhand. Or anything by TriTac.

I know BW but I don't know the others. And I'm as familiar with MG and TB as it gets. While, yes its works off the MG chassis rather than BW (therefore its inside of BW on the "weight spectrum"), it still has to qualify on the rules-heavy side of things because of all of the integrated mechanics and feedback loops in delving alone. Decision-points are well more mechanically and cognitively beefy and entangled (by design), for all participants, than MG.
 
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turnip_farmer

Adventurer
It always amazes me when people have decided that basic math (addition and subtraction) is crunchy or complicated. I don't know if it makes me a snob to NOT want to play with people who fear basic math especially when most phones (even older flip phones) have a calculator on them.

Again, maybe it's not fair of me to say or think this but it's a huge pet peeve of mine when people complain about Pathfinder or Champions as crunchy games.

Maybe we should clarify, Is it crunchy because of the number options or is it because of the math?
Don't worry, embrace your snobbishness. I also look down my nose at people who complain that a game containing nothing more than addition and subtraction of single- or, at worst, double-digit numbers, has too much maths.

But that doesn't mean I want a very crunchy system, at least as I would define it. The problem, as others have said, is not the complexity of the arithmetic, but keeping track of all the conditional modifiers.

"Oh but wait, hang on, you add 2 to that roll because of your height advantage." "But shouldn't there be a negative modifier due to fatigue by this point in the combat? What round are we on?" "Wait, Floppy has the Nippy ability so you subtract his speed bonus from the attack roll too." "No, because I have the Hit the Bugger special ability. Doesn't that cancel it out?" and so on and so forth.

I can handle a lot more of that sort of thing when I'm playing a wargame, but it detracts from the drama of combat in an RPG.
 


I'm not mocking it. It really is a simple core with a bad rep due to having a ton of tables, and more optional rules than tables. SM was, in fact, the third RPG I owned... I even implemented char gen in Appleworks on an Apple //e. (When I last checked, tho', the file was on a bad sector.) (RM was 3 systems later.)
The few times I've gotten people to play it, they were surprised how well it runs. The problem is the fainting when they find out the the number of calculations in Char Gen... and level up.

The real disincentive is that Experience worksheet. (Everything I mentioned is on it in the editions of RM and SM I've run. And I left out a couple rows.)
I was ribbing you, I knew you weren't mocking the game.
 

Bilharzia

Fish Priest
What ever happened to crunchy games like Aftermath!, Bushido, Phoenix Command, Battlelords or Dangerous Journeys?

Everything now is D&D5, PbtA or Blades in the Dark. The closest thing I could find was Fragged Empire which considers itself "medium crunchy". I miss the old days when FGU and GDW put out some really interesting stuff. D&D4 was really crunchy and played well with my group.

Is there any call for crunchy anymore?

You might enjoy Mythras, it is the renamed RuneQuest 6. It's a bit less crunchy and comprehensive than GURPS, probably attracts a similar audience, it's more focused and imo has more consistent, and better design. RuneQuest disappeared commercially for over 20 years so has a disadvantage as far as familiarity goes when compared to something like GURPS, but it's a bit more playable out of the book partly because of its focus, but also because RQ6 and so Mythras got a ground-up re-write when it was released.

The older games you mention have a strong orientation towards simulation, and towards detailed combat, this is not necessarily the sole interest of players today, or of designers and publishers. The older games are still there, and because of the ability to play online, it's probably easier now to find players for those games today than it was back then. I've no doubt at all I could get a game of Bushido going today, I have to say I would be much more likely to adapt the setting, ideas and adventures to my system of choice.
 

What ever happened to crunchy games like Aftermath!, Bushido, Phoenix Command, Battlelords or Dangerous Journeys?

Everything now is D&D5, PbtA or Blades in the Dark. The closest thing I could find was Fragged Empire which considers itself "medium crunchy". I miss the old days when FGU and GDW put out some really interesting stuff. D&D4 was really crunchy and played well with my group.

Is there any call for crunchy anymore?
Runequest has more realistic combat and skills. Hit locations, no levels, fairly reasonable magic systems (spirit, rune and sorcery). We switched about 30 years ago and never looked back.
 

Voadam

Legend
Kamigakari: God Hunters uses a pretty involved dice mechanic of powers needing specific combos on dice rolls with abilities to swap out or save dice round to round to build up to getting the combo for your Voltron sword or using fewer dice combos for quicker less powerful attacks. It is a 2020 English translation of a Japanese RPG.
 

Hartford688

Villager
Well I was running a Bushido campaign pre virus. Still good.

For crunchy, how about Chivalry & Sorcery 5th edition? Came out last year. They have a Kickstarter in its very last hours for the reboot of Land of the Rising Sun (this time as a setting for C&S rather than completely standalone). There is a discount on the C&S core rulebook as an add-on to the KS.

 

sgtnasty

Explorer
Well I was running a Bushido campaign pre virus. Still good.

For crunchy, how about Chivalry & Sorcery 5th edition? Came out last year. They have a Kickstarter in its very last hours for the reboot of Land of the Rising Sun (this time as a setting for C&S rather than completely standalone). There is a discount on the C&S core rulebook as an add-on to the KS.

I had no idea, haven't played C&S since the original. I will check it out.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I know BW but I don't know the others. And I'm as familiar with MG and TB as it gets. While, yes its works off the MG chassis rather than BW (therefore its inside of BW on the "weight spectrum"), it still has to qualify on the rules-heavy side of things because of all of the integrated mechanics and feedback loops in delving alone. Decision-points are well more mechanically and cognitively beefy and entangled (by design), for all participants, than MG.
No argument that it's crunchier than MG...

But for me, part of crunchiness is "how many subsystems am I picking from, and how often is it a contested decision" - my one session of TB hit was "Which subsystem is almost always self-evident, and when not, an A or B" vs the 3+ options in BW that are almost always available. And, given that it's "pick A, B, or C" as opposed to "pick A or B" in TB... more "does B or C add enough to be worth the time?" is crunchier.

In burning wheel, one is presented with 2-3 systems that could apply to any conflict... Single opposed roll, or one of the extended conflict mechanics, and which skill or skills are appropriate. At almost any non-combat roll, which skill is suitable is usually a list, not a single evident one, in BW. If using the extended options, physical combat has 4 options in BW: Simple opposed, Bloody Vs, Range & Cover, Fight! This is a decision point that, in Torchbearer, is between opposed roll and conflict. Social conflicts can be simple opposed or duel of wits (DoW), or (based upon BW Jyhad), an extended test with a number of required successes over time, but without using DoW... while in TB, it's opposed test or a move to the same conflict system as physical, just with different skills in use.

The actual number of decisions is similar; the range of choices to pick from is more robust in BW.
 


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