Best Game System for This Situation

Retreater

Adventurer
My old college friends and I used to game together back in the AD&D 2e day and then moved into 3rd edition for a time before life pulled us to different ends of the country. We were able to get together occasionally and found that 5e was a pretty happy medium to be able to jump into a casual game during these semi-annual "gaming weekends."

Fortunately, recently we've been able to carve out a couple hours almost every week to play regularly. We use video conferencing software and webcams to facilitate the game. I've been GMing Dungeon World for a couple months, and it's been going mostly okay - at least for me. We just wrapped up the major story arc, and we're wondering how to proceed.

Of the three players, all have their individual gaming preferences, though the most important thing is to all game together. Player A prefers something a little more crunchy that would reward character optimization (he's also getting a little annoyed with Dungeon World). Player B prefers OSR, rules lite games (would be very happy with Basic D&D or Labyrinth Lord). Player C is mostly a casual player, is there to hang out with friends, and does no planning or investment outside of the game at all. As for me, I have my own preferences. I want something simple to run - mostly because I'm bad with technology and have had a heck of a time learning a VTT like Fantasy Grounds (though I tried for 6-9 months).

So I'm looking for something that has depth for players who want it - but can be simple if needed. Something that will be easy to run without a VTT. If it has an online SRD or equivalent so players can make characters and learn to play without buying a rulebook, even better.

Any ideas what might fit the bill?
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
I might be biased, but I think Gishes & Goblins might work for that group. The crunch-oriented player could have fun picking out the right feats and multi-class options, while the less-crunch-oriented players can stick with passive and at-will abilities.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
You're looking for a system that will satisfy someone who wants a crunchy system that rewards system mastery they can optimize, and a casual player who doesn't invest in the game outside of sessions. Even before the other player and your preferences, those goals head in opposite directions.

Perhaps a game that's more tactical and complex at the table would satisfy the player that wants crunch to optimize while still being "at the table" so the casual player is engaged with it.

Then wanting OSR / rules like, and easy to run.

And I assume staying in the heroic fantasy genre. (If you're open to a new genre that does open things up some.)

Some might surprise some who know my preferences, but perhaps 4e Essentials only? It's crunchy tactical, not a large amount of player investment away from the table is needed, and it's easy to DM.

Of the PbtA games, I really wasn't enamored with Dungeon World myself (though to be fair, that was from a read thru, never had a chance to play). Classic AW, or something like Monster of the Week might fit, and has the advantage of a rules system your players are familiar with. But that's assuming willingness to change genres.

I keep banging my head against a OSR rules lite + a casual gamer on one side, and a wants-more-crunch-to-optimize on the other. Maybe a Cortex+ (or Cortex Prime) game. For example, Marvel Heroic Roleplay can easily handle Thor and Hawkeye buddy up - it can handle power level discrepancies easily.

Have you looked at O.L.D.? I picked up N.E.W. and liked it though waiting on getting the group in a SF mood. Plenty for the crunchy player, but it's not a heavy system.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
You're looking for a system that will satisfy someone who wants a crunchy system that rewards system mastery they can optimize, and a casual player who doesn't invest in the game outside of sessions. Even before the other player and your preferences, those goals head in opposite directions.

Perhaps a game that's more tactical and complex at the table would satisfy the player that wants crunch to optimize while still being "at the table" so the casual player is engaged with it.

Then wanting OSR / rules like, and easy to run.

And I assume staying in the heroic fantasy genre. (If you're open to a new genre that does open things up some.)

Some might surprise some who know my preferences, but perhaps 4e Essentials only? It's crunchy tactical, not a large amount of player investment away from the table is needed, and it's easy to DM.

Of the PbtA games, I really wasn't enamored with Dungeon World myself (though to be fair, that was from a read thru, never had a chance to play). Classic AW, or something like Monster of the Week might fit, and has the advantage of a rules system your players are familiar with. But that's assuming willingness to change genres.

I keep banging my head against a OSR rules lite + a casual gamer on one side, and a wants-more-crunch-to-optimize on the other. Maybe a Cortex+ (or Cortex Prime) game. For example, Marvel Heroic Roleplay can easily handle Thor and Hawkeye buddy up - it can handle power level discrepancies easily.

Have you looked at O.L.D.? I picked up N.E.W. and liked it though waiting on getting the group in a SF mood. Plenty for the crunchy player, but it's not a heavy system.
I'm afraid 4E (regardless of which version) wouldn't get any support from these guys. They truly vilified it. (Even if I've made my peace with the system.)

I think the PbtA games just don't appeal to Player A, unfortunately. If they did, I'd just stick with Dungeon World.

I don't know much about Marvel Heroic Roleplay. Player A strangely wants me to run TSR Marvel (FASERIP). Maybe I can look into that?

I haven't really looked into O.L.D. I give that a scan through too.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I don't know much about Marvel Heroic Roleplay. Player A strangely wants me to run TSR Marvel (FASERIP). Maybe I can look into that?
If Player A (wants crunch!) has a hankering for Marvel FASERIP, then do it!

Not only is it a great fun system,* but it's not exactly rules-heavy (thus, fun for everyone).


*Admittedly, a little dated.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
If Player A (wants crunch!) has a hankering for Marvel FASERIP, then do it!

Not only is it a great fun system,* but it's not exactly rules-heavy (thus, fun for everyone).

*Admittedly, a little dated.
It's been a while, but wasn't FASERIP really optimizable? As in the casual player might be left out in the cold?
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
It's been a while, but wasn't FASERIP really optimizable? As in the casual player might be left out in the cold?
It's been some time, but my recollection was that FASERIP was easy to play with the heroes you knew (I WANNA BE THE HULK!) and while you could enjoy a build, the whole thing (and the one chart) were simple enough that it was a fast and easy change from AD&D ... or even B/X.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
My recollection is that Marvel Super Heroes was a lot of fun and easy to pick up, but that it had issues that were mostly counterbalanced by the coolness of getting to play in Marvel's world. It's been a long time, but I remember it being more easily balanced when you made your own characters rather than picked your favorites off the shelf. Because, yeah, the comics can make it work, but mechanically if you have the Punisher and Thor teaming up, it's not going to be that fun for the person playing Frank Castle.

D&D 5e might fit the bill, if you let those that want a streamlined approach just use the Basic Rules for their characters and made the full rules available for the one that wants more fiddling.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
Why not 5e?
I have that mix of players at my table and it seems about right.
I guess I think of 5e as "too complex" to be done over voice chat with no grids, maps, or minis.
Plus, between us, we've already played everything available from Wizards that's worth playing.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
The Dawnline is a good system, if you don't mind the unusual premise. Basically, you play a group of vampires protecting a nomadic village that must perpetually travel through band of dusk between true night (where dangerous monsters live) and the dawn (where vampires burn up and humans are never seen again).

The system itself is fairly rules lite, while still managing to be highly tactical. The vampire types are extremely varied (and always somewhat inhuman). Your rules lite and casual player could pick their type and just pick the powers that are typical for that type of vampire, while the optimizer could hunt through the list for combos. There's also a village maintenance and building phase that the crunch oriented player might enjoy.

From a GM perspective it seems fairly easy to run. It isn't overburdened by an excess of rules, except for the lengthy list of conditions that the combat rules are built around.

As for the setting, it's an extremely mysterious premise where no one's really certain how things came to be this way, so you have a lot of freedom to play with it. I'd call it science-fantasy, because there's both tech and magic by default.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
I had no major issues with the system running D&D 5E in "theater of the mind" mode for the latter half of Out of the Abyss. (I had some tech issues, but no mechanical issues.) 5E DMG has useful guidelines for how many to hit, etc.
 

Advertisement

Top