Crunchy Games


What's your favorite crunchy game? What kind of crunch do you like? Is it okay for a game to be crunchy in one area and not in others? Preferable? If you don't like crunchy Games, why not?

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Front Range Warlock
Burning Wheel Gold Revised is, easily, my favorite crunchy game. The various moving pieces are many, but they're actually in service to a better play experience in that they actually do something (other than simply complicate the game). My main problem with a lot of crunchy systems is that they don't deliver an actual play experience that can't be replicated by less complex rules. So, rules that are complex just to be complex.


Pathfinder Classic. After 20 years of 3E, I just know how to run it to my own specs. I dont know if I have it in me to learn another one like this. Its still my favorite fantasy TTRPG. I especially like the player side crunch, so chewy, and delectable...

I am becoming more and more partial to an overall general conflict resolution mechanic that gets bolt-ons. Like a trap, chase, interrogation, whatever module. If you can dial it in to a specific experience all the better. Paizo was pretty hit and miss with these over the years, but they delivered a lot.


4e and Mutants & Masterminds.

These two games are, overall, more crunchy than I prefer these days, but hold a special place in my tiny voidborn heart.

4e is the only version of D&D I would choose to run a long-term campaign. After running a multi-year 4e game going from levels 2-19, I decided 5e was definitely not for me after looking it over. 4e clearly has more crunch for combat than most other things, overall, but I'm fine with that. It didn't really change how I run D&D, overall, when it comes to the mix of combat and other things.

Recently, I have become enamored with Cortex, so it is possible I might use that for any upcoming super-powered roleplaying I do in the near future. But, M&M would still be a consideration. I have never run a long-term M&M game, but my M&M 2e limited series was incredible, and my players loved it. I do have to admit that they played with templates that I created, on top of basic characters of their own. That helps a lot with balance.

Honestly, I think I like about these games, despite their crunch, is that a lot of crunch seems to be in the prep work or character creation. Both have crunch in play, but crunch I find flows nicely.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Well, my old favorite crunchy RPG was BBB-era Champions. Uber crunchy superhero simulation.

I'm not sure I have a current favorite crunchy RPG. I haven't even played (non-computer) Battletech in years, much less the old standbys like Star Fleet Battles or Car Wars.


Staff member
3.5Ed D&D (plus clones like Midnight 2Ed, Pathfinder, FantasyCraft, etc.)
Traveller (any edition)
M&M 2Ed

Hon. Mention to GURPS, which I don’t really LIKE, but grudgingly respect and in which have played in several good campaigns.


HERO 5E and GURPS 2E/3E. Love both of those games for different reasons. HERO is like the world's greatest RPG toolbox. GURPS 2E/3E just FEELS real to me when we play it. It's like the Netflix Daredevil of crunchy RPG systems.

I crunched a lot of numbers for my Solis People of the Sun for Cepheus Engine, though most of it was me taking stellar data, and turning it into a playable universe, a lot of that was not inherent in the rules, I used datasets from simbad, with AstroSynthesis and such. That sort of front loaded number crunching I don't mind as much, some of it, like making the star maps was even therapeutic in a way. However, in play, I am less interested in number crunching, as the returns vs inputs is less. More time putting numbers in, makes everything go slower, which interrupts the flow.

3.5E would definitely be my favorite crunch.

I felt like Pathfinder (1e) had potential, but by the time I really started exploring it seemed like too much of a moving target.


Guide of Modos
What's your favorite crunchy game? What kind of crunch do you like? Is it okay for a game to be crunchy in one area and not in others? Preferable? If you don't like crunchy Games, why not?
I think it boils down to this:

In crunchy games, the GM usually tells me, "you can't do that."

In light games, the GM usually tells me, "you try it, and this happens."

The latter is much more fun for me.

These threads are cool because every answer is correct!!!

Like most things " I like Crunchy games I like, and dont like crunchy games I don't like!".

I really like MERP/RM and DQ. I can run them with decent pace and flair while still using much of their crunch. Even at high level They work for me as there isn't many opposed rolls especially in combat, ( a mechanic I loathe).

Not a fan of BRP / WHFRP though the latter is saved by the fact I like the setting and have been playing it's various incarnations with GW folks since 1986 ( perhaps even bits playtest)


I think Champions, Gurps both deserve a mention, with PF1e which has a rule for everything (just why?)

As to favourite, M&M 2e to make continuation of a DnD5e character possible, and 3e for anything else.


In crunchy games, the GM usually tells me, "you can't do that."
That really does not describe any game of RoleMaster or GURPS that I have played. While being very crunchy they are also very permissive.

In fact, one of the reasons I like a well-designed crunchy game is that it gives the GM good tools to work out what happens when the character attempts something left-field. That is why I like games that have crunch in more areas than just the combat system, and the best systems support you zooming in or out on the details for any particular activity so you can give it spotlight time or keep the games moving forward as needed.
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Mythras (aka Runequest 6 with serial numbers filed off) is my TTRPG that I'd describe as crunchy. I particularly like the Special Effects for combat encounters and its Combat Styles for PCs. I also like how it handles skills with provisions for augmenting and capping them. I find the PC build process, with Cultures and Professions as bundles of skill choices you get at a base level, with a pool of points to raise them, lets you have a PC that's skilled the way you want. It's dynamic background events and passions that build upon that, allow you to arrive at a unique and interesting PC.

Like JAMUMU, I typically don't run with all options enabled, or at least opt for the simpler options.

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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