Good games specifically to showcase non-D&D TTRPGs

Vaslov

Explorer
Godbound - Players are demigods. Think more like D&D level 15+ as the starting point power level wise w/ streamlined rules to make that power level easier to deal with. Due to the power level it's a game more about consequences of your overwhelming power than a conventional D&D "try to survive" game. Also, the core of the game is free. Sits on the edges of the OSR rule set so familiar rules if coming from D&D. Down side is you might find the rules a bit too light.

Witchcraft - Hard to explain this one. Again, the game is better at keeping characters alive to deal with consequences than D&D. It's been a long while since I played it so my memory of the rules is hazy. This is one I suggest you read the Drivethru entry. If that page entices you give it a try. If not pass it up.

Swords of the Serpentine. This one is a Gumshoe game. Straight forward rules. I like this Gumshoe vs. others as the rules to use investigation skills in combat makes it pretty lively. While you could make it deadly, I find it a lot easier to calibrate away from unexpected character death than something like D&D. Good medium crunch rules and easy to extend with out Gumshoe game systems if you want more complexity. I'll add generally in Gumshoe player characters start out generally competent, which is a personal preference.

Tephra - Um... I was tired? I'm not sure why I listed this one. It's an interesting d12 system, but on reflection nothing stands out for your scenario.

hope this helps.
 

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Because of its age, I do think of it as a traditional TYRPG. But I’m not sure I understand your point. Can you clarify?
It is an alternative to D&D, and has pros and cons, but doesn't have different specific novel functions they would not otherwise have seen. Not like something like Fate with the shared narrative control aspects, or Invisible Suns where characters experience plot arcs and failure can be as important as success, or Exalted or any of the others with expansive and multifaceted social system*, or dramasystem where character inter-relatedness is a primary mechanism to be poked and prodded, or one of the games with an unusual tension mechanic like resolution by Jenga tower or time limit by physical candles burning or so on.
*Note that Presence attacks are absolutely a novel social mechanism.

Again, this in no way makes Hero System or WEG Star Wars bad games, they've just seen all these different moving pieces before.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
(Explanation excised)

Again, this in no way makes Hero System or WEG Star Wars bad games, they've just seen all these different moving pieces before.
Oh, no worries!

I’d say the main novelty a game like HERO (or GURPS, M&M and so forth) is the extreme modularity and customization available. But for some, all those options evoke the sentiment of Devo’s “Freedom of Choice.”, namely, “Freedom of choice is what you’ve got. Freedom from choice is what you need.”
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
The Faction element of BitD is not that difficult to manage. There is a sheet you print up as GM, with lists of all factions, and as each is introduced to the game, you give them a starting rating (typically zero); this is their status with the PCs' Crew. The statuses range from +3 at best, to -3 at worst, with +3 being a trusted ally who will actively help the Crew, to -3 being actively hostile and at war with the Crew.

After each score, you evaluate what happened in play, and look to see if the Factions involved would adjust their status with the Crew. It's usually limited to a few possible Factions, and you make the adjustments on the sheet. There are also Entanglements which can affect Faction Status, and those are pretty straightforward choices the players make.

I think you're likely worrying about it too much. It's not that complicated nor time consuming.
The faction sheet looks like a goat-ton of work until you realize that you only have to track the factions that the crew actually interacts with, which is much smaller list.
 

Here is the situation -- I have multiple gaming groups, most of which have explored TTRPGs well outside D&D. One group, however, has always been current or 1-2-editions-previous-to-current* D&D. There has been some recent talk about looking at other systems and what they might do better for the group. This all started when a character hit a trap in the dungeon which was "perma-"death** for a character -- one that the player was emotionally invested in. This got us into a big discussion about whether we needed to be playing a game with surprise character death, would it be better if a trap was a horrid curse or transformation (one you can work to stop, or at least roleplay the attempt and experience), and of course if we're not playing the game to do the things D&D does well***, why aren't we playing something else. Since I'm the group member with the most experience with non-D&Ds, they are looking to me for ideas of what to try out. A one-off or short campaign would be a good bet. One major issue is that I am incredibly busy at work and do not have a huge amount of time to devote to GMing and managing a game.
*sometimes a lag in adoption
**it actually wasn't, just total-body-destruction -- which true resurrection can resolve, but that's beside the point now.
***side discussion about the old 'why are we searching a dungeon for treasure in 5e in the first place?''


I am looking for some suggestions on games which will:
  1. highlight the benefits of playing non-D&Ds towards certain types of play (be they high-RP, better social/exploration mechanics, differing balance, or anything else), and
  2. Not be a huge amount of work.
I know plenty of games that fulfill one or the other, but fewer that do both. Does anyone have any suggestions or preferences? Good explanations for how and why they do each of these well is of course appreciated (as is any insights into the situation, really). Thanks in advance!

Some that I would recommend would be:

Hong Kong Action Theatre!: This one is a bit older but the concept is really interesting. The players are Hong kong action film stars assuming roles in movies. This allows for things like a spectacular death but it isn't your character, it is the role you are playing in a given film (and over the course of a campaign you are in multiple films). Feng Shui is another good one

Savage Worlds: I think this is a good one for D&D players because it is familiar enough (it isn't the same system but it doesn't do anything that will throw them off in my experience). It is great for genre games and can handle a wide variety of settings. It also has bennies which can mitigate some of the issues you raised. And it has a pretty dedicated fanbase.

Hillfolk: This is going to be quite different from D&D and will let you do anything from I Claudius to Breaking Bad with a heavy emphasis on drama. This is another one that will avoid a lot of the issues you mentioned.

To toot my own horn, I have a few that I wouldn't put at the front of the list (the three I mentioned I think would be great for you to look into). If you want something a little different, I did a wuxia RPG called Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate (emulates wuxia movies, but has elements that D&D players can grab onto). I also co-designed a game called Righteous Blood, Ruthless Blades, which is more pure wuxia.
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
Oh, no worries!

I’d say the main novelty a game like HERO (or GURPS, M&M and so forth) is the extreme modularity and customization available. But for some, all those options evoke the sentiment of Devo’s “Freedom of Choice.”, namely, “Freedom of choice is what you’ve got. Freedom from choice is what you need.”

Of course that's why (mostly outside of supers, where, frankly, some of that is close to inevitable because there's not enough common elements to supers as a group for it to easily go well--best you can manage is the kind of templates M&M does) you tend to see more templates in the genre books over time in Hero. Its an attempt to have their cake and eat it too.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Savage Worlds: I think this is a good one for D&D players because it is familiar enough (it isn't the same system but it doesn't do anything that will throw them off in my experience). It is great for genre games and can handle a wide variety of settings. It also has bennies which can mitigate some of the issues you raised. And it has a pretty dedicated fanbase.

You don't think the heavy involvement of bennies might not throw them off? Incarnations of D&D haven't been known for strong metacurrancy involvement.
 

You don't think the heavy involvement of bennies might not throw them off? Incarnations of D&D haven't been known for strong metacurrancy involvement.
That depends on the players. Any game that isn’t D&D is going to have things not found in D&D. But if the idea is to expose them to non-D&D games that do things D&D doesn’t and isn’t much work, letting them try a game with bennies seems reasonable. Overall though I think it operates in a way people accustomed to just D&D will find familiar. Whereas another game I recommended, Hillfolk, will probably feel less familiar
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
That depends on the players. Any game that isn’t D&D is going to have things not found in D&D. But if the idea is to expose them to non-D&D games that do things D&D doesn’t and isn’t much work, letting them try a game with bennies seems reasonable. Overall though I think it operates in a way people accustomed to just D&D will find familiar. Whereas another game I recommended, Hillfolk, will probably feel less familiar

I can see that. Its certainly true that outside bennies (depending on how important you feel die sets and the open-ended die rolls are, or the threshold damage) its a much more traditional game than many.
 

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