Help me pick a game to run.

Reynard

Legend
I am feeling the need for a lengthy break from running 5E and am trying to figure out what might be a good fit. I kind of want to try something new that I don't play or write for regularly (so no Savage Worlds) and I think I want less focus on violence as a core component of the fiction.

Due to how generally busy I am, I want something that is low to no prep. It should be episodic rather than a singular serial "story" and accommodate, say, 4 players. I'd prefer the rules to be a little more narrative but not necessarily a "story game." While I am okay with some system complexity I am not interested in either big fat rulebooks or extensive menus of PC abilities.

Genre wise I am not sure but I like supers, cyberpunk, space opera, weird fantasy, post apocalyptic, some horror elements and genre mash-ups. I don't like cutesy anything, though, and no children PCs.

Game wise I am okay with loo(ing at suggestions in the OSR, PbtA, FitD, Fate or other spaces. I don't mind a bespoke system either.

I will be playing weekly 2 hour sessions over the internet (probably just over Discord since I'm a little burnt on Fantasy Grounds).

So, all that considered, what game should I give a look to?

Thanks!
 

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Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
It's one of the obvious answers, so I'll just get it out of the way: sounds like Blades in the Dark might not be a bad fit, especially if the setting grabs you. Violence doesn't need to be core, the prevalence could vary depending on what crew/scoundrels you go with.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
As per usual, I'm going to recommend a rules-lite one pager. Maybe ... Lasers & Feelings to start? Or if you're looking for something that both appeals to your love of Jane Austen and giant mechs, how about Pride and Extreme Prejudice?

Once you start, you won't stop. :)
 


Reynard

Legend
It's one of the obvious answers, so I'll just get it out of the way: sounds like Blades in the Dark might not be a bad fit, especially if the setting grabs you. Violence doesn't need to be core, the prevalence could vary depending on what crew/scoundrels you go with.
I like FitD in general but I can take or leave the settings for the "big three" -- Blades, Bands, and Scum and Villainy. I need to find a FitD that isn't so hyperfocused on a setting.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I really like the clean design of L&F. I keep meaning to host a one shot to see if it translates to the actual table.

It's a great option to start, but the thing is ... there are so many great one page systems. Find the one that appeals to you and run it. Eventually, you'll just make them on your own as needed.
 

innerdude

Legend
I agree with @Xamnam , your overall requirements sound like a FitD-type system would be a good fit.

For short, episodic, online roleplaying with just basic video/audio, Ironsworn or Ironsworn: Starforged would be a fantastic fit. My group did a short, 8-session Ironsworn campaign in mid-2021 that was basically just what you described (low tech, primarily just audio/video), and it was an absolute blast.

I haven't played it yet, but I recently got my kickstarter fulfillment for Court of Blades, which is a courtly intrigue / Three Musketeers take on Blades in the Dark. Just based on my read through, everything about the way they've structured this iteration of FitD is awesome.

I also think Genesys with the Netrunner sourcebook would work really well for cyberpunk, if you're okay with the narrative dice mechanic. It's not "no prep", but it's definitely "low prep". It's quite easy to do a lot of stuff on the fly, with the way challenge dice pools are built.
 

Reynard

Legend
For short, episodic, online roleplaying with just basic video/audio, Ironsworn or Ironsworn: Starforged would be a fantastic fit. My group did a short, 8-session Ironsworn campaign in mid-2021 that was basically just what you described (low tech, primarily just audio/video), and it was an absolute blast.
How well does Ironsworn run with multiple players and a GM? I am only familiar with it by way of Me, Myself and Die -- which I loved. The system looks really intriguing and am definitely curious about Starforged.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I can’t disagree with recommendations for Blades in the Dark- or any of the iterations mentioned- or Ironsworn. Those are both solid, low prep options that allow for multiple paths to success.

I’ll add Spire: The City Must Fall. I beat this drum a lot, but this game is great. It’s similar in ways to Blades, both mechanically and thematically, but different enough to warrant consideration. You can also get the Quickstart as PWYW and the same for three published scenarios.

For something on the OSR side, Mothership is a fun sci-fi horror game. You can get the core rules for free (though the updated version will be released soon), and there are a bunch of reasonably priced scenarios, including three very solid options from the game’s designers, which are different from one another.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Why OSR, when you can just OS?

I recommend the old Basic and Expert boxed sets to anyone wanting a refreshing change of pace from 5e. Rules-light, story-forward, faster play, and plenty of published modules and gazetteers at your fingertips.
 


innerdude

Legend
How well does Ironsworn run with multiple players and a GM? I am only familiar with it by way of Me, Myself and Die -- which I loved. The system looks really intriguing and am definitely curious about Starforged.

I found playing with a GM to be fantastic, almost revelatory for me as a GM.

If you want to have a GM, just treat it like a relatively "standard issue" PbtA vehicle, and you're pretty much in the right head space. I found playing with a GM, as well as "GM-less" with all players participating equally but using the oracles to drive action, were both highly functional and presented a strong play loop we could all hook into.

If I'm being honest, I prefer having an actual GM versus going "GM-less" mode, but it's still very functional either way.

As a GM, be sure to take advantage of the additional character inputs via their assets, their momentum track, and their iron vows. Use your "fronts" to push the action toward these areas. Players quickly learn that if they really want to make progress (both narratively and in the PC progress metagame), they have to pursue and complete vows.
 

innerdude

Legend
One more note --- The Starforged iteration of the Ironsworn rules is overall a bit cleaner, a bit more refined, and a bit more user friendly, though "OG" Ironsworn is still awesome. If you think you'd like to try sci fi / space opera first, Starforged gets a resounding 5-star review from me.

The changes themselves are relatively minor, and overall give players a little more "oomph" (not a lot, but a little). The combat system gives a bit more guidance, character combat options are bit more varied, the momentum track is skewed a bit more in the players' favor.

Also, just in general for Ironsworn / IS: Starforged, my impression is that for anything other than really long, "epic" style quests, difficulty ratings for various progress tracks (especially combat) should skew to the "easier" side of the spectrum much more often than not. Be judicious in handing out "difficult" encounters and obstacles.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I am feeling the need for a lengthy break from running 5E and am trying to figure out what might be a good fit. I kind of want to try something new that I don't play or write for regularly (so no Savage Worlds) and I think I want less focus on violence as a core component of the fiction.

Due to how generally busy I am, I want something that is low to no prep. It should be episodic rather than a singular serial "story" and accommodate, say, 4 players. I'd prefer the rules to be a little more narrative but not necessarily a "story game." While I am okay with some system complexity I am not interested in either big fat rulebooks or extensive menus of PC abilities.

Genre wise I am not sure but I like supers, cyberpunk, space opera, weird fantasy, post apocalyptic, some horror elements and genre mash-ups. I don't like cutesy anything, though, and no children PCs.

Game wise I am okay with loo(ing at suggestions in the OSR, PbtA, FitD, Fate or other spaces. I don't mind a bespoke system either.

I will be playing weekly 2 hour sessions over the internet (probably just over Discord since I'm a little burnt on Fantasy Grounds).

So, all that considered, what game should I give a look to?

Thanks!
I would have potentially suggested Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures (B/X hack), but I'm not sure if that passes the "no children PCs" rule since it's focus is young adult fiction like the Prydain Chronicles. Character creation ties the PCs to each other and the adventures while also creating the village.

Homebrew World (a Dungeon World Hack) by Jeremy Strandberg: IMHO, it runs smoother and quicker than DW and it's good for episodic or shorter campaigns

Vaesen by Fria Ligan: 1800s supernatural/monster investigation set in either Scandinavia or the British Isles
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Genre wise I am not sure but I like supers, cyberpunk, space opera, weird fantasy, post apocalyptic, some horror elements and genre mash-ups. I don't like cutesy anything, though, and no children PCs.

Game wise I am okay with looking at suggestions in the OSR, PbtA, FitD, Fate or other spaces. I don't mind a bespoke system either.
If you're okay with teenage PCs, the best PbtA supers game right now is Masks: A New Generation. It is very much a teenage-drama superhero game. Some general lighter supers games you might dig are Above the Earth, Supers Revised Edition, Galaxies in Peril, or Icons. If you don't mind out-of-print stuff, Marvel Heroic is a fantastic implementation of the Cortex system.

For cyberpunk, most of the books are fatter. The Sprawl is PbtA and clocks in around 256 pages. CY_BORG is a Mork Borg game that clocks in around 168 pages.

For space opera there's Classic Traveller, or the modern Cepheus Engine games. Many of them are free and span anywhere from a dozen to a few hundred pages depending on the variety you like. If you're familiar with most any version of Traveller, you can pick up Cepheus in a snap.

Into the Odd, Weird North, Cairn, Electric Bastionland, and Ultraviolet Grasslands are all great for various levels of weird fantasy.

For post apocalyptic you can't go wrong with the game that started PbtA...Apocalypse World.

There are various 2400-based games available on itch.io. It's a rules ultralight game. A few more pages than Lasers & Feelings, but it's in that neighborhood. There's also tons of hacks of L&F. Just about any genre you could want.
 


Reynard

Legend
Monster of the Week PbtA sounds like a good fit for this request.
I really do need to give MotW another look. i bought it a long time ago thinking it was a Fate game. At that time, I had only had one negative experience with PbtA games and so shelved it. In more recent years I have given PbtA another look, primarily because of discussions on this very board and experiences with FitD.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I really do need to give MotW another look. i bought it a long time ago thinking it was a Fate game. At that time, I had only had one negative experience with PbtA games and so shelved it. In more recent years I have given PbtA another look, primarily because of discussions on this very board and experiences with FitD.
Even if you don't play MotW it's worth looking at, especially the mystery/monster creation stuff and the Keeper advice. It's really top notch.
 


I would have potentially suggested Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures (B/X hack), but I'm not sure if that passes the "no children PCs" rule since it's focus is young adult fiction like the Prydain Chronicles. Character creation ties the PCs to each other and the adventures while also creating the village.
In that case, why not Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures, as a more mature take on the world (though 100% compatible with the system I believe).

I'll mention Black Death, Honor + Intrigue, and For Coin & Blood for Age of Pike and Shot/Rennaissance fun.
 
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