Is there one RPG to rule them all? What version?

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I'll be honest, I've only ever done Champions char gen.

Well, that'll color your view, but even there its not complicated if you don't make it so. In most incarnations of the game I could put together a flying energy projector or a brick in ten minutes.

Which doesn't mean it can't turn into a fairly complicated process if you have a fairly specific result you're aiming at with powers, because it absolutely can. That's absolutely the price of powers that are able to be heavily fine tuned, and if that doesn't matter to you, it can seem overly fiddly.

The worst I can say about it when powers are not involved is its a game of its time which means the skills are split finer than probably a lot of people care about, but outside that, you buy attributes (and that's a fair bit more straightforward with the current edition), buy skills, maybe buy a couple talents or perks, and you're done.

(Of course some people will compare it to generating things like a first level D&D character, but it should be noted even a heroic scale Hero character is more comparable to, say, a 4th level D&D character (and may be more like an 8th level one depending on set up) so there's a certain lack of comparing apples to apples going on).
IME, 99% of the headaches of HERO are in CharGen or improvement. When you sit down to actually play, you might never even touch the book because virtually everything you need except the Speed chard is on your character sheet.

And the headaches occur because of a combination of the math- not really complicated, just lots of it- and the open nature of the game. There’s almost no One Way to do any kind of character, there’s dozens. There’s simple and straightforward ways and arcanely complicated and intricate ways of building any character you can think of.
 
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IME, 99% of the headaches of HERO are in CharGen or improvement. When you sit down to actually play, you might never even touch the book because virtually everything you need except the Speed chard is on your character sheet.

Yeah. Some people find the combat system too complicated, but honestly, its hard to have a simple combat system and one that has a lot of meaningful decisions that aren't entirely arbitrary GM calls at the same time. The system either does some of the lifting, or it doesn't.

And the headaches occur because of a combination of the math- not really complicated, just lots of it- and the open nature of the game. There’s almost no One Way to do any kind of character, there’s dozens. There’s simple and straightforward ways and arcanely complicated and intricate ways of building any character you can think of.

Yup. Though some concepts are intrinsically arcane enough they aren't going to really be simple with any approach, unless you simply ignore a lot of the idea present. But those are the exceptions (Rogue, I'm looking at you).
 

I don't mind the spells as I find DnD and Runequest to have simply too many, spell spam if you will; so many spells that do the same thing. But while Swade has modifiers to improve spells it is totally lacking one mechanic which makes Mythras and all editions of Runequest Sorcery shine - Manipulation or Shaping mechanics for spells which increase distance, AoE, duration and such.

The problem isn't the number of spells per se, but there's not really a lot of tools to rekey how they work in a given setting; you either deal with them as-is or rework them in an entirely arbitrary fashion, and there's neither GURPS additional spell options nor Hero's build-a-spell to work with. The net effect is a lot of SW settings force a system into them that doesn't really belong.

Something I believe both DnD and Swade could benefit from. Using this would give you a power / magic point mechanic and thus do away with spells per day.

But that might be just me..dunno?

Uhm, SWADE does use a power point mechanic.
 


Rogerd1

Explorer
The problem isn't the number of spells per se, but there's not really a lot of tools to rekey how they work in a given setting; you either deal with them as-is or rework them in an entirely arbitrary fashion, and there's neither GURPS additional spell options nor Hero's build-a-spell to work with. The net effect is a lot of SW settings force a system into them that doesn't really belong.

Uhm, SWADE does use a power point mechanic.
1. Do you have any example spells and settings for context?

2. When I was talking about the number of virtually identical spells in Runequest, e.g. Conjure Blade, some are fire, or wind, or made of ether. It does not need 3x spells doing the same thing.

3. There are spell modifiers, but I was specifically referring to Mythras Shaping and old RQ Manipulation which let's you alter everything about the spell.

I have included a RQ srd document.


The PP was more aimed at DnD obviously.
 


1. Do you have any example spells and settings for context?

In SW or elsewhere? I'm not clear on what you're asking.

2. When I was talking about the number of virtually identical spells in Runequest, e.g. Conjure Blade, some are fire, or wind, or made of ether. It does not need 3x spells doing the same thing.

Well, the incarnations of RQ I'm familiar with either had separate spells that did notably different things or didn't do them at all, so I can only comment to a limited degree; this is back in the RQ3 days and earlier mostly.

3. There are spell modifiers, but I was specifically referring to Mythras Shaping and old RQ Manipulation which let's you alter everything about the spell.

I saw that, but I was talking about something different: Mythras had Theism, Animism, Sorcery and Mysticism, so if you're doing different campaigns you can only use a limited subset (or use all but have them all but have them with different people or serving different things. And they're all mechanically, and to some extent topically distinct.

SW has--one system. You can split off spells into different categories, but the casting and other properties are going to be mechanically the same. With the latest edition, even most of the botch state differences vanished.


Ah, wasn't sure.
 



Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Dungeon Crawl Classics is the finest distillation of classic ideas and modern mechanics you might ever see. It also (persuant to the previous) has the best XP system of any game.
 


TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
5e is obviously the dominator, ruler, king, biggest dog, whatever. B/X and 1E come right behind it.

But in terms of its enduring popularity, elegance of design, consistency through time, ongoing cultural relevance, and just how well it plays while not feeling like D&D, CoC has to be the all time greatest.
 

Greg K

Hero
I don't have just one, but depending upon my specific non-supers needs, the following can all cover a lot of ground:
BASH! (Bash!Fantasy and BASH! Sci Fi)
BESM
BoL/Everwhen
Cartoon Action Hour
Cortex Plus
Hero System 4e/ 5e
GURPS 3e or 4e
Savage Worlds
Tinyd6 (Stranger Stuff, Teenage Witchcraft, Tiny Dungeon, Tiny Frontiers, Tiny Wastelands, Tiny Cthulu, Tiny Gunslingers, Tiny Pirates)
 
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Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
I think I have had two. Both universal system -
HERO (4th/5th) - I played HERO for nearly 35 as a main system, and there wasn't a setting I came up with that it couldn't handle, to my (and our group's) satisfaction.

In the last few years, I find that I don't have time to really spend that much time in the mechanics and details the HERO requires, so I I have been drifting to the Cypher System, and at this point, we have moved to that for all new games. It is a much easier system to GM and play, but still has some nice mechanical bits to use.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
5e is obviously the dominator, ruler, king, biggest dog, whatever. B/X and 1E come right behind it. . .
Except that 5e (assuming you mean D&D) inherits parts from, and gets treated like, the third edition I mentioned earlier.

Class balance, skill checks, grid-based rules, "mechanics," and combat "pillar" focus of classes all come from 3e. 4e snuck in there a bit with gratuitous healing and encounter-recharge powers, but 5e is ruled by 3e, making the latter the RPG to rule them all (and to inspire rebellion).
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I think I have had two. Both universal system -
HERO (4th/5th) - I played HERO for nearly 35 as a main system, and there wasn't a setting I came up with that it couldn't handle, to my (and our group's) satisfaction.

In the last few years, I find that I don't have time to really spend that much time in the mechanics and details the HERO requires, so I I have been drifting to the Cypher System, and at this point, we have moved to that for all new games. It is a much easier system to GM and play, but still has some nice mechanical bits to use.
One thing that helped me run HERO 4th back in the day was my Excel spreadsheet based character sheet. It automatically kept track of the figured characteristics, and all the power, skill and disadvantage point totals.
 


aramis erak

Legend
Hello. No correct answer, but there are so many these days.
There is one correct answer to the titular question, but it may not be popular... There is no one game to rule them all... because rules matter, and rules and playstyles need to be non-exclusive of each other. (Noting that there are playstyles where the rules are entirely "Trust the GM to decide fairly" - even tho' that's one I am psychologically unable to play, it is a valid playstyle. And other RPGs that envision nearly to almost exclusively boardgame or minis wargame mode.)

Now, are there games that deserve more play? Hell yeah!
I'm fond of all of these:
FFG (now Edge) Star Wars
FFG (now Edge) L5R Fifth Edition
Twilight 2000 4E
Sentinel Comics
Pendragon (any edition, tho' 4th is my favorite)
Tunnels & Trolls (again, any edition, tho' 5.5 is my favorite.)
2d20 Dune. (Best 2d20 version I've read, and I've run a bunch of it.. And read many of them)
Alien
Vaessen
Talisman (The RPG, not the boardgames, tho' the Talisman Adventures board game rocks, too...)
Monarchies of Mau. (Pugmire, but Cat-Flavored instead of dog-flavored)

For the lighter fare, I'm quite fond of 4:
My Little Pony: Tails of Equestria (A group of adults taking it for humor but playing the characters sincerely can be a total hoot... System is fairly solid, if simple. And the Zombie Pony teaching the lesson of Sharing to the mean diamond dogs was priceless.)
Kobolds Ate My Baby (All Hail King Torg!)
The 9th Level Games version of Ninja Burger. I actually ran a campaign of it once... the varied and bizarre things players will do to make silent deliveries...)
the old GW Judge Dredd. (I wish Rebellion would have GW reissue it...)

Of that long list, the ones not played in the last 4 years are Ninja Burger and Judge Dredd.
The ones not getting campaigns: KAMB, MLP:TOE, T&T, and Monarchies of Mau...
My campaigns tend to be 3-4 months, and I tend to run 2 at a time.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Never heard of it.
Cortex Prime is a minor evolution of the Cortex Plus engine which drove MWP's Smallville, Firefly, Marvel Heroic Roleplay, Leverage, and the unreleased Dragon Brigade (now probably never to see the light of day other than the preview version). A "generic"/"Build your own flavor" of Cortex Plus was the Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide.

I like it, it's solid, and Prime is a build-your-setting like the Hacker's Guide was... Firefly was awesome for Firefly, MHRP was awesome for Marvel, but I prefer Sentinel Comics - Marvel got a full event (5 sessions) a couple years back from my player base.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I can't believe nobody has put forward HoL (Human Occupied Landfill).

The only reason they stopped printing it was to let the rest of the RPG ecosystem recover. Bless their souls.
Any game with a skill called Lip and Tongue Wrestling gets my vote. The basic mechanics are actually pretty tight too.
 

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