It's Not D&D - My Experiences


Then on Christmas 2022, I played some Savage Pathfinder with my family. In the short adventure, they handled plenty of fights - and most of them were over so quickly we didn't get around the entire table in the Initiative order. Then there was a fight with some wolves that would've TPKed had I not Deus ex Machina'd the whole combat (hey, it was Christmas).
Survival in Savage seems as unpredictable as a coin flip. I average a TPK every other session. That is a rate that is unmaintainable for holding player interest.
That sounds exactly right! :LOL:

As @Greg K pointed out, there are settings with additional rules that let you play more varied styles, but out of the box SW is pretty insane and volatile. Sometimes, that's just what's needed though. Like, how perfect would this be for a Starship Troopers campaign, haha?

Frequent PC death just has to be part of the story you're telling.

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Some of mine:

Pendragon 5e
Extent of Experience: ran several adventures and a 20-year campaign (which means in-game years)
Status: it's sat on my shelf at the moment and I probably won't run it again, though mostly because there's a new edition probably out this year.
Verdict: Not my favourite edition of KAP but that's always been a game which does exactly what it sets out to do and that is something I and my players enjoy.

Traveller (Mongoose 2)
Extent: several adventures, completed the Pirates of Drinax campaign over a rather long period, certainly more than 100 sessions
Status: currently playing in a campaign, will certainly use it again
Verdict: it's not the best game at giving advice to the GM and it's quite common to see people setting task difficulty a lot higher than I would. Leads to a lot of frustration for players who expect tasks to succeed regularly.

Barbarians of Lemuria
Mythic edition
Extent of experience: Ran two short campaigns in a couple of different settings
Status: Might not be using it again, not out of any dislike but simply because this sort of adventuring has got a bit tiresome and we're after some more "epic" stories
Verdict: Well, we enjoyed it. Qutie simple, very good at S&S, very little supporting material and the specific stories it's based on (Thongor of Lemuria by Lin Carter) are pretty obscure.

Tunnels and Trolls Deluxe:
Extent of experience: one short campaign, three one-shot adventures, various solo modules (which T&T has always been known for)
Status: I could find the rulebook on my shelves if I needed to
Verdict: The one thing I think it does really well for group play is pooled combat rolls, understanding that small-scale combat is not about people taking turns to act or a bunch of individual duels but a chaotic mess where the person who kills you is likely someone you didn't even realise was in position to strike at you. But my group really isn't in the mood for this sort of game at the moment.

My non D&D games have mostly occurred in the last 5-6 years so my list is a bit shorter.

Cypher/Numenera: Had a lot of fun running Cypher and was a player in a Numenera game for a while. The Numenera game fizzled out (most of the players just weren't feeling it), but I enjoyed it. The weirdness of it was the best part. Cypher was fast and crazy and I enjoyed running it. Overall it's fun and I'm planning on DMing more of it in the near future.

I know they updated the rules, but in my book the Adept (Nano in some settings) gets 4 "spells" not including Focus abilities at tier 1. Did older rule sets only give two? That seems bizarre. I know Numenera gives you fewer options, but makes up for it by giving you more built-in ones at each tier.

Kids on Bikes: rules light and scratches that itch to play those "kid" adventures. Fun for a one-shot but I'm usually craving longer games.

Dread: I like playing this game once a year. It keeps it fresh and full of dread.

Coriolis: A solid setting and pretty easy character creation and advancement. A very different feel compared to D&D. Works great for anyone looking for a game that's gritty instead of heroic levels of power. The only downside is trying to use the book as a rules reference. It's very beautiful, but such a pain when trying to find information.

Gamma World (I think): It was a short adventure. I was a pinstripe suit wearing demon with a sword cane and fire powers. It seemed promising, but the group didn't last. I'm only 70% sure it was Gamma World. Could've been some other weird post-apocalyptic game.

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I'll give it a shot for a few:

GURPS (3e)
Extent of Experience: Played in multiple campaigns for a decade, ran one with a buddy
Status: Enjoyed back in the day, we had rotating GMs, and the games reflected each of the GMs quirks (pun intended I guess). Prepping stuff took a lot of time. I either skipped it or it wasn't there in the core book - but GM advice for how to make a game fun was lacking. Eventually, our group fell apart.
Verdict: Might run again, if everything was given to me on a silver platter - the setting, the adventure, all of it. So that all I had to do was read the book, generally familiarize myself with the relevant rules and then go. But today I just don't have the time to get all that stuff organized - I'm too busy nattering away on ENWorld!

Dungeon World
Extent of Experience: Ran a 12+ session campaign that came to a satisfying conclusion
Status: DW was state of the art story game pbta back in 2013 and I enjoyed the heck out of the "snowball" effect of PbtA. But there are newer better games out there now
Verdict: Would not run again. Would instead run...

Freebooters on the Frontier (mostly 2e beta)
Extent of Experience: Have played 16 sessions in a West Marches campaign that ended climactically; am currently playing in a new West Marches in a megadungeon (Arden Vul). Both with the creator. Have run 2-3 sessions with my sons over a holiday break last year. Currently in session 2 of 3 (+ a session 0) with my indie RPG group.
Status: Best old school D&D emulator on the PbtA chassis. There are other fantasy PbtA rpgs; but none that hit the old school feel of older D&D versions but also include modern narrative tech like gear economies and the wizard's magic system.
Verdict: Would play all day every day with the right group of players - maybe even with the wrong group, the game is just that good.

Monster of the Week
Extent of Experience: Played in a 3 part session with my indie RPG group
Status: Many folks mention this as their go to PbtA to introduce folks to that system. I'm on the fence. There were a bunch of times when we found gaps where none of the basic moves nor the playbook moves seemed to cover the situation. Social situations and investigative situations iirc (although maybe I'm not recalling correctly). The tropes though are well known and easy to get into the groove of it.
Verdict: Might play again after the new expansion comes out; would probably never run

Torchbearer 2e
Extent of Experience: Played in 2 different campaigns. One was in Ultraviolent Grasslands and the other was in the default setting the Middarmark (Middlemark? Middermark? something vaguely scandinavian/northern european).
Status: The Roll20 implementation of the character sheet is pretty good, I felt it added a lot to our play. That said, UVG is probably not the right setting for Torchbearer. However the campaign in the Middarmark was pretty good. There was something going on with building up our default village, which I'm not sure if the GM added that, or it was something he found on the internet? He was running for 2 groups in the same setting, and occasionally we'd hear of their adventures - and we could see the buildings they were building in our home base town. Also our 2 hour sessions with 3 players (both games) was not quite enough for folks to hit all their beliefs, goals, and instincts.
Verdict: I would run, but only with the right group and with a scenario built out so I wouldn't have to do too much prep

Fiasco (both 1e and 2e)
Extent of Experience: I have facilitated 10+ sessions of Fiasco over the years
Status: Easy to get going and onboard new players. Players need to be willing to lean into the tropes of the Coen Bros type movies. I have played when people are too protective of their character, too nice, or not really willing to get into the dark humor vibe. It does detract and impacts other folks' creativity also.
Verdict: Will definitely run again

Michael Linke

Oh yes, I didn't put the other part of it that bothered me.
So everything about the slayer's character creation was random. It came down to a die roll that I was a bad ass warrior.
The next character (random die roll) was a rat catcher, who couldn't defeat a goblin. And it seemed he didn't excel at anything, actually.
Then I imagined the players at my table, if I brought it to them. Lisa could be a slayer. Jimmy could be rat catcher.
How would that work? Would that be fair? How would I balance fights? How would I challenge both players? Is there any guidance at all to me as the GM?
Look at published Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay adventures, though. A Slayer can solo a dragon, but fighting anything at all isn’t a thing you’re expected to do very often in that game.


Look at published Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay adventures, though. A Slayer can solo a dragon, but fighting anything at all isn’t a thing you’re expected to do very often in that game.
The experience I had with the slayer vs dragon was in Fantasy Flight's 3rd edition - and I never looked at the adventures for that edition.
The published adventures for 2E and 4E WFRP, I have looked at, and I know that neither version is combat-focused.
However, in my groups it's hard to sell players on systems with such wide gulfs in abilities.
"Ok. In this system you can be a holy knight, a skilled elven ranger, a wizard, or a mud farmer who launches turnips from a sling. Odds are, you get a mud farmer."
Even if combat isn't the central focus, why play the mud farmer? Even when you may have only one fight every couple of sessions, wouldn't you want a fighting chance of survival?
The current edition even presents the choice as a beginner's trap. If you roll your character randomly (which they suggest) you get to start with a few bonus XP. Which is significantly less than the amount of XP you'd have to spend to level up the skills and abilities if you just picked what you wanted.

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