It's Not D&D - My Experiences

Stormonu

Legend
A bit of wracking my brain to remember what systems I've played beyond making a character and doing maybe a single encounter...

Gamma World (2E?): Played a short campaign (about 3 months) back in the early 80's. It was truly a gonzo experience - I remember my hoop-like character riding on the back of the group's speeder hucking radiation grenades at enemies in-between sniping others with a laser rifle as we explored all sorts of abandoned ruins. Great fun, though the DM handled all the mechanics behind the scenes. I collected all the other versions, but the one campaign was the only one I played extensively.

Vampire (OWoD & NWoD): Both played and GMed this game extensively since the 90's when it came out, moreso the OWoD. Mechanics were surprisingly light for the day and with the group I played with regularly, we rarely needed to touch the dice for OWoD games. Enjoyed NWoD, but the rules were much more in the foreground for those games. I've also touched WW's other products - Werewolf, Wraith and Hunter, but not to the level I've been involved with Vampire.

SAVAGE WORLDS: I've both run and played in multiple different SW games - a fair bit of Deadlands, Flash Gordon, Walking Dead and D&D adjacent games. I really, really like the system and if I had to drop D&D, this is the system I would use. To me, converting content from other games and genres seems dirt-simple and easy to me, I simply love it.

TOON: I can't GM this game, my mind just can't wrap around it, but I can participate as a player, though the game is too wild and chaotic, so I have to sometimes slip into the background and wait for the hijinks to calm down before I can meaningfully re-engage. Rules are dead-simple and all you need is a scene to get going - plot won't matter after the first few minutes, the players will make their own story.

MARVEL SUPER HEROES: I've GMed this over several years back in the '80s, with a lot of homebrew villians. The FASERIP system is super-easy to learn and use. However, its very easy for characters to get outclassed by opponents who have a couple grades higher stats or powers. Got to be very careful in tuning the power curve.

VILLIANS & VIGILANTES: Actually the first super-hero RPG I played. It uses a system tweaked from D&D to cover to cover the heroes and villians, allowing you to have range of characters from ordinary people to Supermen and beyond. I never DMed this game as there is a lot of mathematics to keep track of during play, and like the Marvel game you have to tailor content to the player's abilities. Most of the modules for the game were really fun, and there's still several bad guys I remember to this day (Phantasm gets the prize for returning-villian-we-love-to-thwart).

STAR WARS (WEG, 2E Revised & Expanded): Probably my favorite non-D&D RPG. I've played and run it for years and it just feels so good in getting Star Wars "right", without making Jedi overshadow everyone else. Probably the most complex aspect to the game is actually making characters without using a template - especially a Jedi. Rules are dirt simple, easy to run.

LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS (1E, 3E/4E): I've been a fan of Japanese culture since the days of the TV movie Shogun and when this came out I dived right into it. The five attributes being related to the four elements is a neat idea, and the roll and keep system takes a little bit of head space to wrap around initially, but makes for a really simple system. Lots of great lore for the game, but it takes a lot for player buy in because the culture is just so different. This is probably my second most favorite game universe.

7TH SEA (1E): This is another game where the lore is extremely rich and is far more important than the simple roll-and-keep mechanics. Game is set in 16th/17th century pseudoEurope, with splashes of magic thrown in. It's a high adventure game that would fit The Three Musketeers, Pirates of the Caribbean and Zorro. Folks that are accustomed to the magic of D&D will probably be flustered by 7th Sea's magic system as it is much more subdued and fairly low-powered.

SERENITY/FIREFLY: I've only run this a handful of times, but it's a good system that really plays to the storytelling element. The rulebook, unfortunately is scattershot - it's the only RPG rulebook I own that has a dozen bookmark tabs in so I can quickly find rules. Character generation is a bit in-depth as its expected you'll be having them around for a while, but the mechanics work very well for a Big Damn Hero in a common everyman shell sort of game.

ALIENS: I've only had experience with an extended one-shot for this, but it is a fantastic game and the existing adventures really fit the world. Mechanics are simple, but the game is freakin' brutal, just like you would expect it to be. I think it'd be really hard to do a regular campaign, but running an ongoing story of linked one-shots is what I'm planning - which is very much in line with the actual movies.

MY LITTLE PONY (River Horse edition): Sure, it's a niche game, but the rules system for this game is very SW, so I found it very easy to run and use. While I can't quite handle the mayhem of Toon, I was able to GM this quite easily and my players had a blast, and its one of the more memorable games I run. While its certainly geared more towards a kids game, there is enough of a chassis here that it handles adults playing as well.

ROBOTECH (Palladium): Of the several variations of the Palladium game system, this is the one I had the most experience with. It wasn't pleasant. I hate the Palladium system - it's cumbersome, slow and unintuitive. It handled the source material very poorly, mechanically and thematically. I keep the old books around for reference, but I'd never run the system again.

FIASCO: Ever since I watched the Will Wheaton show about this game, I wanted to play it. I wasn't disappointed when I got the chance, and I've played it several more times since then. Its free-form nature takes a fair bit of creativity and buy-in so you really need to have a good group to pull it off. The collaborative story-telling nature takes some of the pressure off the need to BS your way through a scene as usually someone at the table has an idea to get things rolling. Moreso, having a willingness to "go with the flow" is far more important as a lot of people who come into Fiasco the first time want to try and "win" it - and that is just the wrong way to go with the game. Just let things happen - I've had a case twice where my character "died" half-way into the story, but still got to use flashbacks and the like to be involved and screw contribute to the other characters stories and antics for the rest of the game.

As I mentioned above, there's a lot of other systems I've tried out - either just making characters or having a session or two, but for whatever reason they just didn't survive long enough to say like I know them well. Including Shadowrun, Mechwarrior, TMNT, Star Frontiers, Alternity, BESM, DC Super Heroes, Dune, Fading Suns, Forbidden Lands, Pendragon, Rolemaster (MERP), James Bond 007, Spycraft, Paranoia, Space 1889, Star Trek (FASA, Last Unicorn), Tales from the Loop, Three-Sixteen, and Twilight 2000.
 

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DrunkonDuty

he/him
Hero System
Extent of Experience: played and run many short campaigns over the years. written up a few campaign settings/guides.
Status: I enjoy it. I like the being able to build what I want. Yep, it is heavy on the pre-game crunch. That's why I've put so much effort into writing my own setting guides.
Verdict: It's my go-to game. Best suited for supers, where you don't need to do as much world building.

Palladium Fantasy Roleplay
Extent of Experience: ran a few short campaigns back in the late 80s/early 90s
Status: was the best version of DND at the time.
Verdict: might play/run it again for nostalgia. I guess you could call it my OSR game.

Shadowrun (1e)
Extent of Experience: ran a long campaign of it, way back when.
Status: I loved the setting books. They were glossy and cool. The system is very clunky. You have to work hard to make it do what it's supposed to do. I spent oh so many hours tinkering with it and testing modifications. Never got it to a place where play was simple and consistent.
Verdict: somewhere in the back of my head there's this itch. It's saying "but if you tinkered with it a bit more maybe you'll get it to work this time."

Ars Magica
Extent of Experience: read more than played but did play in a couple of short campaigns.
Status: it's a great system for certain sorts of games.
Verdict: would happily play/run a game based on a magical school, a la The Worst Witch or The Magicians. Or it's own Mythic Europe setting for that matter.

GURPS
Extent of Experience: played/ran a lot of short campaigns back in ye olden days.
Status: I enjoy a gritty game. I enjoy crunch. I love the setting books.
Verdict: But I'll take Hero over GURPS. If someone were to offer to run something like swashbucklers, or sword and sorcery, or some such, I'd happily play.

Legend of the Five Rings (3e)
Extent of Experience: played and ran a few short campaigns.
Status: another super clunky system with a good campaign setting. Yes, it's a very European take on Japan, based more on Kurosawa samurai flicks than anything else. The writers' takes on honour and religion/philosophy are problematic.
Verdict: currently working on a Hero conversion of the system. Wouldn't play in the original system.

Vampire (OWoD)
Extent of Experience: played a little back in the 90s.
Status: another clunky system written by people with no clue. The setting was a fresh take for an RPG setting back then. But there was always the tension between what the game was meant to be about and the undead superheroes game it inevitably turned into.
Verdict: might be convinced to play in a game. Wasn't there a GURPS version of this? I think there was. I could do a GURPS version.

Star Wars (WEG)
Extent of Experience: played in some short lived campaigns.
Status: simple system, works quite well. Does a good job of capturing the Star Wars vibe.
Verdict: would play again.

Star Wars (FFG)
Extent of Experience: not much but currently playing in a game on discord.
Status: the system is probably good. I'm glad we're using a bot tool to do the dice rolling. There seems to be a lot of gear porn going on. I think you need a less OCD bunch than the group I am currently playing with. Adding to my disconnect, I joined the campaign late and the characters are very powerful at this point. (They've earned 1450ish XP on top of the starting points.) So every scenario I've been involved in has been a walk in the park.
Verdict: not loving it but I'm playing with my oldest friends so worth it just for that.

Marvel (FASERIP)
Extent of Experience: played oodles of it back in the 80s and 90s.
Status: fun and simple. One would be best advised not to make characters totally randomly. There are difficulties with the combat system. Most notably if the rating of a defence was equal to or higher than the attack there was no way of getting past the defence. Also the Dodge manouevre was sub-par. Not a major issue unless you wanted to play Spidey or Daredevil, in which case... ouch.
Verdict: Would play or run one of the modern clones which include some options for increasing damage and doing other cool things. I'd want karma to be much easier to come by for goodies and baddies.

Rolemaster
Extent of Experience: played and ran sooo much back in the 80s. Ran a long running campaign set in Middle Earth. Played in a long running campaign set... somewhere else.
Status: If you're a fan of of gonzo critical charts and fun and interesting ways for people to die (and what teen-age boy isn't?) then it's fun. Character design makes Hero System's character design look easy.
Verdict: no interest in re-visiting. But will always appreciate (for a given value of appreciate) the game for giving the world the flying, vampiric, were-kraken.
 

Michael Linke

Adventurer
When I mathed it out, it still wasn't nearly as good as the Characteristic bonuses, starting equipment, etc., that you'd get for picking and choosing what you wanted to play. And plus you'd get to tailor your character for your preferences and the party's needs.
Seriously, the characters made at random seemed like the equivalent of 0-level D&D characters, while ones made on purpose were like 9th level characters, comparatively speaking. Not even close.
I’m not sure I can relate to that experience. You don’t really get any characteristic bonuses just for being a slayer, and the slayer doesn’t start with much equipment—an axe.

Unless you’re referring to 3rd edition. I can’t really speak to that edition.
 

Retreater

Legend
I’m not sure I can relate to that experience. You don’t really get any characteristic bonuses just for being a slayer, and the slayer doesn’t start with much equipment—an axe.

Unless you’re referring to 3rd edition. I can’t really speak to that edition.
Sorry. We're getting our wires crossed here.
The slayer vs. dragon sample combat was in 3e WFRP. In that game, the slayer completely outmatched the other characters I ran through the sample combat.

But when we're talking about the "beginner traps" of random character creation, I'm speaking directly about Cubicle 7's current 4th edition.
I'll give a few examples:
1) You have a 10% chance of being a species other than human.
2) Humans have a greater chance of having a "bad" career like Rat Catcher or Beggar. (Elves are typically careers like wizards, hunters, etc. - humans are basically dung farmers.)
3) Look at the attribute bonus for a Dwarf. Over a Human, a Dwarf gets +10% Weapon Skill, Toughness, and Dexterity; +20% Willpower; with only -10% Agility and Fellowship
4) What about an Elf? Over a Human, an Elf gets +10% to Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Agility, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Willpower; +20% to Initiative. Better in literally every characteristic. Better on paper in every metric.
5) Let's say you also pick "Knight (Squire)" as your Career. What do you get? Mail Shirt and Shield, Weapon, Horse. What do you get if you roll a Rat Catcher? A sling, a sack, and a small but vicious dog.
6) Even if we're talking about roleplaying potential - and that the game isn't all about the stats - let's look at the Rank of random classes. Silver or Gold classes start with greater wealth and have the ability to form connections with civil servants, merchants, and nobles. What's a Beggar going to do besides sitting and being worthless?

Even though it goes about it a different way, WFRP has the same thing I don't like as Dungeon Crawl Classics. It's a game system designed with random charts to decide everything randomly to hope that you don't get stuck with a randomly terrible character or get randomly decapitated, all for the LOLZ of the other players at your table. It's is impossible to plan for as a GM, and I can't imagine it not wearing out its welcome beyond a few sessions.
And for me, it's an unfortunate waste. It's a great setting. The books are gorgeous. The campaign is one of the best ever written (so I've heard). I like the concept of skill-based, percentage systems. But the system is too convoluted for what it needs to do. It's too deadly and imbalanced to have longevity for a campaign.
 

Celebrim

Legend
What I've played:

Gamma World 3e
Extent of Experience: Several years late 1980s
Status: Incomplete poorly organized rules. Various severe balance issues. Most games ended up like D&D with a weird setting. Had a bunch of fun as a teenager.
Verdict: Lots of nostalgia for me that keeps me wanting to go back and do a campaign, but probably wouldn't use this rule set (probably would customize D20 Modern). Never have actually spent a lot of effort on it because not sure it's possible to get into the campy, schlocky, silly post-apocalypse setting if you aren't a teenager.

Chill 2e
Extent of Experience: Short campaign early 1990s
Status: Great horror game with neat rules and chargen. Hits in a completely different way than CoC.
Verdict: Would play or run again with the right group.

Boothill 2e
Extent of Experience: Played once.
Status: Was fun, but no idea how to run a Western campaign.
Verdict: Would play if I found a GM that could run Lonesome Dove, The Cowboys, Big Jake and all of that and make it fun.

Paranoia 2e
Extent of Experience: Played once
Status: Was fun, but I'm too serious to run a comedy RPG. Came out as a horror RPG.
Verdict: Would pay with the right comic GM, but wouldn't run.

Call of Cthulhu 4e/5e/7e/Pulp
Extent of Experience: One shots and short campaigns over a long period.
Status: Rarely have achieved what I want with the game, which is numinous horror, investigation and discovery, and lots of tension. Have discovered that the whole idea of no one but the investigators knows about the horror doesn't really work and think frameworks where the investigators are part of a society working against the mythos work better (which is also used in Chill). BRP system is very good with some great features like the way character development works, but the lack of useable difficulty scaling can be a real bother at time. Being forced to use division to resolve fortune is an obvious kludge.
Verdict: Requires the right group of players who aren't really invested in Fantasy as an aesthetic of play and are OK with random character death and never really having any control over anything. Probably won't try to run again with my current players, but would run with a different group

WEG Star Wars D6
Extent of Experience: One shots, short and long campaigns over a long period.
Status: When it works oh my can you hear the John Williams playing in the background. Probably the conceptual best dice pool system. However, increasingly dissatisfied with any system that doesn't use hit points owing to the nigh impossibility of balancing combat and the problem with death spirals. Difficult to GM. Source books are poorly edited and while the brand created beautiful IP, it also had poor quality control and oversight. Some huge gaps in the rules that become apparent over time.
Verdict: Playing a Bounty Hunter centered campaign with it now. Lots of fun. Wish it would come back in a new edition with some advanced combat rules and better balanced in published equipment, ships, beasts, etc.

Vampire the Masquerade
Extent of Experience: Couple of years in college
Status: This was such a meme.
Verdict: LOL. Angsty teens only.

GURPS
Extent of Experience: Short campaign
Status: Taught me that I didn't really know what I wanted in a system but realism wasn't the answer. Taught me everything that people complain about being 'wrong' in D&D like hit points, Vancian magic, classes, linear fortune mechanic etc. were just bogus complaints really and that every system has tradeoffs.
Verdict: Very educational experience but wouldn't repeat.

Exalted
Extent of Experience: Short campaign
Status: Is it possible to make the Storyteller system worse? Yes. Yes it is.
Verdict: Wouldn't do again.

Pathfinder 1e
Extent of Experience: Short campaign
Status: It's D&D
Verdict: Hits the 3e D&D fix, but my house rules for 3e D&D are better. Would play but would not run.

Star Trek 2D20
Extent of Experience: One Shot
Status: Ugh. No. Just bad in about every way it could be bad.
Verdict: Never again.

Alien
Extent of Experience: One Shot
Status: To be fair, I hate the setting. I did like the Stress mechanic but would just rather play Traveller or D20 Future or N.E.W. Looked at the rules afterwards and just hate the combat rules.
Verdict: Not worth the effort.

Goblonia
Extent of Experience: One Shot
Status: Really, what a rules light game that supports one shots should play like. Minor nitpicks with the guidance of the game, but solid rules and quirky carefree setting.
Verdict: Would play again. Would run. Could be talked into a campaign.
 

Michael Linke

Adventurer
Sorry. We're getting our wires crossed here.
The slayer vs. dragon sample combat was in 3e WFRP. In that game, the slayer completely outmatched the other characters I ran through the sample combat.

But when we're talking about the "beginner traps" of random character creation, I'm speaking directly about Cubicle 7's current 4th edition.
I'll give a few examples:
1) You have a 10% chance of being a species other than human.
2) Humans have a greater chance of having a "bad" career like Rat Catcher or Beggar. (Elves are typically careers like wizards, hunters, etc. - humans are basically dung farmers.)
3) Look at the attribute bonus for a Dwarf. Over a Human, a Dwarf gets +10% Weapon Skill, Toughness, and Dexterity; +20% Willpower; with only -10% Agility and Fellowship
4) What about an Elf? Over a Human, an Elf gets +10% to Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Agility, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Willpower; +20% to Initiative. Better in literally every characteristic. Better on paper in every metric.
5) Let's say you also pick "Knight (Squire)" as your Career. What do you get? Mail Shirt and Shield, Weapon, Horse. What do you get if you roll a Rat Catcher? A sling, a sack, and a small but vicious dog.
6) Even if we're talking about roleplaying potential - and that the game isn't all about the stats - let's look at the Rank of random classes. Silver or Gold classes start with greater wealth and have the ability to form connections with civil servants, merchants, and nobles. What's a Beggar going to do besides sitting and being worthless?

Even though it goes about it a different way, WFRP has the same thing I don't like as Dungeon Crawl Classics. It's a game system designed with random charts to decide everything randomly to hope that you don't get stuck with a randomly terrible character or get randomly decapitated, all for the LOLZ of the other players at your table. It's is impossible to plan for as a GM, and I can't imagine it not wearing out its welcome beyond a few sessions.
And for me, it's an unfortunate waste. It's a great setting. The books are gorgeous. The campaign is one of the best ever written (so I've heard). I like the concept of skill-based, percentage systems. But the system is too convoluted for what it needs to do. It's too deadly and imbalanced to have longevity for a campaign.
You're overlooking a Human's extra Fate points.

The allure of WFRP is watching your Rat Catcher or Camp Follower rise to the occasion and become a hardened hero, or die trying. If it was commonly wearing out its welcome after a few sessions, I don't think WFRP would have survived 36+ years. The system doesn't do well if you just try to use it as a fresh set of mechanics for your D&D stories. It tells fundamentally different stories than D&D does and there's no attempt by the designers for it to overlap with or replace D&D. Really none of the systems in your original post are suited to that (I guess with the exception of Dungeon World, which just tells D&D stories faster).
 

Retreater

Legend
You're overlooking a Human's extra Fate points.
My preference is to rely the ability of my character than to depend on metacurrency for the occasional re-roll.

The allure of WFRP is watching your Rat Catcher or Camp Follower rise to the occasion and become a hardened hero, or die trying. If it was commonly wearing out its welcome after a few sessions, I don't think WFRP would have survived 36+ years.
I'm sure many people buy books who don't play the system, or abandon it after a few sessions - my group and I are good examples.

The system doesn't do well if you just try to use it as a fresh set of mechanics for your D&D stories. It tells fundamentally different stories than D&D does and there's no attempt by the designers for it to overlap with or replace D&D.
As someone who has read the entirety of The Enemy Within, ran the first book twice; and also tried several other shorter adventures, I can say that the stories WFRP tries to tell wouldn't be harmed with capable characters. In fact, I think it would enhance the stories so you could have some level of expectation of survival. In less than three chapters in the first book, I had not a single character remaining from the first session. "Kastor" was long since dead and forgotten. You can't build a story on that.

In fact, I'd say that a rules-lite, story-based system would do wonders for the world of WFRP. The problem is that it's too stuck in its grim and perilous past of mud and blood, a quagmire of design.
 


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