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Let's Talk About Fantasy heartbreaks and other FRPGs

Reynard

Legend
As an offshoot of my thread about replacing D&D specifically for dungeon crawls, I want to talk about other fantay RPGs more broadly and not necessarily focused on trying to get the same experience.

What was your first non-D&D fantasy RPG? What is your favorite? If it is a different answer, what is your favorite "fantasy heartbreaker" (usually defined as a game designed specifically to be a better game than D&D and usually failing)? Are you able to run that favorite game, or do you end up going back to D&D to get players (or whatever other reason)?
 

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Willie the Duck

Adventurer
My first non-D&D fantasy game would have been either Talislanta or GURPS set in a fantasy setting.

For non-dungeon-crawling fantasy rpgs, I have some favorites. Romance of the Perilous Land is a great Arthurian style fantasy RPG that doesn't intend to model or facilitate dungeon-crawling. For that matter Chivalry and Sorcery is a good old school game that does the same. While not 'Fantasy' in the standard framing, Paleomythic is a game with opponents and weapons and armor with no tendency towards dungeons (just an unusual setting). I really love the simplicity of the latter's mechanics.

Fantasy Heartbreakers are a hard nut to crack. I've certainly picked up some, but none of them register or are memorable specifically because I have no problem with D&D for doing what D&D does, and when I look to another RPG, it is because I want to be doing something else.
 

eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
The first RPG I ever played was in summer camp in 5th grade and it was a fantasy GURPS game. That aside my favorite non D&D fantasy game is probably DCC or Castles and Crusades because they do something quite a bit different from D&D.

As far as heartbreakers go I'd probably say either Senzar or Synnibarr. Because if you're going to make "D&D but better" go all the way on that, you know? Those books just ooze excitement and passion. I don't know that I would ever seriously play those, but as a curiosity to read they're pretty great.
 

Mezuka

Adventurer
Since 1982, usually when I was tired of D&D I would run a rpg of a different genre. Star Frontiers, Star Wars, Modern D20, Savage World Interface Zero and many others. Than I would go back to D&D.

You made me realize I never ran a non-D&D fantasy rpg until Fantasy AGE two years ago. I wouldn't call FAGE a heartbreaker. It works fine and there are many optional rules in the toolbox for the GM who wants to customize the game. I no longer play it.

My current favourite is Shadow of the Demon Lord. Only two games under the belt. No warts yet and I don't see any when I read the rules, which is very rare. I'll know more in 2-3 months.

I always had to go back to D&D because the players never wanted to play more than 3-4 games of non-D&D games. But with my new group, we are playing anything but D&D. D&D is off the table. Which is very refreshing!
 

Reynard

Legend
We talked a bit about Earthdawn in the other thread, and I still can't decide whether it is a Fantasy heartbreaker or not. it explicitly sets out to "do D&D better than D&D" and in most ways it succeeds. But at the same time, it is specific to itself (and tied vaguely to Shadowrun). It is probably my all time favorite non D&D game for the things it adds to the D&D formula: in world origins for many of the tropes, a rich post apocalyptic fantasy world, awesome magic, Lovecraftian horrors, and scaling magic items.

Great, now I have to figure out how to play Earthdawn without playing Earthdawn because, hoo boy, that dice pool system.

Another game that gets a lot of flak and is probably the first real Fantasy heartbreaker is the Palladium Fantasy RPG, specifically the first edition. I never played it but I played a lot of Heroes Unlimited and TMNT so I am familiar with the system, which is a janky mess. But, the world has great lore.
 

eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
Another game that gets a lot of flak and is probably the first real Fantasy heartbreaker is the Palladium Fantasy RPG, specifically the first edition. I never played it but I played a lot of Heroes Unlimited and TMNT so I am familiar with the system, which is a janky mess. But, the world has great lore.
I think Palladium Fantasy RPG ( the real OG PFRPG ) gets unfairly maligned when people paint with the Megaversal brush. What eventually became Megaversal (it wasn't then) is essentially 1E AD&D with some houserules on it, and later hosed down with a thorough application of Mega Damage and Micro Missile Launchers, actually kind of works for a sort of gritty fantasy game. I quite like PFRPG and I hate most Palladium games.
 

Jer

Hero
What was your first non-D&D fantasy RPG? What is your favorite? If it is a different answer, what is your favorite "fantasy heartbreaker" (usually defined as a game designed specifically to be a better game than D&D and usually failing)? Are you able to run that favorite game, or do you end up going back to D&D to get players (or whatever other reason)?
Interesting question. Looking back I didn't play many non-D&D fantasy RPGs - if folks wanted fantasy we played D&D for the most part. If we weren't playing D&D it was because we didn't want to play fantasy. We played a lot of different RPGs but they were all other genres - sci-fi, horror, supers, etc.

Probably my first actual non-D&D fantasy game was Ars Magica as I think about it. A very different fantasy experience that wouldn't have worked with D&D. We took a stab at Runequest once - so maybe that's it - but I didn't appreciate it until much later in life. I also ran a long-running Torg campaign that used Aysle as a setting a lot, but it's not pure fantasy so I'm not sure it counts.
 



The first non-D&D fantasy RPG I played was probably Empire of the Petal Throne. I seem to recall discovering that I couldn't play a dwarf, but could play some creature with three legs, three arms, and a lot of fur and thinking "what is this garbage?!" In my defense, I was quite young.

First non-D&D fantasy RPG that clicked for me was Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying. The GM wasn't very good, but the grim and perilous world, the career system, were completely enthralling.
 

Reynard

Legend
The first non-D&D fantasy RPG I played was probably Empire of the Petal Throne. I seem to recall discovering that I couldn't play a dwarf, but could play some creature with three legs, three arms, and a lot of fur and thinking "what is this garbage?!" In my defense, I was quite young.

First non-D&D fantasy RPG that clicked for me was Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying. The GM wasn't very good, but the grim and perilous world, the career system, were completely enthralling.
When I got ahold of that book, I made character after character, progressing through the careers. I don't think we ever ended up actually playing it.
 

payn

Legend
Traveller was my first out of D&D experience. Still play and enjoy it today. Might be my favorite of all TTRPGs.

My heartbreaker is sort of cheating since its Pathfinder classic. Still my top choice for D&D style game today.
 

innerdude

Legend
I had to think for a minute.

My first non-D&D "brand" fantasy game was Pathfinder in 2010. But since it's really just "D&D", I don't think it counts.

My D&D chronology goes something like:

BECMI ('86-'91) >> 10 year gap >> 3/3.5 (2001-2008) >> 3 year gap >> PF1 (2010-2011)

Between all of that, I did play a tiny, tiny bit of Top Secret S.I. in the early '90s, and 6 months of Star Wars SAGA in 2010. So D&D wasn't the only game I had ever played in my life, but it was the only fantasy game I had ever played until 2011.

It's a little fuzzy, because I was playing a GURPS fantasy game right around the same time I started GM-ing Savage Worlds in late 2011 / early 2012, and I can't remember which came first, the GURPS game or Savage Worlds.

It might have been GURPS, because I ran a really simple sci-fi one-shot in Savage Worlds before I started GM-ing Savage Worlds fantasy using a homebrew setting. But even if technically GURPS might have been the first fantasy game I tried other than D&D, emotionally I still consider Savage Worlds to be my first "real" fantasy game other than D&D. I ran Savage Worlds almost exclusively from 2012-2021.
 

innerdude

Legend
And as far has heartbreakers, it might sound weird to say, but Pathfinder 1e might actually be it.

Mostly because by the time I was done with it, I fully recognized that my "D&D" heart was, in fact, broken.

I was in a full and complete and total reevaluation of everything I thought I wanted from roleplaying, and all signs were pointing to the fact that, "Whatever it is Innerdude wants from roleplaying, D&D/PF isn't it."
 

I had a dwarven witch-hunter that became an alcoholic in the course of play. I don't even recall if it there was a valid career path for a dwarf to become one. The GM mostly just stole ideas from other works for his adventures (we've all done it, but this was blatant - he didn't even file the serial numbers off), but we still had a blast.

When I got ahold of that book, I made character after character, progressing through the careers. I don't think we ever ended up actually playing it.
 

Reynard

Legend
My One Ring 2E books should be arriving soon and I have to decide whether I want to make a pitch to my IRL group to play it. All are Tolkien fans, but we always end up just "playing D&D" instead of trying something new. I have a wider circle of players online, but I would really like to do TOR2 at the table.
 

Voadam

Legend
Original non-D&D fantasy RPG was a while ago for me so the exact timeline is a bit hazy. It was either an early edition of GURPS (1e?), Warhammer FRP 1e, or Palladium 1e (before revised). Rolemaster (no idea which edition) came later.

I have pulled a bunch of inspiration for my D&D games from GURPS, WFRP, Palladium, MERP, Shadowrun, Earthdawn, World of Darkness, Chronicles of Darkness, and others. I always run a version of D&D (counting Pathfinder as D&D here).
 

Staffan

Legend
Being Swedish, D&D wasn't my first RPG to begin with – that was Drakar och Demoner, which started out as a translation of Basic Roleplaying + Magic World (so basically a cousin of Runequest) but was remade and mutated quite a few times.

As for my favorite non-D&D fantasy game, that's hard, because I've been playing so much D&D and offshoots the last few years that I've almost lost track of other fantasy stuff. Having pre-made campaigns makes things so much easier, and other games generally don't have that sort of support. We did give the Swedish game Hjältarnas Tid a try a while back (playing a demo adventure) and I liked that, but I don't know if it has the mechanical heft for my crew. Another player in my group has been running yet another Swedish game, Eon, for a while and that's OK but not really something I'd like to run myself. I'd also love to give Earthdawn or TORG (which is at least partially fantasy) a go.
 

Professor Murder

Adventurer
Warhammer Fantasy. I liked the career system. But like many, DnD has always done the job fine to great for me, so really I only explored other RPGs when they dealt with other genres.
 


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