Let's Talk About Fantasy heartbreaks and other FRPGs

Crusadius

Adventurer
My first non-D&D fantasy RPG was Middle-Earth Role Playing, more commonly known as MERP. My group played as a break from our usual AD&D 2ND Edition game.

My favorite non-D&D fantasy RPG is Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP).

Neither I would call a fantasy heartbreaker because one other characteristic of a fantasy heartbreaker is that it generally disappears soon after it is released, and both of these games had a decent publishing history with WFRP still being published today.
 
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Reynard

Legend
My first non-D&D fantasy RPG was Middle-Earth Role Playing, more commonly known as MERP. My group played as a break from our usual AD&D 2ND Edition game.

My favorite non-D&D fantasy RPG is Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP).

Neither I would call a fantasy heartbreaker because one other characteristic of a fantasy heartbreaker is that it generally disappears soon after it is released, and both of these games had a decent publishing history with WFRP still being published today.
I am often on the verge of running Zweihander or even pulling out my old WHFRP 1st Edition book.
 


Staffan

Legend
Well, I did it and I blame you lot. I bought Earthdawn 4E. Now I have to cajole a group into playing it.
Plotting The Simpsons GIF
 

Started with dragonquest in 1980. That died when tsr took it over after a few years. Real heartbreaker. I still play and adore it.
Played a few other games then my first ADND around 82 or 83 I guess.
 

aramis erak

Legend
What was your first non-D&D fantasy RPG?
Palladium Fantasy. Great setting, mediocre rules.
What is your favorite?
Hard to pick one. I have outgrown WFRP, in the sense that it no longer appeals to me setting nor rules.
I am, howver, fond of several for different fantasy genres...
Arthurian: Pendragon, 4th edition.
Renaissance Fantasy with Tolkienian races: Arrowflight 1st edition. (dislike the 2e mechanics)
Dungeon Crawling: Tunnels and Trolls - 5th ed mechanics, Deluxe ed types (=classes).
Semi-dark Fantasy: The Arcanum (I've not gotten the recent 2e to table
Pony: My Little Pony: Tails of Equestria. Solid rules light game. Really well done.
Furry: Pugmire/Monarchies of Mau/Pirates of Pugmire.
OSR: Mazes and Minotaurs. If this had really been out in 1981, instead of D&D, I'd have had even more enjoyment. The author did a brilliant job. It runs well; I had a game run to 3rd level. Stopped due to work schedules.
Silly: Og: Unearthed
Space Fantasy: FFG Star Wars
Chanbarra: Feng Shui 2.
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)?
I've still got a soft spot for Palladium's world. It's the heartbreaker that succeeded.
The Arcanum had a great setting (antediluvean Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu), and took the same mechanical bits as Palladium, but did it in a more sensible manner.
I've also a soft spot for Rolemaster.

There are several I want to get to table, but may never do so:
Paleomythic
Gubat Banwa
Savage Worlds
In Nomine (but only with the right group in private)

I've bought several games just for the reading value...
World of Og. (I got Og: Unearthed to table several times) If one is going to do Og, do Unearthed.
Dragon Warriors - got it to table. It's not horrible, but the adventures are NOT balanced well, and it's very swingy. Party voted to not continue.
Numenera. Numenera is an interesting read, but I'm not certain I'd want to actually run it. It's definitely more accurate to Dying Earth than was D&D... while still not quite being Dying Earth.

I'll note also my favorite modern "dungeon crawler" - the infiltration borderline RPG/boardgame Ninja Burger. Not the nasty PDQ system 2nd ed. The highly tactical 9th level games version. And its sibling, Kobolds Ate My Baby.
 


BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
First REAL heartbreaker (I don't count Pathfinder, since it's just D&D 3.P) would be Fantasy Craft, and it was definitely a heartbreaker for me. Did everything 3.5 did, but better, I made so many characters in it, but never actually got to play it.

Shadow of The Demon Lord is arguably a heartbreaker, and it's my current go-to for D&D-like RPG gaming.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Only the ultimate in heartbreakers...

Messing around in Arduin a really longtime ago (I still remember that centaur ranger) and Palladium a few years after that. Each like D&D but more so and each very much someone's pet project. Each also pretty far ahead of the curve as far as these things go, except maybe for Tunnels and Trolls.

But the true ultimate FRPG experience has to be one's own creation. So my favorite would be my more extreme homebrewing.

But its so good that I can only stand so much at one time.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
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)?
Yeesh, I'm not sure I can even specifically remember what was my first heartbreaker. I collected a number of them as an adolescent, but some I only played once or twice at a convention or something.

The first one I can remember really playing for some length was Synnibarr. My brother and I attended a couple of conventions in Seattle in the '91-'92 period, as teenagers, and wound up trying it out at Dragonflight, which was then held on the UW campus. Met Raven and after playing in his games there and at NorwesCon, joined his home game for maybe a year-ish before moving back to NH.

I did try briefly to run it with a few friends later, but it just wasn't the same.

For favorite non-D&D fantasy RPG, right now I think I'd have to say Pendragon. I've also definitely got a soft spot for Ars Magica. I'm currently playing in The Great Pendragon Campaign, but it's online (as is really all my gaming currently). D&D is definitely easiest to get players for, though my friends are up for more than just 5E. The game I'm currently running is a 5TD & B/X blend.


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.
Yup. Jeff Rients wrote years ago about how they fell into the trifecta position of Retro/Stupid/Awesome. Raven used to run a hell of a game. Wild guy, and when I was playing with him just full of ideas and charisma and dramatic energy. That game was very much an advanced expression of how a game can look when a really creative GM full of D&D and comic book ideas just builds on his own house-ruled system and iterates it repeatedly over a decade and more.

 
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Mezuka

Adventurer
I remembered last evening DragonQuest by SPI (1980). I recall playing one or two games of the second edition (1982). The GM said it did everything better than AD&D. Not sure why we didn't continue playing it. Qualifies as a hearbreaker.

A third edition was published by TSR in 1989. WoTC must have that in their boxes somewhere.

 

TheSword

Legend
My favourite non-D&D RPG is unsurprisingly WFRP (I do keep trying to bang that drum on EN World).

The 1e version was also the first ever game I DM’d for my brother and a school friend, as a tender 14 yo. The module was Rough Night at the Three Feathers. It went something like this…

“Looking around the bar you see furthest away from you is a large group of travelers surrounding and waiting on a noble lady.

On the table nearest the door, three cultists… I mean farmers are quietly drinking.”

Suffice to say, I’ve never lived it down.
 
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Voadam

Legend
I vaguely remember playing my dwarf protagonist in what I think was the sample 1e WFRP corebook adventure. We started off entering a tavern and ordering some food and drinks and checking out the other shady patrons and staff. Immediately I had to make a check because the tavern owner regularly poisoned the food to knockout strangers and sell them into slavery. Dwarfen toughness FTW in a system where everyone's rolls are terrible.
 
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eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
Yup. Jeff Rients wrote years ago about how they fell into the trifecta position of Retro/Stupid/Awesome. Raven used to run a hell of a game. Wild guy, and when I was playing with him just full of ideas and charisma and dramatic energy. That game was very much an advanced expression of how a game can look when a really creative GM full of D&D and comic book ideas just builds on his own house-ruled system and iterates it repeatedly over a decade and more.
Wait!

You played with Raven?!

Please more details!

I need more information. Was he anything like his public persona? What are some surprising facts about him? Like, was he also into model trains?
 

Voadam

Legend
Oh, shoot! Scratch my previous answer, this had to be my first non-D&D fantasy RPG!

I agree, it was an inventive alternate game setting on top of rules I'd call different, but not noticeably better or worse than AD&D.
Palladium (1e at least) had Physical Endurance stat (constitution) as bonus hp (so much less one shots at low level), a parry and dodge mechanic (fights take a little longer to resolve), and percentile skills. Otherwise a lot like old D&D with some different classes, races, and magic systems.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
Wait!

You played with Raven?!

Please more details!

I need more information. Was he anything like his public persona? What are some surprising facts about him? Like, was he also into model trains?
:ROFLMAO: I'm not sure what would qualify as surprising. He had sung in rock bands, lived on the street and busked for money (told a story about having to fight a guy over a good busking spot at Pike Place Market), worked a day job as a draftsman at Boeing. He had a sweet late 80s/early-90s style mullet, black and vibrant, with a Tom Selleck-level mustache. Guy had charisma for days. I saw him wolf whistle at an older woman on the street once and she turned, saw his grin, and grinned back. Tons of energy, and stage experience showed in his GMing.
 

I always felt bad when people compared Synnibarr to F.A.T.A.L. Synnibarr wasn't hateful and was really just Rifts turned up to 11. At the very least you could buy the book (I found a copy in an FLGS ages ago) for ideas to mine, which meant Raven got a few pennies.
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
:ROFLMAO: I'm not sure what would qualify as surprising. He had sung in rock bands, lived on the street and busked for money (told a story about having to fight a guy over a good busking spot at Pike Place Market), worked a day job as a draftsman at Boeing. He had a sweet late 80s/early-90s style mullet, black and vibrant, with a Tom Selleck-level mustache. Guy had charisma for days. I saw him wolf whistle at an older woman on the street once and she turned, saw his grin, and grinned back. Tons of energy, and stage experience showed in his GMing.
I love this so much.

In my head I always imagined him as the Wesley Willis of RPGs ( in only a good way).

Please know that this made my year.

If I could I would gift you all the Moonstone Bazooka Cannons.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I always felt bad when people compared Synnibarr to F.A.T.A.L. Synnibarr wasn't hateful and was really just Rifts turned up to 11. At the very least you could buy the book (I found a copy in an FLGS ages ago) for ideas to mine, which meant Raven got a few pennies.
Synnibar is amazing - I feel like it was just ahead of its time. Not in mechanics, but in its gonzo approach.

I've been very tempted to use the D&D 4e Gamma World engine to try to run a Synnibar campaign, though actually a straight-up D&D 4e game might be an equally good choice...

(Nobody should compare Synnibar to FATAL. Synnibar is overflowing with ideas, while FATAL is an offensive unfunny joke repeated over hundreds of pages.)
 

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