Let's Talk About Fantasy heartbreaks and other FRPGs

WRONG. Sword of Cepheus is derived from Cepheus Engine, which is itself derived from Mongoose Traveller 1E SRD, which is itself derived from CT1E with major changes. The chap behind Cepheus is a CT fan, and has specifically stated on COTI that the changes were to make it more like CT.

All I know is what I've been told, man, and multiple people have said to me what I said here. I'll take your statement as a data point, but that's all it is at this point.
 

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aramis erak

Legend
All I know is what I've been told, man, and multiple people have said to me what I said here. I'll take your statement as a data point, but that's all it is at this point.
I suspect you've conflated Mongoose with Mega... older edition fans Identify Mega as MT and Mongoose as MgT; many ignorant-of-the-older-editions fans use MT to mean Mongoose.

In any case, Jason Kemp made CE to be a CT clone not a Mega one. He's been public about that. The biggest tell is that the carreers lack Special Duty and its extra skill (in the SRD.) But there's also the low number of cascades on the career tables. (MegaTraveller has many, many cascades on the tables. CT restricts them to weapons and vehicles)

Anything based upon the CE SRD is based upon a CT-ification of a CT-derivative ruleset.
 

I suspect you've conflated Mongoose with Mega... older edition fans Identify Mega as MT and Mongoose as MgT; many ignorant-of-the-older-editions fans use MT to mean Mongoose.

That's possible. And its been too many years since I did anything with MegaTraveller for the distinctions to jump out at me.
 

MGibster

Legend
Calling every other fantasy rpg a "heartbreaker" pretty much makes the term meaningless since all it then means is "a fantasy game that is not D&D".
I always understood a fantasy heartbreaker to be a fantasy described as, "D&D, but better." i.e. It's a fantasy game that tries to hit the same notes as D&D but improve upon it somehow. Legend of the Five Rings would not be a fantasy heartbreaker because it's not trying to do something that D&D already does. So I'm with you on this.
 

I always understood a fantasy heartbreaker to be a fantasy described as, "D&D, but better." i.e. It's a fantasy game that tries to hit the same notes as D&D but improve upon it somehow. Legend of the Five Rings would not be a fantasy heartbreaker because it's not trying to do something that D&D already does. So I'm with you on this.

It also is often applied to a game that makes a big deal of some particular non-D&D style mechanic as though the author was the first person to come up with it. Honestly, it often comes off as someone who's lived entirely or almost entirely in the D&D-sphere, and thus has no idea that people outside of it (even in other D&D derivatives) may well have been using that mechanic for decades.

One of the places I've seen it multiple times is people touting their game having no classes. My usual reaction is "Really? I only first saw that in 1978."
 



Crusadius

Adventurer
I always understood a fantasy heartbreaker to be a fantasy described as, "D&D, but better." i.e. It's a fantasy game that tries to hit the same notes as D&D but improve upon it somehow. Legend of the Five Rings would not be a fantasy heartbreaker because it's not trying to do something that D&D already does. So I'm with you on this.
Looking up some of the forge commentary about the term "fantasy heartbreaker", yes I agree - D&D due to its popularity is the game most people seek to "improve" with their heartbreakers. But then who can forget the game/LARP Vampire: Undeath?
 


Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
I was thinking more about the structure itself ("No no, we don't have classes. We have professions, and as you gain experience you increase in rank. Completely different.") rather than individual classes, but yeah.
You just made me laugh, because my new game has Professions and people improve their General and Investigative abilities by improving the ability's Rank. It doesn't feel like D&D, mind you! But you nailed the nomenclature precisely. :D
 

aramis erak

Legend
It also is often applied to a game that makes a big deal of some particular non-D&D style mechanic as though the author was the first person to come up with it. Honestly, it often comes off as someone who's lived entirely or almost entirely in the D&D-sphere, and thus has no idea that people outside of it (even in other D&D derivatives) may well have been using that mechanic for decades.
First I've heard it used that way. It may be an anomalous use local to your local area
 


aramis erak

Legend
Nope. It was the first way I heard it defined online, and I've seen it used by others since. I don't think I've ever even heard anyone use the term in person.
Wlile i have, a lot, in both Alaska and Oregon... almost always referring solely to "D&D but with problem X fixed" by a little known publisher with only a handful of titles, if more than just a corebook.
Not Rolemaster. But both Palladium and The Arcanum, in the late 80's, by a game store owner. (Said owner no longer carries RPGs. His board game selection is now to the "Back to being a Models and RC shop rather than a game store" level.)
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
It's definitely one of the common characteristics of Fantasy Heartbreakers. Frequently they'd feature design clearly within D&D's paradigm, with blurbs or an introduction boasting that the game was some radical innovation, despite being more similar to D&D than existing games like, say, RuneQuest or GURPS.
 

It's definitely one of the common characteristics of Fantasy Heartbreakers. Frequently they'd feature design clearly within D&D's paradigm, with blurbs or an introduction boasting that the game was some radical innovation, despite being more similar to D&D than existing games like, say, RuneQuest or GURPS.

Well, as noted, most of those designs effectively don't know or don't care that things outside the D&D paradigm exist.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Well I played D&D 1e first, I'm not certain whether it was Traveller RPG or Runequest that I played next, but have played many d20 and non-d20 games, all mostly in the 1980's while in the US Army. Once I got out, it was all D&D 2e, at least all I could find. I'm not sure what, if anything I've played that constitutes a "heart breaker" or not. I never knowingly played a game that was supposed to be an improvement on D&D. Unless you count Pathfinder - and preferred those rules to 3.0/3.5, and never looked at D&D past 3.5, not yet anyway. But I wouldn't call it better, I just preferred it.
 
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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
I'm not sure what, if anything I've played that constitutes a "heart breaker" or not. I never knowingly played a game that was supposed to be an improvement on D&D. Unless you count Pathfinder - and preferred those rules to 3.0/3.5, and never looked at D&D past 3.5, not yet anyway.

Real Fantasy Heartbreakers were at their strongest in the 90s, I think, as a phenomenon.

One factor was TSR losing a bit of their market dominance. Lots of gamers saw D&D as kind of passe, either aimed at kids or all about dungeon crawling. And other systems started getting more attention than they once had, especially if they had high production values like Shadowrun. You also saw people digging into games seen as more realistic, like GURPS, and into narrative-focused games like Ars Magica and Vampire.

Heartbreakers certainly existed before the 90s, but a major ingredient I think was also the wave of affordable desktop publishing software which put vanity publishing projects more in the reach of lots of ambitious creative individuals. This gave people who had an idea for how to improve on D&D the chance to actually publish their own game, without having their hopes dashed ahead of time by a publisher telling them their ideas were unoriginal/derivative/had been done already in some game they hadn't heard of because they didn't do market research. Instead, they often wound up spending a bunch of money out of pocket to print a game no one really needed or wanted, then take out ads in Dragon and/or get a dealer's table at local conventions (and/or Gen Con) and try to hawk their little project to the largely uncaring masses. Hence the heartbreak, as these games wound up in bargain bins at local game stores, or sitting in boxes in the creator's garage.

I'm sure I still have a few in my library. I should go digging in there later and post a few examples.

 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
One guy in my high school gaming group really, really preferred science fiction to fantasy. He was a fantastic player in my AD&D game but he didn't play often.

He bought the original Traveller game, read it "twice," and brought us together to make characters.

One player rolled up a baron (?) with his own spaceship. Hurrah! We had a great mix of character types. Everyone was very excited to play.

The baron's player had to make one more life path (or whatever it was called) roll: death.

We never played Traveller. :cry:
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
One guy in my high school gaming group really, really preferred science fiction to fantasy. He was a fantastic player in my AD&D game but he didn't play often.

He bought the original Traveller game, read it "twice," and brought us together to make characters.

One player rolled up a baron (?) with his own spaceship. Hurrah! We had a great mix of character types. Everyone was very excited to play.

The baron's player had to make one more life path (or whatever it was called) roll: death.

We never played Traveller. :cry:
He could have "fudged" that - I've played Traveller for years, great game actually. I design for Starfinder now as third party, but I've published Traveller deck plans with stats, maybe 7 years ago.
 

The first non D&D fantasy game system was Rolemaster wayyyy back in the day. After realizing you needed a slide rule, a degree in statistics and complete lack of anything else to do for the next 12 hours... I passed. lol (hyperbole for those that can't read sarcasm)

Then GURPS I've hated that system since 1st ed. No one reason just not one I like.

Tunnels & Trolls was fun but absolutely useless as a campaign system back in the day. Fun for one offs.

Beyond that I kept going back to the original.
 

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