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Looking for a good system to use for my world

Lanliss

Explorer
So, I have been worldbuilding for a while on a world without a name, and would like to try and find a system that reflects it better than the one system I currently know (D&D 5E). I thought I'd come on over here and make my first post in forever to see what systems you all think would be able to reflect or be reflavored to fit.

It is a semi-modern setting. No cars or guns, but otherwise kind of imagine Al Capone age New York. It takes place in a city, has various gangs operating under different patrons, and has a central church police force. There is quite a bit of magic, of the Pact variety. It's not something that everyone does, since not everyone has a need for it, but pretty much any gang members you run into will. Each gang is represented by one or a few patrons, and has a general theme that goes with that.

The idea is that the players could participate as gang members or as police. Police (Called Paladins) would get powers from their gods based on their performance in crushing crime under an iron boot. Gang members would get one or two primary powers from a chosen patron, but anything else they want to do would require bargaining and essentially making a mercenary of themselves to gain extra magical powers. For example, someone might have a Primary deal that gives them resistance to cold damage, and cold damage attacks, but they want to throw fireballs. Well, they'd have to summon up a potential patron, and figure out a deal that would entail either a cost, or a favor needing to be done. As a result of completing the deal, they would get something like 10 uses of fireball.

With these two opposing styles, I'd need a system that can support both a leveling progression system, as well as supports staying basically at a single power level, but getting some "consumables" to cast other spells. Any ideas are welcome, as I have not the foggiest idea where to start looking. If any additional details are needed, feel free to ask. I think I got the general idea of how the world works, but might have missed some stuff.
 

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pming

Adventurer
Hiya!

Call of Cthulhu.

Then just modify the HitPoint system a bit to allow for more 'epicly tough' characters.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Tonguez

Legend
Blades in the Dark seems to tailor made for your setting :)

but it is very different to DND

"a semi-modern setting that takes place in a city, has various gangs operating under different patrons, quite a bit of magic, of the Pact variety. Each gang is represented by one or a few patrons, and has a general theme that goes with that.
The players could participate as gang members or as police."
 
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Blades in the Dark seems to tailor made for your setting :)

but it is very different to DND

"a semi-modern setting that takes place in a city, has various gangs operating under different patrons, quite a bit of magic, of the Pact variety. Each gang is represented by one or a few patrons, and has a general theme that goes with that.
The players could participate as gang members or as police."
This was my gut suggestion, too, although there are a few other setting bits that don’t seem to fit as well as others. But those can be easily ignored or tweaked.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Yeah, Blades was my first instinct as well. Just lay out two sets of playbooks, the crooked and the straight, for the two styles of game. Another interesting option would be Noir World, which is another PbtA game.
 

atanakar

Hero
Modern AGE Basic Book + Companion Book (Green Ronin): It is designed with a toolbox approach so you can pick and choose, as a GM, how healing works, armour/protection and the level of grittiness of the campaign (Gritty, Pulp or Heroic). In your case you would choose the Gritty Mode. HPs are few, healing is slow, armour doesn't protect much but you still have access to magic points to cast spells.

There are magic powers and psychic powers you can plug-in if you want. There are also Digital powers. Enhancements are also a thing. In your case (Capone NY) you could have a bad guy with a steam powered arm that deals extra damage.

Progressions is by XPs and there are levels. It is not classed based. Which is good for a modern world in which a character can have interests in several fields of competence. Character creation is very strait forward and easy. You have stats for some fantasy and sci-fi races if you need them. There are half-blooded races. There are rules for fear and sanity.

It is traditional and easy to read. I would say the crunchiness is somewhere just above 5e but not by much. Use of combat grid is not required.

Modern AGE is now my default system for anything between Pirates of Spanish Main and Near Future. The perfect system for GMs like you who create original home made campaigns.
 
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Lanliss

Explorer
Modern AGE Basic Book + Companion Book (Green Ronin): It is designed with a toolbox approach so you can pick and choose, as a GM, how healing works, armour/protection and the level of grittiness of the campaign (Gritty, Pulp or Heroic). In your case you would choose the Gritty Mode. HPs are few, healing is slow, armour doesn't protect much but you still have access to magic points to cast spells.

There are magic powers and psychic powers you can plug-in if you want. There are also Digital powers. Enhancements are also a thing. In your case (Capone NY) you could have a bad guy with a steam powered arm that deals extra damage.

Progressions is by XPs and there are levels. It is not classed based. Which is good for a modern world in which a character can have interests in several fields of competence. Character creation is very strait forward and easy. You have stats for some fantasy and sci-fi races if you need them. There are half-blooded races. There are rules for fear and sanity.

It is traditional and easy to read. I would say the crunchiness is somewhere just above 5e but not by much. Use of combat grid is not required.

Modern AGE is now my default system for anything between Pirates of Spanish Main and Near Future. The perfect system for GMs like you who create original home made campaigns.
I'm interested in this one. How hard do you think it would be to do a bit of modding to make fit my world? It seems like it is in a similar vein to D&D with the leveling system, while many characters won't so much level up as they will improve horizontally.

Blades in the Dark seems to tailor made for your setting :)

but it is very different to DND

"a semi-modern setting that takes place in a city, has various gangs operating under different patrons, quite a bit of magic, of the Pact variety. Each gang is represented by one or a few patrons, and has a general theme that goes with that.
The players could participate as gang members or as police."
This sounds pretty interesting. The built in gang system especially, as that will factor heavily into what characters have access to if they decide to work in a gang. I'm not seeing a lot of specifics on spells and such though, and that will be a kind of prominent part of operating as a PC, since all the enemies will be using their own magic. I might use Atanakar's suggestion of Modern AGE, and kind of lift the gang system from this to use for building my gangs.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
Blades in the Dark seems to tailor made for your setting :)

but it is very different to DND
This would work perfectly for the "gang" side of things. For the "police" side, can I suggest a game that isn't quite out yet but looks like it should do a good job. Swords of the Serpentine is a fantasy derivative of the Gumshoe system, and that always works well for investigation and handles factions and gangs well in some adaptations. It would also be very different to D&D.
 

atanakar

Hero
I'm interested in this one. How hard do you think it would be to do a bit of modding to make fit my world? It seems like it is in a similar vein to D&D with the leveling system, while many characters won't so much level up as they will improve horizontally.
On the surface it looks like D&D but it's not. Modify D&D is hazardous and requires work. The AGE system is a toolbox. Pick and choose. Just ignore the level upgrades that don't work for you and use Gritty Mode.

  • Focuses (skills) stack with abilities. You can't invest in the same Focus two levels in a row.
  • Talents (professional training) have three levels (novice, expert, master).
  • A specialization is gained at level 4. It also has three levels.

The Companion book offers a levelling up method that opens up the whole system to you. Just pick and choose how you want the PCs to progress. Each time they would gain an upgrade (vertical) give them a lateral (horizontal) choice instead.

Note that Social encounters and Exploration encounters are very well defined in this game. There are chase rules, hazard rules (fire in a building). There is a section on Reputation, honorific, contacts, membership in groups (gangs). Relationship bonds are also well defined. The Companion book has a ten page section on how to incorporate and use Organizations in your campaign.

If you want to know more download the free QSR of Modern AGE. It includes a mission and pre-gen characters. It will give you a good over view of the system:

 
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innerdude

Adventurer
Savage Worlds + the Deadlands Noir campaign setting would be a near perfect fit. The pact magic would be an easy house rule using the base magic system. Weapons and gear is incredibly easy to tailor.
 

Lanliss

Explorer
On the surface it looks like D&D but it's not. Modify D&D is hazardous and requires work. The AGE system is a toolbox. Pick and choose. Just ignore the level upgrades that don't work for you and use Gritty Mode.

  • Focuses (skills) stack with abilities. You can't invest in the same Focus two levels in a row.
  • Talents (professional training) have three levels (novice, expert, master).
  • A specialization is gained at level 4. It also has three levels.

The Companion book offers a levelling up method that opens up the whole system to you. Just pick and choose how you want the PCs to progress. Each time they would gain an upgrade (vertical) give them a lateral (horizontal) choice instead.

Note that Social encounters and Exploration encounters are very well defined in this game. There are chase rules, hazard rules (fire in a building). There is a section on Reputation, honorific, contacts, membership in groups (gangs). Relationship bonds are also well defined. The Companion book has a ten page section on how to incorporate and use Organizations in your campaign.

If you want to know more download the free QSR of Modern AGE. It includes a mission and pre-gen characters. It will give you a good over view of the system:

One more question, as far as adding options in the future. I'm guessing that Fantasy AGE has a big focus on magic in the world, do the two work together easily, or would it take considerable modding to plug fantasy stuff into Modern AGE? I intend to have a fair bit of variety in spells that can be found, since it will be coming from a variety of sources, and want as many options as I can get.
 

atanakar

Hero
One more question, as far as adding options in the future. I'm guessing that Fantasy AGE has a big focus on magic in the world, do the two work together easily, or would it take considerable modding to plug fantasy stuff into Modern AGE? I intend to have a fair bit of variety in spells that can be found, since it will be coming from a variety of sources, and want as many options as I can get.
They work together easily. Fantasy AGE spells are in the two Modern AGE books. Modern AGE as an optional setting called Threefold. A multi-verse with alternate Earths and other worlds connected by portals. You have tech worlds, magic worlds and infernal worlds. I use that as my basis for my current Modern AGE campaign.

[Edit] The only Fantasy AGE book you might want to buy is the Bestiary to supplement your roster of creatures and foes. Modern AGE has Enemies & Allies in pdf but the physical copies are stuck in transit thanks to the C19 virus...
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I’d go for a toolbox system- HERO, GURPS, etc.- because they‘re malleable. They’re going to support all kinds of different character concepts and mechanics from jump, and if you have a flash of inspiration to add something previously unknown to the mix, you’d be able to.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I’d go for a toolbox system- HERO, GURPS, etc.- because they‘re malleable. They’re going to support all kinds of different character concepts and mechanics from jump, and if you have a flash of inspiration to add something previously unknown to the mix, you’d be able to.
The downside is that toolbox systems tend to be pretty crunchy, and that's true of both HERO and GURPS, as much as both are excellent toolboxes. Some tables will be fine with that and others won't. In the OPs shoes I'd take a look at both, but they may or may not be a good fit.

Edit - Ironsworn isn't the game I meant. Once I figure out what the heck I'm talking about I'll tell you what I meant to say. :unsure:
 
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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Ah-ha. The game I was thinking of, the one that feels kinda like Blades but with more traditional free-play focus rather than the Blades Planning-Score-Downtime cycle is the 2d20 Dishonored RPG from Modiphius. I just started reading it but it looks pretty sweet.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The downside is that toolbox systems tend to be pretty crunchy, and that's true of both HERO and GURPS, as much as both are excellent toolboxes. Some tables will be fine with that and others won't. In the OPs shoes I'd take a look at both, but they may or may not be a good fit.

Edit - Ironsworn isn't the game I meant. Once I figure out what the heck I'm talking about I'll tell you what I meant to say. :unsure:
True, although 99% of the crunch in HERO is in character creation and advancement. In play, you almost never need touch the books.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
True, although 99% of the crunch in HERO is in character creation and advancement. In play, you almost never need touch the books.
That's very true. I think my first Champions character took my something like four or five hours to write up, at least. Power gaming needs attention and time if it's to be done correctly.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Not just power gaming! HERO can deliver that, but also all kinds of subtlety and nuance, depending on the goals the player sets out to achieve in designing their characters.

Best campaign I ever ran was in HERO: a Supers game set in the world of Space:1889, but with other elements added and amplified. It was so good because it wasn’t just me that got into it- I had 100% player buy-in. The “brick” dressed like an old-time circus strongman, complete with leopard skin togs and a big club. The sonic energy manipulator was a diva in every sense of the word. The gunslinger was a real gunslinger. Etc.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I wasn't suggesting that HERO only does power gaming, far from it. I made my first Champions character when I was maybe 16 though, and I optimized the everliving crap out of it. To the best of my recollection it was a Ghost Rider clone with a flaming chainsaw that did enormous critical damage or some such. I blush thinking about it. :geek:

That campaign sounds really cool btw.
 

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