Low Fantasy - Best Systems?

S'mon

Legend
I'm using Mini Six RPG (free pdf at Mini Six: Bare Bones Edition - AntiPaladin Games | DriveThruRPG.com ) for a cinematic low fantasy swords & sorcery campaign. Not Game of Thrones gritty, but Conan/Kull/Beastmaster sort of level. Mini Six derives from the d6 System used for stuff like 1987's d6 Star Wars from West End Games, and does Hollywood style action very well.

My campaign page, including some rules extracts Primeval Thule
Re mass combat mini 6 and d6 system have a great technique where you use average result for all dice except the Wild Die, and can assume 1 in 6 wild die rolls get a 6 and reroll. This makes it very easy to do say 60 shots at once vs the hero pc or ship.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Re mass combat mini 6 and d6 system have a great technique where you use average result for all dice except the Wild Die, and can assume 1 in 6 wild die rolls get a 6 and reroll. This makes it very easy to do say 60 shots at once vs the hero pc or ship.
I found the WEG Star Wars Miniatures Battles rules a brilliant solution for d6 mass combat. And I say this as someone who loves the scaling and many-on-1 rules of 2E unrevised...

The basic idea is this: instead of the roll of a pool for a given character, roll 1d then add to the result the number before the d...
EG: Fred normally has 8d melee, and 5d melee parry. Fred rolls 1d6+8 to attack, and 1d+5 to parry. If he takes both, he's rolling 1d+7 attack and 1d+4 to parry. I'll note that a 6 also open ends...
The default difficulties and damage steps are not coming to mind.

I've used it both for ground actions (which it was written for) and ship actions... I was able to run a wing-vs-wing level fight, with PC squadron leaders, in about 5 hours.
 

S'mon

Legend
I found the WEG Star Wars Miniatures Battles rules a brilliant solution for d6 mass combat. And I say this as someone who loves the scaling and many-on-1 rules of 2E unrevised...

The basic idea is this: instead of the roll of a pool for a given character, roll 1d then add to the result the number before the d...
EG: Fred normally has 8d melee, and 5d melee parry. Fred rolls 1d6+8 to attack, and 1d+5 to parry. If he takes both, he's rolling 1d+7 attack and 1d+4 to parry. I'll note that a 6 also open ends...
The default difficulties and damage steps are not coming to mind.

I've used it both for ground actions (which it was written for) and ship actions... I was able to run a wing-vs-wing level fight, with PC squadron leaders, in about 5 hours.
That's nice; the Mini Six approach is to count each D as a 3; so 8D > 7x3=21+WD, 5D > 4x3=12+WD, which keeps close to the results of rolling 8d6 & 5d6. Mind you I'm not sure this is explicitly stated in the Mini 6 rulebook, I came across it in d6 Fantasy (etc), which unlike Mini Six use 3.5 not 3 per die. '3' certainly makes calculating much quicker while giving heroes a slight edge vs massed mooks, depending on where you cap dice rolls - the game suggests cap at 5d6 but I'm going with 10d6, so eg Emperor Palpatine 15D Force Sense skill > 10d6+15.
 
I saw this in B&N last night. I've never even heard of it, but it looked pretty good. Will pick it up and let you know if it meets your criteria.

 
Judging by the description I read (first page), it seems to have what you are looking for. A group of villagers can still overpower a knight, etc.
 

BrokenTwin

Explorer
I thought about running Shadow of the Demon Lord and overlay it with some classic 1e adventures. How would that work? Low to mid level, not high level.
I haven't had much difficulty converting things to SotDL. Biggest thing to remember with monsters is that if they have large to-hit modifiers, convert part of the bonus to boon(s) instead, otherwise they'll never miss the party.
If you understand the rules well enough, converting on the fly is relatively easy. Honestly, I find converting OSR adventures to be a lot less work than D&D5e adventures. You'll definitely want to cut back on the amount of loot you hand out though. I find the expected amount of loot from most adventures to be a LOT higher (like, 10x and up) than what SotDL assumes you'll be giving them. Not a game breaker by any means, just something to keep in mind.
And if you're doing a megadungeon or other larger adventure, keep in mind that SotDL assuming characters level up after every adventure, so there's no EXP rules in the book. If you want to use loot as experience or experience points in general, you're going to have to ad hoc something.
 

Nebulous

Hero
And if you're doing a megadungeon or other larger adventure, keep in mind that SotDL assuming characters level up after every adventure, so there's no EXP rules in the book. If you want to use loot as experience or experience points in general, you're going to have to ad hoc something.
Every adventure/session you level up? I don't use XP in D&D, I just do milestones.
 

pogre

Adventurer
I saw this in B&N last night. I've never even heard of it, but it looked pretty good. Will pick it up and let you know if it meets your criteria.

It is a love letter to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which is mentioned up thread. IMO it would take some heavy rules modifications to fit the OP's stated goals.
 

BrokenTwin

Explorer
Every adventure/session you level up? I don't use XP in D&D, I just do milestones.
SotDL was build with the assumption that each session is a single adventure, with long stretches of in-world downtime between sessions.
If you're already using milestones, than the conversion is dirt simple. Since most campaign books / adventure paths / d20 adventures assume the characters are getting up to a lot more "on screen" than SotDL does, you just need to space out your milestones appropriately to match the expected power curve. I did something similar when I converted Lost Mines of Phandelver.
 

Johnny3D3D

Adventurer
If the goal is to have a play experience that feels something like REH Conan, or perhaps Arthurian legend, then it's not just about converting D&D modules (with their dungeons, treasure, etc) to a system with grittier combat.

There's truth to that.

Combat is part of it, but how the other "pillars" are handled is part of it also.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
If the goal is to have a play experience that feels something like REH Conan, or perhaps Arthurian legend, then it's not just about converting D&D modules (with their dungeons, treasure, etc) to a system with grittier combat.
On the other hand, the dungeon concept is very strong in Conan novels... and movies...

But they're not all underground. Some are - the movies have several nifty "dungeons" in the D&D sense... but not the historical one... Castles on hills, cathedrals underground, mazes in the mountains... Conan's dungeons are mostly functional places, not simple prisons or monster-hovels.

And the novels have even better cave and fortress complexes. Not a one of which is good against Conan and a friend or two...

D&D can work quite well for such a setting - AD&D did it just fine in the CB series modules. But those were carefully worded.

And avoided most of D&D's kitchen sink.
 

pemerton

Legend
On the other hand, the dungeon concept is very strong in Conan novels... and movies...
My knowledge of the Conan movies is weak. I know the REH stories fairly well. Dungeons in the D&D sense aren't a big part of them. For instance, the action in The Tower of the Elephant is, in D&D terms, confined to a few rooms. In The Scarlet Citadel there is the giant snake, the hell plant and the encounter with the wizard who's name I temporarily forget, the pit with the ghost/spirit/floating thing, and the gibbering mouther.

Exploration is not really a focus - even less so than in JRRT's account of Moria, I would say - and he is not looting them for treasure: even though The Tower of the Elephant starts this way, it doesn't end this way; and in the one about the Jewels of Gwahlur the jewels end up being sacrificed to save Conan's companion.

Off the top of my head I can't think of any D&D dungeon that would be a good REH Conan vehicle. Maybe if some of Gygax's weird shrines (like in KotB) are excised from their bigger locations and made into their own things, that might have the right feel.
 

Puggins

Explorer
My knowledge of the Conan movies is weak. I know the REH stories fairly well. Dungeons in the D&D sense aren't a big part of them. For instance, the action in The Tower of the Elephant is, in D&D terms, confined to a few rooms. In The Scarlet Citadel there is the giant snake, the hell plant and the encounter with the wizard who's name I temporarily forget, the pit with the ghost/spirit/floating thing, and the gibbering mouther.
That’s more a question of story scope than anything else, really. Conan stories would usually fit into a single session of an rpg campaign. Even though some games are designed specifically for that style of play (SotDL, for example, which I am also a really big fan of), you can easily pull this off with 5e.

As for specific recommendations, I definitely don’t see eye to eye with the OP’s characterization of Conan as low fantasy, but I’d echo a few recommendations.

* Using 5e but limiting character choices to fighter, ranger and rogue and us8ng alternate rewards (ala 4e dark sun/13a glorantha) is probably the best way to go, frankly, if you want to echo the Conan stories. Sprinkle in high level mystical threats with not-so-showy powers and you have an almost perfect engine for the short stories.

* SotDL is an excellent option, but it’s deadly. I’m not sure the Conan stories would be an awesome fit, but this games would work really well for magic-rare games- just dial back the “Demon Lord is on the doorstep of reality” conceit and you’re there.
 

pemerton

Legend
That’s more a question of story scope than anything else, really. Conan stories would usually fit into a single session of an rpg campaign.
I'm not 100% sure what you mean by "scope", but I would say this is about the focus and theme of the fiction. There is not a great focus on exploration in the stories I mentioned. To emulate them in a RPG, I'd be resolving an Escape or Search-type check and on a success or failure framing the appropriate situation in the dungeon. And also looking for some sort of buff when heroic/valorous action is undertaken (like rescuing Pelias the wizard).
 
It is a love letter to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which is mentioned up thread. IMO it would take some heavy rules modifications to fit the OP's stated goals.
Ahh... okay. Thank you for the clarification. Maybe it was the art work, but it just looked (at a glance) as if it was low fantasy. Thanks again.
 

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