Please explain Other Gaming Systems


First Post
Umbran said:
Er. Each and every gaming system worth discussing could use a whole thread all to itself to do it justice.

IMHO, a short primer is sufficient for the first impression. It would be too much to ask, that one posts a deep analysis, after which consumption everyone is an expert of the treated system.

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Front Range Warlock
Incidentally, I worked up my earlier post about The Window as a PDF after making a few changes (yes, it's the Low Fat Window link in my .sig). I figured that it worked fairly well as an introduction to the system and, after looking at it a bit longer, I think that I might work up a little Low Fat Guide to Lankhmar for it later this afternoon.


First Post
Amber DRPG

What's different about Amber? Well, it uses no dice, no random resolution at all.

You have four attributes, Psyche, Strength, Endurance and Warfare, which really are pretty self-explanatory. Players have a number of character points to build their characters with. Character creation begins with an auction. You bid on the attributes, one after the other starting with Psyche (which is the most important attribute, as is Strength, Endurance and Warfare), and whatever you bid in character points is spent (not only the winner of the auction has the cost, as usual with auctions, but everyone pays their bids). Those bids become your attributes.

The remaining character points can then be used to buy special abilities and other powerful features like Pattern Imprint (basically the ability to alter reality to some degree) or Sorcery, to buy special equipment or companions/followers, your own world, and stuff like that.

So, we got no dice, how does this work then? How does combat work?

Very simple.

You fight with weapons, the one with the higher Warfare wins.
You fight unarmed, the one with the higher Strength wins.
You fight in a mental fashion, the one with the higher Psyche wins.

Yeah, and then you start being creative to gain an upper hand, even though you normally would simply lose.

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Community Supporter
Ars Magica

Let me see if I can explain Ars Magica in a nutshell. Certainly a challenge.
This is an explanation for D&D 3.x veterans; I'll be using D&D terms instead of ArM terms throughout, only mentioning the ArM terms in parenthesis when appropriate.

Ars Magica (ArM) has much in common with D&D 3e, perhaps due to the shared influence of Jonathan Tweet in their design. But they are also very different.

ArM's core mechanic is the same as D&D: roll a dice, add modifiers, if you beat the DC ("Ease Factor" or "EF" in ArM lingo) you succeed and the amount you surpass it is the degree of success.
Unlike D&D, ArM uses only one dice: a d10. It can be rolled as is, but most things are based on the Stress roll. This is an "exploding" roll, allowing for both very good results and very bad results on rare occasions.
In case you are interested, here is the exact mechanic. If you roll a "1" you pick up the dice and roll again, doubling the result. (If you again roll a "1" you do this again, and so on - for example a result of "1,1,6" means 24). On the other hand, if you rolled a "0" [except on a reroll], you must roll a number of Botch Dice set by the DM ("Storyguide" or "SG" in ArM speak); if some of these come out "0", you botched and failed to do whatever you were trying to do.

While ArM uses virtually the same Ability Scores (which it calls "Characteristics"), it forgoes the 3-18 scale and uses instead simply the modifier. A character can have scores ranging from -5 to +5.

The first major departure from D&D is that ArM is skill-based. You gain experience directly in skills ("Abilities" in ArM terms), which raises their rank ("level" in ArM). Any character can pick up any skill with sufficient in-character justification, with a few exceptions. Like in D&D the skill's rank range is about the same as the dice (ranging from 0 to about 10), but note that the ability scores (characteristics) have more impact as the numbers are lower.

In sharp contrast to D&D XP is not usually gained from adventures, instead being gained through long periods of practice, training, and so on - it actually takes time, patience, and dedication to improve your skills. There is a simple system in place, based on dividing each year into four Seasons, to determine just how much XP you gain in which skill (Ability), or what other benefit your character gained.
Learning or creating new spells are just two examples of things you can do in a Season in addition to gaining XP in a skill (Ability). Other examples include creating or improving magic items, binding or tempering the bond of a familiar, enchanting a talisman that acts as a personal magic item attuned to you, brewing a longevity potion to prolong your life, and more.
ArM campaigns ("sagas") can unfold over centuries, with wizards being nigh immortal and the mundane characters withering and dying to be replaced by other, younger, characters.

There are no non-human races in ArM, but all characters choose a package of traits that seperate them from the others, called Virtues and Flaws. These range from being particularly good with wielding certain types of weapons, to being a lycanthrope. They include such things as faerie-blood if you must play an elf. There are specific rules to govern how to choose this package, but generally you must choose flaws to "balance" your virtues.

The key selling point of ArM may very well be its magic system. It is based on combining a Technique skill that acts as a verb with a Form skill that acts as a noun, to form a sentence of sorts. For example, to create a fireball you would need roll Create+Fire+die+Constitution ("Creo technique+Ignem form+stress die+Stamina" in ArM speak) and beat the DC (EF). Guidelines for judging DCs, and descriptions of the five techniques and ten froms, are given.
ArM wizards can try to cast any spell spontanously, but also know certain ("Formulaic") spells much like a sorcerer has a Spells Known list. These are easier to cast, encouraging players to stick to known and familiar spells while still allowing attempting to do anything with magic.
Spellcasting is a tiresome, physically demanding activity - hence the Constitution ("Stamina") modifier. Failure to cast a known spell, or attempting to cast a powerful spontanous spell, causes fatigue which limits how many spells the wizard can throw around.

Combat in ArM is based on combat skills such as Great Weapon or Bows. The attacker's skill check is compared with the defender's skill check, both modified by Attack and Defense modifiers for the weapon. If the attack overcomes the defense, the difference is added to the attacker's weapon Damage bonus, and the defender's Soak score (based on armor and constitution ("Stamina")) is deducted. The result is applied towards creating wounds.
So combat is based on opposed skill checks, armor serves as damage reduction, and instead of hit points characters suffer a "heavy wound", "light wound", and so on - incurring penalties to their further actions.

There is no instant healing, at least not without spending rare resources, so the characters tend to heal using the Heal skill ("Chirurgy or Medicine Ability").

There are other things that make ArM unique. It's pseudo-medieval setting with its rich political landscape of scheming wizards, it's troupe-style play where every player plays several characters and often switches between different adventures, the wizard's need to collect and trade for rare magical resources and tomes, and so on. But mechanically, I think that's the gist of it.

So, how did I do? :D

Jürgen Hubert

First Post

Character creation in GURPS is fairly involved, but it allows for flexibility that only few other RPGs are able to match (possibly Hero, but I can't think of any other...).

Basically, you have a starting pool of "character points" with which you can buy various things that make your character better. There are no fixed "experience levels" in GURPS - all experience you gain is represented in additional character points. You can simply create more experienced characters (or even superheroic characters) simply by starting with a higher character point total. So you can start a campaign with truly "average folks", actual demigods, or anything in between, depending on what the GM permits.

You can buy the following things:

Attributes: GURPS has four attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Health. All start at the human norm, a vlaue of 10 (unless you buy some sort of racial template). Dexterity and Intelligence are more expansive than Strength and Health since most skills are based on them.

Advantages: Usually some sort of innate abilities that your character either has, or doesn't have. This can be pretty much anything you can imagine, from good eyesight to psionic abilities, to high social status, to the flame breath of a dragon. The amount of advantages in the book is truly staggering, and all can be modified with so-called "enhancements" and "limitations" until get you precisely the advantage you want.

One subset of advantages are racial templates - packages of attribute boni and penalties, advantages and disadvantages that describe certain races (like "elves", "dragons", or "greys"). With GURPS, the races don't need to be "balanced" against each other - more powerful races will simply cost more character points to play, leaving the character with less points to spend on other things if he is in a group with other player characters with the same total point value.

Disadvantages: Advantages give you extra abilities. Disadvantages hinder your character in some way, and thus give you bonus points which you can spend on other things. This, too, can be pretty much anything, as long it is a true limitation that hinders the character in some way - a missing arm or eye, ugly looks, member of a minority group distrusted by the general population up to supernatural curses that plague your character. The GM will usually set a limit on how many points you can get from disadvantages.

Skills: Anything that can be learned and improved over time, from swinging a sword and shooting guns to medicine, scientific skills, athletics, and so on. Skills are usually coupled to one of the attributes, so a high attribute will give you a higher skill value - but attributes are much more expensive to increase than skills, so if you only need one or two skills at a high level, it's generally cheaper to put your character points into the skill instead.

With these rules, you can create pretty much any character you can imagine - from a standard medieval fighter to a mighty wizard, to a fire-breathing dragon or even a sapient computer program that can switch between different robotic bodies! Indeed, I dare anyone on this board to come up with a character concept that can't be done with GURPS...

Running the game:

Basically, if your character wants to succeed at something, your GM will ask you to roll versus a certain attribute or skill. You then need to roll a result with 3d6 equal to or lower than your attribute or skill value to succeed. Obviously, there will be some modifiers to your effective skill value, but that's basically it.

GURPS combat has often been described as "realistic" and "lethal", and that's not too far wrong, but it's not quite as lethal as some people make it out to be. It is relatively easy for a character to become unconscious from his wounds, but it is a lot more difficult to actually die, especially if the character has a high Health value. But the game system does encourage good tactics and good equipment. Good armor means that you are near-invulnerable to physically weak foes, but even a knight in plate mail is in trouble if he lets himself get surrounded by weaker foes, since he cannot defend himself effectively against everyone...

Oh well - I noticed that I am rambling. A final piece of advice: Download GURPS Lite and see for yourself if the system is to your liking...


First Post
Savage Worlds

This is a Universal System that traces its' origins to Deadlands: The Railroad Wars miniatures/combat game. It is designed to be a "rules-lite" system; the Fast-Play rules (which are provided for free) are under 20 pages. The corebook contains the rules, but no setting info.

The basic resolution mechanic is to roll a 4 or higher on a single die. The die (you use a d4 to a d12) can also do what they call "explode"; if you roll the highest number on the die (a 4 on d4, a 6 on d6, ect.) then you roll again and add. The more progressions of 4 you roll (4, 8, 12, ect.) can help increase the benefit to what your trying to accomplish. The PCs and major NPCs are refered to as Wild Cards and benefit from rolling an additional die (a d6) called the Wild Die; taking the better of the two results.

A character's attributes and skills are a single die (d4, d6, d8, d12). It's a point-buy system, no random determination of abilities. There aren't Hit Points, you have a Toughness Score based of your Vigor Stat (think Constitution) and the number of progressions of 4 a attacker gets on damage rolls above your Toughness determines how badly hurt the character is. Your defense stat (think AC) is called Parry and is calculated based of your Agility Stat (think Dexterity).

That about sums it up. The big criticism of the system is the exploding die. You’re more likely to roll a 4 on a d4 then a 6 on a d6. Someone crunched the numbers once and while yes, there is a slight advantage of a d4 over a d6; in actual play it does really seem to matter much.
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Hanging in there. Better than the alternative.
World Tree RPG

World Tree is really easy to learn if you know D&D. First of all, all the rolls are d20 + mod rolls, just like d20. Most rolls, though, are opposed rolls. So if I roll attack, you roll defense.

There aren't any crits, but weapons have extra damages. If I roll 10 above your defense, I deal extra damage once. If I roll 20 above your defense, I roll extra damage twice. For every 10 I roll above your defense, I get that many extra damages.

If I get to half my hit points, I'm less effective. It's called "Trouble 4." Trouble is whenever something causes you to be less effective. The number next to it is the number you subtract from all your rolls. So Trouble 4 means I get a -4 to all my rolls. Trouble can also pertain to certain actions and actions with certain parts of the body. If I get to a quarter of my hit points, I get Trouble 8. Trouble can be caused by other things, too.

Everything is a skill. With my character creation points, I can pour them all into fighting-type skills (one of which is Life Base, which partially determines hit points), or I can pour all of them into magic-type skills, or into sneak-around-type skills, or whatever. Skills cover just about everything.

Magic is the noun-verb setup, and each noun and verb is a skill. If I have a lot of ranks in "Fire" and "Create" then I can make big booms with a fireball-like attack. There are "spells" but you don't have to cast pre-made spells. There's also spontaneous magic, but all magic requires a series of rolls. Spontaneous magic is just harder to pull off.


Dangerous Journeys

Task Resolution

Roll percentile dice against skill. If roll is equal to or less than skill, task succeeds. If roll is greater than skill, task fails.


DJ has layered characteristics. There are three traits; Mental, Physical, and Spiritual. Each trait has two categories; Mnemonic and Reasoning for Mental, Muscular and Neural for Physical, and Metaphysical and Pyschic for Spiritual. In turn each category is rated using three attributes. For each the attributes are; Capacity, Power, and Speed.

DJ characteristics are rather non-standard and don't really map to characteristics in other RPGs. You could think of Physical Muscular Power as like D&D's Strength, but it also incorporates Constitution plus such things as agility, While Physical Muscular Speed deals with how fast one can move in stress situations.

For a normal human attributes range from 8 to 20 points. A category is the sum of its three attributes, while a trait is the sum of its two categories. Which means a character could have a trait as high as 120 points. This comes into play in a variety of areas, especially combat (see below).


DJ is a skill based system using percentiles. For starting skills a character gets a certain number of points depending on Vocation (see below) plus the score in the applicable attribute or the average of two attributes. Skills learned during play start out at 5 points and do not add any attribute score. In effect, the attribute bonus is a case of previous experience.


Speaking of which, DJ uses Accomplishment Points (APs). APs come in three types. AP/G (General) are awarded after each session for good play, creative thinking, accomplishments etc. AP/G can be applied to most any skill. AP/S (Specific) are awarded and applied during play to a specific skill for creative use of said skill, or getting a Special Success with said skill. Finally we have AP/X (Extraordinary). These are used to increase attributes, Joss (sort of like action points) or similar. Succeeding at an extremely difficult task, creative use of Joss, that sort of thing are what AP/X are awarded for.


DJ uses Vocations. Sort of like Character Classes, but not really. DJ Vocations are more flexible for one thing, no skill is forbidden. However, each Vocation is based on one of the three traits, as are the skills. So for someone with a Mental Vocation the price to learn or improve a Physical or Spiritual skill is higher than it would be for a Mental Skill.

Combat and Injury

Physcial combat involves one or more of a number of skills. Melee, missiles, unarmed combat plus targeting (if one has that skill) all play a role. There is also Mental and Spiritual combat. These last being carried out through psychic abilities or magic.

Success in physical combat is determined as for any other skill. Weapons do from 1d3 to 6d6 in damage, plus any bonus for skill and Physical Muscular Power. Mental and Spiritual combat is a bit more involved and requires such steps as making contact and overcoming the target's Mental and Spiritual protections.

Armor and magical protections reduce damage done. But, physical armor (chain and brigandine for example) does not protect against all attacks. DJ uses an abstract hit location system, known as Strike Location. The Strike Locations being; Non-Vital (base damage}, Vital (double damage), Super Vital (triple damage0, and Ultra Vital (quadruple damage). Certain pieces of armor protect only against attacks that hit one or more Strike locations. For instance, if the only bit of armor one was wearing was a gorget only attacks that hit the Super Vital Strike Location would gain the gorget's protection. Note that with a bit of luck it is possible to kill the average person with a single sword blow in DJ. Or (with bad luck) give him a mere scratch.


There's more that could be said. The prerequisites for Mage or Priest status for one, social class and changes brought about by advanced (or young) age among others. But that can wait. Starting possessions alone can take a bit of explaining, especially if the character in question is someone of high social rank and advanced age. (Yes, the chap who hires and equips the band could be one of the PCs)

If you'd like further details drop me a line via email.


First Post
D6 System - West End Games

(Note: this is in large part based on the version of D6 that WEG used for their old Star Wars Roleplaying Game. The "generic" D6 system probably looks a little different).

A character has ability scores, such as Strength and Dexterity, much like D&D. Unlike D&D, those ability scores are rated by a number of d6s, rather than a fixed number. A typical PC has an average of 3D (since the system only uses d6s, "D" is an abbreviation for "d6") in an ability score. When you build a PC, he gets a fixed number of D (for example, 18D) to divide among his six ability scores.

A single D can be divided into 3 "pips". So, you can have a score of "3D+1", which would mean you would roll 3d6, and add 1 to the result.

Each ability score has a number of skills that are based on it. For example, Melee Combat would be based on the PC's Strength score. Skills default to the base ability score, but can be raised higher than the base score, representing training or expertise. So, a PC with a 3D in Strength will start with a 3D in Melee Combat, but can raise the skill above that basic 3D.

Skill resolution (including combat) is resolved in one of two ways:
- Against a target difficulty number (5 might be an easy check, 20 a more difficult one)
- As an opposed check versus another character's roll (for example, a Melee Combat skill roll (i.e., an attack) could be opposed by the other character's Melee Parry skill check.)

You can take multiple actions in a round; each action after the first forces you to subtract 1D from the roll. So, if you have 10D in Melee Combat, you can take 1 attack at 10D, or 2 attacks at 9D, or 3 attacks at 8D, etc. If you use a "reactive skill" (like Dodge or Parry), it has that -1D effect on all further actions you take in the round.

During combat, initiative goes back and forth between the PCs and NPCs, with each side getting to take 1 action at a time. So, if the PCs win initiative, they could each make one attack at first, then the NPCs would take their first attacks, then the PCs could take their second attacks, etc.

Combat damage is resolved by rolling the damage for the weapon (melee weapons take the attacker's Strength, and add to it; ranged weapons do a fixed among of damage) against the Strength of the struck creature. If the attack gets a higher damage roll than the resistance roll, the attack does some damage -- the amount of damage is dependant on how much higher the damage roll is, and if it's sufficiently higher, the target can be killed in a single blow.

Characters receive a number of "character points" at the end of each adventure. Character points have a number of uses; the primary use is to raise up a skill level. For example, if you have 3d+1 in Melee Combat, it costs you 3 character points to raise that skill one notch (to 3d+2; the cost is based on the number in front of the D). When you get a skill to "+3", it rolls up to the next full "D" 3D+3 is actually 4D. Ability scores can be increased in the same way (up to the racial maximum for the PC's race), but it is more costly (10x the cost of a skill bump).

Character points can also be used during the game to add to the result of a die roll (IIRC, you can spend a character point for an extra 1D).

There are also "larger" points, called Force Points in SW. When you spend a Force Point, all of your abilities and skills are doubled for one full round (i.e., if you'd normally roll 5D on an attack roll, you roll 10D when you're on a Force Point). Typically, you receive Force Points for particularly heroic / dramatic actions...if you spend a Force Point while taking a heroic action, you'll usually get it back.


First Post
Risus - The Anything RPG:

Characters have "cliches" which define them. For example, if you wanted to create a Conan-type character, you might have the cliche' "Barbarian - sword-swinging, womanizing, magic-hating lover of battle". If you wanted to flesh him out a little further he could have other cliches, such as "Last member of his clan - you killed my parents, prepare to die!" and "Owner of a magic blade - the Sword of Vengeance wants your blood". The system is based on a d6 dice pool mechanic. Typically most cliches are 3d6 or 4d6. You can also increase a cliche's dice by the 'double-pump' mechanic, but I won't try to explain that one. Most characters have 3 or 4 cliches to describe them. Cliches are meant to be general and colorful, as demonstrated above.

Risus doesn't have skills or attributes. You describe an action you want to take, and your DM determines the target number you have to beat in order to succeed. If you're making an opposed combat roll and you resoundingly beat your opponent's roll, the opponent loses a die from the cliche he was using until the end of that combat. So if Conan rolls really well on his 3d6 "Barbarian" cliche' and Robin Hood rolls poorly on his 3d6 "Prince of Thieves" cliche', Robin's "Prince" cliche' drops to 2d6 for the remainder of the "scene".

Risus is intended to be cinematic, so the better you describe your action, the more likely you are to get a drama dice to reward you. Drama dice work similarly to action dice in other systems. You can add one to a roll if you really need to make that roll. The DM can choose to award drama dice during the session, or save such awards for the end of the session.

There are several possible ways to advance a character; in my group we roll against the cliches we used during the session and if we exceed a target number we get to add another die to that cliche'. There is also a mechanic for using an "inappropriate" cliche', although similar to the double-pumping I'm not going to try to describe that one here.

Most appealingly, Risus is a free web-based system. :D

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