[+] Rules light RPGs

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Note this is a [+] thread. Keep it positive or keep out.

I'm a huge fan of rules light RPGs. The lighter the better. But I don't see much talk about rules light RPGs on here, so here's a thread.

The latest rules light RPG to make a splash is EZD6 by DM Scotty.

He put up a funny announcement video here:


The DriveThru link is here. No affiliate links were harmed (or used) in the posting of this link.

So anyone played EZD6 yet? How does it run?

Any other favorite rules light games people want to talk about or recommend?
 

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Yora

Legend
As someone who is used to D&D 3rd edition and Pathfinder, and who has read GURPS and 2d20 rulebooks, I am considering Basic/Expert D&D and OD&D to be rules light.
They have a fair number of rough edges, but I think at the core there is a really solid system under them, which is why it's probably the second most used game engine in RPGs. By now there have been so many retroclones and derivates that it might even have beaten the d20 system in number of games. (Though probably still not sales.)
Oldschool Essentials manages to clean up the Basic/Expert rules very well without really making any actual changes.
Stars Without Number and Worlds Without Number have quite a number of options that can be used, but under the hood they mostly retain much of the mechanical simplicity while making it very much a new modern game.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Rules light? Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE, or just "Fate Accelerated"). Hardcopy rules available for $4 on Amazon, PDF is pay-what-you-want on DriveThru RPG, or online rules available for free here:


The rules are some 40 digest-sized pages of not-dense text.
 



overgeeked

B/X Known World
As someone who is used to D&D 3rd edition and Pathfinder, and who has read GURPS and 2d20 rulebooks, I am considering Basic/Expert D&D and OD&D to be rules light.

They have a fair number of rough edges, but I think at the core there is a really solid system under them, which is why it's probably the second most used game engine in RPGs. By now there have been so many retroclones and derivates that it might even have beaten the d20 system in number of games. (Though probably still not sales.)

Old-School Essentials manages to clean up the Basic/Expert rules very well without really making any actual changes.

Stars Without Number and Worlds Without Number have quite a number of options that can be used, but under the hood they mostly retain much of the mechanical simplicity while making it very much a new modern game.
I love me some B/X. I think OSE (especially OSE Advanced) is about the best D&D or D&D-like game on the market right now. The ease and hackability of a lighter engine plus the variety from AD&D.

SWN and WWN are some of the best sandbox building books out there. Absolutely love them. Though there's a lot to love in the various editions of Traveller for sci-fi sandbox building.
Rules light? Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE, or just "Fate Accelerated"). Hardcopy rules available for $4 on Amazon, PDF is pay-what-you-want on DriveThru RPG, or online rules available for free here:


The rules are some 40 digest-sized pages of not-dense text.
It's surprising Fate Accelerated isn't more popular. I think it might be the art style. Gamers seem to think RPGs are serious business indeed so the cartoony style might be a turn off. I love aspects and stunts. Such a great idea.
Barbarians of Lumeria is light. Makeup characters in 5 minutes and you are ready to play. The book includes a pseudo-hyperborean setting.

There's also Everywhen, a generic version of BoL. I haven't read it but keep hearing good stuff about it. Love the advancement in BoL. Great way to evoke the literature in simple rules.
I'd also suggest a look at Cogs, Cakes, and Swordsticks and Shatter6, both of which are very rules light games with their hearts in the right places.
I haven't heard of those before. Thanks for the recs.
And @overgeeked you've recently made me give serious pursuit to the fkr vibe. Gratitude or eternal wrath is pending... ;)
There's a lot of good stuff there. Even if you only mine the scene for ideas to bring back to games with more rules.
 



Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
I've tried running FAE once, and frankly I wasn't very impressed. Easily could have been on me though.

PbtA is to me the go to rules light system. Very simple to play and run. Monster of the Week is probably the most accessible, if not best, hack of it.
 

aia_2

Custom title
I am very curious to get some clarifications about the concept of "light-rule system". I do not hide that I am interested since I am completing a new RPG with a new game system and I wanted to better understand some crucial point about the rule framework.
Hereby my questions:
1. What is a rules light exactly? A system which covers many details of the game with plain and easy to play rules or a system which does not cover many aspects of the game? In a nutshell: the lightness is in the learning by heart or in reading fastly because there is not so much to read?
2. What do you expect from a game where the lightness is merely the absence of game mechanics? (i.e. the second case in the previous point) At the end of the day this will not be light for the GM as he is in charge to invent a sub-system to fill the gaps.
3. Is the lightness intended for the players only or for both GM and players?

The last question is the most important to my eyes as I developed a set of rules heavily unbalanced on the shoulders of the GM... :rolleyes:
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I've tried running FAE once, and frankly I wasn't very impressed. Easily could have been on me though.

PbtA is to me the go to rules light system. Very simple to play and run. Monster of the Week is probably the most accessible, if not best, hack of it.
Back when it was new I played in a Star Wars FAE game. All Jedi. The game rocked. The trouble was the typical FAE problem of players constantly hitting their best approaches instead of doing anything else. It’s fine because the referee made us narrate our actions accordingly and when it didn’t make sense she’d veto. That was a lot of fun.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
1. What is a rules light exactly? A system which covers many details of the game with plain and easy to play rules or a system which does not cover many aspects of the game? In a nutshell: the lightness is in the learning by heart or in reading fastly because there is not so much to read?
It’s entirely subjective. But most people seem to agree that the less space the rules take up the lighter they are. To me, rules light is less than 20 odd pages. But my preference is 5 pages or less. The shorter the better. One-page games are great. One index card games are even better. One sentence games are better still.
2. What do you expect from a game where the lightness is merely the absence of game mechanics? (i.e. the second case in the previous point) At the end of the day this will not be light for the GM as he is in charge to invent a sub-system to fill the gaps.
Fair mechanics that are easily used and understood and get out of the way so we can get on with playing.

Why assume it’s necessary to invent subsystems?
3. Is the lightness intended for the players only or for both GM and players?
Rules light games tend to be just that. Rules light. They typically have fewer, more broadly applicable rules that cover more ground.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
The best TTRPG in the world is Dungeon Crawl Classics, bar none. It's lightweight and supremely adaptable, so it's easy to do whatever you need with it.
Note that rules-light is a bit of a misnomer here, since the spells section takes up like a full third of the rulebook, but that's because spell effects vary from caster to caster and even from casting to casting.
@nd place IMO is Basic Fantasy RPG, which is also super lightweight and adaptable, and it has the added bonus of being completely free* from it's publisher's website.

*well, the PDFs are free. The hardcovers are just ridiculously underpriced.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The best TTRPG in the world is Dungeon Crawl Classics, bar none. It's lightweight and supremely adaptable, so it's easy to do whatever you need with it.
Note that rules-light is a bit of a misnomer here, since the spells section takes up like a full third of the rulebook, but that's because spell effects vary from caster to caster and even from casting to casting.
@nd place IMO is Basic Fantasy RPG, which is also super lightweight and adaptable, and it has the added bonus of being completely free* from it's publisher's website.

*well, the PDFs are free. The hardcovers are just ridiculously underpriced.
As much as I love DCC, I would not call it rules light. The core mechanic might be light, but the game as a whole? No.
 

schneeland

Adventurer
In general, I also enjoy rules light games. Systems like Into the Odd, Mausritter oder Mörk Borg are really a joy to read when compared to more heavy-weight systems (even D&D5 took me a while).
In actual play, though, I found that I tend to favour systems at the upper end of rules-light (or lower end of rules medium), e.g. Year Zero games. One thing that probably qualifies for rules light and which I enjoy a lot is Broken Compass, a system geared towards modern day pulp action. Unfortunately, it's currently available in PDF only, but as far as I understood, Two Little Mice (the publisher) are working on bringing it into general distribution.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
In general, I also enjoy rules light games. Systems like Into the Odd, Mausritter oder Mörk Borg are really a joy to read when compared to more heavy-weight systems (even D&D5 took me a while).
In actual play, though, I found that I tend to favour systems at the upper end of rules-light (or lower end of rules medium), e.g. Year Zero games. One thing that probably qualifies for rules light and which I enjoy a lot is Broken Compass, a system geared towards modern day pulp action. Unfortunately, it's currently available in PDF only, but as far as I understood, Two Little Mice (the publisher) are working on bringing it into general distribution.
Sweet. Broken Compass looks awesome. Pulp adventure is one of my favorite genres. I’m fine with PDFs, but I am coming back around to having physical copies of things on my shelves. Not sure about the dice system though. But the art is great. The gender-swapped Indiana Jones stuff is a great homage.
 


Sir Brennen

Legend
I've only gotten into rule light games just this year, and that's after almost 40 years of gaming. I really like the contrast to the more rules heavy games I've run recently, like D&D 5E and Savage Worlds. Since I played the original Holmes and Moldvay D&D editions back in the day, I find claims that the derivate B/X and similar systems to be "rules light" not entirely true by my own vague definition. Certainly, lighter rules than AD&D and all the d20 editions, but still a fair chunk of codification.

Specifically, Mork Borg and Death in Space are the games I've been digging into. MB core rules in particular only take up a couple of pages. Though it is funny, for situations which the rules don't cover I often just fall back on a simple rule from another game I've played and keep going.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
I've only gotten into rule light games just this year, and that's after almost 40 years of gaming. I really like the contrast to the more rules heavy games I've run recently, like D&D 5E and Savage Worlds. Since I played the original Holmes and Moldvay D&D editions back in the day, I find claims that the derivate B/X and similar systems to be "rules light" not entirely true by my own vague definition. Certainly, lighter rules than AD&D and all the d20 editions, but still a fair chunk of codification.
Yeah. Definitely lighter.
Specifically, Mork Borg and Death in Space are the games I've been digging into. MB core rules in particular only take up a couple of pages. Though it is funny, for situations which the rules don't cover I often just fall back on a simple rule from another game I've played and keep going.
I keep hearing good stuff about Mork Borg. What’s the draw for you, besides the lighter rules?

In a similar vein is Viking Death Squad. I have that and am reading through it. Runehammer does some good stuff.
 

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