Still Searching for "That" System

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
So the player with the strongest opinion is ... my wife. I don't exactly want to tell her to get lost. But her preferences in games tend toward crunchy, tactical systems such as 4E D&D and PF2. The other players are more casual and have difficulty with stacking modifiers, creating tactics. Some of the younger ones are counting on their fingers.
For me, sure it gets frustrating. But I also love doing it. I put a lot of effort into the games. I'm bringing together my sister and my nephew (who is also neurodivergent), along with other teens from my neighborhood.

At the same time, I'm finding myself wanting something that is ...
1) simple to run. it's a big group & some of them are inexperienced on top of it.
2) has decent tools to balance the game - or maybe it doesn't require much balancing. I don't want to kill off the characters or have anti-climactic fights. (that's the span I regularly got in 5e.)
3) tactical or interesting enough to appeal to the parents of the teens (and my wife)
You may not find that balancing point game. So what are you prepared to do? You may have to tell your wife not to get lost as much as dial things back for the newbs. And if she can't or won't do that... then you may have to think about splitting groups.

I may be lucky in the sense that I've got a network of adult players who are quite willing to dial things back to play with newer players and be satisfied with it or at least not give me any pushback. (and for one of those adults, that's surprising. before he had kids, he was pretty rigid about that kind of thing. parenthood definitely mellowed him and he's great with teaching kids new games beyond all expectations.)
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
So the player with the strongest opinion is ... my wife. I don't exactly want to tell her to get lost. But her preferences in games tend toward crunchy, tactical systems such as 4E D&D and PF2. The other players are more casual and have difficulty with stacking modifiers, creating tactics. Some of the younger ones are counting on their fingers.
For me, sure it gets frustrating. But I also love doing it. I put a lot of effort into the games. I'm bringing together my sister and my nephew (who is also neurodivergent), along with other teens from my neighborhood.

At the same time, I'm finding myself wanting something that is ...
1) simple to run. it's a big group & some of them are inexperienced on top of it.
2) has decent tools to balance the game - or maybe it doesn't require much balancing. I don't want to kill off the characters or have anti-climactic fights. (that's the span I regularly got in 5e.)
3) tactical or interesting enough to appeal to the parents of the teens (and my wife)

I'm not sure your first and third play well together; the closest I'd have said was SW and that's now apparently off the table.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
So the player with the strongest opinion is ... my wife. I don't exactly want to tell her to get lost. But her preferences in games tend toward crunchy, tactical systems such as 4E D&D and PF2.
Definitely go with that, then. ;)
The other players are more casual and have difficulty with stacking modifiers, creating tactics. Some of the younger ones are counting on their fingers.
How young?
I ran an intro game once at a con, and got a father & daughter, the daughter possibly being 6, I think (I'm not a good judge), and she very carefully tracked her character's hp and added up her rolls. It was quite adorable the concentration she put into it.
Anyway, for not quite that young players who aren't much for doing addition in their heads (has little to do with age or intelligence, really), just have a decent character sheet with everything toted up ahead of time. If a more tactical/advanced player puts a whammy on them that changes their bonus, let that player be responsible for it. Heck, you can even have a helper play 'table calculator' and do (or confirm) everyone's math. I mean, many groups have someone like that, even if you ask them to stop... repeatedly... no, that's not directed at a real person.
For me, sure it gets frustrating. But I also love doing it. I put a lot of effort into the games. I'm bringing together my sister and my nephew (who is also neurodivergent), along with other teens from my neighborhood.

At the same time, I'm finding myself wanting something that is ...
1) simple to run. it's a big group & some of them are inexperienced on top of it.
How big?
large groups get difficult to manage, and even an easy to run game can be an issue with more than 6 or 8 players. Turn times, alone, become a problem, (not even necessarily formal turns like in an initiative order, just, individual attention, generally) you need to manage players losing attention on what's happening between their turns, so you're not constantly bringing each player up to speed as their turn comes up, outside of structure turns like initiative, you need to be careful not to let anyone fall through the cracks.
2) has decent tools to balance the game - or maybe it doesn't require much balancing. I don't want to kill off the characters or have anti-climactic fights. (that's the span I regularly got in 5e.)
That leaves out almost all D&D and most D&D-like games.
3) tactical or interesting enough to appeal to the parents of the teens (and my wife)
And that leaves out obvious 'rulez lite' alternatives.

13th Age does have some simpler player-facing options, like the Fighter (that, apparently, they gave up on and won't be so simple in the next version), and it can be fairly open-ended out of combat. And balances classes with a simple prescriptive 'day' length. And it runs readily in tactical or TotM (I've never seen anyone try both at the same time, tho).
:unsure: Actually, Essentials has simpler classes in the same sense as older eds or 5e - Knight, Slayer & Thief - and even a simpler caster (post-E, the Elementalist in HotEC). You could give the casuals pre-gens from Essentials, and let the more intense players build from pre-Essentials. (Tho the simpler E options may be lacking, E feats got some power creep, so if you build solid E pregens, and restrict player built PCs to pre-E.... could work out).
 
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GuardianLurker

Adventurer
OK, after a quick search through the thread, I have these suggestions:
1) Another recommendation for Cortex Prime, with a suggestion to use the "Tales of Xadia" setting/rules incarnation. It's based on the Netflix anime "Dragon Prince", so might fit well with your younger players. And it's a relatively straightforward and simple system. Cortex Prime itself is really nice, but as mentioned it is a game-construction engine. Xadia is the constructed game.

2) You didn't specify any genre limitations, so you might find one of the "lighter" supers games to be more to your taste. I'd suggest a low-powered Wild Talents game. Godlike is the original version of those rules, and has a setting that should appeal to the combat junkies (it is set in WW2, after all). If you need a fantasy setting, Reign uses the same system. (I should caution that the world setting is idiosyncratic. It may not appeal. The rules are solid though.)

If it was still in print, I'd recommend the MEGS DC Heroes game, though with your players you might want to use GM-build characters.

3) And that brings up another option. There are a LOT of "crunchy" games that are only really crunchy at character creation. The rules a player deals with during session are usually a lot simpler. You might be best served overall by doing an interactive session 0 with you building the characters. It will greatly reduce the level of system mastery your players need.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I feel like 4e fits those three requirements! It's a well-balanced system that's easy to use but can be fun for number crunchers as well. And there are a ton of published adventures for you to use.
 

Retreater

Legend
How young?
The youngest are 14-16.
And I know what you're thinking - that's not too young to play RPGs.
I would describe them (respectfully) as well below level in math ... like counting 8 + 3 on their fingers.
Heck, you can even have a helper play 'table calculator' and do (or confirm) everyone's math. I mean, many groups have someone like that, even if you ask them to stop... repeatedly... no, that's not directed at a real person.
And when we offer to help, they get offended. Or if I make a suggestion to write down their attack bonuses or frequent spell effects, they won't do it.
It's kinda frustrating.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
The youngest are 14-16.
And I know what you're thinking - that's not too young to play RPGs.
I would describe them (respectfully) as well below level in math ... like counting 8 + 3 on their fingers.

And when we offer to help, they get offended. Or if I make a suggestion to write down their attack bonuses or frequent spell effects, they won't do it.
It's kinda frustrating.
At that age, they're driven to assert their independence. Being told what to do isn't gonna work well, particularly for a leisure activity. They get enough of being told what to do for school and chores, I'm sure.

Regarding Savage Worlds, which I don't know well, isn't there a character sheet that has their attack bonus on it? Do they have to calculate it every time if it's not written down?
And I don't know what's out there for supplementary stuff for SW. But for 5e, spell cards have been VERY helpful. If there isn't an equivalent, maybe make up some index cards with the spell text and just give them to the players to use (or not). They might use them. Path of least resistance...
 

Retreater

Legend
Regarding Savage Worlds, which I don't know well, isn't there a character sheet that has their attack bonus on it? Do they have to calculate it every time if it's not written down?
The primary math issue in SW is totalling up all the exploding dice.

Prior to SW, we were playing Gamma World 7E - and think of Powers in D&D 4E...
Player: "It says I add Level plus Strength modifier plus Weapon Accuracy..."
Me: "Cool. So you're level 2. Your Strength modifier is +3. And your weapon accuracy is +2. That makes it +7. So write that down so you have it for next time."
Player: "How far can I reach with that attack?"
Me: "You didn't write it down last time we looked it up? Here let me get the book. .... uh .... 10 squares. Write that down."
Player: "Ok. So I rolled a 13. What do I add to it? It says I add Level plus Strength modifier plus Weapon Accuracy..."
Me: "Plus 7. For the love of God write it down this time."
Player: "Can I hit him if he's not next to me?"
Me: "Yes. 10 spaces away. Please write this down."
Other player: "Did we skip my turn? It feels like it's been an hour since I did something."
Me: "No. You're coming up in two more turns."
Player: "I rolled a 13. I'm plus seven. (Counting on fingers.) That's 13, 14, 15, 16. Sixteen!"
Other player: "It's 20."
Player: "I can do math. Does a 24 hit?"
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Prior to SW, we were playing Gamma World 7E - and think of Powers in D&D 4E...
Player: "It says I add Level plus Strength modifier plus Weapon Accuracy..."
Me: "Cool. So you're level 2. Your Strength modifier is +3. And your weapon accuracy is +2. That makes it +7. So write that down so you have it for next time."
Player: "How far can I reach with that attack?"
Me: "You didn't write it down last time we looked it up? Here let me get the book. .... uh .... 10 squares. Write that down."
Player: "Ok. So I rolled a 13. What do I add to it? It says I add Level plus Strength modifier plus Weapon Accuracy..."
Me: "Plus 7. For the love of God write it down this time."
Player: "Can I hit him if he's not next to me?"
Me: "Yes. 10 spaces away. Please write this down."
Other player: "Did we skip my turn? It feels like it's been an hour since I did something."
Me: "No. You're coming up in two more turns."
Player: "I rolled a 13. I'm plus seven. (Counting on fingers.) That's 13, 14, 15, 16. Sixteen!"
Other player: "It's 20."
Player: "I can do math. Does a 24 hit?"
The Modos RPG version:

Player: "It says I add my Physical bonus."
Me: "Cool. Your Physical bonus is +3. You can add your Armed skill points too, if you want."
Player: "How far can I reach with that attack?"
Me: "You didn't write it down last time we looked it up? That's a melee weapon, so Close range." DM notes that Player has a melee weapon, and range doesn't matter as long as opponent is in melee.
Player: "Ok. So I rolled a 13. What do I add to it? It says a Physical contest gets my Physical bonus."
Me: "Plus 3. For the love of God write it down this time."
Player: "Can I hit him if he's not next to me?"
Me: "Yes. Moving is part of attacking."
Other player: "Did we skip my turn? It feels like it's been a minute since I did something."
Me: "No. Your turn is coming up, but you can react now if you have an action to use."
Player: "I rolled a 13. I'm plus three. (Counting on fingers.) That's 13, 14, 15. Fifteen!"
Other player: "It's 16. Did you add your Armed skill? "
Player: "I can do math. Does a 24 hit? "
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
The primary math issue in SW is totalling up all the exploding dice.

Prior to SW, we were playing Gamma World 7E - and think of Powers in D&D 4E...
Player: "It says I add Level plus Strength modifier plus Weapon Accuracy..."
Me: "Cool. So you're level 2. Your Strength modifier is +3. And your weapon accuracy is +2. That makes it +7. So write that down so you have it for next time."
Player: "How far can I reach with that attack?"
Me: "You didn't write it down last time we looked it up? Here let me get the book. .... uh .... 10 squares. Write that down."
Player: "Ok. So I rolled a 13. What do I add to it? It says I add Level plus Strength modifier plus Weapon Accuracy..."
Me: "Plus 7. For the love of God write it down this time."
Player: "Can I hit him if he's not next to me?"
Me: "Yes. 10 spaces away. Please write this down."
Other player: "Did we skip my turn? It feels like it's been an hour since I did something."
Me: "No. You're coming up in two more turns."
Player: "I rolled a 13. I'm plus seven. (Counting on fingers.) That's 13, 14, 15, 16. Sixteen!"
Other player: "It's 20."
Player: "I can do math. Does a 24 hit?"
Tell yourself "Be patient, learning math is good for them."
Power cards with their attack maths spell out and preworked as much as possible, also spell cards.
For large groups do not do standard initiative, have them roll as normal and go clockwise from the highest.
 

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