What fantasy system and setting should I try?

aramis erak

I was going to jump in and echo "Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay!" but then I realized the 5th part of the Enemy Within Campaign that has just been released in electronic form has, on its cover, a flying ship (a dwarven dirigible to be exact) which breaks rule number 4 - "Un-exotic: no flying ships...".

So I'm going to ignore rule number 4 and suggest "Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay!" anyway.
That's a change... but it's a change to match the core WFB changes over the years. WFB has gotten more and more over the top over the years.

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@Aldarc : the only drawback is that Stonetop isn't really out yet and Kickstarter delivery got pushed into 2022; but an interesting game to check out nevertheless.
I agree, but it's not as big of a problem as one might imagine. I've been following Stonetop for several years now, and I've playtested the game as well. As you say, it isn't really out yet, but most of the game materials were already out there on the web before the Kickstarter, including DW Discord and Jeremy Strandberg's Spouting Lore blog. It's mostly an issue of polish, fine touches, and fleshing out some setting material than anything else.

When it comes to the criteria that @Bill Zebub laid out in the OP, the first games that came to my mind tonally were Stonetop and Beyond the Wall & Other Adventures. I am certainly aware that everyone is convinced that some of their favorite games that they are most familiar with are the best fits, and people often jump at the chance to recommend the games they like, myself included.

However, I will point out these are two games designed for hearth fantasy adventure gameplay where (a) the village and "the mundane" explicitly and deliberately exists as a central focus of play, (b) their mundane focus and grounding help accentuate the lower key fantasy elements, and (c) utilize playbooks in low-to-medium crunch rules systems. These are games where the village is the characters' world that they are trying to save. It's their home.

BtWaOA does have a bit of a zero-to-hero vibe, but that's mainly because its meant to emulate the young adult fantasy Bildungsroman (e.g., Chronicles of Prydain, Earthsea, etc.), but it still has a much flatter power curve than some other games.

If Bill Zebub likes DW mechanics/classes but finds its improvisational nature a struggle, I likewise think that Stonetop is worth considering, as I think that the author does a great job IMHO of supporting GMs with that improvisational angle of the game with some great advice, guidelines, and examples. Stonetop is a product of a fan creator who has been a highly active member of the Dungeon World community, so they come from a position of key awareness of common issues surrounding DW. I often use his "Homebrew World" version instead of Dungeon World proper. When looking through what he has written about Dungeon World, Homebrew World, and Stonetop, it's pretty clear IMHO that Strandberg has a solid foundation of firsthand knowledge about running the game. The playtest materials for Stonetop, for example, discuss the GM moves in greater detail, providing examples and explanation. Every player move has about two pages of clarfiying explanations that are meant to help newcomer GMs. Even with the adjustments that Stonetop makes to the base game, I think that Stonetop will become the go-to reading for running Dungeon World.

aramis erak

Another vote for Zweihander, it does not have a world but fits Warhammer. It is sort of Warhammer 2.5.
The author has described it more as 1.5... as it's somewhere between 1E and 2E in it's approaches. Mechanically, it's closer to 2E, but it's in the direction of 1E, not away from 1E, in relation to 2E.

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