What system would you use for gritty fantasy?


Elder Thing
Dungeon Crawl Classics would be perfect, as would Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperboria. Depending on what genre of adventure you wanted to run, of course.

log in or register to remove this ad

Daniel D. Fox

Morrus, have you checked out ZWEIHANDER Grim & Perilous RPG yet? It ticks off all of the major themes of a grim, gritty game. It even has a 35 page morally grey adventure in the core book, if you want something that can be ran quickly without a lot of preparation required.

Message me and I will get you sorted for a comp copy.



Burning Wheel is fantasy, and gritty, though better for longer than short campaigns.

RQ can be pretty gritty.

I don't know DungeonWorld as well, but I think it could do gritty.

And then there's Moldvay Basic and its clones/relatives.


GURPS definitely does "gritty," if that's what you're looking for, but it will require lots of up-front GM load.

If you don't want to have to delve through all of the bits and pieces of GURPS' disparate sub-systems, and are okay with its baseline magic assumptions, I'd go with Runequest.

Savage Worlds can definitely be "dialed down" to be gritty. By default, I don't find it to be particularly "gritty," per se, but it's simple enough to make it that way.

  • Lower the "damage over toughness" threshold to cause a wound from 4 to 3 (or even 2)
  • Disallow "soak" rolls entirely, or require standard soak rolls to succeed at a -2 penalty
  • Limit the benny economy, either in frequency given out, or limit how many can be spent on soak rolls -- "I'm giving out an extra benny per session, but you can only make two soak rolls in any given session."


Victoria Rules
I'll second DCCRPG for something short and gritty (I can't imagine playing anything long term in that system!), or CoC with the nasty dial turned up.


Steeliest of the dragons
D&D. If 5e doesn't work, playing 1 or 2e...or even Basic/BECM for that matter would do the trick.

I don't really think "gritty" is a system reliant thing.

Are the characters in legitimate danger they may or truly may not be able to handle? Is magic somewhat restricted and/or rare? Is healing difficult (and/or, again, healing magic very difficult to come by) and/or lengthy?

An Advertisement