Which game engine suits this best?

Rabbitbait

Adventurer
Hi folks,

I am coming up with a campaign idea. Sort of Men in Black meets the fantasy multiverse. The idea is that an AI has become self aware, and an unforeseen consequence of that is that the walls between the real and the imaginary are weakening. Fiction is seeping into the world, whether it be a zombie attack in small town Texas, vampires in London or anything from imagined worlds. The characters are tasked with closing the rifts between worlds. Sometimes that is easy and just a matter of defeating the foe on earth or convincing them to return to their own world, but sometimes the characters will need to go into the imaginary world to find the McGuffin that will close the rift. Sometimes they will need to go into a rift to work out which character from an imaginary world has made it into our world and then hunt them down.

The idea is that the powers that be know that the world is doomed and that all realities will merge at some point, but they are just trying to hold off the inevitable. The characters will find out over time that they need to convince enough iterations of the AI over multiple worlds to shut itself down in order to save reality. They will team up with the AI on our world to track down the other iterations (who could be anyone - Dumbledore, Darth Vader, Rumplestiltskin etc).

The characters will start off as normal humans with normal earth classes, but as they level up I want them to be able to take skills from the worlds they have visited.

So my question is..... is there a game system that will fit this? I've been looking at Savage Worlds, and I think Cypher System might be a goer as well. I'd like the basic system to be easy for players to learn as they are not used to 'not-D&D'.

Any suggestions will be gratefully explored.
 

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Kannik

Adventurer
Personally I've been very keen on Cortex Prime lately. We're using it in a campaign that has many influences/genres mashed into one and Cortex handles this variety well. It also works great if the campaign/tone will be character/narrative focused, and the various tools and ways of resolution allows for imaginative situations and solutions as well as wild and creative action. It also provides a few (yet all related mechanics) for different types of situations or challenges that keep the game from getting bogged down while also allowing it to get detailed where you want it to be. And even with all that it remains quite straightforward and easy to learn.

Whatever you choose, enjoy! Your campaign seed sounds quite neat. :)
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So my question is..... is there a game system that will fit this? I've been looking at Savage Worlds, and I think Cypher System might be a goer as well. I'd like the basic system to be easy for players to learn as they are not used to 'not-D&D'.

Okay, so, the question I come to is what, for your group, counts as "easy to learn"?

There is "game has many moving parts, but is traditional in construction" - Savage Worlds and GURPS fit in this space.

There is also, "Game has fewer moving parts, but concepts much different from D&D" - Cortex and Fate fall into this space.

Which would be harder for your group to pick up?
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Most generic systems would work for that. Risus, Fate, Cortex, Warp/Over the Edge, Free-Form Universal, FKR, Cypher, Savage Worlds, etc.

Thematically, it reminds me of TORG and Fate of Cthulhu. It's not an exact match to either, but there's a lot of genre bleed and crossing the streams in TORG and doomed world, the end is nigh in Fate of Cthulhu. Going old school, it sounds like a Lords of Creation game that stops after a few levels.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
As Overgeeked said and others have referenced, there's a lot of generic systems that could handle this, so a little more information is needed to say what would be best.
 

Rabbitbait

Adventurer
As Overgeeked said and others have referenced, there's a lot of generic systems that could handle this, so a little more information is needed to say what would be best.
That's all I have at the moment. I would adjust the rest to fit the system. Liking the look of Cortex Prime best so far from the suggestions above.
 

Rabbitbait

Adventurer
Okay, so, the question I come to is what, for your group, counts as "easy to learn"?

There is "game has many moving parts, but is traditional in construction" - Savage Worlds and GURPS fit in this space.

There is also, "Game has fewer moving parts, but concepts much different from D&D" - Cortex and Fate fall into this space.

Which would be harder for your group to pick up?

I think the latter would be a better fit for my group. We have played D&D almost exclusively for quite a while and it would be nice to try something quite different in approach.
 

Rabbitbait

Adventurer
Personally I've been very keen on Cortex Prime lately. We're using it in a campaign that has many influences/genres mashed into one and Cortex handles this variety well. It also works great if the campaign/tone will be character/narrative focused, and the various tools and ways of resolution allows for imaginative situations and solutions as well as wild and creative action. It also provides a few (yet all related mechanics) for different types of situations or challenges that keep the game from getting bogged down while also allowing it to get detailed where you want it to be. And even with all that it remains quite straightforward and easy to learn.

Whatever you choose, enjoy! Your campaign seed sounds quite neat. :)
I've just had a brief read and I think I like this system. They definitely look like a better match than the two I was thinking of. Will read further.

Thanks :)
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
So my question is..... is there a game system that will fit this?
You've told us a lot about the setting and character advancement goals. These are important, but to me more as requirements than as the system choice.

What do you want to focus on in play?

Are you looking at providing a D&D-like experience, where it's all about the GM coming up with challenges to overcome, with combat often being a valid solution, and character failure is often devastating and something to be avoided? There are a lot of options for this, and people are mentioning them above.

Are you looking for a system that promotes "here's this rapidly changing world where things are getting more dangerous and the players should be directing what to do next and the system helps discover from there, without the GM specifically planning adventures? There are a number of Powered by the Apocalypse games that might fit the bill. Some of it's decendants, like Forged in the Dark games, might fit as well.

Are you looking for a system that generates a more movie or novel like beats, of ups and downs where failure will be part of the narrative as well as success as you strive on. Fate and Cortex Prime, with the appropriate selections, both could help with that.

Are you looking for a squeeze, an ultimately overwhelming experience where the party fights not with a hope to win, but to save as many as they can for as long as they can. While Torchbearer provides this types of experience it's not well suited to the genre or character advancement, but specifically the Pulp rules for Call of Cthulhu might.

Is this more about the bonds you make along the way then the details of the individual fights? About discovering who you are in the face of adversity? More PbtA options for this.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Sounds like City of Mist would be perfect for your concept . Cinematic Modern Fantasy Tabletop RPG (TTRPG)
Yeah my first thought was City of Mist sounds like a great premise
I prefer the simplicity of FATE Accelerated over Cortex but City of Mist is a great game.

btw anyone seen the Asylums Avengers Grimm or Sinister Squad mockbusters? They’re bad but the premise is that fairytale characters form superhero team to save the world and imho Sinister Squad is better than David Ayers Suicide Squad movie.
 
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Rabbitbait

Adventurer
City of Mist sounds great but does not quite resonate. I need to have a look at FATE. Hard to sneak in looks at RPG systems while at work.
 

Personally I've been very keen on Cortex Prime lately. We're using it in a campaign that has many influences/genres mashed into one and Cortex handles this variety well. It also works great if the campaign/tone will be character/narrative focused, and the various tools and ways of resolution allows for imaginative situations and solutions as well as wild and creative action. It also provides a few (yet all related mechanics) for different types of situations or challenges that keep the game from getting bogged down while also allowing it to get detailed where you want it to be. And even with all that it remains quite straightforward and easy to learn.

Whatever you choose, enjoy! Your campaign seed sounds quite neat. :)
Seconding Cortex.
 


Kannik

Adventurer
City of Mist sounds great but does not quite resonate. I need to have a look at FATE. Hard to sneak in looks at RPG systems while at work.
Only difficult if you fail your sneak check... ;)

FATE is another fine option, and Cortex / FATE are similar in their intent. Having played a bunch of FATE and now having given Cortex a spin, on the whole I've found Cortex to be more flavorful and highlight the characters' uniqueness/flair/shtick more. That being said, we are using Approaches from FATE Accelerated in our Cortex game, which has worked out splendidly. Cortex is very much a toolbox, so porting in things like that works well. :)
 

I ran a campaign using Cypher that was similar to your idea. It was a modern setting but involved hopping to other dimensions. I used the superhero rules for character building but would suggest you not try them if you aren't as familiar with the game. They can really break stuff in fun and not so fun ways.

Using the cross class rules will definitely help. I'd suggest making Cyphers only work in their respective dimensions to make the players use them frequently.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Echoing others somewhat…

Pretty much any good toolbox or supers RPG system will work. I included supers because many toolbox systems started off as supers games for the simple reason that they had to model a very broad array of character archetypes. Typical superheroic settings include aliens, wizards, mutants, AI, mystic martial artists and so forth.

Next, I’d consider games that alrea mix sci-Fi and fantasy elements,

My personal faves for running something like this would be HERO, Cypher, Mutants & Masterminds, Shadowrun, RIFTS. Monster of the Week, Dragonstar, Starfinder, any of the licensed Star Wars games.

(GURPS could do it, but it’s not a system I run; I’ll play it, though.)

Dark horse option: D&D 4Ed run as a classless system
 

Kannik

Adventurer
Oh, one other recommendation for diving into Cortex Prime is to give the Tales of Xadia rules primer a gander: Tales of Xadia Rules Primer | Fandom Tabletop As a toolbox, Cortex Prime can be a bit confounding on how to choose which parts to use and how they fit together. ToX is the first "full" RPG to come out under the Cortex Prime ruleset and so even if not using the same options in your campaign it can be a good reference and example on how to put it all together. Plus the module for Challenges is excellent and highly flexible to adjudicate all sorts of situations. :)
 

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