Your most underrated system.

I think that Basic Role Play is the most sadly underrated system on the RPG market today. It's the best generic system out now, better than hero or gurps. I just looked up CoC 7e and it's even better than the official BRP rules. I wonder if 'burp' as a name hurt it.

What system do you think is the most underrated system on the RPG market?
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Best that’s out now? Over the Edge, 3rd Edition. It’s an ultralight, almost free-form game that can handle any genre. It’s a story-focused and fiction-first game. Absurdly underrated.

Best that’s out soon? Fabula Ultima. I say out soon as it’s only had a PDF release and a very limited print release. But it should be widely available by the end of the year. This is a tabletop JRPG inspired by Blades in the Dark, PbtA, and D&D 4E. Huge character customization options. Light and easy to use system. Enough system that you know it’s there, but it gets out of the way. Very collaborative and fiction first. Designed as a player-driven game. The GM is explicitly reactive. Made to deliver the JRPG experience at the table. It’s utterly fantastic. It’s getting some traction here and there, but this should be blowing up.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Monster of the Week is a very, very good specific implementation of PbtA. I see relatively little praise for it, though.
 

JEB

Legend
Monsters & Magic, basically a hybrid of OSR D&D and Fate, which had some really interesting ideas while still remaining compatible with classic D&D material. Shame it never got much attention; I wonder if it came out too close to D&D 5E.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Best that’s out soon? Fabula Ultima. I say out soon as it’s only had a PDF release and a very limited print release. But it should be widely available by the end of the year. This is a tabletop JRPG inspired by Blades in the Dark, PbtA, and D&D 4E. Huge character customization options. Light and easy to use system. Enough system that you know it’s there, but it gets out of the way. Very collaborative and fiction first. Designed as a player-driven game. The GM is explicitly reactive. Made to deliver the JRPG experience at the table. It’s utterly fantastic. It’s getting some traction here and there, but this should be blowing up.
PDF is up on DTRPG. Just outside my remaining games budget for the month. $17.90
 




jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Chill 2e is the best game nobody played.

I played the HELL out of Chill 2e. It is still my preferred edition of the game and it was a crying shame that the "SAVE corrupted" storyline that they had been weaving throughout the books never saw a conclusion. Still, a truly great horror RPG.
 

Jahydin

Adventurer
Hackmaster 5E. I know for many it's so crunchy they wont even attempt to play it, but it does so many things right it's hard not gush about it every chance I get.

Just look at how the attributes are used:
Strength: Damage, Encumbrance, Feats of Strength, Weapons that can be held
Intelligence: Attack Modifier, Building Points (used to buy skills, feats, or raise attributes)
Wisdom: Initiative, Defense, Mental Saving Throws, Building Points
Dexterity: Initiative, Attack Modifier, Defense Modifier, Dodge Saving Throws, Feats of Agility
Constitution: Physical Saving Throws, Hit Points, Threshold of Pain (withstand large blows knocking you out)
Looks: Charisma, Starting Honor and Fame
Charisma: Turning (Cleric), Morale, Building Points, Starting Honor, Maximum Proteges

Some other brilliant touches:
No combat rounds, everyone takes turns depending on fast their attack speed
Fighters have to level up to become a Paladin
Armor makes you easier to hit, but absorbs damage
Shields are really good at blocking hits, but powerful blows can break them and carry over to you.
The longer you go without a rest, the higher your EXP bonus will be
Attributes have a chance to improve every level
Gold always in demand thanks to being needed for better gear/repairs and leveling up
Intricate Wound system, making combat dangerous and gritty, no matter HP values
Exploding Dice! (if you roll the highest value, roll again at - 1 and add it to the total)

I could go on and on. If you enjoy clever takes on D&D rules, I think this is worth it just to read through for houserule inspiration.
 

innerdude

Legend
I was highly skeptical of FFG Star Wars / Genesys upon hearing about it initially.

I think a lot of folks in the community decried the "gimmicky" dice. It's also in a liminal space between "trad" and narrative sytems that makes it seem that it's sort of neither, which doesn't appeal to either core set of GMs.

But I think it's pretty underrated. It has consistently delivered on the promise it proposes, that you'll get the benefits of a rules medium core with narrativist flair.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
For me, it's the point-buy character-building supplement Eclipse: The Codex Persona for d20-based games (e.g. D&D 3.5, Pathfinder 1E, d20 Modern, etc.).

While it has an expansive list of abilities that can be purchased, and smartly makes race-building work on the same rules as taking levels, what really makes the book shine is that it standardizes a way to tailor any and all of what it offers. Specifically, you can introduce a minor weakness ("corruption") into a power in exchange for a +50% increase in its efficacy or a one-third reduction in its price; you can introduce a major weakness ("specialization") in exchange for a +100% increase in its efficacy or a one-half reduction in its price. Alternatively, you can add both a corruption and a specialization, stacking the benefits accordingly.

Of course, that leaves open the cost of what constitutes a major or minor weakness (and, in some cases, what constitutes a corresponding increase in efficacy, where it's not numerically obvious), and that requires adjudication by the GM (along with whether or not various powers, and alterations to them, are available in the first place), which is where the system seems to lose a lot of people. Insofar as d20 games go, there's a persistent mindset that I've observed that "generating my PC is an area where the GM has no say; I can make whatever I want from the available (first-party) rules." So the idea of having the GM look over and give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to a particular idea strikes a lot of people as a bug, rather than a feature.

Personally, I disagree, simply because trust between the GM and player is a part of any game anyway, so there's nothing really wrong with extending it to the character creation process. Characters always have the potential to be disruptive, whether they're rules-legal or not, and it's the GMs' prerogative to make sure everything flows smoothly. So in that regard, there's no issue, at least to my mind. With that established, the ability to introduce drawbacks so as to vary the already-expansive list of powers allows for almost anything possible to be generated; in doing so, it expands on what the d20 System is capable of by a lot!

The co-author of the book has a blog, and he's posted a metric crap-ton of content generated using the book (and its sister product, The Practical Enchanter, which deconstructs spells and magic under the d20 System rules). Seriously, he has characters ranging from Middle Earth's Sauron to Marvel's Cable to My Little Pony's Rainbow Dash, and lots more. It's an impressive showing for what I think is a criminally-unrecognized sourcebook.

Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
The best game ever is Dungeon Crawl Classics. It's innovative, flexible, and fast.

Unless you're the type who is either a) afraid to make stuff up or b) needs to be able to take a different class every time you level up, DCC will wow you.

And even if you fall into camps a) or b) above, give it a shot. It just might work for you anyway.
 

HaroldTheHobbit

Adventurer
Not really underrated, and I am in the trad camp, but I rediscovered Savage Worlds a while ago. Savage Pathfinder does the kind of D&Dish fantasy my table like very well, while getting rid of lots of ugly d20 stuff and - a really big plus - with a much flatter power curve. And it plays great in Foundry. And the conversions of the old APs is excellent. And my wife who loves roleplaying but hate engaging too much with heavy rules enjoy it (the real litmus test!).

As a bonus the system handles our other favorite genres well - Traveller:ish sci-fi, pulp and pulp Cthulhu, and modern conspiracy. We will even play supers down the line. So system-wise we are set for a long time.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I'm not sure if I woul call either Monster of the Week or Dungeon Crawl Classics "underrated" systems. The former gets a lot of praise in D&D circles, as MotW is probably one of the more traditional-leaning PbtA games out there. Likewise, the boards here and on Twitter constantly bombard DCC with praise.

I don't know what the most underrated system out there is, but there are definitely a lot of them out there that either do not get the traction or credit that they may otherwise deserve: e.g., Gumshoe, Over the Edge, Burning Wheel, Pendragon, Blue Rose RPG, Hill Folk, Tiny System, Ryuutama, Paleomythic, etc.

Over the Edge, for example, was a massive influence on games like Fate, Risus, and Cortex or any game that claims influence by Fate's aspects. It also influnced 13th Age's backgrounds, but I'm not sure that really counts since Jonathan Tweet was the designer or co-designer for both.

And dare I say it, but for all the edition warring, I would suggest that 4e D&D is probably a highly underrated system, particularly in light of how many designers are looking back at 4e D&D with fresh eyes and distance from that edition warring.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I'm going out on a limb here... as I have a few dislikes about Palladium... but the early version of the system is generally rather good.

Palladium's The Mechanoids (TM) and The Mechanoid Invasion (TMI). (2nd and 1st editions of the Gideon E setting, respectively.) The setting is well expressed, the rules are quite playable, the art is consistent in tone and quality. It's a high combat, implacable enemy, fight or die setting. (I am explicitly not discussing the RIFTS adaptation;

I think people needlessly pan Palladium's engine; it is simple, dual mechanic, playable, and cinematic in tone, including dodging bullets and lots of missing the target...

Attributes are scaled a bit differently than D&D - I have an issue with how the 4th die is triggered, but not that it's got a means of doing so: 3d6, in line. Any that rolled a 16, 17, or 18 is given an additional 1d6. (This is my #1 gripe. Solution? If all listed dice — as rovers don't roll 3d6 for all atts — for that attribute are the same, roll one extra) Attribute mods only happen for high (16+) attributes. (Gripe #2 - I like attributes to matter more.)

Mechanic 1 is skill use: 1d100 skill rating. One has to read all the skills to find that, however. (PAV, PGV, and PPT in TM; WP in TMI.)

Mechanic 2 is combat skill use. 1d20 + skill modifier; 5+ is a hit. If the roll is under the Armor Rating (AR) it hits the armor; if over, it skips the armor. If the target has actions left, they can try an active defense: Dodge (Both), or vs melee attacks, Parry.
Dodge: Forfeit next attack, and roll 1d20+mods ≥ Attacker's to-hit die.
Parry: do not forfeit next, otherwise like dodge.

Not obvious, but built in, most PCs get 1 free dodge per turn.

Hits to armor deplete its SDC; if it's run out, the remainder pass through to the wearer.

It's use of PE as the base for hit points is a great way to keep the damage dice low, yet give them teeth. Damages are pretty much D&D compatible... noting that typical weapons are "blasters" in the 2d6 to 4d6 range... that all OCCs add 1d6 HP per level makes levels all that much more equal across classes. (Something that RIFTS changes...)

Character gen is 1980-standard: roll atts in order, pick class (OCC - Occupational Character Class), note abilities. Unlike 1980 standard, it expresses these almost exclusively as discrete skills, and it gives elective skill selections. All characters' skills advance at the same rate by skill; specific OCCs have one-time bonuses to its core skills. (Gripe #3: lockstep advancement. Easily houseruled.) Advancement is by level-up, with increasing cost per level, but flat rate experience awards based upon relative difficulty of encounters. I love the experience point awards table. I've used it in D&D (BX & Cyclopedia) as an alternate for when I want to make combat less important in D&D. 25 XP for a "clever but futile" idea? Yup!

Mechanoids also lacks the later MegaDamage concept; all the Mechanoids are SDC armor on very wimpy HP critters.
TM and TMI also lack the Personal SDC...
TM and TMI both give just HP and worn armor SDC. So, a starting PC has 3 to 30 HP, usually around 14, and typical weapons doing double damage to HP on success (explicit choice on double number of dice or double rolled on standard number of dice)... it takes 2-3 melee attacks to drop a foe. But only 1-2 attacks with a pistol to put down most starting PCs.
Later Palladium games give a number of non-combat skills a boost to "Physical SDC" (more often dubbed Personal SDC, since it's the form people have, which leads later games' players to lean towards the "Full Physical Package" in elective skills - Body Building (10 PSDC), Boxing (3d6 PSDC), Wrestling (4d6 PSDC), Gymnastics (3d6 PSDC). Robotech also gives 20 to 30, by class. So, a starting Robotech PC has PE+1d6 HP (so 4 to 30 HP at level 1) - this doubles to triples the damage needed to drop a human target.
It also eats up all the electives with the Full Physical Package - most Palladium games are conflict-heavy. So Robotech PCs can often take upwards of 50 points of damage before dropping.
IMO, Robotech is where Palladium goes wrong; adding the physical SDC and MDC are both problems that lead to Palladium being seen as a munchkin's game of choice.

TMI launched Palladium Books as a company... with good reason, as it's a solid game. Just be warned: it was printed on cheap newsprint. and most copies suffer medium to severe acid migration, rendering the pages red-brown, and the ink is cheap stuff, which also ages to a red-brown... the changes also make the pages brittle.

But all is not lost - the text - in a fresh layout with good modern fonts - of TMI is available in a reprint edition, The Mechanoid Trilogy.
Modern low-acid paper, non-acid ink, more easily read fonts... (The original is typed. On a Typewriter. Then optically typeset.)
TM is available in PDF, in its (better than TMI's) typed layout - it appears to have been done with a daisywheel or typeball printer, or perhaps typed.
The art in both shows Kevin Siembieda had the art skills to do comics... and much of the art in early Palladium books are his.
 

MGibster

Legend
Palladium's The Mechanoids (TM) and The Mechanoid Invasion (TMI). (2nd and 1st editions of the Gideon E setting, respectively.) The setting is well expressed, the rules are quite playable, the art is consistent in tone and quality. It's a high combat, implacable enemy, fight or die setting. (I am explicitly not discussing the RIFTS adaptation;
Which Mechanoid book were we waiting on for what seemed like decades? Anyway, while I have zero desire to go back and use Palladium rules again, I can't deny that I had a good time with many of their games. TMNT, Heroes Unlimited, Beyond the Supernatural, Robotech, Rifts, and even Palladium Fantasy were decent games that I have fond memories of.
 

payn

Legend
I like Mongoose Traveller 2E. I seem to much prefer a flatter progression in my campaigns and games these days.
 


aramis erak

Legend
Which Mechanoid book were we waiting on for what seemed like decades?
That would be the Rifts version. Which, you might note, isn't mentioned other than Not the rifts version. The originals are simpler, work better, and lack MDC and PSDC. But you're proving the point well enough - you're implying in the dropped portion that you are judging it based upon later games with the two most problematic additions...
 

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