Some of you may remember the column “Ask The Stargazer” that I introduced back in 2011. I posted a couple of replies to your questions since then, but for various reasons the column has lost steam in 2012. But there are still a few unanswered emails in my inbox, so I decided to get “Ask The Stargazer” back into gear again!
Here’s the first question for 2013:
I have one more question that I kindly would ask: What is the best fantasy rpg?
Could you please give short overview of the most popular fantasy rpgs with a summary of pros and cons? I have played d&d 3rd, ad&d 2nd, d&d 3.5 and now I’m playing Pathfinder. Although there is a lot of differences between these editions this mostly one game. My problem is that I find this game a bit heavy – having to much rules and the combat takes to much time. In addition I hate class levels, making it too difficult for the DM/GM to make an adventure. So the thing I actually what to find out is what other options do I have? I have played some general rpgs as well, but I didn’t find those very intriguing.
Deciding which fantasy RPG is best for you is actually not easily answered. There’s no such thing as the best RPG. Every game out there has its flaws and it’s entirely possible that the game I love is total rubbish to you. As the saying goes: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But before I get too philosophical, let’s have a look at a few popular games.
A note: I will give you my thoughts on each of the games but going into detail will definitely beyond the scope of a blog post, so if you’re interested to learn more about a particular game, check out the game’s official site or post your question in the comments below.
A while ago I decided to switch my fantasy campaign to a new rules system. The one that I have been using before is still one of my favorites but it didn’t quite fit the setting I had developed. At first I thought about using Fudge but I couldn’t find a magic system I was happy with. Then I gave Legend another look. We’re talking about Mongoose’s Legend here, which is basically the latest version of RuneQuest.
What I like about Legend is that it’s pretty cheap ($1 for the PDF is a great deal), easy to learn but with the right amount of crunch to even satisfy players that are bored by most rules-light systems. When it comes to everything but combat RuneQuest is a very rules-light games. And because of it’s percentile system for task resolution it’s almost intuitive.
When it comes to combat things get more complex. I have to admit when I ran the first encounter I actually had a hard time getting everything right. There’s a lot you have to take into consideration: weapon reach, weapon sizes, the level of success and many more. If your attack/defense was particularly good you are allowed to perform combat maneuvers which makes things even more complicated.
But I realized that Legend has just the right amount of crunch for me. It’s not too complex but it’s just enough to challenge me. And I consider that a good thing. From the reaction of my players I gathered that they enjoy the switch to Legend as well. I ran them through a first combat encounter that felt like a scene from an action movie. I also realized that I have to put more effort into creating encounters if I want to challenge my players. It’s a really dumb idea to let three bandit with short swords attack a barbarian warrior with a great sword. 😉
The one thing I don’t like about Legend is that the tables and lists you need to run a game are scattered all over the book. Half of the time I was leafing through the book trying to find the stuff I needed as a GM. There’s also no Legend GM screen, yet. But luckily I found a few cheat sheets for Runequest II on the ‘net that should be compatible.
The only other thing I am missing besides a GM screen is a list of common NPCs that I can use in my games. It’s actually easy enough to come up with NPCs but it’s pretty hard to get encounters right. But I hope this will get better with experience.