Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Modern Systems, Part 2


I am burned out on Unisystem.  There are a few very good reasons that I just don't want to get into now, but the bottom line is the same.  I am burned out on it and what to try something else.

Not just play or run, but write about. Maybe even publish somethings for it.

I have had in my mind now for a while the idea that I want a game that would simulate modern supernatural/urban horror, and there are a lot of systems that can do this well, Unisystem at the top of the list really.  But I want to be able to do more with it and have something that I could if I choose, publish stuff for it.  So that rules out many of the systems that would otherwise be fine.
Also I want the focus of the game to change from "killing things and taking their stuff" or even "we are saving the world again, it must be Tuesday".

I am looking for something where people can play supernaturals or normal humans side by side with out too much of an issue.  A goal would be to have it be able to emulate any modern supernatural TV show or book you can think of.  Well, not Harry Potter, that is a different animal completely.

Here are my choices so far.

True20 - I am inordinately fond of this system.  It is easy. It is simple and it gets out of the way while playing.  I am not thrilled with levels, but I have an idea about that.  I have already done a lot of work with True20, both here and in some unpublished material that I can now use.  While it's support is also next to nothing and the fan base is thin, the rules are solid and I can use them thanks to the OGL.  Though one of the issues with True20 is that humans basically start at 1st level and a vampire or werewolf is much higher.  Plus there is no system of Drawback or Complications in True20 (though I have written one).

Fate/Fudge - Another open system with a lot of support.  I am just not overwhelmed with it.  I suppose I could go the route Icons did and use numbers.

ORCS - Jason Vey's system in Spellcraft & Swordplay. Flexible and has many advantages.  I would though end up making it look more like True20 in the end, which is why I put True20 on the list.

Mutants & Masterminds - Now this is an interesting choice.  Nearly everything I need is here.  The system is open and with Superlink I can even do more.  I would need to redo the magic systems a bit to be honest.  4Color/superhero magic and urban fantasy are not really the same.  It has the things I like in True20 and Orcs, plus it has a ton of support.

Savage Worlds - Not a fan of this system, even though it is good and has a ton of support as well.  Again, I'd need to redo the magic system to get it to my liking.

"Power of Three" - you have not heard of this one.  It is a system that I have been poking around with for a couple of years.  The name comes from the three basic abilities all the characters have, Body, Mind and Spirit.   Yeah similar to Tri-Stat, but the mechanics are different.  It is also based on the Charmed game I'd like to write one day.  Of course the system is perfect for what I want to do except for the little problem that it is not done.  It's not even in a playtestable shape yet. So much for that.

The one thing all these games have though is the means to support a lot of mini-campaigns or min-campaign worlds.
Here is what I have in mind. This is not all of them, nor are these even set in stone.

Generation HEX - the most developed of the three mini-worlds. Lower powered, kids in a magic high-school

Ordinary World - Supernatural creatures trying to live in modern suburbia and trying to blend in.  That doesn't always work so well.

Power of Three - My "Charmed/Witches of Eastwick/Rachel Morgan" homage.  Witches saving the world.

Daughters of Death - The children of the old gods are walking the earth again and not all of them have humanities interests in mind.  This includes the stats for the eponymous daughters.

Each world then would have additional rules to support their respective views.  So Gen HEX would need to scaled for magic school high jinks (Jinx High?), Ordinary World would need rules for hiding powers and suggestions for stories to tell.

One thing though, I am going to avoid using Lovecraft/Cthulhu type stories or monsters.  The exact thing that he was trying to do the werewolves, vampires and ghosts of a past age have now been done to his creations.

I'll keep thinking about this.


Tim Knight said...

Have you looked at Margaret Weis's Supernatural (Cortex) rules - they seem pretty slick and I was thinking about doing something with them before I got hooked on my current OSR/D&D kick!

PS. Sorry to hear you're burned out on Unisystem - you were always the "go-to" guy for Unisystem material.

Never mind, onwards and upwards... and still keen to see your Witch book ;)

Anonymous said...

Smallville the rpg does one thing you're looking for, letting characters of different power levels play side by side. I don't know if it does everything else you want though. It's not quite game-y enough for me usually.

Nifelhein said...

For all you say I believe your own "Power of Three" would be a good way of going the write and publish path.

In all systems you seem to need to tinker and tailor the system to fit, in this case you are making it all up for it.

That leaves playtesting and writing left. Playtesting you can get, and writing you already are quite good at.

rainswept said...

If you are collecting votes, I'd love to see someone finally do something interesting with True20. It seems like much of what has been done is in the vein of "Hey, now you can play this like it's D&D!"

rainswept said...

PS I also love True20 for no good (or at least no healthy) reason.

Rhonin84 said...


You do know that you are describing the WoD books right? I mean between their usual offerings you also have their Scion rules set.

True20 was interesting but I don't believe it would stand up to what you want...MnM would probably be a better fit there.

Supernatural for Cortex is well done but there is no real magic system for that game...though you could always write one. ;)

Cross Planes said...

Not to make your list longer, but have you looked at Ubiquity? Also, if your looking at True20, what about GR's AGE system? And MiniSix seems to be getting good attention. And I know your burnt out on Unisystem, but Fuzion could be tweaked & is another Open Content system with similarities to Unisystem.

From a sales level Savage Worlds seems to have a very loyal following & Pinnacle seems to have the same level of communication with their fanbase as Paizo. And promotes their licensees very, very well.

The nice thing about Power of Three is its your system.

As for setting Generation Hex sounds cool to me.

Good luck.