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Sell me on a new system?

19 May 2011, 20:08

So, there are a crapload of games out there meant to run high fantasy. I want to learn one. I've had some suggestions, and I've poked DnD a little, and Reign a little, and some homebrew stuff, but there's nothing yet that makes me want to love it and hug it and play it forever like Exalted and nWoD do.

So, maybe you people can use this opportunity to Tell Me About Your Campaign in a way that shows me how your favorite system is fucking awesome, the setting is fascinating/it's easy to make a setting, the mechanics are so fun/easy/whatever, and basically ramble in a productive manner. If you want to go on about DnD or Reign or some sort of nWoD hack you've done, that's cool too. By "high fantasy" I basically mean "there is magic and it's not in the modern real world", so go wild there.

(Note that the reason I'm making this thread rather than asking what I've already asked is that I'd like people to talk about their experiences, or at least something more in depth than "here is a list of systems". I'm not making a thread for people to show me where Google is. Just sayin'.)

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Re: Sell me on a new system?

19 May 2011, 20:38

Personally, I've found myself learning toward using Mutants and Masterminds (M&M) to run fantasy lately.

Mechanically, making a character can be a touch more complex than say, Exalted. However, that is due to the sheer options you have. Really any scale of character can be done with M&M, using one consistent mechanic. Characters are built using a combination of Power Points (like bonus points, but the entire character creation process uses only them. Imagine like an Exalt's character creation was converted to bonus point value, and you could spend them wherever you wanted) and Power Level (which determines how many points you get at the start, and how high your stats and powers can go; sort of like how stats can go to 5 in Exalted, until your Essence hits 6+).

Someone in the more Conan-esque league could readily be made around power level 6, someone a cut above what a normal person can do (most normal people cap out at power level 5, the vast majority are power level 0-3) but otherwise fairly normal. Go toward a more power level 8-10 scale and you have (no disrespect intended) around the power of most early Exalted, likely some mystic powers and skill well beyond a human; I statted Harmonious Jade at power level 10, for example. You can keep going upward (or downward, for more normal-human scale at 5 or less), at power level 10-12 you start getting fantasy more akin to a lot of the really old myths, people who can split mountains or level a city single handedly.

The system is technically designed for Super-Heroes and Comic style games, but green ronin (the company that makes it) has themselves said "and there are a lot of fantasy comics out there" and have even put out a book (for the prior edition) entirely focused on fantasy settings. The main difference is usually things like fantasy heroes don't typically fly as much as a super hero does. So it's just a matter of choosing powers and skills that fit the genre, and not taking ones that are inappropriate to the tone.
Then again, maybe you prefer having your fantasy involve the demigod of storms wielding lightning and riding the wind, battling demons in aerial combat with titanic power over a sacred city forged from solid light. That's entirely possible too.

Once characters are made, the system is actually simpler than most. It uses a single die (a d20). Every roll is made by rolling your d20 and adding or subtracting a modifier. There are some additional things to modify that however, such as Hero Points (earned by facing complications in the story or the character's life) that you can spend to do things like reroll a die (and if the reroll is 1-10, add +10 to the roll before other modifiers). Or Extra Effort, which allows you to push past your normal ability (usually at 2x the power, such as doubled lifting or doubled speed) at the cost of tiring yourself out.

Oh, and they have extras, or 'Minions' as M&M calls them. Any failed saving throw by a minion causes them to suffer the worst possible effect, so if you stab one and they fail a Toughness save, they drop dying at your feet.
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Re: Sell me on a new system?

24 May 2011, 13:29

time for me to gush about Ars Magica :)

The (default) setting is mythic europe in 1220. That is, you can take a history book a look up a lot of datials for setting etc, though it's not really necessairy.
Mythic means that the stories are true - there really are faeries in the woods and demons of hell really are out to corrupt you!

At the center of the game is the Order of Hermes (which you might know from oldMage - they imported it from Ars Magica!).
The Order of Hermes is the dominant (only?) order of magicians in europe. Ther powers are (potentially) vast, but to reach the pinnacle requires a lifetime of studies and wizards can live a long time indeed!

Ars Magica is centered around the magi, so every player (usually) has a wizard character. But the fun doesn't stop there. AM is designed for use with troupe style play, where most or all players have multiple characters.
Besides the Magus, most people will also play a companion - a non-magus, working with or for the magicians, often with a curious background and/or abilities of his or her own.
Also in the game are grog character, whch remind me alot of extras. Typically, these are guards/soldiers working for the magi (or for some companion!) and they are minor characters. This sounds boring - it's not! Grogs are bit characters, so you can ham it up with the roleplay and know that even if you fuck up, it's not you (main) character that did it. Likewise can you heroically charge the ferocious monster and be the hero of the day, dying for a greater cause - with a character that took 10 mins to write up.

Ars Magica even provides a reason for the characters working together and tolerating each other - libraries and laboratories, while necessary for expanding your wzard's magical powers - are hideously expensive, and so magi tend to live in covenants, which can become a sort of meta-character in itself. Working to improve your covenant really pays off in the long term, for by sacrificing time and effort now, you can build something greater than the sum of it's parts, and a strong covenant will have laboratories and a library that permits extensive growth for all of it's members.

mechanically it's simple, you add a few numbers together, roll a d10 and add in order to exceed a difficulty. This is alot like d20, because Jonathan Tweet wrote both systems, though I must admit that I find Ars Magica mechanically far superior. eg. it has no silly classes or levels.

Hermetic Magic is build around 15 Arts - 5 Techniques and 10 Forms.
The Form describes what you affect and the Technique what you do with it.
Eg: to cast a fireball (actually a Ball of Abysmal Flame), you use Creo (create) and Ignem (fire).
Eg: to turn a mouse into a horse, you use Muto (change) Animál (animal).
You can also combine multiple forms or techniques.
Eg: to turn yourself (a human) into a wolf, you use Muto (change), Corpuse (affects the human body) and Animál.

Magic can be used either as learned formulaic spells, or as spontaneously invented effects, the latter of which as less powerful, but since they are creted on the spot, much more flexible.

Some formulaic spells (eg Healing) are rtuals, meaning they take time to cast, and require somethng called Vis, which is basically concentrated magic.
Vis is also used for the creation of (most) magical items and a few other things. Ths is the catch-all for why wizards allways have such wierd items in their homes - many of them contain - or are Vis.

Ars Magica is also one of the few games I've seen where time passes even when you're not adventuring: Studies, laboratory activities and mundane practice is usually measured in seasons (of 3 months each) - this means that characters can grow old and start families or even die within the same storyline.
In a game I'm currently in, one of the magi is teaching his own daughter, who's likely to start her own family before she dies - and before he does, as wizards have a method of extending their lives far beyond what is normally alotted mortal men (though not to the level of celestial exalts).
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Re: Sell me on a new system?

24 May 2011, 13:35

also i forgot!

In many game systems, magic is rather arbitrary (eg. d20/d&d) and/or a sort of deault "no-one else do this, so...yeah, magic" (exalted).
In Ars Magica, magic is a system, with a certain logic to it. This is (IMAO) awesome, and makes it potentially much more magical!
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Re: Sell me on a new system?

24 May 2011, 16:53

oh yes M&M

I recall a character made on /tg/ in that system - where they somehow minmaxed the guy using the powers that allow you to duplicate yourself, as well as teleport, and a few other powers - to allow you to make about 1.5 million close combat attacks per turn

1.5 million punches

suffice to say, it was to demonstrate how easily M&M could be broken :3 but sounded fun
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Re: Sell me on a new system?

24 May 2011, 17:37

Mutants and Masterminds is a great game, possibly my favorite, though I've not played it as a fantasy game. I can attest that it works well at lower power levels, equivalent to 'Pulp' heroes or action films. Also good is Blue Rose, made by the same company, using the same basic system. Blue Rose is a rather more low-key fantasy game than most, and the themes of the game are romance and diplomacy, more so than killing orcs. The default setting is a bit...poofy, but if you like or can at least tolerate that it's a wonderful game.

I really like the magic system in Blue Rose; it works on the same principles as the rest of the game and, as a result, feels like an organic part of the world. There's also a neat system by which your character can use more powerful magic but risks being corrupted and turned evil as a result. The rules for social interaction are pretty good, not perfect, but better than most games.

I like simplicty, and the Mutants and Masterminds/ Blue Rose/ True 20 system is simple. There's a lot of detail in character creation and powers for M&M, but after that it all flows very nicely. Frankly, the complexity of Exalted turns me off at times, and it can be nice to have a climatic fight involving five heroes and four villians and resolve it in under an hour, rather than the three hours it would take in Exalted.
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