It is the easy to get lost in a crowd. With the amount of RPG’s coming out (dare I say daily), every now and again, a gem is produced, only to be immediately swallowed by the avalanche. The following are my opinions on a number of rule systems I’ve came across over the last year or so. Some might be much older (or really well know to all but myself), again, it’s only recently that I came across them, and (no offense meant) they feel like they aren’t as popular as some. Without further ado, here they are.
1) 7th Sea
Aaaarrrrrrr, ya scurvy dogs! It be pirates! 7th Sea, presents a fantasy world heavily influenced by the golden age of piracy. Think Pirates of the Caribbean and also every other pirate movie and/or book ever made. The setting surprised me, in the best possible way. The the world given to us is a series of jagged coastlines and islands. Most of these areas belong to different political units, and work very differently from each other. It’s easy to see that this map is a parody of our own world. It shouldn’t be surprising that someone in the 17th-18th centuries with a Scottish cultural upbringing, would be a different person/sailor/pirate than someone with a Mediterranean early life. Also there are fencing fighting styles, it’s really very cool. The dice system is great, involving a pool of D10’s, adding numbers up to 10, and something called ‘raises’ that allow you to do exceptional things.
2) Belly of the Beast
This rule system is pretty straight forward, dice-wise, and the setting is amazing. Centuries ago, a huge asteroid slammed into this planet. Massive crater, some destruction. Decades later, something hatches from the site of the impact. According to the description, it looked like an Arrakis Sandworm, just much, MUCH bigger. After many years eating everything that wasn’t nailed down, (and most things that were), the Beast has grown to the size of a mountain range, hundreds, if not thousands of miles long, and as wide as a country. Effectively, you play a medieval fantasy setting INSIDE THE GUTS OF A CONTINENT SIZED WORM. Oh yes, things, survived being swelled hole, and the digestion process looks like it takes millennia. Imagine. Humans being born and dying without seeing the sky, only knowing the country-sized chambers of the Beast’s digestive tract. Action centers around the physical and political dealings of humans with very little resources (so mostly scavengers and mercs), and there’s a sense of heaviness to the scenario, which I love. Dice are a pool of D6’s, rolling to a Target Number.
3) The End Of The World
On the surface, these Fantasy Flight books are simple post-apocalyptic settings, Nothing exciting about that, surely. What makes it different are the characters. If you, Jane Smit, play the game, your character is Jane Smith. As in, YOU are your character and vice versa. Character creation is a collaborative effort, so your character is, to the best of your efforts, YOU. The idea; the world ends (there’s 4 different books, Zombies, Aliens, Robots and Wrath of the Gods), and you are caught in the middle. Your equipment is whatever you usually have about your person. Mobile phone, lighters? That sort of thing. Dice system, you roll D6 for positives and D6 for negatives, and remove matching ones.
4) Atomic Robo
I like to call Atomic Robo what would happen if steampunk was wound forward to the present. A 21st century, where the past 150 years were dedicated to science. The titular Robo was built by Nikola Tesla in the 1930s. He’s a joke-spewing, nuclear-powered robot, who we follow throughout his career with the US military, then a series of scientific institutions. Robo (to his friends) is a sort of metal scientist Indiana Jones. He travels the world looking for alien artifacts and fighting evil geniuses. In this universe, science reigns supreme, so evil scientists pop up like mushrooms. A fun and engaging background, using the FATE rules.
5) Star Wars D6
This is older than old. The D6 system is, well, old, but I do feel it should get a second look. You roll a number of D6s and you see if you reach a target number. That’s it. It makes the whole game run fast and smooth and I do love it to bits. Also there’s an oldness to the background (I’ve said ‘old’ a lot, bear with me). The corebook, I found, is almost incomprehensibly written, when it comes to character creation, for example. But there’s something amazing about a book about Star Wars that was written 2 years after Jedi. Before the Expanded Universe. Before the Phantom Menace. The good bit is that this is a rule system that is still in common usage, so there is A LOT of fan made content out there, including fantastic, easy to understand versions of the above mentioned corebook.
What less known rule systems have you come across?
Rui is a Portuguese scientist that, after ten years doing strange things in labs, decided to become a teacher. Then, two years ago, like he was bit by a radioactive D20, RPG’s came into his life, and he’s now juggling teaching, playing and GMing quite happily. He lives in the UK with his partner Joana, an ungodly number of potted plants, 4 to 5 RPG’s at various stages of completion (and across as many rule systems), and maps, cursed idols, evil necklaces, and any other props he can get his hands on. He’s been writing for HLG for a few months, and is one of the resident vloggers. He can be reached at @Atomic_RPG.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.