Dice and Settings – My Favourite RPG Systems

Yesterday I mentioned I’m on a recruitment drive for RPG games. Since writing the article, I haven’t stopped thinking about the many games I’ve played, the characters I’ve created and the great times I’ve had with my friends.

So today, I’d like to talk to you about some of my favourite RPG systems/games.

Dungeons & Dragons: The granddaddy of them all, this was the game that brought me into roleplaying, the game that hooked me on throwing dice and creating alternate personas to walk around an imaginary world with fictitious friends and fighting conjured evils. I’ve played wizards and warriors, gunslingers and priests and everything in between and I’ve loved every moment of it.

I recently created an end-game encounter so complex, strategically hard and downright fiendish that I’m excited to run a game just on the possibility that I might be able to use it when the characters reach Level 20. I want them to fight The Arbiter’s Court!

Dungeons & Dragons
The cluster**** most games end up being and I love it!

Pathfinder: Another D20 game, created by Paizo to be the successor to Dungeons & Dragons’ 3.5 edition when the game moved to its controversial and frankly subpar 4th edition. I really like the setting for Pathfinder, the world of Golarion, with its varied cultures and politics and the strange and wondrous things you can find just by walking around. There’s a temple on an island with an item in its sanctum that can turn a person into a God, if only they pass fiendish trials. On the same island is a tower, perfectly smooth and with no means to enter, but possibly holding astonishing mysteries.

I’ve sent players in this world on a quest to gather keys to the tower, only for every person they meet to tell them that opening the tower is the worst thing they could ever do. And when they failed to heed their advice and opened the tower, I made the most horrific of creatures invade the world, beginning the end of days.

I do really love this game!
I do really love this game!

Let me put it this way. One of the most evil gods in the setting appeared before them several times in his mortal guise—which one of the players saw through almost immediately—and downright told them it was a horrendous idea. And he wasn’t alone, as every good guy (and gal of course) in the setting did the same.

But perhaps the one thing I’ll always remember about that campaign was the NPC antagonist warrior I created, a character so badass that the entire party feared him. If they saw him in the distance, they’d veer off and take another route. If he was in the same city, they’d strive not get in his way.

This came from their first altercation with the warrior, a fight the party started, not this character…but he sure did finish the fight, almost killing two members of the party in that many turns. Yes, one attack each was all he needed. And before you ask, I built him legally, and house-rules used were available to everyone. I just know how to build monstrous characters.

I modelled the warrior after Guts from Berserk. Maybe that helped sell him as a badass!
I modelled the warrior after Guts from Berserk. Maybe that helped sell him as a badass!

Star Wars: Yes, another D20 game and one of my favourite. I played and told stories in two different editions of the game, one where the Jedi are so overpowered nothing can stop them, and another with almost perfect balance, where I’m right now sending characters on archaeological quests, in a galaxy where the Jedi and other Force sensitives have completely vanished without a trace.

The game I’m running right now, in a Play by Post format, I call it Smuggler’s Gold.

Star Wars RPG is the game where I played a Jedi with golden tongue, capable of not only invading a Sith planet but talk his way out of several fights, to an audience with their leader and even get off the planet with that character’s personal starship. My Jedi was goooooooooood. He was also pretty much the One Punch Jedi. I took people out with a single blow, which was funny as hell for me but increasingly frustrating for the GM.

Star Wars: Saga
This system is wonderful! Beats the symbol nonsense that Fantasy Flight came up with! Gimme numbers any day!

Scion: I love mythologies and I absolutely adore Greek myths. I love these ancient stories of Gods, monsters and men, of tricks and vengeance, of adultery with shapeshifting and all the other weird stuff Zeus did. Norse myth comes second but I have a general fascination with all mythologies and religious allegories. The good ones though. I find Judeo-Islamic-Christian Myths boring. But that’s another topic.

So, I love these stories and then this game comes, where your character is the mortal son of a God. If you’re thinking Percy Jackson, then you’re pretty close. Characters begin the game as super-powered mortals, growing into demigods as their legend grows and eventually take the final plunge and join their parents in their godly abodes as some of the new Gods of Mankind—which is the name of yet another RPG.

The gods are among us, in plain sight at times! Businessman in the middle, big papa Zeus, with wife Hera at his side. Old man on the far right, Hephaestus. The one on the far left, Poseidon. And of course, Artemis as the Dominatrix! I love Scion!

I ran one campaign of this game over three story arcs, one for each level of play. I discovered the game was terribly unbalanced and needed constant house-ruling just to keep it functional, but we had such fun times. I created three stories that I’m proud of to this day.

I also loved roleplaying deities. I especially enjoyed playing as Hades and Loki, the former smooth and calm, always drinking a glass of red wine (with a ghostly servant that always refilled it), and the latter the trickster we all know and love, ready to help for a steep price and willing to put you in your place if you cross the line, as one of my players discovered when I manipulated him into murdering his only friend in the world.

The Cover for Scion Hero. This is one of the Pre-gens, Eric Donner, Son of Thor, with Giantbane a revolver with a chip off Mjolnir as hammer.
The Cover for Scion Hero. This is one of the Pre-gens, Eric Donner, Son of Thor, with Giantbane, a revolver with a chip off Mjolnir as hammer.

The player wasn’t angry, so don’t worry about that. He realised what had happened, and just said, “Well played.” I can be an evil bastard sometimes, but in my defence, several of the roleplaying group warned him against crossing Loki and he didn’t pay them any mind.

And much like Pathfinder, I created a character so scary that the party would panic if they saw him.

There a new edition in-development and you can bet I’ll be playing this when it launches!

Not a very likely scenario to be honest
The system had some big issues with modern weapons. They sucked.

Shadowrun: This is a game I know a lot about but haven’t really played much. But it’s the holy grail of genres: Science Fantasy. Shadowrun has a futuristic cyberpunk world, with megacorporations, robotics, a matrix-like internet and even cyber-augmentation. There’s corruption and a lot people just trying to get by in cities of senseless violence. But it also has magic thrown into the mix.

At some point in the earth’s history, magic awoke from its long slumber and Dragons soared across the skies and some even bathed the land in flames. Over time, humans began to change, revealing their true magical natures, becoming Orks, Trolls, Dwarves and even Elves. They called this Goblinization, and it was the beginning of this new world.

Technology, magic, espionage…I just love it!

Shadowrun runs on a d6 system with amazing flexibility, where your character can have any knowledge skill you propose. The book tells you this, basically stating that as long as the storyteller approves it, you can make anything you imagine into a field of study. I think that’s pretty cools, as often games become a bit too rigid when it comes to academia and character knowledge.

It also lets you have a bike with the Batmobile security system from the Tim Burton Batman movies, has some amazing shockwave bounce rules for explosives and you can essentially wield a chainsaw and cast fireballs. What more do you need?

And yes, I’m desperate to run some Shadowrun!

A lineup of criminals, what you are most of the time in this setting. A Shadow Runner, a disposable mercenary.

I could keep going on the many, many systems that I’ve been interested in the past, those I’ve played for a short while before the game groups collapsed, and those I only read the books but never actually played them, such as Anima. But those will have to wait for another time.

Please, check out yesterday’s post, and if you’re interested in playing in our RPG campaigns or one-shots, please get in touch!

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I love everything readable, writeable, playable and of course, edible! I search for happiness, or Pizza, because it's pretty much the same thing! I write and ramble on The Mental Attic and broadcast on my Twitch channel, TheLawfulGeek

5 thoughts on “Dice and Settings – My Favourite RPG Systems”

  1. Great article. I was introduced to RPG awesomeness through CRPG only and that is quite late after all FPS impulse smoothed out on me during 90’s. And than I realized, I completely missed the whole era of D&D. Though it would be impossible to get exposed to such systems here in India. Love to read everything belong to this now.

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