The Role of the Dice

For reasons I can not yet make public I have been considering alternative systems and mechanics to my much loved fudge system. This has led me to seriously examine the systems I like and why.

First the crunchy bits:
Iron Crown's excellent Rolemaster series. This was a system I fell in love with years ago. I love the detailed skills, and to be honest the hundreds of tables appealed to me for some reason. I loved the complex combat cross referencing, and the criticals were just the best. I fell away from the game because keeping up with all the books was too expensive and the hours and hours of character generation were just too much. I still try to convince people to play War Law every once and a while, but I still haven't gotten any takers.

Hero System. I have to confess, I don't think I ever actually played Hero. I have created hundreds of characters but I don't remember ever actually playing a game. I love this systems detail. The 5th edition with the power stunts and power frameworks is brilliant. But as with Rolemaster the hours and hours of character generation (while fun) were just too much.

All these games I like because of the detail but I find they have too many restrictions, and the game crunch means it is a lot of effort for the GM (usually me) to get everything together. I find that the latest d20 D&D game is the same way. Even a simple group of Kobalds can take forever to describe because they can all have different skills and feats.

I still buy these games and supplements for them for the detail but usually I only use the detail as background for more free form games.

Now onto the smooth stuff:
A game I have half read, is Over the Edge. As I have only read the character generation rules I can not speak for how good Over the Edge is from a system point of view. However, the reason I have only read the character generation rules is because I desperately want to play this game as a player. I know if I read the rest of the rules and the setting information I will be hoisting a session and I am holding out hope I will get to play the game.

Fudge from Grey Ghost Games. I love fudge, I still have difficulty playing Fudge out of the box. But with Fudge I can tinker to my hearts content. I recently tried FATE:Fudge and found it was also an excellent game, although I ended up using the Fudge attribute ladder rather than the FATE ladder.

In recent years my most enjoyable moments have all come out of Fudge or Fudge based games. The name and description of this blog come from a Fudge product (Believe it or Else). In a perfect world I would continue to use Fudge but things that are going on in the Fudge community are upsetting me to the point where I am looking for alternatives. (more on this in another post).

So that means I need to find a new system.
The options:
A simple and interesting system is the EABA system from BTRC. This is another universal system that seems quite sound. I have read 90% of the base rule book and downloaded samples from 3 or 4 setting books. It strikes me that the EABA is an excellent system, the only thing I think would be difficult would be a cross genre game. I have never played the EABA system so I could very well be wrong.

From the Canadian (yeah!) Guardians of Order is Tri-Stat dX. I like a lot of things about this system. It is a very elegant system with a very very cool powers/abilities framework. I would live to play in a Tri-Stat game. As with the EABA a cross genre game might cause a problem.

The yet to be released Open Core System. I am going to pick up Open Core, if for no other reason to see what it is like and whether it will make Gatecrasher a better game. I love the Gatecrasher universe. Magic and technology together, to me the feel of Gatecrasher is a very nice mix of "Hitchhickers Guide to the Universe" and "Wizards". Hopefully Open Core will bring a less number crunching system to the setting. I don't know if Open Core is the generic system I want.

I have also downloaded the free Fuzion rules. I haven't read the entire ruleset, but it seems a bit too crunchy for my taste. This is most likely a system I will read simply to borrow the best

Or do I just build my own system? I have built or rather I should say I have hacked Home Brew systems before. Rarely does a system see play when I haven't adjusted something about it. Sometimes successfully, sometime not.

Now after all that rambling I have come to the point, do I need a SYSTEM or is it all about the MECHANIC?
What is it about the systems I like? The details, the flavor, the setting information. What is it I dislike about those same systems? The resolution mechanic. I love Rolemaster for the detail, I think the resolution mechanic to tedious and at times too slow to keep the players interested in other players activities. I love the power framework rules in Hero, but I don't want to deal with the accounting required for character creation and management.

What do I like about Fudge? The simplicity of the resolution mechanic. So maybe I just need to come up with my own mechanic. If I were to role 4d4 instead of 4dF would I still be able to get the flow that I like so much from the Fudge game? This is something I am going to look at very closely, I have several resolution mechanics I have used from time to time. I even have a ladder resolution system I tried long before found fudge. Maybe all the time I have spent looking at new system is just a search for a new mechanic.

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