TOP 10 TTRPG SYSTEMS

And, like, five more that are also good.

Studio Olkiou

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Apocalypse World Engine a.k.a. Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA)

Mechanics

Powered by the Apocalypse games are centered on resolving what characters do as Moves. Characters have access to a default selection of moves based on the expectations of the game setting. In the fantasy game Dungeon World, characters have access to a hack and slash move, as combat is central to the dungeoneering experience. Alternatively, Apocalypse World has a “seize by force” move, as the game assumes a setting where collecting scarce resources is part of the game-play experience. Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, and most other PbtA games are class-based. Character classes have access to a number of class-specific moves.

Moves are resolved by rolling two six-sided dice and adding the relevant modifier, should modifiers be a mechanic in the game. Success levels fall on a scale of total success, partial success, or failure—referred to as a “miss” in the system.

Apocalypse World won the 2010 Indie RPG Award for Most Innovative Game and Dungeon World won the 2013 ENnie award for Best Rules.

Numerous games have obtained permission to use the mark is available on the Apocalypse World website.

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BattleTech

BattleTech is a science-fiction “space opera”: a factional, militarized universe set in the thirty-first century, a future where humanity has spread to the stars and spawned titanic interstellar empires, each nation controlling hundreds of worlds across a region of space stretching a thousand light years and beyond.

There are five ways in which people enjoy the BattleTech universe.

1. As a tabletop miniatures game

2. As a board game

3. As a roleplaying game (RPG)

4. As a reader of fiction

5. As a computer game

It’s important to note that what makes BattleTech so enjoyable is there is no “right way” to enjoy it. While the avenues above are the primary ones, often players mix and match all aspects, with board gamers reading all the fiction, or the roleplayers rotating to the board game during ’Mech vs. ’Mech combat, the fiction and board game players as much a fan of the computers games as any electronic-only gamer, and so on.

GETTING STARTED: AS A ROLEPLAYING GAME…

If you’re new to the BattleTech universe as a roleplaying setting, feel free to dive into the free A Time of War Quick-Start Rules and Universe Guide PDFs on the New To BattleTech? page to get a quick taste of the universe and rules. Whether a player chooses to dive into the free PDFs, or not, A Time of War: The BattleTech RPG is the starting point for all the adventures to come. This book contains everything needed to thrust players into the epic univese of the 31st century.

From BattleTech A Time of War PDF

DICE

A Time of War uses a number of six-sided dice (D6s) to resolve actions—normally through Action Checks (pp. 5-7). A typical action will require only two such dice per player, but some Traits and other conditions may warrant the addition of a third die to the roll. For ease of reference, once players have read the rules, we’ve included a dice icon next to any rules that requires a dice roll.

wikipedia

Basic Role-Playing (BRP)

Basic Role-Playing (BRP) is a tabletop role-playing game which originated in the RuneQuest fantasy role-playing game. The BRP standalone booklet was first released in 1980 in the boxed set release of the second edition of RuneQuest. Greg Stafford and Lynn Willis are credited as the authors. A percentile skill-based system, BRP was used as the basis for most of the games published by Chaosium, including Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, and Elfquest.

RULES SYSTEM

BRP is similar to other generic systems such as GURPS, Hero System or Savage Worlds in that it uses a simple resolution method which can be broadly applied. BRP uses a core set of seven characteristics: Size, Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Power, and Appearance or Charisma. From those, a character derives scores in various skills, expressed as percentages. These skill scores are the basis of play. When attempting an action, the player rolls percentile dice trying to get a result equal to or lower than the character’s current skill score. Each incarnation of the BRP rules has changed or added to the core ideas and mechanics, so that games are not identical. For example, in Call of Cthulhu, skills may never be over 100%, while in Stormbringer skills in excess of 100% are within reach for all characters. Scores can increase through experience checks, the mechanics of which vary in an individual game.

BRP treats armor and defense as separate functions: the act of parrying is a defensive skill that reduces an opponent’s chance to successfully land an attack, and the purpose of armor is to absorb damage.

The last major element of many BRP games is that there is no difference between the player character race systems and that of the monster or opponents. By varying ability scores, the same system is used for a human hero as a troll villain. This approach allows for players to play a wide variety of non-human species.

The BRP itself has been the recipient, via its games, of many awards. Most notable was the 1981 Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Rules for Call of Cthulhu.

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Cyberpunk (role-playing game)

Cyberpunk is a tabletop role-playing game of dystopian science fiction, written by Mike Pondsmith and first published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988. It is typically referred to by its second or fourth edition names, Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk Red, in order to distinguish it from the genre after which it is named.

SETTING

Cyberpunk exists within its own fictional timeline, which splits from the real world in 1990. The timeline has been extended with each major edition of the game, from the first edition set in 2013 to Cyberpunk Red set in 2045.

Major events have included the collapse of the global superpowers, and the rise of Megacorporations that fight amongst themselves for dominance. Food blights have caused disastrous famines, and by the late 1990s the Middle East is a radioactive desert after a nuclear conflict. Bioengineering, against a backdrop of warfare, has resulted in the rapid development of cybernetic prosthetics and direct human-machine interfaces. With the lack of government and police, casual violence is endemic. Many also suffer from “technoshock”, an inability to cope with a world of synthetic muscle tissue, organic circuits and designer drugs.

The main location for Cyberpunk is the fictional Night City, situated on the west coast of the United States between Los Angeles and San Francisco. With a population of five million people, it presents a stratified society of gang warfare, corporate rivalries and political machinations in which the players have to survive.

SYSTEM

The rules of Cyberpunk are built on R. Talsorian’s Interlock system.

A core game mechanic is the concept of Difficulty Values, used to gauge whether a player succeeds or fails at any given task. A player takes the value of their most appropriate character attribute, adds the values of any relevant skills or modifiers, and then finally adds the value of a ten-sided die roll. In order to succeed, they must beat the Difficulty Value assigned to the task by the gamemaster. Cyberpunk was one of the first tabletop games to use this concept.

CHARACTER CREATION

As cyberpunks, the players embrace body modification, cybertech and bioengineering. They live by three tenets:

Style over substance.

Attitude is everything.

Always take it to the Edge.

(Break) the rules.

There are ten key roles, each with their own special abilities. These include charismatic musicians (‘rockerboys’), bodyguards and assassins (‘solos’), computer hackers (‘netrunners’), road warriors (‘nomads’), street experts (‘fixers’), investigative journalists and reporters (‘medias’), mechanics (‘techs’ or ‘techies’), doctors (‘medtechs’), corporate executives, and police officers.

A choice of rules are provided for character creation, either by assigning points to purchase skills or by rolling d10s for a more random outcome. A system called Lifepath is provided to develop each character further, by generating goals, motivations, and events from their past. Finally, they gain money, cyberware, weapons and other equipment, including fashion and lifestyle goods.

Further character development is skill-based rather than level-based; for successful play, players are awarded points to be spent on improving their characters’ skill sets.

In November 2020, Forbes found Cyberpunk Red to be a consistent continuation of the themes from Cyberpunk 2020. Contributor Rob Wieland praised the system for character generation, stating, “One of the signature elements of the game, lifepaths, went through a great refinement. Lifepath is a chart where players roll to determine elements of their character’s history. It creates lovers, friends, rivals and more for GMs to hang plot hooks on. Cyberpunk thrives on the personal connections between characters. Lifepath makes player buy-in easier; players are going to be much more interested in a job given to them by an old flame than a random NPC.”

d100 System

Based off the popular BRP system by Chaosium. Similar but not exactly the same.

For Instance:

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Delta Green is a setting for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game created by Adam Scott Glancy, Dennis Detwiller, and John Scott Tynes, a.k.a. the Delta Green Partnership, of the Seattle gaming house Pagan Publishing. Delta Green is set in the contemporary era, revolving around a highly secretive organization known as Delta Green, tasked with protecting the United States from paranormal and alien threats. Delta Green takes the classic setting of the Cthulhu Mythos from Call of Cthulhu and mashes it with conspiracy fiction.

In August 2011, Arc Dream Publishing and the Delta Green Partnership announced development of a standalone Delta Green role-playing game. Funding began in 2015 and in 2016 the Agent’s Handbook was released followed by the Handler’s Guide in 2018. Arc Dream Publishing also made a partnership with Pelgrane Press to release a prequel named The Fall of DELTA GREEN using the Gumshoe System in 2018.

The original 1997 edition of Delta Green was a sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu, as such, it used the Basic Role-Playing system that Call of Cthulhu had.

The 2016 standalone edition takes the percentile dice of Basic Role-Playing and Call of Cthulhu mechanics and introduce modifications adapted for the setting. Player Characters are called Agents and the Game Masters Handlers.

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Mythras – In 2016, it was announced that The Design Mechanism had parted ways with Moon Design and that RuneQuest 6th edition would continue to be published under the name Mythras.

RuneQuest – Chaosium, Mythras – Design Mechanism

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Dungeons & Dragons

Game mechanics

Main articles: Dungeons & Dragons gameplay and Character class (Dungeons & Dragons)

D&D uses polyhedral dice to resolve in-game events. These are abbreviated by a ‘d’ followed by the number of sides – d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20 dice. A pair of d10 can be used together to represent percentile dice, or d100.

Before the game begins, each player creates their player character and records the details on a character sheet. First, a player determines their character’s ability scores, which consist of Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each edition of the game has offered differing methods of determining these scores. The player then chooses a race (species) such as human or elf, a character class (occupation) such as fighter or wizard, an alignment (a moral and ethical outlook), and other features to round out the character’s abilities and backstory, which have varied in nature through differing editions.

During the game, players describe their PCs’ intended actions, such as punching an opponent or picking a lock, and converse with the DM, who then describes the result or response. Trivial actions, such as picking up a letter or opening an unlocked door, are usually automatically successful. The outcomes of more complex or risky actions are determined by rolling dice. Different polyhedral dice are used for different actions, such as a twenty-sided die to see whether a hit was made in combat, but an eight-sided die to determine how much damage was dealt. Factors contributing to the outcome include the character’s ability scores, skills and the difficulty of the task. In circumstances where a character does not have control of an event, such as when a trap or magical effect is triggered or a spell is cast, a saving throw can be used to determine whether the resulting damage is reduced or avoided. In this case the odds of success are influenced by the character’s class, levels and ability scores.

As the game is played, each PC changes over time and generally increases in capability. Characters gain (or sometimes lose) experience, skills and wealth, and may even alter their alignment or gain additional character classes. The key way characters progress is by earning experience points (XP), which happens when they defeat an enemy or accomplish a difficult task. Acquiring enough XP allows a PC to advance a level, which grants the character improved class features, abilities and skills. XP can be lost in some circumstances, such as encounters with creatures that drain life energy, or by use of certain magical powers that come with an XP cost.

Hit points (HP) are a measure of a character’s vitality and health and are determined by the class, level and constitution of each character. They can be temporarily lost when a character sustains wounds in combat or otherwise comes to harm, and loss of HP is the most common way for a character to die in the game. Death can also result from the loss of key ability scores or character levels. When a PC dies, it is often possible for the dead character to be resurrected through magic, although some penalties may be imposed as a result. If resurrection is not possible or not desired, the player may instead create a new PC to resume playing the game.

Old School RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

wikipedia

Fate

Fate is a generic role-playing game system based on the Fudge gaming system. It has no fixed setting, traits, or genre and is customizable. It is designed to offer minimal obstruction to role-playing by assuming players want to make fewer dice rolls.

Fate was written by Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue; the 1st edition was published in early 2003, and the latest version (4th edition) was published successfully through crowd sourcing Kickstarter in 2013.

Fate Core (4th edition) and Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE)

A new (4th) edition called Fate Core (again a generic version) was published in 2013, funded by a successful crowdfunding campaign, and released under two free content licenses: CC BY 3.0 and the Open gaming license.

As a result of the crowd funding effort, Evil Hat Productions released Fate Accelerated, a streamlined version of the rules based on the same core mechanic intended to get players into the game faster. One notable difference is that skills are replaced with six “approaches” to solving problems – Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick, and Sneaky. The approaches can each use all four skill actions.

What You Need To Play

Getting into a game of Fate is very simple. You need:

Between three and five people. One of you is going to be the gamemaster (or “GM” for short), and everyone else is going to be a player.

A character sheet, one per player, and some extra paper for note-taking. (GMs, any important characters you play might have a character sheet also.)

Fate dice, at least four, preferably four per person. Fate dice are a special kind of six-sided dice that are marked on two sides with a plus symbol (+), two with a minus symbol (-), and two sides are blank (0). You can get these dice from many hobby and game stores, often under their original name, Fudge dice. (For Fate’s purposes we’ll continue to call them Fate dice, but call them whatever you like!) Fate dice can be purchased at your friendly local game shop or online.

Alternatives to Fate Dice

The Deck of Fate is an alternative to Fate dice that will be available from Evil Hat. It’s a deck of cards that mimics the probability of Fate dice, and is designed to be used in the same way Fate dice are.

If you don’t want to use Fate dice, you don’t have to—any set of regular six-sided dice will work. If you’re using regular dice, you read 5 or 6 as +, 1 or 2 as -, and 3 or 4 as 0.

Tokens to represent fate points. Poker chips, glass beads, or anything similar will work. You’ll want to have at least thirty or more of these on hand, just to make sure you have enough for any given game. You can use pencil marks on your character sheet in lieu of tokens, but physical tokens add a little more fun.

Index cards. These are optional, but they’re very handy for recording aspects during play.

The Fate roleplaying game has resulted in winning the following ENNIES awards:

2007 Best Rules, Silver Winner; Best Game, Honorable Mention — Spirit of the Century

2008 Nominated for Best Supplement — Spirit of the Season

2011 Best Game, Gold Winner; Best New Game, Gold Winner; Best Production Values, Silver Winner; Best Rules, Gold Winner; Best Writing, Gold Winner; Product of the Year, Silver Winner — Dresden Files Roleplaying Game

2014 Best Website, Silver Winner for Fate SRD; Best Aid/Accessory, Silver Winner for Eldritch Fate Dice; Best Family Game, Gold Winner for Fate Accelerated Edition; Best Game, Gold Winner for Fate Core System; Best RPG Related Product, Silver Winner for Strange Tales of the Century; Best Rules, Gold Winner for Fate Core System; Best Supplement, Silver Winner for Fate System Toolkit; Product of the Year, Silver Winner for Fate Core System

2015 Best Family Game, Silver Winner for Atomic Robo The Roleplaying Game

https://www.modiphius.com/2d20.html

Modiphius 2D20

Modiphius Entertainment announces it’s new in-house tabletop roleplaying game system ‘2d20’ which is at the core of several major roleplaying games.

Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition is the first game to use 2d20 and is followed by Infinity, Robert E. Howard’s Conan and the John Carter Warlord of Mars roleplaying games

2d20 is a very cinematic action orientated system developed by lead designer Jay Little as part of the Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition design team. The game is built around a core mechanic of rolling under an Attribute plus Skill total on two twenty sided dice. Multiple successes are possible and can be used to create the cinematic action.

The 2d20 system is a dynamic, narrative system, designed to produce varied and interesting results from dramatic and action-packed situations. Characters roll two d20s, attempting to roll as low as possible on each one – the more dice that roll low, the more successes the character scores.

Tasks will require one or more successes to be successful, and any successes scored beyond that minimum become Momentum, which can be spent to achieve a variety of advantageous effects. However, this can come at a cost: characters who wish to succeed can push their luck, rolling extra d20s to boost their chances of success and the Momentum they generate. However, each extra d20 comes from the character’s resources – such as stocks of arrows – or adds to a pool of Doom that represents all the things that can go wrong in an adventure, which the GM can spend to complicate adventures and scenarios and make the characters’ lives interesting.

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OSR – Old School Revival

The Old School Renaissance, Old School Revival, or OSR, is a trend in tabletop role-playing games which draws inspiration from the earliest days of tabletop RPGs in the 1970s, especially Dungeons & Dragons. It consists of a loose network or community of gamers and game designers who share an interest in a certain style of play and set of game design principles.

The OSR movement first developed in the early 2000s, primarily in discussion on internet forums such as Dragonsfoot, Knights & Knaves Alehouse, and Original D&D Discussion, as well as on a large and diverse network of blogs. Partly as a reaction to the publication of the Third Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, interest in and discussion of “old school” play also led to the creation of Dungeons and Dragons retro-clones (legal emulations of RPG rules from the 1970s and early 1980s), including games such as Castles & Crusades and OSRIC which were developed in OSR-related forums. Zines dedicated to OSR content, such as Fight On! and Knockspell, began to be published as early as 2008.

In addition to the development of internet platforms and printed rule books, other printed OSR products became widely available. In 2008, Matthew Finch (creator of OSRIC) released his free “Quick Primer for Old School Gaming”, which tried to sum up the OSR aesthetic. Print-on-demand sites such as Lulu and DriveThruRPG allowed authors to market periodicals, such as Fight On! and many new adventure scenarios and game settings. These continue to be created and marketed, along with older, formerly out of print gaming products, via print-on-demand services.

In 2012, Wizards of the Coast began publishing reprints and PDFs of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set materials, possibly in response to a perceived market for these materials driven by the OSR.

The general ethos of OSR-style play emphasizes spontaneous rulings from the referee, or Game Master, over set rules found in a book. The idea is for the players to engage with the fantasy as much as possible, and have the referee arbitrate the outcomes of their specific actions in real time. The idea of game balance is also de-emphasized in favor of a system which tests players skill and ingenuity in often strange or unfair situations. The players should expect to lose if they merely pit their numbers against the monsters, and should instead attempt to outwit or outmaneuver challenges placed in their way. Keeping maps comes highly recommended.

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Pathfinder

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) that was published in 2009 by Paizo Publishing. The first edition extends and modifies the System Reference Document (SRD) based on the revised 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) published by Wizards of the Coast under the Open Game License (OGL) and is intended to be backward-compatible with that edition. The first major revision of the ruleset, Pathfinder 2nd Edition, was released in August 2019.

Pathfinder is supported by the official Pathfinder periodicals and various third-party content created to be compatible with the game.

Beginning in 2002, Paizo took over publishing Dragon and Dungeon magazines, which were about the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) role-playing game, under contract to the game’s publishers Wizards of the Coast. Wizards of the Coast chose not to renew the contract in early 2007 and Paizo began publishing the Pathfinder periodical line as a replacement. In August 2007, Wizards of the Coast announced the pending release of the 4th edition of D&D, which replaced version 3.5. Many of the staff at Paizo were concerned about the more restrictive Game System License under which the 4th edition was being released.

Instead of continuing to support D&D, Paizo released the stand-alone Pathfinder Roleplaying Game as a modified version of the version 3.5 game, under the Open Game License used by the older version. Announced in March 2008, Pathfinder was designed over the course of a year using an open playtest model, where players could try the system and post their feedback on Paizo’s website.

Paizo announced a second edition of Pathfinder in 2018. Like the first edition, it made use of an open playtest to refine various mechanics of gameplay.

Among key changes in the second edition is a streamlined action economy. Each round, each character can perform up to three actions on their turn as well as one reaction on their own turn or another character’s turn. Most basic moves, such as moving across the ground, drawing a weapon, or making an attack cost a single action, while more complicated maneuvers may require two or three actions. The rules around magic items have been changed to discourage players from hoarding too many items and instead encouraging them to seek out more powerful equipment. Critical hits have also been changed – a critical success now occurs any time a combatant rolls 10 more than the target’s armor class. Combatants can also critically succeed when defending which usually results in no effect rather than the reduced effect a save would usually bring. Finally there has been a broad change to all number scaling of skills, armor class, attack rolls, saves, and difficulty classes. All these numbers now scale 1 to 1 with a character’s level plus a stat plus a bonus between two and eight depending on their proficiency. This results in extremely bounded values when compared to the first edition. Stats have also had their range lowered when compared to the first edition.

Paizo has won ENnie Awards at Gen Con in a variety of categories including Best Publisher and Best Game. The beta release of the first edition of the game won the 2008 Silver ENnie award for “Best Free Product or Web-Enhancement”. The Pathfinder 2nd Edition Core Rulebook is a 2020 Origins Award nominee, and winner of the 2019 Techraptor Award (Readers’ Choice as Tabletop RPG of the Year).

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Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds is a generic role-playing game written by Shane Lacy Hensley and published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. The game emphasizes speed of play and reduced preparation over realism or detail. The game received the 2003 Origin Gamers’ Choice Award for best role-playing game.

Task resolution

Dice are rolled to determine the outcome of character actions and interactions in the game. Usually a trait die is rolled against a target number of four. If the roll equals or exceeds the target number, the action succeeds; otherwise it fails.

If a player rolls the highest number possible on a given die (such as an 8 on an eight-sided die, a d8), the die may be re-rolled and its result added to the initial roll. This is known as “Acing”. A die may continue to Ace as long as the highest die number is rolled.

Player characters and significant non-player characters are known as “Wild Cards”. Wild Cards get to roll a second die, known as a “Wild Die”, alongside their trait rolls. This roll may Ace as normal. The player of the Wild Card uses the higher of the two rolls (trait die or Wild Die) to determine the actual result of the roll. In addition, Wild Cards also receive a number of Bennies (slang for benefits, also called poker chips in Dead Lands) per session. These can be traded in to reduce or negate damage from a given attack, or reroll a trait die. They are used as rewards for good play.

Combat initiative is determined by a standard deck of playing cards (with two jokers); characters act in sequence according to the fall of the cards from highest to lowest. Ties are broken by suit (in order from best to worst: spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs). Jokers beat all other cards and additionally give bonuses on rolls made in the round one receives them. The deck is shuffled at the end of every round in which a joker was dealt.

Any player that receives a joker during initiative may take his action at any time during the round. If they want to act first, or in response to another PC or NPC acting, they may at any point.

History

In 1997, Pinnacle published Deadlands: the Great Rail Wars, a miniature wargame set in the “Weird West” world of Hensley’s Deadlands role-playing game. The rules were a greatly simplified version of the full Deadlands system, focused on single-figure skirmishes.

In 2003 the rules from The Great Rail Wars were revised and expanded into a generic, simple but complete role-playing system and retitled Savage Worlds. At Origins 2003, Savage Worlds was awarded the Gamer’s Choice Award in the Roleplaying Game category. The main rulebook was revised and released as a PDF format eBook in late 2004, with a print version following in early 2005. The same year, Great White Games began releasing rules expansions in the form of several PDF format genre toolkit books. Self-contained miniature skirmish games based upon the Savage Worlds engine were also released in print and PDF form.

Deadlands Reloaded, a version of the game using the Savage Worlds rules, was released in May 2006. In late 2005, Pinnacle entered into an agreement with WizKids to publish self-contained RPGs set in the worlds of Pirates of the Spanish Main, Rocketmen, and MageKnight using the Savage Worlds rules. Of the three licenses, only The Pirates of the Spanish Main RPG saw release, and was published in April 2007. Pinnacle released another licensed game, The Savage World of Solomon Kane, in 2007.

In October 2007, Pinnacle released the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition, a digest size paperback edition of the rules. It featured the revisions to melee damage rules first introduced in Deadlands Reloaded, as well as new chase rules, and was released at Origins 2007. At that event, Deadlands Reloaded won the Origins Award in the category of Best Roleplaying Game Supplement.

In August 2011, Pinnacle released Savage Worlds Deluxe, a hardcover and expanded version of the rules found in the Explorer’s Edition.

In August 2012, Pinnacle released the digest size paperback edition of the Deluxe rules, Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition.

In 2015 Pinnacle announced a series of supplements converting Rifts to the Savage Worlds system.

In 2018 Pinnacle released a new edition, Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.

In November 2020 Pinnacle announced Pathfinder for Savage Worlds, an adaptation of the setting of Paizo’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and serialized Adventure Path modules beginning with the first Adventure Path, Rise of the Runelords.

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Savage Worlds

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Shadowrun

Shadowrun is a science fantasy tabletop role-playing game set in a near-future fictional universe in which cybernetics, magic and fantasy creatures co-exist. It combines genres of cyberpunk, urban fantasy and crime, with occasional elements of conspiracy, horror and detective fiction. From its inception in 1989, Shadowrun has remained among the most popular role-playing games. It has spawned a vast franchise that includes a series of novels, a collectible card game, two miniature-based tabletop wargames, and multiple video games.

Mechanics

The Shadowrun game mechanics are based entirely on a 6-sided dice system. The game is skill-based rather than class-based, but archetypes are presented in the main book to give players and gamemasters an idea of what is possible with the system.

Before the fourth edition, skill and ability checks worked as follows: all actions in the game, from the use of skills to making attacks in combat, are first given a target number that reflects the difficulty of the action which is then raised or lowered by various modifying factors, such as environmental conditions, the condition of the character, the use of mechanical aids, and so forth. The player then rolls a number of dice equal to their level in the relevant skill, and the number of dice rolled that meet or exceed the target number determines if the character is successful performing the action and the degree of success the character has. As an example, a character with a high firearms skill not only has a better chance at hitting a target than someone with a lower ranked skill, but also is more likely to cause more damage to the target. Target numbers may exceed 6, in which case any dice that show a 6 have to be re-rolled (a target number of, e.g., 9 is reached by rolling a 6 followed by at least a 3; thus, a target number of 6 and one of 7 are identical, except extra dice rolls are not allowed for target number 7 or greater). For even higher target numbers, this procedure has to be repeated; thus, an action with a target number of 20 (like attempting to procure military-grade weaponry) will only succeed if three successive dice rolls result in sixes, and the fourth gives at least a 2. For any dice-roll a roll of 1 always counts as a failure. This system allows great flexibility in setting the difficulty of an action.

In addition to this basic mechanic, players can use several task-specific dice pools to add bonus dice to certain tests, though dice that are used do not refresh until the end of a turn. This adds an extra tactical element, as the player must decide where best to spend these bonus dice. For example, combat pool dice could be spent to improve attacks or to improve defense, or some of each. Players also have Karma Pool that can be used to reroll any dice that failed to reach the target number. Karma Pool refreshes rarely, typically once per scene or less, at the GM’s discretion. The combination of Karma Pool and dice pools gives players a considerable amount of freedom to decide how important a task is to their character. Two characters with identical statistics could perform very differently on the same tasks depending on their priorities (and thus, allocation of dice pools and Karma Pool).

In the fourth edition, things have changed substantially. The game still runs on six-sided dice, but now each task is given a threshold. The player then rolls dice equal to their skill plus the relevant attribute modified by applicable modifiers. The number of fives and sixes is equal to the number of hits. Hits above the threshold indicate extraordinary performance. Furthermore, if more than half the dice rolled are ones, then the player has made a glitch. Glitches cause bad things to happen to the player and game masters are encouraged to be inventive and funny.

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Storytelling System

The Storytelling System is a role-playing game system created by White Wolf, Inc. for the Chronicles of Darkness (formerly known as the New World of Darkness), a game world with several pen and paper games tied in. The Storytelling System is largely based on the Storyteller System, the rule set used for White Wolf’s other, older game setting, the World of Darkness (for a time known as old or classic World of Darkness).

Storyteller System

While on the road to Gen Con ’90, Mark Rein-Hagen came upon the idea of a new game design that would become Vampire: The Masquerade. Tom Dowd, co-designer for Shadowrun, worked with Rein-Hagen to adapt the core mechanics from his previous game success to use d10 instead of d6 for calculating probability.

Over the next few years, several games were published under this rule set. The World of Darkness games exclusively used this ruleset, as did Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game (1995), Trinity (1999), and Exalted (2001).

Storytelling System

The Storyteller System was discontinued in 2003 after completing the metaplot building up since Vampire: The Masquerade. It was replaced by the Storytelling System, a more streamlined rule set. The Storytelling System premiered in The World of Darkness in 2004.

Game mechanics

All mechanics of the Storytelling System utilize a number of 10-sided dice (d10s). World of Darkness games suggest players to have at least ten d10s available to roll for their character’s task resolutions and Attribute tests; other games, such as Exalted, may use more.

The Game Master in a Storyteller or Storytelling game is called the Storyteller.

wikipedia

Traveller

Traveller is a science fiction role-playing game first published in 1977 by Game Designers’ Workshop. Marc Miller designed Traveller with help from Frank Chadwick, John Harshman, and Loren Wiseman. Editions were published for GURPS, d20, and other role-playing game systems. From its origin and in the currently published systems, the game relied upon six-sided dice for random elements. Traveller has been featured in a few novels and at least two video games.

Characters journey between star systems, engaging in exploration, ground and space battles, and interstellar trading. Characters are defined not by the need to increase native skill and ability but by achievements, discoveries, wealth, titles, and political power.

Key Features

Human-centric but cosmopolitan: The core rules focus on human characters, but there is support for using and playing aliens.

Space travel: Interstellar travel is through the use of the faster-than-light (FTL) jump drive, which moves a ship through “jump space” a few light-years at a time. Each jump takes about one week. Normal-space travel is accomplished through relatively efficient and powerful gravitic drives. Newtonian physics tends to be followed.

Limited communication: There is no faster-than-light information transfer – meaning no ansible, subspace radio or hyper-wave. Communication is limited to the speed of travel. Decisions are made on the local level rather than by a remote authority.

Conflict resolution: Planets fight internal wars, and commerce is a major driving force of civilization.

Sociological: Interstellar society is socially stratified (high, mid, and low passage; SOC (Social Status) is a primary character attribute). Affairs are often managed by independent nobility, who make use of classic titles such as Baron, Duke and Archduke.

Diversity within Limits: Career options, ship design, subsector design, and decisions made during character generation limit and frame reality. The definitions create a diverse space (hence library data and anachronistic/ atavistic worlds), within limits.

Morals and mortality: People remain people and continue to show courage, wisdom, honesty and justice, along with cowardice, deceit, and criminal behavior.

wikipedia

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay or Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play (abbreviated to WFRP or WHFRP) is a role-playing game set in the Warhammer Fantasy setting, published by Games Workshop or its licensees.

The first edition of WFRP was published in 1986 and later maintained by Hogshead Publishing. A second edition developed by Green Ronin Publishing was published in 2004 by Black Industries. Fantasy Flight Games published a third edition under license in November 2009. This edition used a new system retaining few mechanics of the original. A fourth edition rooted in the first and second editions was released under license by Cubicle 7 in 2018.

Fourth edition

The mechanics of the fourth edition reverts to the percentile mechanics of the first and second editions, instead of the custom dice pools of the third.

Characters are now much more free to advance their Characteristics and Skills independently of their careers, and the cost in experience points scale with higher numbers.

Skill usage (especially in combat situations) is expanded with the concept of ‘advantage’, where continued success grants cumulative bonuses.

Wizardly magic keeps many spells of second edition, but integrates the casting mechanism into the overall task resolution system.

Fourth edition is the first to offer guidelines on downtime – what happens between adventures.

At the 2005 ENnie Awards, the second edition’s core rulebook, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, won Gold for “Best Production Values” and “Best Game”.

Old World Bestiary, the second edition’s primary adversary publication, also won Gold in for “Best Adversary / Monster Product”.

At the 2019 ENnie Awards, the fourth edition’s core rulebook won Gold for “Best Writing”.

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