Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What System?

Everyone who has posted comments so far has asked a simple and sensible question: what system do I plan to run? Ok... so Risus Monkey is the first and only commenter at this point, but it’s a good question, and one’s that worth a post. So far, this world has been nothing more than my mental sandbox, and I haven’t yet played a game in the setting. But I have given a lot of thought to the matter… I just haven’t come up with a good answer yet.

When the first ideas that eventually became Kimatarthi came to me, I was thinking about it in terms of AD&D 2nd edition, which is what I grew up with. This coincided with the first sizable gap in my gaming life, so it’s the best I knew of until I learned about D&D 3.5. I actually have notes packed away discussing how I’d run the game in one of these systems. Still, they didn’t quite work for me. My first hesitation was that the playable characters of Kimatarthi are too limited for anything of the Gygax pedigree. This setting has no elves, dwarves, halflings, kenders, or anything else. PCs can only be human. Also, there are no magic-users or clerics as such (see Magic), so I really felt like I would be cheating anyone who signed up to play D&D. Seriously, when was the last time someone played D&D with all human party… without magic?

I also gradually began to envision a campaign that wasn’t just dungeon-diving and goblin-bashing, but could also include interesting interpersonal conflict with politics and intrigue. D&D is not the best system out there for all that drama stuff. Other systems, like FATE are better equipped for this. FATE has a lot of good aspects, and I particularly like its in-game character creation mechanic. By developing characters over several rounds that potentially cover years at a time, it is possible to add years (decades?) of social history to Kimatarthi over, say, an hour of gaming. That would be awesome.

Another system that has some cool rules for “social battle” and intrigue is the Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.  But although I like that dynamic, I’m not sure that’s the right system as a whole. Plus, I don’t necessarily want my players associating Kimatarthi with Game of Thrones all the time.

But the big hang up with both of these is the rules for magic and spells. I have to say that I’m not in love with the FATE rules for magic rules. FATE variants offer some hope. I think there is some great stuff in the Dresden Files RPG, but overall it’s too cumbersome for the game I’d like to run. I did find some interesting FATE magic rules called Spirit of Steam and Sorcery, which may could work nicely.

Then again, I could just whip up some basic d20 rules, add a bit of homebrew, and wing it.

Really, as I think that the setting itself will not be impacted very much by whatever system I choose to run a game. As I see it, the stories we tell will be the stories that get told. The gaming system is just the medium for telling those stories. And that’s the fun of gaming.


  1. Have you looked at "Legends of Anglerre"? It's a FATE 3e variant based on "Starblazer Adventures." It's not especially well organized (and may remind you of AD&D2) but it's a solid game for fantasy role-playing.

    1. Thanks, Gene. I haven't looked into yet, though I've seen the title and it seems promising. But I'm perplexed that Cubicle 7 doesn't seem to sell PDFs of the game separate from the book. Some of us live in very small flats with families and limited bookshelf space. I'll have to put it on my wish list for later. ;)

  2. You should be able to get just the PDF from RPGNow or DriveThruRPG.

    1. Thanks! I found it, and it looks very promising! Got the Companion, too.