Best ever RPG?

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NearbyGamers General
Hi! We're currently playtesting Beyond Human!
2008-09-05 00:29:34

I figure we've got a "worst RPG" list, we should do a "Best RPG" list, too.

My guess is that most people are going to say D&D because of its popularity, but I'm not really thinking about popularity here. So I'm asking people not pick based on your choice's popularity.

What do you think is the RPG with the best writing, the best system, and the best setting. You know - the works all together in a single package.

— Hail to the Burger King, Baby! Ook! Ook! -Anastas

Gamers posting in this discussion

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2008-09-05 00:51:14

I would have to say that Shadowrun (3rd) would be the best that i have come across. This is due in part to the fact heavy setting, with enough information to boil your imagination out of control. The realistic but at the same time fluid rule system- from the way damage is track to how combat phases are run.

Hi! We're currently playtesting Beyond Human!
2008-09-05 05:09:17

I've only gotten to play 3rd edition once, but I enjoyed it.

Right now, I'm running 4th edition SR, and while I love the opportunity to dig into that universe again, those rules are massive and complex. I've gotten used to running WitchCraft, which is very easy to run.

— Hail to the Burger King, Baby! Ook! Ook! -Anastas
Show me indie goodness
2008-09-07 17:20:26

Wushu is the greatest RPG for my needs.

It doesn't have a setting, it can be played with any background.

Writing is clear and keeps to the point (although the Reloaded edition is better laid out and has more examples)

The system empowers players, reduces GM prep time, encourages creativity, makes for awesome gaming anecdotes (ask me about the fight over a parachute at 10,000 feet and falling!), and encourages everyone involved to concentrate on what is important and gloss over the tedious.

Everything new is old again.
2008-09-08 17:09:08

For the genre, I have to say Call of Cthulhu is one of the best (BRP version). Although I have a complaint with some awkwardness in hand-to-hand fighting (dodges & parries), I think it's one of the best for character development in skills, and concurrent degeneration due to sanity loss. The system is simple, easy to learn, and NOT level-based. AND, there are 30 years' worth of supplements out there that *still* work with the current rules set. Though I have to say, I want to look into Trail of Cthulhu (Gumshoe system), because it should keep the GM from having to hand out unearned clues just to keep the game moving...

Honorable mention: King Arthur Pendragon (for quantifying personality traits and passions as an aid to character development & role-playing, and for its immersive pseudo-historical setting that remains true to Arthurian fiction.)

BTW, I hear the new Spycraft rocks, but the modern setting isn't my group's thing, so I haven't picked it up yet...

2008-09-11 19:05:28

All Thieves Are Gay Anyway:

or maybe Fight Battle:

Show me indie goodness
2008-09-12 18:05:37

Although I object to the pejorative use of "Gay" in "All Thieves are Gay Anyway", it looks quite amusing.

Fight Battle must surely be the greatest game ever though. I retract my previous answer, and henceforth I shall be known as Kal-Elvis (Part Superman, part The King)

D10,000,001 FTW!

Warner Robins gamer seeking group.
2008-09-22 07:02:09

I just got it, but I'm thinking Anima: Beyond Fantasy might be a good contender. I like to think of it as the love child of Final Fantasy and D&D. The system's got more fiddly bits than I'm used to, but nothing too complex. And the various classes, magic systems, etc. allow for a great amount of diversity. I'm about halfway through the book and loving it so far.

Show me indie goodness
2008-09-22 19:14:06

Class-based fantasy RPG? What is this, the 70s?

Get with the programme Grandad ;-)

Hi! We're currently playtesting Beyond Human!
2008-09-23 03:08:47

My personal favorite RPG of the last decade is WitchCraft, partly because I think it runs on one of the best point buy systems I've ever seen* without classes, easy to run combats, and easy math. I love the magic system for its malleability and grounded underlying structure. And I'm a huge fan of the setting- modern urban dark spell-slinging fantasy.

I've translated several characters from the 2 years I spent playing White Wolf games and have found that I write up a full character sheet for WC in less than 20 minutes.

* Don't get me wrong, Unisystem isn't perfect. The cinematic version develops a serious "glass ninja" problem at higher point totals. But even with that issue, it's an incredible system that deserves a lot more respect and play.

— Hail to the Burger King, Baby! Ook! Ook! -Anastas
Seeks group, 1:1 or web; Story teller, Actor; GM
2008-12-18 06:33:39


Adaptable by the GM to play in any genre, in any setting, and for any style of play from hack-and slash to story telling. Character creation can be a crunch fest or a narrative process. Simple basic mechanic of 7 adjectives understandable by even the novice gamer. And if you don't want to adapt it, the text includes 5-point Fudge. For me as a GM who always wanted to tinker with d20 but never could without messing with game balance and who always wanted to tinker with GURPS build point system but didn't want to have to figure out how many feet and inches a chasm is to make it a challenge for my characters with a 15 jump it was like a dream come true.

The .pdf is free! And the book (which I bought while smitten) adds a lot but not so much that you *need* it.

Its my pick for best RPG and my pick for most underrated RPG. -zerfinity

— Seeks group Sat. 2x/mo., 1:1 or web; Story teller, actor; can GM
Unisystem GM and Player
2008-12-20 01:25:40

I agree with RobWard I find Witchcraft (Unisystem) tends to be an excellent system. It's simple while at the same time allowing for plenty of options. It can be used to run anything from survival horror, to Sci Fi, to Fantasy.

There are the occasional glass cannon issues, but they don't come up too often in classic (Although a Psychic with tons of Mindhands strength can manage it, but that's a choice).

2008-12-21 08:03:04

FUZION, the imaginary final edition with power/magic rules and period/genre skill lists.

Long time gamer
2009-01-07 16:24:30

I'm going to cop out and post a theoretical answer to the question that contradicts what Rob asked. If the game system is supposedly 'generic' then the setting should be clearly separated from the rules. If I can use D&D as an example, the default setting information shouldn't be intermingled with the rules, but clearly separated so that its easier to tell the rules from the setting. (Clearly the gods don't apply to every D&D setting, so why do they exist in the core rulebook?)

An example of this is Savage Worlds or GURPS, where you can buy a separate rule book and then buy the setting books that you want. I also wouldn't object to a book that combines setting and rules as long as I can also buy just the rules in a book by themselves; I dislike being forced to pick out the setting from the rules if I want to play something other than the default setting.

Looking for DnD 3.5 and Exalted 2e games!
2009-02-03 23:46:29

For the best setting ever, I'd have to say Exalted. The sheer breadth of it, where you have insane pirates serving the God of Sharks and raiding the boats of elemental demigods in one area, a ghost from an ancient civilization turning a once-prosperous town into a land of death and despair in another, and still have room for high politics and low street fighting, is awesome.

2009-02-04 03:21:11

I have to say after reading the post about Exalted that i want to change my previous post.

I have to say the best RPG setting has to be Midkemia. Best known as Raymond E. Feist's series of books. But before he work the books and when he was in college it was a rpg game. Still looking for the fist core book to this game though.. But no one can say that Midkemia is not thew best made fantasy world..

Fifty-something Method Actor / Storyteller
2009-02-04 11:23:01

Midkemia was based on the AD&D campaign which a friend of Feist's ran, it was never published as a complete or original game. Midkemia Press released six books in the early '80s, of which the most enduring and well-received was Cities (later republished by Chaosium along with two other Midkemia Press supplements). The less said about the rather considerable resemblance of Feist's evil extradimensional empire to M.A.R. Barker's Empire of the Petal Throne the better.

2009-02-04 22:24:29

actually it was not a AD&D game. They had tried D&D out when it first came out during the late 70's, but found it to restricting and set about to create their own game system. The first book was Cities which contains the base rules for the game. Its all on their website- which is why it will never be published as a setting in any other system and they still maintain the rights to the setting and its content to this day. check out:

2009-02-06 16:39:46

For me I have onlyplayed a couple of different games. (D&D3.5, D&D 4e, Serenity, Starwars D6) sofar im hard into D&D 4e. Its my best one i have played yet.

May I axe you a question?
2009-02-07 21:14:44

I have only played two games, D&D 4e and Star Wars D6. Out of the two, D&D 4e is my favorite.

2009-02-07 23:53:51

Games like Serenity need the right kind of GMs for them to be awesome i think, where as D&D is set so any joe can run it with out a brain in their head- so i can understand that.

If you guys can, always try to try out other rpgs- it will broaden your bases and give you more to think about.

They'll have to kill me before I die!
2009-02-08 00:08:40

2nd Edition D&D is the best fantasy game. Hero System is the best overall game system but it takes a long time to create a character. Hero System can be easily adapted to any genre. D&D is best suited to fantasy. D&D is also the easiest to get into. Anybody who says it is too restricting has never had a good DM....

Fifty-something Method Actor / Storyteller
2009-02-08 11:51:09

Pendragon. 'Nuff said.

RPGing since '84, and still loving it!
2009-02-09 23:09:01

I've been waiting to answer this one for awhile, as I was trying to think of which RPG I would want to promote as my "Best Ever RPG".

I've played scores of different RPGs (and their various versions) and I've only disliked a small few.

So, there I was, trying to evaluate the pros and cons and reading all your posts, that's when it hit me...

Every RPG is the "Best Ever".

It all just depends on who is playing it with you, and I'm not just talking about the DM, I'm talking about everyone. As I look back over the games that I've had a blast with, there is one common theme, the people.

So, give me a group of fun loving people who "WANT TO PLAY!" and any set of rules (or no rules at all) and I'll show you a fantastic game!

— Leva, Älska, Spel! / Live, Love, Game! / Degero, Amor, Venatus!
Show me indie goodness
2009-02-10 23:34:02

sdjthorin, you've obviously never read FATAL then :)

Whilst I agree many games can be fun despite themselves, there are a few that really should be avoided. FATAL is one, and the abomination that is Racial Holy Wars should also be destroyed on sight.

RPGing since '84, and still loving it!
2009-02-11 01:31:36

:) well I did say I disliked a small few, I guess you can call that a caveat.

I've never played FATAL or the other one, and the few that I disliked were so bad I got rid of them, which as anyone who knows me knows is quite a thing, as I keep every scrap of gaming gear that I get. LOL

— Leva, Älska, Spel! / Live, Love, Game! / Degero, Amor, Venatus!
You dream it, it's possible
2009-03-14 15:40:42

Personal favourite: D20, more specifically fantasy d20, even more specifically, whatever game I'm running at the moment. It's hard to beat D & D for fantasy gaming and I'm very, very familiar with it, which makes running games much less of a chore.

Pure practical reason favourite: GURPS. Yeah, it's not fancy in the core set, but you can do anything with GURPS. The rules give a basice framework and where you go from there . . . well, one of the GURPS campaigns I ran was a post-apocalyptic sci-fi world full of aliens based on Old Testament stories and character concepts. Worked like a charm. There may be other rules sets out there I would've been able to run that setting in, but I'm hard-pressed to think of one where the setting would've been improved.

2009-04-25 23:47:53

My Home Brew system ;)

Wanna play?
2009-05-20 21:50:27

What? No one said ROLEMASTER?

Guess I'm a relic. A fossil. A hopeless math-minded chart-wielding refugee from Arnor.

There it is. Want to play? Contact me.

GURPS. Check profile for more info.
2009-05-25 17:57:19

GURPS for me.

Simply for the breadth. Some of the campaigns I've played in or ran: - Post-apoc zombies in rural Alberta with a priest, an ex-terrorist, and an axe-wielding plumber. - Delta-green-esque campaign where a gunslinger and spy kill an entire army and drop a mountain on the head of the bad guy. - A fantasy campaign where a group of students explore the world and discover one of their companions is the son of a dead king. - Lord of the Rings, 1000 years after Pelennor Fields. - Sci-fi based on Stargate where the power source for technology was magic, called Spellgate.

just to name a few.

Any game , anytime
2009-06-07 03:49:42

My all time favorite RPG was Legend of the Five Rings , not only was a well written system but because of its setting it discouraged hack and slash . I was fortunate enough to have an amazing GM , who took his games very seriously . If you are lucky enough to get a good GM then try this one out . It is a game that deserves alot better than AEG is giving them .

Hero System gamer
2009-06-11 16:46:29

Hero System

— I Just Smile
2010-01-01 22:34:48

Glad to see one other vote for Pendragon. By far - head and shoulders above the competition for its genre. Ahead of its time.

I didn't see even a mention for Traveller - surprising. It was my favourite system during the D&D doldrums of the 80s (when TSR seemed to be doing little good with what they had).

Is it a strange eon yet?
2010-01-03 10:53:07

I'd have to go with The Riddle of Steel. The Spiritual Attribute system, the combat and skill mechanics, all incredible and very detailed. The magic system is something I haven't toyed with yet, but it looks neat. The default setting is excellent, but not at all entrenched in the system.

Alternately, I'm a big fan of Legend of the Five Rings' roll and keep system, and the setting is usually great (barring the occasional wonkiness thrown in by the TCG tournaments).

Game-starved, wisened and reverant.
2010-01-04 21:35:42

I'm a 2nd voter for HERO -4th edition though. 5th came out 20 years later, but didn't improve it for me.

I write for Mutants and Masterminds (aka Hero Lite), and I'm a card-carrying IOR guy, so Risus makes my list too.

2010-01-06 00:31:16

what about 6th edition? hows that one rank up for you?

Consumer of the Shab-Al-Hiri Roach
2010-01-08 13:05:31

Pelgrane Press' Trail of Cthulhu offers the superlight, narration-oriented GUMSHOE system and all of the eldritch crunch of Chaosism's classic, but none of Basic Roleplaying System's clunky mechanics. Kenneth Hite turned out an incredible, elegant game with which I can entertain green players or old battleaxes.

On the other hand, Bully Pulpit Games has two brilliant games with amazingly integrated themes and rules: The Shab-al-Hiri Roach and Fiasco. Their mechanics drive both drive the dark comedy of their themes, which are fairly narrow and rigid, but these are excusable shortcomings given they're gamemasterless games and predefined structure is a bit necessary. I'll probably buy anything produced by Jason Morningstar.

kryptotim has the right idea in discouraging hack and slash in RPGs (vs. miniature wargaming, which is entirely hack and slash.) RPGs strength is in the role, not the roll. Hogshead Publishing printed a three page metagame in 1999 called Power Kill as one of their New Style games. John Tynes wrote it as a supplement to any RPG. It's works as a pre-game exercise and post-game debriefing to have players consider the dramatic feasibility of their characters. Power Kill serves as useful tool in keeping games away from Grand Theft Auto levels of sociopathy and surreality. But, hey, if players are into those things, there's always HoL, Dog Town, Violence, Paranoia or... now that I think about it, there are quite a few good games that cater to Clockwork Orange ultra-violence. HA!

Warner Robins gamer seeking group.
2010-01-25 06:35:41

I'll have to rescind my nomination of Anima: Beyond Fantasy. I have no idea what I was thinking when I said it, but after reading it through there is no way I could seriously nominate it for "best ever RPG." That's not to say that it's bad, but it is far too clunky to qualify.

My current nomination would have to be for Earthdawn. After reading both the Classic edition and 3rd Edition put out by RedBrick, I think it's amazing just how well it has held up over the past 20 years. It has an attached setting that is not only awesome, but which makes sense internally. And the system itself has little things like karma points that were truly ahead of their time. And when reading it, I don't get that "clunky old system" feeling that so many things that seemed great back in the '80s and '90s seem to radiate nowadays.

So Earthdawn it is. Great after 20 years, and hoping it lasts 20 more!

2010-03-01 23:45:15

Riddle of Steel. It would have needed a 2nd edition to address some issues but at the time it was the best rpg. It showed me the light, allowing me to leave the darkness of Rolemaster behind.

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