Fantasy RPGs

Art by Larry Elmore, The Master!

As mentioned i’ve been looking at Fantasy recently. Next to Super Heroes Fantasy is what i Roleplay Mostly. Sure i dabble with Sci-Fi but i always to come back to Fantasy be it D&D, Warhammer or something else. And i’m trying to create/adapt my homebrew world to write stories in…So i need a good Fantasy game to run it.

But can i find one… Balls I can!

I Grew up playing Basic and then AD&D 2nd. I didn’t know anything else really. At Uni i played a lot of oWoD and Star Wars (d6). That was the last time i played regularly. Since then i’ve played a few sessions of this and that over last 10-15 years. When 4E came out i bought it up, and then last year i started getting into pathfinder. I think i’ve had less than 10 sessions of Either. I’ve bought both Legends of Anglerre, Exalted (lots of) and Dragon Age and never played them. I got WFRP 3e 2 years a go and played a few sessions but thats it. Something always seems to rub me the wrong way…But also i get bored easily, so something else comes along which is new and shiny and i have to buy that. So i lose interest in whatever i was playing. (Yes this is why i started a Nightfall Conversion and didn’t finish it.. .but also because werewolves were awkward)

So What am i looking for? I’m not sure. I have started two seperate posts of over the years about this, and in one a bunch of people concluded the system i wanted didn’t exist. I would like classes, but i’m not desperate. Same for Levels. I want to be able to create anything but have balance. I want some depth but also to be able to stat NPCs quickly if needs be. I Want lots of support and Cool Art to inspire me, but not tonnes of rules to drown in. Oh yeah, and i would like to be able to use all the poly dice we own (Between Mika and I, i think we own about 40 sets – so a 2d6 roll game is straight out of here). Basically, I want the moon on a stick.

So i’ve spent the last week looking at and buying new Fantasy Games. I started with the ones i Own:

  • Pathfinder. Love it, but i want to make Rogues who can fight well without pumping STR, and fighters who do dmage but can’t hit loads…and want to make an NPC in less than 1 hour. Plus if i want to fight a big monster it should have high AC, Damage and HP, but why does it also get a +10 to hit? Also – love the APs but i play with 1-3 players mostly.
  • D&D 4E. Liked it initially, before i realised i had to keep paying them $10 a month just to make characters. And apart from making fighters more interesting, and having more level 1 HP, it has most of the same faults as PF, but without the APs to play.
  • Dragon Age. Only 3d6. Set 1 only goes to level 5. Set 2 only goes to level 10…I’ll stick to the Computer Game thanks.
  • Legends of Anglerre. Fate Dice = Dull. But other that that its just the lack of support thats an issue.
  • Exalted. Can i pay $10 a month please so i can make a character. Great idea, don’t hate the system but it the charms make it too hard to plan. Would do in MHR in a second instead.
  • WFRP 3E. Oooooo Fancy dice. Cards for characters- Neat. Wait, i only have one copy of that card…And the cards are the rules…This is easier for the players but not to Run. If i want to play a boardgame I will…This went too far.
Right, so i need something new then. So i trawled the ‘net and have looked at some more stuff…
  • Dungeon world. 2d6 again, but looks neat.¬†Unfortunately pdf only at mo. Bought Apocalypse world, will get DW core when it come out.
  • Legend. Looks good. Not sure about % system, but it seems okay. And similar to BRP which has some good stuff for it. But then i tried to stat a BRP character. It took me an hour and at the end looked really boring. Plus i felt like any fighter would be really similar and every rogue and so on.
  • GURPS. Dungeon Fantasy, neat. Wait i can’t make head nor tail of this. Is this English??
  • Heroquest 2. I bought the book. I have like no intention of running in it but it has good ideas in it.
  • Barbarians of Lemuria. Again, only 2d6, but i bought the book, made a character and it seems nice enough. Doubt it will solve by long-term issues but should give me ideas.
  • Savage Worlds. Played a game a few months ago – good fun. So i made Mika Wood Elf Ranger. Her and her trusty dog Wolfy fought some Orcs. Seemed okay, then roll, miss, roll,miss, roll, hit, miss toughness…Having taken out most of a group, suddenly Mika and Wolfy couldn’t finish off 1 orc. Yes i know there are ways around this, but She won’t be giving this another go. Shame as it could have been the one. But when a d8 fighting character can’t kill 1 orc, something is wrong. If it had HP, problem solved, but i’m not houseruling that in.
So where does that leave me. With D&D Next! Tried the playtest, figured might as well. Was proper Excited too. But alas, while it solved some 3E and 4E problems it still had others. And basically it felt a bit dull. I have to say the characters are interesting, but Mika was left simply going, attack, attack, attack. There was no point doing anything else. So hopefully the Fighter is getting fixed soon.
So where does that leave me. Well i had three ideas:
  1. Pathfinder, throw in some houserules (to be continued), Nerf some monsters = problem solved??
  2. Legends of Anglerre. Have recreated the SW character, very easily, but better. Gonna play it later. But need a dice solution (to be continued)
  3. Cortex+. Way back when i started thinking on this. If i can make the time i’m doing a full fantasy game. Not a quick MHR hack, a whole Cortex hack. Attributes, skills, powers, different stress, altered PP/complications. IT will be bits of Smallville, Leverage and MHR. And it will take ages. If that ever gets going, i’ll post it.

And that’s it. If you read this, well done, and please post any suggestions for me if you found a similar situation and what you did.


  1. How about Heroes Against Darkness, a D&D-like free RPG but with better magic:
    Or one of the fantasy systems in my free RPG directory:

    1. Will have a look. But with the amount of PF books i own, i should really use them.

      Have now had a look. That heroes against darkness is pretty good. Nice mix of 3E and 4E and other stuff.

  2. There is a good article on Exploring Infinity
    To me seems like a very good Cortex Plus Hack. And as always can add your own rules as you see fit. Why I like Cortex Plus….Really no wrong way to handle something.

    1. Exactly. i like the S+S hack, but i would want to go the whole hog and have attributes etc

  3. You try D&D Next? I signed up to be a test player.

  4. I have., and my group wasn’t over impressed. but i’m sure i’ll get it when it comes out.

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