Hey, I’m Cecil and welcome back to The Role Play Primer. This week I’m going to tell you about getting into other RPGs out there, many of which might not have a starter set, or at least not one I’ve seen. This will include some more niche games, aimed at fans of specific universes, and just smaller and lesser known games.
First up will be a real quick one. GURPS, which stands for Generic Universal Role Play System, while one of the most in depth and possibly complex games I’ve ever played, also has the lowest barrier for entry rules-wise. Steve Jackson Games, the publishers of GURPS, have released what they call GURPS Ultra-lite. This is a version of the rules so stripped back that you print off one side of a4, and then do some funky folding to make a little booklet that will have most of the rules you need to play the game, when you are done with this, GURPS has supplements for almost any kind of campaign. Sci-fi with lasers and space ships? You can do that. Fantasy with dragons and magic? You can do that too, and it uses the same system, you just need to get the right supplements for it.
Next up is a personal favourite of mine, although I have only actually been able to play it twice. Paranoia.
Paranoia has recently been updated and re-released thanks to a successful kickstarter, and a starter set can be picked up containing rules for players and GMs and also an example adventure. Paranoia is a great dystopian sci-fi game set in Alpha Complex. The Complex is completely governed and overseen by The Computer. The Computer is your friend, and cares about you, however, terrorists and mutants scheme to overthrow the computer. It is your job as a loyal troubleshooter to help defend The Computer, and complete any and all missions assigned to you. You will die, but that’s fine, that’s what clones are for. Oh, by the way, you’re a terrorist and a mutant, but don’t tell anyone, because you’ll get killed. In Paranoia, other players are just as much, if not more, of a threat than many of the creatures and robots you will be facing off against, and anything that can go wrong probably will, in the most darkly hilarious way possible. You should definitely pick it up and have some fun betraying your friends and defending Friend Computer, available from Mongoose Publishing.
The last two recommendations I have are based within existing universes of other games. The first is Black Crusade, by Fantasy Flight Games. Black crusade is set in the universe of Warhammer 40,000, but rather than playing the heroes of the imperium of man, you play as agents of chaos, be that as chaos space marines, or dark mechanicus or just renegade Guardsmen. The system utilises percentile dice, so you have a clear percentage of how likely you are to accomplish something, for example in combat, your ability to shoot is based on your Ballistic Skill, which is represented by a percentage, you have to roll less than that number to succeed (barring any outside factors such as cover, distance etc.). One good thing about this system, if the person running it knows sufficient about the universe of Warhammer 40,000 then it doesn’t really matter if you do. I had a basic knowledge from playing the game years ago as a child, but I never really focused on the story, I just played with the models, The person running however used to work at Games Workshop, the creators of 40K, so he had a pretty tight grasp on most of the important goings on. This led to a very coherent campaign and some of the players and the table, as well as the GM, were able to fill us in on any important names or locations that showed up in the campaign.
Lastly Iron Kingdoms. Iron Kingdoms is based in the universe of Warmachine and Hordes, by Privateer Press. This game also has the luxury of being made by the creators of the game it was based from. This means that many of the rules and mechanics directly translate to the wargame, which is also very enjoyable. IK falls under some of the same strengths that Black Crusade has, in that one person who has a good enough grasp of the universe can run this fluently and keep you filled in important characters and locations.
These games don’t have to played in the universe they were developed for of course. Given enough time a creativity, and system could be adapted to almost any setting, if that’s what you really wanted. Obviously this works with GURPS because that is it’s whole selling point, but you could take Iron Kingdoms and use the system and some adaptations to run a game based within the World of Warcraft, which I have experienced, and I think it worked wonderfully.
So going forward remember, you are limited by your own imagination, not the game you are playing. Some publishers have even started developing alternative version of their games for other settings. Paizo have notably just published Starfinder, Which in short is Pathfinder in space. There are some more differences than that, but the core game is the same. Most of the differences come from pathfinder having been around for 10 years nearly, so refinements and rules that don’t make sense get to be changed out for more interesting ones.
That’s all I really have time for this week, and I’m not super sure what else can be said about these systems, because i’m not as familiar with the GM side of them as D&D and Pathfinder, but I’ll be back next week to talk about preparing a game, and the differences between creating your own world and story, or using pre-written adventures and worlds. So until then, Safe Travels, and may you always roll well.