Carakav
 member, 697 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Thu 21 Apr 2022
at 21:42
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
Been toying around with a homebrew game/world which starts as a traditional modern day post-apocalyptic survival story, and becomes steadily more fantastical and scifi/fantasy as the story progresses and the cause of the apocalypse unfolds.

I need a flexible system for it that can cover everything from mundane skills and survival, to super-hero like powers/beings, and strange Call of Cthulu-style horror. At the moment I'm considering FATE, Savage Worlds, and Mutants & Masterminds.

The way I understand it now:

Mutants and Masterminds:
Pros: Rules are free on the SRD. Easy to learn. Flexible powers system.
Cons: 'Power Levels' might be a little bit too 'discreet' or inflexible. For low-level play, a d20 has a huge amount of variance that might not feel good or realistic. It might need battle maps for the combat to feel good in some cases.

Savage Worlds:
Pros: Rules are very generalized and flexible. Easy to learn. Easy to modify.
Cons: Not free. Not sure how well it scales to "high-powered" conflicts/characters. Might be too simplistic?

FATE:
Pros: Best possible flexibility. Rules are free.
Cons: Very different approach to gaming; not sure how well I understand the system, or how well others understand it. May have trouble recruiting for it. Not certain if it's appropriate for a PbP format.


I'd really love to hear people's thoughts on these systems. As you can see: my 'list' is plagued by a lot of questions/uncertainties. I have experience with games like Pathfinder and Exalted in a PbP format, but I only know enough to know that those systems wouldn't be a good fit for the concept without a lot of tweaking.
phoenix9lives
 member, 1092 posts
 A brain driving a bone
 mecha with flesh armor
Thu 21 Apr 2022
at 22:14
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
This sounds a lot like Palladium Books' Rifts RPG.  Their rules would work for it, but are not free (well, there are places....), character creation also takes awhile.  But, it has rules for high technology, magic,magical and supernatural creatures, psionics/psychic abilities, super abilities, and aliens.  There are also tons of options for character classes and even rules for customization.  It is very crunchy, and combat in PbP can take a long time.  But, isn't that any sustem?
evileeyore
 member, 679 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Thu 21 Apr 2022
at 23:08
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
Carakav:
I need a flexible system for it that can cover everything from mundane skills and survival, to super-hero like powers/beings, and strange Call of Cthulu-style horror.

GURPS.  It can handle every single genre you're wanting to mix.

Form your list and other mentioned:

M&M:  I have no experience with this system.

Savage Worlds:  Is fiddly.  It can do those genres, but to me it feels like it's best not to mix those genres, otherwise you have PCs overshadowing other PCs very easily.  Can be fine if you know your group and they can reign themselves in (ie Superman reigning himself in to let Lois Lane shine).

FATE:  Theoretically it's also perfect, but where GURPS can do the gritty survival very well, FATE will struggle to ever feel desperate.  It's a narrative system so the fidelity can be pretty low at times.  Works fine in PbP, beeter even for GMs who might not be 100% familiar with the rules as you have more time to think about/look things up.

Palladium/Rifts:  Rifts is very, very, very fiddly and power-creepy.  Each release expansion tried to up the power game over the last book.  It has it's fanatics though, so it must be doing something very right (for them - I personally can't stand Palladium rules).

GURPS: It's perfect, it's the best, it's a bright shining star in a sea of dim bulbs... I'm of course only mildly biased.  It can do gritty very well, so well that most people don't think it can do high action or narrative play, but it can pretty easily... the GM just has to know how.  And... well... there's the rub of GURPS in a nutshell, it's a toolbox to plug add-ons to the base skeletal system and flesh out your genre rules, but all that work is very much front-loaded on the GM.  Now there are some supplements that can lighten the work load a little, After The End is the line for post-apocalypse games, Action is there with rules for high-octane action filled games, Powers is there for super powers, Fantasy and Magic and Thaumatology are there for branching in to the mythic...  see what I mean?  GURPS kinda needs a GM who knows it and knows when to turn rules off and on to fine tune the system to run the way they want it to.

But if you want, I've got some free time, I'd be happy to help out, wrangle rules and stuff for you, point out what rules sets you might want to use and what you'd probably want to turn off.
facemaker329
 member, 7396 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Fri 22 Apr 2022
at 03:47
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
You might take a look at Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying System.  It's written as a bare-bones, system-only document without any setting information.  It was the basis of Call of Cthulhu, among other Chaosium games.  They have a free quick-start PDF on their site, and supplements to guide adapting it to a few other settings.

It's quick, it's straightforward, it's simple.  You might want to pick up some of the supplemental stuff for ideas on how to run Powers and Magic, but the pdfs for those are pretty cheap.
tmagann
 member, 770 posts
Fri 22 Apr 2022
at 05:06
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
The Gamma World for D20 Modern might have exactly what you need. They use clouds of free floating Nano (and the ability to control it) to do what is essentially magic.

That gets you a post apocalyptic start moving more towards a fantasy feel as folks learn to control nano to make it do a variety of things and effects.
Hunter
 member, 1773 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Fri 22 Apr 2022
at 06:32
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
In reply to evileeyore (msg # 3):

The various Palladium books pretty much cover every genre, so if you're looking for a really broad range of possibilities, it's a good choice.  Rifts has always struggled with power-creep, though.   As a concept/world/background, it's fabulous; however the mechanics tend to copy AD&D rather closely.
Carakav
 member, 698 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Fri 22 Apr 2022
at 16:18
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
Thanks for all of the feedback so far!

Palladium/Rifts: I've played these systems in the past, and I'm not confident that they're flexible enough for what I'm trying to do. But really, the biggest barrier is that they aren't free, and there's dozens and dozens of different sources. A lot of the OCCs and RCCs also assume a lot about the setting itself, which I want more control over.

GURPS: The most I know about GURPS was what I remember from playing Fallout and Fallout 2 on PC many years ago. I admit that what evileeyore is saying sounds enticing, but it also sounds like a significant barrier to entry. The offer to help is much appreciated, but after a google search it also appears that these books and supplements aren't free, which makes it hard for me to evaluate the system for myself without forcing you to waste a bunch of time explaining it :P

This message was last edited by the user at 16:21, Fri 22 Apr.

facemaker329
 member, 7397 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Fri 22 Apr 2022
at 18:06
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
My own feedback on what's been suggested thus far--

Palladium is good if you stick to what they've already laid out in the books (which are spendy).  They don't really have any guidelines for creating your own stuff, so it can become very easy to overpower/underpower things when/if you start making your own.  And their SDC/MDC damage system doesn't lend itself well to smaller parties that aren't doing big sci-fi-action-hero types of combat.  (A lot of Rifts weapons do MDC damage, which would pretty much obliterate anything that's only on the SDC scale.  Conversely, even crappy MDC armor is pretty much impervious to SDC-scale weapons, so you kind of have to pick one or the other and that precludes use of anything that isn't in the category you picked.)

GURPS is infinitely adaptable...if you've got the patience for the number-crunching and the resources for the supplements (or the patience to just make it all up on your own).  I've only tried it a few times, as a player, and if I hadn't had GMs who were very familiar with it, it would have been overwhelming, so it could also limit your interest pool.

Gamma World was originally created to do the kind of concept you're describing, but I haven't tried it since the mid-80s, so I can't speak to how easy it is to use.  That said, I have mixed feelings about the D20 system and how well it adapts to different settings and power levels.

I haven't ever tried M&M, SW, or FATE, so I can't speak to them at all.

My experience with BRP is limited...a friend of mine used a modified version of it for his homebrewed fantasy game, but it adapted well for that and it was simple enough to play that I was a spectator for one session and then joined in the next week.  Character creation was a little intricate, but that was largely due to the fact that he had a huge number of house rules and they were all pretty much in his head, so each step of the process had to be explained.

Other adaptations I've played--

I had a college roommate who loved the Dark Conspiracy setting but didn't like the system, so he adapted it to the D6 system, which is pretty simple and straightforward.  It doesn't scale well to high-powered characters, however.

Another college roommate was a huge fan of Marvel Superheroes FASERIP system, which has rules for an amazing array of powers.  But you need books to run it, as all the dice rolls rely on a chart to calculate.  Results can be vague sometimes--there's not really a good system to resolve what happens if both characters in a fight roll a Red result, for instance.  And character advancement beyond a certain point (that is ridiculously low on the overall power scale of the game) is all but impossible.

And the White Wolf World of Darkness system seems to adapt fairly well, although it gets really fuzzy when you start getting into Magic and Powers, as there aren't really rules for how a Vampire's powers stack up against an opposing Mage's spells...unless they've added some more material with the new editions.  It seemed like each line of books (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, etc) was written to be it's own self-contained game and they never intended to mix-and-match them (despite the fact that every group I was ever in playing any of these games, including the LARP group at college, invariably did just that...)  And I'm not sure a out the availability of free resources for it...

For what it's worth from an outsider/generally player perspective (I don't generally enjoy GMing games.)
phoenix9lives
 member, 1093 posts
 A brain driving a bone
 mecha with flesh armor
Fri 22 Apr 2022
at 20:04
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
The old Marvel FASERIP system is actually usable for any setting, as Marvel had character stats for characters from the Old West as well as modern super heroes.  The advancement can be adjusted to make it easier to improve and increase in power, as has been done in many games I have played in.  Also, it can be found for free, with virtually every printed book in PDF.
Carakav
 member, 699 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Fri 22 Apr 2022
at 23:39
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
I agree with Facemaker concerning the d20 systems, which is partly why I hesitate to use Mutants and Masterminds, despite it being nearly perfect otherwise. I've never felt that the d20 die-type scaled well. It's always the case that there's a 'sweet spot' depending on the system.

I have zero TTRPG experience with GURPS. I played FASERIP once many many years ago, but it seems like a system that's specifically geared for super heroes, rather than a generic system. Or am I wrong about that?

BRP looks interesting, but it sounds like I'd need to either drop cash on it for supplements or do a lot of homebrew work.

This is a struggle, ya'll XD

The point of the game I'm writing is that there's a certain amount of randomness involved, and that it's partly about this mysterious clash between fantasy, surreal science fiction, and reality. More specifically, the core of the story is about how the players deal with 'change', both internal (physical and mental) and external (the world itself). Every power typically comes with a minor downside. Players 'can' become super powerful, but it's not the case that they'll totally outclass a regular person with a gun most of the time. It's not meant to be DC-superheroes levels of power; more like X-Men or Umbrella Academy type stuff (at max), mixed with a bit of Stranger Things and low-magic high-fantasy. Wizards can exist, but they don't casually fling magic missile... instead their magic would operate more like Constantine's (from the movie). The magic is there and it's definitely magic, but it's not energy blasts or wands shooting bolts of polymorph and flesh-to-stone. It's more about rituals, artifacts, history, and alchemy and how those things interact with the same forces changing the world.
tmagann
 member, 771 posts
Sat 23 Apr 2022
at 00:15
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
Actually, BRP shouldn't need supplements. The book comes with chapters for: 2 different magic systems, a supers system, a psi system, a mutation system, and a chapter with high tech.

Basically, Chaosium took many of the old games that used the BRP system as their core, and adjusted it all for compatibility, then brought it all together. On of the magic systems, the supers system, and tech all came from Worlds of Wonder (Although Superworld and Ringworld got their own games later). The other magic system is adjusted from Stormbringer, and may be what you want for your game

The other systems may have some of their games I didn't play. I don't recognize them.

It's a nonlevel based system where skills go up through use, and hits are pretty much constant. It's skill driven, not level driven. Easier than Gurps, but with an element of luck in initial character generation.

I'm not sure that it's exactly what you're looking for, but it's worth giving a second look. Especially if the number of books you'd need is a factor.
Carakav
 member, 700 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Sat 23 Apr 2022
at 00:23
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
In reply to tmagann (msg # 11):

The only free book I found is a quickstart pdf that specifically states that the more advanced rules are elsewhere.
evileeyore
 member, 685 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Sat 23 Apr 2022
at 02:50
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
Carakav:
The only free book I found is a quickstart pdf that specifically states that the more advanced rules are elsewhere.

If free is that stronk a defining feature, then stick with FATE.  It won't do gritty survival, but it'll do the narrative version just fine.
facemaker329
 member, 7398 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Sat 23 Apr 2022
at 03:37
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
In reply to Carakav (msg # 12):

Yeah, the BRP PDF is $22 and change.  So, not free, but not prohibitively expensive, either.  If you're looking for free options, you're narrowing the field considerably.
tmagann
 member, 772 posts
Sat 23 Apr 2022
at 04:12
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
Risus is free. pretty universal, too, in that you can do anything with it, in theory.
Carakav
 member, 701 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Sat 23 Apr 2022
at 07:41
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
In reply to facemaker329 (msg # 14):

It's not just for me. It's a matter of access for the players as well. I know it's limiting, but if I choose a system that requires a payment, I'm greatly limiting the number of people who can play.
cptcthulhu
 member, 230 posts
 Nuke em till they glow
 Shoot them in the dark.
Sun 24 Apr 2022
at 10:47
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
My two suggestions are HERO/CHAMPIONS system, and for a TRULY bizarre game...Paranoia.
evileeyore
 member, 686 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Sun 24 Apr 2022
at 15:55
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
Carakav:
It's not just for me. It's a matter of access for the players as well. I know it's limiting, but if I choose a system that requires a payment, I'm greatly limiting the number of people who can play.

Kinda.  Some people will find work arounds for themselves*, and others are perfectly fine letting the GM handle all the rules (and even chargen for them) they just want to play.


* Keeping in mind RPoL's official stance on piracy is "Don't Do On Our Board".  As far as I can tell that means no posting links to piracy sites, no discussing how to commit data liberation, no posting of the entire contents of IP (though I suspect small chunks of data like stat blocks, any information already in freely available Learn To Play books, and such are fine).
facemaker329
 member, 7399 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Mon 25 Apr 2022
at 00:24
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
In reply to evileeyore (msg # 18):

For most games of this type (ie, not everyone already has copies of the rules) that I've been involved in, if the GM has the rules and there's some kind of free guide to get through chargen (like, say, a quickstart PDF that's a free download) and started on playing, players have adapted quite readily.

That said, if Carakav feels like he wants to run the game with everyone having free availability to copies of the rules or already having familiarity with them, that's his option.  It would hardly be the first time I've had a different opinion from someone else on here about how a game should be run...but it's not my game to run.
Carakav
 member, 702 posts
 Sure-footed paragon
 of forthright dude.
Mon 25 Apr 2022
at 09:10
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
Indeed. I believe very strongly that players are most comfortable when the rules of a game are fully transparent to them; meaning that they have full access to the system(s) of play, and full access to the GM for questions and concerns they might have. I also find that my understanding of systems, even ones I have extensive experience playing, will always be imperfect, and having more than one set of eyes makes things easier, illuminating, and fair.

In my experience, it's also a matter of access and recruiting. Familiarity and access to the system of play increases the number of applications; which increases my choices as a GM, the potential quality of the players, and the overall quality of the play experience for everyone.

I think this has been a very helpful conversation so far! Based on tmagann's suggestion, I've been looking at Risus. It would need some serious homebrew work, but it seems like a pretty solid framework. I'm also in the process of downloading the GURPS lite pdf evileeyore. Once I get a couple of hours to evaluate it, I'll let you know.

This message was last edited by the user at 09:11, Mon 25 Apr.

Silverlock
 member, 141 posts
Tue 26 Apr 2022
at 13:13
Which System for a potential "Bizarre Post-Apocalypse" Game?
HOL, Black Dog, a division of White Wolf, "Human Occupied Landfill" and its supplement, "Buttery wholesomeness", probably very out of print to get a physical copy.  The PCs were scruffy mutants and suchlike scrabbling for basic existence in a horrible dystopian junkyard.