Monday, August 18, 2008

Rifts vs Gurps vs Hero vs d20 Modern vs True 20

Since my group is in the system changing mood with our shift to D&D 4e, I have decided I would like to introduce them to a system they have not all played before. Since we have the Sword and Sorcery Fantasy game covered with D&D 4e I want to try something a little more sci-fi oriented. I thought about running Mutants & Masterminds, but since I'm the only comic book reader in the group I decided against that one, for now.
After much deliberation I have narrowed my choices down to Rifts, Gurps, Hero 5e, d20 Modern, and True 20. Each of these systems has the capability of offering what I want, but which is the right system for my group?

Rifts offers an incredibly rich world full of every imaginable combination. We could play in nearly every genre and still use the same characters, which is a plus. I also own 2 Rifts books already, Rifts Ultimate Edition and the Game Masters Guide, another plus for that game.
On the down side the game is pretty awkward and the books are not set up for easy reference if you have a problem. Since we will pretty much be learning the game from scratch as a group, though I have read the 2 books, that is a big negative. Plus there are so many books you need to play a proper game that the cost would be incredible if we decide to stick with the system, another negative.

This system offers the same play any genre environment as Rifts, which is a plus for this system. I don't own a single book for this game, which is a huge negative. Also the cost of buying the books I would need to run a game would be pretty steep given that none of us know how to play, another negative. I also know very little about the system, but according to opinions on various boards it much easier to learn than Rifts.

Hero 5e:
Hero also falls into the do anything category and I also own several books including Champions. So we are back at square one once again. I would only need one or two more books to get what I need and be able to play a game, which is not bad. However, the books that I own are all in pdf which makes it a real pain in the ass to try and learn. I can't stand reading that much material on a computer screen and I sure won't print out a 600 page book on my little printer. Still we could do it if everyone in the group is committed.

d20 Modern:
I have the core book for this as well as the Past supplement and have played this at least a few times with one of the members of my group. It is d20, a plus, and since the other players have played 3e D&D the learning curve is minimal. But to play the game I want to play would require the purchase of another book. Although, I do have tons of 3e material to use. However, the whole point of picking a new system is the fact that we don't know how to play it. So while this would seem the obvious choice, I'm not sure it is the right one.

True 20:
This one seems to have it all. Play in any genre, check. Fairly familiar because it is based on d20, check. Still a different system, check. Plus I do have a printed copy of the main rules. But is it really different enough to make it worth playing? Will it still seem too familiar. I have read the core book and it is different in some ways, but familiar in others. But I still don't know if it is the right system.

I've toyed with the idea of running one game in each of the systems, at least the systems that I own and seeing which one the group prefers. The down side to this is that it would take months and would be a lot of work on my part, especially in terms of teaching.

So I am asking for opinions. Which system would you use? Feel free to post your comments and let me know what you think. Depending on the feedback I get I will make my decision, possibly narrowing it down to two systems. We will try them out and if this works I will post the groups opinions of the games here.


greywulf said...

Just one question - what makes you feel you "need" to own any additional books beyond the core rules for each system?

I've gamed RIFTS for many a year, and only ever owned the one core book. It's served our needs perfectly well in all that time. The advantage of doing this is that it's up to our gamer group to fill in the gaps.

Any additional source material is more of a limit to your own creativity. They're useful if you want a setting that's ready made, but certainly not what I'd call essential.

As to which system to choose - I suggest taking a break from d20-based gaming and play a few sessions in RIFTS. You've already got the book so no additional cost is involved, and if it doesn't pan out you've lost nothing. If the players do enjoy the system & environment there's no shortage of places and playstyles to explore.

Also, RIFTS character tend to be quicker to generate than your average GURPS or HERO character to there's less risk of the players getting bored before the game even begins :)

Any of the games you've short-listed are great choices, mind. I doubt you could go wrong with any of them.

That's my vote, anyhow.

Alex Schroeder said...

When we tried GURPS a while back, we used GURPS Lite for a few sessions. It was good enough to give us a feel for the system.

Donny_the_Dm said...

If you aren't stopped bu the prospect of a single book, I'd recommend D20 future. The Apocolypse and Cyberscape supps are reasonably standalone as well with the core material in hand.

It would be first on my list, due to the absolutely minimal learning curve, D&D 3e, but dissimilar enough to feel different.

Wanna try another oddball? I recently wrapped a 5 year Dragonstar campaign. It's from Fantasy flight. Never got the 3.5 update, but it was a fun game nonetheless.

pghgamer said...

How about Savage World? The book is like $10 and can be molded to your specs. Or you can use the FATE as well.
I've been toying around with the Post-Apoc idea as of late as well. I was going to do old school Gamma World...

pghgamer said...

How about Savage World? The book is like $10 and can be molded to your specs. Or you can use the FATE as well.
I've been toying around with the Post-Apoc idea as of late as well. I was going to do old school Gamma World...

Geek Gazette said...

@ greywulf
The reason I was wanting another Rifts book is because I need a few pre-stated monsters. I don't want to go through and create all the baddies as well as the adventures plus have to know the character creation rules so that I can teach them, while I am still learning the game myself.
I've been asking around the sites and the guys over at the Palladium Forums suggest getting one of the cheap world books. They say they come with a few stated baddies I can use.

Geek Gazette said...

@ donny
I love 20 Modern, and have run several games with one of my current players including Monte Cook's World of Darkness. That was before the new group formed. When I moved into the area his former group was the one I started gaming with.
But like greywulf said I am kind of wanting to get away from the d20 system for a bit. We've spent so long playing in that system, or some variation of it, that I want to run something different.I only put it on the list in the event that everyone thinks it is truly the better system.

Geek Gazette said...

@ pghgamer
I have actually been toying with the idea of running Savage Worlds, but I am honestly trying to keep from buying more books for different systems. My collection is way out of control anyway.
I would like to avoid buying another system and would rather buy books for the systems I own.

Gurps is on there just because I wasn't thinking straight when I made the list. As of right now Gurps is off the list, as is Savage Worlds. If I don't own it, we aren't going to play it. Though once this experiment is over I may ask for suggestions regarding games I do not own already and those two will probably be at the top of the list given the good things I've heard about them.

So thus far we have a very good argument for Rifts and a good argument for d20 modern.

Geek Gazette said...

@ everyone
Thanks for the suggestions.

Scott said...

I'm a big fan of the HERO system. It's flexible and powerful. It does lack a certain granularity for lower-power (ie. not superheroic, high fantasy, space opera) games, but it still handles those genres quite well in my experience -- the biggest potential problem is that two characters with similar concepts might end up being "the same."

However... HERO is not easy to learn. Leaving aside the math that's involved, it takes a while to get used to the concept of buying the effect of the power and specifying your own special effect. Most systems -- and all d20 systems that I've seen -- wrap up the two together, even if they add a blurb about possibly changing the special effect (as 4e does).

For a lot of people, learning Magic Missile is easier to grasp than buying a 6d6 Energy Blast, No Range Penalty and defining it as a bolt of force. It's just the way most systems (including other generic systems like GURPS) work.

What this means is a potentially steep learning curve for your players. You'll need to decide whether that's worth it.

Personally, though, I would like to recommend tracking down a copy of Nobilis. It's one of the best RPGs I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Diceless system, very focused on roleplaying and intrigue, and you play at a very high power level (think the Endless from Sandman) while simultaneously being provided with actual challenges and threats due to the nature of the game. And to top it all off, it's an amazing read, too. Really can't recommend it highly enough.