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A System for an Open Campaign

#1
Hello, everyone

I need help finding a game system that I can use with an open campaign I want to start.

You see, with our jobs and kids, my friends and I don't have much time to spare, and it's getting increasingly difficult to get everyone at the table, so I came up with the idea to start an open campaign with everyone I know who plays tabletop RPGs, where I can summon them for each session, and play with the first 3 to 6 to answer the call (Depending on the adventure and the quorum).

Problem is: Although I want to create a sense of achievement, I don't want the characters of those friends who can play more frequently to become too overpowered in relation to those who play rarely, and I also don't want my players to adjust their characters each time we play. Thus, a system like D&D, where a 1st level character would be in a clear disadvantage when paired with a 5th level character (While the other will probably have it too easy) is clearly not what I'm looking for.

Of course, I know I can't have my cake and eat it too: If there is some character advancement, characters will probably end up at different power caps, but if there's a system where this happens more smoothly, I would like to hear your recommendations.

BTW: I've played different game systems and in different settings over the years, so I guess adapting to a new one shouldn't be too hard. I'm also a more action-oriented GM (I don't really do horror and suspense too well).

Thanks in advance!
 

Blackwingedheaven

Crystal Human
Validated User
#2
Why not just level up all the characters at the same time, regardless of who shows up? That way, no one's character gets left behind, and it creates a roleplaying opportunity for the player who missed a session or two to explain what their character was doing during that time.

Regardless of the direction you choose to go, I'd highly recommend Cortex Prime or Savage Worlds. Both are very good at having characters of different "levels" contributing more or less equally to a given adventure.
 

Lord Crimson

Prophet of Darkness
Validated User
#3
Fate is often pretty good for this, since the escalation-rate of PC power tends to be very low. Minor milestones are all about just switching out skills/aspects/stunts rather than actually acquiring new ones. Heck, many of the pre-Core iterations (SotC and Diaspora) lacked any kind of escalation at all.
 

g33k

Registered User
Validated User
#4
I'll point to the idea of a "Westmarches" campaign.
It is aimed specifically at this sort of thing, and advises generally on how to solve it regardless of rule-set...
 

Old Man Vegan

Registered User
Validated User
#5
Maybe play a system that's less zero-to-hero and you can dispense with the notion of advancement, e.g. Fate. These are cinematic, already competent heroes who can just jump into a campaign. Cortex works like this, too.
 

g33k

Registered User
Validated User
#6
Maybe play a system that's less zero-to-hero and you can dispense with the notion of advancement, e.g. Fate. These are cinematic, already competent heroes who can just jump into a campaign. Cortex works like this, too.
Some folks really like character-advancement options. So, yeah - Fate/etc with "starting" PC's being already most/all of the way to apex ability, that's a thing & it can be fine; but it has to suit ALL the players is needed. You can go REALLY oldschool with Classic Traveller -- all "advancement" happens at character-generation, and there is NO "xp"/advancement in play.

If this style suits everyone -- hey, problem solved!



I'm going to suggest something different: find a SETTING that has support for multiple different game-systems. Green Ronin's "Freeport" has versions for d20, True20, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, AGE, and Fate. Chaosium's Glorantha has RuneQuest, HeroQuest, and 13thAge. Mindjammer has IIRC versions for Fate and for MongTraveller2e. Or just combine a SETTING you know really well, with 2-3 SYSTEMS you know really well.

This lets you run different styles of game for different player tastes... But all in the same campaign/setting
 

Jackleg

Registered User
Validated User
#7
Reading in what you want, almost any system could be used.

Savage Worlds, Fate, BRP, just to name a few. You could maybe use some of the OSR games if you want.

Good luck.
 

DeathbyDoughnut

a.k.a. Mr. Meat Popcicle
Validated User
#8
I suggest Mutants and Masterminds 3e. The game doesn't necessarily expect advancement, but has the option for it if you wish, at really any interval you wish. You can play an entire campaign at a Power Level, and it feels great. In comics characters wouldn't change or progress from issue to issue, in this case rpg session by session, but at appropriate intervals, like maybe after a major quest is completed or an entire story arc wraps up, and after a small time jump the group might decide they want to advance their character a couple Power Levels because they've earned it. Characters as low as PL 5 are sufficiently competent low-level adventurers. But as the GM you can still give out magical items, or tech devices that use the powers system as treasure, for that advancement feeling without upping the numbers on the character sheet.

Plus the great thing about it being a supers system is that it doesn't necessarily have to be in any specific genre. You can run a fantasy campaign with M&M 3e very easy (I would know, I am running one), but just as easily run a sci-fi game (which was my last M&M campaign), and nearly anything else. It's mostly just description to change genres. In my opinion like in my magic fantasy campaign, I said "all magic requires a check activation to cast", which to me feels like magic instead of superpowers. So now instead of just having Enhanced Strength, a character has to "cast" with a Magic check the Enhance Strength "spell" (Bull's Strength) which is really just the Enhanced Strength power effect with the Check Activation and Fades flaws, super easy to do.

Not to mention it's an easy system to pick up if you know D&D. M&M 3e is a d20+modifiers roll high against a GM set DC game. And it does action great, it's a supers game. It really is adaptable to nearly any setting. I can imagine Luke, Leia, and Han as M&M characters with various abilities and powers, but could also be run as Shadowrun, or Conan, or Thundarr. In fact my next campaign after this magic fantasy game will probably be some kind of Gamma World/Dying Earth inspired post-post apocalyptic with strange mutants and crazy sci-fi tech in a wasteland world. I've also toyed around with a super-science but no super powers campaign where all power effects are based on devices. So the players play regular humans, but they might be inventors or gadget testers for super science tech, similar to Atomic Robo, or even Batman. I could even run that as a medium to hard sci-fi game where there is advanced tech, but no magic or psionics, or I could run it as Ghostbusters.
 

baakyocalder

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#9
Hello, everyone

I need help finding a game system that I can use with an open campaign I want to start.

You see, with our jobs and kids, my friends and I don't have much time to spare, and it's getting increasingly difficult to get everyone at the table, so I came up with the idea to start an open campaign with everyone I know who plays tabletop RPGs, where I can summon them for each session, and play with the first 3 to 6 to answer the call (Depending on the adventure and the quorum).

Problem is: Although I want to create a sense of achievement, I don't want the characters of those friends who can play more frequently to become too overpowered in relation to those who play rarely, and I also don't want my players to adjust their characters each time we play. Thus, a system like D&D, where a 1st level character would be in a clear disadvantage when paired with a 5th level character (While the other will probably have it too easy) is clearly not what I'm looking for.

Of course, I know I can't have my cake and eat it too: If there is some character advancement, characters will probably end up at different power caps, but if there's a system where this happens more smoothly, I would like to hear your recommendations.

BTW: I've played different game systems and in different settings over the years, so I guess adapting to a new one shouldn't be too hard. I'm also a more action-oriented GM (I don't really do horror and suspense too well).

Thanks in advance!
If you like westerns, give Aces & Eights: Shattered Frontier or Reloaded (new version just finished on Kickstarter). It's based on historical westerns and is character-driven with slow advancement based on purusing professional goals and personal goals. It lacks level and most characters are fully formed with some room for improvement; how fast characters improve depends on their professions and their goals but even the smart players are going to advance at a jog instead of a sprint.

I have written a review of Reloaded for RPG.net if that sounds interesting.

Otherwise, I suggest a points-based game such as GURPS with everyone at the same point total give or take a few points and where the power gain is small per session. If you like action, GURPS has a GURPS Action series of PDFs where you make action heroes.
 

Amberpup

Registered User
Validated User
#10
If you desired a world to go along with the system, I would suggest Ars Magica. Player characters starts out strong, and free time to research and experiment can become very important to a pc magi. Enough so your PC magi will stop adventuring to spend time in their lab for varies endeavors to increase their magical power, knowledge, or life span. So one can gain xp both from the more common adventuring and problem solving or spend time in the lab and gain xp that can be used to further their occult pursuits.

Besides sharing a covenant , each player makes up a magus and a companion, then a group grog (low level fighter that defends the magi). So for a table that can have varies players showing-up or not, and the GM wishing to keep the xp balance, I would either go with Ars Magica or maybe Pendragon (since a knight can still get Glory when not adventuring).
 
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