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[Sell me on a system] [Roll20] Sword & Sorcery that isn't too story-game or too byzantinely-complex to run

calliban

Assume I'm wrong
Validated User
Hey guys!

With my D&D5e campaign over, one of my players asked for a Sword & Sorcery game, in the molds of Conan, Stormbringer, Lankhmar, and other icons from the genre. We agreed to not use 5e, as we are waiting for more high-level options for our next campaign (there are not enough monsters after lv 15 or so). I will explicitly exclude Savage Worlds form the mix as we are already playing a Deadlands Reloaded campaign.

We talked about what kind of game we would prefer, and we came up with the following:

  • Roll20 available character sheet is a plus, as we play over it using VoIP;
  • Setting independent as we will use our own setting;
  • Relatively easy to learn/teach and play over the internet (I have a couple players who can't read English);
  • Not a light game or a story game, as we don't dig that approach;
  • Not overly complicated, as games tend to get slower on the internet, specially combat;
  • The less we have to refer to the book for tables and divergent rule cases, the best;
  • Campaign friendly (15-20+ games), with a good and actually rewarding mechanical character advancement (horizontal and vertical progression are welcome);
  • We are not fans of house-ruling (hated them in our D&D and AD&D era back in early 90's), so good raw mechanics that do not need to be modified to be playable are welcome;
  • We prefer less randomization on our character creation;
  • Sandbox game may be fun if not too costly on the GM side;
  • A big plus if zero-to-hero-to-epic is possible, specially if zero to hero takes very little time;
  • While not a must, options for highly experienced heroes to have their own lands and stuff is nice (or thematically equivalent evolution, such as mages having a school, priests ranking up, and so on);
  • A Huge, huge plus if the game is GM friendly (easy to run, ready-made campaigns, good bestiary, interesting traps, little bookkeeping...)

So, could you help me with the existing systems that would be a good match?

PS:
My English is bad and I should feel bad. Not native speaker, feel free to politely correct my poor grammar and ask for clarifications.
 

kalil

Registered User
Validated User
With the exception of the roll20 sheet Barbarians of Lemuria would match your list of requirements.
 

calliban

Assume I'm wrong
Validated User
With the exception of the roll20 sheet Barbarians of Lemuria would match your list of requirements.
I have some experience with BoL. As far as I can remember, it is very rules-light and has very little in the way of character advancement, as you are mostly encouraged to keep the status quo. Not sure if it was the GM, tho.
 

kalil

Registered User
Validated User
I have some experience with BoL. As far as I can remember, it is very rules-light and has very little in the way of character advancement, as you are mostly encouraged to keep the status quo. Not sure if it was the GM, tho.
I think the advancement system in BoL is pretty nifty. You get to tell the rest of the group how you spent all the treasure you gained form the last adventure; THEN you get your advancement points :) Anyway, it is a pretty straightforward advancement system where you can increase attributes, career ranks, gain new career and recruit followers (ok, that bit is a bit above and beyond standard). It lacks a concept of "tiers" so there are no break-points between hero-material, hero and demigod, but other than that I don't know what the advancement system should be lacking.
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
Validated User
I used Magic World for a sword and sorcery game, and I thought it was a good fit. BRP is a very traditional rules medium game system. It's got rules widgets for things, and characters progress meaningfully as the game progresses, but you generally don't need to stop and check the rules for much. Highly skilled characters will have ratings over 100%, which means that they'll often be able to act more than once in a round, they can tackle really hard tasks that incur big penalties, or they have a higher chance for better than baseline success (all of which mean that they generally outperform less skilled characters, often to a great degree).

It's pretty cool stuff.
 

SibKhatru

Registered User
Validated User
I wonder if Atlantis 2nd Age would work. It does S&S at its core. BoL is super light and works well, but ASE has several cool bits like a life path generator and thematic character advancement.
 

Marchand

Registered User
Validated User
How about OpenQuest? It's simplified BRP. D100 roll-under. Its whole philosophy is "d100 gaming made easy". The combat chapter in the free basic rules is only 10 pages long. But I don't know if it has roll20 support, sorry.

To get the sword and sorcery feel, you might want to swap in the magic system from Call of Cthulhu if you have it, or at least bolt on some kind of corruption points mechanic for spellcasters. Meddling with that stuff should have consequences.

MagicWorld is closer to the "original" Runequest/BRP/d100 system, modelled on the old Elric game, so grounded in S&S. Bit pricey though.

I would have recommended Crypts and Things by the same company who do OpenQuest, but it seems to have been taken off onebookshelf - I think it might be getting a new edition. Swords and Wizardry based with S&S themed classes (fighter, barbarian, thief etc.) and a magic system split into white, grey and black magic, with the grey and the black stuff potentially dangerous for the caster.
 

Raleel

Registered User
Validated User
Hey guys!

With my D&D5e campaign over, one of my players asked for a Sword & Sorcery game, in the molds of Conan, Stormbringer, Lankhmar, and other icons from the genre.
runequest 6. It's an explicit goal of the game. Get the Monster Island supplement, as it _specifically_ addresses this genre with an entire section.

I would add in Spider God's Bride (the Legend version) and the Hyborian Age conversion doc for it available on xoth.net. the conversion is for Mongoose's conan, but you only really need the flavor text anyways. All the Legend stats should work just fine in the original book. It's very pulpy sword and sorcery. If you don't let any players use Sorcery, then you can even use the pay what you want Runequest book (though there are some handy parts in the full version that I would totally recommend)

We talked about what kind of game we would prefer, and we came up with the following:

  • Roll20 available character sheet is a plus, as we play over it using VoIP;
https://app.roll20.net/forum/post/928757/runequest-6-character-sheet yep, and actively being worked on. I've used it and it works nicely.
  • Setting independent as we will use our own setting;
totally there. there are several runequest settings
  • Relatively easy to learn/teach and play over the internet (I have a couple players who can't read English);

  • Not a light game or a story game, as we don't dig that approach;
  • Not overly complicated, as games tend to get slower on the internet, specially combat;
  • The less we have to refer to the book for tables and divergent rule cases, the best;
there are some tables, but relatively few, to be honest. once you have your sheets, they will be the biggest thing you reference
  • Campaign friendly (15-20+ games), with a good and actually rewarding mechanical character advancement (horizontal and vertical progression are welcome);
the campaign I mentioned above is actually really well set up for this. 10 adventures all very S&S flavored. If you pick up the Book of Quests (an RQ6 supplement) it has another 7 that are in the same vein (though slightly more complicated to convert to Conan - slightly)
  • We are not fans of house-ruling (hated them in our D&D and AD&D era back in early 90's), so good raw mechanics that do not need to be modified to be playable are welcome;
while RQ6 is a few years old, the whole methodology is more than 30 years old. Patch, rather than make new, seems to have been a guiding mechanism.
  • We prefer less randomization on our character creation;
  • Sandbox game may be fun if not too costly on the GM side;
  • A big plus if zero-to-hero-to-epic is possible, specially if zero to hero takes very little time;
  • While not a must, options for highly experienced heroes to have their own lands and stuff is nice (or thematically equivalent evolution, such as mages having a school, priests ranking up, and so on);
very easy for this. There are point based and roll based stat generation (7) and then everything else is point based and calculated stats. Characters get experience rolls every game, and that defines the character advancement. Tune those, that tunes your speed of advancement. Once they get some points into things, they can join brotherhoods and cults and become leaders of things with real powers and lands and the like. The for-pay book has all these rules, and it's quite ingenious. It really makes them feel culturally appropriate.
  • A Huge, huge plus if the game is GM friendly (easy to run, ready-made campaigns, good bestiary, interesting traps, little bookkeeping...)
I've pointed out some above, but there is also the Runequest Encounter Generator online to help with some of that. the sources I mentioned above also have lots of traps and beasties.
So, could you help me with the existing systems that would be a good match?

PS:
My English is bad and I should feel bad. Not native speaker, feel free to politely correct my poor grammar and ask for clarifications.
your English is great. better than my every-other-language. you should feel proud.

edit: several other people mentioned systems that are similar to Runequest, including MagicWorld, OpenQuest, and the whole BRP line. I think this alone makes it a good fit and tells you how much has gone into this area. Runequest has German and French editions in PDF format if those are easier for your players. It also has a pay what you want adventure and a free adventure. I ran the former and it was _very_ S&S (island primitives, 6 armed living statue, lifting an ancient curse, etc).

Barbarians of Lemuria is pretty light, but I would say mechanically light and less of the "high concept" sort of thing like Fate or (frankly) Cortex+, so you might look at it anyways even with your dislike for rules-light. RQ is heavier than BoL and has a bunch of the work done for you. BoL is pretty simplified - I am considering it for a lunch time game at work - with pretty much 2d6 and index card sized characters. I think BoL requires a bit more making up stuff. It does have a solid bestiary and 3 adventures in the base book. It's very good at characters that fit into genre tropes very nicely.
 
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Skywalker

Back Off the Buddha!
Validated User
I was going to recommend Atlantis the Second Age, which is a mid crunch, easy to run, Sword and Sorcery RPG.

However, I am not sure that it will cater to all of your preferences especially:

•Setting independent as we will use our own setting;
Atlantis is an all-in S&S RPG with its own amazing yet open setting. On saying that, you can use the rules without the setting given its all-in nature.

•We prefer less randomization on our character creation;
Though character creation is points buy, there is a random background creation system that I would highly recommend using as it does a great job of placing the PCs in the genre.

•A big plus if zero-to-hero-to-epic is possible, specially if zero to hero takes very little time;
The PCs start are very competent individuals and progression is a lot less than D&D. I think this is a mainstay of the genre though, so you may want re-examine the preference in a S&S RPG.

•While not a must, options for highly experienced heroes to have their own lands and stuff is nice (or thematically equivalent evolution, such as mages having a school, priests ranking up, and so on);
There is magic item creation, rituals and alchemy, but I don't think they meet what you want here.
 
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