Favorite GM game systems

edited January 2012 in General Discussion
So as GM's (current and former) What are your favorite systems? What are your favorite genres?
Me personally?
I like horror, survival, and more modern games
As far as systems I like well to be bias mine and palladium if its hacked up a bit
I tried 4e and i could not stand it.


  • Savannah
    Posts: 188
    System-wise, I almost always run D&D 3.5 (and I don't see that changing with 5e any more than it did with 4e). I've run or wanted to run Call of Cthulhu, d20 Modern/Future, new World of Darkness, and Shadowrun (and probably one or two more I can't remember right now).

    Genre-wise, I prefer fantasy and horror (which are not mutually exclusive, as some poor PCs are discovering...).
  • KenSee
    Posts: 93
    Genre: I like fantasy type campaigns just for the tropey-ness but Sci-fi will always have my heart.

    Systems: Pathfinder for Fantasy and Alternity for Sci-fi.

    -Ken See
  • Baalshamon
    Posts: 585
    Realistic System: BTRC's Corps or Timelords

    Fantasy: Seventh Sea
  • GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 2,969
    Systems- Traveller, Palladium, Pathfinder
    Genre- Have played everything, and find that the genre and the systems are less important than the gm and the players.... but if I were to pick only one, it would be fantasy.
    "A God...Rebuilt":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/a-god-rebuilt
    "Duskreign's First Ever COTM":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/wyrmshadow/wiki_pages/112011

    Just trying to help out.

  • WolfLord
    Posts: 276
    I rly like d&d3.5 and pathfinder those have always been my go-to systems. I need either a fantasy (classic d&d) or far in the future sci-fi / fantasy setting (star wars, mass effect, ect)

    and i must through in "Avatar d20":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/avatar_adventures/wikis/avatar-d20 , the system for benders has been the most fun gameplay i've ever experienced!
  • TheMazeController
    Posts: 115

    I am an OSR guy as well

    Mouseguard too and Cthulhu is always good. I played the BBEG in a marvel superheros campaign against the rest of the party in the 80ies. (Masterful GM able to keep me in a side game vs the party at the same table the whole time.) I also play a lot of indie games and I am playing a lot of stuff that is about to be released currently in a side project of mine that is all really fun. Dresden Files is cool, I keep wanting to play Shadowrun.

    You know what?

    Screw it ... just hand me dice and teach me what you like and I will play at least one game of it. I am of the philosophy its not the rules its the shared experience, what our hobby needs is more gamers not the "perfect game".

    I had a girlfriend once who refused to "play those games" with me... but I got her hooked on a text (as in text on the phone) game I would play with her called "Toaster Quest" which was basically a story game where she was a sentient AI toaster that had just become self aware when the owners of the house left her plugged in and left for work. Antics ensued...

    She loved that game, didn't even realize she was playing an RPG.

    I dumped her anyway.
  • JaymesBolton
    Posts: 278
    Systems: Legend of the Five Rings, D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, Old World of Darkness, Shadowrun. Want to play in a Dresden Files game but have no one to run it and my group already has 3-4 different games a week. Also agree with TheMazeController that any game can be good with the right people (of course the opposite is true as well that any game can be horrible with the wrong people)

    Setting: I have played it all and like it all as long as the GM, the story and the players are half way decent.


    "Changing History":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/l5r-changing-history
  • magavendon
    Posts: 112
    I'm pretty new at GMing so the only game I've ever run is a GURPS game. I really like complexity so I really like this system. I've noticed that it seems to be much easier for my players (the ones who really try for this) to overpower themselves in GURPS than in other systems (although that might just be my fault due to laziness). I'd be up for using other systems, though, I just haven't yet. Currently I'm making my "own" system to use for a future campaign.
    I've played D&D 3.5 and 4e, as well as new WoD, some Shadowrun, and Warhammer Fantasy RP (not the newest version, although I don't know which it is).

    As for the setting, I really want to play/run in an Age of Sails type of game or a western-esque setting involving early tech guns. Although I haven't actually gotten to play in either of these settings yet... Second to those I enjoy sci-fi and high fantasy.
  • Morrinn
    Posts: 166
    Right this moment, I'm mostly playing 4E, so much so that it sort of eclipses other game's I play on the side. I'm partial to the Mouseguard system, although I've never really played much of it. I think it's one of those systems where the art and style won me over more than anything else.
    One of my real pleasures however has to be the Paranoia system. I absolutely love that damn game.
  • Baalshamon
    Posts: 585
    haaa, I had forgotten about Paranoia. I played that game to death twenty-five years ago. Some of the craziest and zanyiest adventures we ever had.
  • GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 2,969
    Ah, and speaking of pure fun, the best pure fun system is Toon!! Not something to do on a regular basis, but as an occasional break it is awesome!
    "A God...Rebuilt":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/a-god-rebuilt
    "Duskreign's First Ever COTM":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/wyrmshadow/wiki_pages/112011

    Just trying to help out.

  • DarkMagus
    Posts: 425
    As a DM I love to run everything from fantasy to more modern and slightly into the future cyberpunk games. Mystery and horror and epic fight scenes are right up my alley.

    As far as systems goes I am very partial to Pathfinder and 3.0/3.5. I love so much about Shadowrun but the edition I had played years ago had us rolling sooo many dice all the time that it was annoying. I like the streamlined d20 system so I usually use those rules for any world setting I am running.

    Killervp - I really want to get Toon sometime and play it with the group I was in before I moved. It would make for the funniest/goofiest night ever. We use to run one shot adventures that were mainly made up on the spot whose whole purpose it was was to be goofy. We called them "goon worlds". The most memorable was Intergalactic Gladiators. More recently we played as goofy Italian mobsters and that world was a lot like a cartoon. Good times. :)
  • meleaina
    Posts: 5 edited January 2012
    I've played alot of different systems over the years.

    Had the most fun and memorable characters with Shadowrun 2e. Also got alot of mileage out of the Marvel RPG
    My favorite Settings are SciFI (star wars, robotech, cyberpunk)

    But system i've probably GM'd the most (and own the most books for) are OWoD

    Dresden is my most recent fave (though i'm just playing currently)
    Post edited by meleaina on
  • Black_Vulmea
    Posts: 277
    bq. What are your favorite systems?

    _Flashing Blades_, _Top Secret_, _Boot Hill_, and _Traveller_.

    bq. What are your favorite genres?

    Espionage - EVERYTHING I run turns into a spy caper at some point - swashbuckling, Western, and sci fi.

    Mike aka Black Vulmea
    "_Le Ballet de l'Acier_":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/le-ballet-de-l-acier - swashbuckling adventures in the age of the Three Musketeers and Captain Alatriste
    Featured Campaign of the Month - August 2011
  • twiggyleaf
    Posts: 1,922
    For me, D&D 3.5 is the system. I would have embraced 4e if my players had taken it up, but since they didn't want to, I didn't push it. In the past I have also enjoyed Call of Cthulhu, and I DID love the few games of Paranoia I played, but I don't think PARANOIA is conducive to good campaign playing. I have also really enjoyed Shadowrun at times, but in the end I always come back to high fantasy and therefore D&D is my default. Nowadays I don't really want to get involved with a whole load of different systems, finding D&D 3.5 complicated enough. So I guess I will stick with it for now, but may be open to Version 5 when it rears its monstrous head!!!!

    "Shimring - The Faces of Divinity":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/shimring
    (a multiplanar 3.5 D&D campaign)

    "I met a traveller from an antique land....."

    CotM May 2016: Mysteria: set in Wolfgang Baur’s MIDGARD.

    Previous CotM Aug 2012: Shimring: High Level Multiplanar Campaign

    Inner Council Member

  • ninjazombie42
    Posts: 57
    Most GM friendly of all the dnd editions I have played, all except 1st edition, has got to be 4e. Love it! Much easier and smooth running than the others!
  • super_rats
    Posts: 24
    My favorite system is FATE. I love playing Shadowrun for the fluff, but the system itself annoys me, because it's the one that requires the most opening up the rule book to figure out how the hell something is supposed to be done.

    As far as genre goes, I'm not sure it matters that much to me. I don't care if we're modern day, fantasy, military sci-fi, etc., just as long as the main feature isn't killing things just to take their stuff.
  • arsheesh
    Posts: 850
    I'm game to try anything (well, nearly anything) once when it comes to RPGs. My favorite genre though would have to be low to mid fantasy (I'm really _not_ a fan of High fantasy). As to systems, I tend to be of the school of thought that less is more, or another way of putting it "keep it simple stupid". I've been playing 3.5e and Pathfinder for most of my DMing career, and while I think these systems have allot going for them, I'd prefer something more scaled back. For some time now I've been in search of a rules light system in which battle is more deadly (I like it gritty!), and one which has a good flexible magic system. I'm still looking BTW, in case any of you have suggestions.

  • HurstGM
    Posts: 205
    LOL you want a copy of mine? Is more or less rules light while there are mechanics for those more interested in the insane detail its set up for more of the general systems. And combat is VERY dangerous. Guns are well lethal and good shot from a 9mm can kill you and a double tap from a .45 usually will. Not sure how what you meen by a flexible magic system. I have spells and they can be used often and for various purposes.
  • arsheesh
    Posts: 850 edited January 2012
    Are you talking about a system you designed yourself Hurst? If so I'd definitely be down for checking it out.

    Yeah the whole "flexible magic system" reference is a bit cryptic, but that's only because my own thoughts on the matter are a bit vague at the moment. But essentially I am looking to get away from the "spell slot" system of D&D, which I find unrealistic and unduly constraining. For instance, a Sixth level Sorcerer in Pathfinder can cast 6 1st level spells, 5 2nd level spells, and 3 third level spells per day. Now on the one hand, it makes sense that the higher level spells are more difficult to cast (i.e. require more will to master, or more inner strength etc), and this is reflected in the spell slot distribution. However, why couldn't a Sorcerer decide on a given day to reserve his resources and, rather than casting his 3rd level spells, instead channel that energy into casting more 1st level and/or 2nd level spells? Likewise, why couldn't the same Sorcerer decide to reserve his energy, forgoing his minor spells that day, to cast a couple more 3rd level spells? I'm looking for a system that has this kind of flexibility. I've tinkered around with a manna system, and think there is some potential there, but I just haven't worked out the details as of yet.

    Another thing that I'd love to see within a magic system are a set of principles (i.e. law-like regularities akin to those we find in physics) governing the arcane realm. These could be as simple as say a system which begins with 4-5 (e.g. water, fire, earth, air etc) primary elements with a few rules for combination of the elements. Such a system would also be flexible in the sense that it would allow for, and perhaps even encourage the creation of new spells, and this might inspire players running arcane casters to get creative with their spells. A good example of the kind of thing I'm suggesting here is found in Patrick Rothfuss' _The Kingkiller Chronicles_. Of course the challenge in constructing such a system would be, how to allow for this kind of flexibility whilst keeping the system simple and user friendly.

    Well, did that help to answer your question Hurst?

    Post edited by arsheesh on
  • HurstGM
    Posts: 205
    My system was developed by my understanding of physics although its not as strict as real physics where a 9mm would normally kill you outright it is based on that. I did base my "magic math" on similar principals. My wife is a practicing wiccan so she is the one that gave me the rules regarding magic. I just placed numbers to it and developed the system. Given that i am a devout Christian that was certainly an interesting set of conversations. Any way the basics of my magic system is simple magic cost you HP. Why? Well the way it was described to me is that real magic costs you something of yourself. Now to make mages useable and not get wrecked in one turn i did ignore the damage is revisited on you 3 fold rule, but i did agree that it should cost something. In the game this is not described as physical damage (so you dont cast create fog and a cut appears on your arm.) more like exhaustion and the lowering of the body's ability to heal. So casting a bunch of spells and then getting stabbed you get die not only because of the stab but because your body could not heal due to exhaustion.

    As far as simple well its pretty simple. Cast the spell, measure the effect based on the description, and deduct the HP and your done. A mage gets more powerful as they grow in exp as they get more HP of course and the spells grow as well. A mage can cast as many spells as they have HP for. Recovery is not too bad in play testing a mage who exhausted his HP needed a couple of days to recover. (Now this was in epic endgame battle kind of stuff.) I have provisions for all different kinds of magic but i have not tested all of them, but seeing as how they all follow the rules of "Magic Physics" they seem to flow seemlessly
  • Sorwen
    Posts: 64 edited January 2012
    Vampire the Dark Ages and Star Wars d20. Right now I'm running a D&D 3.5 game for the first time in years and I'm finding it a lot of fun. We will see how it goes after a few more sessions.

    @arsheesh - D&D Dragonlance 5th edition used a card based magic system. It was kind of dorky, but allowed a sort of flexibility with restriction. It has been years, but as I remember it the DM set the difficulty for what ever spell the player came up with and then the player had to meet that difficulty in spell cards. Then there is Mage the Awakening that as I understand has a flexible system. Neither really works in relation to other systems though you might finagle something closer with the Dragonlance one in a 3.5/d20 game.
    Post edited by Sorwen on
  • arsheesh
    Posts: 850
    @Hurst - Intriguing idea; I'd never thought about using HP as the limiting factor of spell-casting. However, I can see why it would be desirable to have magic "cost" it's wielder something in a more realistic game. For one thing, this would help to alleviate some of the fear that a caster would be far too powerful in a more "gritty" combat system (i.e. a system in which HP inflation is kept to a minimum and characters remain quite mortal even at higher levels/experience). In addition, as you point out Hurst, there is a long standing tradition in the real world, which is also reflected in games such as _Call of Cthulhu_, that tampering with arcane (i.e. "dark") arts can be a dangerous enterprise. Do you have rules to your system posted at your site? If so, I'll check them out.

    @Sorwen - 5th edition?! You say you played Draganlance 5th edition years ago? I thought WoTC had just announced that 5e was in the works. Hm, I've heard good things about Mage, and the whole _World of Darkness_ rule system for that matter. Perhaps one of these days I'll give it a try.

  • HurstGM
    Posts: 205
    I dont have a copy of the magic rules on the site. I have a rudimentary copy on "The Diary of John Sing":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/the-diary-of-john-sing/wikis/character-creation. However I will be the first to admit that it suffers on the site from a lack of editing. Im good at math and most programming like things but some of my descriptions are lacking. I have "book" I am creating in digital copy that has all of the rules including the damage tables ect. However its not 100% and is not edited. ( I have my free editor working on something else at the moment). However if you would like a copy once im done ill forward you one.
  • Sorwen
    Posts: 64 edited January 2012
    @arsheesh - I looked it up I had the name wrong. I was pretty sure it was the 5th edition of the Dragonlance setting (not of D&D as a whole), but acutally it was called 5th Age.
    Post edited by Sorwen on
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