I'm aching to run some heartbreaking fantasy: story is about the not-so-great characters romping around, seeing the world and becoming more powerful. I'm stumped for the game/system to use, though. Nothing I'm familiar with quite meets the desiderate.
There should be fairly clear mechanical powerscale that allows the players to either say "OH SHIT" or relax a bit: consider the effect of the GM rolling a huge number of dice in Storyteller games, or saying "He has 4 masteries, did you have one or two?" in HQ.
The mechanics should be sandboxy, and a have moderate helping of tactical options for the players. (Which is why HQ doesn't seem like the right choise.)
The overall feel should be fairly old-school classic fantasy -- not grim fantasy, anime or warriors with superpowers. Unless the provided setting is strictly generic fantasy, the rules should be setting agnostic (hence Exalted, Earthdawn and WFRP don't cut it.)
At the same time, the learning curve has to be friendly, handling time reasonable, and the game should work sensibly with a fairly improvisational style of running it (hence things like Burning Wheel/D&D don't cut it.)
Either there should be a fair amount of splat to sample out there (without needing to consume huge chunks of it upfront), or it new cruncy bits should be fairly easy to handwave into existence.
My current top contenders are Reign, GURPS, and HQ2.
Reign means more up-front work then I'm looking for, since a lot of the kewl cruncy bits have a non-classic feel to them, so I would have to generate splats -- but ORE seems like a pretty nifty system for the feel I'm after.
I'm not familiar with current GURPS, but assuming it hasn't changed too much in the last decade the biggest downsides are the long lists: to reduce handling time I would have to build a much reduced advantage/disadvantage/skill lists. The learning curve is on the upper threshold of my tolerance, but should do. On the face of it, it does
fit the bill, I don't feel exited about using it.
HQ2 does everything except the crunch, and I'd really like to have some here.
EDIT: remove stupidity.