Favorite Games/Mechanics for any genre?

So, I was reading this trollbabe thread, and many people mentioned that they took the rules and changed the settings, because the mechanics were so awesome. That got me thinking ... There have to be several games or mechanics like trollbabe or otherkind that people use in a wide variety of genres. What are your top 3, top 5? Or do you hardly ever reuse mechanics and prefer rules designed for a setting from the ground up?


  • edited April 2009
    • FATE is my go-to system for Generic Universal, though I recognize the SotC implementation is rather pulp-centric
    • Dogs in the Vineyard, for any kind of variant on the "judge, jury and executioner" moral play
    • Don't Rest Your Head, for any game where the protagonists are on a downward spiral
    My fave techniques for adapting those three:
    • For FATE/SotC, I usually limit the number of player-selectable Aspects down to 5 or 6 or so, make any remaining Aspects either fixed or selectable from a list. I also like global Aspects tying into the theme of the game. I sometimes mess with other things, like the skill list and/or pyramid.
    • For Dogs, just take the dramatic elements and translate it into a different setting. I've made Paladins and a sci-fi Warhammer 40k-style settings using this method. As long as you keep the point of Dogs in mind and not go overboard with indulging in setting details, which I've been guilty of in the past, it works well.
    • In DRYH, just change the terms for Madness and/or Exhaustion to fit the setting and ignore the insomniac bits of superpowers. I just came out of a session where I just renamed "Madness" to "Magic" and it worked pretty neatly as long as people didn't think too hard about it.
  • The idea of aspects in FATE 3 is great, and has been implemented by a variety of other games, plus it's fairly easy to add on to existing systems.

    I think the idea of keys from the shadow of yesterday could be well applied to other games as well.
  • I prefer rules designed for a setting, but beyond that, I think PTA works for most things I want to do.
  • I also do rules designed per setting, but I tend to play in longer running games, where you get more reward for a good matchup (I suppose).
  • Hero System.
  • I'm wondering, for my own part in the original Trollbabe thread, if part of the greatness of using Rules X for Setting Y, contains a component of "I hate the setting that was originally paired with Rules X"? In some cases I believe this to be the case, while in others it's simply a matter of no other game doing something that I want it to do in order to play a certain kind of game.

  • I use bits of other systems.

    I have used a Universalis-based coin economy for joint creation of campaign tenets and themes, baseline tweaks. This worked well and got higher engagement from Players.

    I have converted D&D rolls for climbing, swimming etc. outside of combat to one-role-not-multiple under the Burning Wheel "Let it Ride" principle. This too has worked well though with a bit of "push back" on "great that I don't have to roll lots to succeed, but you mean if I fail I can't try again" - having to explain that trying again was part of the initial roll, and you need to describe your clever backup plan "up front" to get a bonus on the roll, not afterwards.

  • I have been desigining a steampunk game (just for use by myself and my friends), and these are the mechanics from various games that I find to be awesome and/or inspiring enough to steal:

    -- Character creation that explicitly requires input from other players. (from Spirit of the Century)

    -- "Thematic batteries" that must be recharged by causing problems before they can be used to lend aid (from Full Light Full Steam)

    -- Trust mechanics that let players receive extra dice based on the level of trust/distrust between character (from Mountain Witch)
  • *doh*, yes I too used a character creation approach that required input from other characters not exactly like Spirit of the Century but inspired by it.


    PS - though steampunk not my thing, you've got 3 of the favourtite mechanics I've seen intermixed there.
  • Oh, and although it's not really a rule, per se and it's not exactly that great, I use the "lord of the dice" rule from Violence: the RPG all the time.

    The rule goes like this: When you want to do something and you're not sure what to roll, just pick up a handful of dice and roll them. If they roll high something good happens, and if they roll low something bad happens. If it's in the middle re-roll until you see something you like. I find that a lot of stuff can be boiled down to this if you're lazy enough.
  • That sounds like a colossally unsatisfying game mechanic, I must say.
  • edited April 2009
    Over the Edge - the rules fit on a page, and more importantly in my poor addled brain. It does everything a task-oriented rpg needs to do, plus it is easy to story-game it up with techniques I've learned here.

    I've also wanted to use Trollbabe to run a Mouseguard game. It would probably work for a Jedi game too. I had a blast at the last GoPlayNW playing in the Bladerunner hack of Trollebabe - Tears in Rain. A friend of mine ran a scenario using Trollbabe highly similar to Harper's ever-anticipated Stranger Things. We played half-demons that were between the surface world of Victorian London, and the Underground of magic, demons, and fairies. Also very fun.
  • I tend to tack on Beliefs from Burning Wheel to just about anything. Sometimes with some kind of mechanical feedback (like artha) sometimes not, I just find that having 1-3 statements of what you believe (and what you do about it) makes for good characters.
  • I have used PDQ's "Zorcerer of Zo" for different settings: Wild Western (I even made a small supplement on the ZoZ Yahoo Group), 30's Appalachian Folk Tales & modern w/ a bit of horror.
  • I'm another OtE fan. It's easy for everyone.
  • edited May 2009
    Posted By: whiteknifeThe idea of aspects in FATE 3 is great, and has been implemented by a variety of other games, plus it's fairly easy to add on to existing systems.
    I created a little hack where I used Fate's aspects and Hero Points from Dungeons and Dragons to inject some color in the characters.
  • I'd be pretty happy to use Unknown Armies or some version of Wild Talents/REIGN for most of my gaming needs.
  • I have a halfassed hack of the ORE from Reign for playing Fading Suns (although I've never put it to the test). Even before I was aware of the "name" of it, I've been adding Aspects to games, because I like the idea of getting bonus points for doing your character's "thing".

    I rarely pull mechanics from one game to another, though. I am a compulsive houseruler, though; I have houserules for virtually every game that I run or play, usually highlighting the "one thing" that I want the game to be about. So far my favourite houserule of my own is a Vampire: the Requiem hack wherein Humanity becomes much more front-and-centre to gameplay (Humanity and Blood Potency cap each other, and BP caps Disciplines, so you have to sacrifice Humanity to use your kewl powerz; lost points of Humanity generate Story Hooks a la PDQ#).
  • I've run a few games with Unknown Armies' ruleset. It works very well for street-level stuff with insanity involved.

    I think everyone who's been gaming since 2nd Ed. D&D (or earlier) has hacked that (or an earlier version) into whatever game they wanted. Not that I'd necessarily go with that any more. :)

    In general I try to find something that matches really well if I don't have an obvious existing system to use. Sometimes this ends up pretty far from the original ruleset, such as running Planescape using Everway.
  • I've started using Gumshoe's principles when running investigative scenarios. Unless not finding something is a fun outcome, the players will find it, no roll.
  • Any game concept where a group of characters are empowered to wander from place to place saving the day (D&D, Exalted, the Matrix, every adventure RPG you've ever played, basically) can probably be run more effectively with Dogs or Mouse Guard or both.
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