Thursday, March 18, 2010

Historical Settings - Most Appropriate System

Good morning,

So after a ton of great comments posted yesterday about your favorite "when and where" for historical gaming (and keep 'em coming if you haven't thrown your vote in), the question then arises, what system would you use to play in your favorite time period? Extra points for answers that take into account any system's supplements that specifically deal with your favored historical setting, making use of that system that much easier and more fruitful.

I'll put one caveat in here - you can't pick D&D, or any one of it's descendants or retro-clones. D&D's a great family of systems and all, but so much of it's bulk is related to the fantastical - non-human races, supernatural abilities, magic-based classes, monsters, magical items, spells, etc. - that picking it for use in a purely historical, non-fantastical campaign setting seems inappropriate or, at best, inefficient to me.

However, I'll caveat the caveat and give some wiggle room for the AD&D2E-Era "green books"; the historical supplements for Glory of Rome, A Mighty Fortress, etc.. If you want to use D&D and figure in one of these supplements , I'll buy into it.

So, let's hear your top pairing of favorite historical time and place with the most appropriate RPG.

13 comments:

Rob Lang said...

It's got to be Dominion Rules, which is simply superb and idea for that historical crunch.

Derek said...

Myself, I tend to like the Call of Cthulhu system for historical stuff. A lot of the work for common settings is already done, where's it not the skills are pretty adaptable to it. Plus, I'm familiar with it (at least the older editions that I own. Chaosium is good about backwards compatibility and is pretty stable for editions changes. They've also nicely expanded the product line to many historical settings, although I've not bought any of them, my expectations are high.

The Basic Fantasist said...

Basic Roleplaying: The Chaosium Roleplaying. This is the new softbound edition of the core engine that Greg Stafford and Steve Perrin originally created under the name of Runequest. Chaosium used that same percentile based skill system with plenty of mods for Stormbringer, Call of Cthulhu, Nephilim, Elfquest and Pendragon. It's an all in one 400 page book for character creation, magic, monsters, equipment and has tons of simple optional rules that act like 'switches' that you can choose from to give your campaign any flavor you want and handles fast and intuitively at the table (at least when I ran a Stormbringer 3rd edition campaign a million years ago).

Has pre-existing archetypes for skill-set bundles to speed up character creation.

Here is a video review by Kurt Wiegel of Game Geeks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjsF8HzcbhA

I have a copy, love it but love D&D more! It's excellent condition, you can have it dirt cheap on barter. I need dice, lots of dice for the 4 RPG-virgin in the group I've recruited.

Harald said...

Me, I'd use the Storytelling sytem for historical games. It's versatile, robust and stream-lined, and it doesn't take up too much space in the game.

A Mighty Fortress. That suplement is actually the reason why I ended up with a bachellor in history. This may very well be the one book (of any type) that has had the greatest impact on my life. I ran a game using the Fortress-book back when it came out, and it was one of the best we'd played, however it made me acutely aware of how little I actually knew about history.

I remember walking to a session with one of my players. I told him that I knew I'd still be playing when I was thirty, and that I hoped that by then I'd have studied history at the university. Well, 34 now, and I was right.

@Derek: I've never considered using CoC, but I see why you'd pick that system. Neat.

Mike D. said...

Basic Roleplaying vote here too, as I just purchased the ROME supplement. If not BRP, then GURPS would be my 2nd choice (along with Imperial Rome).

BlUsKrEEm said...

For the HAitian revolution i'd probabaly go with GURPS. I know GURPS is a tad cliche, but if the tool firts, use it. As far as supliments I'd go with Gurps: Age of Napoleon. Age of Nepoleon has scant information about the Haitian side of the conflict, but it does have some info on the setting, and it's abstract ship battle rules are pretty nice (it also gives some idea of tech level of the time.) It's a 3rd ed supplement which is just one edition off from my editions of choice (2nd or 4th,) but shouldn't be to hard to convert.

Ancient Mysteries for Vampire the Requiem has a short section on the Haitian Revolution, though I wouldn't recommend it. The whole section is 3 pages, most of which discussing Voudon, and the vampiric point of view. I was very excited when I heard the period would be covered, but I was sorely disappointed when I actually got the book.

Eric Wilde said...

Pendragon if you're going to have something based on chivalrous knights.

Timeshadows said...

Age of Sail + Tunnels & Trolls 5th edition

sirlarkins said...

BRP all the way, especially for Rome or the Middle Ages in the wake of the release of the excellent supplements from Alephtar.

greywulf said...

You can get surprisingly far using RISUS. Once you've identified the core cliches of the era/setting you're 90% there. I've used it to great effect for English Civil War, WWII and Napoleonic campaigns.

maledictus said...

Indeed, Basic Role Playing. Also, have you tried the diceless Action Resolution System? from the Marvel Universe Role-Plaing Game, pretty cool.
d20 modern it's also an option, it has the supplement d20 modern Past.

kathulhu said...

I've never played any system other than D&D so I can't really cast a vote here.

Anonymous said...

BRP for sure. Have you seen Scott Oden's review for Chaosium's Republican Rome supplement? He's a best selling author of historical fiction and a roleplayer to boot!

http://scottoden.blogspot.com/