Squishy vs Crunchy

I have been in search of the perfect game since I started playing RPG’s. Maybe upwards of the last 15 years I have been chasing narrative games systems and running away from crunchy systems. Recently, I ran Worlds of Peril, a PbtA game.

Worlds of Peril is a super hero game system, that’s frickin’ brilliant in how it handles powers. Love it, but here’s the thing it is just too squishy for my players, and myself too if I’m honest. I am also running Blade in the Dark another brilliant game system that is squishy too. That said, one of my player’s loves it, and a power gamer no less. PbtA system of the GM’s applying damage to players when they miss, is… tough.

Crunchy games like Champions (shudder) and D&D are way to rule heavy for me. Whereas Blades and Worlds of Peril are too squishy. Is there a medium crunch narrative game out there? I don’t know. Maybe, the Genesys system or Cortex Prime. I am just reading cortex prime rules now and they seem to have potential. The Genesys system, seem to as well, but I have yet to understand it enough to give it a try.

Suggestion or thoughts?

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For superheroes spicificly I can’t recommend Icons the assembled edition enough! Been running if a few years now and love it.

Isn’t that a very FATE inspired game? Why did you chose it, if you do not mind my asking?

I have tried a couple of FATE superhero games, but found there is a dog piling tactic. All the players would accumulate bonuses in the form of aspects and gift them to one player who would then slap down the villain. This was good in some ways and encouraged by the system, but it felt very repetitive.

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Steve credits fudge but it also takes a lot of ideas from the old tsr marvel heroes game. I know fate comes from fudge but I’m not sure what the differences are.

I’ve never really liked fate. Icons qualities wok kind of like aspects but the team up mechanic has limits.

What I like about it is that the system’s pretty simple but you can do a lot with it.

Thanks for the reply. I think I might actually own it or did at one time. I found the presentation to be visually confusing so I never got through reading it. I am a visual guy so clutter in presentation is distracting to me. Also, isn’t the guy who wrote also the creator of Mutants and Masterminds? I will see if I still have it and I will give it another try. Oh, didn’t it have a random character generator too?

That said, saying that is simple and versital is singing my song.

Yep same Creator. The lay out is kind of so-so. I put tabs on my copy.

The baseline rules for character creation is random (with lot of was to adjust) but there is also a point buy alt system in the book.

I would check out Talisman. Yes based on the board game and I like the size of the world. Very manageable imo.

Just seeing this. What kind of games / genres are you looking to run with this medium-crunch system?

Specifically, I am looking for a superhero system, and a fantasy system if I ever find one. I have been reading Icons for a couple of weeks now and I like it. Specially, the randomly rolled up characters. This helps prevent power games from doing a “Champions” character on me. The monsters I let slip by in that game sucked the fun out of it for me.

As to Icons, I am going to try and run it, and it may change my mind, but I think I need a point buy system. That said, I do not like the Icons character sheet. It is overly simple. It would be helpful to have the maneuvers and their outcomes listed. I am in the process of trying to come up with one, or a maneuvers sheet I can give the players.

Icons never did it for me either, though I will admit that it was years ago that I looked at it, and the fact that it was so divergent from Fate Core bugged me at the time. I should give it another look, but I remember not liking it with a fairly high degree of certainty.

Supers systems are a passion of mine, and there are a couple I think you should look at:

  • BASH
  • Supers! (I prefer Simon Washbourne’s 1st edition vs. the fan-authored bulked-up 2nd, but I think I’m in the minority)
  • Triumphant
  • Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (out of print, though)
  • Prowlers & Paragons (there are two editions of this as well, and sounds like it might be right up your alley)
  • Sentinel Comics RPG (brand new and loaded, IMO, with good ideas)

I have very different sensibilities from you for supers, I think, Spook408. I don’t want point-buy or long lists of powers. I want descriptive powers like those in Masks, Four Color Fate Accelerated, and Worlds in Peril (btw, Galaxies in Peril is coming – the FitD version of Worlds in Peril, basically. Suspect it won’t be less “squishy” than the WiP version, at least as you’re defining it.)

I would prioritize looking at Supers! and Prowlers & Paragons – both are medium crunch and offer robust point-buy systems. No one gives Supers! enough credit, I don’t think – first game I ever saw where you could just use your power to do whatever if you could justify it, including defending yourself in unusual and very comic-book-like ways, like using your flames to melt incoming bullets. Great system.

Edit: and I see I’m virtually raising this thread from the dead. Ah well!

Ditto on on the passion for super hero games. Have you looked at Capees, Cowls and Villians Foul? I liked it, but have never gotten it to the table. Surprisingly, when I tried Worlds of Peril recently, both of my players liked it when I thought they would not. The way they worked powers was brilliant. However, none of us thougth it would scale well for 7 players. Now I am not such a fan of the player facing component as you might surmise Currently, my top prospect is Cortex Prime and the Genesys System.

As to Fate, I think I have tried just about every Fate based Supers game and I am a little burned out on them.

Yup, have Capes, Cowls & Villains Foul but I’ve never been able to get through it – the writing doesn’t grab me. :\

I should try again, with both that and Icons, though I’ll admit most of my focus at the moment is on SCRPG and developing my own lightweight PbtA / FitD supers hack.

And seven players is a lot for any system / table!

I’m kind of interested to see if people that didn’t engage with Icons were looking at the original edition, or the Assembled Edition. I liked how the Assembled Edition formatted and described things WAY MORE than the original edition:

Icons really needed an editor that said,”this layout sucks, please try again.”” They claim it’s a simple system, but look at how many maneuvers their are that are not on the character sheet. ALL of them! That a bunch of exceptions that I have to know and offer up to players that do not have the book or have a good memory.

That said, I think it’s looks very playable.

However, I think Cortex Prime is looking like a good prospect for me. It is a narrative system with fiddley dice rules. The fiddley dice rules, are somewhat crunchy and are not player facing. Both seems like wins to me.

I am looking forward to trying it out in a month or two. I am slooowly, digesting the rules. My goal is to eventually put forth a menu of mods that I have curated for my players to vote on. Once again I’ll be the only guy with the book so that puts the burden on me. Which is what you get when you try out as many systems as I do.

There is another topic. What is needed for a game to succeed if the ref is the only one with the book? Which leads me to, “How do you overcome player apathy to learning a new system?” This one is tough on me because I am details light sort of fellow. Rules are not something I retain well. This is particularly difficult, because my learning curve is somewhat different than my group. My random artist brain functions differently than their engineer, programmer and doctor brains do. This can be a tough learning hurdle to get over.

My Blades game really only succeeded when one of my players got the book and could help me when some of the rules would slip my brain. Yes, there are not that many rules, but that’s how I roll. Sigh.

Late reply: I’m one of those. I should re-look at it. Of all the RPG systems, though, it’s supers systems that I am the fussiest about. I love what I see in SCRPG, except for all the one-off abilities that seem to be invented out of thin air. The foundations are great, though.

I am curious, what is the core system? The book weighs in at $50, maybe I’ll look into the PDF. What is it about the system that grabs you?

Sentinels Comics RPG? It’s it’s own system, but there are strong elements from both Cortex (dice ratings for things, build a small dice pool) and Fate (aspect-like features, standard action types, aid/hinder are very much like Create an Advantage).

You are always rolling three dice and choosing one of them for your result – usually the ‘Mid’ die value, unless you’re using an ability that tells you to read the max die kind of thing. The three dice are a super easy to build pool – always choose a quality (think Aspect in Fate), a power, and your status (sort of your health / energy level).

You may have seen the “GYRO” system mentioned if you’ve read about this game – that means Green-Yellow-Red-Out. Your status changes (in that order) when you get banged up, or when the scene advances and stress builds – think of it like a countdown clock. GYRO affects the hero in two ways – certain abilities unlock at the Yellow and Red levels, and some heroes are better when they are fresh, some are stable through the bands, and some get tougher / better when the chips are down.

A couple of pictures are probably worth a few thousand words here…

And the second page of the sheet… you can see that this is a hero that gets better as things move into the red zone.

So say it’s the beginning of a scene – status of the hero and the scene itself is Green. If Headlong wants to use his super speed (Power - Speed) and his natural athletic ability (Quality - Acrobatics) to save someone from some thugs, he’d roll a d6 from his power, a d8 from his quality, and a d6 from his status. If he rolls a 3, a 5 and a 6, the mid die is the 5. That’s his result, and it’s compared against a target number usually rolled by the opposition. (Said thug would probably have a single d6.)

Anyway, I dig it. All those fiddly GYR abilities don’t thrill me – especially because they aren’t built in standard ways – but the core of the system is solid and looks fun. Have yet to play it, but I want to. Maybe after I finish running Hit the Stress: Defend the Block, which I’m running for my Saturday group now.

I almost purchased this a couple of time recently, but now I think I’ll give it a try. The yellow, green, read and out mechanic looks intriguing. Thanks for the input!

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I got my book and am intrigued. I also backed the new Savage Worlds superhero book. I have no idea how good it will be, but I am enjoying their version of Pathfinder. I also have gotten the PDF of Prowlers and Paragon’s. As if I‘ve got time and. Metal space to read that right now. It’s a sickness, reading RPG’s for pleasure.