That's it I'm sticking with ..."Squirrel!"

I have a problem … I can’t stop looking at new RPG systems.

Every time I think I have the best system for my needs, I encounter something that makes me pine for how it is done in other systems.

I have been gaming since the early 80s and back then I seemed to be able to enjoy each system I played for what they were.

But today, I seem to be looking for the Holy Grail RPG system that covers everything I want … but is that even possible?

It doesn’t help that I get bombarded by advertising for new systems almost daily, each one claiming to be the best role playing experience to date.

Even though I was brought up on D&D, 5e is not for me. I enjoy Savage Worlds but the Benny system can give players to much control for a satisfying story to be played out. Pathfinder 2e has a cool character creation system… but the rule book is 600+ pages and I’m not remembering all that!

I have many book shelves, with many diferent systems and genres on them and while I enjoy playing many … none feel like “the one”.

Does anyone else have this problem, or am I the only one dealing with a bookstore / Drivethrurpg / Kickstarter addiction?

Side question, what makes a perfect RPG system for you?


I used to be more like this. I went from questing for that Holy Grail and subjecting my group to various systems to simply reading them because I was interested in their approaches to, these days, settling down considerably and playing pretty much only Conan 2d20 and Swords & Wizardry.

The benefit to at least reading all these other games, I would submit, is to influence the games that you do play. I borrow many rules from other games and adapt them for my current play. It seems to me that this helps a group get as close as possible to that “Holy Grail.” The best elements get stitched into what some call a ”Frankengame.” In my case, I call it heavily home-ruled Swords & Wizardry. :grinning:


I completely understand @Pure_Mongrel. I suffer from the same thing, the “new shiny” being the best system for me. I buy it, read it and theeeennn… Nothing. It’s pretty great as I read it but then I begin to notice faults in it, without even playing it mind you, because I discover a new system that somehow ‘seems better’. In today’s we have a plethora of games that make it really hard to choose what to play. You’re not alone here :slightly_smiling_face:


I’m the opposite, that’s what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to house rules a game, because (imo) I feel like I’m not playing the game. If I’m not going to follow the rules, I should not play the game. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong, by all means, more power to those who can do that. I try to find the system that works for me, where I don’t need to handwave or at least change the rules to fit my group. Right now, I found (for now) that Cortex Prime scratches all of my itches. It’s completely modular, so much so that it doesn’t have a character sheet, you create one for the game you want. I’ve never seen anything like that in the market yet (please someone correct me if I’m wrong).


As a game designer, yeah. This. All the time. But it’s also to gain inspiration for my own games/systems that may or may not solve a problem or create a new direction for a project. For example, I’ve been itching to build a new version of my assassination RPG, Killshot, and have been reading Night Reign from Oli Jeffrey. You play blackjack to simulate the old Thief computer games and it has a really solid approach that could work. With tweaks.

This time is very much like the d20 boom or the early 2000s but with far more innovation and new systems, hacks, and more. As much as it can be overwhelming, too many choices feels better than not enough.


I haven’t dived deep enough into Cortex yet. I think my DriveThru account contains a few of those games, but Prime sounds to me like a “universal” system, like GURPS or the Hero System, yes? Ha ha! I guess there’s another game now that I have to read!

Edit: Upon reflection, though I have partially modified most of the games I’ve played, and since, with most games, this is inherently necessary, since they don’t—and can’t—have rules for everything, and since most games also explicitly tell the players to “make the game their own” and change anything they don’t like, my Swords & Wizardry is the most customized because it very explicitly tells the players to make it their own, and many of its “rules” are left ambiguous for precisely this purpose.

I haven’t changed much at all with Conan 2d20, usually because most radical changes are likely to “scoop” abilities in a Talent Skill tree or the like.


Yeah, totally get it. I have The Black Hack and the designer gives permission to change and “hack” the system to bits. I think it then comes to GMing style I guess.

On Cortex, the thing is that it’s not a point buy system or you create a character from a set of options. As the GM, you decide what’s in the Character Sheet, essentially designing your own game based on what you want it to have. For example, if a GM that wants runs, let’s say a fantasy game as a dungeon crawl, the game will have features (as part of the system) different than a political intrigue game. Basically, in one you will have a set of traditional skill traitd, but in the other you will completely different ones. Some could be Values or Relationships or Affiliations that have a narrative and mechanical impact in the game. Hope that makes sense :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


I literally started writing reviews because I had so many products that I felt I had to justify (to myself) all the stuff I had.

There is never going to be one system to rule them all. Here is why that doesn’t work, in my opinion:

We one “one way” to do things that we don’t want to think about. We mow our lawns one specific way, we keep our checkbook one specific way, we pay our bills one specific way . . . because having one specific way helps us to do thing things we need to do on a regular basis in a streamlined and unobtrusive manner.

But many of us playing roleplaying games LIKE engaging with rules. We might have a favorite food, for example, but we enjoy eating food, so we also have a wide range of things we enjoy eating beyond our favorite. Rules are not an unfortunate side effect of what we do in the hobby, they are part of what we enjoy about the hobby.

We may not always want an elaborate steak dinner with multiple sides and desert, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want it sometimes.

One of the things I don’t think the hobby ever really balanced is letting people enjoy what they enjoy from games. On the extreme ends, you have people that really just want lightly structured storytelling, and you have people that don’t care about any storytelling and just want challenging mechanics. In between, there are so many variations, so for someone not at the extreme ends, there is never going to be a perfect solution (and honestly, there isn’t one solution for people at the extreme ends, just a wider range of satisfaction with games that make them comfortable).

So, yeah, for what it’s worth, that’s my take on the whole “One perfect system” versus “New shiny” connundrum some of us face.


I literally started writing reviews because I had so many products that I felt I had to justify (to myself) all the stuff I had.

Let us know if your S.O. also finds this an acceptable justification. I might just use it. :wink:

I also have the urge to get into all kinds of new RPGs. I guess it’s another manifestation of Hedonistic Adaptation.

I have to make a conscious effort to stick to only 4:

  • OSE to play serious D&D games from the past
  • 5E to please the masses (no offense to all the 5e gamers. I just have a strong love/hate story here :laughing:)
  • CoC for classy role-playin’
  • DCC my favorite for a gonzo play style.

But Metamorphosis Alpha is on it’s way so I already cheated and of course I get new ideas every other day (looked at John Carter of Mars 2D20 yesterday :weary:).

And we haven’t even started talking about all the campaign and adventure possibilities!

In other words: you’re normal… but stay strong! :muscle:


I picked up Codex Prime through Kickstarter. I have not had a chance to look at it yet.

I’m currently looking at the Year Zero Engine rules. I had avoided these rules in a vain attempt to curb my “quest”, but then…

Free League launched the Twilight 2000 Kickstarter (I have all other editions) … Then I found out they have taken over the rights to Dark Conspiracy (one of my favourite games which I have all editions of) and that they would honour the pledges of the crowd funding campaign that made the funding, but then the company involved went belly up.

So next thing you know, Paris has purchased a copy of Mutant Year Zero, Coriolis, Alien, Vaesen and Forbidden Lands.

And so I find myself going down another rabbit hole … I think I need an intervention!

Side note: these are beautiful books and the system may just be what I am looking for… Maybe. :wink:

Side note two: I have a very understanding and patient wife.


I totally recommend you at least browse through it. It is gorgeous to look at and the layout/graphic design is superb as well.

I got Forbidden Lands on a deal on DTRPG where they had the pdf free for a bit. Read through it, but it seemed to heavy for me. The setting is what kept me going back to it and try to run it, but the mechanics felt too much. Loved the overland travel part and how it’s about exploring and making it, not about being heroes. I’ve never run a sandbox of that magnitude (or no sandbox for that matter) and that’s what attracted me to it.


Same here, or similar. The problem is that I’ve yet to find a perfect game. I’m always looking for one that’s better than whatever I settled for last time. Complicated by changing tastes in games.

Right now the system I seem to be happiest with is the Saga Machine by Tab Creations. I’ve run a Shadows Over Sol campaign for a year or two (SF/horror) and it’s been very smooth in play and popular with my group. It uses a deck of playing cards instead of dice, so we were very skeptical at first…but the system makes good use of the card deck features (numbers, face cards, suits, jokers) in a way that’s fun to use while keeping it simple. I was impressed enough that I backed their Age of Ambition fantasy RPG at an insane level (for me.)

I found your comment about D&D5e interesting because I had lost interest in D&D after 1st edition AD&D. We moved to Rolemaster, Harnmaster, and several other systems and never looked back. I occasionally dipped my toe back in for a game here and there (2nd edition AD&D, 3.5 (including Pathfinder), and 4) and just found it getting worse and worse. I started watching Critical Role, and they weren’t having any of the issues that I’d hated about the 4th edition, so I was curious enough to pick up the PHB. I really like what they’ve done with 5e and may actually run a campaign with it to see how it goes.


I agree, and I like the comparison to food. All these games seek to evoke a different feel, so settling on just one system would be like deciding to just consume one type of mean forever. I have run TSR’s Alternity from 1998 sine it came out, absolutely my favorite game. It does a lot, but if people want to pretend to be Warhammer space marines, we are playing deathwatch. If I had to play Deathwatch forever, I would probably need some regular roleplaying injections to keep myself healthy. Besides, isn’t collecting all the books part of the fun?


I must disagree with the metaphor. You eat three+ times a day, more than 1000 times a year. Some of us play RPGs RPGs 10-20 times a year. For 2020, I’ll be lucky to break single digits.

For me, one flexible system is plenty to master.

My RPG pallet is just fine, thanks very much.


I own Alternity, but never had a chance to play it. :frowning:


Man I envy you.

I crave variety and a different feel with my games.

That’s what makes Alternity my go-to. What’s your preferred system?


Our local convention (should we get to a point to game in person again), the group that runs it, we all get together Thursday morning every year and play Living Alternity modules. Same characters, every year. Great times.


That’s awesome!

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Dude! Your problem is not unique! You should see the stack of stuff I have! This is what comes from being restricted to bed after knee surgery for 3 months with a computer and a credit card!