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I've started running the starter adventure on Eclipse Phase. I have an idea for our first full-length campaign, but it's a little complicated. I need a (relatively) simple game to play the part of a computer game that the PCs will play either:

a) To advance the story and gain experience

b) To kill time when someone can't make it to the session.

Most of my players have some D&D experience, so it would be nice to have a fantasy setting. I was looking at Anima, but reviews seem to be ambivalent at best. Maybe I was just dredging up the bad ones, because I read some of the core book and liked what I read; at least half of them are also fans of animé. So, requirements-wise:

1) d100 or d20 system for compatibility

2) Some fantasy elements; mostly I want leveling and exceptional PCs

3) Something that feels a bit like an MMORPG. It is supposed to be a computer game within the game world.

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I'm guessing you would also want it to be fairly light-weight (i.e. not D&D 4e, even though it's fantasy-flavored and somewhat MMO-like). Is that correct? –  AceCalhoon Apr 13 '11 at 20:41
    
Yeah. I don't mind if it's crunchy to start with, just so long as it simplifies to a bit of arithmetic and a dice roll to use skills and calculate damage. Basically, no 3rd-grade or higher math after chargen. –  Tasuret Apr 13 '11 at 20:46
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It's a year later and I'd really love to see a comment on how your choice went. I have been pondering exactly this scenario myself! –  rjbs Aug 28 '12 at 22:12
    
Allow me to remind everyone of our system-recommendation answer guidelines - do not toss out opinions. Answer with systems you have used to accomplish this task. Too many OT answers and the question will be closed. meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/1070/… –  mxyzplk Aug 30 '12 at 3:02
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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you want something completely lacking in math after chargen, go with a diceless/nonrandomized game like Amber (assuming you can find a copy), which uses a straight comparison between values, or Paranoia XP, which says that the GM should only roll if they don't particularly favor either outcome. (Note: If you do roll, Paranoia XP only uses 1d20. For everything.)

These particular examples provide another benefit: They're both built for intra-party conflict, which is probably lacking or behind-the-scenes in your main game. This can lead to some good-natured rivalries between party members (a plus) or give hidden rivalries an interesting new playing field (also a plus).

I should also note that you don't have to stick to an MMORPG paradigm just to be a multiplayer online game; Amber works for an online game where everyone gets to create their own little world and/or modify existing ones, whereas Paranoia XP is more like an FPS deathmatch with plot and semi-limited lives.

Neither of these particularly fits all of your qualifications, but you may have made them too narrow to get a 100% fit. I'm using them as examples to show how you might want to broaden your horizons slightly on this one, so by no means do I think that they are the only options.

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I think I'll use Amber. Thanks for the suggestions. –  Tasuret Apr 18 '11 at 18:23
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Dragon Age is a reasonably light-weight level-based fantasy system. It's default setting is based on a video game, although it isn't necessarily MMO-like by default.

It also has an interesting system to replace critical hits where you get points to buy "stunts" like making additional attacks or piercing the target's armor.

The downside to it is that there are some class balance issues, which can be a pretty big deal as there are only three starting classes (I believe it branches out later, as the game does). The gist of it is that the rogue gives up a great deal of both damage and mitigation in the early levels compared to the warrior. This makes the rogue seem very underpowered unless your campaign has an emphasis on traps, stealth, and pickpocketing.

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With your constraints in mind, I'd go with HeroQuest.

I've written a detailed explanation of how I'd model an MMORPG style game with HeroQuest in the following answer to another, like-minded question : http://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/16433/1215

The gist of it is this :

HeroQuest is a classless, levelless, generic system with a narrative bend. Its' level of abstraction allows for creating "outlines" of MMORPG characters quickly and efficiently. It's setting-less but made to support almost any genre easily.

Basically, you could write up your HeroQuest-MMORPG character in just a block of your main character sheet.

A preview of the Core rulebook is available here

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So, this is awfully late to the party as it was intended as an answer to another question, but I think it's valid here nevertheless. What do you guys think ? –  Nigralbus Aug 29 '12 at 14:02
    
Moved the mass of text to the other question where it was supposed to be in the first place, left a link and an abstract, hope it doesn't remove too much of the essence of the answer. –  Nigralbus Aug 29 '12 at 20:36
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Does it have to have levels? Because some MMORPGs just increase abilities, and if you want to go simple, then BRP would be the way to go, given its nature it even allows for doing a final fantasy style mix of fantasy and technology (particularly if you're thinking FF3 or thereabouts).

You should be able to download the quickstart from basicroleplaying.com

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Yeah, I'd like it to have levels. That way I can transform levels in Rez points so they can give bonuses to their main PC as their avatar levels up. It modularizes the systems so I don't have to do direct conversions. Also, systems with levels often have more powerful PCs, and I think a power trip would help my players out every once in a while. –  Tasuret Apr 13 '11 at 21:19
    
The level requirement makes it harder as a lot of the small, easy/pick up RPGs I know of (generally indie games) eschew levels. It might just be that levels and relatively simple are not an easy combination. Take a skill/point based system and add an arbitrary level behind the scene? (You've gained 10 skill points you apply to your character that's equivalent to a level?) –  mirv120 Apr 15 '11 at 16:09
    
Yeah, that's roughly what M&M did, although BRP isn't CP based, so it isn't quite as easy a fix. –  migo Apr 15 '11 at 19:40
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A fairly easy and new RPG system is the Ubiquity System. It's a skill based rpg. The main game is Hollow Earth Expedition is a pulp rpg. There's also a fantasy version called Desolation. It's set in a post-apocalyptic world that's been devastated by magic.

Some sample adventures for the Ubiquity System are the following: http://exilegames.com/downloads/hex_freerpg_2008.pdf http://exilegames.com/downloads/hex_freerpg_2009.pdf

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