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Not having played it personally, I'm not sure how much weight my suggestion might carry. However, there is Deathwatch - a game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, about a small team of well armoured Space Marines, usually tasked with hunting aliens (the gribbliest ones possible, usually). On of their favourite targets seems to be Tyranids, who are ...


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The Shifting Forest games seem like a good fit, although they're really 6-8 person games, not counting the GM. The were released as PDFs for free a few years back. Based on personal experience, Garden Station 4 is quite accessible, it has a good mix of player conflict and some world to explore. My recollection of The Queen of Spades is a bit muzzy, but I ...


2

Space Opera by FGU has power armor, personal missile launchers and nukes, the bugs, and as long as you get the Ground and Air Equipment supplement pretty much everything from the novel. It is complicated but just don't use what you don't like. I have for 20 years used it for that setting. The combat rules are actually simple.


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Everquest RPG D&D 3.x OGL product based on the MMO world. It has a modification to weapons that incorporates things like weapon speed in order to create an interestingly complex change to the standard 3.x combat system as a whole. Basically the speed of a weapon influences the iterative attacks you get from it. e.g. a speed 5 weapon with a 10th level ...


1

Shadowrun Melee weapons have a 'Reach' attribute (and some creatures have extra reach) that adds extra dice in melee combat. Polearms are usually a 2, whereas a katana is a 1, and a dagger is a 0. Speedy characters (i.e. ones enhanced with cyberware or magic) can attack first (and depending on the eddition, more often), but there are no weapon-specific ...


5

RuneQuest, at least the old editions from the 1980s that I'm most familiar with, had the concept of Strike Ranks. An attacker's SR was based mostly, maybe entirely, on his weapon's SR (longer/faster = better) and Dexterity modifier. The game designers were said to have drawn on their experience in the SCA when designing the combat rules. In that edition, ...


-2

Anima, Beyond Fantasy Anima is on it's core, an "anime simulator". The game itself is quite complex in what it delivers, but makes up with what you're asking: realistic, kick-ass combat. Swordsmanship plays a great role in Anima, and being a point-buy system, it gives you enough flexibility to tailor your character the way you want. Damage is also quite ...


12

The Riddle of Steel The Riddle of Steel is an early 2000s indie RPG designed by a practitioner of Renaissance Martial Arts, Jake Norwood. The game has a unique combat system that models what you're looking for, I believe. I have written some more on TRoS on this site here You can check it out for yourself with the quickstart rules. The rest of the game, ...


3

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen One of the most enduring party RPGs (persisting through more than a decade of being out of print and having no official PDFs), Baron Munchausen is a game where players take on outrageous personas and tell tales (inspired and influenced by other partygoers) of almost impossible deeds. There's a wagering ...


-1

I recommend Everyone Is John. The game is usually horrendously offensive for the most part of it, unless you specifically modify it to be less obscene and outrageously inappropriate. It needs: 4-6 players, a notepad, d6 (but it can be done with paper-rock-scissors), some chit or marker (small rocks are usually abundant on a campsite) Prepare the game: ...


0

When you're building a dungeon, you are designing a level for a game. A good starting place is to read articles and books about level design written by professional game developers. Here are some recommendations to get you started: Beginning Level Design, Part 1 Beginning Level Design, Part 2 Ten Principles of Good Level Design (Part 1) Ten Principles of ...


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The system that powers Hollow Earth Expedition is called the Ubiquity System. There is a fan-made Western setting for that rule set called Old West which does a pretty good job of covering the typical Old West tropes.


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There is a prestige class (Forgotten Realms) called Shadow Thief of Amn/Guild Thief that gives Reputation as a class feature. Effectively, it adds a +1 bonus to your Leadership score. Just throwing that out there.


1

You could play Star Wars Roleplaying game. This is a d20 system similar to 3ed D&D, so you will already be familiar with the core mechanics, dice rolls etc. and most probably have all the needed dice. It will also help you with explaining the system to your players. You probably already know the world and the flavour. The game takes you to the time ...


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Traveller. Traveller is an old game that's had a lot of editions, and several of them do what you want. It's... Well, it's basically Firefly. No, seriously: It's a game where the players are the crew of a small independent starship that hauls cargo and passengers between star systems to stay out of the red. I've described its features below, with the points ...


4

Sounds like you may want to play Rogue Trader, set in the Warhammer:40K universe. The players play the part of the Rogue Trader and his closest companions. They start the game with at least one Starship. This starship would be manned by at least hundreds of crew members with the players taking on the role of the Captain and his highest ranking officers. ...


1

Ars Magica Don't let the title distract you - although a large part of the game rules is about powerful magic, the system is intended and well designed also for non-magical adventurers with design approaches that very well match what you intend; and I've happily run multiple zero-magic adventures with the system. The setting is almost-historical medieval ...


3

My answer, which gets to most of what you're looking for, at least, is Burning Wheel. low fantasy (where magic is very rare or virtually non-existent) Burning Wheel has a magic system but it's entirely optional, and if you do choose to play with it you will notice that a. it's not terribly useful in combat, and b. failures to cast spells can have some ...


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Just to add another option RuneQuest 6 (Basic Roleplaying - BRP- derived) low fantasy (where magic is very rare or virtually non-existent) You can tweak the magic level you want, but even at it's highest, it's wayyy below D&D-style "Gandalf Everywhere" grim theme (dirty, gloomy, death on every corner) You can set the dial at whatever you ...


1

TSR wrote a how-to book for 1st Edition AD&D back in the 1980's: The Dungeoneer's Survival Guide. It includes specific guidelines for creating dungeons, and guidelines for drawing them. It's available electronically. Most of the content is applicable to any edition of D&D; about 1/4 is specific to AD&D 1E, and only about 1/3 is actually rules ...


4

Two possibilities that come to mind are an article from a series by "The Architect DM" and the AD&D book "Dungeon Builder's Guidebook" by Bruce Cordell. The first of those two is a series of articles you can find on the Critical Hits blog with the specific article being found here. The other I bought many years ago, but Amazon appears to have links to ...


7

With credit to @KRyan for mentioning it first, Unearthed Arcana does feature a system that addresses most of your needs. It was released under the OGL and is available from the Hypertext d20 SRD here In brief, here is how it interacts with each of your needs. Character's have an overall reputation score. When encountering an NPC, a DC25 d20 roll + ...


2

Any books I could find directly related to dungeon design were outdated/out of print. As such I'm going to give you general tips and advice for dungeon design. Take inspiration from other Media Think about Moria in LOTR or an ancient temple in any of the Indiana Jones movies. These locations/setpeices were exciting and engaging to a passive audience ...


0

Game system: My own game, BRUTAL: Big Bad Ball Busting Bloody Battles. Free: The game rules, supporting documents and adventures are all available as free PDF downloads. Simple role playing rules The role playing rules are short and sweet. GMs are encouraged to focus on the story, and not get distracted by too many skill checks. Fast-paced and ...


8

Fate Core I recommend Fate Core for your use. Let's take it point-by-point: Classless system Fate has neither classes nor levels. You build the character you want instead of ordering one from the menu. Degrees of success Fate has by default 4 outcomes: Failure, Tie, Success, Success with Style. Additionally, every successful roll has Shifts - ...


0

System Unknown Armies by Atlas Games Brutal Your max HP is (generally) equal to your Body attribute (for a Street-level campaign on a character with all attributes equal, that would be 55 at character creation). Hand-to-hand weapons deal 2d10+X damage, where X is 0, 3, 6, or 9 depending on the characteristics of the weapon in question: 'piercing', ...


0

Game system: My own game, BRUTAL: Big Bad Ball Busting Bloody Battles. Free: The game rules, supporting documents and adventures are all available as free PDF downloads. Fast-paced: Attacks, defenses, damage, etc. are all added together as a pair of opposing dice rolls. Highest Roll wins. Damages the difference between the two rules. Simple and quick. ...


3

I recommend Harnmaster by Columbia Games. low fantasy (where magic is very rare or virtually non-existent) Harnmaster is geared to play the medieval setting of Harn. Because of fantasy's origin in the mythology of western europe it is easily adapted to many low fantasy settings. grim theme (dirty, gloomy, death on every corner) ...


4

GURPS GURPS is an excellent system - a solid member of the old guard. I have played and run GURPS for years, so this recommendation is based on that experience. GURPS is at its core a toolkit game, designed to be able to create the game you want to play. The fourth addition simplifies and streamlines the game, addressing the historical weaknesses (smart ...


0

I played in a post-apocalyptic game system called "After the Bomb" that was filled with all kinds of animals mutated into humanoids, it has all the things you mentioned. It uses Palladium's Megaversal system. low fantasy (where magic is very rare or virtually non-existent) Essentially After the bomb has this covered because magic does not exist. ...


14

I'd heartily recommend Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay (WFRP), 2nd edition. (It's not the most recent edition of the game, but it's the one I have experience with, and I'm pretty sure you can get a copy of it even these days.) Let's see how it meets your requirements: low fantasy (where magic is very rare or virtually non-existent) + grim theme (dirty, gloomy, ...


1

Based on precedent, I'm going to say.. probably not. Wizards makes a lot of their money off of additional sourcebooks when a new edition comes out and even more money from adventure paths that players essentially use because they don't have the time to plan their own adventures. However! That does not disqualify you from adapting modules from any other ...


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The adventure should be useable out of the box with only free Basic Rules publications. For example, I don't want to rely on Playtest content. Right now your options are limited until they release a bestiary with the Basic D&D PDF. Various companies will release a variety of adventures but they are in the same boat of not having the final 5e ...


4

Not Really, EN world had a contest, sponsored by WoTC for short adventures for the D&D Next Playtest rules. You can get the adventures here (there are 8 of them) While I have not played them, the winner of the contest, "Mind Blast" has gotten some good reviews. Another award winning module is by Froggod Games. However, in 2015 WoTC plans on revealing ...



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