As we all know, it is Monday, and time for Todd's Top Ten. This Monday, in honor of the Ubercon that just finished up yesterday, I am going to take some time and smell the roses and talk about gaming (big surprise).
There have been a number of settings and systems out there for play, and all of them have one thing or another to recommend them. This list is by no means an exhaustive one (I do not have that kind of time), but it is a list of the systems that I enjoy playing. Now here we go:
10) Rifts: A great system put out by Palladium, its one drawback seems to be the massively overpowered nature of the system itself. A fellow gamer over the weekend remarked that among his friends the concept of overkill was referred to as "Roboteching" (Robotech is another Palladium product that uses the Rifts rules system).
9) Burning Wheel: In spite of what some call an overly complex combat system, Burning Whel offers a great amount of versatility and richness for scene creation that many others don't. While the cinematic nature may appeal to the more narrative storytellers out there, the combat will definitely be worthwhile to those seeking realism.
8) Capes: This indie game is a whole lot of fun, and realistically mirrors the trials and tribulations of a group of superheroes. This game is meant to tell a fun, collaborative story without lots of mechanics.
7) Sorcerer: A more cut throat game has yet to be seen, as the attainment of power is the only goal of this RPG. Binding demons is the way to power, and the story is all about conflict amongst the players. While this is fun for the players, the GM often seems to find himself twiddling his thumbs.
6) Renegade Legion: Less a role-playing game than a space combat game with opportunities to roleplay, the Renegade Legion system is glorious in its realism and complexity. If you can find the books, it still holds up well, though FASA has long since gone the way of the dodo.
5) Mortal Coil: this is a game where the rules are so light they seem to float on air. Brennan Taylor has done a masterful job of crafting a pretty straightforward bid-based game that can be used to emulate any kind of setting. Since this game relies on consensus, it is not an easy fit for pick-up games or gamers that are more competitive.
4) Artesia: Using a variant of the Fusion system, Artesia offers a rich world and setting with a really complex set of rules and concepts. For those gamers enamored of random tables and generating all kinds of odd character traits with dice, this system offers that in spades.
3) Cyberpunk 2020: Using the Fusion system, the newest version of the classic Cyberpunk game makes some great inroads. Easy to understand and navigate, Cyberpunk 2020 shows us a gritty future with a lot of great opportunities.
2) Bulldogs d20: Based on the d20 open license, Bulldogs provides a great system for the running of true Space OPera style games. If you are looking for heavy science, like you would find in Cyberpunk, Rifts, and many other true Science Fiction settings, forget about it. This has all the cinematic flair of a great fantasy setting side-by-side with everything you ever wanted with a futuristic space travel game. d20 Modern and Traveler have nothing on this one.
1) Burning Empires: I know that some folks were betting I was going to put D&D 3.5 as the top dog on the list, and in some cases, it really is, but the focus on this list is games that I enjoy that are made by companies that don't make me froth at the mouth. Burning Empires is from the great minds that brought us Burning Wheel, and provides a truly exciting system that can be used on a session-by-session basis as well as a campaign basis. The concept of scene economy and duel of wits are really what makes this a great system, and the teamwork abilities in combat mean that the players have to work together instead of just playing Monster Pinata as they would in D&D. Is it perfect? No, but it is darn good!