What's a noncritically acclaimed RPG that you like?

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ScytheSong

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In Nomine and Pax Draconis are the two that come to mind for me. In Nomine has a system that is, at its best, gimmicky and full of exception based mechanics, but has a premise that I found cool. I spent a lot of time playing it in the '90s and early '00s.

Pax Draconis is a game I like simply because I helped playtest it with the author and his wife. It's completely out of print and more-or-less scoured from the Web, but one of the two supplements includes a tribute to my first wife (who died in 2003), and a good friend of ours wrote a novel set in the game universe.
 

Nobby-W

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I suspect the one-two punch of Virus and the switch to a different system is responsible for much of the ire thar TNE seemed to attract.

I felt the Virus was jumping the shark a bit - a sort of grasping-at-straws attempt to turn Traveller into a dark future in line with cyberpunk tropes that were trending at the time. At least that's how it came off. It was also effectively being done by a different set of people to the original Traveller designers so it lost a lot of the Traveller look-and-feel, which alienated its punters further.

Plus, a lot of Traveller's punters were quite happy with the CT/MT era stuff - quite a big demographic even looked a bit sideways at the rebellion. TNE was effectively competing with older versions of the same product and really failed to offer a compelling reason to upgrade.

In related news, I am extremely annoyed to discover that the Xeon E5 CPU on my shiny new secondhand Z440 is not on the list of processors supported by Windows 11. Now I have to find another £1,000 or so out-of-pocket to get a Z4 before the masses work out that it's the earliest model of HP workstation that it will support and suddenly you can't get them for love nor money. In one fell swoop, Microsoft have just turned hundreds of millions of perfectly good computers into e-waste. Oh my first-world problems.

Fortunately the CPU on my laptop is on the supported list. Thank heaven for small mercies.
I predict another rash of folks moving to Linux in 2025 when W10 goes out of support, bringing its market share up to 1.5%
 
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Sharrow

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I felt the Virus was jumping the shark a bit - a sort of grasping-at-straws attempt to turn Traveller into a dark future in line with cyberpunk tropes that were trending at the time. At least that's how it came off. It was also effectively being done by a different set of people to the original Traveller designers so it lost a lot of the Traveller look-and-feel, which alienated its punters further.
Compared to the major game line GDW had at the time, Twilight: 2000, TNE was positively sunshiney. In TNE you were picking up the pieces and building a new world, quite the opposite of T2K, the cyberpunk games, and the WW games of the time.

As for designers, while Dave Nilsen was lead, a lot of the writing and design was Frank Chadwick, and much of the rest of the writing was Loren Wiseman. Both the latter were founding members of GDW. Sure, it was a big change from Megatraveller, but not from classic (aside from the absence of Marc Miller). Also, the supplemental and fan material was from the same people who were writing stuff for MT. I don't think it was a change in writers that was a problem, though some people certainly had an issue with Dave's 'voice'.

Plus, a lot of Traveller's punters were quite happy with the CT/MT era stuff - quite a big demographic even looked a bit sideways at the rebellion. TNE was effectively competing with older versions of the same product and really failed to offer a compelling reason to upgrade.
That's true, just as it tends to be with any edition change.
 

Tommy Brownell

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Probably my favorite supers RPG is Marvel SAGA, and it's only slightly less overlooked than the Marvel "stones" system.

AD&D 2e seems to be the "black sheep" of the D&D family...or at least it was before 4e came along...and I prefer it to everything except *maybe* 5e.

Star Wars Saga Edition is generally much less beloved than D6 and much less flashy than FFG's Star Wars, and it's probably my favorite d20 game (depending on whether or not you want to give 5e the d20 classification).
 

Nobby-W

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Compared to the major game line GDW had at the time, Twilight: 2000, TNE was positively sunshiney. In TNE you were picking up the pieces and building a new world, quite the opposite of T2K, the cyberpunk games, and the WW games of the time.

I have a bit of a soft spot for Twilight:2000. Although I didn't do a lot of T2000 per se, I did adapt the system into a home brew sci-fi platform that I got quite a lot of mileage from.
 

3rik

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I like the Airship Daedalus RPG, a barely known pulp adventure game from Deep7 Press running on their 2d6-based XPG system.

link: https://deep7.com/?page_id=766

I do enjoy Mutant Epoch
I love the enthusiasm the author clearly puts into his game. The setting is pretty crazy and the system seems like a bit of a hodgepodge, but a fun hodgepodge. I did pick up two setting books for it to use with other post-apocalyptic games: The Crossroads Region and Pitford: Gateway to The Ruins.
 
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ffilz

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I've been trying to think about this...

I could list Cold Iron, but I think un-published home brews don't really fit the spirit of this thread.

Another option could be RuneQuest 1st ed. because I don't think that was on the scene long enough to get awards, but RQ2 DID get awards and RQ1 was well received.

Sadly, all of the games I really have liked over the years I'm pretty sure have been award winners or well acclaimed by the court of public opinion (Classic Traveller, OD&D, AD&D, Arcana Unearthed/Evolved, Burning Wheel). The truth is I really haven't played many obscure games enough to feel like I could say I like them. And some obscure games still get recognized by awards for innovation and such.
 

Ralph Dula

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I love the enthusiasm the author clearly puts into his game. The setting is pretty crazy and the system seems like a bit of a hodgepodge, but a fun hodgepodge. I did pick up two setting books for it to use with other post-apocalyptic games: The Crossroads Region and Pitford: Gateway to The Ruins.

Yeah, it’s clear from his Facebook posts it’s a labor of love for him, which makes me enjoy it more.
 

Stan

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Probably my favorite supers RPG is Marvel SAGA, and it's only slightly less overlooked than the Marvel "stones" system.

AD&D 2e seems to be the "black sheep" of the D&D family...or at least it was before 4e came along...and I prefer it to everything except *maybe* 5e.

Star Wars Saga Edition is generally much less beloved than D6 and much less flashy than FFG's Star Wars, and it's probably my favorite d20 game (depending on whether or not you want to give 5e the d20 classification).
At this point, for me, for D&D, I think I'd play only 5e, 2e, or Basic.

It took WOTC like 3 tries but they finally made a great version of Star Wars.
 

EmperorNorton

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Star Wars Saga Edition is generally much less beloved than D6 and much less flashy than FFG's Star Wars, and it's probably my favorite d20 game (depending on whether or not you want to give 5e the d20 classification).
It's my second favorite Star Wars game, and probably my favorite 3.x based game. It's really well designed and uses a lot of what I really liked from D20 Modern (I mentally consider it D20 Modern 2.0 with a Star Wars theme)
 

raniE

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I've been trying to think about this...

I could list Cold Iron, but I think un-published home brews don't really fit the spirit of this thread.

Another option could be RuneQuest 1st ed. because I don't think that was on the scene long enough to get awards, but RQ2 DID get awards and RQ1 was well received.

Sadly, all of the games I really have liked over the years I'm pretty sure have been award winners or well acclaimed by the court of public opinion (Classic Traveller, OD&D, AD&D, Arcana Unearthed/Evolved, Burning Wheel). The truth is I really haven't played many obscure games enough to feel like I could say I like them. And some obscure games still get recognized by awards for innovation and such.
Well, the original post mentioned under-appreciated games and I’ve already thrown out BRP as a whole. I don’t think winning an award qualifies something as necessarily not under-appreciated.
 

Trippy

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I think the original version of Mind’s Eye Theatre or The Masquerade deserves mention.

It was named by Steve Jackson Games’ Pyramid magazine as one of the Millenium’s best games back in 1999, so I guess it has had some critical accolades, but I think it is often overlooked about how influential it was.

Setting-wise, it took the established Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop game, which had already alluded to live-action play in its design and text, and built a specialist system for it based on a central rock-paper-scissors mechanic. This was pretty simple and familiar in play to most people, but the system of bidding Traits and 're-rolls’ based on Abilities was, I think, a forerunner for a lot of the meta-currency-based systems we see these days. The eventual format of digest sized ‘Laws of....’ books also informed some other games' physical design too.

It also managed to bring in new gamers by revitalizing the Live Action mode of play, which had previously been dominated, presumably, by murder mystery evenings and the rubber sword brigade. The various MET groups that were set up during the 90s, had significantly greater participation numbers - 20-30 or even more, sometimes - and ended up as social events which allowed people to dress up. Some anecdotal evidence suggests they also brought in a much greater female presence into the wider hobby. Moreover, the size of participation gave much more scope towards playing political games of intrigue in a more satisfying way for the genre, I always felt.

The setting was still the familiar World of Darkness, and those fans on a budget can still get some concise but actually comprehensive write ups of each respective game line in the various Laws of... books. Laws of Ascension was actually better written, in my view, than most of the various editions of the Mage tabletop game. The Shining Host, I think, works better than Changeling, and Oblivion manages to cram in all the angst of Wraith into a more digestible write up too.

I don’t, incidentally, think the later versions of the game - either the NWoD/CoD version of MET or the By Night Studios version - quite got it right. They tried, too much, to ape the design of the tabletop game and the latter’s format of giant, encyclopedic books was useless to carry around in a live action set up. I would also note that other games have since taken up their own live action versions of the game, including Cthulhu Live which is excellent too.

But, in all, I think MET ought to get more credit in the wider hobby.
 
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PrivateEye

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I like the Airship Daedalus RPG, a barely known pulp adventure game from Deep7 Press running on their 2d6-based XPG system.

link: https://deep7.com/?page_id=766


I love the enthusiasm the author clearly puts into his game. The setting is pretty crazy and the system seems like a bit of a hodgepodge, but a fun hodgepodge. I did pick up two setting books for it to use with other post-apocalyptic games: The Crossroads Region and Pitford: Gateway to The Ruins.
I like Airship Daedalus as well! If the skill list was a little shorter I would maybe like it more, but certainly an unappreciated gem...
 

PrivateEye

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I think the PDQ system was very under-rated for a rules-lite 'narrative' set of rpg mechanics, and was probably overshadowed by the spotlight on the Fate rpg at that time

For PDQ I really like Questers of the Middle Realm, Zorcerer of Zo, and Legend of the Six Serpents :thumbsup:
I also love PDQ - Truth and Justice was a great little supers game and I would kill for a second edition.

I also liked the PDQ version of Achtung Cthulhu! - That it never appeared as a PoD version was a disappointment to me...
 

3rik

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I like Airship Daedalus as well! If the skill list was a little shorter I would maybe like it more, but certainly an unappreciated gem...
Do you think narrowing it down a bit would unhinge the system?
 

Picaroon Jack

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Warbirds.
Screen Shot 2021-09-04 at 8.35.55 AM.png
I did not use it's built in campaign world (island floating in sky), but used Crimson Skies instead (flooded earth).

This is actually the RPG that brought me to the Pub! I was looking for a game that focused on dogfighting rules and saw that Apparition Apparition was recommending it.
 
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finarvyn

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In Nomine has a system that is, at its best, gimmicky and full of exception based mechanics, but has a premise that I found cool. I spent a lot of time playing it in the '90s and early '00s.
If I remember correctly, you roll 3d6 to do things and 111 was something awesome while 666 was something really bad.


I'd like to toss Amber Diceless into the conversation. When it was first put out there was a pretty good splash, but it got minimal product support and nowadays it's hard to find anyone playing the game but I think the design is so darned elegant. I've looked at numerous diceless RPGs and none of them can hold a candle to Wujcik's ADRP system.
 

Dyrnwyn

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AD&D 2e seems to be the "black sheep" of the D&D family...or at least it was before 4e came along...and I prefer it to everything except *maybe* 5e.

2E is not my favorite from a system POV, but I absolutely think that era was the peak in terms of creative approaches and the range of official settings and supporting materials available. None of the later editions have exceeded it IMO.

I also liked Star Wars Saga Edition quite a bit, so you are not alone there.
 

VisionStorm

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2E is not my favorite from a system POV, but I absolutely think that era was the peak in terms of creative approaches and the range of official settings and supporting materials available. None of the later editions have exceeded it IMO.

I concur. 2e was in many ways my favorite era of D&D (partly due to nostalgia). System-wise not so much. But supplements and settings, and even a lot of the art from that era (Brom!) were the best. A lot of the earlier art was also pretty awesome, but 2e was the peak of that style of art. Then 3e came along and it all went downhill from there, replaced with a lot of "plastic" art that felt like a copy of a copy of modern fantasy art and lacked the epic, ancient world feel of earlier D&D art IMO.

Supplement-wise, the 2e "Complete X" series was simply the best of its kind. It expanded massively not just on different classes or races, but also on how to build campaigns based around them and add depth to those classes and races. I still to this day think that 2e kits (despite their somewhat inconsistent implementation) were the best way to handle class specialties, rather than the endless variant classes used in later editions.
 

EmperorNorton

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2e is far from my favorite mechanically, but was my favorite setting wise. So many cool and very different settings came out in 2e. Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Planescape, Birthright... Ravenloft as an actual setting (as opposed to a stand alone adventure).
 

Stan

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While 2e was still a mess in ways, I think it was mechanically better than 1e, at least until Skills and Powers made it even more of a mess.
 

Black Leaf

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If I remember correctly, you roll 3d6 to do things and 111 was something awesome while 666 was something really bad.
It was even funnier than that. If you were on Team Evil that was reversed and 666 was good.
 

Gringnr

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Alma Mater. There's a good time in there somewhere, I just know it.

Albedo, 1e & 2e. The only "furry" game that doesn't make me grind my teeth in a need-to-punch-something frustrated rage.

I would say Immortal, but critics of the time liked it.
 

TristramEvans

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The first one I want to start with is Fable

Fable, by Benjamin E. Sones is a minimalist system, incredibly straightforward - I'll let the introduction speak for itself:

"Are you looking for a flexible role-playing system that can easily be adapted to different settings and genres? Are you looking for a system that is easy to learn and that supports improvisation on the part of both the game master and the players? Are you a little short on cash? If so, then Fable might be the game for you. It is easy to learn, flexible to use, and best of all it is free.

Fable employs a few very simple design goals. Support improvisation. Make character creation as creative a process as possible. Require as few die rolls as possible, and allow players to create exactly the character they want, right from the beginning
."

Fable shares a similar DNA with The Window.

Character creation involves writing up a short abstract describing the character, identifying from that description a number of Traits, and assigning each a Trait Level. Trait levels are based on a step-die scale:

Weak d4
Average d6
Fair d8
Great d10
Phenomenal d12
Legendary d20

Whenever a character wants to do something with a significant effect or chance of failure, the GM assigns it a difficulty on the same scale. The player then rolls two dice - one for their applicable Trait, and one for the difficulty. If the Trait die rolls higher, the character succeeds. That's it.

There are some further complications in the rules - attempting multiple tasks, what to do when a character doesn't possess a directly applicable trait, armour & healing, etc. but all in all the rules only take up about 6 pages, including examples, combat, and advancement.

Speaking of combat, it uses the same method of resolution, but damage is based on the difference between the opposing rolls and characters are assigned a Wounded category:

1 Just a Scratch
2 Stings a Bit
3 Leaves a Scar
4 Haze of Pain
5 Sickening Crunch
6 Blood Everywhere
7 Something Broken
8 Death’s Door
9 Mortal Blow

These don't have specific penalties associated with them, rather a player is expected to (gasp) roleplay them correctly.

The only other significant wrinkle is Karma points, an optional rule that are a bit like Fate points in WFRP, and can be spent to reroll dice.

Fable is a very simple, straightforward system, possibly too simple for some, but for a zero-prep quick to play game I find the rules both functional and elegant. The PDF is available free online, though googling it up is a bit of a chore due to the presence of a videogame RPG also titled Fable. I think I got my copy of the 26-page pdf via John Kim's site.
 

Sharrow

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I concur. 2e was in many ways my favorite era of D&D (partly due to nostalgia). System-wise not so much. But supplements and settings, and even a lot of the art from that era (Brom!) were the best. A lot of the earlier art was also pretty awesome, but 2e was the peak of that style of art. Then 3e came along and it all went downhill from there, replaced with a lot of "plastic" art that felt like a copy of a copy of modern fantasy art and lacked the epic, ancient world feel of earlier D&D art IMO.
Todd Lockwood and Sam Wood's art of early 3e pretty much defined 'modern fantasy art', in particular what dragons look like, even more than Easley's and Elmore's dragons did in the 80s and 90s. I actually rather likes their work, and was disappointed when WotC (and others) switched to Wayne Reynolds and similar artists with all the damned spikes and illustrations that looked only half finished.
 

Silverlion

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I'm fond of Marvel Saga, 2E AD&D, and a few others mentioned here. Torg included, though I'm not into it enough to buy the new edition--mostly due to money. I do think some of the setting changes sound awesome. MSH/Faserip wasn't to my knowledge award-winning but its FAN base is still immense, so I believe it's well regarded. I also forgot Justifiers, it's a neat premise, and game, though I'd prefer a new system.
 

Dammit Viktor

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I have a strong fondness for Buck Rogers XXVc. I don't recall hearing much of anything positive about it back in the day. About the only times it gets talked about is when someone is wanting to rant about how Lorrainne Williams "destroyed RPGs."

It was a good game. It never sold well enough to justify how heavily TSR invested in it-- for reasons-- but maybe in a just world it would have.

You can consider this seconded-- it was an underappreciated gem.

Having established that the most commercially and critically successful editions of D&D-- 3.X, 5th, and 1e AD&D-- are my least favorites... it turns out that the editions of TSR D&D that get the least attention from the OSR, its redheaded stepchildren, are my favorites. Now, you really can't say version of D&D is underrated by the general RPG population, but within the subset of specific D&D fans... but BECMI D&D and AD&D 2e/Player's Option are my absolute favorites, and there are very few real clones of the former and absolutely none of the latter.

Hell, even Dragon Fist got its very own retroclone... and I don't really see enough people talking about that. (It's called Flying Swordsmen.)

Lot of people here love Street Fighter, but at the time... even now, I generally know two kinds of gamers, the kind who love SFRPG and the kind who think it's a silly, janky mess. (And people who are shocked to discover that such a thing exists.)

I've been a member of tequilastarrise and/or alternityrpg.net off and on for as long as I've known they existed, and I've never really seen anyone else discussing Alternity (1998). System's not exactly elegant, but it's charmingly janky in the 90s TSR way, and it has some of the best unique settings in all of gaming. I'm running it now, kinda, except I've simplified the huge, specific, and excessively inclusive skill list down to 12 skills that include most of Alternity's default broad and specialty skills.

There was a brief window where Barbarians of Lemuria was everywhere, and now it's not. Does it count?

There's Shadowrun, of course. The systems have always been kinda awful... but I liked 3rd Edition a lot for running actual Shadowrun, and 4th Edition is actually a really neat basis for a lot of different kinds of not-D&D fantasy.
 

PolarBlues

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Of the games I actively run, things like D6 Star Wars or ICONS, most have a strong, loyal following even if the aren't the new hotness any more. The main exception is Fudge. I run a lot of Fudge games. And while a lot of gamers, especially the kind that post of forums, are familiar with it, I don't feel it is particularly popular. I suspect it is seen a old tech.

I enjoy tinkering with Fudge and building my own games using it. As long as you are happy with the coarse granularity, it is very flexible and doesn't come with all the baggage of Fate Core.

Beyond that I think Fudge has an important role in the development of roleplaying games, not just as the ancestor to Fate and Fudge dice, but also a the first real free, open source game system that developed on the Internet for internet generation, bypassing the traditional publishing methods.
 

Mankcam

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2e is far from my favorite mechanically, but was my favorite setting wise. So many cool and very different settings came out in 2e. Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Planescape, Birthright... Ravenloft as an actual setting (as opposed to a stand alone adventure).
Totally agree with this. AD&D and AD&D 2E definately not my preferred game mechanics.
But yeah in the 1990s there sure was a wealth of setting lines with AD&D, enough that each could have been a separate game line for smaller companies - Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Ravenloft, Birthright, Spelljammer, Al-Qadim, Planescape, Dark Sun...yeah top-notch settings with excellent artwork and production standards for that time. In many ways I felt the artwork and setting of WotC D&D 3E didn't match the rich flavour of these settings.
But these were all pretty prolific at the time, so I guess they definately fall into the 'critically acclaimed' bag.
 
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Mankcam

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Of the games I actively run, things like D6 Star Wars or ICONS, most have a strong, loyal following even if the aren't the new hotness any more. The main exception is Fudge. I run a lot of Fudge games. And while a lot of gamers, especially the kind that post of forums, are familiar with it, I don't feel it is particularly popular. I suspect it is seen a old tech.

I enjoy tinkering with Fudge and building my own games using it. As long as you are happy with the coarse granularity, it is very flexible and doesn't come with all the baggage of Fate Core.

Beyond that I think Fudge has an important role in the development of roleplaying games, not just as the ancestor to Fate and Fudge dice, but also a the first real free, open source game system that developed on the Internet for internet generation, bypassing the traditional publishing methods.
I agree that Fudge was an overlooked gem, and once the core mechanic had been lifted to Fate, then Fudge kept on being overlooked. Occasionally shows up here and there, such as The Princess Bride rpg, but nothing major. It's a shame, as it was such a simple rules-lite mechanic - the iconic Success Ladder, and Health Levels - any other abilities are determined specific for the setting, so it is pretty adaptable.

When I first came across Fudge on the internet it wasn't new, I bought the 10th year anniversary book of collected Fudge rulings, and it was a great toolkit, despite not having much flavour at all. I thought that because it was free and very adapatable, it would have taken off like D20 OGL did in the 00s, but it just lanquished in the background, and was very much superceedeed by Fate.

Fate's Aspects are great, and Fate Core keeps the the Character Aspects to a reasonable number (unlike the previous edition of FATE)
However Fate's Aspects and Stress/Consequences do take time to get one's head around, whereas the Fate core resolution mechanic, essientially the Fudge success ladder, is clean and simple. In many ways just playing Fudge is less mentally draining than what Fate asks of someone at times.

These days PbtA is starting to fill that same niche, so I don't think we'll be seeing much more from Fudge, which is a shame, given it's versatility.

Also, mentioned by someone earlier this thread, The Window was an indie game that never took off. I think it was free on the internet, and essientially just was an progressive success level/dice level game, it didnt have much in the way of settings, it was really just a cool core mechanic.

Same goes for Everywhen and RISUS, they are very simple, and that is the charm. But I would have thought that someone would have used these for an official setting by now. I could see either of these in a Discworld game or if Ghostbusters got remade, or a teen spooky investigation game or something loose like that.
 
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Bunch

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Alma Mater. There's a good time in there somewhere, I just know it.

Albedo, 1e & 2e. The only "furry" game that doesn't make me grind my teeth in a need-to-punch-something frustrated rage.

I would say Immortal, but critics of the time liked it.
Check out Justifiers
 

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I've been a member of tequilastarrise and/or alternityrpg.net off and on for as long as I've known they existed, and I've never really seen anyone else discussing Alternity (1998). System's not exactly elegant, but it's charmingly janky in the 90s TSR way, and it has some of the best unique settings in all of gaming. I'm running it now, kinda, except I've simplified the huge, specific, and excessively inclusive skill list down to 12 skills that include most of Alternity's default broad and specialty skills.
I liked Alternity fine, once some parts of it had been house-ruled into submission. The problem was it didn't really do anything that my heavily house-ruled Traveller:TNE couldn't. Alternity's damage and armour system was pretty good though.
 

zanshin

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I love the setting and the lifepath character creation of Dark Conspiracy.

Never actually played it, but have created many characters for it. Probably a bit too crunchy for my tastes now...
 

Black Leaf

This Film's Crap. Let's Slash the Seats.
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If we're doing TSR stuff, I highly rate the Bullwinkle and Rocky Party Roleplaying Game. Even though I'm not convinced it was the most sensible IP to license it 1988.
 
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
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