Saturday, December 13, 2008

A System For Civil War Spies: The Contenders

I've been kicking around different systems for my Civil War Spies idea, just in case my players decide to vote for that option on our next campaign. This is the only campaign pitch I've had that I don't have a definitive system for. It's funny that Dave at The RPG Corner suggested Basic Role Playing as a possibility--I had been reading reviews of BRP and have been getting pretty interested in checking it out. (And we also see that Dave continues to play Xamot to my Tomax when it comes to gaming).

For the feel and flow of play I'm working on, I do have a couple of benchmarks:

-System needs to be easily tweaked/customized
-Skills and skill resolution need to be easy and central to gameplay
-System needs to offer fairly gritty combat
-System needs to support the distinction and use of several different types of period firearms

Let's review the contenders (and non-contenders at this point):

Out of this round:

Risus I love, but I don't think it would give the structure I want for this. GURPS sounds like a fit on the skill side, but its one of those games I simply do not run well. My group also dislikes it. PDQ was considered, as it is flexible and quick, but I think it might be a bit light for what I'm doing and the group composition I'm looking at this time around.

In the running:

Basic Role Playing
: One one hand, I like what I've been hearing, and the opinions of some folks I really respect makes me think this would be a fun system. We also have an old RuneQuest flunkie in our group, and selection of this would make his decade. But I've just now borrowed a copy to review, and don't feel that I've got the nuts & bolts of it all down yet.

Sweet Chariot 2: This was suggested by clash bowley himself (he knew I already had a copy), and it does seem to line up with a lot of what I want. It runs on StarCluster 2, which I know and like. I need to do more digging and see how easy it would be in this case to divorce system from setting.

Coyote Trail/genreDiversion: Coyote Trail is a fantastic western game, is already close to the timeframe, and is one of my favorite Precis Intermedia titles. Regrettably, though they love Two-Fisted Tales, my current slate of gamers were so-so on this system. This is a shame, because it seems to fit what I want pretty well. This has been sitting on my shelf for a while, so I need to dust it off and look over it again.

This is going to be a tough decision, especially between the last two. Then again, my players may just vote to do another season in our homebrew world without a break, and render it all moot for now. But I do think we'll get around to running it sooner rather than later.


Jeff Rients said...

James Bond 007?

Rich said...

That's a tough list, Zack. It'll be interesting to see what your group comes back with as well!

I have a GURPS hater in my group. But I love their sourcebooks (no Civil War one that I know of!).

Zachary The First said...

@ jrients: Not one of my faves, actually. And I haven't seen it in a decade.

Oh, I should clarify that Coyote Trail and Two-Fisted Tales do *not* use the same system, though both are by Precis Intermedia.

Propagandroid said...

How about Colonial Gothic? They won't be doing a Civil War expansion, but it might have some residual flavor. :)

Zachary The First said...

A possibility--I do own it. I like the system for Thousand Suns (d12), but not quite as much for Colonial Gothic--I thought characters were a little more incompetent by default than I'd have liked. Still, I should at least reread it.

Nick said...

For my group, I'd be considering either a FATE 3.0 hack (this may be too indie), a D20 Modern game (This is a great choice if your group likes d20. There's an SRD you can use if you don't own it, though the d20 past supplement would be helpful), or a a mutants and masterminds implementation (this is just my point-based system of choice.) Savage worlds is also a possibility.

clash bowley said...

If you haven't run a Starpool game like Sweet Chariot 2 before, it doesn't feel like StarCluster. It's grittier than it feels, the exact reversal of SC. Combat is fast and bloody. Chance and quality are combined in a single roll, and skill is hugely important.

Zachary The First said...

Actually, clash, I've mainly taken setting from Sweet Chariot, never done a straight run. I'm messing with it now!

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