[RPG] Alternatives to D&D and Pathfinder


Ok my original question was apparently too vague and raised question marks about my problem with the power curve in 3.5. I won't explain why I don't like 3.5 since that's not the point of my question. I'll simply reformulate my question.

I've been playing 3.5 and Pathfinder for over 6 years now and I recently got tired of rule-intensive systems after playing Mutants and Masterminds for a while. What I like of Mutants and Masterminds:

  • Combat is not tactical. No grid, no attack of opportunity etc.
  • All the combat rules are covered in couples of pages.
  • The list of conditions for your character (sickened, shaken etc.) is shorter and more intuitive since the numbers are consistent.
  • The system doesn't have any classes so you don't have to fit into a box of preselected features.
  • Game is point-buy so players can create their own characters with no other limits than their creation point budget and the campaign frame.

I could use Mutants and Masterminds as a system for a fantasy game but that wouldn't be appropriate. Mostly like using Exalted to play a game where all players are humble farmers. Scalability problem etc.

So now I would like to start a fantasy game with a system that correspond the following criteria:

  • Fast combat
  • Combat is not tactical
  • No classes so player can create their character the way they want
  • The books are still available somehow (free pdf, still in print etc.)
  • The system can cover any genre from vanilla D&D (Middle-Earth-esque) to Steam Punk + magic.
  • System must not be bound to a setting (like Exalted or L5R where you need to select a clan or an element of the setting that would
    determine features for your character).

Best Answer

Our group has used Savage Worlds for some time. It has a simple character creation process, and has a lot of game settings to pick from, or you can roll your own. There is a test drive PDF, so you can get a feel for the system.

I've had two experiences with spell casters: one was balanced well with the rest of the party, and another was effectively a one-shot wonder. Spellcaster balance is all down the the Edges you pick though, and how you play the character. I think the system itself handles it well, since there are opportunity costs to focusing on one over-powered trick.