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Re: European Medieval Fantasy RPG with an appropriate setting, minimal bookkeeping, random characters, and simple rules?

This question has several upvoted answers that explicitly address the concerns and requirements stated in the post. The author asks for a “rules light” recommendation and defines exactly what he means by “light”: as little bookkeeping, character optimization, and subtle rules interaction as possible. The original post even gave an example of an RPG that would suit the author if only it had the right setting.

The question also has had a few answers that did not follow the game-recommendation guidelines at all, from lower-reputation posters. Some of them were improved through editing, others deleted. In any case, they shouldn’t be taken as an indication of the question’s quality, just its popularity. Usually, I see answers like this as a sign that a question should be protected, not put on hold, especially since it spent time on the Hot Questions list.

But the question was put on hold as Unclear What You’re Asking with a note that all of the existing answers were terrible – even though the original poster stated that he “received some very good suggestions from the community” on meta. Next, the original poster and a few other contributors worked on improving the question so that it could be reopened, and it acquired at least 4 reopen votes. But now the question is closed again as Too Broad, voiding the reopen votes and blocking us from voting again. So now this question will require at least 9 votes to re-open, plus now we have no guidance as to what we can do to further improve the question. The moderator comments still mainly point to the low quality of answers, rather than how to improve the question.

If the main problem is quality of answers, then why was the question put on hold instead of protected? And why was the question closed again, voiding all the reopen votes, instead of letting the voting process work as designed?

And, presuming that the question should be on hold, what should we do to get it in shape for reopening? And what’s the procedure for reopening when several people can’t re-vote?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Only one answer (now deleted) came from a new user. Protection would have done next to nothing to address the situation. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 29 '14 at 1:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’ve updated the question based on Brian & mxyzplk’s helpful advice, and to bring Zibbobz’s answer in scope. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '14 at 21:24
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I reclosed it because of the significant edits. The first problem was that the question was asking for maid RPG like rulesets that can apply to swords & sorcery and was unclear on the requirements of what "maid rpg like rulesets" meant.

The new edits make it entirely too broad, as the set of games with less rules than 3.5 in a fantasy setting is impossible to have a single best answer to. We have asked for the querent to improve their question, and when they do such that some answers can be deemed better than others without attracting the usual cohort of systems, I'll reopen.

For locking it, it locks down too many things, including comments, which would absolutely preclude it from being improved.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the clear explanation, but I’m still concerned that closing with 4 reopen votes is going to present a significant obstacle to getting the question reopened if it is improved sufficiently. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '14 at 0:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Happily, the all-seeing eye of the moderators is on the question. We are quite happy to reopen good questions, especially ones that have this level of... scrutiny. Mod-flag when it's clear, and we'll delete all answers and reopen. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 29 '14 at 0:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! Appreciate it. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '14 at 0:20
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Because it is not yet a good game recommendation question. So every mod is going to close it, until it improves. Answers are not good, by definition, with a bad question.

See Are game recommendation questions on topic? and How to deal with questions that just don't understand the scope of the RPG landscape? to understand the game-rec question rules on the site. They exist so that game-recs will be allowed at all because the format is inherently problematic and is banned on most other SEs.

The sum total of the requirements in this question is "I’m looking for an RPG in a fantasy medieval setting that is light on rules, bookkeeping, character optimization, and system interactions, but with all the trappings of something like Pathfinder or D&D." And that's not sufficient. It describes pretty much every other D&D-like game of the last 10 (more, really) years besides 3.5e, Pathfinder, and 4e. Everyone's trotting out the same list of games for all the other questions like that, of which some have been closed and some have snuck by. Every OSR game, SW, FAE and every other FATE variant, DW, Mouse Guard, DCC, every other actual D&D version (Basic, 5e, 2e, 1e)...

And look at those games. Not very similar, are they? You have storygamey mechanics. You have old school mechanics. All because the question author isn't explaining what he really wants out of the game experience (besides "not D&D"). It's not sufficient and so it's not a good question, so it will be closed by mods till it is.

Does he want something better for short form or long form? Strong storygame elements and narrative mechanics or lighter sim mechanics? The original question mentioning Maid was very interesting, because Maid is a significantly different game experience than the storygames, it's more like Icons/Paranoia in terms of rules content and intent. Maybe even Numenera. It's not at all like DW or 13th Age.

Game-recs are not here to be a popularity contest. The more broad they are to where everyone just lists all the usual suspects and everyone votes on them so you can see "people love FATE!" - the worse they are. They must be tightly scoped to where you know what you want, and others can help you get exactly what you want.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Cant downvote enough. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Oct 29 '14 at 7:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1: Rec questions can't have most of their specific criteria be negative, or you wind up with far too broad a range of possible answers. Positive rec criteria are critical. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Oct 29 '14 at 9:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tritium21 I'm curious: why? Not that you need to defend a vote here, but I don't see any reason for such an emphatic "no". \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 29 '14 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tritium21 I can't help but be curious about this too. You don't have to justify leaving a downvote, but I think it's not unreasonable to ask for an explanation of that comment. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 29 '14 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tritium21 Also, if you disagree with game recommendation policy, you are certainly welcome to try to persuade the community in the appropriate meta question. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 30 '14 at 0:38
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I've done my best to address these concerns in a recent edit of the question by adding a new list of criteria. They include:

  • Rules that are not strict
    • A strong focus on the narrative built between GM and player
    • Reduced dice rolling. Preferably only requiring a single type of die or type of check to perform actions.
    • Fantasy creatures, including particularly elves and dwarves, and if possible bird-like humanoids (Tengu).
    • Combat being possible, with resolutions met by dice-based challenges. Preferably with a single die roll.
    • Simple character generation, randomized if possible, with character generation options that allow for different races, backgrounds and skill sets, but not with a mandatory background for characters.
    • Character sheets should not take up more than a single page to write a sheet even if 'maxed-out' on levels (if levels even exist in said system).
    • Simple NPC generation in particular, to ease the burden on the DM.
    • Flexible encounters, so that fights and diplomacy use the same rules to resolve.

Note: Because I've been asked, I'm attempting to narrow this down even further. This is the most recent set of criteria I've made

If this is insufficient, please let me know and I can try to further narrow down my question. Some of these elements are taken from the Maid RPG, but I wanted to avoid a direct connection to that game because I felt like it was making it too confusing for people who were unfamiliar with the system, or who were trying to figure out what aspects of the system I was referring to. Hopefully this is a more clear-cut set of criteria.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, so, "not strict" is hard to evaluate. Stop softening your requirements "randomised if possible" is less good than "characters must be able to be randomly generated in less than x time" \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 29 '14 at 2:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Basically, you mention not liking a number of indie systems. What systems do you not like. we need stronger negative and positive criteria. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 29 '14 at 2:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Saying "Maid RPG has these elements. I really like these elements, plus these other elements from game Y. I want a game like Maid, but for fantasy" is significantly less bad then at present. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 29 '14 at 2:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, like you mentioned earlier that Savage Worlds wasn’t right for you, but you liked Maid RPG. Some more examples and counterexamples would be helpful, along with the more detailed list of requirements. But it would be especially helpful to know why you like Maid and don’t think SW is a good fit. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '14 at 2:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agree, SW is probably a more direct fit than most of the other answers, so that set me aback too. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Oct 29 '14 at 3:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ironically, what put me in mind of SW was a misunderstanding ("Western-Style" immediately said "Deadlands" to me), and then when I realised I'd misunderstood I saw that SW wouldn't fit because it was insufficiently narrative-y compared to Maid, but when all mention of Maid was purged the result did seem to fit SW... It has been a slippery question to understand. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 29 '14 at 4:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I may not be familiar enough with SW to actually know if it would or would not fit. I read over the demo version, and that may have been a mistake on my part to assume it was indicative of rule depth. \$\endgroup\$ – Zibbobz Oct 29 '14 at 13:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ At any rate, if comparisons are what I need to make this question work, then I don't think that's going to happen. I'm too new to DMing to give good comparisons to narrow the suggestions down. I think it might be best to let this topic close. \$\endgroup\$ – Zibbobz Oct 29 '14 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comparisons aren't required. Just when you do provide one, it's best to give reasons. "Like Maid, not like Savage Worlds" is what we got, which is vaguely puzzling. "Like Maid in that it does this specific thing, and not like Savage Worlds in that I don't like that specific thing" is better. Where you don't really know enough to compare, just leaving the comparison off is fine. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Oct 29 '14 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Otherwise it's like saying "I want a new car. Like a Honda, but not like a Mazda. Maybe small, you know." What is it you like about Hondas and not about Mazdas specifically (especially since they're generally considered similar)? You probably care about other attributes than "small" right? Small how, just in case you need to bench press it, or do you really mean you care about fuel mileage? That's the kind of thought process you need to go through when constructing "what you want" whether it's a game-rec question or going to buy a new car. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Oct 29 '14 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also - "A strong focus on the narrative built between GM and player" - but not rewards for roleplaying? So not narrative rules per se, just light rules that get out of the way of narrative? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Oct 29 '14 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ And "Combat being possible, with resolutions met by dice-based challenges. Preferably with a single die roll." - do you mean a whole combat should be determined by one die roll like in Amber? Or do you just mean one action like "shoot a guy" should be one roll? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Oct 29 '14 at 18:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk What I like about Hondas are the price range. ;p ((I know nothing about cars)) but I get what you mean. To answer your specific questions, 1- Yes exactly. 2 - I'm not really picky between the two, but I like the former more than the latter, unless the GM thinks it should be a more involved form of combat. What I like about Maid in this regard is that a single conflict can be resolved with one die-roll and the game can move on, but when more complicated competitions are taking place, Maids can launch multiple attacks and wear each other down until one stands triumphant. \$\endgroup\$ – Zibbobz Oct 29 '14 at 19:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ In other words, when it comes to combat and action resolution, I want not one or the other, but both. Combat itself shouldn't be resolved with just one die roll unless it's against an unimportant NPC or a very easy fight. But when two characters fight each other, they should have the opportunity to make their fight last longer. \$\endgroup\$ – Zibbobz Oct 29 '14 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I posted my own answer, similar to Zibbobz’s. Please offer feedback as to whether this approach is acceptable to everyone involved. If so, I’ll edit it into the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '14 at 22:51
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Here’s my suggestion for rewriting the end of Zibbobz’s question based on the feedback I’ve seen so far. My hope is that this both represents Zibbobz’s needs well and is sufficiently specific to request game recommendations.


I’m looking for an RPG with a fantasy medieval setting that is extremely simple, has a unified conflict resolution mechanic (diplomacy is only fighting by another name), doesn’t really worry about bookkeeping and number-crunching, and has most of the thematic trappings of D&D’s high fantasy settings.

Flexible, narrative-friendly rules: I want rules that help me resolve conflicts, but can be ignored and let the group tell the story they want. I want all conflicts to use the same resolution mechanism which can scale by the conflict’s importance, regardless of whether it’s for combat, diplomacy, exploration, crafting, or whatever. I would like to resolve simple, unimportant conflicts with one die roll and move on, but have the option of more complex resolution for important conflicts and competitions between players.

Minimal bookkeeping and number-crunching: I’d like it if the players and GM could jump into play quickly, with minimal prep-work and fuss over characters. I would like the option of different races, backgrounds, and skill sets, but character generation should be simple and streamlined, especially for the GM. Quick, randomized character generation should be possible. Even the most complex character sheets should easily fit on a single sheet of paper, and reference tables should be kept to a minimum too – it’s not the end of the world if we miss a modifier or two. Encounter design should be simple and make fighting or diplomacy equally viable.

Medieval fantasy elements: The game should include a medieval European fantasy setting. I’m specifically interested in elves, dwarves, and bird people (tengu in D&D). Minimal prep-work is important here – I don’t want to invest a lot in adapting the RPG to fantasy or converting D&D material to the other game. Otherwise, I’d just adapt a game that I already like (e.g., Maid RPG) that satisfies the other requirements.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd remove the word light, as it can be interpreted many ways by different people. Perhaps phrase it "Rules that, when we want to use them, help us resolve conflicts simply and quickly", since that provides the rules-optional aspect of "light" without the dungeon-world aspect of "simple, but strict". And, in the same way, I'd amend the second point with a "and it's not the end of the world if we miss a modifier or two". The last thing we need clairification from the author on is whether the system supports a fantasy setting, or comes with a fantasy setting. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 29 '14 at 23:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianBallsun-Stanton Thanks for the feedback. Making updates. I think the running text already expresses “light” well but I’d like a good adjective for the summary heading, to distinguish between the narrative styles of Maid, Hero, Fate, DW, Theatrix, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 30 '14 at 0:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the setting support, so far I have inferred that Zibbobz would ideally like an RPG with a D&D-like fantasy setting built-in, would be content with an RPG that makes it really easy to import the setting, and would rather avoid RPGs that require significant conversion or toolkitting to get up to speed. Confirmation would be helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 30 '14 at 0:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ The thing to keep in mind is that any question which allows 5e, fate, and DW as answers is too broad. We want sufficient positive and negative criteria to make a clear and correct answer possible. Don't soften requirements. If setting needs to be built in, that makes a much better requierment, one that individual answerers can relax if they have a system that really beats them all to hell. Remember, it's not a popularity contest. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 30 '14 at 0:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianBallsun-Stanton Ah, I see what you’re getting at, and that’s how I wrote my answers to the question too. (For example, Fate fails at being D&D-like, but it does have a fantasy setting in Fate Worlds, and it makes it much easier than your average RPG to import stuff. So it’s not a match on that point, but it’s not hard to fix either.) \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 30 '14 at 0:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, Basically, the stricter the requirements, the better the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 30 '14 at 0:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to throw an edit in (as a teaching opportunity), revert if you like. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 30 '14 at 0:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianBallsun-Stanton Got it. I updated the answer again to make that requirement much stricter. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 30 '14 at 0:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, your edited question is much better. Do you see the intent behind the changes I made? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 30 '14 at 0:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, thank you! I’ll keep them, hopefully Zibbobz likes them too. I’m going to do a light edit for formatting (typographic quotes and stuff) but the content looks great. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 30 '14 at 0:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hisssss, non-ascii apostrophes. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 30 '14 at 0:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ This looks exactly correct! I'll edit it in right now. And while it's a little unorthadox, once the question's reopened I'm also going to give you a bounty in my question, as thanks for your help. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Zibbobz Oct 31 '14 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! Happy we could help. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 31 '14 at 21:03

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