Good Low-Magic TTRPG Systems?

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Manveruon
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Good Low-Magic TTRPG Systems?

Post by Manveruon »

Hey folks!
I know I’ve been terribly absent on these forums lately, but I wanted to pop in and ask this here, even though it’s pretty off-topic, because I know there are plenty of nerdy gamers on here who also happen to like realism in their fantasy (hence… y’know… everything we do). So I feel like this would be a great place to pick some brains!

Anyway, the situation is: I’ve been dying to try my hand DMing a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition campaign for ages now, but of course I’m not satisfied with using any of the pre-made modules, or even the Forgotten Realms setting in general, and instead I really want to home-brew something. But the more I think about it, the more frustrated I get with the idea that magic and over-the-top heroics are so deeply baked into D&D as a whole. I don’t really want to build a world where everyone just sorta’ sneezes and magic comes out, if that makes sense. One of the things I love about Tolkien’s world is that it FEELS almost like our own world, with some notable mythical elements, and a sort of low-lying undercurrent of magic and mysticism throughout, rather than just like… spells slapping you in the face everywhere you look. To me, when you pack a world that full of magical stuff, it all sort of becomes… mundane? Like… it’s not special anymore, y’know?

SO.

I’ve been starting the world-building process of the universe in which I would ideally like to set a game, but I don’t know how I should go about actually making that universe playable. Should I just start with the 5E system, since that’s what I’m most familiar with, and then basically just gut it to get rid of all the various crazy abilities, races, character classes, etc? Should I try maybe re-skinning the Adventures in Middle-earth system, since it’s already based on 5E but with most of the more outlandish stuff removed? Or should I go further afield and try using a different system altogether? I’ve heard good things about Genesys, for example, and I’ve really enjoyed playing the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, which from what I understand is built on Genesys.

Anyway, please let me know what you think!


P.S. The universe I’m envisioning is sort of a cross between Middle-earth, the Witcher, Grimm’s Fairytales, and actual medieval Europe, with a healthy dose of “Wild West” thrown in for fun (like the idea of certain people living on a vast, unknown frontier, and a sort of lawlessness to certain areas, with bounty hunters and bandits roaming about, etc).
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Cimrandir
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Re: Good Low-Magic TTRPG Systems?

Post by Cimrandir »

Mythras!

Mythras!


Mythras!


Mythras!

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/191475/Mythras

http://thedesignmechanism.com/

Based on the RuneQuest/Basic Role-Playing system, it uses a d100 dice system. You have a certain amount of skills (no classes) set at a certain percentage (Ride = 60%, Lore = 40%, Athletics = 70%, etc.) and then it's basically blackjack rules. Roll under - pass, roll over - fail. Super easy. There's obviously a bit more to than that but that's the gist. Very much more along the lines of Conan the Barbarian / book Lord of the Rings than your typical D&D adventure. The more you get into combat, it does get a little OSRy but it scales super easily and you can toss anything you don't like. As far as magic goes, there's several different types (Folk, Mysticism, Animism, Divine, etc) and you can use all or none. Each has it's own flavor and feel so you can definitely get that LotR feel in your game.

The free rule set to see if you like it -

http://thedesignmechanism.com/resources ... 310721.pdf

It's my current favorite system and I'm about to run my friends through a 5th century Arthurian campaign using it. Hit me up on Facebook or in the PMs and I'd be happy to talk your ear off about it.

Edit - I would love to talk worldbuilding with you too! I'm writing a setting much like yours and I'd love to discuss it!
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OParnoShoshoi
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Re: Good Low-Magic TTRPG Systems?

Post by OParnoShoshoi »

Fate Core because it's as simple as stating what level of magic is acceptable.

BRP because it's nitty gritty but so open and modular (and is the basis of Mythras above)

Dungeon World but you might have to wiggle a few spells or frame them in the right lighting.

Roll For Shoes umm....well, just look that one up.

GURPS, if you can figure it out.
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Yavion
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Re: Good Low-Magic TTRPG Systems?

Post by Yavion »

I've been looking into Fate as well. It looks interesting, but I think I would have to test it in person one-on-one a few times with someone before I felt running a campaign with it.

I actually have a 5e campaign that's a total homebrew world based off of a diceless game I ran long ago. It's not super high magic. The thing to remember is that the RP system is just a framework. It's the bones.
Something that I try to keep in mind for that campaign is that level 1 characters, be they NPC or the PCs at start of game, are rare! Adventurers are not a dime a dozen. And the higher the level the rarer they are. Same with Classes. Wizards have to have a school. Warlocks and Sorcerers are thin on the ground and weird. Rogues are more specialists than generic scoundrels. You get it.
My players started in a common area and I built the world and starting point in such a way to give them an in-game reason to know each other pre-adventure. Once the game started the things they ran into were mostly historically plausible. Bandits, natural disasters, those sorts of things. (Which reminds me...)

Pulling from what a friend ran long ago, we played a Werewolf: The Wild West game where she ran it as the Oregon Trail. (Bob died of dysentery!) No overarching battles with weird creatures. Just the struggle of getting a group of folks from point A to point B in as close to one piece as possible. It was a great game, and most of the supernatural stuff was just flavor for a solid story.
OParnoShoshoi
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Re: Good Low-Magic TTRPG Systems?

Post by OParnoShoshoi »

I've used werewolf and vampire for a sci fi setting before lol

Fate works well because you just add a "magic" stat and agree what the limits of magic are
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Tom_Ranger
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Re: Good Low-Magic TTRPG Systems?

Post by Tom_Ranger »

Manveruon wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 8:18 pm Hey folks!
I know I’ve been terribly absent on these forums lately, but I wanted to pop in and ask this here, even though it’s pretty off-topic, because I know there are plenty of nerdy gamers on here who also happen to like realism in their fantasy (hence… y’know… everything we do). So I feel like this would be a great place to pick some brains!
I recommend you don't re-invent the wheel. I have created several over the years, but keep all the same basic rules. When you start adding new creatures, weapons, magic, etc. it's easy to end up with something imbalanced. I have one called "One Nation" where all the cities unified into territories, and all the territories unified into a central government, and to gether they form "One Nation" where all races including Orcs, Lizard Folk, Humans, Dwarves, Elves and all the other normal enemies are citizens and entitled to the rights of all the others.

Another one I created in the modern day (2022) and it uses the same 5th edition rules, with some additional weapons. Firearms, tanks, aircraft, etc.
Life is a great adventure; if I live to be 10,000 years old, it won't be enough.
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