Comparative Review: C&C, RQII, WFRP2 Part5 Conclusions
And at last I reach the end of this protracted series of articles.
It all started back in 2008 with this post on Settings, Characters and Advancement and continued with:
So what has writing all that made me think?
I'll take the games in chronological order:
The rules in RQII are comprehensive as the same skill system is used in melee and general task resolution meaning that it is easy for a GM to work out how to check an even that isn't explicitly covered. The two types of magic included with common Battle Magic and Rune Magic give a good basis for a world with magic being commonly available but high powered magic being less freely available. This would also give a GM ideas on how to approach their own rules for magic. There are adequate examples in the rules to show how situations work including melee and magic use. The skill system breaks down slightly at high or low power situations like many percentile based systems and is not that fine grained using a 5% step on increases. The Strike Rank system for initiative is simple and easy to understand, but due to its lack of any randomisation can make combat predictable.
The Gloranthan setting is only given a cursory overview in the RQII rulebook, there is enough to tantalise with its degree of strangeness. Examples being the flat world, the odd races like the ducks and different takes on the trolls, elves and dwarves. This is not a strong element of the actual RQII core book though.
The rules do cover enough that it is easy to start and keep playing with them. The mechanics are structured in a way that permits a GM to work out how to run through a situation so I do class the rules as complete and useful.
RQII is a true classic among RPG games though a lot of the reputation rests on the extensive supplements to these core rules. I still recommend it highly to fellow gamers and play it myself.
Castles & Crusades
The only one of my three choices to still be in print as even WFRP has fallen prey to the cycle of frequent editions now. My review is mainly based on my second printing copy as I bought this and the original printing of the PHB, but haven't really felt the need to add to this. I think my next comparative review project will be the freely available D&D type games such as Swords & Wizardry, Basic Fantasy Role Playing, OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord.
The rules are reasonably comprehensive as they include a general resolution mechanic for checks, "The Siege Engine" as well as combat and magic rules. Resolution uses only a straight forward pass/fail rather than any degrees of success or critical success/failure results.
There is no real setting information provided in C&C as it assumes the default D&D style fantasy mediaeval Europe but contains nothing in particular. This is reasonable to keep down the page count and make the game readily usable with what ever setting a GM favours.
The players handbook does not include a bestiary, so either the fairly simple task of converting D&D monsters can be done or the Monsters & Treasure book for C&C can be purchased. As with the C&C PHB there is not really any explicit setting information other than the default fantasy Europe assumptions. Troll Lord do publish a number of modules and setting books for C&C which can be used or else another setting such as Greyhawk or the Wilderlands of High Fantasy would make an easy fit.
The rules are complete in terms of including all the necessary information to create and advance characters, run combat and magic use and calculate experience earned from encounters. The Siege Engine provides a general resolution mechanism which means that I do have to consider these rules mechanically complete.
The items that are missing apart from creature descriptions are rules for magic item creation, but unlike 3rd edition D&D characters have to be at least 5th level to start creating items. There is an intention to have considerably fewer magic items available to characters than in recent versions of D&D and this does help prevent it.
Castles & Crusades is a straightforward fantasy RPG that is complete and uses a set of rules that are reasonably complete and coherent. It lacks a really distinctive identity, like many of the other games based on D&D, but this makes it easier for a GM to run it in their own world.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd edition
The second edition of WFRP is now out of print and unlikely to be reprinted now that Fantasy Flight Games have released the third edition. This is a pity as I felt that it was a decent set of rules that could be tweaked into a very good game though it suffered from the supplementitis that bedevilled D&D 3e. For example to run games in the empire the GM would probably need the core rulebook, Sigmar's Heirs and the Old World Bestiary.
The rules use mostly a consistent mechanism of D100 rolls for skills and melee with D10 for damage rolls and a few other items. However magic uses dice pools of D10 which is a bit inconsistent even though the system does work. I like the use of mechanics to limit spellcasters not working off an allocation of points or slots in a given period, but on risk of bad things happening with continued spell casting.
The Warhammer world is a good setting with its twists on historical Europe as a basis. I like the differences from the usual high mediaeval tropes of using the renaissance era as the setting for the game.
The entries for the Empire and in the Bestiary in the core book are quite limited and I don't like how poor the maps are in the Empire section. There is a sample adventure included, but ultimately it feels like there is a distinct effort to sell the additional books like Sigmar's Heirs, Old World Bestiary and the various adventures put out by the Black Library.
The rules are complete as such in the main rulebook however because of the extend to which WFRP is tied to its setting there is only a modicum of information provided in the book. So I do feel there should have been a bit more in there, but you could easily run a campaign with just the core book for WFRP2.
WFRP2 has an effective set of mechanics which make it easy to learn and create characters. There is a very well established and fleshed out setting, however the information in the core book is limited and should really have been better. It is a good game, but if really serious about playing in the Old World a GM would need to buy several extra books.
And my final judgement.
My favourite out of these three games is RuneQuest II, because I feel that it has the best combination of rules, setting and adaptability of the three. I would play any of the three games in this review quite happily, but RQII is a long way ahead of the others in terms of my desire to play or run it.