Alternate RPG settings

I've been considering running a couple of new RPG games, one as a PBEM, and one with a live group.  I've mentioned in the past that I know I'm better at running PBEM's than live games, but I'm hoping they both work well. 
But that's putting the cart ahead of the horse.  What I need to do first  is find a system, a world setting, and a campaign.
While I have a bunch of 2e and 3.5e adventure modules, I know I prefer unique worlds in the games I play.  My usual GM has an extensive world he has created and sets most of his games in it, which I really enjoy.  I hope to be able to give my players a similarly satisfying experience.  I know I don't want to go the extreme route of creating my own system the way C.D. has with Splatter-Elf.  However I am considering adapting one of the systems I know well to a unique world.

Likely the system will be 2e or Advanced Labyrinth Lord (hooray for free!), or with a bit more work, I can make my ideas work with 3.5e.  The worlds I'm considering are:

1) Robin Hobb's Farseer series.  I've read a bunch of these books over the past year, and I think they would make an ideal setting.  The bulk of the characters are standard fighters and magic is sparse.  The types of magic that do exist are subtle, with even the magic users relying heavily on physical skills.
The first magic is the "Skill."  This is the more powerful of the magics.  Skill users can speak to each other telepathically.  They can also influence other's thoughts subtly, confusing them or amplifying doubts they already may have.  Stronger (higher level) characters will also be able to use special stones located around the world to teleport, and they'll be able to look through other people's eyes.  Skill users are highly revered and are often related to the royal line.
The second magic is the "Wit."  This allows players to sense animal motivations, potentially calm hostile animals, and to be aware of other living creatures in the immediate vicinity. As they level up, they will be able to bond with a single creature and gain the use of the creatures senses, as well as fairly sophisticated communication with the animal.  The strongest users can influence the mood of other people and calm people as well.  The wit, or 'beast magic' as it is also known is feared by most of the population.  Most wit users hide their abilities to avoid being hanged, quartered and burned.
The third magic is for the only PC's that will not be fully human.  The race is known as Elderlings, and they are humans that have spent time with dragons and taken on some dragon aspects.  They are able to speak to dragons, look through a dragon's eyes, resist the charm of a dragon, and have basic telekinetic powers.  Elderlings are extremely rare, and both revered and feared at the same time.

2) Steven Erickson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series.  The books are based off of gaming the author did, so translating it back should be fairly easy.  Erickson created the game he played as a push-back against the D&D machine, trying to make characters that are not defined by alignments, and parties not built around a specific goal.  There are rumours of an official d20 Malazan RPG, but for now I would be happy to cobble one together.
It is a high magic world, where mages can wreak huge destruction.  Soldiers have multiple classes to choose from, as cavalry, light infantry and marine "heavies." It should be easy to adapt the spells, weapons, and races to fit a d20 game.
What makes this world more than just a different D&D background is that the adventure would be more character based than adventure based.  Rather than following a set alignment (I HAVE to be good, cuz I'm a Paladin!), characters are driven by their motivation, and follow their own moral compass.  This will be harder to run as I'll need to build the story based on character background and motivations.  I'm wary of trying this with my live group as they are newer to pen and paper RPG's but I think it could work well for my PBEM group.

I would also be very open to running a sci-fi game, but I don't know how to make one that doens't get bogged down in flight / ship to ship type combat.

Any other suggestions of settings or systems I should investigate? Thoughts on making the above ideas work?


  1. Thank you for the book/setting recommendations. I will definately check them out.

    For Sci-fi try Barbarians of the Void hack for Barbarians of Lemuria. It keeps the action on the players and flight/space combat is an extension of that. Simply awesome!

    Playreport here:

    1. Thanks, I'll check those out for sure!

  2. You know I'm on a FATE kick but you can't use that because I'm doing it.

    (Seriously though, FATE works for everything)

    If you do like d20 you should check out The Wheel of Time book Wizards put out years ago. I'm not fussy for the setting but the magic system is very cool and worth stealing.

  3. You seem most interested in using an established setting, which is cool, but why not make your own. There are an absurd amount of resources floating around, and you can steal whatever cool stuff you like, and add it to your world stew. It's fun, and delicious.

    As for the game to use, who cares. Any game can be modded to suit your needs, roll with what your comfortable with.

  4. If you could pull off the Malazan world, that would be insane. It's pretty involved.


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