For the longest time I’ve jumped from system to system. I love to try new things out and much to my players chagrin games get dropped a lot. Now I have a few different groups to play with and I’ve noticed that certain systems seem to work better for different types of groups. I’m going to list out my observations between three very different groups of people. This is not the say all, end all way to do things. Hopefully this will help you when you are needing to pick out a new system and you’re not sure which way to go. We’ll start with
This is my group of youngsters. Most of them are between the ages of 13-17. Some of them have been playing for a while and others it was their first time. Most of them have played plenty of video game RPGs. They are hyper, rowdy, and like to cause as much chaos as possible. I would strongly urge you to use a simple system to help break them into gaming. If you want to go with something more open ended and the players are fairly creative go with Dungeon World. If you have a group, like mine, that is more interested in just wanton destruction, I’d suggest 13th Age. GMing style counts for a lot. When I have a group that has a hard time focusing I tend to railroad more since that is what they are use to. I find railroads are easier in 13th Age. You can do DW with railroads but the PCs have plenty of powers that can really muck up a story. Remember that these kids tend to play 1 player RPGs or MMOs. Those tend to have a consequence free world attached to them so be ready to dole out some justice when they start acting up. If you wonder why I promote railroading for newbies just ask me about the cannibal cult that tried to eat the refugees.
This is my college age/late 20 somethings. Most of them are graduated from college and are looking at getting married in the near future. These are they guys that started playing in college. They are somewhat creative and tend to stay calm. Focus can be an issue when we start talking about funny anecdotes. These guys tend to swing between being super creative and wanting their hand held. I’m currently running them through Dungeon World as our regular game that I’m writing myself. It tends to go from good to OK. On days when they are giving me a lot of input it’s fantastic, but I don’t always have those good days. We also do a 13th Age game that is prewritten for when someone can’t make it. That’s a very railroaded game but it’s fantastic to have available since I don’t need to think about what I need to prep on short notice. This group is the one you need to know somewhat better when picking out a new system. They can usually handle more complicated systems like Pathfinder, and you can usually go from railroad to sandbox fairly easily. If you have no idea, go with Dungeon World. You can never go wrong with Dungeon World.
The Grand Masters
These are the people have been playing table top RPGs since Gygax’s time. More often than not these folks like heavy story driven games. Systems don’t really bother them, in terms of complexity. These folks tend to want a good story over anything. While combat is fun, social conflict can be even more fun for them. This is the group that wants epic speeches to the army before a huge fight, they want a mystery involving twists and turns, and they want it all to make sense. These guys can be the hardest to GM for since you are up against their years of experience, but they can be the most rewarding. These folks tend to not care to much about the nitty gritty rules of the system. They are looking for fun in your world. Pick a system that you are most comfortable with and go with it. I love to run these guys through Dungeon World (cause it can easily fit most groups) and Apocalypse World is another one that is story driven.
Some other systems I failed to mention are FATE (which you can use for all groups but I would go with FAE for the neonates). Pathfinder is great for people who can do complicated systems and like nitty gritty combat. 13th Age works for people who want a rules lite d20 game.
Thanks for reading mates.