In my twenty-five something years of gaming I’ve read, run and played in a fair few number of fantasy RPGs, so trying to decide my favourite is a bit tricky. In the end I think I can boil into down into two distinct types; favourite system and favourite background.
How many times have you cracked open a game to find that it is indeed just another western style D&D clone or Middle Earth facsimile? I think when it boils down to it, most of the times it’s someone’s house-rules masquerading as The Next Big Thing TM.
Legend of the Five Rings wins for me here, this game just oozes style and atmosphere especially since the whole background draws upon a number of Eastern mythologies to give you something that is very different to what you may be used to.
King Arthur Pendragon. A classic retelling of the Arthurian legend, where the players can partake in a campaign that spans three or so generations of play.
Dungeon Quest. I haven’t had a chance to play this yet but I love the whole idea of how it works, the simplified combat adds another dimension to it and the character bonds are a really good way of connecting the group together.
Runequest. Another one of those games I looked at when I was getting in to gaming, the Games Workshop editions were released as a set of hardbacks and owing to licensing rights Glorantha couldn’t be used so a fantasy Europe was used instead. I loved the percentile mechanics but not the really deadly combat, later on the system would be used in a modified form for King Arthur Pendragon.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I bet you didn’t see that coming 😛 . This for me was a real alternative to xD&D. You had career based progression, deadly combat, some really odd creatures to battle and a wonderfully dark humorously horrific background; in short is was everything that xD&D wasn’t at the time. Oh and it was completely British so it had some really oddities.
I have to tip my hat to the often forgotten Middle Earth Roleplaying Game. While the system was a bit overwhelming and there could have been more in the way of examples it did justice to Middle Earth and the background was very well presented.