Wheel of Time: Suggestions for a Friend (seriously, it's not me!)

This was posted in another community by a good friend. His favorite pet system is One Roll Engine, but he is about to create a personal hack that will allow low-medium fantasy play in the universe of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. So he asked the group for suggestions on alternative systems.

Food for thought. If you were in his shoes, what systems would you reach for, and why? :slight_smile:

TLDR: This is *not an ‘emergency help a GM’ situation. Late last night we settled the conversation agreeing on Fate system as the base, and maybe a few modifications for taste. He will develop his Wheel of Time hack over the next 6 weeks most likely, so no rush.

Some alternatives that were mentioned were: Cipher System, Year Zero Engine, Fellowship (PbtA), Freebooters on the Frontier 2e, and Dungeon Crawl Classics.

(Also, last night I mentioned Yokai Hunters, like, 4 times, which means I’ve been thinking about it too much and should run it, myself, instead of trying to constantly push it at other GMs.)

EXCERPT of his original post:

Okay @GMs, I’ve reached a roadblock downed bridge on the way to my white whale: I’ve been trying to port the objectively terrible D&D 3e Wheel of Time RPG into One-Roll Engine, but realized after building characters with my players that while it’s definitely better, it’s probably still not a good fit. Stepping back and thinking about why, I need a system that supports these features better: 1) failure is interesting, and/or sheer grit can pull you through (the characters in the novels often have a “take what you want and pay for it” attitude, so paying costs in future drama, pain, or exhaustion is a good tradeoff for success now). systems with Bennies like FATE came to mind immediately here. 2) not “gritty” as in lethal though. this is Robert Jordan, not George R. R. Martin. I do like the idea of multiple stress tracks for physical, mental, madness, etc. 3) magic should be interesting but not granular (see above, fuck spell slots). there’s basically three steps to it, if you’re not familiar with the books: a) raw power usage, like a club or binding of Air, or a Fireball; b) specific and complicated weaves that you have to either learn from someone else or invent yourself, like teleportation or healing; c) flexibility to talk to GM into something in between. This part is a bit like the Spheres of Mage, I guess? 4) non-casters have to be able to keep up, though. my party will probably have two casters and three non-casters, if they keep the concepts they’ve been rolling with so far. (ORE actually went too far the other direction here - the point-buy system for dice pools meant the casters got shortchanged in the long run)(edited)

one of the players also mentioned Cortex Prime, which I need to look into this weekend.

K is also going to try to build some PbtA playbooks that would support this particular party. I’m suspicious of the utility of that system, but it definitely encompasses fail-forward, party balance/niche protection, loose magic rules.

Thanks in advance!

Oh, I played that 3e version, I think. The in-world magic system felt literally impossible to model properly in that paradigm.

I missed your TLDR (yeah, I’m that peep, forest for the trees) but Fate was my first thought too. It seems to hit all the buttons.

Personally? I’d reach for Dungeon World or World of Dungeons, but that’s because I know it well enough I could make it do what I wanted. I’d suggest looking at the Avatar Quickstart, too, to mine for ideas. Some other thoughts: SCUP (I know, weird, but the baseline of humans doing human things feels “right” to build an elaborate, costly magic system on), maybe Grimworld.

I think it really comes down to what part of the books is the ideal to model there, so looking at lots of systems is going to be a benefit.

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Interesting! Im not overly familiar with wheel of time, but it seems like a series that’d defiantly benefit from a robust advancement system, capable of handling long, journeying style play.

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I wonder if something like Fellowship would work well for a setting like these books?

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I haven’t played or read Beyond the Wall, but I’ve been curious about it for a while. It seems to be designed for just this sort of thing.

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Yeah, also I was thinking of Stonetop (which is coming from a successful KS next year).

True! I love Stonetop; running a campaign using it right now.

So I think you and I understand each other with regards to PbtA. I mentioned most of these, but didn’t push too hard either way. When I mentioned Freebooters on the Frontier 2nd Ed., my friend *was attracted to the idea of ability stats being a resource.

But I think overall, he was more attracted to bigger dice pools, at least, in this recent conversation.

Fellowship *is an interesting one! It leans into the idea of the “writer’s room” style in an interesting way, which might be really fun for people steeped in a series like Wheel of Time. (I’ve only read 2 of the many books, so I’m not a superfan like some folks.)

Unfortunately, although I own 2 volumes of Fellowship, I still haven’t read very much of the game system, so my handle on it isn’t very deep.

Thanks for all the input everyone! I’ll keep you updated if he ends up taking any of your advice!

Yep, I remember it, too! (The 3rd edition D&D version of Wheel of Time RPG). Never played, but I definitely made characters for that game.