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Mekton Zeta
[Closing May 13th!] Best RPG mechanics of all time tournament - nominate your favourites here
Jaime Lawrence
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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Jingle Bells, Cthanta Smells, I will kick his ass
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I'm in love with the tournament format at the moment and while Animation Admiration - The Geek's Favourite Cartoon - Finals! is coming to a close, I thought I'd start my next project - finding the greatest RPG engine.

This list will be open for one week. Nominate your favourite RPG systems (not games! We're not voting on games here, just on the engines that run them!) by posting a brief explanation of them along with a game for which they are noted. My first two nominations should serve as an example, hopefully.

At the end of the week, I'll seed the competition and create a new list for voting.

Why not just use the top 32/64 games? Because a popular game might have a sucky system, and we might all know it. With any hope, we'll only see some real stars here...

Edit - I think I'll close nominations on the night of Thursday 13th (my birthday!) - Have to get the ball rolling sometime!
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1. RPG: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd Edition) [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:114]
Rob Bradley
United States
Belleville
Wisconsin
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THAC0.

To Hit Armor Class Zero replaced combat tables. It was innovative for the time.
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Shanya Almafeta
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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Alternity system (seen in Dark Matter, Gamma World, Star*Drive, et multiple cetera).

No time for florid prose - got to run to make my additions before running off to gaming.
 
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3. RPG: Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth [Average Rating:4.43 Overall Rank:718]
Jose Augusto Moreira
Brazil
Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo
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Mythmaking system.

you can play a character or a nation....expanding culture in hundred of years or jumping in Interest points for action

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4. RPG Item: BESM (Big Eyes, Small Mouth) [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:2793]
Shanya Almafeta
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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BESM 3e

No time for florid prose - got to run to make my additions before running off to gaming.
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5. RPG: Champions (HERO System 5) [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:137]
Jamie Herbert
United States
Cedar Rapids
Ia
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I started playing around 3rd ed, but this was the first set of mechanics that made me feel like a super hero. I love phsed movement, I love OCV/DCV making you harder to hit and easier to hit others, and the point buy system, while a bit loopy does a great job of being able to tailor a hero to my specifications. and in the hands of a like minded group can be one of the closest things to playing comics I have ever played (though I will admit that M&M comes a close second)
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6. System: d20 System
Shanya Almafeta
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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What was added before ironically, I add with conviction. The d20 system, not just the OGL.

No time for florid prose - got to run to make my additions before running off to gaming.
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7. RPG: d20 System / OGL Product (D&D 3.0 Compatible) [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:598]
Rob Bradley
United States
Belleville
Wisconsin
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I am not going to laud D20 here, but what I find innovative, is the OGL. The open gaming license albeit flawed in design and implementation, was a bold attempt to get one cohesive ruleset that players and DM's could learn and then apply it to any setting. A rough count shows the OGL has been implemented in aroung 40 settings.
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8. RPG: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game (2nd & 3rd Edition) [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:309]
Shanya Almafeta
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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The Mayfair Exponential Game System

Used in Batman, Blood of Heroes, DC Heroes, Underground (with modifications), this system was innovative... and clunky! Despite the dependence on charts, this system was able to model just about anything and get them to 'play nice' together, as the hundreds of entries on Writeups.org show. It was the direct inspiration for lots of games that came after (including a lot of my 24-hour RPG homebrews), and game groups can still be found years afte the last MEGS group went out-of-print.
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9. RPG: Diaspora [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:19]
Jaime Lawrence
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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Jingle Bells, Cthanta Smells, I will kick his ass
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Because I am an awesome Crab with style, charm and class, oh!
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FATE Engine

Used in: Diaspora,Spirit of the Century

Basic idea: Everything has 'Aspects' attached to it which can be used to resolve things by proposed narrative rather than dice. When dice are needed, four fudge dice are rolled for a total between -4 and 4. Skill totals are added. Beat a Target Number.
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10. RPG Item: Everway Visionary Roleplaying [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:716]
Kevin H.
United States
California
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"What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"
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Everway uses a tarot-like deck as a randomizer. You turn over a card, which has a picture and a meaning such as "protection," "insight," or "accomplishment." If the card is right-side up, it is interpreted positively for your character, upside down is negative (failure to gain insight, e.g.).

The GM is encouraged to use the picture to inspire her description of the outcome.
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11. System: Fuzion
Shanya Almafeta
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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I could write pages and pages about the design of Fuzion... and as a matter of fact, I have. Fuzion is a peanut-butter-and-honey combination of the strengths of two systems, combining the HERO system's ability to model just about anything with the Interlock system's simplicity and speed of resolution. The resultant RPG has been used in some of the best roleplaying games out there, including Lightspeed and Sengoku, the best roleplaying games ever written in their genres, a testament of their base system's versatility.
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12. RPG Item: Godlike [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:360]
Kevin H.
United States
California
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"What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"
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Godlike, Reign, and Nemesis all share a common core mechanic: The One-Roll Engine, or ORE. So-called because one roll determines if you succeed, how well you succeed, and how quickly you succeed. In combat it also determines where you hit.

It's a dice pool system where you roll d10s and look for sets of like numbers (pairs, triples, and up). The value of the set is its "height" and the number of dice in a set is its "width." Generally, height means speed and width means power. So a pool with two tens will go before a pool with three fives, but the three fives will succeed better (whatever that means in context).

Modifiers and tweaks let you do called shots, represent special training, and so forth, so it's not just a straight d10 dice pool.
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13. RPG Item: GURPS Basic Set (Third Edition - Revised) [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:934]
Shanya Almafeta
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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GURPS Basic 3er

No time for florid prose - got to run to make my additions before running off to gaming.
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14. RPG Item: Hong Kong Action Theatre! (HKAT! 2) [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Kevin H.
United States
California
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"What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"
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If your character has a shotgun, and you (the player at the table) pantomime cocking a shotgun and make a "chk-CHK!" sound, your character gets a bonus to hit.
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15. RPG: Houses of the Blooded [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:99]
Christian Turkiewicz
Germany
Losheim am See
Saarland
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Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.
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A derivative from Fate, but you roll Virtue (aka Attribute or Trait) x d6 against a TN of 10 (Aspects help). If you win you decide the outcome of the scene, if you lose the GM decides.
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16. System: Interlock
Shanya Almafeta
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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Interlock (Cyberpunk 2020, Mekton)

No time for florid prose - got to run to make my additions before running off to gaming.
 
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17. RPG Item: Jadeclaw: Anthropomorphic Fantasy Role-Playing [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:5227]
Shanya Almafeta
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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*Claw system (seen in Ironclaw and Jadeclaw)

No time for florid prose - got to run to make my additions before running off to gaming.
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18. RPG: Legend of the Five Rings (3rd Edition) [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:52]
 
Jaime Lawrence
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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Jingle Bells, Cthanta Smells, I will kick his ass
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Because I am an awesome Crab with style, charm and class, oh!
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D10 Roll and Keep Engine

Used in: Legend of the Five Rings, 7th Sea

Basic idea: Add together the values for your stat and skill. Roll that many d10s. Keep a number equal to your stat. Beat a Target Number.
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19. RPG: Paranoia (1st Edition) [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:35]
Josh Luub
United States
San Jose
California
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The Dramatic Tactical Combat System

Be interesting, live. Be boring, die.
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20. RPG Item: Polaris: Chivalric Tragedy at Utmost North [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:72]
Kevin H.
United States
California
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"What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"
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Using ritual phrases as a resolution system.

If it's your turn, you can state what you do. The player sitting across from you can respond with one of a list of phrases and add a condition to it.

E.g. I can state "I behead my enemy with my family's ancestral sword."
The opposition can state "Yes, but only if it shatters into a thousand pieces in the process."

I can accept, or renege, or offer a counter-outcome. He can do the same. Or we can go to a die-roll. It produces an amazing feel to the game as it guides your narration into a ritualistic, mythic-sounding cadence that has a surprisingly large effect on the feel of the whole game.
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21. RPG Item: The Riddle of Steel [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:1570]
Kevin H.
United States
California
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"What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"
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Spiritual Attributes.

You choose what matters to your character. While you're doing that, or fighting for it, or pursuing that goal, you get a sizable bonus to succeed. If an action fulfills multiple goals (fighting to regain your kingdom AND rescuing your beloved AND attempting to kill the man who usurped your throne AND restoring your family's honor) then all the bonuses stack.

The more your spiritual attributes come into play, the greater their numeric value and the more effect they have on the plot.

The only way to improve your character's skills and other attributes is to spend points from your spiritual attributes, making them less helpful to you and letting you influence the outcome of the plot as much, thus letting the spotlight go to another PC for a while.
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22. RPG Item: Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:74]
Rob Bradley
United States
Belleville
Wisconsin
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Beer & pretzels meet RPG.

I can't think of anything here that is an overly kick ass mechanic, but the system overall is simple and tight and most of all versatile. This Explorer's edition takes the cake, it crams the enitre system into 160 half sized pages. But; you can do just about anything with it.

You want to talk about versatility, I know some miniature gamers that have used the Savage Worlds combat engine for their battles in a completely RPG-free setting, they just appriciated the mechanics and simplicity over other miniature rules.

Savage Worlds is a blank canvas, It is time to paint your world..
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23. RPG: Spycraft [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:342]
Jaime Lawrence
Australia
Sydney
New South Wales
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Jingle Bells, Cthanta Smells, I will kick his ass
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Because I am an awesome Crab with style, charm and class, oh!
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If D20 is to be on this list, its greatest incarnation should be represented too.
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24. RPG: Star Wars (WEG 2nd Edition) [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:34]
Club Squirrel
England
Brierley Hill
The Black Country
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Big damn heroes!
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Star Wars D6 Second Edition.

D6 1st Edition was the first RPG I ever played, but 2nd Edition was less rough around the edges. It's an easy system to learn too.
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25. System: Storytelling
Erich Vereen
United States
Leland
North Carolina
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The storytelling system as seen in Exalted (2nd Edition). Much different than the World of Darkness system, this one incorporates Stunts (gives extra dice depending on the 'cool' factor), fluid combat phases, much larger dice pools and greater chances at both success and failure. One of my favorite systems.
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