Realistic games

edited April 2013 in Story Games
What (story) games are there that are fairly realistic depictions of modern times or history? I mean no magic, no sci-fi tech, no alt-history, no mutant powers, no miracles, no gods. I currently find myself most interested in the real world thematically.

Comments

  • You are in LUCK! There are a bunch of those available. Grey Ranks, Dog Eat Dog, Carry, Montsegur 1244, Witch: The Road to Lindesfarne, and Last Train Out of Warsaw, and that's just off the top of my head at quarter-to-five in the morning with no sleep yet. Someone else is going to be even more helpful, just watch!
  • edited April 2013
    Fiasco usually counts.

    Chronica Feudalis for magic-free medieval adventure.

    Duty & Honour and Beat to Quarters for historical Napoleonic war stories.
  • Aces & Eights: Shattered Frontier for the Wild West (The game takes place in an alternate timeline designed to lengthen the Wild West period, but there's not much stopping you from using it in our timeline). I'm not too sure it counts as a story game though; there's a profession system that encourages you to roleplay as a historically accurate Western [Insert Profession] and the lethality of the combat discourages fights, but the sheer number of combat rules might disqualify it as story game.
  • Dust Devils, "the" Western RPG.

    "Realistic" is how I usually play Primetime Adventures.

    Nicotine Girls, the quintessential "kitchen sink realism" RPG.

    Anything Jeepform, almost by definition — I like Doubt.

    A Penny for My Thoughts.
    Dirty Secrets.
    GxB / BxB.
    A Taste for Murder.
    Hot Guys Making Out.
    Clover.
    Contenders.
    Ninety Minutes.
    It's Complicated.
    Autumn of Life.

    The Drifter's Escape might qualify, or might be in the "magical realism" or even "urban fantasy" field — depending on how you play it, how literally you use the "Devil", etc.
  • Oh, and how could I forget Ribbon Drive?
  • edited April 2013
    Oh, and how could I forget Ribbon Drive?
    Because it's not for sale, grumble grumble
  • edited April 2013
    Keep 'em coming. I'm probably not going to buy any of these any time soon, but it's at least nice to know what's out there.
    (The game takes place in an alternate timeline designed to lengthen the Wild West period, but there's not much stopping you from using it in our timeline)..
    Let's stick to the rules, please, no alt-history.

    Because it's not for sale, grumble grumble
    Oh, that doesn't matter. Games in development are ok, too.

  • Oh and I guess The Burning Wheel with only humans and all the magic rules removed would work well for a gritty medieval setting.
  • Oh and I guess The Burning Wheel with only humans and all the magic rules removed would work well for a gritty medieval setting.
    I've heard it handles historical campaigns pretty well, even.
  • I saw that! Talk about timing... day one purchase, as soon as I get back to my card. :3
  • I keep thinking that there must be several published espionage and noir games without any scifi/supernatural/superhero elements. But then I try to identify them and can't.
  • Oh and I guess The Burning Wheel with only humans and all the magic rules removed would work well for a gritty medieval setting.
    Please stick to the rules. No hypothetical hacks.
  • Oh and I guess The Burning Wheel with only humans and all the magic rules removed would work well for a gritty medieval setting.
    Please stick to the rules. No hypothetical hacks.
    It's not really a hack, though. It's just "nobody play non-humans" and "we're not using the Sorcery module, so don't take that skill".
  • Upstart: There are a bunch of said games. I've written some myself! (I'd argue w/ Rafu that The Drifter's Escape is primarily realism, but I understand why some people do interpret the game as having fantasy elements.)

    Can we help you narrow it down? What in particular are you looking for in such a game?
  • edited May 2013
    It's not really a hack, though. It's just "nobody play non-humans" and "we're not using the Sorcery module, so don't take that skill".
    Sounds like a hack to me, but that's semantics, I guess.
    Upstart: There are a bunch of said games. I've written some myself! (I'd argue w/ Rafu that The Drifter's Escape is primarily realism, but I understand why some people do interpret the game as having fantasy elements.)

    Can we help you narrow it down? What in particular are you looking for in such a game?
    I'm mainly just interested to see what's out there. I find fictional settings a bit boring and bland nowadays, history and realism interest me more. I'm also interested in why designers choose the realistic rather than the genre route. I guess I could have said that in the first post to generate discussion.

    If we're talking about my hypothetical dream game, it'd be a light hippie/story/prog system with a real world -based setting where organized violence and politics are important, I suppose. But my primary motivation wasn't really to find a game to buy (although that may happen, too).
  • Witch - The Road to Lindisfarne that UserClone mentioned has a 50% chance of being fantasy, it all depends on if the accused woman actually is a witch or not. :-)

    Montsegur 1244 is gritty medieval misery tourism realism about life as a persecuted religious minority. It is brilliant.

    While hacks have been frowned upon I still feel some are worth mentioning. Zombie Cinema is written as a game of zombie apocalypse movies, but hacking it into other kinds of stories is VERY easy and quite rewarding. Here: http://wilper.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/key-code-1034-a-zombie-cinema-hack/ you can see a hack I did that transforms it into a story about a New Year's party gone bad. We've played a few disaster movie stories using the same mechanics.

    The Daughters of Verona makes the players play actors who in turn play a Shakespearean comedy. Depending on the level of meta play you accept this could fit your preferences, or be completely off. It's a fun game anyway.

    While the World Ends is an engine to tell stories about how people's lives are changed by greater turmoil in society. It looks like a sci-fi game on the surface, but if you choose your themes wisely it can bring you very realistic stories.

  • Pickets & Blinds
  • edited May 2013
    Cool, thanks, so just testing the waters?

    You can take a look at The Drifter's Escape and Clover on my site ( www.tao-games.com ). They're pay what you want downloads so you can download them and have a look without worrying about buying them. If discussion is what you want, I feel like we can have a better discussion on the topic with texts in hand -- otherwise it's just going to be people running off lists of their favorite games (which is great and all but not really a discussion.)

    You're also reminding me that I should get Hot Guys Making Out up on my site, too. Another non-fantasy game (I hesitate to call it "realistic:" it's as realistic as a smutty romance novel.)
  • a light hippie/story/prog system with a real world -based setting where organized violence and politics are important, I suppose.
    Definitely look at Montsegur 1244. It meets your definition precisely and is outstanding.

  • Autumn of Life.
    Linky link?
  • Also, consider Ribbon Drive, now that it's actually for sale again. Totally cool stuff. Road movies that are about discovering the characters. So choice.

  • Autumn of Life.
    Linky link?
    Not sure how it's being distributed, actually. Thus I summon @TomasHVM.
  • So, 'hood is my modern inner city hack for Apocalypse World, which I'm sure I've mentioned before, but I'm currently looking for playtesters and maybe even arranging a game on Google Hangouts sometime soonish.
  • Cool, thanks, so just testing the waters?

    You can take a look at The Drifter's Escape and Clover on my site ( www.tao-games.com ). They're pay what you want downloads so you can download them and have a look without worrying about buying them. If discussion is what you want, I feel like we can have a better discussion on the topic with texts in hand -- otherwise it's just going to be people running off lists of their favorite games (which is great and all but not really a discussion.)

    You're also reminding me that I should get Hot Guys Making Out up on my site, too. Another non-fantasy game (I hesitate to call it "realistic:" it's as realistic as a smutty romance novel.)
    I've liked the thread thus far. I wasn't sure what I wanted really. I guess I was lamenting that most story games seem to have strong genre elements, but then I realized I'm not sure it's true, and tried to check out if it was.
  • edited May 2013
    Most of the popular ones are extremely genre heavy because people like genre fiction, and of course the nerd genres (fantasy and science fiction) are heavily over-represented because, well: RPGs and nerds go together. So if you come here the first thing you'll hear about are the heavily genre-slanted games, particularly those slanted to the nerd genres (Fiasco is an exception), because those are the most popular (not surprisingly.)

    Of course, a lot of genres (mystery and romance and crime and historical and such) are included under a broad banner of "realistic" if what you mean by it is "non-fantasy." If what mean is no "non-genre" the you take out all of those, I think you're left with a much smaller set of games, mostly non-commercial or not-highly-commercialized, because lacking a genre makes a game much less marketable.
  • Most of the popular ones are extremely genre heavy because people like genre fiction, and of course the nerd genres (fantasy and science fiction) are heavily over-represented because, well: RPGs and nerds go together. So if you come here the first thing you'll hear about are the heavily genre-slanted games, particularly those slanted to the nerd genres (Fiasco is an exception), because those are the most popular (not surprisingly.)

    Of course, a lot of genres (mystery and romance and crime and historical and such) are included under a broad banner of "realistic" if what you mean by it is "non-fantasy." If what mean is no "non-genre" the you take out all of those, I think you're left with a much smaller set of games, mostly non-commercial or not-highly-commercialized, because lacking a genre makes a game much less marketable.
    Yeah, maybe something like "mundane" would be a better term, because I'm totally down with romantic history such as Rose of Versailles or detective fiction.
  • Steal Away Jordan by Julia Ellingboe http://theunstore.com/index.php/unstore/game/53

    A game about being a slave in antebellum US. haven't played, but heard it's awesome and gritty.
  • Gangbusters is obviously a genre game, but simulates some pretty mundane aspects of life in the prohibition era.
  • For the Noir genre:
    A Dirty World and Dirty Secrets both tend to have no supernatural elements at all. Their own genre elements for sure that can be played up to an unrealistic level but you can do pretty "realistic" scenarios with them.
  • Emily Care Boss' trilogy Three Quick Games About the Human Heart are all realistic/mundane. Breaking the Ice is about going on three dates with a new romantic interest, Shooting the Moon is about competing for someone's heart, and Under My Skin is about trust and infidelity.
  • I'd say Emily's games plus the games mentioned in the very first reply above are some of the best contenders! (Plus Ribbon Drive and It's Complicated and...)
  • edited May 2013
    I'll third Contenders--great, light intro game to the "real" world of down-and-out boxers/street fighters.

    And it reskins to other time periods nicely! So long as the gist is fighting for one's hopes and to gain resources and reputation (e.g., gladiators; duelists; Mortal Kombat/Kumite fighters).
  • You might also look at documentation from the Nordic larp Just a Little Lovin', about the summer AIDS came to New York City. It's being replayed in Denmark this year.

    Alexandria.dk has some freeform scenarios (including jeepform scenarios) up in English that also deal with these topics, including Sanne Harder's Son of Man, a game ostensibly about her father's past as a Nazi resistor, and later as an agent in the early days of Israel. I have a game about breast cancer that may be up there soon.

    Jeepen.org is where you'll find the jeepform games stashed for free download, if you haven't found them already.
  • Checked out the 'Hood by James Mullens?

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9Hhx1yXlz-ObW9CbV9VcFNmekU/edit?usp=sharing

    It's about small time criminals. Big fish in a small pond.
  • Blowback is good for emulating Burn Notice-style spies and civilians. Dog Town models 1970's criminals in NYC in...exhaustive detail.

  • Autumn of Life.
    Linky link?
    No link yet. I have not done the necessary re-writing of the game after Knutepunkt (some flaws in English version were exposed). Too much other stuff claiming me. Will make the work on it in july, so you may expect the game to be out there sometime in august-september ... :-)

  • Will make the work on it in july, so you may expect the game to be out there sometime in august-september ... :-)
    We'll wait. :)
  • Blowback is good for emulating Burn Notice-style spies and civilians. Dog Town models 1970's criminals in NYC in...exhaustive detail.
    I always saw Dogtown as a missed opportunity. I want to play a Bensonhurst-based Genovese wiseguy who only fires his pistol when its barrel is next to the other guy's neck and only hits people who're afraid of him. Instead I have to hang out in some made-up "dogtown" neighborhood wielding a +1 switchblade and perform fast driving checks. It's a good example how a viable genre can be made totally unworkable by trying to force it into the trad form.

    I'm not contesting its spot on this list, though. Compared to most trads, it was very realistic.
  • edited May 2013
    I suggest Burning Wheel too, completely, absolutely.
    Sounds like a hack to me, but that's semantics, I guess.
    It's not a hack, really. Burning Wheel is modular: You are not suppose to use magic or combat or a mix of stocks (races) in your first run. If you want to play in a historical period you could without deviate from the rules at all.

    My first session ever was set in a medieval London and the protagonist was a penniless painter who wants to get his sister from the orphanage and take her to live with him, and he was in love with a prostitute who was taking advantage of him. The first two sessions were about to find a patron to finance his work so be able to pay the rent.

    And of course we play the game as written.

  • It's not a hack, really. Burning Wheel is modular: You are not suppose to use magic or combat or a mix of stocks (races) in your first run. If you want to play in a historical period you could without deviate from the rules at all.
    So it's like indie GURPS, then? =D But yeah, then it's not a hack in any sense, and I was wrong. Sorry.
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