I'm using GURPS 4th Ed. A few of reasons:
- we've been using it for a while and so are comfortable with it even though combat is pretty intractable - nobody really wants to put in the effort to learn the system properly - but we get by with fudges.
- the system has no levels. It's still got XPs but I'm keeping the awards down to move the focus away from how many XPs I give out each week.
- the magic is rather low key. Fireballs are pretty weedy in GURPS unless you really specialise - and then they can be devastating. But it costs around 40 points to be able to cast 3d6 fireballs for no mana with a skill of 13.
It's not ideal. Whilst there's a fright system which is passable, there's nothing terribly satisfactory in the way of social mechanics nor is there any central mechanic that ties into the background, and combat can be rather slow, although it is deadly. But PCs still rush in at the slightest opportunity. I think I'll have to have someone gutted by way of a lesson. I think I'll also slow things down by having more down time between sessions. The Autumnal theme worked well for the introduction but I think the big freeze has got to set in.
The setting is 10th C Rouergue but with a Med-Fan gloss and much higher literacy rates, a bit of Firefly and those daemons from His Dark Materials. For those who know GURPS, magic is standard spells for wizards and by ritual path for religious practitioners - any believer can learn it.
The country (as yet unnamed) has suffered a civil war, ostensibly this was over religious differences between North and South but economics were also a factor. The first two PCs were caught a long way to the South, behind enemy lines, when the war ended and were making their way back home when they got caught up in some nastiness involving goblins. Now they are starting to uncover a wider conspiracy of evil. Goblins are just the tip of the iceberg.
I'll post some more on the social background later - it's in a file. In the meantime, goblins. These are not default D&D goblins, they are more the evil twisted beings of folklore who spoil the milk, tie pigs tails together and ruin bridges. For evil things to exist in the land, they must have a focus, a link. This can be a place, a thing or a person. You can't truly stop the evil until you destroy the fetish.
Evil things can reproduce in the world, but they can't do it in the normal way. It has to be some twisted parody of reproduction. For example, Goblins can replace babies with changelings - creating them out of sticks, ash from the hearth and pigshit. They can grow inside the fruit of a tree, spring forth from a contaminated well ... The current favourite seems to be a sort of tentacled creature that hides inside people. It draws in whole animals from one end and spits out goblins, parodies of the animals it has eaten, through the other. The pig goblins were bad enough but the horse goblin would have not been a party had the PCs not stopped it from forming.