In my previous blog, I described my very favorite games in terms of game mechanics. Here I will describe some of the games that also caught my attention with interesting and useful game mechanics, though I didn't necessarily like the game mechanics overall.
MERP (Middle Earth role-playing) was very interesting. I should properly say that Role Master was the actual game system, but I liked the stripped-down system in MERP better, especially since it had so much more background and character. The critical system, along with the open-ended rolls and the distinct effects of armor and agility, was an early attempt to make combat much more interesting than in D&D. And indeed it was more interesting. Unfortunately, it was a terrible idea for game balance - the characters were doomed to a sudden and instantaneous death at a random time. But it was fun in the meantime, and I'm not going into all the bad points here. I also love the fact that there were more than a dozen different races of humans in the game. You could have a party consisting mostly of humans (which always feels more realistic), and still feel that you were different from each other.
D6 Star Wars is my favorite game that I did not include in the previous blog. The combat and skill systems are overall rather pedestrian, so I couldn't include it as a game with great game mechanics. But the emphasis on cinematic role-playing, and on capturing the spirit of the source material, was perhaps my favorite of any game, actually better than that of Torg. I also really liked the "spell system". Treating force powers as skills whose effects the GM can arbitrate seemed elegant compared to systems using spell points or spells per day.
Phoenix Command has to be commended for its drive in attempting to produce a "realistic" modern military role-playing game. I don't recall actually liking the gameplay, but it certainly sticks in my mind as a reference point for a certain style of role-playing game rules construction.
Vampire and the Storyteller system seems to have been a very popular game, but it didn't have interesting game mechanics, this seemed to be more of a game for pure role-playing. The one part that seem cool to me was the idea of taking what would normally be a singular type of monster, and breaking it down into many subtypes, each of which have a different subset of the powers attributed to the monster.
Marvel Superheroes had some pretty weak rules overall, but it does have a couple of aspects that stick in my mind. It was the first game I can recall playing that seriously used the "hero point" concept to allow amazing feats, rather than just weak “luck points". Also, I have a fondness for the way it had a clear system for rating which your attributes meant in absolute terms - you could rate exactly how good your character was compared to the classic comic book characters.