The Official Series Bible settings published by Asparagus Jumpsuit are designed to be used with any rules system, but we are often asked for recommendations. While system is a matter of taste based on style of play and complexity of rules, here are some top contenders presented alphabetically. Between these choices, everyone should find something that satisfied their particular needs.
Relatively simple, consistent, and versatile. Cortex is the engine behind several licensed games (Supernatural, Serenity, Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Leverage, to name a few) but is a strong system on its own.
There are several iterations of this system, but the core component that most people enjoy and latch onto is that of Aspects. The suggested abilities in the Official Series Bible settings are meant to suggest Aspects. For examples of Fate-based games, we suggest Spirit of the Century (hero pulp), The Dresden Files (urban fantasy), and Houses of the Blooded (weird fantasy and courtly intrigue).
An early entry into the universal systems market, the Steve Jackson’s Generic Universal Role Playing System was written to support all major game genres as well as a number of esoteric niches. It’s consistent, and some find it bland, but it has a devoted following. It is supported largely via PDF, with both new and classic material available directly through Steve Jackson Games.
Possibly the first generic game system, Hero began life as Champions, a superhero game, and expanded from there. The rules are consistent and effective, but there’s a lot of math involved. It tends to be very heavy and crunchy, but it maintains a strong fan following and has tons of source material for every major genre.
Mutants & Masterminds
While M&M is supposed to be a superhero system its versatility to cover all possible abilities and genres makes it a strong generic game system as well. It’ is a very streamlined version of the D20 system, is easy to learn, and combat resolves very quickly.
One Thing System
The Asparagus Jumpsuit house system was written as a manifesto on the role of, and value of, roleplaying game core rules, but is a playable system. It pairs well with the Official Series Bible, naturally, and is based on characters’ goals rather than individual abilities. It’s an investment, but it does give you all the rules to need. Check out the free PDF, and buy the system if you appreciate the philosophy.
Risus: The Anything RPG
S. John Ross created a system that is elegant in its simplicity, yet incredibly versatile and nuanced in play. It literally takes minutes to learn and create a character. The suggested abilities in the Official Series Bibles are meant to be evocative of Risus cliches, and in truth we had Risus in mind when creating the settings. If we had to pick one system as our favorite, this would be it.
Probably the most popular universal system today, Savage Worlds is designed to favor heroics and grand gestures on the part of characters. The game’s tagline, “fast, furious, fun” certainly applies. There is support for all major genres, but the core rules alone do everything reasonably well. If we had a second choice for favorite systems, we’d have to admit strong feelings for Savage Worlds.