Just gunna slide on into this thread to shill some Nechronica. Gunna be a nice long post because brevity is for suckers (and also Nechronica's rules are a bit complicated to explain).
Also, content warning for gore if you click through to the wiki. It's a zombie game. Stuff gets dismembered.
Nechronica is a Japanese, post-apocalyptic role-playing game where the players take on the roll of Dolls: adorable undead abominations that have been created at the behest of their Necromancer (the GM) to fight and struggle for the Necromancer's amusement (and sometimes escape, if they're lucky). The apocalypse happened, the zombies won, and life is over. Now all that's left is to suffer.
If you want a quick and dirty synopsis, Nechronica is a magical girl role-playing game except you're a pack of amnesiac zombies trying to survive the whims of your GM. The meat of the system is in its combat rules while the out of combat stuff is left fairly loose, and the nature of encounter building in Nechronica means it lends itself to a narrower, less open-ended and more episodic sort of game.
There are two big deviations Nechronica makes from the standard RPG format:
First is that characters do not have HP. They have parts. Most of a character's abilities will be dictated by which parts they have, and parts will break upon taking damage in combat. A broken part cannot be used, and if all of a character's parts are broken they are basically dead (re-dead? They're down for the count, you get it). It's not a big sweat if a part breaks; most of them can be fixed so long as you survive the encounter. Characters who have all their parts broken can be fixed as long as the other party members beat the encounter.
A Doll (player character) is divided up into four locations: Head, arms, torso, and legs. Each of these locations has a set of basic parts (eyes, feet, hands, etc) and will be filled in later with Reinforcement Parts. That is, the non-basic parts that dictate how your character acts during battle. Most of your character's direct combat ability will be dictated by the parts they acquire, this includes attacks, movement, and defensive/reactive manuevers.
Dolls also have access to Skills, which offer other combat manuevers and can't break. Access to Skills is dictated by your Class and Position (Position is kind of like a personality type).
The other way Nechronica deviates heavily from other games is the Action Point (AP)/Timing system. In Nechronica, there is not a set turn order. Put simply, there is very little 'standing around waiting to be hit' that is common in other systems. You are capable of acting at pretty much any time assuming you have the appropriate parts and AP available. Nechronica encourages and expects you to be reactive.
Hit Locations: All rolls in Nechronica are on a d10. During combat, a 1 is a critical failure (which means you hit a random freindly character in the same zone as your target, this can include yourself), 2-5 miss, and 6+ hits. The particular number dictates the damaged location.
6: the defender chooses which location is hit.
11+: attacker chooses. Deal extra damage equal to the result minus 10.
When a character is damaged, they must break a certain number of parts in the effected location. Defender chooses which parts break unless otherwise stated.
Not all enemies have hit locations. Savants are enemies that work like player character, they have normal limbs, heads, etc.
Horrors are just piles of parts. You hit them until they stop moving.
Legions are swarms of normal zombies. They do not have normal parts. Instead, there is a number of individuals in the group and that number is reduced by X when the Legion is hit, X equaling the damage of the attack. Reducing them to 0 removes them from the board.
AP works like you would expect: you have a set pool that you spend to do stuff. It refreshes at the end of the turn (which is when everyone is at or below 0 AP). If you go over your limit you start the next turn short that much AP.
'Timings' are essentially tiers of priority for manuevers and come in five kinds, from highest priority to lowest:
Auto timing manuevers are 'always on.' They are applied before anything else on the Count and are the only manuevers that can be declared at or below 0 AP.
Action timing is your basic stuff. Attacks, normal movement, etc. You declare Action timing manuevers on your Count, and Action timing manuevers declared on the same Count occur and resolve at the same time (so say you and an enemy attack each other on the same count. If your attacks would break each other's attack parts then that's what happens because both attacks occur). Actions can be used any number of times per turn as long as you have AP.
Rapid timing maneuvers are declared in response to Actions. They occur and resolve before Action timing. If the result of a Rapid manuever would invalidate an Action timing manuever, the Action timing manuever doesn't happen but the AP that was spent on it is still lost. Think of these as counters or dodges. Rapids can only be declared once per turn unless stated otherwise.
Check timing is when dice are rolled. Usually these revolve around changing the result of a die, either raising or lowering it. These manuevers can only be used once per turn unless otherwise stated.
Damage timing is whenever something gets hit. Usually these are defensive manuevers for reducing damage. Damage timing manuevers can only be declared once per turn unless otherwise stated.
Instead of a turn order, turns are divided into 'Counts.' The current count is equal to whatever the highest AP value on the board is. If you have 10 AP and that's the highest value, it's your Count. If there are any other characters with 10 AP, they can act at the same time as you do. Characters on the current Count can declare and spend AP on Actions. Only Action timing manuevers have to be declared on your Count. That means anyone else can declare Rapids in response, as well as Defend and Check timing manuevers.
After damage is finalized and new AP totals are set, we check to see who has the highest AP again. You spent 3 AP on an attack and 1 AP on a Damage timing manuever to reduce some incoming damage, so you're at 6 AP (from 10). An enemy was at 9 AP and also spent 1 AP on a defense manuever, putting them at 8 AP. After checking the other characters, the enemy with 8 AP has the highest total, so the Count is now 8 and that enemy has an opportunity to declare Actions, and then the whole song and dance starts again until the Count hits 0.
You might be thinking "Boy Porter. That sounds complicated." And you'd be right, it can be. But with practice it becomes a very snappy, action packed battle system. It's honestly what made me fall in love with the game after a long time playing systems which forced me to sit and do nothing until my turn came around.
As well, the rest of the game is pretty straight forward. And the math is just a single d10 with mods. The combat map (pictured below) is quite simple and has tools to help you track who's where in the turn order.
Nechronica's battle map is abstracted into 5 zones, loosely corresponding to how close or far you are from the enemy back line (Tartarus) or the friendly back line (Eden). The demarcations from left to right are for visualizing who is where in the AP stack. There's also a smaller, cleaner version that splits the zones and AP into separate trackers but that requires double the tokens.
As alluded to earlier, encounter design is sort of finicky. Due to how the math in Nechronica works out and how parts interact, the GM has to tailor eqch encounter to the current power level and capability of the party; some parts will counter your players very hard and it's very possible to mistakenly engineer an encounter that will 100% result in a TPK when you're still figuring things out (I did this once myself, oops). This is why Nechronica is intended to be episodic rather than a sandbox; enemy building is very involved and your needs will shift every time the players accrue more parts or skills. As well, if you do TPK the party... that may be fine. Favor (the meta currency/XP) is accrued by the player, not the character. Your players draw up new Dolls and go again; they may even continue on with the same plot you were already playing and find (or fight) the remains of the previous party. And in the case only one or two characters are lost (which is rare but can happen in the case survivors have to flee the field) it's very simple to set up an effective build with just a base character and a bit of Favor. Your options here are very flexible. And for all I'm talking about it, TPKs are actually pretty rare once you and your players know what you're doing. It's going to depend a lot on your group's style and preferences.
Nechronica is a horror game. That means you have a sanity bar (or bars, in this case). At character creation, you roll on a table for a set of Fetters for every other member of your party. A Fetter represents a personal bond that helps you hold on to sanity. You have one for every party member and one for a part called Treasure, which is a precious personal belonging.
Each Fetter holds up to four Madness Points. If a Fetter is full, your character is in a state of Madness and suffers from certain penalties depending on what type of Fetter is full. This ranges from lowering your max AP to requiring you be in the same zone as the target of that Fetter to requiring the target of your Fetter to break a part at the end of combat. Basically you go a bit crazy and your coping mechanisms break down.
If all Fetters are in a state of Madness, the character is Broken Hearted and cannot make conversation checks with her party until the end of combat (more on that later). If all Dolls are Broken Hearted, game over. The party is lost.
At the start of the game, Fetters start with three Madness Points each. The most common way to remove Madness is via Conversation Checks. These are roleplay moments between characters that would reasonably help stabilize a PC. Exchanging jokes, pep talks, heartfelt moments, stuff like that. The GM will prompt one player to make a conversation check (or may prompt a mutual check if they feel the interaction benefits both characters). Roll a d10, on a 6 or higher the check succeeds and the target removes one Madness from their Fetter targeting the speaker. The GM can apply bonuses or minuses depending on the circumstances.
You can only recover Madness points equal to the number of your character's Fragments of Memory per phase of the game. These are vague recollections of life before being a Doll. A basic character starts with 2, and can gain up to 5 at the GM's discretion. Usually these recollections are triggered by plot events but it can vary depending on how you run your game. The game phases are Adventure (exploring), Combat, and Recovery (where parts are fixed and stuff). So a basic character can recover up to six Madness in a session, but only two per phase of the game.
Your character automatically recovers 1 Madness on their Treasure Fetter at the end of combat, assuming the Treasure itself is not broken.
Madness is gained in four ways:
Madness checks are when scary/distressing things happen that might unsettle a character. You stumble on a corpse that's been turned into an origami exhibit, you watch a zombie cave their own skull in, a player gets trapped in a medical device that does something to them, etc. Your GM prompts a check from the relevant player(s) with relevant bonuses or minuses and on a 6 or better you pass. On a 5 or lower you gain a Madness point to the Fetter of your choice. There's no hard and fast rules for these, and the triggers for them are going to vary wildly with the temperament and history of your party members.
Combat is pretty straight forward: you gain one Madness to a Fetter of your choice at the end of each turn. Try and end combat encounters quickly.
Spirit Attacks are attacks that give the target Madness instead of dealing physical damage. Fairly straight forward. You get hit by one, you add a Madness to the Fetter of your choice. Be careful with using these on a fresh party because you can get a Broken Hearted TPK pretty quickly that way.
If you would like to reattempt a roll, and this can be any roll, you can opt to gain a Madness point in exchange for trying over again. You can theoretically try until you go Broken Hearted but maybe don't do that.
When building your character you choose a primary Class, secondary Class, and a Position. This will dictate your starting parts, starting skills, and future skill availability.
Classes are how your character handles combat and are named as follows:
Stacy: Your standard zombie. Mild mutation focus. They are very hard to disable and focus on interfering with the enemy or supporting friends.
Requiem: gun focus. Lots of guns
Thanatos: melee fighting focus and area damage
Baroque: extreme mutation focus and redundancy
Gothic: unarmed fighting and light mutation focus, also good at regenerating broke parts or refreshing used manuevers.
Romanesque: Enhancement/Cyborg focus, mostly support skills
Psychedlic: Psychic skills, usually involving enemy manipulation. Skills from this class can only be acquired if you have the Psychedelic class.
Positions are based more around your Doll's personality; how they handle trauma, how they behave out of combat, etc. They also have Skills relating to the different zones of the map which will influence where you want to be and when. They are named as follows:
Court: basically support/out of combat skill monkey. Bookworm type that knows a lot and wants to be helpful. Only position without a zone skill.
Holic: Hacks away with wild abandon. Rabid, revels in ripping apart the enemy. Most at home in Tartarus.
Junk: The weary traveler who has seen too much but puts on a brave face for her party. The only Position that can ignore combat Madness. At home in Hades.
Automaton: bottles everything up and presents a steely face. Interposes herself between the party and harm without a grumble. They're most at home in Limbo.
Sorority: The team leader. The older sister trying to look after everyone and keep them together. Soroities are most at home in Elysium.
Alice: Heart of the party, possessing an unbreakable hope in the possibility of a better world. She is most at home in Eden.
When building a character, you get one Skill from your character's Position, two skills from your primary Class, and one skill from your secondary Class. Your primary and secondary Class will also give you your starting Reinforcement Part allotment.
Each class also has a Special Skill which can only be acquired if you take that class for both your primary and secondary slot. As an example, Requiem's special skill is Magic Bullet, which increases the max range of all gun parts by 1.
Acquiring new skills within your Class or Position costs 10 Favor (XP). You can acquire skills outside of your class or Position for 20 Favor instead (except for Psychedlic skills).
Reinforcement Parts come in three categories, each separated into three tiers. The categories are Enhancements, Armaments, and Mutations. When acquiring parts you first choose a category and acquire a part in that category from tier 1. Then you may acquire a part from tier 2, and then tier 3. After you acquire a tier 3 part you must start over from tier 1 again. RAW, you can have up to nine parts from any category (although GMs will usually cap it below that due to power scaling).
Your classes each give you two Reinforcement parts, which vary by class. For example, Requiem gets 2 Armament parts and Thanatos gets 1 Armament and 1 Enhancement. A character with a Requiem primary Class and Thanatos secondary Class may choose an Armament from tier 1, 2, and 3, and then one tier 1 Enhancement. Every player also gets a free Reinforcement part of their choice at character creation, which in this case could be spent on a tier 1 Armament (they got a tier 3 already, so they had to start over), a tier 2 Enhancment, or a tier 1 Mutation.
New parts can be acquired for 10 Favor. Tier progression is the same as in character creation.
Reinforcement parts have a wide range of effects, synergies, and uses. It would take even longer than I have already spent to list them all out. If you're building a character it's worth it to look over the part list and see what your immediate options are but also what you'd like to build into in the future. Try and see what synergies there might be with your skills as well. Some of these combos get crazy.
Also, it is probably smart to ban
Wire Reel Mono-filament from your table, because it's kinda busted.
Edit: Don't ban Wire Reel. Wire Reel is a fun part and very handy.
This post is entirely too long already and it's actually starting to lag my phone, so I'll cap it here. Wiki is linked at the top, which has a fully translated .pdf and also a bunch of fan content if you're interested in checking that out. Have a picture of my current party I guess (your's truly in the back). Hopefully someone found this interesting or helpful!