What's the closest-to-D&D ttrpg system that doesn't have tons of lore baked into "races" and classes?

I like* the dice systems and skill systems and stuff, but I have no idea how to balance it, of I were to write my own content to replace the built-in lore.

Also, I prefer 5e to 3.5e, so Pathfinder isn't that attractive (since it also has tons of built-in lore, afaik)

(*Like, not love)


@zatnosk Maybe one of the simplified OSR systems? Though part of the style is not being too concerned about balance.

@zatnosk (D&D style systems tend to be heavy on integrated lore in my experience, because it’s the main way to differentiate one system from another. I’ll keep thinking though.)

@zatnosk D20 Big Eyes, Small Mouth might suit you, though I vastly preferred the Tri-Stat setup and never looked into it because I just am not a fan of D20 and felt it ruined what made BESM special. I can't vouch for the rules or balance. However, BESM comes with no baked-in lore whatsoever other than anime styling, since it was born as an abstraction of the licensed animes TTRPGs that were coming out at the time.

@zatnosk I should specify I have every reason to believe it's perfectly fine for D20. If you want D20 without lore, it should serve your needs in a generalized and flexible way that's focused on keeping it fun and encourages you to house rule it to craft your own experience.

@zatnosk Balance is an illusion. As a designer one of the things you're looking for is giving folks the spotlight. That's the reason the magic users have to re-memorize spells: they would steal the focus otherwise.

All you're looking for is a way for all of the characters to be awesome when their spotlight shines on them. The rest is an aid for them to get into that headspace.

(Look at Dungeon World and Apocalypse World for thoughts on this.)

Good luck on your designs!


Dungeon Crawl Classis is the first that comes to mind. It's a generic down and dirty fantasy with no real specific setting.

Players are meant to be humble villagers and no one knows what an "Orc" is and everything is about exploration and discovery so you can make it what you want as you play.

@zatnosk That doesn't have tons of lore baked into its *classes?*

Can't say that I've ever heard of such a game.

@zatnosk Dungeon Crawl Classics is the one that comes to mind first.

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