complexity versus fun/challenging questions

I have never played or GMed Burning Wheel or Mouse Guard. I looked over those forums (more Mouse Guard than BW) and saw many, many rule questions. But the reviews of Mouse Guard sings its praises and were what made me back the Torchbearer kickstarter.

My question is this. I have a rules lawyer in my group. Great guy, tries to curb going overboard, but he will know every rule in Torchbearer if I try to run it. I’m old and I won’t. I tend to be about 75% rules knowledge with about 95% of what sounds like the most fun while also being challenging to the players. His over enthusiasm will kill me if I can’t keep up with him.

So how complex is running Torchbearer going to be. I have found games like Pathfinder, Fantasy Craft, D&D 4E, and Rogue Trader are too complex for me (too much to track in combat, too much work to make adventures and give out treasure, character creation and advancement extremely complex with skills, feats, items, powers, abilities etc.) even though I like decent rules that cover many situations and a decent amount of options for players. By contrast, my rule player will not play AD&D 1E, which I like, because he can’t figure out the rules (which may be where my 95% do what sounds fun and challenging comes from).

By contrast, I have found Mongoose Traveller, basic roleplaying type games (d100), Warhammer FRP 1E, and basic D&D to be about right. A limit on spells/powers, a smaller power curve, less loot, and less complicated character building and leveling. I like medium rules with limits and not too many sprawling subsystems and the corner rule cases they create.

Anyone have any idea on what extreme Torchbearer will fall? Because the questions on the Mouse Guard forums don’t look like much fun to me to try to answer while I’m trying to run a game. While on the other hand, reviews I’ve read of Mouse Guard praise how great the game is and how much fun it is.

In a nutshell, I want the PCs to be really challenged while still driving the game. At the same time I want to be able to world build (with their input) and craft challenging adventures. I don’t want lots of paperwork in between games or lots of rules debate during the game while I’m trying to help everyone craft an entertaining adventure together. I don’t mind learning rules and using them, but I don’t want the rules to interfere with actually running the game.

Any insight would be much appreciated. Thanks!

With Burning Wheel and Mouseguard you will find that each each rule builds off of the next. that will help with the rule lawyer but he will help keep things going so you can keep up with the story instead

Most of the games you describe as complex are what I’d call “exception-based systems”; that is, their complexity comes from the breadth of different options that change the rules in small ways. There, you have to learn a large amount of rules instead of focusing on a simple ruleset.

If Torchbearer is complex, it’ll be deep complexity, not broad complexity, making it easier for you to get a handle on. Deep complexity is where you have rules systems that aren’t always straightforward, but all characters generally follow them the same way. I feel as though AD&D follows this mold. Characters in Mouse Guard work mostly the same, and there’s no massive lists of feats and powers to throw you off. If Torchbearer is like that, the only stuff I can see taking a little bit of time to master will be the spell lists.

I definitely don’t see this game as having sprawling subsystems with corner cases.

Mouse Guard isn’t terribly complex. Most of the questions you’re seeing in the forums are about adjudicating edge cases, not about pouring through rules text.

The GM has massive amounts of control over how complex the game is too. If you want to tone down the complexity, just call for a simple test or a versus test rather than a conflict. You might have to throw more challenges at the players because you aren’t having a big conflict, but that’s cool.

I wish I had a guy like him in my group! He’s a great resource. Ask him to look rules up for you while you’re talking to other players. Use him as your living rulebook.

Thanks for all the responses. Sounds like Torchbearer will work like I thought it would so I can’t wait to see the full rules.