There are a few acceptable rules variants, including a variation on Old School Hack, and variations on third edition D&D and d20 Past. Rather than proscribe the system, maybe it can be a decision that is reached after I’ve managed to cobble together a workable group, so I can integrate any feedback that group members may offer as well.
Right now, I see the following options as viable, with caveats:
- d20 Past is the most robust option useable without excessive houserules. Although almost all of the d20 Modern content was made open content, WotC never got around to making d20 Past open, which means that a physical copy of the book is essential. I, of course, have one, but for those who may wish to play in this game who don’t, if you want to look at rules options while you’re away from the gaming table (and thus unable to use my copy) you may want to see about picking up a copy. It looks like availability and price on Amazon is pretty good.
- A modified third edition D&D might be more familiar to most players… but D&D doesn’t really deliver the feel and tone that I want for my setting very well, so this option includes quite a few houserules. So many, in fact, that I find it a little bit awkward. Although, frankly, most of them apply to chargen, so maybe once your character is already all made, the houserules fade into the background quite a bit more.
- I have a custom Old School Hack set that works quite well, and is a quick and dirty fun, rules-lite system. Old School Hack is an award-winning free game already. Sure, most likely nobody will know this system, which makes it a bit difficult to sell, but the whole purpose behind it is to pick up and play with a minimum of fuss.
- My experiences as a player with Savage Worlds are that it would probably be a good alternative too. However, I’m not really ready to run with this; I don’t own the rules myself, for one thing. If someone really is in love with this system, however, I might be prevailed upon to pick it up and work on it. I’ve kinda been wanting to for a long time anyway, and just haven’t been sufficiently motivated. Most likely, I’d use some of the setting specific options as well; maybe Solomon Kane or 50 Fathoms, or Pirates of the Spanish Main. And maybe either the Horror or Fantasy supplements. I’m not a fan of picking up that much product and reading it before running, so this is the least likely alternative. But maybe one day…