In the second installment on World building for RPGs, we get in Physics and Metaphysics. Now physics and metaphysics when applied to roleplaying games they relate to two different aspects:
Metaphysics is the actual game world. The cultures, nations, theories, continents, and everything is basically imaginative and so mental. This is the metaphysics of your game world.
Physics is the actual game system. The rules you play with. Now, before we work with Metaphysics, we need to address the Physics of your game world. Most people choose a system that they are more familiar with. This is good. But lets take a look at various systems of Physics so you can have a good idea of how your roleplaying game will work.
DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: 36 years ago, on January 1st, 1974 something was released. It was completely out there, revolutionary, and inspired an entire culture. That thing was Dungeons and Dragons. It appealed to young mythologists, budding novel writers, and imaginists everywhere. This game was a game you can do anything! Now, it's changed so much and in such a great deal that the original audience couldn't identify with it. I'm talking about, of course, Dungeons and Dragons . There is 5 editions of this game.
- Original Dungeons and Dragons: Also includes the Mentzer/Moldevay set. This set of Dungeons and Dragons is the original, the granddaddy. The game that started it all. It's simple, easy to learn, without a lot of rules and is clearly grounded in the Sword and Sorcery genre of Fantasy.
- Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Advanced rules, including more fun with numbers, classes, and monsters. The game is clearly designed with Lord of the Rings in mind, but also Sword and Sorcery.
- Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, 2nd Edition. A roleplaying game for those who actually ROLEPLAY rather than worry about the rules, Advanced D&D 2nd Edition provided rules for roleplaying and lets the player roleplay their character. The game is designed with Medieval Europe in mind rather than Lord of the Rings, but there is Sword and Sorcery elements.
- Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition: Uhm, well . . . this is the game that revitalized a whole industry with the OGL, and certainly the best and easiest to get published with. The game broke away from Roleplayers and was delivered to the Simulationists. The definition of Fantasy in D&D 3rd is much more skitzoid (which is refreshing).
- Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition: I don't have a copy. I can't give a fair introduction to this incarnation of the game. Uhm, table top World of Warcraft is pretty much what is going on here. With some strong cinematic influence. And a sucky restrictive Game System License.
- There are a couple of Retro-clones of Original D&D, Dungeons and Dragons Mentzer, and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. These are Swords and Sorcery, Labyrinth Lord, and OSRIC respectively.
- GURPS: G.U.R.P.S. stands for Generic Universal Role-Playing System. GURPS, designed by Steve Jackson, breaks the mold of Dungeons and Dragons creating a system that more or less revolves around the character than levels. Although there are sufficient levels of playing -- which is considered point value. The nice thing about GURPS, though, is the quality of writing and editing that went into the world books. GURPS is a nice game to play with and it doesn't insult your intelligence. Rather, it expands it.
- Palladium Fantasy: Retro-gaming again, but everything is ancient and dated according to the rules system. It seems to be a synthesis of AD&D 1e combined with the original Call of Cthulhu. If you are going to use this system, and it's not a bad system, I recommend the Revised 1st Edition of this game, available as a PDF from Your Games Now, DrivethruRPG, and RPGnow.
- Feng Shui: Although the entire game revolves around Hong Kong Action Movies, you can run a fantasy game using this system. Just stick to Thieves, Big Bruisers, Sorcerers, Supernatural Beings, and Scrappy Kids and you can get by. The system's signature mechanics are shticks (4e powers and 3e Feats) and Stunts (highly original mechanic). And everything, of course, is meant to replicate an Action Movie. Things are meant to BLOW UP in Feng Shui. If you want your adventures to end by Blowing Things to Hell, Feng Shui is a game system I recommend.
- Runequest: I haven't played this game, nor do I know it's mechanics.
- Lord of the Rings RPG: The CODA system is geared towards the Real Roleplayer.
- Rolemaster: This game works. I don't care if you hate it, it works. The system is a skill based system that uses levels. It's famous for it's scale of realism, it's use of d100, and the many charts it has. I have played it a lot, and I enjoy it's realism.
- Atlantis: the Second Age. Okay, of all the game systems I've played for Fantasy, Atlantis the Second Age contains some confusing elements. The Omni System is, what can I say . . . restrictive on some aspects but allows other aspects up to the players.
Okay, I didn't list all the other game systems that can be used for fantasy (Big Eyes, Small Mouth, FUDGE, Fuzion, Castles and Crusades, Tunnels and Trolls, Sword and Chivalry, Pendragon, Elric, etc.); but I said it's not an exhaustive list. There are many, many game systems out there. Use what gives you the most mileage for your fun.
As for Galatea officially I haven't got all the mileage I want out of the d20 System (OGL instead of GSL, I didn't pick up the 4th edition, remember?). Although I'm strongly looking at one of the Retro-Clones, the d20 System has a lot going for it. Typically, the Open Game License. Galatea is, officially, d20 system. However, since it is going to be packaged with a Creative Commons provision -- there will be nothing stopping you from adapting Galatea to your favorite system, writing rules for that adaptation, and publishing it.