Things you learned from other system/editions

Many here dm 5th Edition dnd, others dm earlier editions or even things like Call of Cthulhu, Mage, Vampire ect.
Other systems have all other mechanics and focuses, where if you look closely you can steal good things from them.
What did you steal for your games?

For me it is the minion mechanics of 4th edition, where you can have minor enemies with only 1 hp but evasion to all succeeded saves. Makes running bosses with minions much easier and more fun.

Special Abilities that activate after the enemy takes a certain amount of damage: Also from 4th edition but also used in other games. Once the enemy has reached a certain threshold in HP/Stress/etc. the enemy automatically uses a special ability/activates new mechanics. Fun to turn the battle around and to surprise your players.

edit: Success at a cost/Success with consequences/Failure is not the end: Seen in many systems such as Pbta (Powered by the Apocalypse) -style games such as Masks or other games. It is nice to keep the game from grinding to a halt by a failed check. Unless you roll really bad success with a but is much more fulfilling, if it fits. There is a lot of tension in the question: “Do you really want to succeed?” Or failure that leads to other but riskier paths.

And many more… So what did you steal?

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as mentioned by @BufoBufo

Minion mechanics - from D&D 4E
extra stuff happens when a boss monster is < 1/2 hit points - saw that in D&D 4E first

success at cost - as seen in various systems (PbtA, 2d20, V5, 2LM, …)


  • dowtime as its own resource (like gp) - from Fragged Empire

  • run organisations as characters - saw that in REIGN first

  • Recon-Points; spend to do stuff in a flashback scene - from Leverage RPG

  • Progress Clocks - saw that in Blades in the Dark first

  • flip cards; each one reveals a line from your PC’s fate - from Through the Breach

  • turning a loved one into a rival for a massive boost to a roll - from DoubleCross

  • roll for a success pool then spend that for investigative/research stuff - saw that in STA first

  • “this is so important to me that it doesn’t matter that I die” wound box - from Tenra Bansho Zero

  • “Mojo” points how well you work together as a team, that you can spend for buffs - from X Crawl

  • drawing a PC’s contacts deeper into plot, everytime they help - from TechNoir

  • simple yet elegant monster stats - from Index Card RPG & Numenera


  • some encounter design (e.g. bosses + minions) - from Fragged Empire

  • Scene Tracker - from Sentinels Comics RPG

  • “Devil’s Bargain” … offer a bonus for a “price” later - from Blades in the Dark

  • re-roll with potential not automatic consequences - from Broken Compass and MYZ

  • the “Values” mechanic - from STA

  • a “Spine” to build mystery/investigative scenarios - from Night’s Black Agents

  • roll for narrative control as opposed to for success - saw that in New Fire first

p.s.: the DM section from the Index Card RPG and Night Black’s Agent are both a :gem:

edit: I will go into more detail on these points if someone is interested

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I also like if there are mechanics that are tied to the setting

  • e.g. the Honor system in L5R, the Sanity stat in CoC, or Humanity in VtM

and adapt that to other campaigns I run with other systems if that would benefit the story I wanna tell

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Clocks from forged in the dark
Stress mechanics from forged in the dark
Forward failure, partial success, success distribution from powered by the apocalypse
Flashbacks from forged
Clocks are my current favorite mechanic as a dm.


Also the general gm mindset from dungeon world, e.g. draw maps and leave blanks, be a fan of the player, be true to the world, and play to find out what happens.