One of those fantasy games that (like HeroQuest) I plan to try out with my DnD group after they wrap up the current campaign (assuming we ever finish the current frelling module): Burning Wheel
Character creation in The Burning Wheel is based entirely on a “Lifepath” system. There is no random rolling; the player decides everything, and really, anything’s possible: Conan, from slave-to-king… Wesley, from farmboy to Pirate… Every decision on the Lifepath adds a number of years to the character’s life and give points to put into appropriate abilities.
The game mechanics are a basic d6 die-pool system somewhat like Shadowrun (or, of course, WoD games, which ‘borrowed’ the mechanic and made it d10); the character has so many dice in an ability, there’s a fixed target number based on the character’s competence level in that ability, and the GM decides the number of successes required to achieve a particular task. It’s easy, it works. The damage mechanic is something new; a modified hit point system using a scale to determine how many points a character can take before getting scratched and dinged, seriously injured, knocked unconscious, or killed dead-dead. Again, the player has control over these numbers, which are based on player decisions and character attributes.
The background is generic fantasy with elves, dwarves and orcs available as characters in addition to humans, plus an easy way to add pretty much whatever race you’re looking for. Each race has its own Lifepath options, with specialized skills and abilities open only to those races.
Finally, the game prices at $15 for two 200-plus page books — it’s hard to go wrong. I got my mailed to me from a number print run of 1000 and a personal note from the author in the front cover. Sweet.