I got a copy of Dungeon Crawl Classics (pdf, not the print version...maybe soon) and am in the process of reading it, so maybe I'll post about it in a few days. Instead I felt the need to elaborate on my previous post about Hero 6th, mainly because I read all my books thoroughly and decided a few things that were somewhat surprising. To myself, at least.
I've mentioned that I thought GURPS was the best "universal" system, but that really isn't true. 3rd Edition GURPS is easily one of the best skills-based rpgs, and just using the main book you can do fantasy, modern and sci-fi games without much trouble. Definitely not D&D fantasy, but its roots in TFT are obvious. Superhero games kinda suck, to be honest, and even though it seems like it'd work, pulp and other sorts of "cinematic" gaming styles really don't fit that well. GURPS is clearly gritty in nature so it has some difficulty divorcing itself from realistic games. Nothing wrong with that, but not truly universal. I dislike 4th edition for whatever reason, probably because all the things I liked about 3rd were cleaned up, which removed the flavor. I also dislike the insane number of skills the newer edition introduces. Just seems like overkill...whatever, this isn't about GURPS.
So Hero, well, universal it is and I honestly am starting to think it can handle any genre fairly well. Like GURPS, there is a specific flavor implied when using the system, so D&D fantasy is pretty difficult to pull off. However, if you wanted to play Dying Earth, you could actually simulate the magic system better than D&D does. Imagine that. At first I thought this was complete bullshit, but upon further reflection it's indeed possible. Swords & Sorcery and all that sort of crap I talked about a while back, making a magic system completely dependent upon the PC's own personality, etc., is inherent to the system. You cannot create a wizard in Hero without putting in the work to customize a spell list, and if you're going to bother doing that in the first place might as well make it as cool as possible. Why spend 5 minutes writing up a spell and use a stupid name? The system encourages creativity for sure. I've seen D&D ported to Hero, but honestly what's the point? That's the sort of exercise that annoys me, using a system to simulate another. If you want a unique game, Hero is an excellent way to achieve it. Anyway, fantasy is viable, even if only for the custom magic system. Fighter-type characters can have so many combat options they definitely won't be left out, yet those options are essentially just bonuses or penalties to a few different attributes. Offensive ability, Defensive ability, whatever. Tactical combat is straightforward, and can be quick as hell or long if necessary. The GM can simply say "no martial maneuvers" and quell the problems that can arise if he wants. Or allow them only for fighters. Many, many options here.
The skill list, for skills-based games, is short and sweet. There aren't 100 skills listed for every possible career, instead the player must define that. The GM can allow broad skills that subsume a variety of abilities related to a job (suppose a generic Thief skill that incorporates stealth, picking pockets, etc.), or require every skill be bought separately. "It only costs points if it's useful" applies here, too. An example in the rules about being an Italian Architecture expert demonstrates that background flavor adds depth to the character but shouldn't cost points. It might be useful rarely (the GM could do this to encourage some ideas about the character), otherwise it's irrelevant. GURPS charges for this, at least by default. Also, the normalization of skills is WAY better than GURPS, and there isn't some crazy inflation of skill level. This keeps the 3D6 roll relevant, and the system doesn't break down at ridiculous power levels.
Overall, if I wanted to play a point-buy system, this would have to be it. Assuming, of course, I also wanted a custom game. If I want to play D&D-style fantasy, I'll just play D&D. Same with Marvel superheroes. Oddly enough, the combat system is actually easier than the Marvel RPG, if you can believe that. The problem is, of course, point-buy. If there was a way to randomly generate Hero characters, it'd be a great system without all that upfront work. So much for the panacea...