Frankensteining Games (#RPGaDay 2017, Day 15)

August is RPGaDay month. Yep, a month solid of RPG-related posts, answering these questions:

Today’s question is this:

Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

For me, the answer’s easy: it’s D&D. Now, when I say D&D you should bear in mind that the only D&D-type ruleset I have on hand right now is Lamentations of the Flame Princess. (I have a ton of AD&D 1st and 2nd edition stuff back in Canada, but in Korea, despite having about five feet of shelf space devoted to RPG books, the only D&D-type books I have fit into a single shelf.)

The reasons are pretty simple: 

  1. This ruleset is so familiar that I can kind of sense what will fit, and what won’t fit. If I add new player character classes or races, it’s not hard to make ones that aren’t unbalanced, or to prevent niche encroachment. 
  2. There’s a wealth of OSR-targeted homebrew material out there. Classes, monsters, rules for magic, adventures, settings, and just plain old bucketloads of tables. Seriously, there’s so much out there that even if you don’t have time to make up your own stuff to add to a game, you can go online and find cool stuff in very short order.
  3. This ruleset is so familiar—the system it’s largely based upon has been a part of my life since I was twelve, after all—I find that a fresh coat of paint and some new furniture can spruce things up from time to time. I think that’s what made so many people fans of the Dark Sun setting, for example, or Planescape: suddenly it felt like this game could do all kinds of things its original creators never used it to do. 

I think this probably is a really old impulse, of course: if you have the first-edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, you’ve seen the bit about crossover games with other TSR lines. Yes, yes, that was product placement, but I feel like everyone eventually wanted to see a standoff between their party’s elven archer and Wyatt Earp, or to have their characters wander through a portal into a post-apocalyptic, mutant-infested landscape, if only few a few sessions.

I should add that I haven’t really bolted that much onto the LotFP game I run, and that most of it is available free online over at the campaign website for my now-on-hiatus game, Obtenebrations. There’s player-character races:

  • the Dagonian (inspired by Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” they’re a sort degenerate subrace of folk with Deep One blood somewhere back up the bloodline)
  • the Revenant (yes, an undead PC race, inspired by the TV show Les Revenants and the Wraith: The Oblivion supplement The Risen… as well as The Crow, some medieval accounts of revenants, and more)
  • the Changeling (shamelessly adapted from my vague impression of a White Wolf game I’ve never actually played, plus some alien abductee lore I read as a kid)

… plus there’s webpages designed to do the following:

Oh, and two more more things:

First, while I talk about D&D this way, I could just as easily have said Gamma World. That’s a game that’s also been part of my life since I was small, and is a game very much open to being remixed, mashed-up with other things, and reenvisioned. I plan to be doing that when I do eventually get around to running a postapocalyptic game, I just don’t know when that’ll be. Hopefully next year. 

Second, I’m liable to make changes to pretty much any game I play, but I will say I find some systems more forgiving of houseruling, and others much less so. I’ll say more about this in tomorrow’s post, though, so I’ll end this for now. 

6 thoughts on “Frankensteining Games (#RPGaDay 2017, Day 15)

  1. In part because it’s designed that way, GURPS has always been my favorite for kit-bashing. I’ve also modified _Unknown Armies_ for an urban fantasy campaign. Did a little modding of AD&D back in the day, but as a general rule, if I’m futzing about with genres or frameworks, there’s gonna be one of my Umpteen-million GURPS books involved.

    1. Hey,

      Yeah, I figured you were more of a GURPS guy. I think the only GURPS book I owned (before those you sent to me) was a copy of GURPS Uplift that I got while I was in Montreal. Because it was after The Ugliness on that mailing list we met on, I didn’t end up missing it much when it went missing in a box of RPGs sent to my parents’ place.

      It’s funny, somehow I’ve never really felt attracted to the GURPS system and I don’t know why. There’s SO many resources for so many different genres, and in theory I ought to be all over that: I like the idea of it being so convenient to switch betweern genres without having to adopt a whole different system. Maybe it’s just that I used to be a terrible compleatist (and still sort of am) and I’m scared about buying something from a game line with an umpteen million supplements?

      Are you playing much these days?

      1. I’m in a Shadowrun campaign, but we’re only able to play once a month (there’s a tech manager, a cop, a high school teacher, a research physicist and me (homebrew store clerk), so scheduling is difficult.

        I’m planning to start up a D&D5E campaign, now that I’m getting settled in with my GF, and one of her friends owns a chain of game/comic shops, and we’re talking about a regular game night as well for tabletop stuff.

        Still haven’t ever had any takers on my Spears & Shamans neolithic fantasy campaign, which is a shame.

        1. Ah, Shadowrun’s another game I’ve never played—it wasn’t really around when I was actively gaming in Canada.

          I hear you on the difficulties of scheduling: that’s life as a grown-up, I guess. A regular night would be nice, I’d love to do something weekly if I had the time and energy… at least, once my son’s older, old enough to play or not miss me that one evening a week, anyway.

          Oh, and I was thinking about a neolithic fantasy setting myself recently, and thinking it’d be fun. I’d totally be up for that game if I were in Austin. Alas…

          1. Here’s the teaser I wrote for the campaign:
            “(4) “Spears and Shamans” You are of The People, living east of the mountain refuges of the Silent Ones and south of the Great Ice. South, there is the Sea, where the sharp-speared men in turtle shells ride their white-winged leviathans to the beaches. East, the wide plains where your grandfathers say the Great Ice once lay. Now, the Kurgas ride in on their mighty beasts, casting tiny spears further than any of your tribe can throw, enslaving your people and taking your lands. ”

            It’s set around 10,000 BC, before the collapse of the dam across the Bosporus that flooded the Black Sea. The Black Sea basin is home to a (comparatively) advanced civilization that has mastered sail technology and wooden ships, very very early Bronze Age levels of tech. The Kurgas are early horse-riding nomads with bows and the Silent Ones are Neandertals. The game is set in what is now Provence, east of the Pyrenees and south of the glaciers that are beginning to retreat northward.

            If you like, I give to you for free. All I ask is for regular campaign updates.

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