Friday, May 28, 2010

Open Friday: Licensed RPGs

Early RPGs (generally) borrowed shamelessly from a variety of sources for inspiration rather than being inspired by a single source. Indeed, the advent of RPGs more narrowly inspired by specific sources, not to mention licensed properties, could be seen as yet another sign of the end of the Golden Age. Still, gamers seem to love their licensed RPGs and I once sought out -- and obtained -- permission to produce a game based on the worlds of Clark Ashton Smith (The plan fell apart for reasons I can discuss another time, if people are interested), so I don't think there's necessarily any contradiction between old school gaming and the use of licensed properties.

So, what single property do you think would make a good old school RPG and why?


  1. The Grimjack comic by John Ostrander. The city of Cynosure is the father of all cities and would be an excellent setting for "anything goes/gonzo" style gaming.

  2. I was always a fan of the Liavek series of shared-world stories edited by Shetterley and Bull. It's another crossroads fantasy town like Sanctuary in Thieves' World, but with an interesting take on magic and some intriguing religious cults. I doubt it would support a full RPG, but doing it as a multi-game supplement like (conveniently) Chaosium's Thieves' World boxed set would be fun.

  3. Steven Brust's Dragaera. I like both Vlad's time period, and that of the Phoenix Guards.

  4. I think a Chronicles of Narnia RPG would be really cool. There are a lot of areas that Lewis only slightly developed or only just mentioned, and there is a ton of variation of settings. Examples of ideas and settings might include Tashbaan (city adventures), fighting giants in the North, the rebellion in the west of Calormene, searching for the Pevensie's magic gifts, exploring islands the mentioned in Voyage of the Dawn Treader (or being assigned to hunt down pirates in some area perhaps?), etc.

    I know that Narnia is generally considered High Fantasy and also is primarily children's literature, but I see Narnia as, mostly, more "Middle Fantasy," kind of like the Hobbit. Most of the time the story isn't about destroying some dark lord bent on taking over the world as much as it is about some particular, smaller quest or conflict. At the same time, it's not nearly as bleak and gritty as Low Fantasy.

    As for the fact that the Narnia books are for children, I'd say that the simplicity that is common (though not necessary) in old school games is perfect for a game that will have a property connected to it that interests kids. The way I see it, it would be cool to have a whole new generation of kids who grow up with old school gaming being the default way to play. Something like this, released while Disney is releasing the Narnia movies, could do just that.

  5. Garrett, P.I. by Glen Cook would be my choice. I ran a short lived game in the city of TunFaire using GURPS and it was pretty cool. I read through the books and created a database on info but lost it when a computer crashed. Oh, well. I figure I'll do it again at some point, when I have time.

  6. I'm just gonna speak up and say that I'd enjoy hearing the details that can be shared about the Clark Ashton Smith RPG project.

    Whatever the reasons were, it's really too bad that fell through, that's definitely a game i'd preorder almost immediately.

  7. Futurama.

    No, seriously. It's got all the crazy goodness that would fit perfectly in Jeff Rients retro-stupid classification. It's a big jumble of everything from popular sci-fi and fantasy shown through a lens of delightful irreverence.

  8. I'll second wanting to hear more about the CAS deal, and your plans for such a product line, James.


  9. Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series would be a great Old School candidate.

    Even though TSR, Heritage, and AH/SPI had licensed products for it, none of them ever released a "true" rpg. Given how many of the old school adventures seem to take place on Barsoom, I'd love to see it.

    Barring that..."The Moon Maid" by Burroughs would also be pretty cool.

    On the "mystery" about Solar Pons?

  10. I always thought "The Land" from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson would make for a twisted and interesting campaign setting.

    I am not sure if it necessarily suits making a whole new RPG out of, though. (A board-game might be nice.)

  11. Or the Lord Darcy stories by Randall Garrett: crime, mysteries, and scientific magic in an Angevin (alternate British) Empire in which King John turned out to be a good king and his descendants battle the threat of the evil Polish Empire.

  12. Hiero books is a great campaign setting waiting to happen. Gamma World took a lot from it. But, it has a real feel to it that no "ashes of the world" game ever captured.

    I also think the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant books would be interesting. Both Chronicles would really offer something. The Sun Bane of the Second Chronicles and the world it fashioned in many ways may have played some influence on Dark Sun.

    Nor has anyone given William Hope Hodgson's stories a good poke with the RPG stick, except to steal an idea or two. At least in my limited knowledge.

    Outside of literature, Miyazaki's Nausicaa has some great material and a world that would offer players a lot to see and do.

  13. The X-Com series (UFO: Enemy Unknown). A tactical squad combat videogame from the 1990s. You control squads of up to twelve men who fight largely humanoid aliens, sometimes invading an alien base.

    It fits old D&D quite well: you end up with a squad of four or five experienced men and maybe six easily killed rookies. You get improved equipment in the form of alien technology. The tone of combat is tense and lethal even at higher levels, and humans are squishy.

    I especially like that it's sci-fi, which makes a change from fantasy RPGs.

  14. Lynch's Theran Throne setting that he uses for his fantasy novels. Given his gamer background, this shouldn't be surprising.

  15. The two that came immediately to mind for me were made into old school game products: Thieves World and Conan. That said, I would like to see someone take on an old school version of the Dark Empire/Black Company setting by Glen Cook or the Gor setting of John Norman.

  16. For any setting, I think it'd be better to take the good bits and make an unlicensed version. Cheaper, and no accusations from fans that you'd got this or that detail wrong.

  17. Dan Dare - not the revivals (except, perhaps, Grant Morrison's version), but the original Eagle version. There's a lot going on in the solar system.

  18. I'd be very interested to see an old-school take on the Shaper/Mechanist universe created by Bruce Sterling. It would be something like a mix of Traveller, the XXVc rpg (yes, I know it's a little later, but there are aspects of that setting that fit perfectly), and Gamma World, I imagine. Plus, in the main novel, Schismatrix, there is a scene in which we learn just how much damage a D6 is (apparently, Sterling was/is a gamer, and that is a deliberate in-joke in the novel).

    I'd also second the Barsoom and Nausicaä suggestions, and add my voice to those asking about the CAS project (Smith is a significant influence on the setting I'm currently preparing, especially the Xothique stories).

  19. @Anthony: Liavek was a role-playing game. It was Will's "D&D" game until it was turned into a shared world universe for the Scribblies.

    Can you spot the actual characters and identify who played what?

  20. I'd say Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers, except there is a quite good French game that has already done so. I don't think anyone has picked up the English rights to it though.

  21. I cant point out a single one, as there are a LOT of properties that would make for good old-school RPGs, but that is the appeal with old-school RPGs - they barrow elements from most of them, and you dont have to keep track of any fictional continuity!

    Just for the hell of it - and because no one else would pick it - I'm going to just throw-out the Gorean Saga! I throw in somany half-naked slave-girls in my games, folks keep telling me I should write the sourcebook for the setting! LOL XP

  22. I always thought an RPG Based on Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series would be cool. Each PV would play a godlike aspect such as War, Death, Time, Nature, Fate, etc.

  23. I have always been a fan of Ken Bulmer's Dray Prescot of Kregen planetary romance series. With over fifty books, there's tons of background details on well over a hundred different races, thousands of monsters, hundreds of countries, uncountable untold adventures, and of course, plenty of half naked women worth saving. It's a gold mine of opportunity just waiting for the right person to develop.

    Assuming, of course, you could get permission from the Bulmer estate.

    Hope This Helps,

  24. Well, I was cheekily going to mention Conan, Elric, etc. but I see that ground has been covered.


    Kudos to those who listed Garrett, PI, the Black Company series, and the Vlad Taltos series. I think at least 2 of those 3 got the d20 treatment at some point, right?

    Other properties that I have fond memories of are the Shannara series, and the David and Leigh Eddings "Belgariad" series and their sequels, but I'm not sure how much you can do with those and other Tolkein quest "knockoffs", no matter how well written and entertaining the novels were.

    How about a RPG based on the Joel Rosenberg "Guardians of the Flame" series where the main characters were RPG players transported to the fantasy world as the PC's they were playing, but retained their awareness and memories?

  25. Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind stories. The mechanics and setting would be a nightmare, and it certainly wouldn't be your typical hack-n-slash game, but it might be interesting if done thoughtfully.

  26. The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson: the Mother and Father of all weird fiction-science/fantasy-postapocalypse-dying earth settings.

  27. The Night Land is a good one, and has the advantage of being in the public domain so no licensing would be necessary.

    As a point of trivia, CAS wrote his first Zothique stories before he encountered Hodgson's work, so I would say he is the Father, and the Hodgson the Mother, of that subgenre.

  28. I hoped fruitlessly for years in the 80s that a licensed RPG (or even just a sourcebook) would be published for "Planet of the Apes" or "Thundarr the Barbarian."

    In the mid-1980s, FGU was rumored to be planning a sourcebook for its "Villains & Vigilantes" super-hero RPG about "The Elementals" comic book, one of my all-time favorites. But alas.....

  29. one the subject of licensed RPGs, I should probably say something nice or say nothing at all. but, this is the internet so . . .

    Maybe one big objection of mine is that most of these authors are practically unknown to me. But if I think of some "single source" products where I did know the source material (LotR, Indiana Jones, 2001 Space Odyssey, Star Wars) I recoil perhaps even more strongly.

    Anything that's wrong with a railroad-style adventure is wrong with a "sourced" game where players are expected to cleave to-- if not a specific plot-- then a particular style, a particular method of characterization, particular "themes" even.

    So from my perspective the single property of an enjoyable single source game would be that the source was invisible or transparent. Maybe it informed the game's design, but as a player or gamemaster, I didn't have to know about it.

  30. My first thoughts were Barsoom and Liavek, both of which have been well covered above.

    So I'll go with another favourite of mine, Eric Van Lustbader's Sunset Warrior books. I think that would make a great setting for a game, and in fact we ran one with AD&D back in my teen days.

  31. Asimov's Robot Novels have the right balance between Noir and action and science.

    Old Battlestar Galactica would make a nice old school game.

    MacGyver, I think would be nicely suited to a Old Style modern game.

    Clarke's Rama novels would be a nice old school game with a pinch of 2001/2010 thrown in.

    My examples do not include fantasy, as many of the fantasy novels that I have read were written after the advent of D&D and hence in some way are inspired by it.

  32. based on the worlds of Clark Ashton Smith (The plan fell apart for reasons I can discuss another time, if people are interested)

    1,000 times yes!

    My dream licensed RPG property: an old school version of Nemesis the Warlock (books 1-6 only, 7-9 were rubbish).

  33. China Meiville's Bas-Lag. I know that Dragon magazine did a 3.5 conversion of it, but I think the theme and feel of the world would fit better in a rules-lite system.

  34. My dream old school licensed RPG is that game based on the worlds of Clark Ashton Smith you mentioned, James. You had permission? I'd pay a hefty sum for that game. CAS is my favorite author of all time.

  35. I'd love a good Flash Gordon RPG, especially if it was a generally good retro-sci fi rules set that would let you play "Flash Gordonish" games, too.

  36. @Reverance Pavane:

    "Liavek was a role-playing game."

    I thought it had that feel to it. This gives me a good excuse to reread the series. :)

  37. Lost! If only so they would publish a GM's sourcebook with all the answers...

    (Seriously, I think it would be interesting to see a game where the GM actually took on a persona, as well as playing GM, taking a semi-active role "guiding" role like Jacob on the show... hmm...)

  38. I beg you to go into details on the CAS deal. Castle Amber is the closest I ever got as a player...

    To heck with the Golden Age and imagination, I'm totally pining for a full-blown CAS setting written for me! ;-)

  39. Reverance Pavane said: I'd say Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers, except there is a quite good French game that has already done so. I don't think anyone has picked up the English rights to it though.

    That sounds intriguing! Reverence, can you please provide some links to the publisher/game, and any English fan sites (I don't read French, alas).

    Admin said: I hoped fruitlessly for years in the 80s that a licensed RPG (or even just a sourcebook) would be published for "Planet of the Apes" or "Thundarr the Barbarian."

    IIRC there was a GUPRPS PotA, but I don't know of any Thundarr RPGs, other than the d20 one at Under the Broken Moon.

    Admin continued: In the mid-1980s, FGU was rumored to be planning a sourcebook for its "Villains & Vigilantes" super-hero RPG about "The Elementals" comic book, one of my all-time favorites. But alas.....

    I haven't been in touch with Bill Willingham in a few years, but when I had last checked, he wasn't interested to do any RPG work, nor was he able to (due to exclusive contracting with DC) :( I don't know if that would preclude licensing some of the old properties, though (he did license out Ironwood to the Theatrix system in the early-/mid-'90s).


  40. Indeed, the advent of RPGs more narrowly inspired by specific sources, not to mention licensed properties, could be seen as yet another sign of the end of the Golden Age.

    Hmm, is that really true? Empire of the Petal Throne is effectively a licensed property, it just happens that the property owner also wrote the RPG. RuneQuest could also be argued as a licensed property.

    There is tension between gaming focused on a particular source and more diverse sources, but I'm not sure how much impact it really has.


  41. +1 on the Grimjack / Cynosure option.

    (well played, Gonster)

  42. @grodog I think what fed into the Willingham V&V product rumor mill was the fact that he did the art for "Death Duel with the Destroyers" and I don't know if there were any real plans for an Elementals book.

    I certainly would buy one if there were, and would love to see Willingham do some more rpg illos (unlike our host here I liked his and Dee's Moldvay illustrations a great deal), but I am not certain they pay enough to interest him in the slightest.

  43. I've wanted a Barsoom RPG for over 30 years. Planet of the Apes is an obvious property for an RPG license. I'd also be a customer for any Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind games or source books.

  44. Doc Smith's Lensman series pretty much defined the Space Opera genre. The feel of the books I think is a good match for an "anything goes" sort of game. And it's got everything: crime syndicates, undercover infiltration, seduction, villains behind villains behind villains, mental powers, space travel, aliens friendly and otherwise, antimatter planets, nova bombs, boarding combat with space axes, and a struggle over the fate of the universe.

  45. Someone should turn all those "Forgotten Realms" books into a game ...

  46. Wow, there's lot's of great ones already covered, but here's a few more recent properties I'd love to see attempted (even in a homebrew setting).

    Content rich properties:
    **Harry Potter (it's ripe for it, and it's be interesting to see how magic would be handled)
    **Avatar the Last Airbender a vast Asian-finfluenced world with elemental power and intrigue
    **V/District 9 - aliens on Earth either they're the aggressors or we are, whatever happens doesn't go smoothly
    **TRON...because it's TRON!
    **Redwall by Brian Jacques (yes, we already have Mouse Guard, but still...)
    **Toy Story - I think this would be hilariously fun, and it's perfect for getting kids interested in RPGs

    Honorable mentions:
    **Dark City (1998 film)- think Cthulu meets the Matrix, but better. I'm not even sure how you would do this, but I'd love to see someone try
    **Chronicles of Riddick - seems to already be an amalgam of existing properties, but there's a unique enough flavor that it deserves mention at least
    **Weta's Dr. Grordbort's ray gun mythos & books offer great inspiration for Victorian sci-fi
    **DinoRiders - never had the toys, but seriously who doesn't love an iguanadon with a sidewinder missile harness?
    **Micronauts/Crystar/Masters of the Universe/Warlord - these all have 2 things in common: they have toys and comics that helped build-up a their storylines that they can pull from

    And I'll second these previously nominated:
    **Thundarr (though Sniderman's supplements are doing a wonderful job to fill in the gap) same goes for Herculoids and Galtar & the Golden Lance
    **Miyazaki's work is wonderful, and I'd support anything licensed that stems from him, as long as it doesn't get too "manga-ed" up
    **Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers/Barsoom (of course, of course!)

  47. I know in the 80's we ran a house rules version of G.I. Joe. They already had half a charachter sheet on the back packaging. I also made a TRON game as well. if only i still had my hand writen spiral note book games from when i was 12.

  48. Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures

    Tim Powers' Declare - Top Secret plus djinn

  49. I'd like to see some Edgar Rice Burroughs love:

    Pellucidar: Of all of ERB's work I think Pelludcidar would translate the best to RPG format

    Tarzan: It shocks and amazes me that the quintessential wondering adventure has no RPG attached to his name. Tarzan is a name everyone knows, with a world that is full of unusual locals, and memorable heroes.

    I love the idea of a Moon Maiden game, however I'm not entirely sure it would translate to well.

  50. Phil Foglio's Buck Godot or Girl Genius

  51. Not to sound like the world's biggest crank, but I think I'm tired of licensed properties.

    I'm far more interested in what freaky stuff if fermenting in the brains of my amateur peers.

    Fun with Word Verification:
    Nonin - A samurai who refuses to join any daimyo, instead wandering the earth and getting into adventures.

  52. Would of loved to seen a RPG of Richard Corben's DEN series or even MUTANT WORLD.

  53. Gor would be great...ton of fantasy ideas there.

    S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire or Boyer's Ariel (same deal), for non-tech post-apocalyptic role-playing.

    Personally, I would love to play a game based on Land of the Lost (yes, I do own the Hollow Earth Expedition RPG, but I think a more specifically targeted OLD SCHOOL -type 64 page game would be more my cup o tea).

    I'm sure there are a few I'm not remembering, but a lot of the "good RPG-value licenses" have already been made into RPGs: Star Wars, Caddies & Dinos, FireFly, Stormbringer. And a lot of licenses are already adapted from existing games.

  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

  55. Personally, Leper:The Self-Loathing would leave me way cold. Donaldson himself clearly dragged his way through the series after bailing on original plans and the scope for intertwining the plotlines (a pre-requisite for licensing, I'd've thought) is relatively limited, IMHO.

    Anyhow, the vote here would be for Anne McCaffrey's Pern series; for potential scope, plotline involvement and widening the player cache. And for those who might say that might lend itself more to narrativism I'd personally disagree that that's necessarily "new school" and also that any setting that /could/ be broadly encompassed by the likes of En Garde most definitely has "old school" potential.

    Second choice would be Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark graphic novel - especially the earlier material, for obvious reasons - for huge S&S potential. Made for a very satisfying 24hr RPG and other short games.

    (n.b. ... makes a change from my usual vote for Lin Carter's World's End series for personal reasons!)

  56. I'll second Harry Potter and Avatar the Last Airbender. I'll also add Bioware's Mass Effect.

  57. Jon Hendry: Girl Genius is already an RPG, using the GURPS system, IIRC.

    Some things I wouldn't mind seeing:

    - Stargate (the TV series). Great backround for a modern/sci-fi RPG: you're a reasonably independent small military unit eploring alien worlds, interacting with natives, going after artifacts, etc. - perfect for an episodic game, and the world is already sufficiently fleshed out for possible long-term villains and the like. Actually, WEG had plans to publish an SG game for D6, but then it fell through.

    - Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories. I guess you could say it would be a historical RPG and not a licensed one, but still.

    - Thief, the computer game series. If you know it, you know why. If you don't, the short version is: a Victorian/medieval/steampunk megacity with plenty of organised and unorganised crime, religious fanatics, crooked police, amoral nobility, largely low-key magic but with the shadow of really nasty things far in the background.

  58. @K-Man:

    SG-1 is already a licensed RPG, from AEG and using the D20 system, as I recall. I'm a great fan of the series, but never bought the book.

  59. Forgot to mention Dune. Has anyone else mentioned Dune? Is there already an RPG for it?

    'Course politics isn't your usual Old School subject matter.

  60. I think Sheri Tepper's Arbai trilogy, with its blend of arcane, modern, and religious, would make an interesting old school project.

  61. Definitely Foglio's "Girl Genius"

    A little more obscure, but equally ripe for RPG adaptation:

    David Drake's "Lord of the Isles" series. This would make an enormously engaging fantasy RPG campaign or game. I'm surprised nobody's undertaken the task of adaptation yet.

    Jerry Pournelle's "CoDominium" series, including all the Falkenberg mercenary novels and the "Mote in God's Eye" books co-written with Larry Niven (which take place in a later time frame in the same universe). I ran a Traveller-based campaign in this milieu back in the late 1980s, and it was the best sci-fi gaming I've ever participated in.

    Also, in the late 1980s, Epic Comics put out a limited comic series called "Starstruck" which would make a really fun game. Lots of humor combined with space opera and fantastical technologies.

  62. I always thought that a Friday the 13th The Series sourcebook for a simple horror RPG would be good.

    The He-Man/She-Ra cartoons would have made a tremendous RPG. I didn't see it so much as a kid, but the Filmation series are actually rich will roleplaying goodness. There a good d20 version, but a BECMI version would be cool.

    And please, O Oligarch of the Old School, some information on the Clark Ashton Smith game?

  63. The Pirates of the Caribbean series.

  64. Well, while we're on a SF kick, I'd also love to see a good James H. Schmiz settings sourcebook done, and Dune, too, of course (along with the Herbert-Ransom settings for Desination Void, The Jesus Incident, The Lazarus Effect, and The Ascension Factor).


  65. Just to add to the science fiction theme, Darkover would be a fun property to license.

  66. Some accumulated comments on comments:

    Hmmmm. XXXenophile the LARP...

    ["Hey who added the non-contact rules!"]

    On the other hand my introduction to the Gor series was via someone's Gorean D&D campaign. It's not a bad world if you treat the "slave" bits as an everyday occurrence rather than dwelling on them incessantly as John Norman was apt to do. Or rather, when they appeared in the foreground they tended to be complicating factors, just as they were in the books. <grin>

    The French World of Tiers game is called Thoan. You can find a capsule review (in English) at

    And I think that because because Liavek was based on a game it was much more coherent as a shared world property. Something which the original shared world property, Thieves World lacked, which is why that property is a glorious melange of different "rule systems" in the stories.

    GURPS Girl Genius is still in a very nebulous partly written state. Although don't give up hope yet. After all, it took years past the "deadline" for GURPS Vorkosigan to appear. Meanwhile it makes an excellent Spirit of the Century game universe, if I do say so myself.

    Interesting to hear WEG had a Stargate game lined up. I ran a fun set of SG-1 games using the Torg ruleset. [Very flexible and quantitative rules, although the style of their release was handled badly (as in the first rule books put people off, but they got better).]

  67. During the height of 3e/D20 I was surprised that Hasbro didn't get WotC to produce a transformers/GI Joe RPG.

  68. James V said...

    Not to sound like the world's biggest crank, but I think I'm tired of licensed properties.

    I'm far more interested in what freaky stuff if fermenting in the brains of my amateur peers.

    I can already adapt anyone else world to my own game, I don't need a licensed RPG. I would like to see more freaky-deeky campaign settings like Supplements V+VI, Terminal Space, Savage Swords of Athanor, etc. The worlds of imagination are our oyster, why accept someone else vision instead of your own?

  69. Amusingly enough, there are several RPGs mentioned here that actually *are* RPGs already. GI/Transformers actually got made as a free d20 fan conversion, just not via Hasbro. He-Man was a real RPG, but it was miserable and poorly-received. Stargate SG-1, Conan, and Elric have all had their RPGs made. Forgotten Realms...that has to be a joke. There are numerous fan conversions and one short-lived Dune RPG out. Asprin's Myth series got a nod in a Role-Aids product back in the 80s. TSR made a Buck Rogers game. I think a lot of these are good ideas, mind you...and I think revivals (think new systems, new games) are in order...

    What I think would have made a great RPG was Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar series, at least as a setting. Ethshar was a fantastic series, with humor thrown in.

    Take the "Misenchanted Sword," for instance: To get the soldier away from him, the wizard places a spell on a sword. The spell is an unfortunate one, and it complicates everything. The sword cannot be sheathed till it draws blood, causing it to stick to the soldier's hand until he slaughters a squirrel. Once it kills 100 enemies, it will slay the wielder. It gifts the soldier with immortality, except that it doesn't stop him from aging at all, it just won't let him die. And the wielder gains amazing sword skills so as not to meet his end in battle. Every tale is like that, with funny twists and turns, till the end of the tale, which is also a twist. I'd love a guidebook like that. The system would have to be done right, though. Risus or PDQ would be a heckuva lot more appropriate than D20 or Spirit of the Century.

    A Lord of the Isles game would be awesome! I've borrowed from that series from time to time.

  70. Reverance Pavane:

    The D6 SG-1 game was actually largely completed, and what's there can be downloaded for free. Don't know how legal it is from a strictly technical point, so I won't hand out a link, but "D6 +stargate" in Google should give you some obvious links.

    To James & JJ:

    I can certainly see your side of the argument, and partially agree insofar that yes, original games and settings are cool.
    Having said that, I also have to partially disagree. For one, no matter how "hard core" you are, you can't expect all your players to always exert the necessary buy-in effort and money whenever you have a craving to try out something new. Also, sometimes you just meet the casual (or non-) gamer who might turn out to be a great addition to a hobby, and you need something to rope 'em in with. Something that he's already familiar with - and that's where licensed games come in - is more likely to succeed than something that's totally weird and out of the blue for such a person.

    Also, if you play Carcosa, Athanor, Terminal Space or whatever... you're still just buying into someone else's vision. Unless you're the person who created it, that is. For everyone else, though, it's just like playing a game based on some other intellectual property.

  71. RPG set in the world of Escape From New York.

    X-files the role playing game.

    RPG based on Kung Fu series/Circle Of Iron.

    RPG with the flavor of the Vietnam Era US in the 1970's-1980's - Merck adventuriong in Indochina, Cold War games, Vietnam Vet Mystique. Think movies like Plato's Run, Odd Angry Shot, novel CW2 (about a helicopter pilot), Koko (novel), Survivalism, Martial Arts. Wouild make a kick-ass RPG filling an original niche!

  72. I believe the key to an old school licensed product would be for the background material to be sufficiently deep that players would be willing to play in the sandbox, not just replay the novel(s). It should be interesting even without the inclusion of main character(s) and plot.

    I would submit:

    The Horatio Hornblower series. Adventuring in the RN during the Napoleonic wars.

    Larry Niven's the Magic Goes Away. In Earth's distant past, magic was a non-renewable resource which created an interesting problem for society when in began to run out.

    Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers. This would need to be based on the book, not the abysmal movies.

    Barry Sadlers' Casca: The Eternal Mercenary. This could be tough, although if the premise were changed to Christ having cursed the whole squad vice just Casca, it might work.

    Jack Whyte's Camulod series. King Arthur's story as it may have actually happened.

    ... (so many thoughts) ...

  73. @A Paladin in Citadel
    There was a card/dice game for Groo. A lot of fun it is too, with players controlling towns and trying to prevent Groo visiting.

    Although there was never a Plenet of the Apes RPG, Eden Studios published Terra Primate that did for the genre what All Flesh Must Be Eaten did for zombies.

    For a Napoleonic era Naval RPG, can I suggest Beat to Quarters from Omnihedron Games []? It might not be old school, but it is terrific game and has a Sharpe inspired brother in the form of Duty & Honour.

  74. Also, if you play Carcosa, Athanor, Terminal Space or whatever... you're still just buying into someone else's vision. Unless you're the person who created it, that is. For everyone else, though, it's just like playing a game based on some other intellectual property.

    You have a point there, any setting not my own is someone else's, but in the larger context of licensed properties, there's a difference, which is exemplified well by Saturday's post.

  75. I'm not up for buying any major licensed settings currently. I can mine novels and movies all by my self- especially when I'm using 0e and it takes like two minutes to stat something up. However, I will buy stuff like Carcosa- but more to mine for ideas than to use as written.

    All that aside, I think that the previously mentioned Den, Hiero, and Nausica settings would all make fine backdrops for RPGs.

  76. Coming back after the thread has died to add: Samurai Cat.