Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Adventures Into The Unknown - RPGing On The Fly

So, for a bit now it's been clear that running na RPG with my regular group isn't all that likely. The guys are all cool and none of them is against a good RPG, but it's clear that they like our regular Friday thing the way it is and I can't blame them. It's nice to wind the week down with a good bit of socializing with your pals and cracking open a board game. No fuss, no muss. But I still want to do some RPGing.

A bit ago I got back in touch with an old friend who invited me to play in his games. I'm already spread a bit thin and really didn't want to jump into the middle of somebody else's game. Besides, I'm primarily a GM and have a hard time being "just a player" after so many years behind the wheel. So I politely passed but kept in touch with him and just recently we started talking about me running a game for his group on a sort of guest GM basis. I still didn't like the idea of getting in the middle of an existing gaming group in them idst of one of their games, so I asked if he and his group might be open to the idea of me running my own game for them and then sort of sat back to see what would come of it.

So recently I had what I think is a fun idea for an RPG and ran it past my pal and he put it past his group. They thought it was cool and so did he and I even picked up another pal who used to be a member of our regular group but who had been sidelined by life (twins, work, school, etc). The big problem was that the group is bigger than I remember and with my current availability for planning and prep time, I didn't want to run one of the systems I'd usually use which are good for medium to smaller groups but which I don't feel hold up with larger numbers of players. This left me in a bit of a lurch.

I had a game to run and no system to run it with.

I threw up a post a few days back soliciting for recommendations of simple systems that might full the pulpy Sword & Planet meets war-time pulp adventure setting I had in mind. I received some excellent input from a lot of you folks out there but the biggest problem was that any of them would require me to go out and buy another game system for a game that may or may not take off. This was something I really wasn't cool with doing, not yet and not for just a single project. I needed another solution.

That solution came when I was reading through a copy of Spirit of the Century and it's FATE mechanic. I've always loved systems that promote role-play through a useful and simple game mechanic and the Aspect system of SOTC was so nicely done (IMHO) that I almost jumped right into SOTC but was stopped by one key thing the game was missing - STATS!

Call me old fashioned. Call me a dinosaur. Call me anything, but I just love a good set of attribute scores on characters and encounters. the FATE system doesn't have these and this really makes GMing challenging as encounters and characters become more a matter of comparative and interpretive literature than a quanitified easily comparable set of numbers. As a DM, I'd have to pretty much write out a character sketch of every encounter. But, the Aspect and Fate Points were too good to give up. I had an idea.

I had a copy of the free version of Labyrinth Lord already printed up and it's kinship with the old D&D made it an easy game for folks and myself to acquaint ourselves with. I also had a copy of the advanced rules fo LL that I got as a member of the Labyrinth Lord Society (join!). This would make a good foundation and couled together with a few ideas presented in the Savage Swords of Athanor campaign setting for Swords & Wizardry, I thought I might have a winner that could be butted up to the Aspect system of SOTC.

This is wierd for me, because honestly I used to poke fun at people who fused a bunch of systems together. Call it a rare moment of uncharacteristic purism but I had always considered RPG systems pretty sacred unto themselves with very little room for wholesale mixing and matching. I'd poked fun at my share of Cthulhu, Cyberpunk Illuminati crossovers and what-not and here I was about to do the same thing (not for the first time, but that's another story).

So, from all this I think I have a system to run my pulp meets pulp game I am now calling "Adventure Into The Unknown: The Thrilling Tales of Sgt. Buck Bronco and is Wild Raiders"...

Stay tuned everyone, this might get messy.

Take care,



  1. Very cool.
    --Good for you.

    Looking forward to reports of play and the fun you all have. :)

  2. Yes. I'm using Labyrinth Lord for my Beyond the Wall campaign. I'm thinking of using it for other areas too.

  3. All the best to your game! Looking forward to hearing about it more.


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