Friday, January 14, 2011

Drawing Inspiration From Your Television

I hope your Chrimbo break was good! Mine was.

We're not here to talk about that, though. On a slightlty less boring note, lately I have been wondering if my standards are weird.

See, recently I've seen a few games created with the intent of playing in the setting of some media series - telvision, video games, webcomics, et cetera. Homestuck is apparently a popular choice these days, and off the top of my head I can name Doctor Who, Dresden Files and every single superhero comic ever as settings that even have their own ruleset.

That sort of thing always makes me nervous, though. I can see the appeal, and I can agree it can be done - hell, I kind of want to play Dresden Files - but I'm uncomfortable with it. It feels like I'm sitting around a bunch other guys lazily narrating fanfiction, not playing an RPG. And depending on the source material and how it's played, I might end up just tagging along with the main characters of a story I didn't write, which is the same reason I don't play Forgotten Realms.

I actually have a friend who is into this sort of thing, and has run at least two Homestuck games, and we argue about this a lot. He argues that he just likes to explore other people's settings and play with the setpieces, and also that he is not very good at coming up with his own stories. I argue that he is not very good at coming up with his own stories. They're weird arguments.

Lately, though, I've started to wonder if my standards are too high. Apart from anything else, where exactly is the line between media series and campaign setting? I am totally fine with running in Planescape, for example.

Maybe all I need is a setting that hasn't been done a thousand times before, one where adventures can be had without involving someone else's premade characters and/or plot, and most importantly, one that is still interesting.

I wonder if there's a TV show that would work well in Dungeons & Dragons...

Sitcoms

Who doesn't like sitcoms? Oh, you don't? Okay, how about Britcoms?

Really?

Get out.

Seriously though, this shouldn't be hard. Sitcoms are a pretty broad category. Take some characters, put them in the same location a lot, make them completely dysfunctional, and send them on adventures. Bam, you've just described every adventuring party with a favourite tavern ever.

You could re-use the same settings and characters as the show in question, but the reason nobody's ever run Friends (apart from the lack of a proper system) is because nobody wants to hang out with the cast of Friends. Why not D&D-ify it instead?

Everybody Loves Wizards, Dungeon Improvement, Two and a Half Halflings, How I Skillchecked Your Mother, Black Spellbooks, Are You Being Healed?, My Mother The Scimitar...

Or, you know, you can just copy Seinfeld. Everyone else did.

The Muppet Show

There are rules for running businesses in D&D, and honestly you could just make them up if you wanted. It's not hard. So why not a theatre?

The best setting would be Planescape, because then you can play the Muppets and nobody would notice. Kermit? Surprisingly erudite green slaad. Fozzie? Guardinal. Gonzo? Gonzo. The Muppet Show's weekly guest stars could be NPCs from all kinds of campaign settings: Elminster, Lidda, Orcus, that one NPC of Greenwood's who has all those orgies...

The only problem I can see is that everyone is going to fight over who gets to be Statler and Waldorf.

Baywatch

An innocent swimmer, unaware that the beach counts as an aquatic environment and he has to roll on an encounter table, is attacked by an aboleth. The orc wizard on duty spots the danger, grabs her staff and runs towards the water in slow motion.

Elsewhere, two of the players describe a kobold shower scene in detail. The DM tries to ignore them.

Weird Foreign Pornography

I live in Australia - no, I don't live near the floods going on - and down here we have a TV station called SBS, aka Special Broadcasting Service or Sex Before Soccer. Ostensibly SBS is a foreign language service, but I mostly remember it for the sports and the creepy foreign movies. Channel surfing just isn't complete without suddenly stumbling upon a scene of a naked young foreign boy being forced by bullies to put on girl panties.

Several years ago I tuned in at the wrong time to find myself watching a group of nuns watching a couple make love.

Once they were done, a silence fell upon the group. "What now?" one nun asked.

Another nun had the solution: "I heard that in California, they do it on unicycles!"

At that point, all the nuns rushed out.

I'm not sure it's possible to make a game out of this, but I'm sure somebody on the internet has tried.

Jersey Shore

No.

4 comments:

Mozai said...

Dresden Files: Get it. GET IT GET IT GET IT. ASDFAGASDF GET IT.

There's two books: "Your Story" and "Our World." The second book is just a hardcover splatbook for the novels, which is what you said you want to avoid. The first one is all you need for a modern-day supernatural story that is character-driven.

I've seen about five attempts at adapting "Homestuck" to an RPG, and they all suck... trying too hard to reproduce the scenery accurately at the expense of being fun. I mean, Gamma World as a JRPG? What the fuck were you smoking? If I were going to make an attempt at it, I'd just use Risus for the system and make shit up as I go along.

Ettin said...

One of my buddies has it. I haven't seen much, but I've heard good things and I tihnk I will take a look, at least.


I mostly just don't like copying the background details for its own sake, I guess. If I did join a Homestuck game I think I'd rather it be in a really simple system, or at least BESM or something if you insist on complexity.

Jenx said...

@Mozai

Actually that Risus article on 1d4chan seems to have quite a few Homestuck references in it. I doubt that was accidental.

As for Dresden Files RPG - I've only read the books, but I really liked what I saw. Been reading about Rick Neal's games in it and it sounds like a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

Unicycles, eh?