Category Archives: Fluff/Inspiration

Destiny As A Tabletop RPG?

Since it was first announced I was intrigued by the universe portrayed in the Destiny video games. It’s set into the future long after the golden age of humanity. This golden age started when the Traveler, an alien artifact/entity arrived at our solar system. It shared its technology with humanity, terraformed several planets and moons, and eventually shared its “light” (which allows all kind of magic abilites) with us. But the Traveler was followed by several alien species and a force just called the Darkness. This alien onslaught eventually led to the Collapse, which brought humankind to the brink of extinction and almost destroyed the Traveler. As a last action, the Traveler created Ghosts, small sentient machines, which resurrected people who died in battles a long time ago to protect mankind once again. These now quasi-immortal people are called the Guardians.

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In the video games you play one of these Guardians. At its core Destiny is a first/third person shooter with some minor roleplaying elements. While it has many science fiction tropes, it falls more into the science fantasy category, and it actually reminded me a lot of Numenera. Perhaps it’s because the three classes of Titan (fighter/tank), Warlock (mage), and Hunter (rogue) map almost perfectly to the three Numenera types of Glaive, Nano, and Jack. In the computer games a lot of secrets remain unanswered, and there are a few things which don’t seem to make that much sense. Why is Earth littered with remains of 21st century technology (like derelict cars) if the Collapse happened hundred years later? But perhaps that’s another mystery to be uncovered. What or who is the Traveler and why did it choose us?

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The question that has been bothering me for a while now, is whether Destiny could work as a roleplaying game. The video games are basically all combat, but the setting offers so many possibilities. Exploration is a strong theme in the game, and there are countless mysteries to uncover. I could also imagine intrigues within the Guardians as another interesting plot hook. But I am not sure if the setting itself has enough depth to support a proper roleplaying game.

I have already thought about what mechanics would be suited for such a game. The Cypher System by Monte Cook could be an almost perfect fit, but the Open D6 System should work fine as well. If I remember correctly I even found a PtbA game inspired by Destiny on the ‘net, unfortunately I don’t remember its name. In my opinion finding fitting mechanics and making some minor adaptions to make things work for a Destiny game is much easier than coming up with good adventures which are not just combat missions.

What do you folks think? Could Destiny be adapted to a tabletop roleplaying game? Or is the background too vague and too thin to make anything like this worthwhile? Please share your thoughts below!

What Am I Playing Right Now?

Since my GM hiatus started back in June 2017, I used the opportunity to play in as many games as possible. For a very long time I was basically the go-to GM for many of my friends, but I didn’t get to play as often as I liked. Being the GM is fun, and it’s something very dear to me, BUT sometimes you just need to stay on the other side of the GM’s screen for a while. So, what games have I been playing during these almost 12 months?

Mutant Year Zero & Gen Lab Alpha
my0If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know that I am a fan of post-apocalyptic settings in general and the Mutant games by Free League in particular. Mutant Year Zero is definitely one of the most exciting and immersive games I’ve played so far. Since I am playing one of the bosses in our Ark (which is a derelict aircraft carrier), the game is sometimes pretty political. My character, Washington,  is an idealist, trying to build a new civilization on the ruins of the past. He strongly believes in compassion, reason, and justice. In a way he sometimes feels like an anachronism. I have to admit that Washington shares a lot with myself, aside from the fact that I don’t have the Mind Terror mutation in real life. Zwinkerndes Smiley

MY0 has all the elements I love: drama, politics, intrigue, exploration. Matthias, our GM, is also doing an awesome job running the game. He even manages what usually fails spectacular: while he’s running the game, he also plays his own player character. This is usually a recipe for disaster, but in Matthias’ case it works great.

I’ve already wrote about our Genlab Alpha game in my review of the core rules, so I will skip it here.

Shadowrun 3rd Edition
This is a game I’ve been playing for years now. And even though I think that the rules are a mess, the game itself can be a lot of fun. Planning runs, trying to get to our goals without even raising an alarm is a lot of fun, and sometimes we even managed to have some flawlessly executed heists. But usually things go terribly wrong and everything ends in a messy fight. Since we usually ignore some of the more tedious rules  (like bioware stress etc.), our characters got very powerful, very quickly. While some games might break down with characters that powerful, our GM just raises the stakes a bit. Our Shadowrun campaign is over-the-top and great fun, but all good things must end eventually, so we decided our current adventure will be the last. We’re dealing with dragons and their machinations this time, which is IMHO very fitting for our last bow.

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Continue reading What Am I Playing Right Now?

Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes

Aside from being a table top roleplaying aficionado, I also love to play computer games of all kinds. Recently I’ve started a couple of games from my youth including Ultima IV, one of the classics from the CRPG genre. Eventually I started working on my own Ultima-inspired game using a LUA framework called LÖVE. If you want to learn more about this project, feel free to check out my other blog.

While researching these games of old and the tricks their programmers used back in the day, I stumbled upon “The Digital Antiquarian”, a very interesting blog about old computer games. If you are into retro gaming or just interested in the history of this hobby, you should definitely check it out.

Especially in the early days of both computer gaming and tabletop roleplaying games there were a few designers who worked in both fields. While reading the Digital Antiquarian’s article about the post-apocalyptic CRPG Wasteland, I learned that Tunnels & Trolls designer Ken St. Andre and Michael Stackpole who is nowadays mostly known for his various novels worked on that game. In fact the mechanics in Wasteland were based on Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes (aka MSPE) which was actually based on St. Andre’s Tunnels & Trolls.

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As an avid collector of roleplaying games I immediately picked up a copy on DriveThruRPG. The 117-paged PDF is a scan of the 1983 rules and looks pretty nice. I haven’t had the time yet to read it thoroughly but it looks quite intriguing. Since it’s based on T&T the mechanics are pretty lightweight, even though skills and modern firearms are added to the basic T&T formula. Reading the game is definitely worth is, especially if you are not only interested in playing the games but also learning a bit about the history of roleplaying games. And for a 1980’s roleplaying game it actually doesn’t look that outdated.

Curiously there never was a Wasteland sourcebook for the Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes game, or at least none that I know off. I am pretty sure a lot of fans of the computer game would have eventually liked to continue their characters’ exploits at the game table. But I guess the fact that Electronic Arts owned the intellectual rights to the game back in the day, made this impossible. Luckily nothing prevents us to use the MSPE rules and adapt it for the wastelands of the South Western USA ourselves.