As I was gathering information on Searchers of the Unknown, I came across a comment that there was more floating about on the internet related to the game than just Swashbucklers of Mars. Curious, I kept digging, and I have found several more related items: three more related games, a supplement for adding wizards and clerics, a revision converting Searchers to d20-style roll high mechanics, and the main Searchers idea forum thread.
First up, Spellcasters of the Unknown. This document provides character creation procedures and special rules for clerics and wizards. Both character types receive two weapon choices, sacrificing their third for spells, and neither class receives multiple attacks. HP are modified according to classic hit dice. Clerics may turn undead, and both classes are provided with a small spell list that goes up to 3rd level for clerics and 4th for wizards. I was unable to discover the author of this supplement, so if anybody knows, please feel free to speak up. The document itself could use a little bit of editing, but it is a good try at expanding Searchers into OD&D territory.
Next, we have Searchers of the Unknown: d20 Style. (This is a Scribd link; to download the file you will need to be registered there.) This document (again of unknown provenance) does exactly what I was thinking about doing myself — it takes Searchers and converts it to a roll-high mechanic, using d20 + modifiers (usually character level). It re-presents Searchers with the modified mechanics in place, rather than simply offering changes, and allows those who gravitate toward roll-high systems to enjoy Searchers with minimal fuss.
The first related game is Cyborg Samurai Are Go! by Sean Wills, author of Swashbucklers of Mars. (Wills is, in fact, the most prolific author of Searchers-related material that I found.) This is flat-out Cyberpunk action, where the characters are cybered warriors for hire. The rules offer new armor types and weapons, a 1d4 roll for cybernetics and a 1d6 roll for starting gear. It uses the same mechanics as Searchers for combat, adventuring and so on. Cyborg Samurai wraps up with brief notes about possible missions and adversaries. Fans of the cyberpunk genre as presented in Cyberpunk 184.108.40.206. and Shadowrun should be interested. I know I certainly am.
The next related game is Mutant Scavengers of the Ruined Earth, by Kyrinn S. Eis. The title is an immediate tipoff — we’re heading into Gamma World territory now. Mutant Scavengers presents new armor and allows two weapon choices. Characters in this game are tougher on average than in the others, using 1d6+2 for hit dice. Players choose a “specialty” which provides a class bonus, then rolls a d20 for mutations. Mutant Scavengers keeps the Searchers rules mechanics, and provides an equipment list. The rules mention “power phrases” and a formula for determining what level a character might be able to use, which makes me believe these are supposed to be magic spells. The document ends with a small list of opponents, including robots and mutants. I’m not big on Gamma World or that kind of post-apocalyptic story, but it looks like fun anyway. It doesn’t dwell too hard on the tech or mutations.
The final Searchers-related game is Scavengers and Spacewrecks, again by Sean Wills (with an author’s note thanking Ms. Eis for her input). S&S presents the characters as a team sent in to salvage and clean out space derelicts — a sci-fi take on dungeon crawling. It offers new armor, as usual, but has only three weapon options — explosives, an energy sword and a blaster that must recharge after every two shots. Characters get a specialty which provides a class bonus. S&S uses the same basic rules as Searchers and all the other games, but adds flavor in the form of an equipment list and robot backup NPCs the characters’ team can purchase. The document ends with sample alien opponents that can menace the characters.
Lastly, here is a link to the major discussion and ideas thread at the OD&D discussion forum where Searchers was born. The thread is full of interesting variations and discussion about the concept. You can read it without registering.
If anyone else knows of any other content for Searchers of the Unknown or its related games, please let us know. I am continually surprised by how much mileage this concept has gotten and I’m curious what other implementations might be made of the idea. Each of these games looks like a lot of fun for a one-shot or a short campaign. Spinning a Searchers-derived game out into a longer campaign might be tricky, but it should be possible with enough work.