'Licensed' games

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  • Posted By: Paul T.Man, it would be interesting to see a Star Wars game that helped you makeyour ownStar Wars,your ownDarth Vader, etc. Like stripping the formula for success out of Star Wars and giving it to you to play with. Because every Star Wars game I've ever played was, indeed, about carefully avoiding the stuff that the Star Wars stories were about, and playing in whatever space remained in that playground.

    Just like how Lady Blackbird is kind of a variation on Firefly.

    Is there anything out there that does this?
    One of the inspirations for the epic fantasy game that I'm working on was the observation that you'll almost never get a story like The Lord of the Rings if you try to run a traditional RPG in Middle Earth. I'm trying to extract the "formula" from epic fantasy and stick it into my mechanics.
  • Posted By: Paul T.Man, it would be interesting to see a Star Wars game that helped you makeyour ownStar Wars,your ownDarth Vader, etc. Like stripping the formula for success out of Star Wars and giving it to you to play with.
    I am intrigued with your post and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    I'm clicking on Dan's link now.
  • edited July 2010
    Posted By: Paul T.Man, it would be interesting to see a Star Wars game that helped you make your own Star Wars, your own Darth Vader, etc. Like stripping the formula for success out of Star Wars and giving it to you to play with.
    Yes, this is what I was trying to say. I like the Buffy show, but the rpg does nothing to help me get a game that teams up an ultra-privileged authority figure with marginalized teens who possess magical powers (and non-marginalized teens who don't), in a random small town, fighting demonic forces that are actually metaphors for teenage life. I don't want to play Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if I want to experience that I can rewatch the series. What I want is a rule-set that helps me create what I find cool from Buffy.
  • Posted By: Paul T.Man, it would be interesting to see a Star Wars game that helped you makeyour ownStar Wars,your ownDarth Vader, etc. Like stripping the formula for success out of Star Wars and giving it to you to play with.
    Posted By: Dan MaruschakOne of the inspirations for theepic fantasy gamethat I'm working on was the observation that you'll almost never get a story likeThe Lord of the Ringsif you try to run a traditional RPG in Middle Earth. I'm trying to extract the "formula" from epic fantasy and stick it into my mechanics.
    Posted By: chearnsYes, this is what I was trying to say. I like the Buffy show, but the rpg does nothing to help me get a game that teams up an ultra-privileged authority figure with marginalized teens who possess magical powers (and non-marginalized teens who don't), in a random small town, fighting demonic forces that are actually metaphors for teenage life. I don't want to playBuffy the Vampire Slayer, if I want to experience that I can rewatch the series. What I want is a rule-set that helps me create what I find cool from Buffy.
    I think this brings up a good point. For licensed setting with prior stories like Buffy or Star Wars, there can be many different ways that one can relate back to the canonical stories. The setting itself is different than the narrative structure of the original stories. For example, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are in the same setting, and have many similarities. Still, they are also quite distinct. It sounds like Dan's game ("Final Hour of a Storied Age") would not be useful for a game that was more like The Hobbit. Similarly, Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea is a setting for a number of different kinds of stories.

    While I use licensed settings regularly, I rarely try to reproduce the story structure of the canonical stories without significant changes. So, for example, I played the Buffy RPG for several years. Our game was patterned as a television series full of life metaphors, but it wasn't about teenagers (unlike what chearns is looking for).
  • Having not read every response I'll throw my two cents into the hat.

    The biggest issue for me with licensed RPGs is that they're almost always given to a publisher that has some major clout, and that publisher has a tendency of just using their system for it. Wizards of the Coast using d20 for Star Wars is a perfect example. Margaret Weis Productions using Cortex for Supernatural and Serenity is another example. Luke Crane using Burning Wheel for Mouse Guard even. Now d20 and Cortex are bog standard generic systems, and Burning Wheel is actually quite interesting, I still don't see how it does Mouse Guard. I can see how BW is great for Lord of the Rings, and in fact I'd love to see Luke get the opportunity to work on that license, as it would be really, really, appropriate. But most of the time a license goes to a publisher who will slap the license setting onto their inhouse system, and it most likely won't be appropriate. As a big Supernatural fan I took a solid read through the RPG. I really liked the content, the writing style was even appropriate, and the examples of play were excellent, but the system was just boooooring. I can't remember anything useful about Cortex, other than if you've played d20, GURPS or the like you've played Cortex (for all the importance any mechanical differences from those 2 systems have).

    What I'd really like to see is a licensed game that actually takes the setting and designs a system from scratch to fit it. Now that happened with Dragon Age, although there was a great deal of arguing about whether it actually hit DA well or whether it was just a good RPG but quite different. I still haven't gotten around to playing the actual DA:O CRPG so I can't comment on that, but at least we have an example of at least once a system being designed for the setting. If we go back far enough, WEG did that with Star Wars too - given it has a mechanics stat - it actually treats mechanical aptitude as an attribute along with agility and strength. I understand the D6 system was already around before that, but you can see at the very least some customisation at the base level of the mechanics.

    If I see a licensed RPG, I want the system to be unique, and well suited to the license, not a situation where using something different actually nails it much better.

    PS: BESM sort of straddles the two, it was an explicit anime RPG so it made sense having the licenses go on top of it, and certainly for the time when it was popular it was an appropriate system, but at the same time none of the BESM licenses ever interested me in the slightest.
  • Actually, it was not wanting to bolt a license onto a generic system that drove my decision-making for SMALLVILLE and LEVERAGE's versions of the Cortex System. I knew I wanted to overhaul the rules anyway, and in both games there are some common (but new) mechanics, but each game has been designed specifically to model the genre/premise of the license.

    That said, I think SUPERNATURAL works great as-is, but then it's a monster of the week action-horror game with shotguns, sneaking around, and stuff. You could do something less traditional with it, but you don't need to.

    Cheers,
    Cam
  • It's not as if the Cortex system is bad, but it's just nondescript. I'm far more interested in seeing what Dogs in the Vineyard can do with Supernatural.
  • Posted By: walkerpInteresting that this thread should get resurrected just when three very interesting licensed games are coming on to the market and possibly doing some very new things: Smallville, Leverage and of course the Dresden Files.
    They're starting to dribble out some details on Smallville and it looks pretty interesting. Josh laid out the relationship map and character sheets for the Shercroft Academy playtest campaign. Looks pretty neat.
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