Last week got me thinking; I am relatively inexperienced regarding game. While I’m making effort to diversify my playing experience in different platforms, time essentially becomes my enemy and adulting is hard. Previously I had posted a list of comic book campaigns I would like to play and the last one I listed was Hellboy, which conveniently had it’s own pre-written module on the GURPS platform. One of my five readers had commented that any of the comics I had listed would work well on the FATE system, and I thank you for that and have made it one of my playing goals to gain that experience. However, while I look forward to adapting these comics into games systems it peaked my curiosity as to the comic books out there that have pre-existing game systems already established, beyond that of GM adaptation, created for specific comic titles and not including the larger Marvel Superheroes and DC RPGs. So I did a little digging into what was interesting out there and this is what I came up with.
1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness
It’s funny, I remember my cousins coming to visit when I was ten years old and bringing this game. While I struggled to comprehend the finer aspects of the mechanics, I do remember having a great time. The rules were based upon Palladium’s Megaversal system, however the setting was based upon Eastman and Laird’s earlier work on TMNT, which meant dark, violent and gritty. Player’s could choose from a wide list of animals mutated in varying manners, including psionics. Interestingly, while most adventures took place in modern day later supplementary material provided a post-apocalyptic setting called “After the Bomb”, where you could play in a wasteland populated mainly by mutated animals. While Palladium provided a vast reservoir of characters you could develop, I think the best thing about this game was that you could still play as the Turtles.
Do you really need encouragement to play anthropomorphic medieval ranger mice? If you haven’t heard of Mouseguard it is the creation of David Petersen and won a multitude of Eisner awards (which in comics are like a Oscar or at least an Emmy). It also holds my personal ‘kudos’ for the being the best free comic I ever picked up on free comic book day (this year May 7th). It seems that the game is equal to the quality of the comic, winning multiple awards in both of its editions. Mouseguard uses the Burning Wheel system and game play moves smooth and quickly. Archaia Entertainment states that while the game is set up to be easily playable by newcomers as well as seasoned players, it advises the more veteran among players to “throw out the book” on what they believe they know and prepare for a new kind of role-playing experience. Additionally, the box set is beautiful and bountiful, containing exclusive art and mouse dice.
3) The Authority
Warren Ellis writes amazing comics. It’s just what he does, like my ability to eat Doritos. While I know The Authority is the property of DC, they published it originally under their Wildstorm imprint and the series takes it’s roots from the early Image Comics universe, so I think I can get away with listing it here. The premise of the Authority in comics is: what would happen if character’s who are incredibly similar the Justice League (and I mean INCREDIBLY similar) got tired of government and decided to run North America? The game itself uses the Silver Age Sentinels as its platform. Once again the artwork included in the box set is said to be stunning and beautiful, and the modules are set up for players that enjoy a large amount of action and combat. The Authority RPG is no longer in production as the Canadian company, Guardians of Order closed its doors in 2006, but I looked it up and a resourceful person can still pick up a used one online.
While I tried to list specific comics that have their own pre-constructed system I could not leave Valiant’s RPG off the list even though they publish multiple titles, such as X-O Manowar, Ninjak, and Bloodshot. I liked this one, as the core rulebook and supplementary material are up to date to where the comic storylines are today. Like the comic books themselves the game is said to really highlight the fine line between Super-hero and Super-villain and proclaims to be rules light using the CUE system by CATALYST games. When I went online to CATALYST’s Valiant site. The best things I came across were not only did they provide quick-start rules and instructional videos, but they also had a “How to role-play comic book” for beginners, by artist Alex Sanchez. It really bridges the gap between comic books and role-playing for myself and I think even seasoned role-players would find it interesting, so I included the link to their site here.
Comic books and role-playing: the more I see the more I want and that’s ok. I’m still learning how to game better and the diversity of the content enriches my experience. If you have any suggestions for this list or have played any of the above let me know in the comments. I think I’d like to try TMNT first. Playing as Donatello or Raphael would be great. Screw Leo and Mikey, I mean really, that is some terrible leadership and just because you have a pizza doesn’t make it a party.
About Ryan: So I try to read about 50 comics a week, depending on my ability to pay the power bill. I try to read as much new and independent works as my tried and trusted favorites, and I’ve been doing this for years. Thus, I can roughly say that I am pretty decent at comicology, however I hold no formal degree. Luckily, degrees are no substitute for common sense and that’s how I got this gig. Read about his thoughts on what comic books he would like see turned into RPGs here.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.