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Best Licensed RPG: Discuss the Best Adaptation of a Movie/Book to an RPG that You've Ever Played!


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I'm probably the only one who liked DC Heroes 2nd edition by Mayfair games (I believe...), but I really did. Allowed for a wide range of adventure types, crossovers, etc.

I wish I had been older when that game came along.

I agree. I always liked that game and how it addressed some of the failings of the Marvel game. Unfortunately, it was more complex, so we almost always played Marvel instead.

Not that Marvel was a bad game. We loved it. I just think that DC had a bit more potential that we couldn’t quite tap into.

I noticed that players, who are not so into comics, don't like this equalization when the team consists of a range from Hawkeye to Hulk. Very strange...

Hulk should be thankful that an A-lister like Hawkeye even lets him hang around.
 


kingpin000

Explorer
Yes, well, the Cortex+ core is designed from the idea that all characters should be... I guess I'd say narratively balanced? Cortex+ would allow you to have Superman and Jimmy Olsen in the same adventure, and Jimmy would somehow manage to be relevant to events, even though he's just this guy. This is a fine representation of actual comics, in which relatively low-powered people still make a difference.

This falls apart if your approach to comics is about the power of superpowers, instead of the power of the narrative.
Jimmy Olsen as photographer/reporter would be a specialty character, who could be only effective in non-combat scenes, but Jimmy Olsen as Guardian like in the Supergirl TV show could fight along other superheroes.

Hulk should be thankful that an A-lister like Hawkeye even lets him hang around.

I think you are a little bit biased, Mr. Hawkeyefan! ;)
 

The issue with licensed games is that most source material relies heavily on narrative convention in order to tell its story. If you try to put out a ruleset which describes how the world actually works, then it falls flat in execution; it becomes obvious that the events of the source material were contrived, rather than logically following from how the world (supposedly) works.
Most stories - outside of truly-great keen-observer-of-human-nature writers doing deeply meaningful slice-of-life-fiction, that is - get by on relating events that are interesting, because they're not mode-average probable in every character and event all the way through. So if you were to create a ruleset for 'how the world actually works' for any modern or historical genre, you'd end up with an unutterably boring game, if played at any level of detail, because you're completely missing both the story and the genre, and focusing on the backdrop.

(And, ultimately, the backdrop can be interchangeable: Shakespeare's The Tempest and the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet are essentially the same story with different backdrops, for instance, or 7 Samurai and the Magnificent 7, for another. So modeling the backdrop is the least important part of capturing a story.)

Or else you end up with a game that actually operates on narrative convention, which is even worse.
What could possibly be worse than a game in which it is 99% likely nothing of interest ever happens? I mean, other than taking it out to 5 or more '9's?

Modeling the genre of a story instead of the backdrop would at least run the risk of being fun to play, at times.

Taking it a step further and modeling a specific story might work, too, but it takes a lot possibilities out of the game - taken far enough, it becomes like a play with a script, just a re-enactment of the original story, possibly with a few variations giving you a few decision points.
 

Eilathen

Explorer
I have to agree with Marvel Heroic ... beautiful game that feels like, well, Marvel's stuff.

Hard disagreement on TOR and on Star Wars Saga Ed. .

Maybe TOR works for The Hobbit, I don't know (never read it, just seen the movies), but it does not capture ME (the living, breathing world/mythology) at all. It might do LotR semi-decent, but I am skeptical.

D20 system for Star Wars? No, just no.
 

pogre

Legend
This is going to sound ridiculous, but I promise this is an honest answer - the most fun I have ever had with a licensed game was the Bullwinkle and Rocky Party Roleplaying game!

I played with a bunch of guys on my college football team and we had a running back from Chicago that did amazing voices. He could do all the voices from the show. It was an amazingly fun time.
 

longisland

Explorer
James Bond RPG by Victory Games.
You can choose to play as James Bond and most of the published adventures were based on James Bond films complete with the bad guys and locations. While the games guidance on how to create adventures was also true to the style of the movies. The game system is also extremely good at emulating the movies. From the gun and H-to-H combat system to the chase system to the persuasion and seduction systems. And the game world has the gadgets, cars, guns, girls, and thrilling locations.

There are however some things I would change.

Hero points when used to help characters succeed I would change to each point increasing the ease factor instead of each point increasing the quality of success. That means hero points would complement the rest of the game system rather than override it. Hero points as written I think are too powerful and break the system particularly in chases.

I would make the weakness attraction to the opposite sex part of the basic game system as it is a trope of the movies. And in my opinion should not be reliant on the GM choosing to use the optional weaknesses rule and the player choosing the weakness for their character. I would get rid of all the other weaknesses. This is James Bond the spy with an eye for the ladies not James Bond the drug addict, greedy, sadist, superstitious, terrified of anything and everything, spy.

I would also get rid of the fields of experience optional rule. Its daft that James Bond unskilled can fly a helicopter and defuse a nuclear bomb using his attributes, but cannot play golf or ski if he does not have the required field of experience.

I would make Strength of 14 to 15 and along with it the ability to shrug off, reduce H-to-H damage something only NPC privileged henchmen can have. Agents looking like Jaws minus the teeth being too recognizable to work as secret agents. And it maintains the movie trope of James Bond often being outclassed in brute strength by the privileged henchman.

I would get rid of the time requirement on Interrogation and let it include the infliction of some pain. James Bond does not kidnap people and interrogate them over days and weeks, he twists their arm and demands they tell him what he wants to know. While for torture later movies have shown James Bond does not break even after months of torture. So the game rules on bad guys torturing the hero need changing.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
I hear there's this D&D Game that models the Forgotten Realms novels really well. I don't think its as good as the way the D&D cartoon worked though. :whistle:

In all seriousness, I like Star Wars SAGA edition, I honestly prefer the rules in that to most other versions.
 

JeffB

Legend
CoC (Chaosium)
WEG (1E for me) SW
FFG SW
Victory's James Bond
Marvel (1984)
Stormbringer/ELRIC!
I think most of the MERP lore/adventure material was on point and really, really well done. Rules... are debatable.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
1. TSR Marvel (aka FASERIP). It's hard to explain just how incredible (amazing? monstrous? UNEARTHLY!!!) this game was in the 80s, but it combined a good level of abstraction and a great ability to just get to ... clobberin' time.

I was going to say Star Wars, but then I saw this and I had completely forgotten that game. It was amazing and is definitely my #1. Star Wars would be #2, and I haven't played a third.
 


Ulfgeir

Adventurer
I think most of the MERP lore/adventure material was on point and really, really well done. Rules... are debatable.

That is a charitable interpretation of the rules. I remember there being a rule that said that only really exceptional individuals like Aragorn, would rise above a certain rather low level. The official adventures had tons of characters of higher level. Not to mention that magic was ubiquitous...
 


GURPS has done the best-researched licensed RPG supplements I've seen, even if the system hasn't always been up to it, they make great resources.

The two that stood out for me were Humanx and Urth of the New Sun - presumably because they're something obscure enough no one else'd ever do an RPG of them, and I was a huge fan of both.

d6 Star Wars also seemed to capture it's subject better than most licensed RPGs. Attempts at Star Trek, OTOH, just awful.

I agree on all points, also holy jebus there was an Urth of the New Sun GURPS supplement? I need to get hold of that. GURPS was amazing for reference supplements, as you say. Rules... not so much (oddly some non-adapted GURPS books did have excellent rules). Star Trek is always awful because they never take a narrative approach, and Star Trek is a show about telling stories, whereas Star Wars can work much more easily because people just want to be in the SW universe, and the stories SW tends to be about are more in line with traditional adventuring and adventure-hobo behaviour. I got the new Star Trek RPG and was faintly disappointed. I think it really needs a PbtA/DW approach.

I feel like a lot of the games mentioned in this thread actually didn't really do much justice to their properties. I was never particularly impressed with the James Bond RPG (well, nor with James Bond himself, I think that's a generational thing, so maybe that's it), nor with Stormbringer/Elric (it didn't feel like either), and I've played tons of CoC, but I'd never put it as a "good" adaptation of Lovecraft's material. But it was enjoyable. Less so now, having played it more recently it feels retro in a bad way.

My top ones would be:

Marvel FASERIP - Lots of mentions of this, it was a game before its time, a game happy with letting the party balance itself, a game that just let you say "I want to be Spider-Man", and the DM handed you the information, and POW, now you were Spider-Man. No effing around. No filling stuff in. Just straight in there. I also notice that people were really happy to just play the characters they wanted to. No-one was really jealous of the dude playing the Hulk, even if he was technically "just better" than their character, because he was the Hulk. It was just a really good system that actually felt like the Marvel comics of the era. I might not use it to reflect Marvel comics in this era, many years later, but it was excellent.

Marvel SAGA - The Marvel card-game one. This was also extremely excellent and terribly fun, and got people really, really involved when they should have been old enough to know better. A game that relatively elegantly handled using an semi-conscious Mr Fantastic to whack Johnny Storm into unconsciousness is a game that has my respect.

d6/WEG Star Wars - It had a lot of problems, a LOT, but somehow was extremely good at actually feeling like Star Wars, and it loved the minutiae of Star Wars, and added to it massively in ways that often stuck (even post canon-reset), and it also had one of the best pre-written campaigns in gaming history (to this day), the Darkstryder campaign, which was utterly incredibly to play through, particularly the Ars Magica-esque playing multiple characters deal.

Amber was also totally amazing and really opened my group's minds about RPGs and how they could work and what they could be about. Never played enough of it, though, and we played the RPG before we read the books (it is what lead us to them).
 

I agree on all points, also holy jebus there was an Urth of the New Sun GURPS supplement? I need to get hold of that. GURPS was amazing for reference supplements, as you say.
Yeah, I was stunned. It was quite a while ago, like 90s, maybe? (Google says 1999.) A GURPS-fanatic friend bought it for me as a gift or I'd've never known it existed.

I feel like a lot of the games mentioned in this thread actually didn't really do much justice to their properties. I was never particularly impressed with the James Bond RPG (well, nor with James Bond himself, I think that's a generational thing, so maybe that's it),
Back in the dark ages of the hobby, I tried to run Top Secret and it was a disaster, I thought "the next time I watch a James Bond movie, I'll pay careful attention to the plot, and steal that!"

So I did.
And there was nothing to steal.
 



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