Cartoons as RPG Settings

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Also, I recall that Mike Pondsmith's R. Talsorian Games did adaptations of classic anime Bubblegum Crisis as well as Armored Trooper VOTOMS... I even played a sexaroid repairman in a campaign of the former...

I never played their Armored Trooper VOTOMS game (a local store has a copy, though), but their Bubbblegum Crisis RPG was solid (even if the graphic design was pretty awful).
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I would think BESM would work well for a bunch of the anime/manga cartoons, including Samurai Jack.

TOON could probably handle Aqua Teen stuff.

While it’s intended for live action TV shows, Spirit of 77 might work for things like Johnny Quest, Speed Racer and the like.

I‘d like to see the Flash Gordon cartoon get an RPG treatment.

A pipe dream would be FLCL, too, but the trick with that one is more about how to run a campaign in such a gonzo setting, and less about the actual mechanics.
 


Alby87

Explorer
The mind-blowing success of Avatar: Legends has gotten me to thinking: what other popular cartoon(s) would make a successful TTRPG setting?

Here's my modest proposal:


Gravity Falls/Call of Cthulhu
[CUT]

I really would "get in" in this. This can lead to a good one shot system (a page of the Journal 3 = ad adventure), or an entire campain. The geography of the setting is simple (oregon woods, a small city), yet expandable
crashed ufo, the bunker, and, a là planescape, a whole lot of dimension like the mindscape or one person's mind
. You can also run it on different periods: before Summer 2012 (as towners dealing with the everyday strange), early Summer 2012 (as a before, plus being able to role as Dipper, Mabel, Stan, Soos, Wendy, dealing with the first season big bad), late Summer 2012 (new characters and a new big bad costantly attacking them), end of Summer 2012 (the series finale, and you know how much different the setting become), after Summer 2012 (main cast returning? New people of knowing the truth and still dealing with supernatural).

The bestiary would be really big and not forced at all, there were a lot of strange creatures in the show.
And, naturally, the graphic presentation of the book would be like a Journal. Oh boy, I'm already loving it!

But, you know. Disney. "Mine, mine, mine!", no possibilities at all the rights can be used like this. I think Alex Hirsh would be onboard for something like this!
 

aramis erak

Legend
There are a bunch of DC properties that were cartoons...
Justice League of America (1960's)/Superfriends (early 1970s), Aquaman (1960's), Batman (1990's), Plastic Man Action Comedy Hour (1970s)...
THey don't need their own, but could be a nice supplement for the current DC game when one comes out... Noting that the powers have somewhat different limits than the comics.

Likewise, there have been a bunch of Archie Comics dervied shows... Riverdale (live action, 2010's) and New Adventures of Sabrina...
But there were cartoons in the 1960's and 1970s... both the main core (Archie, Veronica, Reggie, Jughead, Betty, Ethyl), and the Sabrina side.
I seem to recall an Archie inspired PBTA, but I am not certain. I'll note that if I were going to do Sabrina from the cartoons, I'd be focusing on the silly side, with a light version of Cortex Prime; if I were to run a version of Sabrina based upon the (animation heavy) live action New Adventures, I'd probably retheme either Angel or use a different subset of Cortex Prime. I've been tempted to do so from time to time.

And, of course, we know He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is coming out in Cortex Prime. When? No clue, it seems a bit overdue. I can't find links to buy the PDF... Not that my player base is likely to want to play it. But I have a strange want to read it, and maybe run it for yuks at a convention.
 

Aldarc

Legend
The mind-blowing success of Avatar: Legends has gotten me to thinking: what other popular cartoon(s) would make a successful TTRPG setting?

Here's my modest proposal:

Gravity Falls/Call of Cthulhu
So hear me out: ancient secrets, alternate realities, elder gods, cryptids, puzzles and mysteries and aliens and pyramids and madness--Gravity Falls has all of the staple ingredients for Call of Cthulhu campaign setting. I think it would work.

Why Gravity Falls?

My wife and I have almost finished a re-watch of the whole series (it's only 2 seasons long), and it's better than I remember from the first time I watched it. The puzzles and ciphers that are hidden in the credits, and throughout each episode in the background, really stand out on a second viewing...and solving them is a very satisfying experience (especially if you manage to do it without consulting the wiki. Yes, there's a wiki.)

Strong character development is a staple of modern animated series (Steven Universe, She-Ra, even Adventure Time) and Gravity Falls does it just as well as we have come to expect. As you watch the show, you get to watch Grunkle Stan go from being a crotchety old grump to a world-saving Man of Action. You watch Dipper go from awkward kid to master paranormal investigator. And so forth. It's easy to see the character progression in the story, and see how it could translate into character advancement in an RPG game.

And my final point is admittedly my weakest, but here goes: Gravity Falls has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is the same rating as Avatar: The Last Airbender. Data point of 1 and all, but it's at least feasible that a Gravity Falls RPG would also do well.

Why "Call of Cthulhu"?

I would pick this system because it's popular (it's one of the top RPG systems currently in print), and because the mechanics lend themselves well to the variety of technologies and fantastical elements present in the cartoon. Ancient spells, unicorns, and gnomes all make it a great fit for D&D 5E too, but things like grappling hooks, ray guns, flying saucers, and televangelists might require a little more elbow grease than the average DM would like. (That said: Bill Cipher would be an excellent Warlock patron.) And like Call of Cthulhu, the cartoon doesn't focus as much on combat: there isn't an epic battle scene in every episode, and even the few combat scenes that do exist are usually won by clever thinking and puzzle-solving, not attacks and damage.

View attachment 249409 View attachment 249422 View attachment 249423

So what about you? If you were making an RPG adaptation of a cartoon, which cartoon and RPG would you choose?
Gravity Falls is a good choice, but I am more inclined to go with a system like a mash-up of Fria Ligan's Tales from the Loop & Vaesen, or Kids on Bikes, or Bubblegumshoe than with Call of Cthulhu.

A small list of cartoons (popular or otherwise) that I think would make for fun RPGs:

Pirates of Dark Water



ReBoot



Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light
 
Last edited:

MarkB

Legend
Gravity Falls is a good choice, but I am more inclined to go with a system like a mash-up of Fria Ligan's Tales from the Loop & Vaesen, or Kids on Bikes, or Bubblegumshoe than with Call of Cthulhu.

A small list of cartoons (popular or otherwise) that I think would make for fun RPGs:

Pirates of Dark Water



ReBoot



Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light
Good call on Reboot, still one of my favourite cartoon series.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Good call on Reboot, still one of my favourite cartoon series.
Thanks. When I think about what cartoons would make a good RPG, it's not always my favorite cartoons. IMHO, there need to be fairly clear sense for what a campaign could look like or what hooks could exist for the players.

ReBoot: The PCs are sprites defending their system from the User's games, viruses, and other threats. PCs can change their ability loadouts for User games. The option also exists for wildspace adventures across "the Net."

Pirates of Dark Water: It's high seas adventures with pirates on an alien world. The RPG could be set before the series, dealing with the Kingdom of Octopon or the scattering of the Treasures of Rul. Or the RPG could even play into the unfinished television series. The main cast of characters have gone missing, so where does the story go from here?

Visionaries: It's '80s post-apocalyptic science fantasy that provides an instruction manual on what the RPG gameplay is like. The characters are mostly knights with special magic powers performing quests for wizarding patrons in order to renew their powers, build-up their kingdoms, and adapt to life in a weird post-apocalyptic world of magic.

Thundarr the Barbarian, another favorite of mine, pretty much exists already: Barbarians of the Ruined Earth (Black Hack).
 

So what about you? If you were making an RPG adaptation of a cartoon, which cartoon and RPG would you choose?
I hear the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon was so successful it launched the entire concept of RPGs.

... I'll show myself out.

(But I always did think Thundarr the Barbarian was someone's Gamma World campaign. And Titan AE could have inspired Star Frontiers but it was the other way round. Is there a decent Robotech/Macross RPG? There must be).
 

Aldarc

Legend
I hear the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon was so successful it launched the entire concept of RPGs.

... I'll show myself out.

(But I always did think Thundarr the Barbarian was someone's Gamma World campaign. And Titan AE could have inspired Star Frontiers but it was the other way round. Is there a decent Robotech/Macross RPG? There must be).
Probably not, but possibly tapping into a similar "dying earth" and "sword and sorcery" Zeitgeist.

 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
There are a bunch of DC properties that were cartoons...
Justice League of America (1960's)/Superfriends (early 1970s), Aquaman (1960's), Batman (1990's), Plastic Man Action Comedy Hour (1970s)...
THey don't need their own, but could be a nice supplement for the current DC game when one comes out... Noting that the powers have somewhat different limits than the comics.

Marvel has their playtest rules out, and Batman has an RPG kickstarter right now, so there's a couple options for these.
 

Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light

Visionaries and D&D are both owned by Hasbro, just saying...

Visionaries.png
 

Aldarc

Legend
Visionaries and D&D are both owned by Hasbro, just saying...

View attachment 249533
That is a good point, but that does rain on my parade a bit. D&D would not be my first choice for running Visionaries.* I'm skeptical if D&D style classes are a great fit. How would the various characters even map onto distinct classes or archetypes? And the idea that wizards are NPCs and not PCs, who are mostly mundane knights with a smattering of magic, would result in a riot for a lot of D&D players. We also never see (in our brief window of 13 episodes) the characters getting anywhere near the power level of level 20 characters in D&D. I'm not sure if that sort of progression really works for the series.

* I would look at something like Cortex Prime (see Tales of Xadia or the upcoming Legends of Grayskull). Characters could have guided Distinctions like Character Concept, Animal Totem, and Vision (i.e., their ideals about the future world or magic).
 

That is a good point, but that does rain on my parade a bit. D&D would not be my first choice for running Visionaries.* I'm skeptical if D&D style classes are a great fit. How would the various characters even map onto distinct classes or archetypes? And the idea that wizards are NPCs and not PCs, who are mostly mundane knights with a smattering of magic, would result in a riot for a lot of D&D players. We also never see (in our brief window of 13 episodes) the characters getting anywhere near the power level of level 20 characters in D&D. I'm not sure if that sort of progression really works for the series.

For a D&D adaption, I'd probably have PC spellcasters as contemporary people rediscovering the lost secrets of magic. Merklynn and his ilk would be patron level entities, powerful enough to have survived hibernation during the Age of Science. The Visionaries themselves seem like good candidates for a background feat. As to the level issue, I'd just chalk that up to the narrative being cut short.
 

Aldarc

Legend
For a D&D adaption, I'd probably have PC spellcasters as contemporary people rediscovering the lost secrets of magic. Merklynn and his ilk would be patron level entities, powerful enough to have survived hibernation during the Age of Science. The Visionaries themselves seem like good candidates for a background feat. As to the level issue, I'd just chalk that up to the narrative being cut short.
Differences of opinion I suppose, because I still remain unconvinced that D&D would be a good fit for Visionaries. I would prefer not force an oversized square into a small, round hole. I think that I would rather not play Visionaries at all than to play such a ill-suited version.
 


aramis erak

Legend
Marvel has their playtest rules out, and Batman has an RPG kickstarter right now, so there's a couple options for these.
Marvel's new system is not a happy thing... Not quite champions level math, but more math than a ruleset of that apparent weight should have.
Between way to much math to redo each level, the advancement is set to be WAY too fast, then brick wall. The math, while simple, is double+double digit most levels, and so the mathematically inept (a surprisingly large portion of gamerdom, especially since almost all the math in RPGs technically counts as algebra, with occasional dips into Trig and Calculus) are going to find it slow.

I'd rather run Sentinel Comics or AMSH for the saturday cartoon supers. Plus, newest Marvel as written doesn't do Supes level PCs justice.
 
Last edited:


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Hm, that's a good point. I've only watched the first half of the first season of Samurai Jack, so I'm probably not the best person to ask. I haven't gotten to much of the high-tech stuff. I've played plenty of Lo5R, though, and that game system is pretty flexible...but I admit, robots and vehicles might be too much work in the long run.

Hm. BESM also comes to mind, but...no. I don't think that would work either.

EDIT: Maybe OVA? It looks promising, but I've never played it.
Yeah BESM would be a good for Samurai Jack

the Samurai Jack setting is super gonzo post Akupolyptic mutants, robots, technopunks, aliens, gangsters and magic.

it could work with a wuxia-style Gamma world
 


An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top