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Known IPs, settings, etc.. and you.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...

This thread is not about homebrewing from whole cloth. It is about folks that take known settings such as the numerous ones from D&D, and IPs such as Starwars, Marvel/DC, Alien, Game of Thrones, etc.. and make their own content. For folks who do this, do you cleave as close to lore as possible? Or do you take the foundation and run with it? Universal generic system or custom bespoke? What is your process?

For me it really depends on style of game. I like to run sandboxes in Traveller and Pathfinder. I stick to lore when it makes sense, but dont feel beholden to it. These tend to be open worlds where the players will have a lot of input into how the game progresses. For one shots and short campaigns, I like using bespoke systems. If I really want to dive into the material, I like having that mechanical feel that fits like a glove. Cowboy Bebop for example, isnt a world in which I want to make my own bebopper, I want to take control of the iconic characters and experience adventures in their shoes. Lore is pretty important in this experience because im trying to emulate, not simulate.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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I take existing settings and use elements in my mashup homebrew with a lot of syncretism. A lot of Golarion and Ptolus. Bits of Eberron and Freeport and Warhammer and Midgard and Scarred Lands and touches of Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk and Spiros Blaak.

This allows me to use the elements I like (Ptolus's Holy Lothian Empire) and completely excise stuff I don't (Ptolus's closed cosmology and moons).

I like blending in different elements so they work together, so several Golarion regions are provinces in my Holy Lothian Empire, and the Lothian Church's saints and angels include incorporated Golarion and Scarred Lands and Spiros Blaak and Warhammer gods.

I tend to run modules but in a decently sandbox style.

In the past I ran Greyhawk and then Ravenloft fairly straight in the AD&D days and I ran a 3e campaign in Oathbound's Wildwood that was fairly straight as a setting using modules not designed for there. For more than a decade though it has been my mashup setting.


For my first campaign I used Forgotten Realms. But I definitely made it my own.
Firstly I sat the timeline all the way back to TSR's first released campaign setting, also known as the Gray Box.
Then I used Mythland's Forgotten Realms: Redux as my Forgotten Realms history.
(Forgotten Realms: Old School Redux) Because I just loved that flavour, and it was short and sweet and easy to remember.
Then I ran a 5e Phandelver Campaign. Using the Lost Mine of Phandelver and Dragon of Icespire Peak, with the three free follow up DLCs all mashed together.
I re-flavoured the campaign to fit my vision of the Forgotten Realms.

For my second campaign, I have been running Star Wars set in The Old Republic. Here I use the lore as background. But everything else is my own. I make new worlds, factions and NPCs myself.

So when I run an IP or official Campaign Setting I take what I like and then tweak, change or re-flavour what I don't.


Staff member
When I started GMing, typically what I did was scan the published RPG settings- getting the “feel”- and just running things my way. I used the boxed sets etc. as more of an outline and really didn’t pay much attention to the deeper history.

I never personally adapted any IP like books, movies, or TV shows straight into a campaign. Even when I bought RPGs adapted from licensed IP, I more mined them for ideas than ran them straight.

I have participated in games that were, though only as a player. So I’ve been in campaigns licensed or lifted from Glen Cook novels, LotR, Robotech, Anne Rice novels, and others.

The closest I ever came to what was asked in the OP was my oft-mentioned Supers 1900 campaign run in HERO 4th in the Space:1889 campaign setting*, which IMHO was my pinnacle as a GM. I yoinked that pretty much entire, but expanded upon it.

To do that, step #1 was simply including more from the sources Space:1889’s designers initially cribbed from, like the works of H.G. Wells & Jules Verne. But besides that, I included factors drawn from other works of fiction set in approximately the same RW time period- both from my own experiences and the backgrounds my players had used to create their PCs. So there were elements from The Difference Engine, TV shows like Wild, Wild West, The Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr., Kung Fu, “Elsewhen” & “What If?” comic books, and assorted anime, to name a few.

But I went further still…

I recycled plot lines and other elements from Michael Moorcock’s Bastable stories, Harry Turtledove’s Colonization novels, James Bond movies, mainline comic books, Alien Nation (movie & TV show), more modern history and more.

I wasn’t really hiding anything, either- those who were familiar with my sources often asked if I had been inspired by them. And I told them truthfully where I had or hadn’t.

* dusted off a decade + later to run for another group in a different city using Mutants & Masterminds, with the campaign setting advanced to 1914.


For the likes of Star Wars tend to stick to the canon material as presented in the films. Not a fan of the ever increasing universe but that is a different topic. I have run many Star Trek campaigns and I focus on the TNG era and I keep that as close to TV/film canon as I can. Same with the lenghy Babylon 5 campaign I ran in the early-mid 00's. Something like that I feel I need to stick the canon.

When we played some Marvel games, again mid-00's, we just assumed that it was an alternate multiverse so we could do what we wanted without clashing with an comic events.

As far as D&D goes, it was never really an issue as we went with what was within the lore of the campaign book. The only time we disregarded that was our Dragonlance campaigns in the 90s. My group and I hated the whole Chaos War and everything that came after it. We felt that they ruined the setting. So, we took the end of the Time of the Twins trilogy as they cut off as used the setting as the aftermath of the War of the Lance and took the setting where we wanted it to.


I typically don’t like using established settings, as I want to be the “expert” about the world.

last campaign was a Star Wars game using the FCG system, and I always felt like I was the one being informed about how the universe worked (I had two players who were big SW fans).

It’s not a huge deal, but I felt obligated to consume as much Star Wars lore/information as I could; I felt hampered and restrained when it came to improv.

I fixed it by turning the campaign to a new “undiscovered” system, which helped.


CR 1/8
I've been thinking about this sort of thing lately since I'm about to take a stab at the Captain's Log solo game for the Star Trek universe. It's based on the 2d20 system modified, as Modiphius does, to fit the style of the setting and intended modes of play. My intent is to use that system as presented, partly just to learn the basics of the 2d20 system. In the past, though, I've considered a short solo Star Trek game using the ultralite Lasers & Feelings system, but never got around to it.

As far as the Trek lore goes I'll stick with it as far as I can, but will certainly deviate quite a bit since I stopped following Trek years ago and my IP knowledge is outdated. (It helps, too, that it's a solo game; and the rules explicitly spotlight reasons why one could/should deviate from established lore!) But generally I aim to remain faithful to the small amount of lore in the rulebook, and I might even dig out an old Trek tech manual or look up an occasional factoid online.

I played a some Star Wars d6 back when, focusing on smugglers and bounty hunters, and even then - before the lore had proliferated and rebooted as it has - we tended to stick to the lore only as far as the rulebook went plus whatever we could individually recall from movies or novels. I'd likely do it similarly today (Edge of Empire is on my shelf sad and unused), assuming the group I was with wasn't too married to the lore. I might even go with Scum & Villainy (another one collecting dust on my shelf) for a similar genre without the massive overhead of tons of lore.

There are some exceptions, I suppose. I've never played in a Middle Earth game, but I'd probably want that to stick pretty close to the established lore. Likewise for Dark Crystal, though its official lore is a lot smaller than many others, and probably more manageable if GMing.

All that said, when using established IP (which is fairly rare, tbh) I think it's most important to me for establishing a definite atmosphere and a convenient vocabulary to talk about that sort of world. The details of the lore are less important; i'll run mostly within my own headcanon, because I'm not an expert and don't have the time to become one.
Regarding systems, while I used to really enjoy hacking generic rules, i've grown to appreciate bespoke systems for specific IPs/genres if they're well done and fairly lightweight.


It's May the 4th, so I will use Star Wars as an example.

First off, I do not feel beholden to any particular system. If whatever idea I have works best with WEG SWd6, that's fine. If Savage Worlds is the better choice, I'll use that. I might even use Saga Edition if for some reason I thought that was the best choice (more jedi focused, for example).

Second, I only consider official lore to.the extent that it makes the experience better. I will throw out anything in the EU or nee shows/movies if I think it is in the way. I want to play Star Wars, though, so I generally don't intentionally contradict anything. I just ignore stuff. But one of the reasons I like SW, especially for gaming, is that the lore is shallow and not particularly fragile. Look at all the futzibg around the comics and Clone Wars have done with it.

Finally, I always have a goal in mind. It might be a particular story, but usually it is a particular theme within SW. Everything I do is focused on that goal, and things that oppose or conflict with that get ignored or removed.

aramis erak


This thread is not about homebrewing from whole cloth. It is about folks that take known settings such as the numerous ones from D&D, and IPs such as Starwars, Marvel/DC, Alien, Game of Thrones, etc.. and make their own content. For folks who do this, do you cleave as close to lore as possible? Or do you take the foundation and run with it? Universal generic system or custom bespoke? What is your process?
I love to run setting adaptations to RPGs.
I prefer to use official systems, if only for the reduction of arguments in, "But it doesn't work that way!!!" angry arguments. And have found that ports to existing systems usually suck more than a NASA Vacuum pump.

Star Wars: I never tried to run SW using anything but official systems. Loved WEG, but now only like it, and preference is for 2.0, NOT 2 RE. WEG d6 Space was essentially 3.0; the 2.x templates work just fine with it. Prefer FFG. Hated d20, and only later on looked at Saga Edition; hate most of the conceptual choices for Star Wars, tho not of need bad. And what I've heard from friends running SWSE really reinforces that. They liked it, what they were doing felt totally unlike anything star wars to me. I prefer to do Rebel Alliance games, but have run desperate Ne'er-do-wells working for Hutts a few times.

Star Trek: I've run FASA 1E and 2E, LUG TNG+DS9, but never TOS/Voy. Run one one-shot of Decipher Trek, and wasn't thrilled with the clear d20 altered to 2d6 (3rd d6 on nat 12), but it's playable; the setting handling was excellent, tho'. 2d20? I like it better than the others, but LUG with a few changes is equally appealing to me. I don't like the 6 disciplines model; I'd have far preferred a more skill-based approach as was used in Conan, MC3 or Fallout... And I don't much care for the character gen being "all officers Ensign to Captain have the same total competency"...
I've no real issues writing trek adventures, and the Trek Setting is so well known I have little issue with players not knowing some of the basics.
I have tried running Trek with MegaTraveller - the conversion was straightforward, but the system did not help get the feel.

Alternate Trek: The Star Fleet Universe: I love Prime Directive 1e - it's Trek does Seal Team. it's also complex, and char gen a touch mathy... It's just as easy to run as STA or LUG-Trek... but not as easy to get characters generated.

Babylon 5: given that I thought each port sucked... CHameleon Ecclectic's was just too deadly. And had the "all PCs start equal" thing. D20? F that. Traveller? if it hadn't been hamfisted, it might have worked. Adventures? a little bit harder.

Judge Dredd: most of my players for it have barely been familiar with it. I've run the GW and Traveller ports; the d20 port got to char gen and my players said No. The Traveller port? character gen almost killed the one 1-shot... and playing it did. Most of my one-shots of GW use the random block search and hare off into whatever ... so improv on the fly with table support.

ElfQuest: one of the few ports to a universal that was good, IMO. Adventure support, however, was lacking. ElfWar was good... but not enticing to my players.

Marvel... I stick to published adventures, and to two editions: AMSH or MHRP. I found MU mechanics painful, and so it never got past a 1p conceptual test. MM? My players saw the sheet and essentially in unison cried, "Oh, hell, No!!!"

Alien: I've run both the Aliens Adventure Game (PC Light) and the Alien RPG (YZE). The first, which is Phoenix Command Light, was passable as a bug hunt for combat obsessed players, lots of detail... but I've run one minicampaign, once, 30 years ago. And had no desire since to run it. Alien (YZE), I've run 3 campaigns, plus 3 cinematics of the 4, one of them multiple times. It hits the tone right, and enforces some elements of it. Plus, it has just enough random table material to make it fairly easy to run campaigns without needing to be overly creative.

FOr Traveller, I completely ignore everything past TNE's end. I don't much care for the TNE setting destruction, but, aside from damage, I like it. What I've seen of the work coming out of mongoose makes me convinced not buying the rest is a good choice. I had some fun with 1E, but it didn't do the OTU all that well, at least not for me. And when I run Traveller, I prefer to run the OTU - my first experiences were OTU... I've run almost every GDW CT adventure save Alien Realms (as I didn't have it until Marc gave me it in PDF) and Tarsus (as it never appealed, and I didn't have it, either).
T4, I didn't care for the core mechanic, and didn't care for the continued use of FF&S, didn't care for the Year Zero setting... the only part I did like was the Psionics rules.
And, going forward, Alien's displaced Traveller for my Space Shipper needs.

For SG1: I got the D&D 5E derived one from Wyvern. It's sufficiently different from 5E to actually work. I didn't buy the official adventures, and had little issue coming up with adventures. I liked it.

For Tolkien: I have trouble writing suitable adventures...
MERP: The adventure I got was fine, but the system felt wrong for Tolkien. As Rolemaster Lite, however, it works fine.
Decipher LOTR: never got it past char gen. My players said "No."
The One RIng 1E: when I get the urge, it's got a great system and great adventures.
TOR 2E: I hated EVERY mechanical change made. Plus, it put combat into easy mode.... a relatively fresh starting party (no one yet having raised any combat skills nor Valor/Wisdom) took out a full on wraith... and won.

BTVS/Angel: The system's not bad. Adventures aren't hard to write, but doing them well had a greater than 1:1 prep:play for me... haven't gone back, but ran a fun campaign of it once, got my money's worth.

Army of Darkness: Same system as Buffy/Angel. Haven't convinced anyone to play it.

D&D settings: preferred to homebrew for AD&D, used Mystara but with little reguard for authenticity to lore... Much to Peter's annoyance on several occasions. Love the Gonzo.
Like Dragonlance, my players never seemed to love it.

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