Urban fantasy? (that isn't WoD)

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
@Dannyalcatraz I hear what you're saying. It would be nice if there was a unified UF game system with all of those as campaign settings for exploring more specific takes on the genre.
Sorta. I believe I could run most if not all of these in HERO, D20 Modern/Urban Arcana or possibly M&M (possibly using the W&W supplement). Others could use GURPS or their toolbox system of choice.

Barring that, you could subdivide them into certain groups that are stylistically related. MotW, Beyond the Supernatural, The Strange and other games are set up for teams of mostly mundane heroes to take on supernatural challenges. Others support supernatural heroes operating in a mostly mundane setting.

But several of these could benefit from dedicated rule sets.
Indeed. I suspect that's because "paranormal investigators and/or monster hunters" is just easier to grok and is more or less a modern-ish take on the D&D formula of dungeoneering. There's Chill, Call of Cthulhu, Tabloid!, Dark•Matter, Monster of the Week, Buffy, retroclones, etc. And it has a firm basis in pop culture in the form of X-Files, Hammer Horror, Buffy, Supernatural, etc that groups can draw upon for inspiration and understanding.

Meanwhile, the latter... is really only a thing in obscure/also-ran tabletop games. The only representation in pop culture that normies would have heard of are the paranormal romances and supernatural soap operas. These get pretty silly after a while. For example, "werewolf male pregnancy" is so popular that it is now its own trope that gets academic papers written about it. (Obviously, none of this is reflected in the tabletop games.) Both the oversaturated fiction scene and the floundering ttrpg scene have gone in completely different conceptual directions.
How are you defining the pop culture/normies divide? I mean, I went to dinner a couple nights ago and the waiter was digging my buddy’s anime t-shirt. There’s manga sections in some school & public libraries.
Shows like True Blood, From Dusk Till Dawn, Being Human, and Lost Girl are the closest I can think of to approximating what ttrpgs try to do (they're not really all that close btw) and they all fizzled out eventually. The longest running urban fantasy tv show franchise is Vampire Diaries spinoffs, which is heavy on the romance and soap opera.
I don’t know Vampire Diaries, etc., but I’d have to think the Buffyverse would be a strong contender for long running UF tv shows.

X-Files dabbled in the supernatural, and it’s second spin-off, Millenium was 100% UF/horror.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Thomas Shey

Legend
Sorta. I believe I could run most if not all of these in HERO, D20 Modern/Urban Arcana or possibly M&M (possibly using the W&W supplement). Others could use GURPS or their toolbox system of choice.

I've mostly concluded if I want to run my second class of UF games, I'll probably need to work with a system that supports superheroes to do it right, whether a dedicated superhero system, or one that just can handle them without screwing up.



But several of these could benefit from dedicated rule sets.

But this is true. I'd prefer a dedicated system for it, and I've found all the options I've found unsatisfactory on one grounds or another.
 

grankless

Explorer
Is Deadlands dead? It just got a big release last year in the form of updating "Weird West" to the SWADE rules, and that's not even counting the actual release of Deadlands 20th anniversary.

In general, I don't think that a game needs to keep releasing supplements to stay "active". The only games I can think of that do that are DnD, Pathfinder, and maybe Call of Cthulhu? Most of that is setting books. Nobody's calling Blades in the Dark a dead game just because there haven't been any new books for it by John Harper.
 

MGibster

Legend
Is Deadlands dead? It just got a big release last year in the form of updating "Weird West" to the SWADE rules, and that's not even counting the actual release of Deadlands 20th anniversary.
They're still making stuff for Deadlands, so it's not dead.

In general, I don't think that a game needs to keep releasing supplements to stay "active". The only games I can think of that do that are DnD, Pathfinder, and maybe Call of Cthulhu? Most of that is setting books. Nobody's calling Blades in the Dark a dead game just because there haven't been any new books for it by John Harper.
It isn't just supplements, usually a dead game isn't in print at all. But with the ubiquity of PDFs these days, is any game really dead? It's easier for me to get my hands on AD&D's Oriental Adentures today than it was in 2002. I'd still say yes. If nothing new is being produced or is likely to be produced I don't have a problem thinking of a game as dead.
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
No-one mentioned Liminal yet? It’s setting has secret societies of magicians, fae courts, werewolf gangs, and scheming vampires.

I was a backer for Liminal, and its an interesting take on it with a functional setting. I think its a little off of what I'm looking for, and may be a bit too simple for my group(s), but that's a faint critique at best, and probably a virtue to some.
 

VelvetViolet

Adventurer
No-one mentioned Liminal yet? It’s setting has secret societies of magicians, fae courts, werewolf gangs, and scheming vampires.
It’s one of several games I’ve looked at. It looks interesting. As with most of the games I’ve checked out, it only has a single campaign setting. E.g. the vampire are soulless in the Buffy fashion (aside from “dhampirs” that emulate Angel/Blade/Sonja Blue, thus suitable as PCs), the werewolves are created by a magic ritual, the ghosts are mindless echoes of human souls (thus not suitable for PCs).
 

5atbu

Explorer
The Rivers of London RPG from Chaosium will be along soon and expect a new version of the Laundry RPG eventually. Along with Liminal this is a trinity of urban fantasy/occult.

I suggest that you might consider picking system and setting separately so you can roll your own.

I'd like to explore the works of Charles de Lint, and I think I could do that with any of those, or Chronicles of Darkness, or GURPS..
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
I'd suggest virtually any dedicated urban fantasy system will have some degree of setting assumptions baked in. If you want to avoid that, I'm back to suggesting finding a generic system that handles at least moderate levels of power well and going that way (as Danny above obviously is considering).
 

VelvetViolet

Adventurer
I'd suggest virtually any dedicated urban fantasy system will have some degree of setting assumptions baked in. If you want to avoid that, I'm back to suggesting finding a generic system that handles at least moderate levels of power well and going that way (as Danny above obviously is considering).
Urban Shadows doesn’t really have a setting. It has a bunch of playbooks, but not much in the way of setting books.

Night Shift has four separate campaign settings in the core rulebook. They’re basically kitchen sink urban fantasy setting #1, kitchen sink setting #2 (not sure why there are two of these, I couldn’t tell the difference), post-apocalyptic setting with supernatural monsters, and a magic school setting.

d20 Modern had distinct writeups for “Shadow Chasers” (Buffy-style monster hunting) and “Urban Arcana” (D&D monsters and races end up in contemporary Earth, hidden by the veil of Shadow).

Aside from that, I got nothing.
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
Urban Shadows doesn’t really have a setting. It has a bunch of playbooks, but not much in the way of setting books.

The less specific the mechanics around supernatural are, the less what I said will be true, but notice I said "setting assumptions" not "setting". You can have baked in setting assumptions without a setting to go with them. As an example that was discussed--are vampires bodies possessed by demons? That's a setting assumption even if there's no meaningful setting to go with it.

Night Shift has four separate campaign settings in the core rulebook. They’re basically kitchen sink urban fantasy setting #1, kitchen sink setting #2 (not sure why there are two of these, I couldn’t tell the difference), post-apocalyptic setting with supernatural monsters, and a magic school setting.

d20 Modern had distinct writeups for “Shadow Chasers” (Buffy-style monster hunting) and “Urban Arcana” (D&D monsters and races end up in contemporary Earth, hidden by the veil of Shadow).

Aside from that, I got nothing.

At least D20 Modern was stuffed with setting assumptions baked into the material, especially in its magic and monsters.
 

VelvetViolet

Adventurer
I also forgot GURPS. There's Blood Types, Shapeshifters, several books on magic systems... Good stuff!

Btw, I'm currently working on my own treatments for urban fantasy settings. I have one on "romanticized vampires" that's basically a grab bag: there's undead vampires, living vampires, half-vampires, pureblood vampires, the whole lot. I only just started the sections on covens and bloodlines, because damn do I have my work cut out for me.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Urban Fantasy... it's a broad clade... Thinking its time
Ranging from huge conspiracies in ...
  • Dresden Files,
  • Old and New WoD,
  • Chill,
  • Bureau 13 (Great novel, not great game)
  • BTVS/Angel (excepting certain episodes; Season 4 gets a bit gonzo, too...)
to the overt holocaust-changes in
  • Deadlands, (multiple timeframes)
  • End of the World Return of the Gods,
  • Shadowrun.
  • Ghostbusters
  • Buffy/Angel, at end of Buffy S7
  • GURPS: Weird War II
Invisible wars...
  • Highlander
  • Buffy
  • In Nomine
  • oWoD (Camarilla vs Sabbat, Technocracy vs Order of Hermes, Black Spiral Dancers vs Everyone....)
Then the not quite normal flavors...
  • Street Fighter has magic, some real monsters, some other weirdness... and nobody notices.
  • Feng Shui - time travel, magic, ubertech, snake-people, animals hiding in human form.... and being disbelieved by oh so many.
  • Some of the Wrestling focused games also cross into the urban fantasy space.
  • Judge Dredd RPG (Games Workshop Version) - in the JD Companion, Judge Exorcists...
  • Kobolds Ate My Baby (It's set in the modern world... but with Kobolds added...)

Quite a range
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top