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When RPGs Meet SCP

The SCP Foundation is a fictional secret organization created through a wiki-based collaborative writing project. It's also a treasure trove of ideas for role-playing games.

SCP.png

By SCP Foundation - SCP Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0, File:SCP Foundation logo.png - Wikimedia Commons

What's a SCP?​

SCP (Special Containment Procedures) are steps taken by the SCP Foundation to ensure that paranormal and supernatural threats are kept safely contained and concealed from the bulk of humanity. The lengths the Foundation is willing to go to contain these anomalies can be drastic and often involve the death (or worse) of agents and D-class personnel (usually convicted prisoners).

Each SCP's description begins with how it is contained, its containment category, a description, and case files of experiments on the SCP or other notes of interest. Scattered throughout the notes and logs are commentary by SCP agents and researchers, who are sometimes in conflict as to how to keep a SCP contained.

The SCP Foundation doesn't exist in a vacuum. Other groups clash with the Foundation, including the Chaos Insurgency (who attempts to capture SCPs to weaponize them), the Global Occult Coalition (who attempts to destroy SCPs instead of contain them), and the Serpent's Hand, who wants to release SCPs entirely.

If any of this sounds familiar, it's because SCP is built on the shoulders of other government-meets-paranormal shows like X-Files, Fringe, and Stranger Things. But the SCP Foundation's heritage goes back even further.

The Roots of SCP​

SCP's multiple contributors who borrow from each other, the acknowledgement of beings beyond humanity's comprehension that could destroy the world as we know it, and a weird mix of science and fantasy, all have their basis in H.P. Lovecraft.

Like the SCP Foundation, Lovecraft's circle of collaborators was broad and he encouraged cross references in others' fiction that helped establish a shared universe. Similarly, Lovecraft enjoyed injecting cutting edge science into his stories, often pitting organized scholars, researchers, and field agents against the more terrestrial horrors.

As one example, The King in Yellow, created by Robert W. Chambers and referenced by Lovecraft, has its parallel in SCP-701, "The Hanged King." There are many more.

Using SCPs in Your Game​

SCPs are an interesting twist on dungeon crawling. Unlike typical fantasy adventuring, the monster is already known. The key isn't to find it, but rather to keep it secret from the rest of the world and prevent it from harming others. The monster isn't a mystery, but how it operates may be.

Although it's certainly possible to replicate a typical dungeon crawl as PCs act as agents to find and contain a SCP, the genre lends itself to containment. This "warehouse of secrets" model can easily be applied to a magical vault of dangerous artifacts, prisons containing interdimensional monsters, and mind-bending anomalies lying dormant in forbidden libraries. As keepers of these secrets, PCs are committed to containing the threat; this threat might be from the thing itself, or it could be from others who want to use it to their own advantage.

SCPs that can escape are often beings of mind-blasting power, so there's something to be said for having multiple PCs play in the role of guards or even test subjects. The Character Funnel from Dungeon Crawl Classics is a great way to represent the hapless individuals who will inevitably die. In a modern setting, Delta Green (playing agents) and Call of Cthulhu (researchers or D-class) are obvious choices.

With over 6,000 SCPs catalogued, there's a related story seed for virtually every monster in fantasy and science fiction. And if you need more ideas, there are three volumes of artbooks suitable for use as props in a game, a role-playing game (second edition is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter), and several video games based on the SCP Foundation, including Control and SCP - Containment Breach.

Your Turn: Do you have a "warehouse of secrets" in your campaign?
 
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca



JThursby

Explorer
Like the SCP Foundation, Lovecraft's circle of collaborators was broad and he encouraged cross references in others' fiction that helped establish a shared universe.
The SCP Foundation has realized Lovecraft's idea of a shared literary universe far more comprehensively by building everything upon the Creative Commons Commercial Share-alike license. Anyone can use anything from the SCP Foundation for personal use or profit with no restrictions (save the image of The Statue that has it's own licesnse from the original artist) other than needing to slap the your derivative work with the same lisence. It becomes impossible for any person or corporation to monopolize creative control of the enterprise, and has proven to be a well that many independent creators can pull from to make great projects, like the Confinement animated show, the 096 short film, or various video games like Containment Breach or Secret Lab.

I'm a geek for creative commons, I think it's the future of intellectual property management in the digital age. The guys that make the Eclipse Phase RPG think the same way and have a bunch of their rulebooks as free PDFs, I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to thumb their nose at DRM or just likes grittier science fiction.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
In my game, the Scout Corps does "Secure, and Containment Protocol" duty (this includes dealing with alien artifacts), with special, elite teams who are called "Group B" except notoriously they use a "13" for the B, like a Black Cat with a 13 in its mouth.
 

One just does have to remember that the SCP setting is, if taken on face value, cosmic horror, and that's even if you ignore the end-of-the-world cases; some of the SPC are simply horrifying and beyond human handling except in a very limited sense on the face of them. That doesn't mean all of them are, but you at best end up bordering on a lot of the effect you got from the TV show The Lost Room.
 






Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
One just does have to remember that the SCP setting is, if taken on face value, cosmic horror, and that's even if you ignore the end-of-the-world cases; some of the SPC are simply horrifying and beyond human handling except in a very limited sense on the face of them. That doesn't mean all of them are, but you at best end up bordering on a lot of the effect you got from the TV show The Lost Room.
For some reason, this reminded me of the SCP that's a vending machine.
 


talien

Community Supporter
The SCP Foundation has realized Lovecraft's idea of a shared literary universe far more comprehensively by building everything upon the Creative Commons Commercial Share-alike license. Anyone can use anything from the SCP Foundation for personal use or profit with no restrictions (save the image of The Statue that has it's own licesnse from the original artist) other than needing to slap the your derivative work with the same lisence. It becomes impossible for any person or corporation to monopolize creative control of the enterprise, and has proven to be a well that many independent creators can pull from to make great projects, like the Confinement animated show, the 096 short film, or various video games like Containment Breach or Secret Lab.

I'm a geek for creative commons, I think it's the future of intellectual property management in the digital age. The guys that make the Eclipse Phase RPG think the same way and have a bunch of their rulebooks as free PDFs, I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to thumb their nose at DRM or just likes grittier science fiction.
Of all the things about SCP that struck me after revisiting the topic, this was point was my biggest revelation. SCP is Lovecraft's legacy in a way that so many authors can only dream of, but not quite the way they probably hoped or anticipated: free-form, open-source, and entirely modern.
 

I'm a geek for creative commons, I think it's the future of intellectual property management in the digital age. The guys that make the Eclipse Phase RPG think the same way and have a bunch of their rulebooks as free PDFs, I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to thumb their nose at DRM or just likes grittier science fiction.
For all those people who said Degenesis failed because it put up all its RPG PDFs for free, these are more data points proving that making the pdfs free (or source material, in the case of SCP) isn't doomed to fail, but it does need to match the business model. I think the Degenesis studio just had a mismatch.
 

It becomes impossible for any person or corporation to monopolize creative control of the enterprise, and has proven to be a well that many independent creators can pull from to make great projects, like the Confinement animated show, the 096 short film, or various video games like Containment Breach or Secret Lab.
There WAS a controversy in Russia where someone in the Russian Federation, they got a Russian court to rule that a Russian citizen has all the rights to the SCP Foundation and that the creative commons license was unenforceable.

I think they eventually got that ruling overturned, but a copyright troll in another country tried to seize control of it, but it failed.
 

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