August 15, 2017
RPGaDay Question #15
Question #15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?
I think it's safe to say that I've tinkered with or "adapted" just about every RPG I've played in some form or another.
As a self-professed "tinker monkey" when it comes to RPGs, I like mucking around with the system in various ways, introducing various house rule ideas to see what works, what doesn't, and perhaps most importantly why it does or doesn't work.
In terms of sheer volume of system tinkering that I've done, I'd probably say that WotC's various d20 Star Wars games take the cake. For its flaws, the d20 engine does permit for a whole lot of customization, tweaking a whole mess of things to deliver whatever sort of game experience the GM and players enjoy. I think the enduring popularity of Pathfinder is a testament to that, as they're still riding the 3.X gravy train long after WotC moved on to other iterations of d20.
I've also enjoyed playing around with ideas and concepts for FFG's Star Wars RPG, although the amount of "new material" I've created has been substantially less. I think one of the biggest contributions that I made was the tandem effort between myself and Ben "Cyril" Erickson with the Unofficial Species Menagerie, which we first created way back in the days of the Edge of the Empire Beta, mostly as a way to give players viable options for species outside of the eight introduced in the EotE Beta rulebook. In hindsight, we probably could have gotten a lot more daring than we did, but it was a new system and both of us were still in the learning curve of what was balanced and what went too far. It's been interesting to see how FFG has approached a number of these species, and seeing where they diverge from what we did.
One fairly recent bit of system adapting I tried my hand was for 7th Sea, that being the conversion of a slew of 1e Swordsman Schools into 2e Duelist Styles. I probably spent more time that I really needed to on that one, mostly out of an effort to avoid falling into the ever-present trap of creating home-brew material that was vastly more powerful than the official stuff. Granted, I started this project even before the 7th Sea core rulebook was officially released (perks of being a Kickstarter back), mostly as a way to broaden the number of options available for characters. I didn't wind up trying to adapt all of the 1e Swordsman Schools, as some of them were so unusual or out of place as a "dueling" style that it didn't seem applicable.
As for the idea of shoehorning an existing system to make it work for another setting, I'd have to say I'm generally not a fan of such an approach. I know there are folks that love using FATE Core for pretty much everything, and I've lost track of the numerous different attempts people have made to run Star Wars in their preferred system de jour, but for me a lot of them just fell flat. That being said, I have to give kudos to Green Ronin for in their efforts to make Mutants and Masterminds be able to replicate the sort of antics we see in various comic books, they wound up creating an RPG that can indeed be adapted to just about any sort of genre and still work as intended. Back during the 2e days, I used MnM2e to create a bunch of characters from the Danny Phantom cartoon series (it was really good, but sadly got shafted by Nickelodeon, especially its third season), with Danny himself turning out to be a serious powerhouse for a PL9 hero. I also used MnM2e to do character builds of characters from the Final Fantasy series (specially 7, 8, and 10) and Kingdom Hearts (dear lord Sora was a beast for being PL10/150 points), as well as the named characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender as of the conclusion of the second season. For a while, the Atomic Think Tank (Green Ronin's official Mutants & Masterminds forum) was chock full of folks using the system to create heroes and villains of numerous genres, and none of them really felt out of place in a game about superheroes. Sadly, Green Ronin's forums have turned into a cesspit full of bile and resentment, with a lot of posters suffering from entitlement about how they're not getting the products they feel they deserve (this was especially true with Dragon Age and the third box set, an issue that was completely out of Green Ronin's hands due to the approvals being held up on BioWare's end).
Come back tomorrow to see which RPG I actually enjoy using "as is" without tinkering around with it.