Things I Don't Have Time For At the Moment

Between my actual-play podcast and various ongoing writing projects, I've got...oh, about five big items on my docket right now.

Of course, this means my brain keeps throwing ideas at me for yet more things to work on, all of which would just be silly little free fan projects. So consider this post a temporary storage bin that I may exorcise the demons and focus on the stuff in front of me. I'll come back to you, ideas—I promise!

One idea I've had kicking around for a while which has recently been reasserting itself is to do a PbtA adaptation of Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld stories. It would, naturally, be called River World. See what I did there?

I realized a gaming goal of long standing a few years ago when I ran a GURPS Riverworld campaign, a mere 20 years after first picking up the book. It was a fun game, but I have to say that I found GURPS was almost too much for the setting. Ultimately, the gameplay experience came down to two things: building stuff and interacting with NPCs. Those are tasks that PbtA could handle really well, with a variety of interesting Moves to reflect social interaction and technological experimentation and development. Plus, the playbooks just write themselves.

Speaking of custom classes, I blogged last year about doing some write-ups on adapting S. John Ross's world of Uresia to The Black Hack. Shortly after that I went to Gen Con and came home with a bunch of projects—the kind that actually pay money—and so my "Uresia Hack" project has sadly remained on the back burner since then. But I will to it! In fact, one of the money-making projects I'm working on right now has more than a bit of Black Hack DNA in it, so I've had an opportunity to further familiarize myself with the system. I should really prioritize this once things open up a bit, as I bet I could crank out a PDF over a few evenings' worth of work.

The latest demon to come and torment me is courtesy of my cooling interest in Savage Rifts. Although I admire the job that the SR team did in adapting the rules, after running the game last year I've come to the conclusion that it just doesn't hit the notes I'm looking for. "My" version of Rifts is idiosyncratic to the extent that I don't think I can rely on anyone else to capture it; if you want something done right...

I know I'm not the only one to feel this way. My good e-buddy Paul Vermeren (of Dungeonskull Mountain) comes from a similar demographic/gaming background as I, and his interest in developing a version of "his" Rifts ineluctably led to a completely new vision of his own post-apocalyptic genre-mashup, the brilliant GRIDSHOCK (which I'll be promoting the hell out of when it comes out, because it's the retro-anime-superhero-post-apocalyptic mashup RPG you never knew you needed until now).

I was texting with my good buddy Alex (with whom I discovered Rifts way back when) about how I might go about scratching my own peculiar itch, and he quite helpfully suggested doing a sort of "neo-clone" using the wide variety of OSR rules out there. I actually blogged about this some years ago on my old blog, and I think, if anything, the available palette of hackable rules systems has only multiplied exponentially since then.

I don't know if this would be an attempt to convert Rifts qua Rifts to an OSR-style system, or if I'd take a page from GRIDSHOCK and attempt to do my own thing that's merely in the same general wheelhouse as Rifts...but it's sure fun to contemplate. If I went with the former, I suppose I'd have to keep things fairly generic (as far as released/posted material goes) to avoid that dreaded Palladium C&D letter! So maybe I'm better off just going my own way anyway?

Sadly, contemplation is a luxury I can't afford right now, so into the file it goes, along with these other worthy contenders. Maybe I'll check back in around the holidays, when snow lies sparsely on the ground and one searches for ways to while away the long nights...

Off to Gen Con!

Just a quick update today and nothing substantive for Thursday this week either, I'm afraid. I've got a good reason, though: tomorrow I board a plane for Indianapolis to experience gaming's own Grand Guignol--Gen Con.

Last year was my first time going, so I feel a bit more prepared this time around. I'll be doing a lot more gaming than last year, including running a session of Pendragon (my first time out as a convention GM!). The game booked up fast--shockingly fast, if I'm being honest--but if you're planning on attending the con, have nothing going on between 1:00-5:00 on Friday, and want to be on the stand-by list, drop me a line here or on the sosh medes and I'll keep you in the loop!

Otherwise, if you're reading this and you'll also be there, I'll be one of the guys wearing an Esoteric Order of Roleplayers shirt. (Hot tip: Spreadshirt has a 15%-off sale coming up from the 4th to the 9th...) I accept friendly hellos and small monetary donations with equal grace, I can assure you.

As much as I'm looking forward to the trip, I'm also fairly itching to get going on my Uresia Hack project, so I hope to have some material on that next week (if I manage to dodge the dreaded Con Crud). I mean, I pretty much have to now, don't I?

The Uresia Hack?

Long-time readers of my internet ramblings will know that S. John Ross's world of Uresia is my metaphorical Great White Whale of fantasy settings. Originally developed and published for the Big Eyes, Small Mouth anime RPG and now available as a systemless guidebook, I've run games set in the world of Uresia using BESM, the Rules Cyclopedia, and Pathfinder. All attempts were, in their own ways, successful, yet none really did it for me. In the case of BESM and Pathfinder, it was simply me not caring for the system itself (finding both to be too crunchy for my tastes); in the case of the Rules Cyclopedia, it was too many modifications required to properly capture in the mechanics Uresia's blend of 8-bit JRPGs, anime, classic fantasy tropes, and Ross's patented brand of big-hearted whimsy.

From time to time, as a sort of idle larf, I've taken a look at a variety of other possible systems over the years: everything from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy to Ross's Risus RPG to Dungeon World. GURPS ultimately proved too rooted in "believability" in its mechanical approaches, while Risus was just a bit too rules-lite for my tastes. Dungeon World looked to be the best bet, particularly with the release of the excellent Class Warfare supplement and its details on creating new and custom playbooks. But there remained some lingering doubts on my part that prevented me from diving in to a full-throated conversion project.

Enter The Black Hack.

This stripped-down mod of D&D, blending old and new mechanics, has been getting a lot of attention lately, and rightfully so. It hits a nice sweet spot between simplicity and crunch, and--most importantly--is eminently mod-able. So much so that the Internet has been downright flooded with hacks of the Hack, as it were.

One that particularly caught my eye is The Anime Hack--in particular, its suggestion that "[t]he Black Hack is not required, but it is awesome and would add a lot to your experience...". Hm! Interesting!

This then got me thinking: using a combined Anime/Black Hack to power a Uresia campaign...