'Licensed' games

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  • edited April 2006
    I nominate "It's the ducks" as a new phrase meaning that something is cool.

    Even though, I must say, I'm not entirely crazy about Glorantha per se, just as I'm not entirely crazy about Hârn per se. Just that, since I see both as "open" settings, they seem like reasonable playgrounds for RPGing.
  • Boo. I had meant it to be a backhanded compliment.

  • Whatever. I just want "It's the ducks" to pass into the vernacular somehow or other.

    In Glorantha they originally bugged me a lot. Later I realized that Glorantha had all kinds of silly stuff and you just have to let it all wash over you and accept it.
  • "...or How I Learned to Relax and Love the Duck"
  • edited April 2006
    Hey, Droog, I'm at least 50% on board with your dislike of licensed settings. Where I remain puzzled is why you like Glorantha but dislike the idea of playing in Lankhmar. (I'd toss in Star Trek but if you're not an old TOS fogey like me, then I imagine all the Borg-dominated continuity of TNG might get in the way of enjoyment.)

    Elliot, I'm not sure myself (which is why I started the thread). I'm open to the possibility that the reason I like Glorantha is simply that I've been using it for so long (I make it about twenty-four years now). Certainly there are no other published worlds I can think of that interest me. In a real sense, Glorantha is mine in a way no other RPG creation is. Perhaps that's why the snippets of fiction about it generally bore me.

    Lankhmar--and to take an example even closer to my heart, Earthsea--is inextricably connected in my mind with the work of the author. Earthsea exists for the purpose of telling Le Guin's stories about life and death, men and women. Lankhmar exists for the purpose of telling tall tales about Fafhrd and the Mouser. These worlds have a unique texture made up of the writer's style, ideology and taste. To step outside that feels hollow; like pastiche, hero-worship, imitation.

    It goes back to what I said on Joshua BR's thread on fantasy. It's not the form that matters, it's the substance.
  • Yeah, but Droog... Lankhmar is, itself, pastiche, hero-worship, and imitation.

    Zelazny LOVED the idea that people would play a roleplaying game set in his world. If he didn't feel like having a thousand clones of Corwin running around in peoples' heads were going to cheapen the character, why should I?
  • Well, V., I'm not trying to tell you how you should feel about it. I don't care about Zelazny and Corwin, perhaps because I haven't read those books. Suffice it to say that I don't see Lankhmar (Nehwon) as pastiche or imitation. That goes double-triple for Earthsea.
  • "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants."

    Originally said by Isaac Newton, oft quoted by creative people ever since.

    Imitation isn't a binary condition. Every creative work ever produced is, to some degree, an imitation of works that came before. There are only so many plots. There are only so many character archetypes. There are only so many emotions. There are only so many combinations of story elements that will resonate with the human experience.

    The fact that you don't see them in that light may just be a matter of never having been exposed to the works from which they're derived; you've never seen behind the curtain.

    I see the F&GM books as SEMINAL works from which adventure roleplaying is derived. If you're playing in Glorantha... as far as I'm concerned, you're playing, to some degree, in an imitation of Lankhmar.
  • If you say so.
  • To some degree I sympathize. There's a certain thrill in believing you're doing something new and amazing rather than knowing exactly how you're doing something derivative. All that "you're doing something BETTER than those other roleplayers" text in all those games is not there by accident.
  • edited April 2006
    I think the fact that Lieber accepted a large number of F&GM stories into the canon which he himself didn't write is relevant. That sort of multi-perspective and willingless to let others play with your toys shows a kinship with RPG world-design.

    EDIT: Whoa, I may be wrong about that. The copyrights in the collections often attribute various stories to names other than Lieber, but info I'm getting from elsewhere says he wrote everything except for part of one story ("The Lords of Quarmall," if memory serves). OTOH, Wikipedia reports that Faf & the Mouser were based on Lieber & Fischer, so I'm going to go with that as support for Lieber being a proto-gamer at heart.
  • JDCorley wrote:
    To some degree I sympathize. There's a certain thrill in believing you're doing something new and amazing rather than knowing exactly how you're doing something derivative.

    I don't tend to use licensed settings but the games I run are absolutely derivative. I think we tend to put shit through our own filter and come out with something new but I'm not interested in beating badgers against trees in order to invent some kind of new sound.
  • I think the fact that Lieber accepted a large number of F&GM stories into the canon which he himself didn't write is relevant. That sort of multi-perspective and willingless to let others play with your toys shows a kinship with RPG world-design.

    As far as I'm aware (and I have all the Swords editions of the stories, published by Granada), that's not quite so. Leiber's friend Harry Otto Fischer wrote a considerable chunk of one story, 'The Lords of Quarmall', but that seems to be the extent of it.

    But that's not exactly my point, anyway. I just don't think Nehwon has any life apart from the stories. When I steal from Leiber in the middle of a game, as I have, I steal his wit and humour. What else is there to steal? Set dressing? Nehwon is about a millimetre deep.

    I'm not making some sort of moral judgement on people who play in these settings. Please don't get defensive on me, guys (I don't mean you, Elliot).
  • Droog--yep, my error. See my retraction above. I don't know about your books, but mine have copyrights and acknowledgments from many different names. Imagine my feelings about the fact that I liked a lot of the non-"Lieber" stories better than the "Lieber" ones.

    And yes, Nehwon isn't very deep. And personally I'm not eager to run a campaign set in it. Yet it would work for a campaign as long as the players didn't keep meeting F & the GM. Or if F & the GM just didn't exist. I mean, up to the point I've read, they've never done anything that fundamentally altered the world, or conversely, they've never prevented anything that would have made the world unsuitable for other adventurers to kick around in and get themselves killed. Extract the main characters from Middle Earth and you've got a world where either somebody else (most likely the PC's) has to step into their shoes, or the world is going to be changed to the point that it loses its basic attraction.
  • edited April 2006
    Here's an article by M. John Harrison I just remembered that has some bearing on the way I think about this issue:

    What it might be like to live in Viriconium
    The great modern fantasies were written out of religious, philosophical and psychological landscapes. They were sermons. They were metaphors. They were rhetoric. They were books, which means that the one thing they actually weren’t was countries with people in them.

    The commercial fantasy that has replaced them is often based on a mistaken attempt to literalise someone else’s metaphor, or realise someone else’s rhetorical imagery. For instance, the moment you begin to ask (or rather to answer) questions like, “Yes, but what did Sauron look like?”; or, “Just how might an Orc regiment organise itself?”; the moment you concern yourself with the economic geography of pseudo-feudal societies, with the real way to use swords, with the politics of courts, you have diluted the poetic power of Tolkien’s images. You have brought them under control. You have tamed, colonised and put your own cultural mark on them.
    ...............................................................
    What would it be really like to live in the world of…?” is an inappropriate question, a category error. You understand this immediately you ask it of the inscape of, say, Samuel Beckett or Wyndham Lewis. I didn’t want it asked (and I certainly didn’t want it answered) of Viriconium, so I made that world increasingly shifting and complex. You can not learn its rules. More importantly, Viriconium is never the same place twice. That is because—like Middle-Earth—it is not a place. It is an attempt to animate the bill of goods on offer. Those goods, as in Tolkien or Moorcock, Disney or Kafka, Le Guin or Wolfe, are ideological. “Viriconium” is a theory about the power-structures culture is designed to hide; an allegory of language, how it can only fail; the statement of a philosophical (not to say ethological) despair. At the same time it is an unashamed postmodern fiction of the heart, out of which all the values we yearn for most have been swept precisely so that we will try to put them back again (and, in that attempt, look at them afresh).

    Come to think of it, it's a lot more than 'some'.
  • Droog,

    You have brought them under control. You have tamed, colonised and put your own cultural mark on them.

    That's actually pretty powerful, considering the LotR movies, but more to the point at hand, published licensed RPGs. Nice quote.

  • What I find interesting is that I agree with M. John Harrison's essay to a degree about what it is doing, but I don't see why that's bad. Yes, writing in a world is taking ownership of the material and putting your personal mark on it. That's true for adapted works in general. This colonization happens all the time in collaborative works. That's true when you direct a play or film based on a script. The director takes control and puts his mark on the script by the casting, staging, acting, and so forth.

    I think that this colonization is good. It is exchange of ideas. For example, John Gardner's Grendel was colonising the world of Beowulf. Interpretation and adaptation are good things.

    And it is equally true in role-playing games. By role-playing in a setting, I am putting my cultural mark on that. Rather than passively consuming the original, I am exploring beyond what it written.
  • edited April 2006
    I guess it comes down to ideology and aesthetics.


    EDIT: And before anybody says 'Duh!', I mean that I think there may be wider issues of approaches to art here. For instance, I generally dislike film adaptations of books, and the more I like the book, the less I like the film. Whereas I've noticed many others looking forward to forthcoming film adaptations, I tend to feel that the best flims are not adaptations.
  • Droog,

    It's a life thing, yep yep.
  • By role-playing in a setting, I am putting my cultural mark on that. Rather than passively consuming the original, I am exploring beyond what it written.
    A further thought here, John. If you want to make distinctions between 'active' and 'passive' reception of art, surely the creation of something new is more active than the acceptance of a prefabricated setting?

    And as we here at Story Games seem to be examining words and their effect carefully at the moment, I'll admit that I'm not quite as comfortable with 'colonisation' as you are.
  • Sometimes its nice to go to a restaurant and have a pre-concieved meal brought to you to consume. Sometimes it's nice to work up a recipie and cook a great meal in your own kitchen. Sometimes it's fun to do a buffet/dim sum kind of "cobble together a custom meal based on a range of pre-existing meal modules."

    On the other hand, I'm just about always up for soul food, barbecue, or Thai, I'm occasionally in the mood for Greek or Chinese, and I pretty much never ever want to eat Indian if I can help it.

    There are some ideas in roleplaying that I feel that I never want to deal with. I'm not particularly interested in games that are heavy on player vs player conflict. And I'm not a huge fan of intense exploration-of-deep-character-psychology-within-a-highly specialized-crucible type games, whether they're explicitly or not designed as roleplaying exercises.

    I prefer to get to that level of exploration of character in a slower fashion, and within a more conventional plot structure. Which probably makes me kind of old fashioned/simplistic in a post-Forge world, but oh well.

    The point is, some of these choices for me break down into a fairly hard "Want to do mostly always/Don't want to do mostly ever" dichotomy, but some, like licensed/adapted setting vs. built-as-a-game setting vs. created by me and my friends from scratch setting, are more a matter of mood, energy level, the personality of the potential players, etc.

    Right now I'm playing in a scratch built world (superhero pastiche), my previous game was Star Wars, the game before that was a game-built world (Exalted), and before that another scratch-built world (pretty hard science fiction), before that another game world, before that a game world heavily modified/added to, etc etc . It's all good.

    I'm not sure I'd want to place value on creation. Because it seems like there's a mild implication that creation is superior to consumption, and I'm dubious about that within a practical "this is a hobby for me, not a career, and the fate of the world doesn't rest on how I approach it" context. I mean, when I'm reading Dumas (Dickens, Melville, LeGuin, Morrison, whoever), I see no reason to feel guilty that I'm not writing a book instead.

    The hobby can be approached as an act of creation, obviously, in fact I reckon all gaming will have some greater or lesser degree of creation activity within them. But ultimately I'm here to have fun with friends, and I'm not necessarily using how much of the experience we created as a measure of the fun. While I've had tremendous fun creating worlds and game systems with friends, every meal I enjoy with them doesn't have to be cooked up by me (or us).

    (It's funny how loaded the word "fun" is to me nowadays, when it comes to gaming discussions. it's all glowy and radioactive in my mind.)
  • I'm not sure I'd want to place value on creation. Because it seems like there's a mild implication that creation is superior to consumption, and I'm dubious about that within a practical "this is a hobby for me, not a career, and the fate of the world doesn't rest on how I approach it" context. I mean, when I'm reading Dumas (Dickens, Melville, LeGuin, Morrison, whoever), I see no reason to feel guilty that I'm not writing a book instead.


    Oh, John brought that one up. I'm off on a different tack.
  • droog wrote:
    A further thought here, John. If you want to make distinctions between 'active' and 'passive' reception of art, surely the creation of something new is more active than the acceptance of a prefabricated setting?

    And as we here at Story Games seem to be examining words and their effect carefully at the moment, I'll admit that I'm not quite as comfortable with 'colonisation' as you are.
    As for the former, I feel that adapting a work is still creating something new. I do value originality, but often, great works come from progressive refinement. For example, many (if not most) of Shakespeare's works borrow setting and plot from earlier works. For that matter, there have been plenty of good works adapting Shakespeare. As far as films go, feature films are inherently collaborative works that are usually thoroughly colonized. While occaisionally you have writer/director/stars who take a film from beginning to end, most of the time a film passes through many hands. I'd say about half of my favorite films are adapted from other media, like The Maltese Falcon, Bridge on the River Kwai, and The Silence of the Lambs.

    As for the word "colonisation" -- well, it's not a term that I would have chosen myself. I'd prefer "adapting" or perhaps "re-interpreting".
  • John, as far as I'm concerned you're still talking past me. It's not really a matter of 'how creative you can be'. It's the 'category error' that Harrison writes about. Read the posts where I'm stumbling towards articulating this.

    There are some interesting trends here as to what sort of games people prefer compared to their overall approach to art and life. This thread has helped me work out what it is that irritates me about licensed settings, and maybe some other people too. It's also helped to clarify why I often find myself alone among other roleplayers. I always work best through discussion.
  • Heh. I live in Eugene, Oregon. Saying "It's the ducks" that way would confuse everyone around me. Sorry, Hoho and Elliot.
  • Holy friggin' necromancy, Batman!
  • Posted By: droog

    It's the same withBuffy. Unless you do exactly what the people in the show did (demons, vampires, you know the drill), what do you do? And if you do do exactly what the people in the show did, well, they've already done it, with better writing and acting.
    Soo... is the secret licensing a property with awesome potential, but lousy execution?

    Land of the Lost, I'm looking at you.
  • edited July 2010
    Jeff, have you tried Mouseguard or Burning Empires? I am typically in anti-licensed games camp, but those are two licensed games that I can and probably will play for years, especially the latter. This makes me think it's a matter of implementation.

    I'm really surprised that no one has brought either of them up so far.
  • Personally I don't really see anything wrong with "fanfic role-playing" per se. One of the very best game sessions I've ever been in was a Firefly game at a convention where everyone got into the series characters perfectly. I'm not at all worried about not living up to the series as long as it's fun, which in that case it was in spades. The main reason I'm not all that into licensed RPGs? Even though my friends have similar tastes overall, there are vanishingly few titles that everyone likes enough to want to do an RPG thing with.
  • Posted By: JuddI also don't get the thrill of playing in a licensed setting but given how well they sell, I'm obviously in a minority.

    I'm all about playing in a setting that is inspired by literature, a movie, etc.

    But playing in a setting firmly based in a book's setting...I get a case of the meh's.
    Keith just pointed out the contradiction of me posting this some years ago and now I'm playing in a Forgotten Realms campaign. Suck it, Senkowski! I contain multitudes, motherfucker!

    Seriously, though, I pitched a Realms-based game when we were brainstorming what to play and the two guys I game with jumped on it and got really, really excited, both having been raised on the gray boxed set. For me, it is about playing in a setting that we are all invested in and while doing so, I get to tinker with ebay-purchasing of old AD&D supplements on the cheap and read old FR supplements with both an eye to be inspired for the campaign and a critical eye thinking about how to convey rich settings through supplements.
  • Posted By: Bret GillanJeff, have you tried Mouseguard or Burning Empires? I am typically in anti-licensed games camp, but those are two licensed games that I can and probably will play for years, especially the latter. This makes me think it's a matter of implementation.

    I'm really surprised that no one has brought either of them up so far.
    Agreed, Bret. MG, BE and Burning Sands: Jihad are amazing examples of licensed games that work for me.
  • edited July 2010
    Is BS: Jihad a license?

    EDIT: Of Dune I suppose. :-/
  • Posted By: Bret GillanJeff, have you tried Mouseguard or Burning Empires?
    I think neither MG nor BE were published when I started this thread. In fact I now have MG, but not BE. I bought the trade hardback of MG at the same time as the game.

    My feeling about MG is that it's a great system, but I'm not particularly excited to play in it. On the other hand, I think that the comics are actually pretty thin, and there's a fair bit of scope for doing something new. However, I'd still rather play BW.
  • Posted By: Paul BIsBS: Jihada license?

    EDIT: Of Dune I suppose. :-/
    No, you are right, it is not a license. It is an homage or a game inspired by Dune or Dune with the serial numbers filed off.
  • Oh, dang. I thought this was some kind of brand new thread. It is OLD.
  • I enjoyed mouse guard and would love to play it some more. having encountered it before burning wheel i think it gave me some appreciation for how the mechanics fit the setting and not so much how mechanics were adapted to the setting.

    I really enjoyed the game we played set in firefly, despite the cortex system, i think that universe is rife with potential for gaming, eastern, western, low/high tech space zombies, psychics, lots of great material to work with.

    i would love to take a stab at making a new star wars game, the kind of story telling shown in those movies, everyone acting as if they are pulled along by some kind of fate, as if some large man with a beard and a plaid shirt were controlling them. that is the kind of story telling that should work wonders as a game.
  • Fully Disclosure: I've never really gotten the appeal of licensed properties from novels, TV or film either. I'd rather be working from scratch.

    That said, an observation:

    I've noticed a distinction between pre-bought settings that people have referenced -- and have different reactions to.

    In one type (Buffy, Star Wars, Firefly) we have a clutch of characters that are the focus of the setting. All the mythology and setting and stuff actually takes a back seat to the social interactions of the characters. (Which is true, by the way, of almost anything we call a story.)

    In the other type (Glorantha, Forgotten Realms), what we really have is a setting with a null set for protagonists. There are characters of course, but they are the swirl of the environment. Not protagonists.

    Speaking for myself, a setting where the focus of the setting was really the characters, I'm not really interested at all in doing that setting. Because, ultimately the setting worked because of the characters -- and we're going to be making up all new characters. As Graham wrote: "If you do what they did--well, it's been done. If you don't, why not any somewhat-generic SF setting?"

    But a setting as setting, waiting for character to arrive, that has appeal to me. And that distinction seems to be at play for others on this thread. That's my guess, at least. By being "first in" with the protagonists in a setting-as-setting and no story having bee told, the tale is open to the social interactions between the player made characters as a fresh and novel experience. And that's where the juice is.
  • edited July 2010
    most star wars and firefly games i have played in were far away from the characters those properties are known for, we interacted with a few known supporting characters or antagonists but thats all.

    we did play the first adventure in mouse guard with the primary mice from that series, and thats a fun way to learn the game.

    i think it's nice to have some common ground to fall back on or use as a starting point. not to say licenses don't come with some down sides but i think worthy games can come of it.
  • Hi Tyler,

    You wrote, "Not to say licenses don't come with some down sides but i think worthy games can come of it."

    I don't doubt that for a second.

    This, being the Internet, will often lead people immediately to positions of needing to attack or defend. And excluding the middle.

    But I want to be clear I was only commenting on Jeff's original post: "I wouldn't mind probing more deeply into this."

    I was just making an observation about a distinction Judd and Jeff make, which lines up with my own tastes on this.

    I'm sure other have successfully done exactly has you say.
  • Hi Christopher, sorry if i came off as combative, wasn't my thought. in reality most licenses have very little to offer, because as you say settings are usually built for the characters and stories they tell.
  • Posted By: TylerTHi Christopher, sorry if i came off as combative...
    No, no... not at all. I just wanted to make it clear I wasn't saying you or other didn't have fun in license settings, nor that it was impossible to do so. I just wanted to make sure you felt no need to defend the fun you've had. At least on my account.
  • After a few sessions I will have to post something up about the power and use of nostalgia.
  • Having played some badass Mouse Guard games and enjoying a number of fanfic-y hacks (Avatar: The Last Airbender, New Mutants, etc.), I actually think there's plenty of room for doing the character-based stuff that Christopher is talking about in a way that's much more effective than most Star Wars RPGs have done. I think the real problem is that most games don't help you create characters that are as interesting and compelling as the Star Wars protagonists and put them in situations as interesting and compelling as the core situations of Star Wars (trapped in a trash compactor! about to be thrown into a sandworm's mouth by an ugly alien crimelord! fighting your own cyborg father on the scaffolds of a floating city!). But Star Wars RPGs don't actually tell me how to do that in play, right? So you end up playing second fiddle to the Star Wars stuff that IS really cool, unless your group has a GM or players who totally get it and make it happen, despite the lack of support from the game.

    However, Mouse Guard and AW and Danger Patrol and a bunch of other games are great at showing you how to create badass, compelling protagonists and dropping them right into compelling situations. It's just that licensed games typically handle their properties very carefully, with gloves on, without really digging into the meat of them and showing you how to get at the fun. But if you're willing to dig deep into the property, as a designer, I don't think there's any reason licensed games can't do the same thing, as Mouse Guard and Burning Empires demonstrate.
  • yeah I remember creating my first mouse guard character and thinking, this system wont let me make a lame character, how awesome is this!
    You must make a goal oriented person who found their way into the service of the guard. it's limited and directed to give exactly the kind of experience i wanted from mouse guard.
  • Wow, blast from the past.

    In the past four years, I think I've tended more towards using pre-existing settings rather than original world-building. For me, I find that original world-building is good as:

    1) Introducing major elements that contradict existing genres and settings. For example, if I want a world where humans are a minor race, I have limited choices.

    2) Conveying a feeling of the setting being strange, alien, and/or unfamiliar. For example, I ran a campaign set on a strange fantasy world where the PCs were children from our world who had crossed over - in the genre of Oz or Narnia. The setting being original was important for the feeling of strangeness. This may blend into #3 as "sense of wonder."

    3) As an end in itself - enjoying the creation of a setting and collaborative detailing of the setting.

    For most of my games, though, I find that these three haven't come up much as priorities. If I just want to focus on characters, then original world-building doesn't have much pay-off for me.
  • Interesting that this thread should get resurrected just when three very interesting licensed games are coming on to the market and possibly doing some very new things: Smallville, Leverage and of course the Dresden Files.
  • edited July 2010
    Posted By: Kuma

    I'd play aFireflygame with Twilight:2000 if that's what it took.

    Should be easy enough to do with the stock careers, similar level of firearms, handwave the travel a smidgen and the rest is gun play an outrunning Reavers
  • edited July 2010
    Posted By: Christopher KubasikIn one type (Buffy, Star Wars, Firefly) we have a clutch of characters that are the focus of the setting. All the mythology and setting and stuff actually takes a back seat to the social interactions of the characters. (Which is true, by the way, of almost anything we call a story.)

    In the other type (Glorantha, Forgotten Realms), what we really have is a setting with a null set for protagonists. There are characters of course, but they are the swirl of the environment. Not protagonists.

    Speaking for myself, a setting where the focus of the setting was really the characters, I'm not really interested at all in doing that setting. Because, ultimately the setting worked because of the characters -- and we're going to be making up all new characters.
    You know, I should be agreeing with this one hundred percent, and yet I have to say, I am quite curious about the upcoming Leverage and Smallville games.

    However, I should point out that I made it through one and a half episodes of Leverage before saying to myself, wow this is sexist and boring. Whereas Smallville took me six episodes to finally accept that it was too repetitive (so far I had been doing ok with the sexism in it, but sooner or later it would have become too much I'm sure).

    But, a game to do cool heists? Or another one to do teen superheroine melodrama? Those seem super cool, if they are done right. Smallville is the one that risks too much to focus on the setting, which would be a shame, because rules about how to properly create an interesting small town would be way more useful, whereas Leverage shouldn't have any important setting information from what I can gather.

    And if there was a Buffy, Firefly, or Star Wars game that had interesting mechanics, I'd probably be interested in those as well. But, yes, games with a huge setting dump, pictures from the property, tons of property character stats, and rules that could just as easily be found in any other game, those are a waste of my time.
  • Man, it would be interesting to see a Star Wars game that helped you make your own Star Wars, your own Darth Vader, etc. Like stripping the formula for success out of Star Wars and giving it to you to play with. Because every Star Wars game I've ever played was, indeed, about carefully avoiding the stuff that the Star Wars stories were about, and playing in whatever space remained in that playground.

    Just like how Lady Blackbird is kind of a variation on Firefly.

    Is there anything out there that does this?
  • Posted By: chearnsYou know, I should be agreeing with this one hundred percent, and yet I have to say, I am quite curious about the upcomingLeverageandSmallvillegames.
    Remember JDCorley's Law of Licensed Gaming:

    Bad source material means good gaming.

    This is because source material you don't like has something about it that you think could be better - characters, setting, attitudes, etc.

    That is where your own play comes into its power.

    If you like source material, you like it because of the combination of everything that it has, so your gaming has to accommodate that combination, which limits it (sometimes in very fruitful ways, but still.)

    I can't stand Buffy, I think it's garbage, but I love the Buffy RPG and Buffyverse as a RPG setting for exactly that reason.

    Bad source material means good gaming. Remember that.
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