View Full Version : What are the most atypical games you've run (or played in)?

2013-03-25, 12:25 PM
Here's the thing: when I think back on my RPG experience, I think fondly on the various games I've run (and some that I've played in), but the ones I (and the players) have enjoyed the most are the ones that are the most unusual, the ones where I don't simply take a standard world setting and standard adventures and throw the players into them.

Here are two of my favorite games that I've run:

(1) This campaign is actually a spinoff of another campaign, one in which superpowered people are starting to appear in a real world setting (so no spandex or superheroes or anything). The original campaign was inspired by Marvel's "New Universe" (especially the DP7 comic). However, unlike in the New Universe, the appearance of superpowers is due to the influence of Lords of Chaos (ala the Michael Moorcock concept).

The players are playing "themselves". Initially, they have been charged with a quest to remove the influence of Chaos (and Law) from their home universe. To do so, they travel through five other universes (the world of Moorcock's Elric, two superhero universes, a Cthulhu universe, and something else I've forgotten now). And along the way, they gain special powers and abilities. Oh, and while they remove the Moorcock Law and Chaos from their universe, they unwittingly retcon their universe into a universe where the Cthulhu Mythos is real.

But that was just the first epic storyline. The PCs become involved in situations across twenty-three different universes (DC superhero, D&D generic universe, Doctor Who, Star Trek: TNG, etc). Each has its own rules (magic doesn't work in some universes, while technology doesn't work in others). One story arc involves one of their best friends going insane and becoming their worst enemy, gaining power that they can only dream of. One of the PCs marries a princess in the Dreamlands. Another PC becomes jealous and raises an army of zombies to fight against him. Meanwhile, other villains manipulate the PCs to pit them even more against each other. And so on.

One of the greatest things about this campaign was the freedom each PC had to follow their own path and make of it what they would. They can explore dangerous areas or seek out powers where they know they exist. But often, their actions would lead to grave consequences. For example, when a stolen Green Lantern ring was duplicated by the Enterprise's replicators, the balance of power in that universe shifted dramatically... and since the PCs had pissed off most of the TNG crew, this was a big deal. Or when they decide to consider visiting "alternate" (what if?) universes, then alternate (evil and therefore more powerful) versions of the PCs invade their home universes as well.

There were so many crazy things happening, much of which other GMs would've considered to be "unbalanced" but it was crazy fun. And there was always a way to challenge the PCs.

The rule systems that I used: originally, the game started in the Marvel Super Hero RPG (by TSR) since the game was influenced by a Marvel comic. But then, since some of the universes to be explored were Elric's world and Call of Cthulhu world, the game switched to the rule system published by Chaosium, the rules used by the Elric game, the Call of Cthulhu game, Runequest, and even an obscure superhero game (Superworld). But since this game system was *really* not suited for superheroes, everything eventually switched over to the DC Superhero RPG (by Mayfair) which can handle every genre with ease (unlike pretty much every other system... the others that can handle everything don't do so as gracefully with simplicity).

This campaign was a favorite (of mine and the players) for quite a while, though it finally disintegrated and changed beyond recognition. One of the PCs found out the true nature of existence but his knowing this fact caused reality to disintegrate... it was fixed up a little bit but was never the same. There were only five universes now and traveling between them actually changed the game system (so each PC had different character sheets for each universe).

Anyway, that's one of the most atypical games I've ever run. I'll mention the other big crazy fun game in my next post on this thread.

2013-03-25, 12:43 PM
(2) A second campaign that lasted a nice long while until its final conclusion was the following: Again, the players were playing themselves (hmmm... I see a trend here). The PCs had no special skills or abilities (beyond what they themselves actually possessed). However, due to some strange magical wishing rock that one of the PCs found, strange stuff happened.

The players instantly gained all the powers, skills, knowledge, and etc of all of their favorite characters. However, they were also corrupted and turned evil by a powerful entity. Game over? Not quite. A badly injured wizard appeared through a portal and stopped time. He then "pulled out" of each PC their normal, non-evil selves. So, there were two of each PC: a powerless good guy and an ultra-powerful evil guy. Well, this wizard explained a few things to the PCs before dying.

The evil entity was going through universes and destroying entire worlds. He would however save as a trophy one piece of each world and add it to a patchwork world that he was creating. In each "patch" there was one crystal that could be used to power someone up a bit (and it couldn't be removed from it's patch without destroying that entire patch). So, the PCs would have to explore various different environments and find crystals to power themselves up. They would have to do so quickly before the time stop spell (not D&D's time stop spell) wore off and their evil selves came hunting them down. And so the story began.

They encountered fantasy worlds, superhero worlds, a fairy tale world, an opera world, a sci-fi world with robots, a martial arts world (with a convenient martial arts competition starting up), a movie monster world, an anime world (where the PCs were de-aged to high school age), and so forth. Each world had it's own rules for what things worked and what things didn't. The adventure types were completely different. Oh, sure, you might have to beat up monsters in one world, but in another you might have to win a competition of some sort. That was one of the best things. For example, there was the costume contest... where unexpectedly everyone was changed into whatever costume they were wearing... and fights broke out.

There were many cool adventures and a few red herrings. The PCs slowly increased in power levels, gaining abilities (and sometimes the bodies of) their favorite characters. Eventually, they defeated their evil selves and found out that the whole thing was really a charade. There was no evil universe-destroying entity per se. Instead, the original wishing stone was a sentient all-powerful being who tried to give the PCs what they wanted but badly misinterpreted what they'd really want. It gave them stimulating competition (like the games the PCs play) and powers (like those of their favorite characters), so it figured they'd be really happy with what it had given them. One explanation later and their struggles ended. The PCs were allowed to either stay on the patchwork world or return to their home universe... but if they returned home, they would return back to their original powerless bodies with only some experience points (Hero Points) for all their troubles. Some PCs stayed on the patch-world, some went home. And that was the end.

2013-03-25, 01:28 PM
I always liked Mutants and Masterminds to develop wildly different characters. We played a "Through the looking glass" style game, I was playing some kind of shadow werebear thing, though I eventually played "PALADIN" a robotic soldier with gundam-esque "funnels" that exploited the "attack assist" mechanic.

good times.

2013-03-25, 01:32 PM
Well I did run one game which was kind of like the Call of Cthullhu from the Eldritch Horrors point of view. That was quite fun. It was sort of a bit like planescape, only a lot more fluid, with everyone playing a different elder god, warping "reality" to suit their needs.
It worked well, although I now need to rewrite the system to include rules for time travel.

2013-03-25, 03:58 PM
I didn't run this one. I don't think I'm capable of running a game this awesome.

One spooky night, long ago, the other players failed to show up for our regular WEG Star Wars game. The DM had just seen Lost Highway - a movie that to this day I still have intentionally avoided - and ran me through a solo game where my veteran smuggler, en route to meeting up with the rest of the party, was forced out of hyperspace by the unexpected mass shadow of a very old star destroyer.

At first, having dropped out of hyperspace on the doorstep of a hulking star destoryer, my character nearly crapped himself. He quickly realized, however, that there was no sign of activity or life aboard the ship. The ship was without power, life support was gone, and any internal atmosphere had long ago been vented to space.

Being the man he was, there's no way he'd let that stand without investigating.

The next hour of the game had me landing inside a landing bay, and getting into my heavy vac suit, and then exploring the ship on foot, finding cool bits of intelligence and interesting things to take back to the alliance, or sell on the black market. By then, I was deep into the ship, making my way up to the bridge with the mad scheme of trying to figure out how to hide the abandoned ship long enough to bring an alliance recovery team back.

And that's when I started noticing that I wasn't alone on the ship. There was nothing overt - an odd noise here, a door opened that hadn't been earlier there, a static on a viewscreen in the periphery of my vision that wasn't there when I'd turn to look...
After an hour of this, it wasn't just my character, I was totally spooked and seeing things in shadows.

Then the whispers started.
I broke into a sweat.

The shadows I was seeing stayed visible longer and longer. I started seeing bodies in my peripheral vision that weren't there when I turned. I started hearing the echoes of dozens of men and women screaming from far away. When I'd pass by view screens or windows, I'd sometimes see the reflection of a pale-faced man staring at me.

And I kept going. Because I was convinced it was all in my head.

Finally, I made it to the bridge and forced open the door.

And I saw the bodies. Everywhere.

The bridge was littered with Imperial corpses. I saw some of their faces turn toward me, but probably imagined that. The bodies stayed put.

And then I heard footsteps coming down the hall that I had arrived in.

I turned, and saw the pale man in the reflection, walking without a space suit. He grinned, and reached out for me. I ran further into the bridge, leaping from work station to desk, until I finally found the body of a heavy trooper. I grabbed his heavy rifle and blasted full-auto at the front view port until the transparisteel finally yielded.

I turned back toward the hall, and the pale man was just entering the bridge, smiling broadly, and beckoning for me to come to him. He was laughing.

With a scream, I threw the heavy assault carbine away, knowing in my heart it would be useless against the ghastly man. With a desperate push I hurled myself out the slagged viewport, tumbling into space.

Finally, I pulled it together enough to re-orient and engage the small thrusters on my vac suit, jetting ever-so-slowly back to the docking bay. Frantically, I climbed back into my ship, engaged repulsors, and started to maneuver out of the bay, pausing just long enough to look back once.

Of course - there he was, calmly walking through the docking bay toward my ship. The pale man sensed my gaze and flashed me a grin and wave as I slammed down the throttle, lighting up the bay with an inferno from my ship's sublight thrusters.

When I checked the rear view screen again on maximum magnification, he was still there in the bay, still waving, still laughing. :smalleek:

2013-03-25, 04:08 PM
Without question, my most atypical game would be one called Insylum. It's out there online, for free, and I would highly recommend it--with a few caveats.

You see, the game is all about a group of patients in a mental hospital who can't remember how they've gotten there. At night, weird things start happening, and...well, it's spoilery to say too much. Let me just say that the way the game is set up, you earn Memory points. You can use them make facts about your backstory concrete...otherwise, they are subject to change with your fickle memory. If you get enough, you can try to remember how you ended up in the hospital.

It's an immensely fun setup for a horror game, and the prewritten stuff provides a lot of great atmosphere. The main problem is that it is a game with exactly one mystery built into the setting, and not a lot of info is given on how to solve it. Also, if you have any intention of playing Insylum, rather than running it? Don't read the handbook. It will contain spoilers.

The last caveat is that the mechanics system is actually kind of crap. You're much better off doing something a bit more freeform, or maybe some loose D20 or CoC rules.

2013-03-25, 05:38 PM
I was a player in one that gave me nightmares, And truthfully I was glad for the fade to blacks in it. When it began to get explicit. The Storyteller began this one i think in response to one of my friends being...well a jack <beep>

The Storyteller setting was in an orphanage from tim burtons nightmares and it was a group of three players as orphans. We spent the night avoiding some of the foulest things that I will not mention explicitly here. And plotting an escape before we were sold to a factory.