View Full Version : What system, and how to use it, for a Ready Player One style game?

2017-08-31, 12:54 PM
For years I've kicked around an idea for a game where the PC's jump around different settings/genres. A good example of this would be something similar to Ready Player One. I'm not sure if I'm going to go the "immersive digital world" route or something more like alternate realities/dimensions, but what Ready Player one illustrates nicely is that the player has the ability to equip their avatar with different equipment/abilities, i.e. spells, depending on what the "setting" they are going in to supports.

My thoughts on handling this hurdle have ranged from using a universal system that lets you buy into your abilities individually and any setting that doesn't support a thing you have just doesn't function, for example if you build a heavy magic user and you travel to the Star Trek universe your magic just doesn't function there and vise versa, to having players build different characters for each setting, the drawback to this option seems fairly obvious.

I guess my question would be. Has anyone run this kind of game with any success, or does anyone just have any suggestions on how to handle it.

Here is a list of systems I've considered and why I'm not completely sold on using them:

The Strange: this is an obvious choice and a natural fit, but my group and I tend to like game games with a little bit more crunch, but it's still a top contender.

Fate: I've never played or run Fate, and again we prefer more crunch.

Mutants & Masterminds: there are two drawbacks for me with using M&M. 1. the way you build characters in M&M works well for mixing magic and tech, but turning abilities off and on depending on what the setting supports means the players could very in power levels, and 2. I'm just not a huge fan of how the system handles equipment. I understand it from a mechanical stand point, and it works well for supers games, but it does present a challenge when acquiring loot and needing to be able to pay it off with power point the players hopefully have in reserve.

Savage Worlds: This runs into similar issues as M&M the "equipping" of abilities and gear to suite the setting.

FFG Genesys: The biggest issue with this one is just that it's not out yet, but further more, like SW and M&M, the issue of "equipping" abilities is here as well.

How the characters play in the game seems to be a pretty big hurdle to get over. Either either they are built on the premise that magic and tech can be applied to the character build with the understanding that in a setting based on magic, tech doesn't doesn't function, and vise versa. Or characters are build in such a way that they are allowed to "kit" out their character to suit the setting they are going in to that day. Doing this in a simple and elegant way so players aren't essentially rebuilding their characters every time they enter a new setting.

Hopefully I've explained my dilemma well enough. Thanks in advance for any help.

Mr Beer
2017-08-31, 06:10 PM
I try not to pimp GURPS at every opportunity because no-one likes a broken record but it's perfect for setting jumps since the rules are consistent in every genre. I haven't run characters through a genre-hop like this but it's extremely do-able. Balance will be an issue since in GURPS modern firearms are much better than swords (and power armour + blasters are better than rifles + Kevlar) but that's true in real life.

The main issue is that the learning curve to GURPS is quite high, I'd have struggled to run this game without some familiarity of single genre campaigns first. It's kind of a toolkit as well, so you need to make decisions about what is and isn't going to be included from the plethora of possible options.

2017-08-31, 06:11 PM
Having broad swathes of abilities just turn off in different settings doesn't seem like the right approach. Instead, I think this

what Ready Player one illustrates nicely is that the player has the ability to equip their avatar with different equipment/abilities, i.e. spells, depending on what the "setting" they are going in to supports
Is the key. It seems to me that what you need to do is to split the core of each character off from their setting-specific abilities. Keep the core the same-- their ability scores, their personality-based abilities, that sort of thing-- and re-assign the special stuff in every new setting. Ideally in a similar way, so the bookish nerd becomes a wizard in fantasy-land, a decker in cyberpunksylvania, an engineer on the SS Scifi, and so on.

In M&M, say, you might divide everyone's points in half. Half go to abilities, skills, inherent powers, that sort of thing; the other half sort of form one big Variable power that only gets shuffled around when they switch realities.

(You can do loot in M&M just fine, by reference. Just add it straight onto your sheet without bothering to pay; as long as everyone gets vaguely similar amounts, it's no biggie. Especially if it's going to get frequently wiped by reality-changes).

2017-09-01, 02:40 AM
It's your top contender, but I don't think you need to look any further - The Strange is that game. It's built into the mechanics and setting that you're moving between different genre/settings.

You might have to write a few things to make it fit exactly, because it has it's own setting ideas, but what you're describing? It's right there in The Strange.