Airwolf the RPG....what would you choose?

Hornblower

Well-Known Pubber
Joined
Aug 6, 2018
Messages
109
Reaction score
216
One of my favorite tv series of all-time is being revived, Airwolf, to soon be modernized. I am hoping Hollyweird doesn't mess it up.

If I wanted to run a TTRPG based on Airwolf what should I choose that would capture the characters, combat, and air dogfighting well? What would you suggest?

Warbirds maybe?
 
GURPS if you want the system to facilitate what you're trying to do but mostly get out of the way. If you want a system that'll heavily lean in to the setting, you probably want something else.
 
It's not in line with anyone else's thinking, but I immediately considered Wushu. To me, the whole point of an Airwolf game is doing cool stuff with a super-cool helicopter, so you want a system that will accommodate whatever you come up with and otherwise stay out of the way. I'd hate doing this concept with a crunchy system. That runs counter to what makes Airwolf good.
 
Airwolf is a mecha show with an additional focus on espionage. It's essentially 007 with supercopters and Migs.

... And episodes where String has to deal with hillbillies who have stolen a laser cannon.

It's essentially a super mecha team show where there is only one super mecha. Or it's something like Buffy where you have one super-character (String) supported by his "scooby gang" (Dom, Caitlin, Arcangel).

Warbirds is probably a strong pick, at least for the String-like character, but a poor choice for the rest of the "Airwolf Team."

Mekton obviously comes to mind. The Veteran character type along with the career paths combined with uneven allotments of different areas of training could help replicate the dynamic of the show.

The default GI Joe system doesn't strike me as terribly suitable, but just about anything with aerial vehicle combat rules combined with some semblance of skill-area based character specialties should be hackable into something useable.

I know back in the 80s I made up the Airwolf helicopter for Robotech. I'm not sure if I ever used it. But I did name my Southern Cross AGACs Attack Chopper pilot Hawke. I'm pretty sure as random as the Palladium system is, you could hack something together. I'd say about all you need is the old 1986 Robotech book.

Whatever the system, Airwolf should be able to slaughter customized Bell helicopters and "Migs" by the dozens like a 10th level fighter decimating a tribe of goblins. There should definitely be some mooks. But there should be the occasional "supervehicle" to have a one on one dogfight. Although,I think more often than not, String and Dom had to use Airwolf's tech and their skill and wit to outfox some superweapon like an extended skill challenge.
 
I suppose Twilight 2000 second edition + Dark Conspiracy would be apt.

Marvel Superheroes might fit as well, though it does raise the question of whether Air Wolf can beat US1.
 
GURPS would be ideal, but I find the dogfighting rules to be lack luster. The second choice would be Spycraft II. Less perfect of a fit, but the vehicle rules would fit the series. (Unless you are a gung ho Hero fan, then 5th edition vehicles and characters world work.)

Actually, another thought came up. Interlock Unlimited. (Fuzion/ Mekton/ Interlock) It has all the bells and whistles you need. It is also free.
 
Last edited:
If I wanted to run a TTRPG based on Airwolf what should I choose that would capture the characters, combat, and air dogfighting well? What would you suggest?

My perception of the show is that the loop is as follows

1. something happens
2. lots of talking and fighting and shooting
3. airwolf saves the day

I'm not throwing shade, I'm wondering about a Drama Loop for it.

e.g.

1. A big armoured truck has appeared with advanced weaponry hijacking convoys of materials. The Truck has an unknown Drama Point total.
2. Investigate the hijacks, collect Drama Points
3. The Showdown, spending Drama points augmented by crazy skills to win the fight.

e.g.

1. Santinis helicopter is shot down by enemy agents of foreign power
2. Lots of investigation and collection of Drama Points
3. AirWolf goes in, shoots things and rescues Santini

Drama Pool is a metacurrency for influencing the outcomes of stuff. Spend too much and you'll have to roll well in the final battle. Spend too little and you might not make it to the final battle.

Also everything has to be resolved in ONE game session / episode.
 
But can Airwolf dodge three missiles?

It can! Using Science!

tv-cartoon-network.gif
 
I like the idea of Palladium but I would also champion WEG Star Wars with the Star Warriors game for air combat.

And I am sorry to tell you that yes, Hollywood will be messing it up.
 
Something like Mutants and Masterminds might work well.
 
MSH/Faserip (Advanced has Vehicle Rules)
Mekton
Warbirds
Prime Time Adventures


I'm sure there are a lot of possibilities depending on how you want to go: Crunchy, rules light, dramatic, mechanical, etc.
 
I have to admit there's something about using Heros Unlimited for Airwolf that just resonates. I've run quite a bit of Heroes Unlimited at my store and I've really come to hate it but somehow, for Airwolf, it just makes sense.
 
I would also champion WEG Star Wars with the Star Warriors game for air combat.

That would definitely be interesting. The one problem would be the amount of GM overhead in managing the mook helicopter and Mig hordes in those types of aerial fights. It would be interesting to see what Airwolf's maneuver numbers would be.
 
Hmm, which raises a question for me...

If Ars Magica has the best magic rules, 007 the best chase rules, Unknown Armies the best Sanity rules, etc.

...which RPG has the best vehicle rules?

I liked Star Wars nd MSH vehicle rules, but both are pretty handwavy. GURPs Vehicles was a nightmare. Knight Hawks is fantastic, but only for outer space.
 
The correct answer is Palladium's megaversal rules. Airwolf is absolutely a license they ought to have picked up back in the day. It would've been amazing!

Kev's vehicle rules are entirely based on the 100% accurate and factual representation in Airwolf, after all.
 
I'd do it in Supers! Revised myself. The Super Vehicle Advantage (which gives you points to build the vehicle with certain stats and powers) exists for this reason. The Search & Destroy supplement is for more action hero types, so I'd use those for the characters.
 
Hmm, which raises a question for me...

If Ars Magica has the best magic rules, 007 the best chase rules, Unknown Armies the best Sanity rules, etc.

...which RPG has the best vehicle rules?

I liked Star Wars nd MSH vehicle rules, but both are pretty handwavy. GURPs Vehicles was a nightmare. Knight Hawks is fantastic, but only for outer space.
Probably Greg Porter's Vehicles / CORPS. It depends a bit on what you're doing. GURPS Vehicles and Traveller Fire Fusion and Steel are both amazing in their own ways but each has certain issues, GURPS is a little too tight and generally can't emulate the performance of some real and fictional vehicles it also uses imperial measures which is a weird thing when you're doing physics stuff. Fire Fusion and Steel suffers from extensive errata in both editions.

Traveller 5 actually has a very interesting vehicle system where you apply adjectives like light, battle, and passenger to basic vehicle classes. There are some major issues that I don't think ever got fixed, like being able to mount a tank cannon on a tricycle because Marc isn't willing to lock down weapon mounts rigorously.

Silcore vehicle design is awfully close to write up whatever you want and then calculate the cost with a formula. That said, in my limited experience, vehicles play well in Silcore. Probably because the two core games lines it was developed for are mecha war games.

If you've followed my game design threads you know vehicle design is an obsession of mine. Obviously I like Galaxies In Shadow vehicle design and combat but I'm always tinkering with it and I think it manages to be too much math and too abstract at the same time. The issue is that I want to be able to match vehicles from fiction but expectations for things like fusion plants and gravitic impellers vary widely from one setting to the next.
 
Last edited:
GURPS would be ideal, but I find the dogfighting rules to be lack luster. The second choice would be Spycraft II. Less perfect of a fit, but the vehicle rules would fit the series. (Unless you are a gung ho Hero fan, then 5th edition vehicles and characters world work.)

Actually, another thought came up. Interlock Unlimited. (Fuzion/ Mekton/ Interlock) It has all the bells and whistles you need. It is also free.
Yeah, I would use GURPS for everything but the helicopter dogfighting, for which I would research a good wargame, if there is one that covers that subject.

The thing is, there might not be, because helicopters, I think, don't really dogfight the way I assume they do on Airwolf. I might have to homebrew my own rules.
 
Hmm, which raises a question for me...
If Ars Magica has the best magic rules, 007 the best chase rules, Unknown Armies the best Sanity rules, etc.
...which RPG has the best vehicle rules?

**frantically digs out old copies of Car Wars and Battlecars. And laments not buying Dark Future.**
 
Car Wars is a really fun game that we played a bunch in the early 90s, but I can't recall if there was aerial vehicle rules or if they were any good.
 
The thing is, there might not be, because helicopters, I think, don't really dogfight the way I assume they do on Airwolf. I might have to homebrew my own rules.

That's the thing; they basically don't. There's been only one documented helicopter vs helicopter dogfight in history (in the Iran/Iraq War), and it was more of an ambush. So homebrew seems the way to go.
 
Car Wars is a really fun game that we played a bunch in the early 90s, but I can't recall if there was aerial vehicle rules or if they were any good.
No. The limited air vehicle rules were... sad, (both the limited book rules and the magazine expansions.) I am not sure if it was just bad rule construction, a lack of playtesting, or just that they wanted to keep the action on the ground and keep air vehicles from dominating.
 
Car Wars added helicopters in Autoduel Champions airplanes in Autoduel Quarterly and more in the AIrWars or whatever it was called boxed set.

The thing about Car Wars is that it does very physics based movement in tenth of a second phases. It kinda poisoned my expectations on vehicle rules. I remember a letter in ADQ asking why they used such cludgy rules for bombs when it was so simple to do it with a little physics and trigonometry. Car Wars actually maps very well to Traveller, it's virtually compatible with the character creation and you'd just use Car Wars for combat.

GURPS Vehicles has detailed rules for just about everything you can imagine and I always wanted to do more with it. Sadly the attempt at mecha battles was a bit scuttled by my accidentally dropping a zero off the damage for missiles. That was 840d6 not 84 and my players went away thinking machineguns were too good compared to missiles.
 
Destined...but the first step would be to actually watch Airwolf:shade:!
Yeah, but whenever I tried to watch Airwolf in the 80's, it got me to stop wanting to know anything more about Airwolf, really quickly!
 
That's the thing; they basically don't. There's been only one documented helicopter vs helicopter dogfight in history (in the Iran/Iraq War), and it was more of an ambush. So homebrew seems the way to go.
Yeah, so like AsenRG AsenRG said, I'd need to watch Airwolf and Blue Thunder to see what kind of "reality" those shows glorified/presented, and what I wanted to do with that for a game. (Problem being, I remember seeing those and balking when I watched them in the 80's.) I imagine that someone who liked that stuff, and was a good wargame developer, could probably make a good game of it, for some definition of good. But IIRC, they were something like, there are several mook NPC helicopters which are just helicopters with guns and/or rockets, and then there's the uber fantasy PC helicopter, which can do all sorts of better stuff, is faster, can move like a toy held by a 6-year-old boy, etc, so it outmaneuvers the mooks and blows them up. The "hiding behind skyscrapers or hills" thing was also an element. I can see that being something you could make into a fun hexmapped or gridmapped war/fantasy/rpg game, in a few different ways.

There are probably dials/options to put in too for how silly you want it to be, or not.

There have also been some not-so-bad military helicopter computer games, which could be consulted, too, starting with Gunship (late 1980s) and working forward (DCS).

I'm almost tempted, but suspect even if I did it, I'd tend to get sucked toward Mi-24 HIND vs. AH-64D, instead of Airwolf vs. Hueys over LA.
 
There have also been some not-so-bad military helicopter computer games, which could be consulted, too, starting with Gunship (late 1980s) and working forward (DCS).

One of the earlier games I bought for my Sega Genesis back in late 1992 was LHX Attack Chopper. I'd just pretend I was flying Airwolf. Even as one of those early console polygon flight sims with a framerate in the single digits, it was still better than the official Airwolf Game: Super Airwolf/CrossFire.

Oh and Steel Talons. That was great in the arcade with the dual sit down vs cabinet.
 
The Tiny Spies RPG has some rules for vehicles and chases, plus an easy system to run at conventions, so I'm going to take a long look at running an adventure for RadCon 2024.
 
I'm a proponent of using any system you fancy for whatever you like, but Star Wars D6 is always a quick and sturdy solution for action heroes flying vehicles. The D6 Adventure book might have already done most of the lifting to apply it to modern era action TV.
 
This makes me want to run some vehicle to vehicle combat and chases with Mythras. It has extensive rules, but I’ve hardly used them at all.
 
Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Back
Top