Re-boring canon

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Endless Flight

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CRKrueger CRKrueger has been permanently banned from this thread for his initial post and then escalation of that post after I made a warning telling everyone to drop it.

We do not allow members here to dictate to other members what is or is not political. If the mod staff has made a ruling, that is the only thing anyone has to worry about. If somebody posts something they consider political please report it and one or more of us will look into it. We ask people to try to be discrete about dealing with political content. There’s no reason to start yelling fire in a crowded theater and the same goes for politics. Many times the mods here notice somebody making a political comment and do nothing, especially if no one makes a fuss about it.

There are four moderators here. Myself, Black Leaf, Baulderstone and TristramEvans. No one else speaks for us or is a mod here. Period. We will be making a further statement about what is political soon. Further review of this incident is happening as well.
 

VisionStorm

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Well I didn’t eliminate all the elements of the movies. Just the Skywalker twins, really. And I told everyone “no you’re not friends with Wedge Antilles and no you didn’t intern for Admiral Ackbar”.

Same. The galaxy is HUGE, folks! Get out there and meet some people!

Yeah, I fortunately never had to deal with that, but I can see how that could be the case for some groups since some people get fixated around the films or even elements of the Eu sometimes. But i don't see the point of getting the big shots involved when the point of the game is for PCs to eventually become their own big shots. And there's a LOT of stuff that people could do in SW without playing second fiddle to established characters or being somehow related to them.
 

CT_Phipps

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I doubt I'd ever play in a Star Wars setting without the main characters. If you remove them you might as well play your own setting.

They have an importance in the setting even if you never meet them.
 
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Brock Savage

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I doubt I'd ever play in a Star Wars setting without the main characters. If you remove them, even if you never meet them, you might as well play your own setting.
Can you explain your reasoning? On the surface, it seem akin to not playing in a WWII game because Winston Churchill and Hitler aren't making an appearance.
 

CT_Phipps

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I admit, I've never done this but I've considered doing it:

Ravenloft: The Prime Material World

* Ravenloft is a world in the Prime Material Plane.

* The world is called...The World.

* The Core is called...The Core. Alternatively: Greater Barovia.

* The world may or may not be "new" (I may play it either way) but everyone has a vast history of how all these various domains were created and interacted over the years.

* The Dark Powers exist but so do the other gods the population worships. These gods are far weaker than the Dark Powers and subject to their rules, though.

* The world is unexplored but there are many continents, islands, and so on in the mist-covered oceans.

* The Dark Lords exist but only as powerful NPCs that exist in a world dominated by Gothic Horror monsters. No closing of the border, no immortality, no restrictions on leaving their domains, and other stuff.

* It is a much lower level sort of place due to the power of evil with the greatest heroes of the land, Rudolph Van Ritchen and George Weathermay, being about 12th level. There's also no big groups of heroes to fight evil so you have to fight intelligently not power versus power.

* The world is salvageable if you could somehow get rid of all the damn vampires, monsters, and horrors.

* The primary problem with the setting is evil is punished with curses that turn you into monsters (Dark Powers checks) so it is a place where sin is worn on your soul and it just makes the place so much worse.
 
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CT_Phipps

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Can you explain your reasoning? On the surface, it seem akin to not playing in a WWII game because Winston Churchill and Hitler aren't making an appearance.

That would be a great example. If I play a WW2 game, I would certainly have no problem playing it if Winston Churchill and Hitler didn't show up.

It would be a very different WW2 if Winston Churchill and Hitler didn't exist.

If there's no Princess Leia, Emperor Palpatine, Vader, or so on then the entire setting becomes a question of who is leading the Rebellion, Empire, what's the status of the Jedi, who's winning the war, and so on.

Luke Skywalker has showed up in 2 of my Star Wars games over 20 years but as the propaganda hero of the rebellion, he adds a bunch to the setting just by existing.
 

Picaroon Jack

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That would be a great example. If I play a WW2 game, I would certainly have no problem playing it if Winston Churchill and Hitler didn't show up.

It would be a very different WW2 if Winston Churchill and Hitler didn't exist.

If there's no Princess Leia, Emperor Palpatine, Vader, or so on then the entire setting becomes a question of who is leading the Rebellion, Empire, what's the status of the Jedi, who's winning the war, and so on.

Luke Skywalker has showed up in 2 of my Star Wars games over 20 years but as the propaganda hero of the rebellion, he adds a bunch to the setting just by existing.
In mine those characters exist, but players aren't related to them and only have heard of the most famous/infamous. The last game I ran took place a month or so after the destruction of the first Death Star. Luke and all those guys were just "Heroes of the Rebellion." Darth Vader was still feared and surviving jedi or folks that are force sensitive were just rumors.

These were the main NPCs and PCs have red backgrounds.

Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 5.49.28 PM.png
Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 5.44.29 PM.png
 

Malakor

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Cannon, for me, is the basis for my setting. If not mentioned (or implied) otherwise, cannon is the answer. However, I seldom use the straight cannon setting. However, I don't ever just absorb cannon or let characters from my chronicles go to other campaigns (which might be more cannon based).

Of course YMMV. Most GMs do not put out 32-128 pages of setting material (and rule revisions for character creation) per their games.
They don't? For gods sake, don't tell my players. They claim they like those specially made player's books they get :grin:
 

Ravenswing

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Can you explain your reasoning? On the surface, it seem akin to not playing in a WWII game because Winston Churchill and Hitler aren't making an appearance.

I quite agree. Heck, I remember a thread that was based around the OP's immense indignation that the GM had made Darth Vader a good guy.

That would be a great example. If I play a WW2 game, I would certainly have no problem playing it if Winston Churchill and Hitler didn't show up.

It would be a very different WW2 if Winston Churchill and Hitler didn't exist.

If there's no Princess Leia, Emperor Palpatine, Vader, or so on then the entire setting becomes a question of who is leading the Rebellion, Empire, what's the status of the Jedi, who's winning the war, and so on.

Luke Skywalker has showed up in 2 of my Star Wars games over 20 years but as the propaganda hero of the rebellion, he adds a bunch to the setting just by existing.

No, you're not quite right there. It would be a very different WW2 if neither Churchill nor Hitler existed, AND their roles were performed by people with entirely different personalities.

But so what? Let's go back to the SW example. Luke Skywalker as propaganda hero means nothing to a set of characters who've never met him beyond that there's this sandy blond Jedi who's a hero and does heroic things. He adds no more to the setting (unless he's used as a frequent NPC) than any other such milieu that has such propaganda heroes. What do you actually know about Volodymyr Zelenskyy, for instance, beyond that he's a former actor who's burnished his Man of the People credentials by appearing on camera in tracksuits and suchlike?

Wipe out those Star Wars characters, and you still have answers to the questions. Who's leading the Rebellion? Senator Soandso, they say. Who's leading the Empire? Some Grand Admiral, name of Thrawn. What's the status of the Jedi? They say there's a surviving Jedi Master who's rebuilding the order. Who's winning the war? Damn, dude, read the vids, but I doubt we can take too many more pastings like we did at the Battle of Corandolis last month.

The average PC -- lacking the third-person omniscient viewpoint of a fellow watching a movie -- knows nothing more about these figures than what's on their publicly available CVs, and you can take those with the appropriate grains of salt.
 

CT_Phipps

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Like I said, I just think it adds to the game. One of the problems in the Forgotten Realms is that the good guys are so powerful you wonder what the PCs are supposed to do.

Star Wars is so big you never have to worry about having enough baddies.
 

Rob Necronomicon

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Good points about Starwars. I love the setting and the Empire is the best enemy, but there's so much more you can do.

But as others have also mentioned, I'd never have any of the main movie characters in the game. Okay... you might meet 21b medical droid. ;)
 

VisionStorm

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I admit, I've never done this but I've considered doing it:

Ravenloft: The Prime Material World

* Ravenloft is a world in the Prime Material Plane.

* The world is called...The World.

* The Core is called...The Core. Alternatively: Greater Barovia.

* The world may or may not be "new" (I may play it either way) but everyone has a vast history of how all these various domains were created and interacted over the years.

* The Dark Powers exist but so do the other gods the population worships. These gods are far weaker than the Dark Powers and subject to their rules, though.

* The world is unexplored but there are many continents, islands, and so on in the mist-covered oceans.

* The Dark Lords exist but only as powerful NPCs that exist in a world dominated by Gothic Horror monsters. No closing of the border, no immortality, no restrictions on leaving their domains, and other stuff.

* It is a much lower level sort of place due to the power of evil with the greatest heroes of the land, Rudolph Van Ritchen and George Weathermay, being about 12th level. There's also no big groups of heroes to fight evil so you have to fight intelligently not power versus power.

* The world is salvageable if you could somehow get rid of all the damn vampires, monsters, and horrors.

* The primary problem with the setting is evil is punished with curses that turn you into monsters (Dark Powers checks) so it is a place where sin is worn on your soul and it just makes the place so much worse.

I'm not sold on calling it "The World", but I've often had similar thoughts and wished that the setting was based on the actual world where Barovia was originally located, whatever that world was actually called. And make it all about Gothic Horror, with classic horror creatures being commonplace, etc. Maybe Castlevania elements added in, making it all about monster hunting, and the world being dominated by the Dark Powers, and Strahd Von Zarovich being the "chosen" Lord of the Dark Powers. And Mists would still exist, but they would be more like something that draws additional horror creatures in, rather than dealing with travel between Domain.

The idea of the Demi Plane of Dread and Domains and such was still kinda cool in a way, but there were also aspects of it that put me off. Like for example if you got drawn from another world into it (like it happened to my PC when I first played it) you were kinda stuck, and it was supposed to be very difficult to get out. So one casual adventure could turn a character you made hoping to play in another world into a permanent resident (like it would've happened to my character if she wasn't already so high level she eventually got out...after spending months stuck in there).

Plus the idea that the Mists show up and take a piece of land away is also iffy in a way for similar reasons. Someone does something really bad in one world so that setting has to suffer permanent changes cuz someone had the idea of introducing this "Demi Plane of Dread" thing into D&D? Seems kinda intrusive to me. Why not make the Mists and the Dark Powers something that shows up in a world and brings all kinds of evil to that world (rather than stealing anything from it), growing strong and stronger till someone defeats the Dark Lord, then it leaves? That's another way I've thought of handling it.
 

opaopajr

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Besides Star Wars, and keeping Forgotten Realms closer to grey box, not much about "re-boring" canon. Oh, well, Talislanta, because it is so heads-in-the-clouds imaginative I needed *some* grounding to even convey it to new players without inducing SAN loss.
 

CT_Phipps

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I retooled my Forgotten Realms's power level around 3.5 to go with the "20th level is the limit" premise. In this universe, 20th level is something only a handful of characters possess (Elminster, Khelben, Halastar, Fzoul, Manshoon, the Simbul, and Szass Tam). It is also something that player characters can theoretically achieve and less powerful party members can theoretically tag team and kill super powerful characters over.

If you manage to get over 20th level, you ascend to demigod status and move to an entirely new level of adventures where you're a small fish in a very big Planescape-esque pond.

Among other things, this makes the Forgotten Realms feel a lot more alterable by PCs actions and also the canon NPCs to be more vulnerable. I feel like the characters can alter the course of the setting as well. Once you are a high level PC (12th level or above), you are someone who can be a famous mover and shaker in the Realms. There's a lot less NPCs with that sort of power level as well. In The Realms, they have a LOT of Liches and even types of them.

In my RL, any Lich that exists has a name is a terrifying legend.
 

CT_Phipps

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Dragonlance is a setting that I retooled in the sense that the War of the Lance never actually ends.

Oh yes, the Heroes of the Lance managed to get the Metallic Dragons involved, stop the creation of Draconians, and assassinated Emperor Ariakan. Which, certainly, disrupted Queen Takhasis' plans to take over the world. However, unlike the books, there's never actually a "victory" on the side of good. In my games, High Lord Kitiara and the other new Dragon Highlords proceed to hunker down and establish nations.

* Nekara
* Flotsam
* Pax Tharkas
* Ergoth

And several other city-states and micro-nations become established with trade routes, armies, and citizens that are controlled by the Dark Queen's armies. They still want to take over the world but are now closer to a Cold War situation and fighting over smaller bits of territory. It makes the setting far more interesting for adventurers, I think.
 

Brock Savage

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I retooled my Forgotten Realms's power level around 3.5 to go with the "20th level is the limit" premise. In this universe, 20th level is something only a handful of characters possess (Elminster, Khelben, Halastar, Fzoul, Manshoon, the Simbul, and Szass Tam). It is also something that player characters can theoretically achieve and less powerful party members can theoretically tag team and kill super powerful characters over.

If you manage to get over 20th level, you ascend to demigod status and move to an entirely new level of adventures where you're a small fish in a very big Planescape-esque pond.

Among other things, this makes the Forgotten Realms feel a lot more alterable by PCs actions and also the canon NPCs to be more vulnerable. I feel like the characters can alter the course of the setting as well. Once you are a high level PC (12th level or above), you are someone who can be a famous mover and shaker in the Realms. There's a lot less NPCs with that sort of power level as well. In The Realms, they have a LOT of Liches and even types of them.

In my RL, any Lich that exists has a name is a terrifying legend.
Making 12th level the pinnacle of human advancement brings much-needed grounding any edition of D&D. Spells over 6th level like Clone, Teleport, and Astral Travel become plot devices.
 

CT_Phipps

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Making 12th level the pinnacle of human advancement brings much-needed grounding any edition of D&D. Spells over 6th level like Clone, Teleport, and Astral Travel become plot devices.

I go the full twenty because sometimes my players want to be, "I am going to Hulk your army."
 

Mankcam

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Reaches for popcorn . . . Damn! Missed it!
Yeah I missed it all as well, but it sounds like it must have been pretty bad this time...
 

The Butcher

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Have you any examples of instances in which you had to make deliberate changes from the canon of a setting to make it suitable, or more suitable, for role-playing games, or for a campaign that you wanted to run? Apart, of course, from the real world and history that had to have magic, the weird, lost Macedonian cities in central Africa, and alternative history slathered onto them. I'm particularly interested in cases where you think that the original canon was fine for the medium that the original work was in, but that some changes had to be made because the needs of a role-playing campaign are different from those of e.g. comics or movies.
It's a rare well-known IP that I use as is.
Dragonlance would be the obvious example that springs to mind. Even though it was originally a gaming line the novels took over pretty fast.

If I were to run it the first thing I would do is reboot it from the beginning with the PCs replacing the Heroes of the Lance who wouldn't exist as their existence while fine I guess for a novel series doesn't really work in a rpg.

I'd like to run an Essos based game sometime in the A Song of Ice and Fire world. I'm not sure exactly what I would change, but I'd prefer not to have the state of play at the end of the TV series be the case.
Dragonlance has fun bits but I avoid it like the plague because some in my crew are diehard fans and I dislike the Heroes of the Lance arc as a whole. I fin it abysmally written tbh. For years I have been conceiving of my own personal fuck you love letter to Dragonlance, tentatively titled Grimdark Dragonthing.

FR I drag back to pre-Time of Troubles (gray box era) and even then I slash NPC levels.
I am increasingly of the view that VtM is, as written, only suited to two types of games. Elders games (especially generation spanning ones which take work but are fun) and anarchs vs the system.

Outside of that, canon gets dull.

"You have a boss. They will never die. You will never be able to get promoted because all of your superiors are also immortal and never lose any strength".

VtR fixed this thankfully.
It did, and then WW fans decided they hated it.

I have been thinking of posting some thoughts on nWoD. Might do it later.
I defy anyone running a Marvel comics based game to correctly account for in their campaign which characters are currently dead and have come back to life.

On that subject, there was this time I was running a Marvel game and I had of using HeroClix as minatures, not for precise grid map movements, just to give a little visual flair to the encounters. I found myself tweaking canon here and there to fit the models I had at hand. None of the players were deep into Marvel anyway, so I didn't get any "Hey, Rhino was never in the Circus of Evil" sort of comments. Honestly, I would not have cared if I had.
If I were to run a game in the DC or Marvel universe these days, I'd definitely have my work cut out for me. I have no inkling of what is happening in the comics right now, and no interest in catching up. I'd probably cook up an "alternate history" version. Or, most likely, again, homebrew my own setting with the bits that interest me represented.
Palladium Fantasy, and other products, by removing all the racism, and other type elements
Correct me if I'm wrong but I feel those are fairly minor and easy to excise? Or did I miss something? It's been a while.
I liked the Sabbat in theory.

My problem in practice was that I was interested in the weird inhuman theologies and philosophical clashes about the nature of freedom while everyone else wanted to shout "I eat the baby!" a lot.
A common experience and WW material didn't help. (Montreal By Night, I'm looking at you.)

I did a Marvel Universe set in the late 1930's using Worlds in Peril. It focused a super-man like Sentry who worked for the FBI cleaning up organized crime in Chicago. The other characters were 1930s versions of Domino and Mystique. The main villain was Fred "the Gut-man" Dukes (the Blob) who was brought in as a last ditch effort to stop Sentry's effort. Domino was being stalked by her nemesis, Sergei Kravinoff (Kraven the Hunter). After the Blob, they switched to dealing with nazi spies in NYC and DC lead by the Red Skull.

The plan was to move on into an Invaders campaign, but the player who was Sentry moved out of state and so we switched games.

The other named Marvel Characters were:
  • The Captain America project was just underway as a top secret project for the upcoming war.
  • The Devil of Hell's Kitchen was fighting organized crime.
  • Dr. Stephen Strange, sorcerer who was defending NYC from hoary hosts.
  • Dr. Reed Richards was a scientist working with an elderly Nikola Tesla (they were working on the original Human Torch project)


The unmovable Gut-man
View attachment 45653

Retro Sentry:
View attachment 45654
That's really cool! I too have considered running a game in a Golden Age Marvel that never was, a la DC's.

The only big changes I can think of that I have deliberately made are things to make certain settings a little more realistic, in my particular view of what would be "realistic" in such a world. When it comes to historical settings, I have never made them less racist, sexist, misogynist, etc., or tried to have the NPCs act within the bounds of what is considered to be acceptable behavior today. I run them realistically, with attitude differences among individual NPCs that accurately reflect the variances in individual behavior and outlook that were around in the real history of the time. I never include anything related to sexual assault or child abuse, though, because those things upset me too much.
Same here, and I have never had players complain about my treatment of these subjects (andt I do believe in being proactive and making sure no one feels bad at the game table). I like to stress that PCs all too often tend to operate outside social convention and characters from unusual backgrounds are usually welcome even in my historical games. Once we're creating anything it's all alt-history anyway.

Before they (thankfully) got rid of the Confederacy, I modified my DEADLANDS game to remove the apologia for it.

The Confederacy that managed to "win" the Civil War (because it's not a stalemate as they exist) is a slave-owning state that is in the middle of utterly falling apart. The Union is providing black and white partisans with guns as well as engaged in economic warfare. There's a Cold War going on as the South is looking for magical devices, infernal machines, and opportunities to invade Mexico or the Weird West in order to try to prop up its collapsing economy.

The evils of slavery and racism have also resulted in the place becoming a massive magnet for the Reckoners with vampires, werewolves, zombies, and ghosts all making the place into a Southern version of Ravenloft.

It's not "quite" Mordor yet but its getting there.

The PCs assassinating the demonically possessed Jefferson Davis helps collapse it into a dozen feuding countries with a few finally agreeing to Emancipation (helped along by Union occupation or backing up revolutionary governments).
Don't get me started on Deadlands. If I ever run it, I'll be scrubbing it clear of most of the alt-history (which they handled terribly) and of ghost rock and the attendant steampunk BS, including the Reckoner-inspired mad science. My take on Deadlands would be a straight Western with the supernatural horror being slowly unveiled.

When running a Star Wars game I tend to avoid anything related to established characters and set things in a different time period altogether, generally centuries or thousands of years before the time of the movies.
It's a trick I use often, though SW in particular (1) is a big universe and (2) my players are just drawn to the original trilogy era, and honestly so am I. Though we did play with the old EU ("Legends") material a bit too..
 

Agemegos

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It's a rare well-known IP that I use as is.

Quite. But what are your reasons? We see in the head-canons thread that a lot of us add, delete, or change features in popular canons for aesthetic reasons that apply even in the original media. We refuse to accept Flanderisations, early-instalment weirdnesses, and things that just aren't as good as they could be, we add rationalisations and connections to other works and what-have-you in or personal understandings of properties right there in their original media. Star Wars, we suppose, might be improved as a movie franchise by denying the canonicity of everything after Splinter of the Mind's Eye.

What I ask in this thread is whether there is any canon that you are happy with in its original medium but that you find it necessary to change when you set an RPG in the setting, specifically because the needs of RP are different from the needs of other media.

And what I hope to learn from this thread is things that other GMs have discovered or learned about the special needs of RPGs in the way of setting, that are different from the needs of stories that are told by a writer or production crew to a non-participating audience.
 

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Does sticking bits of obsolete canon in count?

It does if you think the excision of the obsolete canon was good for the original work in its original medium, and that restoring the cuts is called for by the peculiar needs of RP as a medium.
 

VisionStorm

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Making 12th level the pinnacle of human advancement brings much-needed grounding any edition of D&D. Spells over 6th level like Clone, Teleport, and Astral Travel become plot devices.

I go the full twenty because sometimes my players want to be, "I am going to Hulk your army."
IMO, based on the ridiculous stuff I've seen level 10+ characters do to lower level enemies, I'd say that level 12 is the pinnacle of human achievement, and level 20 is godlike sounds about right.
 

Mankcam

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I've always loved Middle Earth as a setting, I have collected most of Tolkien's books and I returned as a long-term subscriber to LOTRO.
Regarding tabletop roleplaying, I have run Middle Earth with numerous systems - MERP, CODA, BRP, TOR, AiME, and Fate Core.

I played MERP in the late 1980s, and ran it as a GM in the early 1990s, before shelving it and moving onto another rpg (likely World of Darkness). In the mid 2000s I returned to running Middle Earth, and I used Decipher's The Lord of the Ring rpg (LOTR), which used the CODA system.

I found LOTR had numerous problems instrinisic to it's CODA system that I eventually ported it over into another rpg system. In terms of the narrative however, LOTR also had some issues regarding established canon, and this was primarily concerned with players being able to cast Spells. This same issue had also existed in MERP a few years earlier.

Both MERP and LOTR had an extensive spellcasting system to be utilised by player-characters, however as most of us know, in the Middle Earth canon the only Wizards are The Istari, of which there are five immortal beings (Sauramon The White, Gandalf The Grey, Radagast The Brown, and the Two Blue-Robed Wizards who went to The East)

Of course there were enchantments and magic everywhere amongst the Common Peoples whose Crafting skills were of exceptional level - this occured at times with Dwarven smithing and masonry, and was much more commonplace amongst the Elves with everyday tools, cooking, etc. due to their innate talents. This was not clearly explained in this version of the LOTR rpg, but it was easy enough to bring in as background fluff. I presumed exceptional humans may have also been potentially able do this at times, although it probably occured more amongst the Dunedain/High Folk.

I also described some folk-belief practices amongst all Races which was akin to minor magic at times - basically just minor wardings and wishful thinking/petitioning - this explains the dwarfs putting warding-spells on buried treasure, and those individuals who prayed at various shrines to The Valar.

However none of this explained the reason for the spellcasting system in the LOTR rulebook, as two character classes could learn spellcasting, the Loremasters and the less-common Magicians

To get around this, I decided that there were some wizardry orders scattered around, a chapter-house in Dol Amroth (possibly up to 20 to 40 members), a smaller chapter-house in Minas Tirith (about 20 members), and an even smaller one in New Dale (only about 5 or so members in the Dale chapter-house). Typically each chapter house had about 70% loremasters who also learnt spellcasting, and about 30% devoted as specialist magicians. I refered to them all collectively as Wizards, and also included a High Wizard rank, these are The Istari, whom Tolkien lists as only being five in number.
I also had one or two lone Wizards who might teach, such as one in the ruins of Annuminas in the Evendim region (a previous apprentice of Gandalf), and another lived at the edges of Fangorn Forest (a previous apprentice of Radagast). All of these chapter-houses and teachers were reasonably autonomous, although deferred to the counsel of Sauramon at Isengard

Even though I knew that these numbers were far too high for Middle Earth, it gave some justification for player-character Wizards in Middle Earth.

To fully graduate from Apprentice to Journeyman the magician Wizards had to do trials at Isengard. Sauramon was becoming corrupted, so he was screening them for potential underlings of The Shadow, and those who did not meet the grade sometimes died during the Trials, or were noted by Sauramon as potential opposition to his plans and as such 'disappeared' at a later date.

Grima Wormtongue was one of Sauramon's success stories. In my version Grima has fought and recently killed the Lone Wizard of Fangorn (once Radagast's apprentice) and now used his tower. He had plans to control Rohan which Sauramon knew, and this led to Grima becoming the counsellor of many Thanes of Rohan.

I was setting my game a decade before The War Of The Ring, but by the time the novel is set Grima would have wormed his way into the Golden Hall of Edoras to advise King Theoden. I was only going to have a few wizards left in each Chapter House in Gondor. Gandalf has been moving around trying to investigate the cause of the declining numbers and missing Wizards, hence his nine year absence it takes him to return to The Shire after Bilbo's disappearance (as per novel's timeline)

So yeah it was only a minor canon change, but one that worked for me when running this LOTR rpg in order to explain why players could choose Wizard characters in Middle Earth.

I eventually got such a headache with the CODA core mechanics in LOTR that I ported the campaign over to BRP using the BGB as my guidebook. It ran really well, we do have fond memories of this Middle Earth campaign which started using CODA and finished using BRP.

Regarding magic, things are much less problematic in the more recent rpg portrayals of Middle Earth by Cubicle 7, there's no work-around necessary.
I have since played both of their versions, TOR and AiME, and also ported Middle Earth into Fate Core, which has been the best system I have found for it as I can capture the flavour from Cubicle 7 and Tolkien's books quite easily with Aspects and whatnot. I also recently received Free League's TOR 2E which looks great, but probably going to use it as an influence for my Fate Core Middle Earth campaign if we ever return to it.

I'm still considering working some version of chapter-house magicians into Middle Earth, as my earlier premise worked really well, so perhaps smaller numbers may be better, and they are mainly scholars who occasionally dip their toes into some of the lores of The Istari.
 
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CT_Phipps

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Don't get me started on Deadlands. If I ever run it, I'll be scrubbing it clear of most of the alt-history (which they handled terribly) and of ghost rock and the attendant steampunk BS, including the Reckoner-inspired mad science. My take on Deadlands would be a straight Western with the supernatural horror being slowly unveiled.

The Butcher The Butcher

If you aren't aware, the latest edition of Deadlands had time travelers go back in time and caused the Confederacy to lose the Civil War, erasing the entire history of Deadlands except for the Plot Point campaigns where most of the Reckoner's schemes were thwarted by the PCs.

There's now the Union, Utah, The Native American Nations, and Territories.

 
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Brock Savage

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Even these numbers were far too high for Middle Earth, but it gave some justification for playing Wizards in Middlke Earth.

I played a Fourth Age game run by a Middle Earth guru where one of the players was a new istari sent from the West to confront a rising threat (spoiler, it was Morgoth). It was beautifully executed and even though she was the most powerful character on paper all the PCs managed to be important.

Unpopular opinion, I find the First Age and Fourth Age more interesting to experience as a player than the Third Age and War of the Ring.
 

CT_Phipps

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Yeah, basically Savage Worlds took one look at the biggest thing preventing Deadlands from being adapted to the Big Screen, video games, small screen and other mediums and went:

"Yeah, the Confederacy winning the war but not really being racist anymore [because reasons] is what pisses off the most people."

It was a VERY good financial decision and the only time a massive setting retcon is generally agreed by everyone to be a good idea, even the people who complain about pandering to [insert X].
 

Mankcam

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I played a Fourth Age game run by a Middle Earth guru where one of the players was a new istari sent from the West to confront a rising threat (spoiler, it was Morgoth). It was beautifully executed and even though she was the most powerful character on paper all the PCs managed to be important.

Unpopular opinion, I find the First Age and Fourth Age more interesting to experience as a player than the Third Age and War of the Ring.
Well the First Age is very mythic and epic, so it feels almost like a different setting. I would love to see some of that on the Big Screen.
Also I agree that the Fourth Age is brimming with possibilities, I can see that being a good place to sandbox.

I love what I read in the books and saw on the films, so I tend to stick to the Third Age sometime after The Battle of The Five Armies and before The War of The Ring. The decade or so leading up to The War of The Ring works for me. Bilbo is old but spritely, and still lives in Bag End so if the player-characters end up in The Shire, he is someone they may encounter.

I think there is enough room in Middle Earth to keep to the core canon, and also fiddle with as much as one likes around its edges - the plots and side-quests in LOTRO are a great example of this
 
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CT_Phipps

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Middle Earth: Fifth Age

This is just a way I and many others have run it over the years.

Aragorn was a great king and everyone loved him but Eldarion was not the man his father was or the glorious being that his mother was. Eldarion felt cheated of the choice of immortality and elfdom that his maternal ancestors were given. Much time was spent pondering the works of elves and treating the glories of Gondor as well as Lost Numenor with disdain (however deserved). While prophecized to rule a kingdom of man that would endure for a hundred generations, many noted that it was a time of chaos and disorder compared to his father's reign.

It was also a time of uncertain loyalties.

The Witch King was resurrected by unnatural arts at the hands of one of the few remaining bloodlines capable of magic, the Cult of Sauron believing that he would be able to restore Gondor to lost glories and overthrow the "weak" king. Some histories even suggest that it might have been one of Eldarion's sisters who did the foul sorcery but the idea of the House of Isildur being corrupted in such a way is something histories refuse to acknowledge.

The Witch King somehow bathed his ring in the light of Lothlorien and drained it of life, restoring himself himself to full power and gaining power to assume pleasing shape like his master once did, though he would never gain as much power as Sauron did as his height. Lolthorien became a place of nightmare and ghosts, establishing the first of the Great Atrocities that signaled the end of Middle Earth's final days of the elves. It was said that somehow the Witch King also subjugated Ungoliant and gained her power as well as a vast army of giant spiders in his service. For a time, it would a new Mordor and ready to assail the lands of men.

He called to the last of the orc tribes in Moria, sealed away for centuries, and for the caverns below where dark things dwelt to empty themselves in his master's name. Even with his ring of power, though, many of the dark things did not respond for he was only a ghost of man and they instead awaited their true master's return. The Balrog also was only one of the many sleeping daemons that had decided to rest until the time that the Final Battle would be waged between good versus evil.

In the East, great conflicts arose between the remaining worshipers of Morgoth and the worshipers of Eru (though he was not known among them by that name) as the Blue Wizards were revealed to continue practicing their magic. Both had become overly attached to Middle Earth, though their corruption was of a subtler sort than Saruman's with a desire to influence humanity to become greater rather than directly control it. Memories of ancient wrongs and desire to build empires independent of Gondor or revanchism were not beyond them, though, and brought misery during the Fifth Age.

Ironically, one of the wild cards in the conflict would be the Uruk Hai who, freed from Sauron and Saruman's touch, started becoming more human-like with each passing generation so that they as well as the goblins as well as men they bred with soon were difficult to tell from Wildmen. Their hatred for Gondor was great, though, due to Eldarion's desire to exterminate the last of the orcish peoples regardless of the distance of their lineage to their ancestors. They dwelt in the ruins of Modor that after the eruption of Mount Doom had become a great jungle and tropical paradise that was refuge to many people of men who sought to escape war.

No one could say if these orc-men would answer the call of the Light or the Dark or whether the former would even have them.

As for the Hobbits? Many generations had passed since the Took lineage was effected by Ent draught and they looked more like men than many men did and some even took human brides. It was in this time that legends of farm boys seeking adventure would soon become a story passed down for a thousand generations...
 
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Mankcam

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Middle Earth: Fifth Age

This is just a way I and many others have run it over the years.

Aragorn was a great king and everyone loved him but Eldarion was not the man his father was or the glorious being that his mother was. Eldarion felt cheated of the choice of immortality and elfdom that his maternal ancestors were. Much time was spent pondering the works of elves and treating the glories of Gondor as well as Lost Numenor with disdain (however deserved). While prophecized to rule a kingdom of man that would endure for a hundred generations, many noted that it was a time of chaos and disorder compared to his father's reign.
It was also a time of uncertain loyalties.

The Witch King was resurrected by unnatural arts at the hands of one of the few remaining bloodlines capable of magic, the Cult of Sauron believing that he would be able to restore Gondor to lost glories and overthrow the "weak" king. Some histories even suggest that it might have been one of Eldarion's sisters who did the foul sorcery but the idea of the House of Isildur being corrupted in such a way is something histories refuse to acknowledge.

The Witch King somehow bathed his ring in the light of Lothlorien and drained it of life, restoring himself himself to full power and gaining power to assume pleasing shape like his master once did, though he would never gain as much power as Sauron did as his height. Lolthorien became a place of nightmare and ghosts, establishing the first of the Great Atrocities that signaled the end of Middle Earth's final days of the elves. It was said that somehow the Witch King also subjugated Ungoliant and gained her power as well as a vast army of giant spiders in his service. For a time, it would a new Mordor and ready to assail the lands of men.

He called to the last of the orc tribes in Moria, sealed away for millennium, and for the caverns below where dark things dwelt to empty themselves in his master's name. Even with his ring of power, though, many of the dark things did not respond for he was only a ghost of man and they instead awaited their true master's return. The Balrog also was only one of the many sleeping daemons that had decided to rest until the time that the Final Battle would be waged between good versus evil.

In the East, great conflicts arose between the remaining worshipers of Morgoth and the worshipers of Eru (though he was not known among that name) as the Blue Wizards were revealed to continue practicing their magic. Both had become overly attached to Middle Earth, though their corruption was of a subtler sort than Saruman's with a desire to influence humanity to become greater rather than directly control it. Memories of ancient wrongs and desire to build empires independent of Gondor or revanchism were not beyond them, though, and brought misery during the Fifth Age.

Ironically, one of the wild cards in the conflict would be the Uruk Hai who, freed from Sauron and Saruman's touch, started becoming more human-like with each passing generation so that they as well as the goblins as well as men they bred with soon were difficult to tell from Wildmen. Their hatred for Gondor was great, though, due to Eldarion's desire to exterminate the last of the orcish peoples regardless of the distance of their lineage to their ancestors. They dwelt in the ruins of Modor that after the eruption of Mount Doom had become a great jungle and tropical paradise that was refuge to many people of men who sought to escape war.

No one could say if these orc-men would answer the call of the Light or the Dark or whether the former would even have them.

As for the Hobbits? Many generations had passed since the Took lineage was effected by Ent draught and they looked more like men than many men did and some even took human brides. It was in this time that legends of farm boys seeking adventure would soon become a story passed down for a thousand generations...
Absolutely love the creativity here - sign me up for your game!
 

Sharrow

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When I run Star Wars, I ditch the Expanded Universe (Legends Continuity) and the Disney TV shows, and the sequel trilogy and the prequel trilogy.

And the original trilogy.
Were I to ever run a 'Star Wars' game I'd be basing it on Brain Daley's Han Solo trilogy of novels. Of course this strips out most of what people think of as making Star Wars into Star Wars these days. :shrug:
 

Dammit Viktor

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Were I to ever run a 'Star Wars' game I'd be basing it on Brain Daley's Han Solo trilogy of novels. Of course this strips out most of what people think of as making Star Wars into Star Wars these days. :shrug:
It's not Star Wars to me unless it contains both space wizard bitchcraft and... not space wizard bitchcraft.
 

Sharrow

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Dragonlance is a setting that I retooled in the sense that the War of the Lance never actually ends.

Oh yes, the Heroes of the Lance managed to get the Metallic Dragons involved, stop the creation of Draconians, and assassinated Emperor Ariakan. Which, certainly, disrupted Queen Takhasis' plans to take over the world. However, unlike the books, there's never actually a "victory" on the side of good. In my games, High Lord Kitiara and the other new Dragon Highlords proceed to hunker down and establish nations.

* Nekara
* Flotsam
* Pax Tharkas
* Ergoth

And several other city-states and micro-nations become established with trade routes, armies, and citizens that are controlled by the Dark Queen's armies. They still want to take over the world but are now closer to a Cold War situation and fighting over smaller bits of territory. It makes the setting far more interesting for adventurers, I think.
As I recall (probably badly), this is roughly what the AD&D2 boxed set had set up as the default, set a generation after the War. Sure, the bad guys lost, but they're still there, they still hold a whole lot of territory, and it's not like all the 'good' guys see eye-to-eye either.
 

The Butcher

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Quite. But what are your reasons?
Right. Let’s get specific:

When I run Forgotten Realms I dial continuity back to pre-Time of Troubles because that’s the wide open Realms I like best. I even ignore later additions to geography like Zakhara and Kara-Tur.

And I slash NPC levels in a manner similar to that suggested by other posters because everyone of note being 20+ is patently ridiculous.

For some other franchises I just feel they are big enough (like Star Wars) or scant enough (like the Cthulhu Mythos or the Hyborian Age) that I can avoid getting well-known characters to make more than a cameo appearance, clearing the path for PCs to be the big damn heroes of the day (if they live up to it, of course).

Someone quoted Rogue One and when I saw it J remarked that it felt like the perfect Star Wars (WEG, D6) RPG session, as we used to play them.

Marvel and DC are tricky to adhere to canon because they are in constant flux. Every game is necessarily my take on the well-established, hallowed elements featured in these universes, remixed and rematches to my own personal taste.

I have almost never used them, but the two scenarios I’d like to run are (1) a Golden Age Marvel that never was a lot like Picaroon Jack Picaroon Jack ’s and (2) a more interesting retelling of the Justice League movie with a properly paced campaign where the heroes meet and get to know each other while slowly unveiling the influence of Apokolips on Earth (Intergang!) and an upcoming invasion. Screw Steppenwolf, I want a final battle with Darkseid.

If you aren't aware, the latest edition of Deadlands had time travelers go back in time and caused the Confederacy to lose the Civil War, erasing the entire history of Deadlands except for the Plot Point campaigns where most of the Reckoner's schemes were thwarted by the PCs.

There's now the Union, Utah, The Native American Nations, and Territories.

A step in the right direction but still too much alternate history for my tastes. Not a fan of the overt steampunk and mad science stuff.
 
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