Reboot Buck Rogers

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David Johansen

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Well, what it says, how do you make Buck Rogers a relevant and thriving property. Figure you've got a cool million to work with. Not a lot by modern standards. No, you can't take the million and go home or to Bermuda or the Caiman Islands or anything because that's what we'd all do if we had a million we could take off with. Nope, to get the money you have to produce the property.

Personally, I think retro is the way to go. Buck Rogers was always a little more sciency than Flash Gordon but bring on the bubble helmets and rocketships. I'd probably do a comic and an rpg because the cost of development is reasonable, but I could see doing action figures. I'd probably hedge my bets a bit and do a generic male and female doll and costumes because then I can always carry them forward to another property if Buck flops.
 

Jenx

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I'm probably along the same lines as you. Retro future would be the way to go with decent black and white art throughout in a cartoon style.

No idea on the system to use but every gaming session should end on a cliffhanger, rolled on a table.

Example:

1) Wilma sees Buck snatched by a giant robot. They grapple on the edge of the cliff and go over the side!
2) Buck tries desperately to stop a doohickey exploding. The scene cuts to a huge explosion!
3) The spaceship they are travelling in crashes into a mountainside
4) an avalanche buries everyone!
5) The party sinks into a swamp and the last sight is of their outstretched hands disappearing!
6) The temperature plummets and freezes everyone into a solid block

That sort of thing. The players then write on a post it note how they think they should 'get out of this one' and it's either picked out of a hat or they are passed around and everyone writes down their favourite. one with most votes is where the GM starts off.

Any old farts will remember that's how serials ended every episode but the next one had the time shifting slightly forward from that point to reveal a secret way out/flipping a lever/grabbing a branch etc.

buck-rogers-rpg.png


Don't ask me what's going on with Bucks' hand in this picture. I got nothing. :trigger:

Just-because-its-old-doesn-t-mean-it-isn-t-great-at-least-thats-what-I-keep-telling-myself-Space-G.jpg


Obviously in the vacuum of deep space you need deep sea diving helmets and the associated flotation equipment.

Boris-Vallejo-Legends-of-Fantasy-Art-vol-3.jpg


The art style or 'retrofuturism' seems to throw out loads of cheesecake images. I'm of an age where I take offence at very little but realise to appeal to 'the kids' there needs to be some diversity rather than slim big boobed ladies in skin tight/very little clothing.

Galaxinaa-Photo.png


I like this one. It's a lady kickin ass and takin names.

retro-futurism.jpg


Ready for duty! Spaceships lined up, pilots prepared and anti gravity bras set to 'stun'. :shock:

one-eyed-monster.jpg


Any bestiary must (of course) include the 'one eyed monsters from mars' and I look forward to the sourcebook from the acclaimed writer 'Spurt' Hammond.:crossed:
 
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Silverlion

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Honestly, the Buck Rogers Cliffhanger Adventure game was rather good for a simple system. I'd probably use a system like that with the stuff J Jenx mentioned above.
 

Nobby-W

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Purple lycra notwithstanding, I wonder if it actually needs to be retro faux-pulp. Raiders of the Lost Ark was really the only attempt at retro pulp that worked for me, and it was bordering on being a pastiche. The Rocketeer, for example, fell a bit flat, although the comic (one of the few I've actually read) was a bit better than the movie. OTOH, Star Wars and the first season of the 1980 TV series were quite successful reimaginings of a pulp genre. I've never seen it successfully done on TV with an actual 1930s aesthetic, though.

1m would be enough to do a comic and a RPG, and sink a decent amount into marketing. While retro pulp is kind of trendy, I'm not convinced it would be optimal. You might be able to do a pulp-cliffhanger format with more modern art styles, though. I think it's something that would take a pretty decent amount of finesse to pull it off, though. c.f. Alan Parker's Bugsy Malone - a children's movie that could easily have been a charlie foxtrot but ended up contributing significantly to launching the careers of Jodie Foster and Scott Baio. Alan Parker pulled it off but it took finesse and vision.

I think just doing retro pulp without some decent overarching vision is likely to flop. What form that might take is a whole big question in its own right.
 
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TristramEvans

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Farscape was essentially a rebooted Buck Rogers - the basic premise is strong. It just needs to be paired with a system that does it justice and 90% of it will be presentation.

Aesthetically of course, I would prefer the retro-future look, but I'm also acutely aware that if I like something, the overwhelming chance is it won't find financial success, a lesson I've learned over the abrupt cancellation of numerous TV series and comics. That said, the nice thing about being a part of a niche hobby is that the standard for success is so much lower, and a game can suurvive with a devoted niche audience.
 

Nobby-W

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Or Tales of the Golden Monkey. I think it got 3 seasons.

I haven't seen Tale Spin, but I never really warmed to Tales of the Golden Monkey. I'd like to see a good live action adventure series set in the 1930s, but I don't feel anybody has ever really pulled it off. None of them really ever had je ne sais quoi.
 

Bunch

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I haven't seen Tale Spin, but I never really warmed to Tales of the Golden Monkey. I'd like to see a good live action adventure series set in the 1930s, but I don't feel anybody has ever really pulled it off. None of them really ever had je ne sais quoi.
Oh as a kid I loved the plane, the dog and the love interest. The rest was just something. It's pretty meh these days. Still love the plane.
 

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Only one season sadly. It doesn’t stand up especially well these days
Ah. For some reason I thought it got more. I have the DVDs somewhere. It's not 2020 appropriate for sure.
 

PolarBlues

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I may be wrong, but I suspect people are more familiar with 80's Buck Rogers from the Glen Larson TV show. That do a great diservice to the orignal comic book/serials, but I've never seen those. There are already quite a few classicaly retro sci-fi roleplaying games out there, I am not sure there are many glossy, camp, soft sci-fi games in the style of that TV show.

The challenge with these adaptations which are very much focused on a special protagonist (in this case a man out of time) into a more open, gameable setting that is team based. But that's something tons of games have addressed before.

Also, no Twiki.
 

sharps54

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I may be wrong, but I suspect people are more familiar with 80's Buck Rogers from the Glen Larson TV show. That do a great diservice to the orignal comic book/serials, but I've never seen those. There are already quite a few classicaly retro sci-fi roleplaying games out there, I am not sure there are many glossy, camp, soft sci-fi games in the style of that TV show.

The challenge with these adaptations which are very much focused on a special protagonist (in this case a man out of time) into a more open, gameable setting that is team based. But that's something tons of games have addressed before.

Also, no Twiki.
I quite liked the Buck Rogers Adventure Game (I think that’s what TSR called it) that was based on the original comics.
 

David Johansen

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Yeah, deconstructing what went wrong with the Glen Larsen show would take volumes but boils down to trying too hard to be cool and sexy while being neither.

I really liked XXVc but I think it's one of those cases where it would have done better without Buck Rogers and retro looking space ships at which point it would just be a hard sf transhumanist game way ahead of its time. But Buck Rogers...I don't know what to do with him.

Buck Rogers in the 41st milenium maybe? In the grim darkness of the far future there is only disco.

Of course, if we want to be really daring we can have Buck married to 14 year old Wilma Deering just like in the novel. That oughta get us some attention.
 

Silverlion

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I may be wrong, but I suspect people are more familiar with 80's Buck Rogers from the Glen Larson TV show. That do a great diservice to the orignal comic book/serials, but I've never seen those. There are already quite a few classicaly retro sci-fi roleplaying games out there, I am not sure there are many glossy, camp, soft sci-fi games in the style of that TV show.

The challenge with these adaptations which are very much focused on a special protagonist (in this case a man out of time) into a more open, gameable setting that is team based. But that's something tons of games have addressed before.

Also, no Twiki.
You might check out Retrostar, which is designed to do late 60's to early 80's cinematic television Sci Fi.
 

PolarBlues

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You might check out Retrostar, which is designed to do late 60's to early 80's cinematic television Sci Fi.

Oh yeah, I am not saying there aren't any system that could do the TV Buck Rogers. The question was if you owned the IP and had $1million budget, what approach would you take to lauch a Buck Rogers game, and that's the direction would take.
 

Simlasa

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I think trying to emulate other media (forced cliffhanger endings to be like the old serials) is not the way to go. I watched the Buck Rogers serial again last month and those endings were just there to get kids to come back the next week to see how the guys made it out of the explosion/ray attack/deathtrap that so obviously killed them. It's was a gimmick that we don't need to replicate so slavishly. Some game sessions end on cliffhangers, others don't.
I also think trying to make something based on what you think OTHER people want is a recipe for bland.
Whether it's an accurate attribution or not, the George Lucas quote I hang onto is, "I made the movie I wanted to see." Enough with the algorithms and marketing cretins... be real and be yourself, make the Buck Rogers YOU want to play and that enthusiasm will show through.

Me, I want the retro future stuff... ditch that and it's not Buck Rogers. I think it would need more factions, since the serials only had three and one of those was friendly (but gullible)... and Killer Kane was kinda lame.
I'd probably use a standalone set of rules based on Worlds United/M-Space (with tweaks) because I don't think it's a subject that needs a whole new system. WU is Mythras and Mythras has Luck you can use to feel properly 'heroic' if you want to... and it's based in a setting that assumes those old notions of the solar system are true... Venus is a jungle planet, etc.

Instead of action figures, I'd make some excellent hard-plastic spaceships to use with the space combat rules.

And yeah, the Rocketeer movie was good stuff.
 
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Ronin

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buck-rogers-rpg.png


Don't ask me what's going on with Bucks' hand in this picture. I got nothing. :trigger:
Clearly hes fishing a quarter out of his pocket. To flick with his thumb to deflect a ray gun beam.
 

Nobby-W

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Life happened. Then I the mojo for it. I would love to start it back up. But big doings are afoot in my life that will prevent that. :sad:
Bummer.
 

T. Foster

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“Buck Rogers” is effectively an empty signifier. There’s a novel and a comic strip (and movie serials?) from the 30s that nobody alive today remembers or cares about, and there was the cheesy tv show from the early 80s that is itself barely remembered and was really utterly generic sci-fi with the BR name sort of randomly slapped on top of it. People know the name (just like they know Flash Gordon and Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie) but nothing really beyond that.

So from that perspective Mike Pondsmith’s XXVc game was probably the best and most sensible approach - make a good sf game that is at least theoretically appealing to contemporary tastes and just slap the Buck Rogers name on it. They perhaps should have made it a stealth new edition of Star Frontiers instead of a whole new D&D-based system, and had Buck and his vrusk and shmoo friends battling against the sathar invasion (though I suppose there were probably licensing prohibitions against mixing licensed IP with TSR-owned IP).

As for how to make a new Buck Rogers rpg now, I wouldn’t try, because I’m confident there’s no demand for such a thing and the market seems well served by the various generic sf games that already exist (Traveller/Cepheus, SWN, Starfinder, etc).
 
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T. Foster

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There was some litigation around that issue a few years back. Not sure how (or whether) it was resolved.
 

finarvyn

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I have good memories of the "Buck Rogers" movie. An RPG based on that probably would have sold pretty well in the early 1980's, if it had the right movie tie-in stuff attached. I also enjoyed Nowlan's "Armageddon 2419" novel. (Not so much the sequels, but the original was pretty decent.) Also bought XXVc and some of the TSR modules and such when it first came out, but my group wasn't interested.

Overall, I agree with you. Buck Rogers isn't a very valuable IP any more.
 

finarvyn

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TristramEvans

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I guess, like Zorro, regardless of whether or not he's legally in the public domain, any attempt to ue the property would result in nuisance lawsuits from the Williams estate.
 

Endless Flight

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I guess, like Zorro, regardless of whether or not he's legally in the public domain, any attempt to ue the property would result in nuisance lawsuits from the Williams estate.
I don’t believe Lorraine owns it any longer. I think the family of the creator does now.
 

David Johansen

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It's a bit silly saying Buck Rogers is just a generic sf character. Much like saying Middle Earth is a generic fantasy setting or Gandalf is a generic wizard. Buck Rogers is THE generic sf character.
 

T. Foster

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It's a bit silly saying Buck Rogers is just a generic sf character. Much like saying Middle Earth is a generic fantasy setting or Gandalf is a generic wizard. Buck Rogers is THE generic sf character.
True, but that’s only of historical interest. It’s similar to the issue Disney faced with their John Carter movie (well, one of the issues) - they could (and did) make a big point about how influential the books were on everything from Star Wars to Avatar, and all of it was true, but none of that stopped people who weren’t already familiar with the books from feeling like the movie looked like a retread of a bunch of stuff they’d already seen many times over and were bored with.
 

Armchair Gamer

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I guess, like Zorro, regardless of whether or not he's legally in the public domain, any attempt to ue the property would result in nuisance lawsuits from the Williams estate.
It's probably a case like Zorro where the oldest bits of the material have entered public domain, much of the later stuff hasn't yet, and a lot of the names, branding, etc. are still trademarked.
 

xanther

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It's a bit silly saying Buck Rogers is just a generic sf character. Much like saying Middle Earth is a generic fantasy setting or Gandalf is a generic wizard. Buck Rogers is THE generic sf character.
What! Flash Gordon is THE generic sf character; after all he is the hero of the universe...ah ah...:smile:
 

Simlasa

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As far as I'm concerned it doesn't need Flash or Buck by name... just put them in a blender and make a game that avoids all IP references but has the bits to run either of them... and more. Which does pretty much already exist... so really, what I want are the cool retro spaceship minis (yeah, I know about the War Rocket stuff from Hydra, but too much of it is resin, I want metal or good hard plastic)... so yeah, I'd spend the money entirely on a getting some suitable miniatures made.
 
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