Reboot Buck Rogers

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Simlasa

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I like those Cold War figures for Flash-y stuff... but most of them are resin (or digital) unfortunately (for me).
The Killer B and Hydra (figures if not spaceships) stuff is great.
 

Ronin

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So from that perspective Mike Pondsmith’s XXVc game was probably the best and most sensible approach
What does Mike Pondsmith have to do with it? Wasn't it "mostly" written by Flint Dille?
 

T. Foster

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No, XXVC is a Pondsmith design--he's credited with it as far back as the promotional material for it in the 1990 TSR Catalog. The 1993 High Adventure game was Jeff Grubb.
Thanks for confirming - I was beginning to doubt my sanity. [Of course, Pondsmith was not an employee of TSR and write the game as a freelancer on a work-for-hire basis. Dille was maybe the in-house guy in charge of the entire line (which also included boardgames, novels, and computer games in addition to the rpg)?]
 

Grelan

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If your desire is truly to make it relevant in the modern world, forget making an RPG of it. Make it either an anime or manga series, or both. I could see the retrofuturism style working well in either of those media. If you really wish to rope in the RPG crowd somehow, get the cast of Critical Role to do the voices for the anime.
 

finarvyn

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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.
Perhaps, but Disney's biggest problem is that they DIDN'T bother to make a big point about how influential the books were on everything from Star Wars to Avatar. They didn't put out "from the creator of Tarzan" stuff. They even cut "of Mars" from the title. Disney showed that if you take a quarter of a billion dollar movie and give it zero advertising, zero merchandizing, and generate zero enthusiasm you get a zero return on your investment.

I've been thinking more about Buck Rogers as a property and I'm thinking that in the right hands this could be worth something. The SyFy channel did a reboot series of Flash Gordon and I think it was one of their top shows, then they killed it after one season. I suspect most fans only knew Flash Gordon through the "Flash! Aaaaa!" movie but SyFy modernized the character and put in some dimensional travel physics to make it seem more reasonable, and overall I thought the tv series was pretty good. Someone could do something like that with Buck Rogers. Transform goofy to gritty the way Total Recall was done, get some young-hip actors, make a series out of it. The "guy in a state of suspended animation wakes up 500 years later" thing could still work and the name Buck Rogers is at least familiar enough to attract some curiousity.

If the series works, then you look at a way to make the RPG. :grin:
 

Endless Flight

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That’s one thing about MEGO figures that I hated. They used stickers instead of even cheap iron-ons. I loved my Batman figure but the symbol on his chest would fall off after you played with him for five minutes.
 

TristramEvans

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hmm, luckily no stickers on my Mego Spidey. But his costume has seen better days
 

PolarBlues

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I enjoyed that SyFy's Flash Gordon reboot. Obviously it was done on the cheap and it strayed so very far from the source material, but it had a likeable cast and it was fun.
 

chuckdee

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I enjoyed that SyFy's Flash Gordon reboot. Obviously it was done on the cheap and it strayed so very far from the source material, but it had a likeable cast and it was fun.
SyFy had a Flash Gordon reboot?
 

PolarBlues

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sharps54

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(Snip)Transform goofy to gritty the way Total Recall was done, get some young-hip actors, make a series out of it. (Snip)
The Total Recall remake with Colin Ferrell that was almost universally panned? Give me Verhoeven any day of the week.

That said unlike the D&D movie where the Marvel approach is smart I think a semi-gritty, grounded Buck Rogers series could work. Rogers would need to be able to crack jokes and make 20/21st century references though, if he isn’t somewhat of a wise ass that can act as a pov character we can relate to I don’t think it will work.
 

Jenx

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The original serial, colourised (for no good reason I can tell) and joined together into one long film

spaceships.png


I think if I were doing it, the game system would be pretty light and use D6s

Stats like Brawn, Smarts, Guts, Charm and a Luck pool the player can draw on to re-roll dice.

Make all tests (including combat) opposed so there's no whiffing. Mook rules for mowing down no-name guards and monsters. Sourcebooks add different planets and bad guys (with the default bad guy being Killer Kane).

Use the mechanic I suggested earlier so every game session ends in disaster/a cliff hanger and the party come up with an idea at the start of the next session how they got out of it, no matter how outlandish.

Maybe make the system generic so add sourcebooks/settings for:

Buck Rogers (obviously). I'm glad to report a bucket on the head can be seen on several characters. Seems to be a thing from that era of sci fi entertainment.
bucket-on-head-mandatory.png

Zorro's fighting Legion. No buckets here! Ha! You broke the chain of... oh wait.
bucket.png

King of the Rocket Men. Bucket? Check.
bucket-again.png

Flash Gordon. I got bored of looking for buckets by this point. EDIT: *sigh* I had to look and sure enough..
couldn-t-help-myself.png

Undersea Kingdom (not seen this but it sounds as bonkers as most stuff of its time) Villain has a bucket on his head:
bucket-on-head.png

Dick Tracey probably no buckets.
Crimson Skies (the former FASA IP now owned and criminally not used by Microsoft as far as I can tell. No buckets.)
Mysterious Doctor Satan (never seen this one but it features a masked hero - the Copperhead - against a Mad Scientist) Probably has buckets. Hmmm, no buckets that I've found thus far but the hero wears a balaclava that could pass as one:
copperhead.png

Tarzan no buckets in the jungle.
Anything with a martian invasion going on. The bad guys need to wear buckets on their heads though to be identifiable as Martians.

Sci-fi is an odd genre for me. I tried Traveller (too boring and lethal), Star Wars D6 (great for a while then Stormtroopers become a pushover/irrelevance and there's only so much blowing the Empires latest toy up scenarios you can run before you go off piste with the players claiming 'this isn't star wars' because they didn't get to blow something up) and Starships and Spacemen (a Star Trek knockoff) suffers from the follow orders or you're fired syndrome same as Judge Dredd and other quasi military RPGs we had a go at. Plays fine (or at least 1e did) and never got to run 2e. Never got to play or run XXVC but I did manage to collect it all. There are others I'm sure but I can admit that apart from Star Wars D6 (1e, not so much later versions) Sci Fi didn't get a great amount of time at the gaming table.
 
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Arthur Frayn

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Weirdly enough, it was specifically while trying to find a system to run a Buck Rogers game eight years ago that I first came across Mini-Six... And quickly found three game-breaking flaws that I could never seem to work around to even make the game playable? I've talked about these grievances online before on other gaming forums so hang on while I look up what they were again...

Okay, found 'em. (This is an edited down version of a much longer post where I was trying to propose fixes for each problem):


Problem #1: The soak scores of just about all the stock antagonists are way too high.

For example, look at the basic Centurion on page 31. A soak score of 16 would mean that a blaster rifle (average damage of 18) would at best just barely result in a stun result once per round. This... Is the dead opposite of what I want, which is for the mooks of the Imperium to fall over like bowling pins once the action packed blaster play starts.

Problem #2: Space combat is basically unplayable as written.

Unless I'm reading the rules wrong (and let me know if I am) it is nearly impossible to hit anything in space combat. Let me show you an example of what I'm talking about. Look at the stats for a K-90 Interceptor on page 33. If a decent pilot (not even great- just decent) with a pilot skill of 3D is flying a K-90 this would give them a vehicle dodge score of 18 once you factored in the maneuverability score of the ship (as explained on page 8.) Assuming that a starting PC who specifically makes a 'combat pilot' type character is only going to have a gunnery skill of 5d or 6d... That's going to make for some long, long, long boring dogfights which again is the dead opposite of what I want. Goofier yet, even if anyone was able to actually hit anything in space combat (on a wild die hit or something) the proposed vehicle damage rules on page 8 are... Pretty kludgy. As written (and using static defense scores as I plan to) let's just say it would take a LOT of hits to eventually have any meaningful effect. So basically, in space combat you'd be better off just rolling wild dice for both attacks and damage and not even wasting time rolling the other dice until both came up as sixes.

Problem #3: The target numbers for sorcery are ridiculously high.
Let's say a player completely maxes out the magic score and associated ability at CharGen giving them 6d in the Magic skill at the start of play. That would give them an impressive average of 18 on a Magic check, right? Have you seen some of the target numbers for spell casting? 19? 23? 43!?!? I realize that a starting mystic character should start weak and unfocused so they can 'grow into their true potential' or whatever like the genre fiction and all... But this is pretty ridiculous. Not only would a starting mystic be unable to do anything, well, mystical, but then they are trapped pumping all their character points into the magic skill in the hopes that they might be able to do some coin tricks by the 8th game session or so.


*****************************

So yeah, I remember thinking when I first saw it that Mini Six would be a great system for Buck Rogers, but I could never make it work in actual play. I think I ended up running the game in Savage Worlds which worked well enough, though if I were going to do a Buck Rogers game today I'd probably use Barbarians of the Void instead.
 

Tulpa Girl

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Problem #3: The target numbers for sorcery are ridiculously high.
Let's say a player completely maxes out the magic score and associated ability at CharGen giving them 6d in the Magic skill at the start of play. That would give them an impressive average of 18 on a Magic check, right? Have you seen some of the target numbers for spell casting? 19? 23? 43!?!? I realize that a starting mystic character should start weak and unfocused so they can 'grow into their true potential' or whatever like the genre fiction and all... But this is pretty ridiculous. Not only would a starting mystic be unable to do anything, well, mystical, but then they are trapped pumping all their character points into the magic skill in the hopes that they might be able to do some coin tricks by the 8th game session or so.

I've never actually run Mini-Six, just read through it, so I confess I missed the first two problems you bring up, but the third jumped out for me as well (even if the average for 6d6 is 21 instead of 18, i think). It's made even more punishing by any failures you roll attempting Magic imposing a cumulative -1d6 penalty for any future rolls that session, IIRC.
 

TristramEvans

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OK, so the premise of this thread has been at the back of my mind the last couple of weeks, and this is the pitch I reached at. I 'm part of a marketing agency, and I have "a million dollars" as a budget to make Buck Rogers relevant again. Here is my approach.

First off, just as the Larry Hama Marvel comics are the heart and soul of the GI Joe franchise, IMO it was the original Buck Rogers comic strips that should be looked to as the penultimate presentation of the character and world. For those unfamiliar, those original Sunday strips were beautiful, reaching close to beauty of Winsor McKay's legedary Little Nemo in Slumberland strips.

buck_rogers_s03-12__11-30-1930__si_036.jpg
Buck_Rogers_S04-21__04-26-1931.jpg


The problem, of course, is presenting this in a way that garners wider appeal simply beyond those select few youngsters with impeccable aesthetic tastes.

So...I doubt many here are familiar with the conceot of the "Tumblr Girl" (and no reason you should be, as most folks here are Gen X dudes not 20-something girls raised on digipets and Monster High dolls). But this channel gives a good rundown of the online phenomena from a few years bacK:


Of course, by the time I'm writing this, Tumblr is passe, a shadow of it's former self, barely hanging on like a Myspace clone. But the essential elements of the Tumblr Girl archetype have remained, simply switchig venues, most recently migrating to Instagram. So that's where we start.

Step I: Buck Rogers Without Buck

Hire a model - youngish, late-teens. Not like classic model, unapproachably attractive, but cute and quirky, relateable. She is our Wilma Deering, and she has a website/instagram page that is Wilma Deering: Neverwas Future Fashions. This Features fashion photography, but not full-on cosplay, instead extremely modern/alterative fashions with a slight vintage/retrofuture twist (this aligns to the vintage style popularized among certain Tumblrgirls and would also provide a good opportunity to partner with one or more smaller online boutique clothing stores that are at the forefront of trends). Intersperse this with the occasional pictures o vintage Buck Rogers memoribilia (done artsy-like, how some girls on instagra show off their thrift store finds).

il_570xN.2751872627_lwxf.jpg

Photoshoots would also very subtly reference the post-apocalypse setting of the original Buck Rogers stories, featuring overgrown ruins and such, (but only as understaed backgrounds)

296104455_597228738701438_2447163534839208615_n.jpg

Step II: Kitsch

The Instagram/website will be connected to two Twitter profiles: Wilma Deering's personal twitter, and "Birdman Says"

Wilma Deering's twitter, besides advertising her Instagram fashion posts, will feature isolated panels from the orinal Buck Rogers daily comics turned into the sorts of sassy memes particularly appealing to young women (think Kate Beaton's Hark a Vagrant-type humour)

DwULHUGXQAARLw2.jpg

Birdman Says, on the other hand, playing off of the popularity of Rick & Morty's Bird Person parody of Hawk from the Buck Rogers TV series, simply posts deadpan humorous observations about human society and history from the perspective of, well, a Birdman

Birdman.jpg

Both of these could then be paired with a small merchandise campaign, targetting the Hot Topic/alternative crowd, similiar to that done by the Middleclassfancy account. T-shirts and the like with silly mottos like "I'd Rather be in the Retro-Future" or "After the Apocalypse, Only Fashion Remains" etc.

JGAR515__46462.1654199817.jpg

Step III: Reintroducing Rogers

When this kitsch-based approach of integrated personality-based marketing stealthly re-introoduces the world of Buck Rogers into the popular consciousness (the goal isn't wiespread success or overwhelming popularity, just an ongoing and slowly-growing underground "buzz" that inserts the retrofuture style of Buck Rogers into the general pop culture landscape), then I'd finally run a kickstarter for a new game.

design-create-zine-01.png
 

Toadmaster

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Ah. For some reason I thought it got more. I have the DVDs somewhere. It's not 2020 appropriate for sure.

It is very much a product of the 80s. I picked up the boxed set and was watching it while working night shifts. It amuses me, but it really is kind of phoned in, casting features numerous NBC regulars from Baa Baa Black Sheep, Magnum PI and Airwolf. The plots tend to be pretty weak, and generic, they rarely are really tied into the setting. Many could just as easily have been used for any PI or action show of the period (Rockford, Magnum, The A Team etc).
It is full of espionage, but everybody pretty much knows who the players are so there is very little actual drama or suspense. The various spies are all too busy pretending they don't know everybody else are also spies. Also for a history buff the show is filled with obvious anachronisms that make Raiders look like a documentary.

The premise is a good one, but the writers didn't come close to realizing it. The Grumman Goose and the one eyed dog are the real stars of the show.

This would have been a much better reboot option than Magnum PI. Something a bit darker and grittier like Burn Notice could be great.
 
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chuckdee

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And I'd stopped looking for it- but I think I found a used copy on Amazon! Just ordered...
 
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