Weirdest RPGs evah

Ronin

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I read an interview with Ken Whitman once, in Shadis or Cryptech, maybe even Pyramid right around when Wizards came out and people were mad at him about T4. He described himself as a big guy who got things done. For some reason I always feel a little sorry for him because he always falls short and keeps trying. I mean, I'm still mad as hell about T4 though I recall him posting on therpgsite at one point that he was out of the picture before Marc Miller finally pulled the plug. Still, I don't see him so much as a con artist as a failure who keeps on trying, using other people's money. He's also the reason I've never tried to crowd fund the publication of my own games because I'd never want to be him.
Oh, he's a failure. But then he quickly morphed into a conman/scammer. I've seen the same behaviours and transformations in the "real world" unfortunately. Easy money and no real work are powerful motivators in the heart of the weak willed.
 

Simlasa

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I went and bought a copy of Zero, and its one adventure. It was dirt cheap.
It's not bad... just very minimal in regards to the setting... a cocktail napkin sketch of what's going on.
I've heard it was never meant for extended campaigns. But it's giving me ideas.
Lester Smith resurrected it (and its mechanics) for his 'd6xd6' system... which has a slew of mini-settings sketched out. But it doesn't appear that that game ever took off.
 

Gringnr

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How about a game where you play busty superheroines and have tables for wardrobe mafunctions and other juvenile crap? Based on the cruddy Femforce comic book.
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I dig Femforce. Sure, it's goofy and tacky, but honestly its brand of lowbrow seems kind of quaint these days. It's also one of the only indie superhero comics to survive from the 80s to the present day (along with the similarly cheese-cakey Champions stuff from Heroic). With a fully developed (har har) universe that has seen pretty much zero rebooting/retconning (not gonna get that from the big three). Like the Heroic stuff, quality varies, but when it's good, it's really good. As far as Superbabes!, it does a great job of bringing its source material to life. Would Superbabes! be my game of choice? Nope. Could it be an awesome game for one-offs or infrequent goof-off sessions? Sure looks like it to me.

Save For Half podcast did a nice breakdown of the game here:


Doesn't sound terribly original in terms of mechanics (infact, it sounds like a Frankenstein made of bits of other games IMO), but seems functional and fun (again, IMO).
 
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Trippy

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I've got Zero. Never played it. It's basically a bit like a more insectoid version of Paranoia, but played straight and horrific. It's D6xD6 sytsem presents some interesting maths.

The game was included in the D6xD6 Sytem book released a few years ago, but that doesn't have weird alien-like art.
 

spittingimage

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I've got Zero. Never played it. It's basically a bit like a more insectoid version of Paranoia, but played straight and horrific. It's D6xD6 sytsem presents some interesting maths.

The game was included in the D6xD6 Sytem book released a few years ago, but that doesn't have weird alien-like art.
Think I remember seeing an advert for that in a comic, way back when. Is the premise that you wake up and realise you've been a mind-controlled slave and now you've thrown off the influence the queen's guards are coming to kill you?
 

Trippy

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Think I remember seeing an advert for that in a comic, way back when. Is the premise that you wake up and realise you've been a mind-controlled slave and now you've thrown off the influence the queen's guards are coming to kill you?
Yep, that's the one. Very slim volume, and the greenish photo-quality art is reminiscent of Alien.
 

Trippy

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It actually worked in a very "Wizard of Oz" way.
Heh! I have Puppetland too (not saying I'm weird or anything…).

Actually the interesting things about Puppetland are in the rules. You play for precisely one hour, your own descriptions words are all entirely in first person (no outside of character dialogue allowed), and it's a successful diceless system.
 

Teyrnon

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Whatever his initial intentions are (up to and including stealing other people's ideas for products), it's how Whitman handles the situations when they fall apart that speak for his character. I would definitely call him a scammer.
He sounds like an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
 

Gringnr

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I read an interview with Ken Whitman once, in Shadis or Cryptech, maybe even Pyramid right around when Wizards came out and people were mad at him about T4. He described himself as a big guy who got things done. For some reason I always feel a little sorry for him because he always falls short and keeps trying. I mean, I'm still mad as hell about T4 though I recall him posting on therpgsite at one point that he was out of the picture before Marc Miller finally pulled the plug. Still, I don't see him so much as a con artist as a failure who keeps on trying, using other people's money. He's also the reason I've never tried to crowd fund the publication of my own games because I'd never want to be him.

I usually agree that it's best not to put down to greed or avarice that which can be explained by incompetence. But Whitman has too much of an established pattern to ignore. He's a scammer, for sure. He knows the messes he's created, and keeps creating new ones, using other people's money, without even trying to clean up the old ones. Here's a site that makes clear that Whitman isn't some hapless doof, but a con artist and thief, through and through. He's victimized tons of people in our hobby, and as far as I'm concerned, he can go wash his mouth out with a revolver.


When Whitman sells products that Kickstarter backers have paid for to other people, having failed to fulfill his Kickstarter, the "Ken doesn't know what he's doing" argument quickly peters out.
 
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Teyrnon

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I'm surprised I haven't seen a mention of Psychosis: Ship of Fools in this thread before now.
 

Gringnr

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Continuum: Roleplaying In The Yet. A 90s game that bears more than a passing similarity to CWoD. Players are "Spanners", or time travelers (the game has its own lexicon, like many 90s RPGs). It had a highly detailed explanation of time (you were supposed to cut up a specific page of the book in order to fully understand it - no, really). Combat was a head-spinning flurry of time travelling tricks. And there were downloadable PDF supplements that could only be unlocked with a password hidden somewhere in the rulebook.

Wikipedia said:
Unlike other time travel games (and fiction), which usually depict time travelers as either lone explorers or as an all-powerful "time police", C°ntinuum assumes that time travelers (spanners) would eventually evolve their own society, with its own laws, rules, slang, groups, art movements, and the like. Time travel would color such a civilization in the same way that any other major technology (such as television or the automobile) has changed the human race. C°ntinuum states that the core question of the game is "If you could learn to span time at will . . . what form of civilization would you be entering?"

The Continuum, the main spanner civilization, extends through the whole of human history (and beyond, although the post-Human society of the enigmatic "Inheritors" borders on both sides). A primary focus of this civilization is to increase the knowledge and acceptance of time travel by the human race, so that when time travel is discovered and announced (approx. 2222 AD), humans will be ready for it, and moving into the next step in their evolution (becoming Inheritors). Another focus of the Continuum is the complete documentation of history.

The Continuum civilization also has "time criminals", called "Narcissists", so called because they seek to remake history in their own image. (In the late 1990s the publisher announced they would be releasing a version of the C°ntinuum book with the background material retold from the Narcissist standpoint. As of 2015, it has not been released, but a pre-release edition circulated in 1999 and 2000.) The Continuum has members trained to "repair" damage caused to the course of history by the Narcissists.

The game's solution to the issue of time travel paradox is the concept of frag. The universe does not tolerate paradox caused by time travelers, nor are parallel worlds created by paradox. Instead the universe begins to "erase" those for whom the paradox exists. (The frag concept appears to be based partly on the ideas in Alfred Bester's "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed".) Too much trying to change history (too much frag) and time travelers become something not quite real anymore. Frag can also be generated on purpose, a tactic in "time combat". The Continuum society is partially built upon the repair of paradoxes that affect its members.

To explain frag by example, using the Grandfather paradox, a Narcissist might decide to travel back in time and kill his grandfather. If he "succeeded", he would return to his own time to find his grandfather alive. (The Continuum would step in to "repair" the murder.) The Narcissist would then begin to fade out of existence due to the conflict between his own memories and "actual" history. He has been "fragged".

The game also has immersion techniques to bring players "into the game". Most of the book claims to be, and is written as, an anachronistic artifact of spanner culture, aimed at increasing public awareness of time travel to further the Continuum's ends, and to prepare for the public announcement of time-travel. For example, players are required to quote the Maxims of the Continuum before advancing to the next level, and track their time travel, in exactly the manner their characters in the game do. Artwork in the books is also credited to spanners and often depicts the particular aspects of spanner culture.
As I said, the game seems very CWoD, with the "good-guy" Continuum versus the "bad-guy" Narcissists, pseudo-goth-cum-steampunk art, and loads of pretension. Still, I'd like to try it one of these days. I have heard it alternately described as "brilliant" and "unplayable".

Dat Michael Kaluta cover art doe...





There's still an official website, but it hasn't been updated in 7 years...


Attached a character sheet, the password for the PDF is "chrony", which is what "spanners" call each other.
 

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Baulderstone

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Continuum: Roleplaying In The Yet. A 90s game that bears more than a passing similarity to CWoD. Players are "Spanners", or time travelers (the game has its own lexicon, like many 90s RPGs). It had a highly detailed explanation of time (you were supposed to cut up a specific page of the book in order to fully understand it - no, really). Combat was a head-spinning flurry of time travelling tricks. And there were downloadable PDF supplements that could only be unlocked with a password hidden somewhere in the rulebook.



As I said, the game seems very CWoD, with the "good-guy" Continuum versus the "bad-guy" Narcissists, pseudo-goth-cum-steampunk art, and loads of pretension. Still, I'd like to try it one of these days. I have heard it alternately described as "brilliant" and "unplayable".

Dat Michael Kaluta cover art doe...
If it is the '90s and you want to make a game that nobody will ever actually play, Michael Kaluta is your go-to guy for the cover.
 

clash bowley

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I don't want to flood this thread with my games, but here are a couple more strange ones:

- which offers an alternate now, based on 1880's scientific theories being actually correct. This actually took several years of research to do properly. Science likes to bury it's mistakes like a cat likes to bury it's scat. Science in the 1880s was apparently wrong about everything.

- wherein we postulate a post-apocalyptic successor culture to a far flung star empire which takes as its holy book Tolkien's The Silmarillion, which culture is created by various of the successor species' scavenging the vanished Elves' ruins for technology, and just recently voyaging out of their own system and meeting other successor peoples.
 
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David Johansen

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Tools of Ignorance on the other hand is quite normal. What could be more normal and all American than Baseball.

I've got a few weird ones on my hard drive. "among the beautiful creatures" is about as done as my messes get. But Crawling Out of the Darkness, and The Crucible and the Cauldron are pretty weird.
 

TristramEvans

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If it is the '90s and you want to make a game that nobody will ever actually play, Michael Kaluta is your go-to guy for the cover.

Never even heard of that one, though Kaluta I know from way back when he used to contribute to the yearly Tolkien Calendar. What's the deal with it - as a "game no one would play"?
 

Gringnr

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Never even heard of that one, though Kaluta I know from way back when he used to contribute to the yearly Tolkien Calendar. What's the deal with it - as a "game no one would play"?
I have heard people speak very highly of Aria, but I've never played it.
 

clash bowley

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What theories if you don't mind?
The Nebula theory in astronomy, Unified Atoms as etheric knots in atomic theory, Fast Evolution and Lamarkian inheritance in biology, Valences without atomic bonding (unified atoms) in chemistry, Dual Current in electricity, Catastrophism in geology, and Panspermia in evolution. Only the last, Panspermia, is still possibly valid, neither confirmed nor refuted. The implications are staggering.
 

David Johansen

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So, putting some thought into it I haven't seen a few mentioned:

Theatrix and it's Iron Wood fantasy setting where there was a serious black market for stuff from our world like cigarettes and Big Macs.

It Came From The Late Late Late Show where you play actors in a B movie trying to move your careers ahead.

Sandman from Pace Setter with a promised cash prize and supplements that never materialized that might have explained why you were amnesiacs lost in a desert full of biker gangs.

Timeship from Yaquinto which claimed to be an ancient time travel ritual, called the dice orbs and had adventures like Murder at the End of Time, Vacation in Gommorah, and Assasinate The Fuhrer. I actually ran this one once or twice.

I've got a copy of Laser Squid Octopus somewhere, sea creatures with ray guns.

Dogs In The Vineyard is an rpg about pseudo Mormon judges in the old west and is much beloved by the story games crowd.

QUAGS, the Quick Ass Game System used candies as bennies and called them Yum Yums. It's STUFF equipment book is one of the best laughs I've ever had reading a game book. From Ass Monkies (in gratitude for your providing habitat for this endangered species you will recieve a Yes I've Got a Monkey Up My Butt tee shirt) to Cathedralpults to the transporter malfunction table this is the supplement you never knew you wanted so badly.

On the topic of the Dallas rpg, The Mutant Chronicles Capitol sourcebook actually suggested a "Dynastic Epic" about infighting in a wealthy family as a campaign theme.
 

Malleustein

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I am at work and haven't the time or internet freedom to link anything. But look around for Wraithu. It is a game about murderous psychic hermaphrodites.
 

TristramEvans

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So, putting some thought into it I haven't seen a few mentioned:

Theatrix and it's Iron Wood fantasy setting where there was a serious black market for stuff from our world like cigarettes and Big Macs.
3rd post ;)
 

Bunch

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SOAP the RPG? You play actors in a soap opera.
 

3rik

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Séadna

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The Nebula theory in astronomy, Unified Atoms as etheric knots in atomic theory, Fast Evolution and Lamarkian inheritance in biology, Valences without atomic bonding (unified atoms) in chemistry, Dual Current in electricity, Catastrophism in geology, and Panspermia in evolution. Only the last, Panspermia, is still possibly valid, neither confirmed nor refuted. The implications are staggering.
Cool I'll pick up a copy soon, even just for the research. I love that sort of Alt-Science stuff, ever read Greg Egan's Clockwork Rocket series?

I think it's a nice piece of science coming back on itself that Peter Tait's work on knot theory started by the vortex theory of atoms ended up being relevant in the study of gases and quantum computers. You might find the following interesting if you haven't read it already:

Atiyah M. F. , The geometry and physics of knots, Cambridge University Press, (1990)

It has a good summary of what vortex theory had going for it back in the day.
 

David Johansen

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I'm afraid I never owned or read Sandman so I can't say how it was.

I forgot to list Extreme Vengeance where you play action hero movie stars. It's like a higher production values It Came From The Late Late Late Show. But Ken Whitman was involved somehow so maybe it deserves to be forgotten. There's a good chance I'm not as mad at him as others because I never backed anything he did because I was already mad about T4.
 

clash bowley

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Cool I'll pick up a copy soon, even just for the research. I love that sort of Alt-Science stuff, ever read Greg Egan's Clockwork Rocket series?
No I haven't, but now I find I must! :grin:

I think it's a nice piece of science coming back on itself that Peter Tait's work on knot theory started by the vortex theory of atoms ended up being relevant in the study of gases and quantum computers. You might find the following interesting if you haven't read it already:

Atiyah M. F. , The geometry and physics of knots, Cambridge University Press, (1990)

It has a good summary of what vortex theory had going for it back in the day.
Also looks fascinating! Thank you, Seadna!
 

Séadna

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Also looks fascinating! Thank you, Seadna!
I hadn't looked at it in a few years, just reading it there it is a short summary on p.5 and p.6

This is all that would be relevant to you I think.
Knot theory has an interesting history. In the nineteenth century physicists were pondering on the nature of atoms. Lord Kelvin, one of the leading physicists of his time, put forward in 1867 the imaginative and ambitious idea that atoms were knotted vortex tubes of ether [32]. The arguments in favour of this idea may be summarized as follows.

A) Stability. The stability of matter might be explained by the stability of knots (i.e. their topological nature).
B) Variety. The variety of chemical elements could be accounted for by the variety of different knots.
C) Spectrum. Vibrational oscillations of the vortex tubes might explain the spectral lines of atoms.

From a modern twentieth-century point of view we could, in retrospect, have added a fourth.

D) Transmutation. The ability of atoms to change into other atoms at high energies could be related to cutting and recombination of knots.

For about 20 years Kelvin's theory of vortex atoms was taken seriously. Maxwell's verdict was that 'it satisfies more of the conditions than any atom hitherto considered'. Kelvin's collaborator P. G. Tait undertook an extensive study and classification of knots [31]. He enumerated knots in terms of the crossing number of a plane projection and also made some pragmatic discoveries which have since been christened 'Tait's conjectures'. After Kelvin's theory was dis- discarded as an atomic theory the study of knots became an esoteric branch of pure mathematics. Despite the great strides made by topologists in the twentieth century the Tait conjectures resisted all attempts to prove them until the late 1980s. The new Jones invariants turned out to be powerful enough to dispose of most of the conjec- conjectures fairly quickly.
 

Dumarest

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It Came From The Late Late Late Show where you play actors in a B movie trying to move your careers ahead.
I have that. The premise is fun but the presentation and execution are not especially interesting. I would not mind playing the concept with a better game. Extreme Vengeance is similar but you're playing '80s-style action movie stars (Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, Seagal, etc.). Haven't read the whole rules yet so I can't say if it does it any better.
 

clash bowley

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I hadn't looked at it in a few years, just reading it there it is a short summary on p.5 and p.6
Yes I read it. In the setting it is possible to transmute elements at high energies by un-knotting and re-knotting the ether vortices, exactly as you said. Of course it is not casually done - it requires a lot of energy and infrastructure! - but transmutation is indeed possible!

I also picked up a copy of the Clockwork Rocket! :grin:
 

Gringnr

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I have that. The premise is fun but the presentation and execution are not especially interesting. I would not mind playing the concept with a better game.
How about Call of Cthulhu? Blacky the Blackball wrote a few pages of variant rules for CoC, using some of the ideas found in ICFTLLLS.
 

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