July 7, 2013 by dracs
It has been said that you can make a story about pretty much anything and the same thing goes for tabletop games. We have seen games based around everything from building to ordering drinks from a bar. But recently I got thinking what things really deserve to have their own tabletop game?
Whether it be a board game, miniatures game or even an RPG, there are many things which remain unrepresented. So here is a quick list of various licenses and ideas which I think really deserve to be made into games.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
If you have not read Allan Moore’s great comic The League of Extroardinary Gentlemen rectify that now. In this comic Moore draws together characters from classic literature, such as Mina Harker from Dracula and Griffin from The Invisible Man, essentially making a Victorian era super hero team.
This would be the perfect setting for a character driven skirmish game, sort of like Pulp City meets Empire of the Dead. In the comics Moore established a world full of other literary characters outside of the main group, with references to other famous figures and events cropping up throughout the series. Since most of these characters would now be in the public domain this would let miniatures companies produce figures for all manner of characters from Victorian literature, allowing players to put together their ideal teams. There could even be an expansion based around Anno Dracula, a book series which also uses established literary characters in an alternate world where Dracula has taken over England.
The problem is that there are already a number of Victorian romance style skirmish games and one more might be a bit unnecessary. Still, if anything could stand out from the crowd it would be The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
I have said it before in my articles, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques would be perfect for a miniatures game. Redwall focuses primarily around the peace loving occupants of Redwall Abbey, a community of anthropomorphic woodland animals including mice, squirrels, otters, badgers, hares etc. Due to the apparent wealth of the Abbey it has often faced invasion and siege from rampaging armies of vermin. They are stories of heroism and villainy and went a long way to establishing my love of fantasy at an early age.
This series is very well suited to large scale wargames. Jacques has created a vast woodland world populated with all manner of creatures to make up different factions. You have the badgers and hares making up the forces of Salamandastron, led by the mighty badger lords, along side the mixed forces of Redwall led by the Warrior of Redwall, the spiritual descendant of the Abbey’s founder Martin the Warrior.
Then we get the villains, the loathsome rats of Cluny the Scourge, the vicious force of monitor lizards led by the pine martin Ublaz Mad Eyes, or the pirate crew of the stoat Vilu Daskar. With such paragons of good and evil to draw upon, a Redwall miniatures game could make for some great tabletop warfare.
- The Age of Exploration
Now this is more of a time period and concept than the previous two, but I chose it because many of the ideas and literature attached to it is so brilliantly barmy by today’s standards. From The Travels of Marco Polo to The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allen Poe, right up to the latter part of the early part of the 20th century we find tales of men travelling to fantastical lands populated by bizarre entities. Many of these, such as Gulliver’s Travels, were reportedly believed by the reading populace of their time.
We have already seen the idea of invaders conquering a bizarre new land played on the tabletop in Hell Dorado, so it is easy enough to imagine games set in places like the Antarctic tropics discovered by Arthur Gordon Pym. Factions could be split between the natives of these places and the various invaders. If the players don’t care much about time periods they could have factions led by a variety of different explorers both real life and fictional. I can imagine Lemuel Gulliver leading a force using the bestial Yahoos or giant Brodignagians he has met in his journeys.
Words cannot express how much I love this anime. This is what vampires should be like people, Twilight fans take note.
For those of you who don’t know, Hellsing is set in 21st century England and centres around The Royal Order of Protestant Knights, also known as the Hellsing Organisation. They are tasked with protecting Great Britain from vampires and other such creatures of the night and to do this it employs the most powerful vampire of all known as Alucard.
With a premise that bad ass I think it is safe to say that an RPG would be a fun way to experience the setting, letting players take on the role of Hellsing agents or even members of the Catholic church’s own monster hunters the Iscariot Organisation.
The setting might also lend itself to tabletop skirmish games, with factions like Hellsing, Iscariot and the vampire Nazis of Millenium (yes vampire Nazis) competing for control. Each group has powerful characters present in the anime, meaning you can field some cool hero options alongside the fodder of the basic soldiers, since any normal troops in Hellsing just exist to be sliced through in seconds.
- Magic the Gathering
For this slot I had initially thought to put Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as I though Douglas Adams’ bizarre universe would make a great RPG setting. But it turns out that might already exist. OK, how about Buffy the Vampire Slayer? It has a well established world, filled with great characters, secretive organisations, tons of monsters and… wait there’s already a RPG of that too? Damn it.
Well how about Magic the Gathering? Wait, hear me out.
The card game Magic the Gathering has a rich background revolving around the concept of Planeswalkers, dimension striding beings of magical power who can summon creatures from the various places they have visited. This could easily lend itself to a miniatures game.
A game could follow the forms of smaller Malifaux or Warmachine battles, which have factions built around a particularly warcaster or master. In the same way Magic the Gathering factions could be built around planeswalkers. The planeswalker you choose to lead your force will then shape which creatures you can bring to the field, with other units either being purchased beforehand or summoned during the game. Just something to think about Wizards of the Coast.
- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
If you have not read this book yet I sincerely suggest you do. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is, in my opinion, one of the greatest works of fantasy to have appeared in the 21st century.
The book is set in an alternate, but very recognisable, version of England in the 19th century. In this world magic is real and has played a significant part in shaping England’s history. However, it has waned in the past few centuries to the extent that no one has actually performed magic for hundreds of years. The result is that England during the 1800′s is very recognisable, but its history is not.
The plot revolves around the characters of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, the first two magicians to have appeared in England since magic first vanished. Although the novel primarily focuses upon their conflicting characters it is interesting to watch how their appearance affects familiar events. The Battle of Waterloo, for example, is won through the assistance of Strange’s magic on the battlefield.
I had at first considered that the book might prove the basis for a game of fantasy Napoleonic warfare. However, the book makes a point in showing how France lacks magicians of its own to combat the English, so this would be rather one sided.
A role playing game, on the other hand, would be perfectly suited to this setting. Players might take on the role of magicians, be they followers of either the Strange or Norrell forms of practice, or even the role of fairies, such as the Gentleman with the Thistle Down Hair who serves as the story’s primary antagonist. Each of these three character forms are completely contradictory in nature, making for some great character interaction.. Throw them into the politics and changing landscape of early 19th century England and you could have a very interesting game.
“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. “I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, “but a gentleman never would.” – Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Well there’s six ideas for future games. Not all of them would be perfectly suited to gaming of course, but then I wrote this more as a bit of fun than a serious statement that these need games.
Are there any other licenses or ideas which you think would make good games? Be sure to drop it into a comment below.