I recently went through the experience of buying a home. One of the many annoying side-effects of doing such a thing is the inevitable task of taking all the things that were in your previous residence and pack them into a multitude of copy paper boxes stolen from work, laundry detergent boxes taken from behind the grocery store, and multi-gallon Sterilite tubs purchased just for such an occasion. You are then expected to take this truckload of boxed-up belongings from your old residence to the home you just purchased, partially because you intend to live there but mostly because your old landlord doesn’t want your stuff cluttering up their rental. So after putting your belongings into cube-like containers, moving them with the help of a rented box truck, and stacking them into your new abode, you now have to take all the items you boxed up find a new place for them to collect dust in your new home.
There’s a phenomena that occurs when you’re moving that’s referred to in my parts called “Moving Landmines”. It’s what happens when, while in the course of unpacking, you find that memento from an Ex who tore out your heart, or a photo from a really embarrassing event, or gift from a friend that you haven’t seen in years. Usually associated with bad connotations, Moving Landmines can sometimes remind you of the wondrous times you’ve had with Role-Playing games from long past in your history. Classic campaigns and awesome systems that have been obscured by the flashy “New Editions!” of today’s RPG Market.
Over Labor Day weekend, while unpacking my eventual computer/office/game room I happened across several Moving Landmines. Some should have remained buried, but several got me thinking about the games I played with those systems, and sparked a desire to play in those worlds again.
Robotech RPG (Palladium Books)
There were a lot of Landmines from Palladium Books; games that I just simply haven’t played in years. This one, however, deserves a mention. Whether you played in the Macross Era against the Zentraedi, the Southern Cross Era against the Robotech Masters, or the New Generation Era against the Invid, you were a Robotech soldier defending the Earth from a horde of alien invaders and their numerous mecha, while you were fighting in mecha of your own.
I’ve cracked the spines on my Rifts books in recent years (mostly in a misguided effort to find a system that can handle the world that isn’t the Palladium Books/Mega-Damage system) but I haven’t touched my Robotech books in quite a long time. I grew up on Robotech, and when Palladium snagged the rights to the RPG I bought just about every book I could get (Yes, including Lancer’s Rockers.) It was the system that introduced me to Mega-Damage (for better or for worse), and to the artwork of Kevin Long. I had a good time, and good number of games, but I ran it in a time where my focus was on “how many missiles can I get my characters to use” rather than good storytelling. It was a time of low plot, high body count; and for Robotech I think that’s okay. I sorta wonder what I could do with Robotech now, with the slight resurgence of the genre thanks to the Shadow Chronicles released a few years back.
The biggest problem would be finding folks interested in playing it. It’s kinda a dead genre and a dying system, thanks to Rifts.
Marvel Super Heroes (TSR)
My first foray into Super Hero Gaming, and certainly not my last. MSH holds a special place in my heart, not only because it was all about the super heroes I was most interested in at the time, but also because in college my buddy Alex was running an MSH game. It was one of the first times I actually got to play in a campaign as a player, not as a GM.
MSH had a really interesting system mechanic, commonly referred to as the FASERIP system (denoting the character stats of Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Intellect, and Presence). You’d roll percentile dice and compare it to a color chart based on the value of your stat. The better you rolled, the more likely you were to succeed as a green result, a yellow result, or a red result. It was a system that slowed the game down a little due to the constant referencing of the chart, and what the corresponding color meant for whichever ability you were using. If you could get past that, or not let it get to you, it was a fun system.
I’m not sure I’d want to ever play MSH again in the future, I think some of the draw to playing it was that it wasn’t D&D, and it was something different. It wasn’t a very easy or user-friendly system, due to the chart referencing. Otherwise, it was a real fun game to play at the time.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness (Palladium Books)
Now we’re talking “fine memories” my friends. Released back in the 80s when TMNT was a black-and-white comic book filled with ninja action, the occasional weirdness, and mature themes. Not the stuff of high-color, pizza-loving hijinks, these Ninja turtles threw curses as often as throwing stars and drew blood from their foes twice as often.
My first dive into the Palladium System (and a much simpler one than Robotech or Rifts), TMNT&OS focused on the playing of some mutant animal. Maybe you’re an escaped government test subject, or an accidental result of an atomic bomb test. One way or another, you choose (or randomly roll) your animal type and then spend your mutation points to get human like features or animal powers appropriate to your race. You could even purchase psychic powers, or in later books full on super-powers (thanks to Heroes Unlimited).
I could go for another TMNT&OS game again, especially if it were ran in the After the Bomb setting, where humanity nukes itself into oblivion and from the ashes rise a slew of mutant animals who are trying to pick up the pieces.
The Best Land Mine of All
By far the best Landmine I uncovered was the three notebooks full of world notes for a D&D 3.5 setting I created called The Twin Worlds campaign setting. I ran two campaigns in this setting of mine, one an epic-adventure tale and one that was more like a serial series. Looking through the notes on my pantheon, nations, NPCs, stories; it really got me longing to play in that world again. That’s not a bad thing, but no one plays 3.5 anymore. It’s all about the “upgrade to 4e”, or a shift over to Pathfinder. That’s not really a bad thing, though, as I’ve seen good things about Pathfinder (yes, I’ve never played Pathfinder; cope).
The discovery of the Twin Worlds notebooks is perhaps my favorite find from my unpacking, and is the one that will most likely result in a new campaign. I want to do something different, though. You see, I got in on the recent Reaper Mini’s Kickstarter, and because I elected the Vampire Level I’m going to be getting all these mini-s from a variety of genres. Maybe a little future, maybe a little steampunk, maybe something else.
Regardless, it’s something to start to develop for when I unpack enough of my house that I can actually get back to running games again.
I made some real fun discoveries (recoveries?) this past weekend while I unpacked. Books that sparked a hundred memories. You don’t need to wait until you move to try this yourself. If you’ve got some old boxes of books somewhere in your house, or if you’ve got a gaming bookshelf you haven’t looked at in months or years, take a moment and dig out an old book or two. Thumb through it. See what memories leap to mind, and see if you too find some explosive inspirations.
Just don’t pick up any books that remind you of your ex.Add to favorites
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