RPPR Episode 159: The Witcher RPG Breakdown

News: We have created a new reward for RPPR patrons – extended early access! Get actual plays and panels recorded at Gen Con 2018 a month early! The first AP, Dagashi OVA Season 1, run by Bridget, is available now on the RPPR Patreon!

Synopsis: The new Witcher tabletop RPG is out and we have looked it over. I discuss the RPG with Birk, a new RPPR cast member, to discuss the game and licensed games in general. We also have shout outs and an anecdote

Shout Outs

  • Channel A Kickstarter: Back it today! One of the best party card games out there needs a reprint!
  • Garage: Bad Trip – a horror action video game with an 80s aesthetic.
  • Lovecraft’s Untold Stories: Early Access top down Lovecraftian roguelike shooter. Fun but still rough in places.
  • Castle Rock: A horror TV series on Hulu set in the Stephen King shared universe.
  • GLOW: a Netflix series about a lady’s wrestling show in the 1980s.
  • Scum and Villainy: A sci-fi crime RPG that uses the Blades in the Dark system.
  • Babbling Corpse: Vaporwave And The Commodification Of Ghosts – an excellent book about vaporwave

Song: Song of Storms by Polygon Dreams

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  1. Kind if a shame that the Witcher RPG doesn’t do more to develop a system conducive to monster hunting or do more to develop the game world.

  2. I’m with Birk, you could make a pretty good game using the Profit System for a wrestling league. Nothing about the Red Markets setting. Pretty grim though.

    For this one, this is for some reason a topic I am really interested in. How IP gets handled and translated to a new media is always fascinating. Some are really easy to translate, Dresden Files and Star Wars both work, best if you leave the official book NPCs out. A lot of them have enough of a built world to support adventures that go beyond redoing the novels. The Laundry for example worls almost better as an RPG than a novel these days. But it got to just slot into the Cthulhu games.

    I know back in the late 90s-00s a lot of anime licenses were sort of end runs around an apparent difficulty in making those art/misc setting books. I loved Bubble Gum Crisis the RPG, but it really quick turned into AD Police procedural as trying to do the A story would have been really dull.

    There’s also the system, in a lot of these seem to be the house system stapled onto the IP, this Witcher game getting Cyberpunk, BGC was FUZION etc. A lot of these don’t have any arguments either way but some do get their own systems.

    When I think of how to make an ip into a game I kind of fall into systems I already know. I think a lot of games would be a lot better for using pre-existing systems. Oddly, were I to do Usagi Yojimbo instead of having Stolze make a new rule system, I’d go with A Dirty World just adding a few protagonist type bonuses.

    Since this is turning into an essay I’ll stop but it’s a thing I like to think about.

  3. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine was showing me the copy of Scum & Villainy he brought back from Gen Con and describing the campaign he was planning on running, and I was struck by how much it sounded like the way folks used to play WEG Star Wars back in the 80’s: Traveller, but in the Star Wars universe.

    People say “Firefly” instead of “Traveller” now, but I still find it curious how this mode of playing space opera rpgs continues to be popular, even amongst folks who wouldn’t be caught dead playing Traveller.

  4. That was a very diplomatic review πŸ™‚

    The nature of the Witcher tales made me think it might work well in redmarket. Social pariahs do jobs for money.

  5. So it is totally fantasy cyberpunk? I’m there!

  6. Author

    I need to get a copy of the old rules light edition of Paranoia. The newest one is too crunchy for my tastes.

  7. @Ross. Answered the wrong thread πŸ™‚

  8. @Ross. Think you where going to post that answer in “RPPR Live at Gen Con 2018” not here.

  9. I think Caleb has specifically mentioned kicking around a Witcher-style hack for Red Markets. This system sounds interesting and fun enough, but since I’ve never played any of the video games or read the novels, I’d definitely need somebody to explain to me why it might be more fun than good ol’ D&D. Or why you couldn’t just run this setting with D&D rules.

  10. @Ethan C. Well, that’s true of any IP. It’s a sort of in the past sword-y thing with magic stuffs. You can do that with almost anything. FATE, GURPS, D&D, PF, ORE… If there isn’t a strong theme or strong need, most things work in most systems.

    If you want to command companies, Reign works well. If you want it based on scarcity you’ve got Red Markets.

    Like you I don’t know much about The Witcher so I don’t know what’s important to have and what’s easy just to use to resolve stabbing dudes.

  11. Oh, and the discussion of crits in this system reminded me of the Artesia: Adventures in the Known World rpg campaign I played in (the system was also based on R. Tal’s house system).

    Exploding crits on a 1 or a 10, which seemed to come up a lot.

    The GM quickly got tired of describing my PC’s crtical successes, and equally, I got tired of his longwinded, gloating descriptions of my PC’s Clouseau-esque critical failures.

  12. I enjoyed how in-depth this review was. Lots of thoughtful commentary on what you liked and what you wished was done a little differently.

    I played Cyberpunk a few years back, and while it has some cool ideas, it definitely feels like an 80s design. I’m surprised that they kept so closely to that framework.

    I really liked the discussion about investigation to figure out monster’s weaknesses. It made me think of how Monster of the Week does it, where you simply cannot defeat most monsters until you’ve done the research. I think it’s a fun approach – get to know the monster a little before the big fight.

    I am wondering if some other systems might work for the Witcher world. Maybe something like Shadow of the Demon Lord? I’d be curious to hear some RPPR thoughts on that one if it’s crossed your radar.

    @Bryan Rombough: I hear you on that. One of my least favorite gaming moments was getting a critical failure with a bad DM that – in one roll – partially crippled my character (spine injury) and had to be bought off with both roleplaying and experience. No critical success in the five year campaign was ever equally positive.

    For that reason, I prefer well-defined critical results like in Red Markets and Eclipse Phase. Going through a table of grisly injuries is sometimes fun in Warhammer, where the grimness is the point, but gets very old in a long campaign.

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