Boardgames and Roleplaying

There are quite a few boardgames or miniature skirmish games with elaborate background stories that almost beg to turned into a roleplaying game. In some cases the developers of these games came up with their own roleplaying game. And some games like Heavy Gear or Savage Worlds can be used as either a miniatures game or a roleplaying game.

Recently a friend of mine proposed we could play some Battletech again. Battletech is a tactical board game where you control one or several huge mecha called Battlemechs. The game was initially created by the now defunct FASA Corporation. His idea was to use the rules from Mechwarrior (we decided to use the 2nd Edition rules) to create some mechwarriors that are in charge of their own unit of mercenaries fighting in the wars of the 31st century. We will use standard battletech rules for the mech-vs-mech fights and the roleplaying game for all other encounters. When everything turns out as planned, we all will have a great time.

But this made me thinking. There are a lot of games that would work great as a combat system for roleplaying games. Take some miniatures skirmish game like Games Workshop’s Necromunda for example. In that game each player controls a gang in the Underhive of a huge 41st millenium megacity. The combat rules are very detailed and there are even rules for campaigns and improving the stats and skills of the gangers. So, why not turn it into a fully-fledged roleplaying game? You can of course write up you own rules but it’s much easier to keep the combat rules of the skirmish game intact and add some other rules for the non-combat parts.

This is easy to do with a roleplaying game like FUDGE. FUDGE allows the GM to choose the attributes and skills he needs for his campaign. So just use Necromundas Stats and Abilities as detailed in the rules of the skirmish game and you’re done. You just have make sure that the fighting skills for the combat part of the game can easily be represented using FUDGE. Necromunda like all GW tabletop miniature games uses WS (Weapon Skill) and BS (Ballistic Skill) for combat checks. All stats including WS and BS can usually range from 1 to 10. FUDGE normally uses skills and attributes ranked from Terrible to Superb with 5 steps in between. For normal gangers you can set Terrible=2, Poor=3 etc. until Superb=8 and you’re mostly done. You can now easily convert between both systems. That could work for other GW games as well.

Another game that comes in mind, when thinking about boardgames that would make a great background for a roleplaying games is Crimson Skies. Crimson Skies is a tactical boardgame much like Battletech (it was created by FASA too), but this time you control fighter planes in an alternative early 20th century. The background is pretty detailed and gives a lot of opportunities for adventures outside the cockpit. For a fitting roleplaying game for Crimson Skies I would just take Spirit of the Century since it’s close enough to FUDGE to being easily adaptable and it’s already the right genre. Just use the standard Crimson Skies rules for air combat and you’re done.

What are your thoughts on that matter? Have you already used a boardgame as part of the roleplaying experience? As always, feel free to post your thought into the comment section below!