If you are into computer and video games you might remember the action RPG Hellgate: London. It has been released 2007 by Flagship Studios. Alas the game was much too ambitious and the game was plagued by technical and design issues. In 2009 the Hellgate: London servers were shut down and Flagship Studios closed its doors.
But there was still a lot to love about this game. The setting was pretty cool and in my opinion would make a great background for a pen & paper roleplaying game. In Hellgate: London demons have invaded Earth and the few survivors now hide underground mostly in subway tunnels. There are three factions who use their distinctive skills to fight the demon threat. The templars is an order of divine warriors who are excellent melee fighters. The image above depicts two templars. The cabalists are seekers of knowledge who use magic to fight the Great Dark. The third faction are the Hunters, highly trained ex-military operatives who use ranged weaponry and advanced technology. While the three classes cooperate to fight the demons, there’s also some rivalry and mistrust.
Since humanity is waging a constant war against the Great Dark, a Hellgate: London campaign is probably pretty combat-heavy. But there are a lot of opportunities for roleplaying especially when the different factions interact with each other. The setting also allows for pretty intense horror elements. While I am not sure if you can use it as inspiration for a long campaign, it should provide enough background for at least a couple of adventures. The mixture of the supernatural and high tech equipment may also hold a certain appeal to some.
While playing Hellgate: London this weekend I thought it might work to create a Warrior, Rogue & Mage variant set into the Hellgate:London universe. Using the three factions as attributes (Templar, Hunter & Cabalist) might actually work quite well, especially if you don’t mind allowing the player characters a bit more versatility than in the computer game. Alternatively I believe there are quite a few rules-light games you could use to run a campaign inspired by this computer game. Savage Worlds’ fast and furious game style might be a good fit, and the Open D6 system (especially MiniSix) might be another alternative. Heck, I think even a modified Dungeonslayers might work. If I didn’t work on too many projects already, working on a Hellgate:London campaign might be a fun thing to do.
What do you guys think? Does the Hellgate:London world have enough depth to turn it into a pen & paper RPG campaign? Please post your comments below!
I think these would all work well, though SW might create a bit of a pulpy feel and might not fit the setting well. If I remember right (never played the game), the game was supposed to be dark gritty with magic and modern technology thrown in for a unique twist.
Could be wrong though as I never played the game. Does sound interesting though.
The game itself was awful (just too repetative and random) but the background was interesting enough. I think that you would need to spend a lot of time working on the tech to match the computer games feel but if you were not into the whole dungeon schlep theme of the game that could be reduced.
If i did this i would have to invent a lot more background and depth for the demons as they are a little one dimensional (as is to be expected from a shoot 'em up game). How far you moved from the game's feel with that detail would be up tot he players and the GM in question.
Away from the frontline action of the game there must be a hell of a lot of story potential and varied challenges. I can see other survival horror games like Deadlands: hell on earth or Eden Studios Armageddon being up to the job with a lot of world development by a GM. 🙂
Did you ever see the BBC mini series Ultraviolet?
@Nero: No, was is it about?
The most original take on vamps in modern London I've ever seen. Someone actually put some thought into it. It is a six part mini also called Code 5. When you were noodling about WR&M in a modern horror setting it lept to mind. Special Branch has a special swat team geared for 'leeches'.
It was great, shame they never made another series. The BBC and Chanel 4 work togetehr well when they bother. The government funded hunt against Vampires could (if you wheel out other monsters over time) make a great prequel to a hellgate: London apocolypse style story.
One way in which it matches Hellgate is that the police in Ultraviolet relied heavily on technology. they had guns with mini video cameras to identify Vampires (who don't have reflections) and these guns actually fired wooden bullets. The storage devices and civil servant style department all make a very grounded horror setting.
One interesting aspect of the Type V's in Ultraviolet was that they never truly died, even when burnt to ash they could return to (un)life and where stored in a secret location when 'killed'. An Apocolyptic storyline which damaged the storage facility (ala Ghostbusters) and let them all out would be interesting to play/
Is this series related to the movie of the same name with Milla Jovovich?
No not at all.
Stargazer said on 18-11-2010: Is this series related to the movie of the same name with Milla Jovovich?
I wouldn't do that to you.
It was a great idea well delivered. I had a writing prof who would hammer the basics into our dunderheads reminding us 'nothing beats solid craftsmanship'.
One thing in Code Five vs Hellgate. Code Five 'mage' would be better as scholar or techie or gadgeteer
Seems like if you want to go rules light, then Fudge, Fate, or Sherpa would do the job.