Category Archives: Open Quest

Roleplaying in the world of The Elder Scrolls series

Recently I have started playing “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” again. The fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series is one of my favorite computer games and even though some people call it “dumbed down”, I still love it a lot. What I like the most about the game (aside from the open gameplay and the excellent soundtrack) is it’s lore. The Elder Scrolls universe can easily compete with famous D&D worlds like the Forgotten Realms. There’s a history stretching back thousands of years, there are nine playable races with different cultures, there are memorable characters and a vast world to explore. What makes The Elder Scrolls interesting is that while it shares a lot of tropes with “regular” fantasy worlds, most of them come with a “twist”.

As a long-time fan of the series I often mused about running a TES-inspired roleplaying campaign. Of course a project like this can be pretty daunting, but my recent success with my Fallout conversion to Fudge, made me consider working on a TES pen & paper game again. Writing a conversion to Fudge would probably work, but I also see a lot of similarities between the system used in the Elder Scrolls computer games and Runequest. Both are basically skill-based and use percentile values. In both RQ and the TES games you improve your skills by using them. Both magic systems are based on some kind of spell points. Writing a TES conversion for Runequest shouldn’t be particularly hard.

The big question is how closely I want the rules to resemble the source material. If the focus is on converting the setting (and not the rules), you can basically use Savage Worlds, Fate Core, etc. without much hassle. But for some reason I feel that the mechanics used in the TES series are part of its charm. At the moment I am looking into various RQ variants and other systems to find mechanics that closely fit my vision of a TES pen & paper game, so that the work to write a conversion is minimized.

Alas using computer roleplaying games as a basis for pen & paper campaigns also has its share of problems. If your players are avid fans of the series you can’t just recycle quests and stories from the computer games, and they may actually know the lands of Tamriel better than the GM. Especially the latter may cause long discussions with your players. Another common issue is that computer game worlds are often extremely small. I still cringe when I think about Ultima IX’s Britannia. The capital of a whole continent was reduced to a handful of houses. Ouch. In such cases the immersion goes right out of the window! Luckily the world of Tamriel feels almost big enough to not have this particular problem.

At the moment I’m in a very early planning phase because I am still busy running Fallout Fudged! and my other group has expressed interest in Shadowrun. But as I wrote in an earlier post, I’ve decided to start planning earlier. What are your thoughts on this project? What system would you use? Do you think Fudge might work or do I need something a little bit more crunchy? What about Runequest? Please share your thoughts below!

Freebies: Renaissance

Renaissance SRD Yay! I have been waiting for this since I first read about it: Renaissance is a free roleplaying system designed for historical and fantasy games in, as the authors put it, “age of blackpowder weapons”. It was created by Peter Cakebread and Ken Walton who are known for Clockwork & Chivalry 1st Edition and Abney’ Park’s Airship Pirates. Renaissance is based on D101 Games’ OpenQuest which itself is based on Mongoose Publishing’s Runequest SRD.

The 139-paged PDF contains all the rules needed to play, two magic systems and a bestiary. Kudos to Cubicle 7 and Cakebread & Walton for releasing the rules for free. The PDF doesn’t contain any artwork, but that’s negligible especially since the PDF is mainly meant as a System Reference Document. The rules of the game can be used under the OGL.

If you are a fan of Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying and Runquest, you actually have the choice between quite a few different rule variants now. There’s Renaissance, Mongoose Publishing’s Legend, D101 Games’ OpenQuest, Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying and Goblinoid Games’ GORE. All those games are more or less compatible, so you can use material designed for one game in the other with ease.

Renaissance looks pretty interesting because it was created with the Renaissance era in mind. The magic system also looks pretty unique. If you’re looking for a skill-based RPG with a percentile dice mechanic, you should definitely check Renaissance out!

Freebie: Système Alamänder

Système Alamänder cover On the D101 Games site I found a link to a free OpenQuest-based game. The game is obviously set into the world of a French fantasy book series by Alexis Flamand which combines humor, criminal mysteries and fantasy – or at least that’s what I think the French descriptions said.

The 44-paged “Système Alamänder” is a beautifully laid out PDF that makes me wish I was fluent in French. Alas I am not, so the only thing I can do it look at the pages and admire them. 🙂

In the case you speak French and if you have perhaps even heard about the book series you should have a look at the “Système Alamänder” and after that please come back here and let me know what you could learn about it.

Damn, I wish my games were looking that great!