I discovered tabletop pen-and-paper RPGs back in the early 1980s and
I’ve been hooked ever since, playing practically every game I
could get my hands on including style="font-style: italic;">Advanced Dungeons
& Dragons, style="font-style: italic;">Star Frontiers,
of Cthulhu, style="font-style: italic;">Rolemaster,
and hordes of others. My imagination roamed from fantasy worlds to
distant galaxies to the past and future of our world. When online
gaming arrived on the scene, I jumped in with both feet. Finally, I
could game whenever and for as long as I wanted.
However, the more I played MMOGs the more I noticed how many are pale
copies of one another. Truly dazzling games with their own unique
settings seemed few and far between, and I began to question why. Why
are there so many cookie-cutter MMOGs when there’s a plethora
of pen-and-paper RPGs, each with their own rich lore, available to be
used as a basis for an MMOG? Pen-and-paper RPGs have spawned a few
MMOGs, such as style="font-style: italic;"
and href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/co" target="_blank">Champions
Online, but there could be many
more. To that end, I submit to you a list of five RPGs that would make
My main criteria for choosing a pen-and-paper RPG was primarily the
setting and lore of the game. A richly detailed game world that stands
apart from other games is one of the most important aspects of an MMOG.
In addition, I chose games that would allow for a variety of character
types and factions so the gameplay experience could be varied.
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">MechWarrior/BattleTech
I am stunned that there is no MMOG based upon this property. href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MechWarrior_%28RPG%29"
target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">MechWarrior,
the RPG based upon the style="font-style: italic;">BattleTech
universe created by FASA, allows you to pilot 50-foot robots to smash
your enemies! 50-foot robots! Not to mention that very few games boast
the lore that style="font-style: italic;">BattleTech
developed over its lifetime, with an extremely detailed timeline
were a MMOG, there are five distinct factions that a player could
belong to (Federated Suns, Kurita, etc.), and guilds could function as
mercenary units, such as the famous Wolf’s Dragoons. While
every player would pilot a Mech, their non-Mech avatar could choose
from a variety of disciplines. They could be a hardened merc, a
mechanical genius, an assassin who strikes from the shadows, a medical
tech, or even a diplomat.
As for zones, each of the factions have their own homeworlds, plus
there are a large number of planets in the Inner Sphere in which
adventures could take place. There could be Mech-only zones,
people-only zones, and mixed zones for the truly crazy. Future
expansions of the game could highlight the cheesy Clans with their
overpowered Mechs for the min/maxers and open up new zones, such as the
Just imagine the PvP in this game. You could duke it out as normal
people or fight to the death inside your Mechs. Shooting the legs off
an opponent’s Mech and then taunting his helpless state would
make any true PvP lover drool with delight. Besides, do I have to say
anything more than 50-foot tall robots?
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Babylon
Based upon the tv show, this game was released by Mongoose Publishing.
To me, this is a no-brainer for an MMOG. You have a richly detailed
science-fiction setting tailor made for online gaming. First, you have
both space travel and combat and land based adventures. A player could
fight rogue psionics aboard the Babylon 5 space station and then fly
out with his buddies to engage renegade pirates in intense space
combat. Second, there are a ton of races that a player could choose
from, such as Minbari, Human, Drazi, Centauri, or the Narn. Character
customization could reach the level of style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes
Third, the factions could be as simple as two opposing sides (the
Shadows and those opposed to them) or as complex as the numerous
worlds, each with their own culture and prejudices, facing off against
each other. (One example would be the Centauri versus the Narn.)
Fourth, classes could range from Ranger to Psi Corp to Fighter Pilot
and everywhere in-between.
Last, the setting for style="font-style: italic;">Babylon 5
allows for adventure across many worlds and in deep space. The Babylon
5 space station could act as the central zone for players, while other
zones would be the various alien worlds and empires. I’d be
willing to pay a monthly subscription fee to have my avatar squaring
off against the evil plans of Psi Corps.
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Space:
Taking steampunk adventure to Mars and beyond, href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space:_1889" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Space: 1889
was created and released by GDW. In this game, Victorian-era
adventurers explore and seek their fortune amongst the stars in our
solar system, from Mercury to Mars. Not only do they have to contend
with native life forms, they also have to contend with the various
nations that are empire-building and creating colonies on the alien
worlds under their dominion.
Factions could be the differing human empires and the various
indigenous races upon the different planets. Players could be a
stalwart British officer, a Martian defending their world from
outsiders, or a plucky Victorian noblewoman seeking a lost treasure.
Adventures could vary from escorting a diplomat from one world to
another to plundering an ancient temple in a lost Martian valley. Most
of the zones would focus on Mars (the focus of the RPG), but other
zones could include the moon, Venus, and Mercury.
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Deadlands
Why is there no western MMOG? Why aren’t I facing down an
hombre at high noon on a dusty street? Fortunately, there’s a
western RPG that would make a good online game. My choice is href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadlands" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Deadlands,
and I chose this game over other western RPGs because style="font-style: italic;">Deadlands
offers more than just the Old West; this game, published by Pinnacle
Entertainment, offers an alternate history for the gunslinging
and adds magical and mad science elements.
The game would have built-in factions including the Union and
Confederacy along with other independent groups such as the Indian
nations. Players could vie against each other, even as they work
against the evil of the Reckoners, creatures from a spirit realm who
want to transform the world into a haunted hell where they would be
free to cross over into our realm.
Players would have a wide variety of options available as classes.
There would be your standard gunmen, such as Texas Rangers or lawmen,
but there would also be Indian warriors, shamans, hex-slinging
duelists, mad scientists, and even undead gunslingers. Who
wouldn’t want to play a dual pistol wielding gunslinger who
rose from the dead to kill those yellow-belly cowards who bushwhacked
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Judge
Based upon the British comic strips, href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Dredd_%28role-playing_game%29"
target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Judge Dredd
has had two RPGs published over the years. Originally, there was a
Games Workshop version, and much later, Mongoose Publishing released
the latest version. The setting here is the post-apocalyptic future
where most people live in densely populated mega-cities, ruled over by
Judges, who have the power of judge, jury, and executioner.
Dredd comics have been
published for over 30 years, so the IP’s extensive lore has
been incorporated into the latest RPG. There is a wide variety of
environments that would make tremendous zones, such as the Cursed
Earth, the moon, and, of course, Mega-City One, which would encompass a
lot more than a single zone. Players could take on the role of Judges,
dealing justice to the lawless, or they could play Perps, the
lawbreakers who continually try to avoid being judged. Players could
also be from the wasteland, playing independent bounty hunters or
mutants. While technology is advanced, allowing players to play
characters who control a number of combat robots, there are also
psionics in the game, so players who wish to use mental powers as their
focus could do so.
PvP would be off the chart in style="font-style: italic;">Judge Dredd.
From the various factions (Judges, perps, and mutants) all slinging
lead at each other, there could also be Block Wars. Block Wars occur
when the inhabitants of neighboring blocks, which are high-rise
buildings the size of an entire city block, go to war against each
other. Man, I can almost feel my Lawgiver shooting double-whammies
As you can see, the games listed above all have unique settings with
rich lore, which could easily translate into an awesome MMOG. In each
game, there are multiple environments for players to explore and many
roles that a character can take. There are various factions and a
tremendous potential for some PvP in each setting. I don’t
see why game companies aren’t snapping up some of these
properties to use as a basis for their online games. There are many
other games as well that could be used, but I feel that these five
represent some of the better choices. If you feel that your favorite
game was left out, drop me a comment and let me know.