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Note: This article was originally published in Shadis magazine and also appears on the author's website.

by Louis J. Prosperi

Have you ever finished watching a television show or movie, or finished reading a novel or comic book and said "Boy, this would make a GREAT roleplaying game!"

My guess is that most of us who play roleplaying games have done this at least once, and some of us (myself included) have done this a number of times. So how do you go about taking a favorite TV series, or movie, or book, or comic and turn it into a roleplaying game? That's a good question, and this article is about the answer.

The purpose of this article is to offer guidelines for taking a source, be it a television show or series, a movie, or book, and using it as the basis for a roleplaying game.

Before I go much further, I should point out that there are a number of games available based on sources such as television, movies, etc. These are licensed games, produced by companies with the permission of the owner of the source. A good example of this type of game is the Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game produced by West End Games. West End Games has obtained the permission from Lucasfilm Ltd., the owners of the Star Wars license, to produce a game based on Star Wars. The reason I point this out is that this article is intended to explain how you can create a roleplaying game based on a source FOR YOUR OWN PRIVATE USE ONLY. Don't use the method described here and create a game based on Star Trek: The Next Generation and try to publish it and sell without permission from the owners of Star Trek (namely Paramount Pictures). You will only get sued. And don'tblame me, I warned you.


The process outlined in this article has three basic steps, Defining the Source, Determining the Style of Play, and Designing the Game. Each of these is described in detail below. This process may seem somewhat excessive at first glance, but the intent is to recreate the source as faithfully as possible, in order to capture the essence of the source. After all, the source is the reason you're going through this in the first place. You might as well try to simulate it as best as possible.

Also, the process outlined in this article is similar to the process game designers go through when creating a new roleplaying game. Though this article deals with analyzing a given source, be it a television series or movie, the following steps also apply to developing new games, and it is my hope that you can find use for this process for this purpose as well.

Note: Though the ideas in this article are applicable to television shows as well as movies and books, I'm going to use the term 'series' in this article when referring to the source you basing the game on.

Part One: Defining The Source

Part Two: Determining the Style of Play

Part Three: Designing the Game

Part Four: Playing the Game

Copyright ©1996 Louis J. Prosperi

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