10 TV shows that could make good roleplaying games

This article was written by Chris Kentlea from Ennead Games and a veteran player of Blue Dwarf

Warehouse 13 - A good world to roleplay in?

First let me start off by saying this is all personal opinion. If you disagree with my choices, agree or have more ideas to add, the please use the comment section.

As you will probably guess the shows I mention are amongst my favourite TV shows.

Coming up with ideas for settings for your games, be they traditional rpgs or play-by-post, can sometimes be easy. Sometimes though it can be quite hard and you need a few ideas to get you started.

Star Trek and Star Wars have been done many times, even Red Dwarf has got a long-running play-by-post game. Perhaps you fancy something different this time. Below are 10 suggestions for a tv show that you might want to have a game set in, along with why I think it would be a good choice.

1 – Warehouse 13

Each week the agents/players would be sent after a rogue artefact or two and have to deal with the fallout from the powerful items and safely containing them in one of the Warhouses.

These artefacts would be powerful on their own, but some could work together in unpredictable ways. Some even had the power to cause mass destruction

Heroes play-by-post roleplay

2 – Heroes

More to do with season one, but imagine a world where people started to develop weird and sometimes frightening super powers. The players would have to contend with what they could do, possibly harming loved ones along the way, all the time avoiding those who wish to capture or use them for what they are capable of.

Firefly - Please someone start a firefly RP

3 – Firefly

For such a rich setting that was cut short, Firefly (and of course Serenity) has a semi-realistic setting that is perfect for a rpg/pbp game. The crew could be small time hustlers trying to make a living on the rim, or they could be working for the Alliance, policing the space-ways and making sure that the law is followed.

Or they could even be the equivalent of space cowboys on the outer rim, trying to make a gorram days wage whilst living in fear of reaper attacks. Oh yes and you get to swear in mandarin.

CSI - RP Anywhere

4 – C.S.I.(any version)

An unusual choice and more suitable for mature players and those who don’t try to power-game or take control. Each week a crime would have to be solved by investigation and forensics.

Although some would say that CSI is not a true representation of how forensics occur and giving clue to the players is hard in a pbp arena, having players solve the puzzle and find the evidence needed to convict the suspect can be quite rewarding.

Farscape RP

5 – Farscape

You are arrive on what is basically a prison ship, surrounded by unknown alien creatures that you can’t communicate with – The other players. None of you know each other, where you are or what is going on.

Oh and your vessel is being attacked. Welcome to how Farscape the TV show began. Each chapter in the story would help to flesh out the characters. You also have to survive whilst being hunted by a frankly out of his mind military commander hell bent on killing those who escaped him – e.g. you.

 SEE ALSO: Farscape the Peacekeeper chronicles – a roleplaying game played on OngoingWorlds

Stargate SG-1 roleplay

6 – Stargate

The TV show Stargate original was a movie. They added a way for the Stargate (a portal that allows almost instant travel to another Stargate millions and millions of miles awa) to have more then one destination, thus opening up the universe and a new planet each week.

Some aliens encountered were friendly, such as the Asgard, others…not so much. Each of these cultures had some link to Earth’s culture or history, such as the Go’uld being the inspiration for the Egyptian gods and the aforementioned Asgard inspiring the legnds that we would come to know as Odin or Thor etc.

Full metal alchemist roleplay

7 – Full Metal Alchemist

In the FMA world (inc FMA:Brotherhood), alchemy is a real and very powerful form of magic. Many Alchemist work for the state as a form of soldier, each with their own title that reflects their personality and abilities such as “Flame Alchemist” or “Strong Arm Alchemist”. They would charged with following their orders, to deal with problems the miltary need to be handled and hunting down those who try to break the rules, both of the land and of alchemy itself.

Just remember the golden(pun intended) rules of alchemy – Equivalent Exchange. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. And NEVER attempt alchemy on a human being.

Children of Dune roleplay

8 – Dune/Children of Dune

Dune(aka Arrakis) A world that contains the most desired substance known, melange. A universe where humans have replaced computers as the thinking devices, where so-called witches can freeze every muscle in your body with
a single word and desert bandits ride monstrous sand-worms that can swallow small ships.

The TC show, more correctly a mini series, is the prefect location for what political intrigue and espionage. It’s more suitable for mature players, but has a very rich universe and source material to draw on.

Town called eureka roleplay

9 – A Town Called Eureka

There is a town called Eureka. A town full of geniuses and engineers who make new and interesting devices and experiments. A perfect system keeps everything in check.Nothing can go wrong…nothing…Ahh who am i kidding,

something goes wrong every week and the genius, often aided by those less, shall we say, mentally gifted, have to deal with technology disaster and events on an alarming scale.

Game of thrones roleplay

10 – Game of Thrones

Now I was debating with myself on if this should goon my list. For those who don’t know, GoT is based on the series of books called “A song of Ice and Fire” by GRR Martin. The world is one where magic, although it does exist, is almost non-existent. At the far north of the seven kingdoms lies a gigantic wall made of ice, made to keep something from crossing into the main area.

The reason I was debating on it going in is not so much the setting, but, the fact that it’s a very political “game” and one that could be difficult to convert to a pbp game. Picture the scene, several great houses working covertly and often not so covertly, against each other to get the control of the throne of the land. It could be done in such a way as each player was assigned to a house such as the Lannisters or Starks. However, the plot would have to diverge quite quickly from the one in the books and TV show.

For the right people however, this could be the most rewarding of the possible settings listed here. And is has one of my favourite lines I’ve heard in a TV show…

Valar morghulis

Which other TV shows would make great roleplaying games? Let us know in the comments below. 

This article was written by Chris Kentlea from Ennead Games and a veteran player of Blue Dwarf. Chris also followed this up with a more recent article about bad TV shows for roleplaying games which is hilarious, read it here.

  • GryponSpirt Panther

    I love Fullmetal Alchemist! Does anyone know if an RPG exists of it yet? Or is anyone else interested the idea?

    • silktide

      I think you should create one!

      • GryponSpirt Panther

        No way. I have lots of experience playing RPGs, but no experience running them.

  • Joe Jordan

    You know I think a Sarah Connor Chronicles style rpg could be fun as well….good list!

    • Wow yeah that’d be amazing! But which timeline?

      • Joe Jordan

        Obviously the T1-SCC timeline (SCC completely overturned the T3 storyline and is consistent with Salvation) would be the best to work in. As far as the year and setting to the story I’m not sure tbh. I’ve thought about getting together a group to play either a SCC game or do an account of the war against the machines.

    • Mobius

      Thanks 🙂 SCC was one i was thinking about adding, but it as I haven’t watched it it didn’t fit my “rules” for adding it

  • Angfaulith

    What about shows like the walking dead? Start out as a tight group and make your life in a world full of undead and rouge humans. Still, quite a few shows that would make for good pbp games. Some are already made for pen and paper, like A song and ice and fire.

    • Walkling Dead would make a great game I think, or any apocalypse setting. There’s an apocalyptic game called “Survival”, maybe you should check that out? Here’s the url: http://www.ongoingworlds.com/games/981

      • Angfaulith

        I am the Moderator for that game so I know it well. It was originally Myst who made it but he passed it on. Fun to have it referenced David 🙂 , we could certainly do with more players.

        It’s definitely in the survival genera, but there aren’t any zombies, the adversity in Survival is other people, resource depletion and disease.

  • Cassidy Frazee

    I spoke with David and he said I could shoot in here and comment . . . half the games on this list *ARE* published role playing games. Firefly just came out this year, 10 years after MWP did Serenity; Farscape and Stargate SG-1 were published about 8 years back; Dune was done some time ago as well. These three are out of print but the first two can be found on DriveThruRPG. And Game of Throne has been out for a while as a game based upon the original novel, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which can also be found on DrivethruRPG. Battlestar Galatica and Babylon 5 were also shows that received their own games, but are also now out of print and difficult to find.

  • jaxx

    Thanks for the Mention on Farscape.

  • Norman

    Firefly has it’s own RPG as well. As do some of the others, I believe.

    • It has a tabletop game yeah, and a pretty good one too I’ve heard!