Literature and RPGs

I’m looking to find more RPGs that are inspired by literary texts. So I’m thinking here of Austen and Good Society or Poe and Imp of the Perverse, but not of Lovecraft, Tolkien, or William Gibson (nothing wrong with them, they’re just baselines for full genres of games). Thanks for the help.

5 Likes

Over the Edge was originally conceived as making a game out of the writings of William S. Burroughs.

Left Coast is modeled to some degree after the life and writings of Philip K Dick.

Jonathan Walton had a great Dungeon World supplement based on Italo Calvino.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is based on a similarly titled book from 1785.

Archipelago was originally made to give a system to play the Chronicles of Earthsea.

There was a whole Game Chef devoted to Shakespeare (leading to Durance and other games).

16 Likes

The Warren is pretty directly inspired by Watership Down
Nahual is effectively an RPG sequel to Operación Bolivar and the other books in that series

6 Likes

Well, the Kickstarter for Great American Novel just ended…

Greg Stafford’s Pendragon is not just a generic Arthurian RPG; it is, for the most part, specifically the Thomas Malory Le Morte d’Arthur RPG.

Sagas of the Icelanders is likewise not a general “Viking Age” RPG but one intending to model various Icelandic sagas.

Blades of New Crobuzon isn’t a full game, but it is a well-done hack of Blades in the Dark set in the world of China Miéville’s Bas-Lag novels.

Vurt is based on the delightfully strange series of the same name by Jeff Noon. Alas, it uses Monte Cook’s Cypher System…

For a better-known one, there’s Evil Hat’s Dresden Files RPG, of course.

Amber is based on the novels of Roger Zelazny.

Chaosium’s old RPG Stormbringer is based on the Elric of Melniboné novels.

There have been several games based on the Conan stories (with, admittedly, probably a lot of influence from the movies…), most recently one by Modiphius.

GURPS put out a number of supplements devoted to certain book series, most notably Discworld.

The Song of Ice and Fire RPG is explicitly based on the novels and came out a couple of years before the show premiered.

10 Likes

Band of Blades nails black company dark fantasy military stuff.

3:16 blends Heinlein Starship Troopers with Heller’s Catch 22

Burning Wheel’s strengths is as a literary fantasy toolkit. It lends itself to be perfect for stuff like Sabriel and other YA stuff.

3 Likes

For a quick one-shot, we released The Fictional Memoirs of Harriette Wilson & Her Sisters recently which is entirely based on the great “real” memoirs of Harriette herself. It is primarily concerned with what we choose to write, to fictionalise, to remember.

As an aside, the memoirs are fairly hilarious and a great read!

8 Likes

The Wuthering Heights RPG is based on the novel of the same name, and on 19th century Romantic novels in general.

3 Likes

Carry was inspired by Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried, among other things.

4 Likes

The Warren owes as much to Robert Lawson as it does to Richard Adams, but it definitely has literary antecedents.

3 Likes

Sorry for not responding sooner. These are perfect! Thanks so much

Green Ronin’s The Expanse RPG is directly based James S.A. Corey’s book series.

Pelgrane Press’ Swords of the Serpentine is inspired by classic sword & sorcery fiction, such as Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser, Robert Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, and the shared-world anthology series Thieves’ World (with stories by Robert Lynn Aspirin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Poul Anderson, CJ Cherryh, Lynn Abbey, et. al.)

3 Likes

@Haladir Oh wow I had completely forgotten about Thieve’s World! Thanks for the nostalgic reminder :grinning:

2 Likes

There’s also The Play’s the Thing by Mark Diaz Truman. I wrote about it in my blog a while ago (in German, though). It helps you create a Shakespearean play (or reenact an existing one).

Annalise by Nathan D. Paoletta is recognisably based on works like Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872) or Carl Jacobi’s Revelations in Black (1933). Nathan also mentions as inspiration I Am Legend (Richard Matheson, 1954) and Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal (Robert Aickman, 1975).

1 Like

Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is — at least in part — inspired by Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)