Silly forum exercise - Suggest a system

This is a goofy exercise I thought up to learn about new game systems and settings. The last person in the thread will have elaborated on a setting and story or theme. Your job is to suggest what system or game you would use to play that story and why you picked it. You then write up a setting/story/theme for the next person. Hopefully this thread will show off some game systems you’ve never heard of before, and some of the settings might inspire new sessions.

To start us off: my setting is the city of New Verse, a multiplanar metropolis that spans the outer planes of existence. It’s hard for mortals to imagine the structure of such a city, but you can get close by imagining all of the outer planes from a traditional multiverse, and each plane becomes a “neighborhood” in New Verse and the denizens are all mixed together. All the complications of modern city life are infinitely more frustrating when your neighbor is a chaos demon. You might be an angel of vengeance living in Upper Purgatory, but you need to keep it in check when your water elemental upstairs neighbor is constantly shorting out your electronics. Urban ultra-high fantasy, where politics are king and everyone has ridiculous abilities. Suggest a system!



I’m going to suggest Microscope. With a setting as ornate/strange as that, I think the first thing you want to do is establish some history for it, so that everyone has a basic understanding of how things operate and how they got the way they are, and Microscope is perfect for that. After that, seems like you could play in any setting-flexible, fantasy-ish system.

My setting: Calamity Raccoon’s Good-Time Pizza Farm in Hugo, MN. Calamity’s is a chain of pizza restaurants featuring arcade games and animatronic performing characters (think: Chuck E. Cheese’s). The location in Hugo is the very first one, originally opened in the late 70s, and due to shut down because of a number of strange/tragic incidents over the years, including some high profile missing children cases, and a number of allegedly supernatural incidents. Characters are there to investigate the strange activity before the restaurant closes, perhaps on the final night before the doors are shut for good.


This premise fits almost perfectly The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth, PbtA game about a Disneyland style ammusement park, haunted by some monstrosities. And controlled by a lovecraftian entity known as the Great Mouse.

My premise: a group of scientists jump from planet to planet, dimmension to dimmension. They explore many bizarre and fantastical worlds, the stranger the better. They never return to a world once explored and almost never stop anywhere for long, as if chasing sth (or running away).
The whole premise is based on pulpy adventure sci-fi, with touchstones including Saga comicbook series, Projects Manhattan comicbook series, Doctor Who, Fantastic Four (any version but movies), even Rick and Morty.


That sounds an awful lot like the basic loop of a Star Trek episode, so (since you already seem familiar with PbtA) I’m going to recommend Strange New Worlds by Dave Chalker. It’s pretty straight forward PbtA, but it comes with all the tropes of “get to a planet, fix a problem, leave and go somewhere else.” If you happen to have a copy of Stars Without Number lying around, it has an excellent set of random tables to generate a ton of weird and crazy planets you can use.

My setting: modern day. 2019. A group of cancer patients of all ages, who all have been given life expectancies of 6 months to a year, decide to band together and live the best possible life for them. Exploring the globe, going to the theater shows they never saw, getting blackout drunk at raves, whatever they want to do for 6 months until their time runs out.


Fiasco immediately jumps as the system I’d use there - a Vegas inspired playbook of their escapades that tilts towards them exploring their darker sides as they push further and further knowing that they’re (probably) not going to survive long enough for the consequences to catch up with them.

My setting: The near future, technology and AI has reached the point where it is possible to directly interface with the human mind. Millions hack themselves happy while the rich escape into carefully crafted dreamscapes. Then one day comes a message, broadcast directly into your head - ‘Please stop, you’re hurting us’. Six months later the portals open and out steps the remnants of dreams - twisted and corrupted by the invasion by the consciousness world.


I love it. Sounds like The Veil is most well suited to the needs of this scenario in particular. I mean, once you get used to running a game with emotion-based stats, it’s a no-brainer.

A seed: In a Hogwarts-like boarding school for teen wizards, a bunch of misfit kids discover the dark truth about magic all adults have been trying so hard to keep a secret, namely, that there is no such thing as spontaneous magic. Knowingly or not, all magic users are slavers, for they siphon their powers from the life energy of a plethora of titanic demons who were imprisoned more than a millenium ago by the first human sorcerers. The story progresses so that, at its climax, the kids (now old enough to be soaked in adult wizarding politics) are in a position to choose to either free the demons (which will entail unpredictable developments in both a macropolitical and a cosmic scale) or keep the status quo.


I played a game with a very similar premise to that with Magic and Mischief, a potter-ish Lasers and Feelings hack. It’d be nice if there was some mechanical system reflecting the magical debt being accrued but I can’t think of any games like that.

My premise: King of the Hill. Your players want to play a slice-of-life sitcom in suburban Texas, exploring the every day life of an “average” family. What game do you turn to?


I have to admit that I never was a fan of “King of the Hill.” If I were to run a game about regular people in the suburbs, I’d probably pick Fiasco and use a playset like “Main Street USA” or “Tales from Suburbia.”

My setting: The adventures of the crew of a scientific research submarine, exploring strange geology, bizarre life-forms, and (possible) lost civilizations that dwell miles beneath the ocean’s surface. Think somewhere between Jule Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Beneath the Sea, the '60s TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and the 1989 James Cameron film The Abyss.


It’s Conquer the Horizon : pure enchanted discovery, tainted by the demons of the Old World. The crew has to find balance.

In fantasy Renaissance, Corruption, Folly and Flames waltz together. Only one among the PCs is a pure and naive soul. Will Good prevail ?


That is the exact description of the game Blightburg. Italian Renaissance with a dash of Faustian demon worship and witchcraft. It’s PbtA with a lot of Burning Wheel character tech thrown in and it works quite well.

New setting is a standard slice of life game, except that all the players are super intelligent animals who have to pretend that they’re human. Think Octodad except you can be whatever animal you want.


Three goblins in a trenchcoat is close but it is not IT.

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You could do this with the Pip System and its Animal Adventures primer. There are a lot of great tips for how to play as animals of various sorts, and they’d still get to build out a skill list like the ones used for human-centric campaigns.
(Disclosure: I wrote a portion of the Animal Adventures primer.)

The players are indie superheroes. THey don’t just fight crime though, they have to market themselves to earn a living. That means staying on-brand: dark heroes need to be dark, speedy characters need to do things fast, etc. Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms are key to them being recognized in hopes of going viral and making it big.