TSR's "modern" games (pre-D20 Modern)

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TSR's "modern" games (pre-D20 Modern)

Post by Havard » Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:41 pm

The Amazing Engine thread got me thinking about whether all non-fantasy RPGs by TSR could in some way be considered predecessors to d20 Modern.

How many such RPGs/Settings did TSR publish?
  • Warriors of Mars (1974) - Miniatures Skirmish game rather than a full RPG.
  • Star Probe (1975) - Strategy game, not an RPG. Precursor to Star Empires (1977).
  • Boot Hill (1975)
  • Metamorphosis Alpha (1976)
  • Star Empires (1977) - Sequel to Star Probe. Strategy game, not an RPG.
  • Gamma World (1978)
  • Top Secret (1980) - Precursor to Top Secret /SI (1987)
  • Revolt at Antares (1981) - Mini Game
  • Star Frontiers (1982)
    • "2001: A Space Odyssey" & "2010: Odyssey Two" Adventures (1984)
  • Gangbusters (1982)
  • Indiana Jones (1984)
  • Marvel Super Heroes - FASERIP(1984)
  • Top Secret/SI (1987) - Sequel to Top Secret
  • Buck Rogers XXVc(1988)
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle RPG (1988)
  • High Adventure Buck Rogers (1993)
  • Amazing Engine (1993)
    • Bug Hunters
    • For Faerie, Queen, and Country
    • The Galactos Barrier
    • Kromosome
    • Magitech
    • Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega
    • Once and Future King
    • Tabloid!
  • Alternity (1998)
    • Dark*Matter
    • Star*Drive
    • Gamma World
    • StarCraft Adventures
  • Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game -SAGA (1998)
Did I forget any? Does it at all make sense to consider these a "family" of RPGs?

-Havard

See also: Amazing Engine, TSR's "Modern" Pre D20 RPGs, D20 Modern Campaign Settings, Alternity RPG Settings
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Sock Puppet » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:09 pm

Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World became Amazing Engine' Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega. It would later become a d20m setting in Dungeon, named Omega World.

Boot Hill never got a remake to my knowledge.

Ditto for Top Secret (although the 3pp Spycraft is basically that).

I think Star Frontiers became a setting in d20 Future, (as Star Law) and the Aliens chapter of that book is basically that setting.

Gangbusters I know nothing about.

Indiana Jones is an obvious movie licence, but the d20 Past/Dungeon magazine setting Pulp Heroes is basically this with the serial numbers filed away.

After the MSH/FASERIP/SAGA system, they never again entered the superhero genre, although high-level D&D comes close. the d20 Modern Spectaculars sourcebook ended up as vapourware.

Buck Rogers got redone as Iron Lords of Jupiter in Dungeon Magazine, with serial numbers field off and with some input from the John Carter books (it's basically the Planetary Romance genre).

Amazing Engine Bughunters got redone in d20 Future, under the same name.
Amazing Engine Kromosome got redone in d20 Future, as Genetech.
Amazing Engine Tabloid possibly inspired the Dark Matter setting in Alternity and d20 Modern.

Alternity Star Drive got redone in d20 Future, under the same name.

The following Amazing Engine settings never got redone in any form to my knowledge:

For Faerie, Queen, and Country
The Galactos Barrier
Magitech
Once and Future King
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by TBeholder » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:23 pm

Wasn't there Star Wars, too?
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by shesheyan » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:33 pm

@sockpuppet : MagicTech was redone under the guise of Urban Arcana setting for Modern.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by shesheyan » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:34 pm

TBeholder wrote:Wasn't there Star Wars, too?
Star Wars was never published under TSR. Only WoTC. At the time the license was with WEG.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Sock Puppet » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:38 pm

TBeholder wrote:Wasn't there Star Wars, too?
I always thought that Galactos Barrier was basically Star Wars with the serial numbers filed away.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by shesheyan » Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:44 pm

@Havard: They are predecessors to Modern in a sense. But there is a very big difference. Each game had its own internal logic and set of rules that make sense for the setting. While Modern is one set of rules that tried to grown by accumulation of extra rules for other settings.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Havard » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:07 pm

Great input Sock Puppet! Lots of information I didn't know about there.
Sock Puppet wrote:Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World became Amazing Engine' Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega. It would later become a d20m setting in Dungeon, named Omega World.
Agam I was't aware that this was a merged Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World, although these two settings seem to have connection points going back to their creation.
Boot Hill never got a remake to my knowledge.
I could have sworn the Old West got some treatment in D20 Past, but it seems like it was limited to a Marshall PrC in the Victorian Horror campaign.
Ditto for Top Secret (although the 3pp Spycraft is basically that).
Good point. I suppose standard d20 Modern would not be far away from this either?
I think Star Frontiers became a setting in d20 Future, (as Star Law) and the Aliens chapter of that book is basically that setting.
Yep. Lots of Star Frontiers/Star*Drive material was incorporated into the core D20 Future setting.
Gangbusters I know nothing about.
Me neither, but it looks like a crime fighter type game. Could be fun to play.
Indiana Jones is an obvious movie licence, but the d20 Past/Dungeon magazine setting Pulp Heroes is basically this with the serial numbers filed away.
Agreed.
After the MSH/FASERIP/SAGA system, they never again entered the superhero genre, although high-level D&D comes close. the d20 Modern Spectaculars sourcebook ended up as vapourware.
Yeah. There is also Mutants & Masterminds as a 3pp equivalent. Also, FASERIP has spawned ICONS.
Buck Rogers got redone as Iron Lords of Jupiter in Dungeon Magazine, with serial numbers field off and with some input from the John Carter books (it's basically the Planetary Romance genre).
Wow, I have completely missed this one. Which issue(s) of Dungeon detailed this setting?
Amazing Engine Bughunters got redone in d20 Future, under the same name.
Amazing Engine Kromosome got redone in d20 Future, as Genetech.
Amazing Engine Tabloid possibly inspired the Dark Matter setting in Alternity and d20 Modern.

Alternity Star Drive got redone in d20 Future, under the same name.
Thanks for clarifying the connection between those. Kromosome being the basis for Genetech was news to me. I like that they kept going back to older concepts though.
The following Amazing Engine settings never got redone in any form to my knowledge:

For Faerie, Queen, and Country
The Galactos Barrier
Magitech
Once and Future King
Could Magitech be linked to Urban Arcana? The concepts do seem close.

Summarizing in a table (because tables are fun!)

Early TSR | Amazing Engine | Alternity | D20 Modern | 3rd Party Boot Hill (1975)|| | | Metamorphosis Alpha (1976)| Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega | | Omega World | Metamorphosis Alpha Gamma World (1978) | Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega | Gamma World | Gamma World | Top Secret (1980) and TS /SI || | D20 Modern? | D20 Spycraft Star Frontiers (1982) || Star*Drive | Star Law / Star*Drive | Gangbusters (1982)|| | D20 Modern? | Indiana Jones (1984)|| | Pulp Heroes | Marvel || | | Mutants & Masterminds Buck Rogers XXVc (1988)|| | Iron Lords of Jupiter | |Bug Hunters | | Bug Hunters | |For Faerie, Queen, and Country | | | |The Galactos Barrier | | D20 Star Wars? | |Kromosome | | Genetech | |Magitech | | | |Once and Future King | | | |Tabloid! | Dark*Matter | Dark*Matter |


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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Boneguard » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:20 pm

Sock Puppet wrote:Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World became Amazing Engine' Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega. It would later become a d20m setting in Dungeon, named Omega World.
I would disagree with you slightly on this one.

I see Metamosphosis Alpha as a precursor to Gamma World (MA provided the core idea) and Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega a repackaging of something that should have been a Gamma World Book.

Plus dont forget the "Reprint" James Ward's Metamorphosis Alpha (2002) and Metamorphosis Alpha 4th edition (2006)
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Bouv » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:29 pm

Gangbusters is a 1920's & 30's set crime game - you play the cops/feds taking down gangsters like Capone and Bonnie & Clyde, or the criminals themselves!

Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangbuster ... ying_game)

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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Sock Puppet » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:30 pm

I wouldn't really consider Magitech and Urban Arcana to be the same setting. While the both feature tech and magic, they are quite different.

Magitech has magic in the open, and it has been for centuries. Urban Arcana has it as a recent thing, and it has a masquerade effect imposed. Magitech has a detailed alternate history, while Urban Arcana has history essentially identical to real life. Magitech has monster races integrated into human society (to varying degrees by race and region). In Urban Arcana, most humans are not even aware if their neighbours or work colleagues are elves. In Magitech, a beat cop might have a magic wand and an aluminium breastplate. In Urban Arcana, a colt and a kevlar vest. Magitech armies have dragon riders and golems; Urban Arcana has jet fighters and tanks. In Magitech, a magical revolution took place instead of a technological one, while Urban Arcana still has normal technology trappings.

If Magitech is related to another setting at all, it is to GURPS Technomancer, although even that is a "recent magic" setting.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by shesheyan » Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:38 pm

Sock Puppet wrote:I wouldn't really consider Magitech and Urban Arcana to be the same setting. While the both feature tech and magic, they are quite different.

Magitech has magic in the open, and it has been for centuries. Urban Arcana has it as a recent thing, and it has a masquerade effect imposed. Magitech has a detailed alternate history, while Urban Arcana has history essentially identical to real life. Magitech has monster races integrated into human society (to varying degrees by race and region). In Urban Arcana, most humans are not even aware if their neighbours or work colleagues are elves. In Magitech, a beat cop might have a magic wand and an aluminium breastplate. In Urban Arcana, a colt and a kevlar vest. Magitech armies have dragon riders and golems; Urban Arcana has jet fighters and tanks. In Magitech, a magical revolution took place instead of a technological one, while Urban Arcana still has normal technology trappings.

If Magitech is related to another setting at all, it is to GURPS Technomancer, although even that is a "recent magic" setting.
True. But we didn't play Urban Arcana that way. We chose to make everything open. It worked very well.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by TBeholder » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:08 pm

shesheyan wrote:
TBeholder wrote:Wasn't there Star Wars, too?
Star Wars was never published under TSR. Only WoTC. At the time the license was with WEG.
Not d20 Star Wars. I just vaguely remembered that there were AD&D-ish home rules around the net and some SW articles in old (early AD&D2 era) Dragon. Looked up now - it's from West End Games. So they had 3rd-party stuff in Dragon? Curious.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Boneguard » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:16 pm

TBeholder wrote: Not d20 Star Wars. I just vaguely remembered that there were AD&D-ish home rules around the net and some SW articles in old (early AD&D2 era) Dragon. Looked up now - it's from West End Games. So they had 3rd-party stuff in Dragon? Curious.
Quite a lot yes. Although Dragon Magazine focused on TSR product, they allowed other RPG company (FGU, WEG, Harn, ICE, etc.) to have publicity in it -good for business and it pays, plus they did review of a lot of games -so good publicity for those RPGs.

Basically they were showing solidarity. And Other Magazine (Like White Dwarf was doing the same).
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Ashtagon » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:29 pm

shesheyan wrote:
Sock Puppet wrote:I wouldn't really consider Magitech and Urban Arcana to be the same setting. While the both feature tech and magic, they are quite different.

Magitech has magic in the open, and it has been for centuries. Urban Arcana has it as a recent thing, and it has a masquerade effect imposed. Magitech has a detailed alternate history, while Urban Arcana has history essentially identical to real life. Magitech has monster races integrated into human society (to varying degrees by race and region). In Urban Arcana, most humans are not even aware if their neighbours or work colleagues are elves. In Magitech, a beat cop might have a magic wand and an aluminium breastplate. In Urban Arcana, a colt and a kevlar vest. Magitech armies have dragon riders and golems; Urban Arcana has jet fighters and tanks. In Magitech, a magical revolution took place instead of a technological one, while Urban Arcana still has normal technology trappings.

If Magitech is related to another setting at all, it is to GURPS Technomancer, although even that is a "recent magic" setting.
True. But we didn't play Urban Arcana that way. We chose to make everything open. It worked very well.
I think the d20 Modern rules (with or without the d20ua supplement book) can be used almost as easily to the Magitech campaign setting as easily as the Urban Arcana campaign setting (it lacks rules for industrial magic wand production, and the Magitech setting calls out iron and ferrous metals generally as anti-magic materials)s.

Using the Amazing Engine Magitech rules to play the Urban Arcana campaign setting would be a bit harder, but not impossible (it genuinely doesn't have rules for most conventional modern technology; you'd probably need to improvise rules for that, as no Amazing Engine supplement specifically covered modern combat hardware).

They are different settings. The fact that d20 Modern can be used to play the Magitech setting doesn't mean that Magitech is Urban Arcana, any more than Urban Arcana is Agents of PSI or Shadow Chasers; they are simply different settings that can be played with the same rules.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by shesheyan » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:01 pm

Ashtagon wrote:They are different settings. The fact that d20 Modern can be used to play the Magitech setting doesn't mean that Magitech is Urban Arcana, any more than Urban Arcana is Agents of PSI or Shadow Chasers; they are simply different settings that can be played with the same rules.
I get that. But as you say yourself it could be used as a basis to build on Magitech rules for d20.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Havard » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:50 pm

Alright, I have edited the table showing corresponding settings removing some of the contested connection points :)

I still find it surprising how many settings were brought back in various iterations. I also suspect that many of the remaining older games were consulted when creating the later era modern games like AE, Alternity and finally D20 Modern. I wonder if WotC will ever wander into Modern territory again?

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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by shesheyan » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:40 am

Havard wrote:Alright, I have edited the table showing corresponding settings removing some of the contested connection points :)

I still find it surprising how many settings were brought back in various iterations. I also suspect that many of the remaining older games were consulted when creating the later era modern games like AE, Alternity and finally D20 Modern. I wonder if WotC will ever wander into Modern territory again?

-Havard
I doubt it. They will probably redo Gamma World and that's it. I certainly don't see them doing a Modern reedition. But one thing I never understood is why they didn't do a G.I.Joe RPG. WoTC is part of Hasbro. That wold be a good substitute for a Modern edition. Its halfway between modern and sci-fi genres.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by RobJN » Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:01 am

Havard wrote:Alright, I have edited the table showing corresponding settings removing some of the contested connection points :)

I still find it surprising how many settings were brought back in various iterations. I also suspect that many of the remaining older games were consulted when creating the later era modern games like AE, Alternity and finally D20 Modern. I wonder if WotC will ever wander into Modern territory again?

-Havard
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by ripvanwormer » Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:11 pm

And the Rocky and Bullwinkle RPG?

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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Boneguard » Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:20 pm

I'm realizing you are missing TSR's Conan's RPG in 1985
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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Havard » Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:40 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:And the Rocky and Bullwinkle RPG?
Thanks! That's an odd one...

Boneguard wrote:I'm realizing you are missing TSR's Conan's RPG in 1985
Actually I intentionally left this one out since it doesn't fit into the "modern" category. I belive the system was d100 based though?

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Re: TSR's "modern" games

Post by Boneguard » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:06 pm

Havard wrote:
Boneguard wrote:I'm realizing you are missing TSR's Conan's RPG in 1985
Actually I intentionally left this one out since it doesn't fit into the "modern" category. I belive the system was d100 based though?

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I think so, but it's been a while since I looked at it -it's in storage now.
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Re: TSR's "modern" games (pre-D20 Modern)

Post by Havard » Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:51 pm

Added 2001: A Space Odyssey & 2010: Odyssey Two Adventures (1984) as an alternate setting for Star Frontiers. They were mentioned in this thread.

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Re: TSR's "modern" games (pre-D20 Modern)

Post by Havard » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:36 pm

I am wondering if the following should be added?

Warriors of Mars (1974)
Star Probe (1975)
Star Empires (1977)

All three are sci fi games by TSR, but they are not roleplaying games. It should be noted that Star Probe & Star Empire were developed by Dave Arneson's players and may be the real reason why aliens and spaceships started showing up in the Blackmoor campaign. It is also possible that these were in some ways precursors to Star Frontiers, but I have not found any solid evidence for this.

Warriors of Mars by Gygax and Brian Blume did have some roleplaying elements.

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