Escapist Podcast - Tabletop: 019: More Turning Video Games into Pen & Paper RPGs

The Escapist Staff

New member
Jul 10, 2006
019: More Turning Video Games into Pen & Paper RPGs

What would Assassin's Creed, Dark Souls, Alien Isolation, and more look like as tabletop RPGs?

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Jan 12, 2012
My one shot at fame, and I go down in Escapist Podcast history as "guy whose name we can't remember." Ah well, I'm glad you liked it.

Alien: The one thing I have with your ideas is that the systems are selling the androids and other survivors short. For a lot of people, their first death wasn't at the hands of the alien, but at the barrels of the guns of that trio of survivors you meet after the security office. Other people aren't basic mooks to be mowed down in droves.

Accordingly, I suggest running the Alien game in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, obviously with a facelift. There are Fate Points you can spend to avoid certain death (but only a couple), Insanity Points that tick higher and higher, and you can have a varied crew by giving people different careers; Ellen is an Engineer, somebody who used to work in Station Records is a Scribe, a ship pilot is a Ferryman, etc. Characters in WHFR are very rarely the purpose-built adventurers, but more often people who for one reason or another have been thrust into this life, and they've got the skills to match. This keeps an element of everyday danger -a couple Working Joes or some crazed survivor with a pipe are still a credible and common threat to your life, as are mechanical failures and other environmental hazards- while the Alien itself can get a Daemon's profile and be just as untouchable as a monster in Dread protected by DM fiat.

Speaking of which, surprised you didn't mention that one of the basic Dread scenarios, given in the book and available for free on their website, is basically Alien with the serial numbers filed off.


Assassin's Creed I really liked the idea of using the Animus as a framing mechanism, it's far from what I was thinking and sounds really cool. For a system, I think the best one would be Eclipse Phase. For those unaware and unwilling to click the link EP is a game of sci-fi horror and conspiracy, with lots of action and uncovering terrible secrets (which lines up nicely with Assassin's Creed). Even better, it's a game about Transhumanism, where humanity has surpassed the limits of one body per mind, and switch to whatever physical form they want as they need to while keeping (mostly) the same mind. In EC, that usually means sliding into a mechano-organic armoured shell the size of a tank for battle, becoming a low-impact child-sized morph for interplanetary travel, stuff like that.

With the Assassin's Creed RPG, you'd have your Ego as the mind of the person in the present, with various Morphs as the figures from that character's genetic history. The EC rules already put in a break between the things that stay with the Ego, and what is specific to each morph, so you can have variations and new types of play in each historical period while still being the same character. I think it'd be fun to have the GM be at least partly in charge of generating each Ancestor, to make sure people aren't just sticking to conventional roles and the same party structure; after all, you can't choose your family.

As well, EC has Stress that you take when in a stressful situation, with too much exceeding your Trauma Threshold and giving you a mental wound. It doesn't take too much creativity to see how you can modify that into a Desynchronization mechanic; if a player acts as the Ancestor he's inhabiting wouldn't, like stabbing pedestrians or neglecting her family, he takes some Stress. Too much and he suffers Trauma, getting desynchronized, having his character temporarily revert to GM control and giving the player some permanent damage to their Ego; too much of that and
they end up like Desmond in the later AC games, finding it harder and harder to stay in one Ancestor at a time and losing his grip on reality
which is a big part of the game that you guys didn't touch on.


As for other games to convert, what about the Walking Dead games from Telltale? They've got an interesting, mechanics-light feel to them, and it would be an interesting thing to see a tabletop game with the same structure.
Aug 31, 2012
RE Alien, there was an Aliens tabletop RPG, you could build civilian characters as well as military, had stats etc for synthetics as well. Beyond that it's pretty much just a case of designing the area you're stuck in. For that I used to use modified Space Hulk maps.


New member
Aug 19, 2009
About the Assassins Creed table top idea. It occurs to me, that the Animus would give a pretty unique game mechanic in the form of de-syncing. The data in your DNA is clearly pretty spotty, which is why the Animus uses the simulation to fill in the blanks. What you see and hear in there is only a loose representation of actual events. So if the players die, or fail a task, they loose synchronization and have to try again. Because obviously there ancestors didn't die before having children, otherwise they wouldn't be there to use the Animus.

With the new characters you could also have some kind of family, inherited traits. Like if you ended the last period rich you might start out with a bonus to your money or something like that. It seems you already thought of something like that.