Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 73: Adapting Systems to Other Settings

Main Topic

Sometimes, you want to use a system for a setting that it wasn’t originally built for! How do you do it and what are the considerations to keep in mind? Focus first and foremost of the style and feel you have and want for your table as well as the game itself.  The closer that the system already evokes one of those, the easier it will be to adapt it!

Some keys to keep in mind is that not every system can be used to run every game idea. Some have built in conceits that make them not appropriate for some games. Like Using 3.5 D&D to play something like Shadowrun – a level system with a nonleveling system can clash. This allows systems to play to their strengths where D & D or d20 style systems have made cyberpunk settings and have included magic, but the feel of the game provides a different experience.

Also a really Crunchy system to a super rules light system can be tough to do. But strangely I find that going the other way is less of an issue. Often times, the settings are bootstrapped onto the systems.  The crunch of the system is reflecting part of the world.

Also if you have a ruleset that you know very well and you want to drag a different setting into it regardless you should try to. Remember to be willing to see when things are not going well and be willing to change things, sometimes on the fly.

Some settings have troupes and elements that sometimes need to be created in the system and you need to understand that.

One of my favorite science fiction type games I’ve played used Mage the Ascension …

Things to keep in mind is finding a rule set that matches the feel of the tone of the setting you’re trying to tell. A story of super powered beings works well for settings designed to be adaptable, so something like Mutants and Mastermind can cover that, but if you’re looking for something more nitty-gritty, using a system that’s more built to handle rough combat may fit your table better. The same goes for a adapting settings from tv shows or other tropes. Not all anime shows work well when adapted through Big Eyes, Small mouth. Some might work better with Blades in the Dark, Dungeons and Dragons, or Traveller. Like picking the system to match your table, picking the system to adapt to a setting should match the tone on what feel you and your players want to experience in the story your table wants to tell.

Remember, Yes, And; Yes; Yes, but; and No from Episode 33’s discussions

Stat Blocks

Zendead- The Day the Earth Cracked

To think it started with a bang and it ended with a bang as well. Then a roar and screaming, lots of screaming. Everyone said it would end with a whimper but damn where they wrong. The idea that it would come from out of our solar system didn’t seem strange. There was an extinction level event that ended the reign of dinosaurs. Did it happen before that, no one is sure or even thinks so. The Femri Paradox says that we should have seen something intelligent in the universe by now. What we found was terrible and earth shattering. Both literally and figuratively.

So maybe you remember July 16, 1945? How about August 6 and 9 of the same year? Of course you don’t while they were huge events on the world stage they would be dwarfed by the thing that happened after that. It was months later. Almost 5 full months later to be exact. February 2, 1946 lives in infamy to those few of us that have survived. A week before that we got a message from out in the void of space. We come in peace is all the message said.

We actually believed them and why would we not? We had just ended a massive war that raged across the globe for the most part. We did it by showing the other side we would stop at nothing to destroy them. When the ships got here there where several we could tell it was not a fleet more like an expeditionary group. But they were not here in peace they wanted to stop us from destroying such a prime planet. So in the cover of darkness the ships spread out and started making broadcasts about how they where here to save us. The blasts that triggered the eruption of every major VEI 7 and 8 on the planet at once. So you see the scream was heard around the world.  

nulloperations- The Soul Guardian Lamp
The lamp is simple; a brass cage with a thick carved stone holder for a candle, polished metal and a handle along its top. The sides of lamp are open but the corners, the top, and the bottom are sealed with a dark stained glass. A woven steel thread of chain loops extends from the top of the lamp where it hangs from a hook upon the store’s wall.

It flickers as people pass. Soft whites, radiant golds, angry reds; a myriad of colors showing emotions, mnemic scars, and thoughts of those who presence illuminate its flame. The light shines clean and pure for human souls. Animals that pass leave a wake of light like flowing water. But the souls that stand out the most are the ones inflicted with magic and greater powers. A spellweaver leaves images of her eyes in the candle’s core. A plains walker casts illusions of the reality they have last visited. The undead dull the flame, making it grow cold and dark. In this way the lamp warns the store of who has entered, of who crosses the threshold and what danger may they pose.

Which is why it is curious when the new figure has entered the store and as they passed the lamp the flame has frozen in place. Not died down, not darkened, not snuffed out. Frozen, like crystal, like time has stopped and turned all plasma to gems. What soul has come and overburdened the lamp? What danger was beyond all considerations?

Guard-a-Manger – The Akira Sequence

Sometimes the secrets of science do turn out to be more like magic, Clarke be damned.  Something special about this formula and research is apparent. It is elegant, but something isn’t balancing properly.  It is a difficult thing to come back to time and time again. You can see the math behind it, but have not yet cracked the final proof that will have it fall together.  

Dr. Akira Katsura had left behind the work, the manuscripts, the pieces of the universe reflected in this arcane but known script of mathematics.  You found it after he retired and it has become your own obsession – perhaps quest is the better word. Between the chalk scritched into the board that you wheeled out of his office to the neatly and pristinely written notebooks of proofs, you know there is something here that could unlock the mysteries of the universe.

Late at night, or perhaps early in the morning, you find a way to balance the equation.  You find a way to finish the Akira Sequence. You found out that Physics as you knew it was a lie.

There really was nothing that stopped you from running up the walls.  Nothing to stop you from flying through the air. Walls were … negotiable in this new understanding of the universe.  The math showed you how to transcend what had been our limited understanding of the universe.

THe problem, you now realize, is that when you break physics, it breaks back.  Just as the Akira Sequence unlocked your ability to function with a new set of universal laws, so too did it unlock the universe’s darkest corners where things had been stuffed, and boxed in; locked away and forgotten from time immemorial.  The laws of physics, even your newfangled Physics, meant nothing. They were free now and you have to figure out how to break Math to put them back in their cage.


Halcyon  adjective
hal·​cy·​on | \ˈhal-sē-ən

Definition of halcyon (Entry 1 of 2)
1a : characterized by happiness, great success, and prosperity : GOLDEN —often used to describe an idyllic time in the past that is remembered as better than today
the halcyon days of youth

    a halcyon atmosphere


2 : of or relating to the halcyon (see HALCYON entry 2) or its nesting period


Definition of halcyon (Entry 2 of 2)
1 : a bird identified with the kingfisher and held in ancient legend to nest at sea about the time of the winter solstice and to calm the waves during incubation


Did You Know?

According to Greek mythology, Alkyone, the daughter of the god of the winds, became so distraught when she learned that her husband had been killed in a shipwreck that she threw herself into the sea and was changed into a kingfisher. As a result, ancient Greeks called such birds alkyon or halkyon. The legend also says that such birds built floating nests on the sea, where they so charmed the wind god that he created a period of unusual calm that lasted until the birds’ eggs hatched. This legend prompted people to use halcyon both as a noun naming a genus of kingfisher and as an adjective meaning either “of or relating to the kingfisher or its nesting period” or calm.

History and Etymology
Middle English alceon, from Latin halcyon, from Greek alkyōn, halkyōn

First Known Use of halcyon
1601, in the meaning defined at sense 2

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Top 30% of words

Closing remarks

Zendead- Umbrella Academy on Netflix.

nulloperations- The Dragon Prince Season 2 on Netflix

Guard-a-Manger- Blast both of you for taking my suggestions ….

A glossy magazine.  Which one doesn’t matter so much as curling up at home with a tactile paper product full of design with both words and images.  Lose yourself in the combination of things and thoughts that a large format publication brings. Tune out the electronic media and connectivity for a few minutes.  

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

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Guard-a-manger- Email, Instagram, Twitter

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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