Tabletop Role Playing Games have been a huge part of my life for over 20 years, now. Some of my closest friendships have been forged over the gaming table. Because RPGs have been such an influence, I figured I’d write a little bit about what I like to play.
Like most gamers, my love affair with RPGs began with Dungeons & Dragons. When I was 13, my mother bought me the D&D box set. It came with some basic rules, a poster, some dice, and a little adventure. (That red dragon poster lived on my wall until I was 22.) Shortly after that, I found some friends that played in my Boy Scout troop, and one of the dads was an experienced DM. He opened my head to the awesome possibilities of gaming.
Second Edition D&D had just come out, and my DM refused to buy new books, so we plundered garage sales and used book stores. Even today, when I play D&D, it’s 95% First Edition (talking it back to the old school ’cause I’m an old fool)
A few years later, when I was 18, a friend introduced me to a completely different type of game, Cyberpunk 2020. Cyberpunk is a near-future setting featuring evil mega-corporations, cyber technology, and punk-rock attitude. The rule-system itself was brilliantly simple and I enjoyed it. In fact, the Cyberpunk universe is the most well-crafted game setting world I’ve ever encountered. However, D&D was still my true love and Cyberpunk was usually reserved for special occasions.
Over the years, my friends and I would occasionally try out 1-off games on the side. We did vampire hunters, zombie apocalypse survivors, battled Nazi mummies, and other fun scenarios. For those we used the Cyberpunk 2020 Interlock rules. It was the most versatile system, and makes combat extremely cinematic and brutal.
Eventually I got frustrated with D&D and decided to run Cyberpunk 2020 as a primary game. I picked up the remaining few books that I didn’t already own and started running a campaign. Around this time, I found Datafortress2020, which is an amazing fan-run site. Among their resources is an improved rules system called Interlock Unlimited (IU). IU uses all the simplicity of the original Interlock system, but streamlines it, making it usable for any setting and situation. I was in love.
After running a couple campaigns of Cyberpunk using the IU rules, we switched to a historic fantasy setting for about a year. It was fun, but just wasn’t D&D (you can’t mess with the king). Meanwhile, I was reading Lovecraft for the first time (yeah, I’m a late bloomer) and went on some crazed Hellraiser/horror movie bender on Netflix. Then I discovered Call of Cthulhu…
Call of Cthulhu 1920’s is a historic horror RPG that focuses primarily on story, investigation, and role-playing. It’s not very combat-oriented (Most of the monsters will simply shatter your mind and eat your face. So it’s best to avoid them directly). It was exactly what I needed.
The only problem I saw with it was that playing in a strictly Lovecraftian setting would quickly bore me. I wanted to bring in The Mummy, The Shadow, King Kong, Tales of the Golden Monkey, Indiana Jones, and all the other 20’s and 30’s pulp adventures, as wells as some classics baddies like vampires and lycanthropes. So again…Interlock Unlimited to the rescue.
It took me a few months to convert and write rules, but we now have a fully-functional game set in 1925. I call it Pulp-Era Unlimited, but when people ask me what I play, I simply tell them Call of Cthulhu. That’s a lot easier than saying that I play a home-made game inspired by Call of Cthulhu and Brendan Fraser movies that uses a fan-modified Cyberpunk 2020 rule system.
So there it is. I’m a massive nerd. I admit it.