Friday, March 25, 2016

Using Books From Other Systems

I occasionally use material from other systems in my GURPS games.  I've never been one to use published adventures, so those are almost always nearly useless to me.  It's hard for me to predict what I will find helpful, but books loaded with statistics and such for other systems won't usually cut it, as I don't try to do direct conversions.  I use monsters and such from AD&D quite a bit, but I don't take much info from the system itself, I just rely on the description and listed abilities to get my imagination flowing.

Lately, and to my surprise, one of the most useful books in my repertoire has been AD&D's Oriental Adventures.  There are Yearly and Monthly Events charts in there that are incredibly useful for coming up with an outline for any location the PCs will spend much time in.  They require a good bit of interpretation, especially as they're intended for a more Eastern setting and mine is decidedly Western in tone.  Still, here are the yearly event results for Arcte, the town my PCs are currently occupying.  I'm only revealing the chart up to September as that's the in-game month.

I didn't roll a Yearly Event, as I had something in mind for that already.



March: Major Fire, Cold Weather Delays Planting
April: VIP Visit
May: No Event
June: Injustice
July: Bandit Activity
August: Marriage
September: Notorious Criminal

The Winter of 1077 was unusually cold, stretching on into April of 1078.  Planting was delayed so the harvest will be terrible, probably depleting the food stores and leading to popular unrest.  In addition, a major fire in the Library of Arcte destroys valuable texts.  Note: the fire was Essential Flame.

A Kentrian Magistrate arrives in April to present gifts to the Goddess Ea.  Votaries, perfumes, and attractive slaves.

May is calm, but as summer arrives the growing unrest leads to questionable arrests of foreign merchants and traders.  Locals turn to banditry in the roads and woods free of the influence of the Blasted Plains.

The al-Mari and al-Hans tribes arrange a marriage of heirs.  The al-Mari heir will be sheikh of both tribes when he reaches 40.

In September a thief locals call the Crimson Flame begins robbing wealthy traders, but evades capture.


I thought this turned out pretty good.  It only took about a half-hour's work to interpret and ended up being really inspirational.  I have organizations and events planned out in fairly broad terms on a large scale, which makes fitting this stuff in pretty simple.  There are some other charts like this in Harn and some of the new OSR books, but to be honest I find the ones in Harn too low-fantasy and dull, and the OSR ones often way too specific.  I prefer something loose and easy to interpret, which this provides to my satisfaction.


  1. I have been using OA inspirationally for my game as well!

  2. I spent $5 on OA just to have that table. And my players might now interact with an event from it.

  3. I don't use a lot of mechanics from other series in my games, but I get some helpful "soft information," like seeing what the writers of Fate think a GM should know, versus what the writers of GURPS think a GM should know. I think the most interesting thing I learned from another system was how Dread specifically recommends asking provocative and leading questions like, "Why can't you tell the person next to you in your bunker that you hate her?" It's a neat idea that I think roots out some conflict and storytelling, and interestingly, toys with the meme that "players should have more agency and take responsibility from the GM" and turns it on its head.

    Sometimes, I'll restat a cool ability from a video game or anime though.