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The Succubus
2012-04-30, 06:46 AM
Howdy,

I've been re-reading this series of books again and the thought occurs that it could make for a really fun and unusual campaign setting.

For those that aren't familiar with the story, it follows the adventures of a man called Roland on his quest for The Dark Tower. Roland is a gunslinger, initially chasing a mysterious man in black, partly out of revenge for a past evil but also because the man in black holds the key to finding the Tower.

The Tower itself is the central nexus of all of creation, from fantasy worlds where technology is just beginning to make an appearence, to futuristic worlds of supersonic monorails and city sized computers. Spanning the various worlds held together by the tower are the Beams, each originating from the edges of the world (watched over by a Guardian) and shining toward the Dark Tower. The Beams are a soft of metaphysical presence rather than an actual visible shaft of light.

It's unlike Discworld where everything is on one physical map but instead best thought of as being more like a stack of pizzas, with each pizza being a different world. There are ways to and from each layer and naturally some tend to blur together. Following a Beam from the edge of the world to the Tower will often take a traveller through a dozen different worlds along the way. Time is also "stretchy" - on one world a day may pass and on the next a month has passed in the same space. The closer you get to the tower, the more time gets screwy.


Roland's story follows him along the Beam of the Bear (watched over by the Bear guardian). After passing through the Dark Tower, it becomes the Beam of the Turtle, watched over by a certain hard-shelled guardian. There a various objects of power in the worlds which range from small magics like hypnotic suggestion to reality warping spheres called the Wizard's glassses.

My thought is that there are several other beams and several other Wizard's glasses out there, a decent BBEG in the form of the Crimson King (a man that wants to pull down the Dark Tower and rule the Nightmarish space that would be formed in the destruction of creation). This thread is mainly going to be a dumping ground for my ideas as I think of them but also for other Dark Tower fans to offer their input as well.

Man on Fire
2012-04-30, 07:02 AM
First you need to pick up the system. Considering that the series is about Gunslingers it needs to be one that uses guns - Pathfinder, World of Darkness or Savage Worlds. Something Universal would be recommended, considering the genre-busting crossoverish nature of the series.

The Succubus
2012-04-30, 08:16 AM
Hmmmm, I've been chewing over the system and the few I'm familiar with (3.5/d20) don't really fit.

In the stories, humans are pretty much that - human. The magics involved aren't spectacular like hurling lightning bolts or fireballs around and when someone needs healing, it's done through bandages, rest and if you're lucky a handful of antibiotics.

So whatever system this is eventually going to follow it needs to focus on the following:

Survival: Towns, villages, etc are very few and far between in the Dark Tower. Although money/gold etc is still used, it's not a case of wandering to the nearest shop after a dungeon crawl and stocking up on healing potions and bullets. In short, the players need to have survival/wilderness skills and good ones at that. Some of the lands on the way to the Tower are very inhospitable - deserts, wastelands, post nuclear fallout, it's not all forests and sunshine.

Magic: While there are magical items in the game, the impression I get from the books is that magic has almost faded away except for the most potent stuff, only to be replaced with technology instead. So a wizard class would not work but a trickster that uses various powders for flashes of light, hypnotism and tricks of the mind, that would fit better. There is also something called "The Touch" which members of a group share. It's like a long range sense of empathy or a very limited form of telepathy.

Classes: The only true sort of class in the books is the Gunslinger, which is essentially a questing medieval knight with revolvers. So I think players instead would develop through learning various skills from each other e.g. a doctor drawn from a modern world could teach his friends first aid, a trickster could teach his friends the basics of hypnosis and of course a gunslinger could teach them how to shoot. However, as the campaign would be following a different Beam to the Tower, rather than Roland's, there's some breathing space for creativity.

Beasties: One thing the Dark Tower does *not* lack for is nasties and beasties, from evil centipedes to lobstrosities (giant poisonous lobsters) to the rather more friendly billy-bumbler, there's room for all sorts of things for the party to fight and run away from, especially if the campaign takes a brief detour through a horrible place called todash space.



This is the sort of thing I'd need to bear in mind before settling on a play system - I don't think I have the skill to build a combat/play system from scratch. :smalleek:

Man on Fire
2012-04-30, 01:44 PM
If you're more interested in climate and characters, try adapt World of Darkness either New or Old. If you're more interested into aventure aspect, use Savage Worls. If you want both, use GURPS.

Knight13
2012-04-30, 03:57 PM
The Dragon in black fled across the desert, and the PCs followed.

Yitzi
2012-04-30, 04:49 PM
Seems to me that your best bet in terms of system would probably be either GURPS or something you make up from scratch (possibly getting the "core engine" from D&D or WoD or something, but forget about copying classes.)

The other big question is whether you want:
1. A game in the same universe, unrelated to Roland's quest,
2. Playing as the characters in the story, with pregenerated character sheets,
or
3. Roland "drew" a different set of individuals, namely the PCs (Roland himself could be another PC, or a DMPC.)

Yitzi
2012-04-30, 04:50 PM
Seems to me that your best bet in terms of system would probably be either GURPS or something you make up from scratch (possibly getting the "core engine" from D&D or WoD or something, but forget about copying classes.)

The other big question is whether you want:
1. A game in the same universe, unrelated to Roland's quest,
2. Playing as the characters in the story, with pregenerated character sheets,
or
3. Roland "drew" a different set of individuals, namely the PCs (Roland himself could be another PC, or a DMPC.)

Inglenook
2012-04-30, 06:06 PM
A Dark Tower campaign would be all kinds of awesome. I agree with the others that using a classless system like GURPS would probably work best considering the nature of the setting/characters. If you used GURPS, you'd probably want your characters to start off with a reasonably high number of points; it sort of undermines the importance of the ka-tet if members are constantly being killed off and replaced.

Having the PCs be part of Roland's tet might also be a little tricky if the players have read the books, since they'd have a pretty good idea of what to do to advance the plot/avoid getting killed ("Everyone be careful walking through the Cradle of LudóBlaine shoots lightning like a mofo."). Unless you decide to abandon the canon story altogether.

Gilead was on the Eagle-Lion beam (running east) and Roland's tet was on the Bear-Turtle beam (running southeast), so maybe the PCs could be a group of gunslingers that escaped south when Gilead fell, and are traveling on the Hare-Bat beam (running north-by-northeast) or the Fish-Rat beam (running northeast) to reach the tower?

Man on Fire
2012-04-30, 07:13 PM
You may always use Spoony's method - "You replace canon characters but don't assume everything will go like in the canon, guy who was revealed to work for bad guys may as well work for them here as not".

Empedocles
2012-04-30, 09:07 PM
I actually think d20 Modern could work nicely here...

Debihuman
2012-04-30, 09:29 PM
Gunslinger D20 or Deadlands D20 (both are 3.5 not 4e) could work for this. They are older products but not impossible to find.

Debby

Empedocles
2012-04-30, 09:43 PM
Gunslinger D20 or Deadlands D20 (both are 3.5 not 4e) could work for this. They are older products but not impossible to find.

Debby

Deadlands d20, while not very good for deadlands per say, might actually work nicely. I've never heard of gunslinger d20...

The Succubus
2012-05-01, 05:55 AM
Gilead was on the Eagle-Lion beam (running east) and Roland's tet was on the Bear-Turtle beam (running southeast), so maybe the PCs could be a group of gunslingers that escaped south when Gilead fell, and are traveling on the Hare-Bat beam (running north-by-northeast) or the Fish-Rat beam (running northeast) to reach the tower?

Thanks for this, you just gave me an absolutely mind-blowing idea.

Part of the Dark Tower's charm is that it draws on lots of different stories and sources. For example, the main one is the story of Arthur and Excalibur, the knight on a quest shtick. It also draws on Stephen King stories and references a few other things like the Wizard of Oz.

So why not have our campaign follow the Path of the Hare toward the Dark Tower and have it based on Alice in Wonderland? The Guardian (a cybernetically enhanced hare, much like Shardik) dwells in a temple in a village at the start of the campaign, where he is watched over by priests and spends most of his time asleep.

A Beamquake sends a dark and terrible storm to the village and the Guardian, sensing something is wrong at the Tower, hurtles off into the night to find out what the problem is. The priests, unaware of what's really going on, dispatch a gunslinger to retrieve the wayward bunny and bring him home. Throughout the story, the gunslinger and his crew pick up sightings and tales of where the Hare Guardian is and what his purpose might be.

Of course, if you've read Alice in Wonderland, you'll know the White Rabbit isn't the only lagomorph in the story....

Debihuman
2012-05-01, 09:46 AM
Deadlands d20, while not very good for deadlands per say, might actually work nicely. I've never heard of gunslinger d20...

Sorry Gunslingers was a prestige class. The product I was trying to remember was called Sidewinder Recoiled. by Dog House Rules. I have the PDF of it. I think it is still available at RPGNow. com. It's an Old West Campaign setting.

Debby

Inglenook
2012-05-01, 04:48 PM
Thanks for this, you just gave me an absolutely mind-blowing idea.

Part of the Dark Tower's charm is that it draws on lots of different stories and sources. For example, the main one is the story of Arthur and Excalibur, the knight on a quest shtick. It also draws on Stephen King stories and references a few other things like the Wizard of Oz.

So why not have our campaign follow the Path of the Hare toward the Dark Tower and have it based on Alice in Wonderland? The Guardian (a cybernetically enhanced hare, much like Shardik) dwells in a temple in a village at the start of the campaign, where he is watched over by priests and spends most of his time asleep.

A Beamquake sends a dark and terrible storm to the village and the Guardian, sensing something is wrong at the Tower, hurtles off into the night to find out what the problem is. The priests, unaware of what's really going on, dispatch a gunslinger to retrieve the wayward bunny and bring him home. Throughout the story, the gunslinger and his crew pick up sightings and tales of where the Hare Guardian is and what his purpose might be.

Of course, if you've read Alice in Wonderland, you'll know the White Rabbit isn't the only lagomorph in the story....
You might want to avoid making the entire beam obviously Wonderland-based (playing out exactly like the books), but splashes of Wonderland would be awesome. You could probably draw a good deal of inspiration from American McGee's Alice, since it has that same "ruined world" feeling as Mid-World.

Some ideas:
- Legend speaks of a teenage, female warrior named Alyce Little and her lioness, Diana, who long ago traveled along the beam to the Tower.
- A mad queen with a bloody heart as her sigil, obsessed with ruling the Tower. She paints the roses surrounding her castle red with the blood of her enemies, trying to emulate the red roses of Can'-Ka No Rey.
- A strange, ring-shaped canyon formed by a line of malfunctioning, animal-shaped robots running in a circle for thousands of years. Maybe a villain has set up a keep on the "island" in the middle of the canyon, using the robots as a living moat.
- Tiger-like predatory cats with skin like a chameleon. They can only be seen by their teeth, which don't "disappear" like the rest of them.
- The long-abandoned castle of a former Dutchess. It's booby-trapped with a nerve gas known as "Cook's Pepper".
- The PCs wander into a thinny and find a city that was swallowed up years ago. The only surviving residents are a hatter, a hare-headed taheen and a malfunctioning robotic mouse. They've been eking out their survival by eating other residents of the city and avoiding the Todash monsters that come out at night. They are, of course, completely insane and very, very hungry.
- Twin brothers who are the mayors of nearby villages, and they hate one another. They're forced to work together when their villages are attacked by an army of taheen (led by one with a crow-head).
- "The Tulgey Wood", home of the Jabberwock, Jubjub Bird, Bandersnatch, Snark and Boojum, naturally.
- A forest of whispering, sentient, flowering trees.
- The PCs being drawn into a war between two kingdoms (red and white sigils, respectively). The red is ruled by a haughty and strict queen who poisoned her own husband (who is now in a coma) so that she could rule. The white is ruled by a humorless vampire king and his wife, a mad sorceress who lives backward through time. Their advisor is a eunuch whose skull was shattered and is now held together with crude bands of metal.
- Replace any Alice in Wonderland animal with taheen, really. :smallsmile:

The Succubus
2012-05-02, 05:04 AM
You know, I often wondered what pure, fresh squeezed awesome looked like, and then I read the above.

There's room for all sorts of tangents from those ideas - the Crimson Queen instantly makes me think of the "Carmilla" story (the vampier queen that bathes in blood), which would make for quite the encounter.

I also had another thought this morning - while Stephen King's references were limited mainly to books and the odd film, there's a source he overlooked - computer games. Chasing the White Rabbit through Silent Hill? Hell yes!

There's been some really good ideas contributed so far but I think I need to bite the bullet and start looking at gaming systems.

Could someone give me a few links to the systems put forward here like d20 Modern, GURPS, etc. I'm also wondering whether the system mechanics employed the Call of Cthulhu games might work here?

Empedocles
2012-05-02, 03:42 PM
The D20 Modern SRD. (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/article/msrd) Everything you would need - especially since it seems like a lot of stuff will be homebrewed - can probably be found here.

Also, I LOVE the Alice in Wonderland idea. Brilliant. Absolutely (first time cursing on the forums...) ****ing brilliant.

If you decide to use GURPS or something (which might be a better fit; I'm unfamiliar with the system) I might take this idea and run a d20 modern campaign with it if no one else thinks d20 modern is fit for it.

Inglenook
2012-05-02, 04:05 PM
GURPS (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/) can be adapted to whatever theme you like, and can be adjusted to be extra gritty, cinematic, or anything in between. Cons: It's a bit more intensive to GM than D&D, and character creation is pretty complex. Pros: In the game itself everything is a 3d6 roll, which is nice, and you aren't constrained by class systems. Characters are almost infinitely customizable. There's a PDF called GURPS Lite that's free and is basically an extremely distilled version of the rules, if you want an idea of what it's like.

I'm not very familiar with Call of Cthulhu, but from what I've heard discussed of it, I think it downplays combat in favor of investigation, and fleeing is almost always the wisest course of action when fighting?

FATE might also be neat, what with the "aspect" thing feeling almost like a literary tool for defining your character.

Roland St. Jude
2012-05-04, 09:19 PM
I have played several Dark Tower world games using d20 Modern, oWod, Amber Diceless RPG, and a homebrewed system based mechanically on Element Masters (a pre-publication playtest version of GateWar RPG). The d20 Modern game didn't last very long, so it's hard to say whether the system was working. The other three worked very well. Of course, Amber is incredibly narrative-oriented and by its nature involved widely varied worlds, powers, etc. And the homebrew game did exactly what we wanted because we designed it that way and when something didn't work, we changed it. It was far more mundane and combat oriented.

There's certainly enough in King's world to play with and plenty of interstices to fill in with your own fun. Note also, that the Dark Tower universe contains many of his other works, or at least intersects them.

I like your idea of different beams leading to different themed adventures. I think our games involved quests for other wizard glasses, ferreting out insurrectionists, chasing down the man in black, dealing with witches, temporary forays into the modern world, etc. We often started as young gunslingers like Roland and his friends in Wizard and Glass, but not always.

We never played the canonical protagonist characters and very rarely met any of them, though I could see the fun in playing Roland's ka-tet along a different adventure than how the books play out.

I'll certainly be interested in reading this thread and your ideas.

fred dref
2012-05-04, 09:27 PM
This thread with Roland's name as the last post was the most recent post listed for Homebrew Design.

Feels right.

TechnOkami
2012-05-09, 04:19 AM
Of course Roland would post here, you old gunslinger you. :smallamused:

Anywho, if you really wanted to get screwy with the rules, I was thinking something crazier, where you make each pizza pie/slice a different game system entirely. That way it would REALLY make each one feel different. Though, to be honest that would be really bad due to the amount of time and referencing of various systems and the mechanics in those systems just to pull something like that off. So... focusing on one system for this would actually be better. Though the various system idea does amuse me. :smallbiggrin:

The Succubus
2012-05-09, 05:36 AM
I haven't forgotten about this thread but a metaphorical grenade has gone off in my personal life and I need to deal with that before I can turn my attention to other things. =/

GuesssWho
2012-05-12, 04:29 AM
I created a 19th level werespider psion once :D

ETA: You've reminded me of JAGS Wonderland now.