Monday, July 20, 2009

Hairy Bottom RPG

So the new Harry Potter film is out and I have yet to see it (my wife made me promise to wait till she's back in town...sheesh!  Like I'd try fighting the lines opening weekend? Besides I've read the books; I know what happens).  But every time a new wave of HP madness sweeps the nation I wonder, where the hell is the Harry Potter RPG?

Yes, I'm aware that the internet is chock full o on-line "role-playing" sites.  Role-play is not the same as a role-playing game (yes, there are real definitions that distinguish play, game, and sport...I should bother to post them some time).   And while I was tempted to post a couple of the more disturbing images that popped up when I did a google search for "Harry Potter RPG;" well, I decided to keep it clean.  Well, as clean as I ever am, anyway.

Thing is: well first off there are IP issues that would need to be diving our by Rowling for a real RPG game, something I'm sure Wizards or Green Ronin has probably already done.  But even withOUT the rights, a company could create a game set in the magical castle school of "Hawthorne" or something, and players would take on the role of young wizards and witches, right?

But to whom would such a game appeal?  Certainly not the over-testosteroned 4E crowd!  An HP RPG (at least one created as a pastiche of the book) would have precious little combat in it. Maybe some stunning/dueling type hexes, and a couple of unspeakable curses.  But all you're doing is pointing your wand, make a roll to cast spell successfully, and make another roll to counter or dodge. 

No, Harry Potter would be "RPG-light;" something more like Teenagers From Outer Space. Certainly HP is at least that whimsical. 

And so, of course there's already a game that may be suited for a Hairy Bottom (excuse me, Harry Potter) RPG...Big Eyes, Small Mouth.  I just picked up a used copy Saturday for $4 and on someone else's blog (no link; sorry!) I said it would seem perfect for running an RPG version of High School Musical.  Well, scratch would be even better for an HP RPG.

No, no Harry Potter isn't anime or manga (despite many, many illustrations on HP Role-Play sites), but it shares many of the same tropes.  You got matters of magic mixed in with matters of high school (teen romance, homework, tests, pranking, bullies, expulsion) mixed in with silly humor (back-firing hexes and such)...there're even hints of danger from the Death Eaters and basilisk and such, should you want a more edgy school. All of these things you can find in Japanimation, and that's exactly what BESM is designed to's not all giant robots and space cruisers!

I had always figured I would need to heavily modify Ars Magica if I wanted a real Harry Potter RPG.  But BESM does the job quicker than you can say, "Eye of Newt."  For those who've been looking for a way to run Harry Potter as a game, not just an interactive fan fic, you might want to check it out.

1 comment:

  1. A friend of mine was trying to homebrew and HP game a few years back, and I recommended Fudge. I will recommend the same to anyone else. It is rules lite, I believe you can get it free on the internet with the blessing of the writer, though you can also buy a hard copy.

    You know, I kind of wish I had a copy of BESM1 still... very rules lite, very DIY. (Another thing it has in common with Fudge.)

    My two cp.