Time for another post about RPGs! This one is gonna be about the time I had a crack at making my own one a few years ago. Strictly speaking, I didn’t really make anything original myself as all I did was adapt an existing game system (Basic Roleplaying) to accommodate for the theme of a Metal Gear Solid setting, one of my favourite game series. However, I thought it would be cool to share a couple of the things I worked on in this unfinished attempt from a while back.
First of all we’ll take a look at the system and other resources I used as a basis for the game. As I said, I had decided to use the Basic Roleplaying system. At the time this was probably mostly because I had been playing in and excellent Mythic Iceland game run by Lilly. A major influence from Mythic Iceland can be seen in the character sheet I made in the hit location figure in the top right to track HP and armour to different parts of the body, something I though that made sense for a game that was mostly meant to be based on realistic modern combat. Other than that, I really just liked the system for its simplicity in the skills, and although the combat rules in terms of firearms were a little lacking for me, I was planning on mostly replacing the combat, or maybe just scrapping it and relying on the skills list altogether and keep things fairly simple. I never got round to refining the combat though.
Other than that there were a couple of supplements I used to help me along or simply add to the game entirely. The most significant of these was a supplement for BRP called ‘The Modern Equipment Catalogue’. I think finding this was one of the things that got me to actually have a proper go at making a Metal Gear RPG. It is an extremely thorough list and explanation of every piece of combat gear you could possibly imagine, along with appropriate stats for the system, as well as some fleshed out and new rules to go along with some of them. Honestly though, although I used this heavily at the time in the test games I had, If I had developed it further or went back to it now then I would only use this as a rough guide rather than unleashing the whole thing on my players. With the huge amount of detail in here it tended to slow the game down, with there being too many things to keep track of, as well as making character creation and gear selection very very long, and my plan for the game was for players to select loadouts for each mission. If you want to take a look at this huge catalogue, take a look HERE
The other things I used were a couple of homebrew guides to modern firearms for use in the BRP system, one of them expanded on the rules and added some new ones, and the other gave a good list of weapon stats and offered the idea of deciding the damage die to be used based on bullet calibre and muzzle velocity of a weapon. Again, I never really got around to fleshing out the combat for the game, but these ideas seemed pretty useful and I would probably still use them if I went back to it.
Now onto what I actually ended up making. In terms of setting, the idea was for the game to be set sometime around or after the events of Metal Gear Solid 2, and before Metal Gear Solid 4. I though this made the most sense as it would be before the world changing events of the fourth game that ended the timeline, but close enough to build up to it, and after the second game which opened up the possibilities, what with Metal Gears becoming public knowledge and other crazy tech being let loose on the world. In more specific terms, the game would have revolved around the player characters being part of a small mercenary group that was loosely aligned with Solid Snake’s goals of combating ‘The Patriots’ and nuclear/metal gear disarmament. The players would create a backround for their character based around them already being experienced former special forces operatives from around the world. This would have made it a little easier to send them on more interesting missions of them going heavily against the odds and outclassing a bunch of NPC grunts. If I was to change anything about this premise today I would probably keep the idea of them working for a mercenary group, but having since played MGS: Peace Walker, and MGS5, I may want to change the point in the timeline to be earlier, maybe somewhere around the 1980s, before things get super complicated in terms of MGS lore and where I would be able to tie things in to real historical events and existing technology a little easier, while also sprinkling in some of that MGS unrealism in the form of futuristic tech and weird supernatural stuff.
Let’s take a look at the character sheet I made for the game (below). I kept things relatively simple here, and for the most part I just edited the existing BRP sheet. As I said before I used the locational HP tracker taken straight from Mythic Iceland, and I used the luck system on the back of the sheet from there too. Looking at the skills, I removed a few that didn’t work for the time period, and added a few that made sense for what the characters were meant to be. I gave them a fairly high base skill in certain things such ‘sneak’ (renamed from stealth, made it sound more like MGS), and gave them CQC as their basic combat skills instead of ‘brawl’ or ‘grapple’, as it is a term from MGS, and includes both skills. I also included the sanity and fatigue trackers from the base game, as these are the sort of stats that have had a presence in some of the videogames themselves, so they seemed to fit nicely. The only new things I added really are the ammo tracker and the codec list. The ammo tracker is on the back labelled ‘ammunition’, and my idea for it was to fill in or cross out the magazines as they were used up for each weapon during the game. I’d probably change it now, as it is a bit more complicated than it needs to be,not all weapons make sense to be tracked in terms of magazine, and it doesn’t take into account the number of rounds in said mag. The codec is just below the ammo there, and I included an image of the codec screen from one of the games. This was simply supposed to be where the player kept track of the codec contacts they knew and could call. As it is one of the defining features of the games for me, I had to add it. If I was to work on it some more, I would change a few things. I’d definitely change the HP, Fatigue and Sanity grids to be a simple line where you just had base and current values. I’d also simplify the encumbrance, and modify the uses of luck, them move some things around such as putting the portrait space on the front.
Other than the character sheet I also made a weapons list, with stats based on those supplements I found as well as my own research into how much damage they should do, the range they should have, and their prices. Then I made a huge list of the names of various animals to be used in generating a codename for your character, where you would roll for the animal but have the first word be something that describes your character in some vague way, a bit like many of the characters in the games. I also made a list of camouflage patterns that the players could choose from for different uses based on environment, and I was planning on using these patterns to affect the hide and sneak skills depending on how well the camo is used and the skill of the character.
Overall, I’m glad I had a go at making this game. At the time I was fairly inexperienced with RPGs in general and it was a good way to learn some things. There still doesn’t seem to be any MGS RPGs out there as far as I can tell, be they fanmade or otherwise, so maybe I’ll use this stuff again someday. Looking back now I can see that there are a lot of things that I would change. Mostly I would probably simplify certain aspects of the game a bit more, and change the way the game’s missions were planned out. When I had a test run with this at the time I got a bit lost when the players weren’t as sneaky as I expected, or didn’t go certain ways, but since then I’ve had more chances to run other games and have gotten better at improvisation and how to deal with those circumstances, making heavy rules slightly less useful for my style of DMing. Other than that I would also probably change the system up entirely and go with something newer and more focussed on either modern combat or stealthy action, I now know of a few like that out there, whereas I didn’t at the time.