How to adapt your favorite saga into an RPG campaign

Photo by Kevin Coffey

Photo by Kevin Coffey

You love a series.

You love it so much that you just have to play-set in that world. But if there’s no official Harry Potter, Legend of Zelda, or Shanara RPG, what do you do?

It’s not quite as easy as picking up a One Ring hardcover campaign or downloading an official Pathfinder adventure, but if you’re dying to play a D&D game that follows your favorite series, story, or saga, here are a few steps to follow.

Characters

Start by identifying the villain. Create or adapt monster stats for the big bad guy, and then figure out what the villain and its minions are plotting. This can give ideas on how the adventurers might try to thwart them.

Identify monsters in the Monster Manual that are like those in the series. Create adventures and encounters based around them.

Cast your NPCs. Make sure you have outside characters ready for when the players encounter them. It should be easy to identify them from the original saga.

Build Your Adventure Inside the Series

Go ahead and adapt adventures straight from the source material. Borrow descriptions from the book. Use maps taken from the video game. Structure fights the same way they played out in the original story.

Strip the story down to its main plot points and build your adventure and its encounters around each one. Turn those plot points into situations in which the adventurers will find themselves, and it will help immensely.

Making your RPG sessions feel like a particular world is more than just a few plot points and city names. Introduce notable NPCs. Stat out artifacts and important magic items. Pull words straight from the original story.

Adapt a solo series to fit a group. RPGs are best played with a group of adventurers, so figure out how things in the Legend of Zelda, for example, would be different if there was a group of warriors rather than just one. That might mean new challenges and puzzles or beefed up combat encounters.

Remix

Feel free to stray a little. Especially if your players are familiar with the source material, change things up a little bit to keep it fresh. Because the story can always change based on how the adventurers react, be ready to adapt and take things in a new direction.

Modify certain things about the game to fit the series. The easiest things to alter include changing the names of spells and monsters to fit the world. Adapt the story’s places: kingdoms, cities, locales, taverns. The more fleshed out they are, the more it will feel like the source material.

Cut out parts that aren’t useful or helpful. Every little detail of your favorite series does not need to be in the game. In fact, it may bog things down. Go ahead and cut out anything that doesn’t fit or that slows down the pace too much. 

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