Known IP Vs. something new?


Ok, silly question of the day…primarily wanting a player point of view.

What is the draw of playing a well regarded IP vs a different world with similarities?

Known worlds…
Star Wars, Star Trek, The Witcher, Lord of the Rings…
GM created, or Warpshell, or Somesuch?

D&D or CoC I kind of put into the known worlds category, but that’s Cause I’ve been gaming way too long.


From a player view I would say there being world lore for me to delve into outside of the actual game. Maybe that’s just the GM side of me but that enhances my immersion.


The draw is if I know and love the IP, I already have a lot of imagery and info that I can use and that helps everyone get on the same page.

The drawback is if I don’t, I feel constrained by all the stuff I don’t know.


As a player, I prefer more open-ended worlds. I’m not going to say that I enjoy all the silly stuff that comes with it, but let’s just say that if it’s not too serious and “logical” I can have fun (as a player) to come up with original character designs. Maybe it’s more the theme than the setting itself, I guess?

For example, I’m sure there are lots of robotic modifications for a character to have in Star Wars, but some new ones could go against the theme and the GM would definitely not allow it. While if you look at Warp Shell… well, I want to make up a Cyberpunk Torton and there’s not a whole lot in the way of me making that. Last session I ran in Warp Shell, my player was a flaming skull… so, yeah!

Does my answer help? :open_mouth:



That’s why Hollywood produces sequels after sequels after prequels.


When is Warp Shell 2: The vengeance of Hellbound coming out? :star_struck:


Hey…I freely admit I’m in the minority here, but…

…show off what’s scraping the inside of your skull! Nothing wrong with Star Wars and so forth, honor those things that inspire you. But there’s a-a mote, a kernel, a tiny wisp of a unique idea that you can capture and share. It’s something we should see.

P.S. This is my position on most media creation, which I include gaming. “They” have been saying that there are no original ideas, that too many choices leads to analysis paralysis, that gatekeepers are limiting options (never mind that those last two contradict each other). I say that we have an internet, and that means we have a big enough table for everybody!

Sorry. That’s been building for some time now, and quarantine hasn’t been helping.


I know you wanted a player point of view, but I find it I can’t speak that much from it since I’m one of those forever GMs haha.

So, from a GM perspective, I think it boils down to two factors:

  • How much do I know of the world: Not only the lore but how the internal narrative rules of the world work. If I need to create content, I need to be able to nail the tone and purpouse of the world, specially if players also know this world well.
  • But most importantly for me, How PLAYABLE is the world: This means how “roleplayable” it is and how much can I customize of it so it still feels like thr world I want to represent. This is very personal in moat cases. In my experience, I find some videogame worlds EXTREMELY rehashable, like Fallout, The Witcher (which is more or less standard dark fantasy) and Azeroth (world of warcraft), because they sort of where designed open-ended so game designers can work with them easily. On the other side, I can’t stand The Forgotten Realms, it is sooooo convoluted with stuff that you never feel like you’re doing something creative with it, just reading lore page after lore page, killing your will to play on it. Star Wars is another world I just can’t make content for, the narrative there is already closed! The world already had an “ending” so I can’t think on a tabletop story that would feel new instead of retconning like the rogue 1 movie did.

But that’s just me, some GMs get inspired differently I guess. Bear in mind that playing in a very specific world with its own gimmicks (i.e light sabers and the force in star wars) means that you’ll probably have to hack those gimmicks into rules to some degree.



I personally think its ease of access as a player and the level of investment. If I were to suggest playing in Lord of the Rings, many of the players I’d end up with are already familiar with the world, somewhat invested in it, and could consider it a common point of interest amongst all involved. Its territory that’s easily accessible.

Playing a GM created or other lesser known setting, players have to start from scratch where there is much more to learn, invest in, and the lack of world knowledge becomes the commonality between everyone. This makes it much harder accessibility wise.

This is mostly coming from my own table experience where even with session zeroes and provided handouts, it’s a much bigger hurdle to get players to bite on a created world rather than a known world.


I agree with all of this. A player in a Forgotten Realms game already knows, in broad strokes, how the pantheon of gods interact with the world, the basic cosmology of the planes, and has an understanding of the major bio-forms and how they act/interact.

Playing in Skippy’s Realm means the players need to spend time and energy learning these things, and that can really break the narrative for players and GMs: “Wait, are aqua-dogs friendly or aggressive? Do we all believe in the gods, and do they interact with us? Why do the Mousefolk hate the Lemurfolk so much?” etc.

For me, as player, having a wholly new world is hard to role play, because I don’t know what my character would already know, having grown up there. That’s not to say it can’t be fun, and that exploration and discovery isn’t rewarding. It’s just a different game.

As a GM, if I build a whole world in my head, it can be frustrating some times trying to present its rich nuances to players. They may take a very different vibe than what I had in my head, which can cause some unintended friction.


I typically don’t play known ip’s since I find them limiting but I think the, “could I do it better” or “what would I do” is a lot of the draw. Since my students have never read it I’ve thought about plotting out and stating the Hobbit for them to play through. Lots of fun little adventures with interesting challenges and very classic feeling monsters. That said I can see this going off the rails quickly and I don’t want to force them to a certain plot. I think I could do some one shots or very short campaigns in other IP (avatar, naruto,tmnt) but I could see the fun wearing off soon unless the gm was good at making it feel like our story.


We are all consumers of fiction, and sometimes it’s just awesome to experience the fiction we love at the gaming table. Who hasn’t wanted to be Batman, taking down 20 goons and using all those cool gadgets? Or who hasn’t wanted to be a Jedi, cutting down stormtroopers? Those are all rich, fascinating worlds.

The best part about playing in an IP from both a player and DM standpoint is that neither side has to do as much mental lift to experience all of the rich nuances. For example, if you’re playing in an Aliens game, and the DM describes a skittering sound across the room, everyone knows what that means. The DM doesn’t have to introduce a facehugger to elicit the terror of hearing one a few feet away.

There’s a certain level of immersion that happens from knowing all the tropes.


This is also, I think, an opportunity to expand gaming night into movie night! Or sharing comics and all that! I’ve been thinking about this for a while, would love to watch some Star Trek episodes with my group to make them see what I see during a game of Warp Shell and get them to think “modular” like Geordi La Forge! And, of course, I’m definitely going to start asking around for what their favorite settings or stories are, and see how I can approach these to learn more about them…

How would you go about it, yourself? Well, all of you, in fact, since this is a thread! :grinning:


I agree with @Alex… Less “mental lifting” when there is more art and story available from established IP. than a homebrew. This is the draw of all good established RPG. RIFTS is a good example. Huge library, lots of art, decades of established story line. Everyone who knows the IP, knows the well established storylines.

As a GM, I try to make as much of my vision of a world available to the players. Some players eat it up, some don’t and just wing it. Your “investment” as a player is only as good as your research into the game you are playing. More art and writing makes the mental lifting of the group less, thereby making it easier to play together.

This is what makes gaming so difficult for unique IP’s. Lack of established story and art. Every try explaining a 7 book series to someone who has never even heard of the books? This is a good example of that. Someone who has never seen Star Wars… you get it.

I disagree with @Nimlouth. Star Wars and Forgotten Realms are easy to play in. You have to invest yourself, as a player, into the lore that applies from your characters POV. I don’t feel it holds me back. The more there is, the more I can attune my character towards the story. Either by adding to, or changing, the established narrative. But that’s my own unique perspective.


I agree with @skippy, … “having a wholly new world is hard to role play, because I don’t know what my character would already know, having grown up there.” … It can be a challenge at first. When I played Warp Shell: Last Flight of the Red Sword for the first time, I read, and reread, the story and small excerpts of lore to combine them into something I could “bite into”… but this is where I find the most fun as a player. Learning and making up the world as we play before, during, and after game night.

Game On…


Thanks for the replies…I’ve kinda always liked running my take on a genre. Lore is a joint effort…but I know my major NPCs and why/what they are doing what they are doing.

Why stormtroopers miss all the time??? I can’t answer that…why not use cluster bombs or asteroids for planetary bombardment??? Still can’t answer…

Worlds created for movies, Tv shows or books are hard to get right for games!!! But the cool elements of those are easy…if I want/need the lore…100 years later/before…alternative major event and move on. Things are not exactly the same, but players understand the world, and the flow of power.


Touchstones. As a GM or player, you have something to point to and say, “This is how it is, what it’s like, how they are.”

If I say, “Elf,” most people will probably think of Lord of the Rings. If I say, “Drow,” most people probably think of Drizz’t. When I say, “Athas,” everybody immediately knows it’s Dark Sun. Not as much the case when I say, “sidhe” or “Tuatha de Danaan.”

Even when I run an original setting, I insert touchstones for player familiarity. Elves are Tolkien-esque but… Dragons are more like “Flight of Dragons” not “Game of Thrones.” Vampires are more Underworld than Strahd. Stuff like that.