Inspirational Material for Picaresque Fantasy Roleplaying Game
September 6, 2014 5:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the early planning stages of a new tabletop FRPG campaign. My current concept is a traveling gang of ne'er-do-wells in an Iron Age world of city-states. I'm imagining an episodic, problem-of-the-week style game.

My leading inspirations at this point are Avatar: The Last Airbender and (to a much lesser extent) Adventure Time.
What are some other shows, comics, fiction, or other media that have that episodic feel with an overarching plot that I might turn to for inspiration? My key tropes are: an ensemble cast, a lighthearted feel that doesn't take away from the Serious Business of the overarching plot, and a self-contained episodic nature that still manages to advance the main arc in every episode.
posted by murphy slaw to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You might try "King City" by Brandon Graham
posted by Ignorance at 5:31 PM on September 6, 2014

Record of Lodoss War maybe?
posted by pyro979 at 5:39 PM on September 6, 2014

"Thieves World" by Robert Lynn Asprin. if you're not familiar it's an anthology series set in the city of Sanctuary with each story written by a different SF/F author. each chapter stands alone as its own story and centers around one character for the most part although there are crossovers. i haven't read any of these in a long, long time so who knows how the stories stand up.

in reading you get a sense of the city/world from diverse stand points and come to know about the political structure, religion, economy etc. also, just the title alone might fit with your RPG description. lots of thievery and assassins and some magic to boot.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 6:33 PM on September 6, 2014

If you want inspiration for a picaresque RPG, then Jack Vance is your man. Any of his novels, but obviously especially the fantasy ones. So many people felt that way, that they made a Dying Earth game. Even if you stick with your own rules system, still should be a lot of material there. If I recall, they are often on sale as pdfs, the now-standard free quickstart rules and adventure, and tons of free material produced by fans as well. You could do a lot worse.
posted by seasparrow at 7:01 PM on September 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

How about the Icelandic sagas?
posted by XMLicious at 7:10 PM on September 6, 2014

Jack Vance is an excellent suggestion. I would also think about the Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser books... both Vance and Leiber were big influences on the original Dungeons and Dragons designers.

Also a weird suggestion, but maybe Huckleberry Finn?
posted by selfnoise at 7:58 PM on September 6, 2014

A different tone, but the picaresque part reminds me of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
posted by Mogur at 11:47 PM on September 6, 2014

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