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After some (minimal) research I found out that Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles has its own RPG book:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness.

Some parts of the system above appear good, such as character creation allowing for a variety of mutations, and other bits, but by and large I'm not keen on the mechanics. It's based on the Megaversal system, which looks a bit odd.

Were there alternative systems based on this franchise? Or even re-flavourings of other systems? The system above (Megaversal1) seems to be suited more towards the original animated series(1987-1996) which is heavy in slapstick comedy, and as a whole is less serious. The latest series (2003-2009) has a much darker feel to it (evidenced by this line of artwork), is more serious and sticks to the Mirage comic line, whilst preserving a Rule of Cool.

I'm looking for a system that will let me emulate the TMNT style to my hearts content, as well as having a setting and character very similar to the 2003 cartoon, this would mean it having (roughly in this order):

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As this is a game-recommendation question, please adhere to the FAQ, the rules for subjective questions as outlined in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and our rules for game recommendations. All responses must cite actual experience or reference others' experiences!

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May I remind answerers to follow our guidelines on system recommendation questions (meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/a/1071/140), which basically say only recommend if you've done it, don't just toss unsupported opinions out your butt about how you're sure FATE would be great for this since it's good for everything. –  mxyzplk Jan 3 '12 at 22:22
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I am not sure one can say the Megaversal system is slanted towards slapstick; it's used for Rifts and Beyond the Supernatural and Palladium Fantasy... It's a generic trad system and probably the second most played after D&D variants historically. Not saying it's good mind you, but I think your concern about tone disjoint is completely unfounded. –  mxyzplk Jan 4 '12 at 0:07
    
Before I dive in, can you describe what you think of as integral to the TMNT style? Is it important that it be able to handle superhero tropes? Comic book parody? Martial arts? A wide variety of anthropomorphic animals? Which things are most important, and which can be handwaved? –  Jadasc Jan 6 '12 at 1:04
    
Side note about the TMNT game from Palladium. It came out in 1985, and was one of the first TMNT licensed products, featuring illustrations from Eastman and Laird. It's a great glimpse into that era in gaming. - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_Mutant_Ninja_Turtles#Merchandise –  Erik Schmidt May 1 '13 at 22:23

5 Answers 5

up vote 14 down vote accepted
+100

Not sure if it would fit 100% but Feng Shui from Atlas games has a lot of martial art/Hong Kong cinema feel to it. The game has a lot of support and is fun to play. I cannot vouch for the setting since I am not that familiar with TMNT.

To answer your list:

Animal-Mutations as seen in the cartoon

Yes.

Martial Arts Capabilities

Hell yeah. It's the main focus of the game.

Dark Overtones

I think so. You can certainly run it as a horror setting without too much difficulty. Not sure what rules they have to model a slow but sure decent into insanity and despair.

Oriental feel (Samurai honour, etc)

Yes. Hong Kong cinema feel rather than Japanese but it should still serve you well.

Some sort of Rule of Cool stunt system

Hell yeah. Lots and lots of them plus rules to make your own.

Some mysticism or magic accessible to the players

Yes, there is some but most of it is of Chinese background and not European.

The ability to use High-levels of technology

Yes. There is the ability to have cyborg/robots/etc in Feng Sui.

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As much as I understand the appeal of a unified system, I would suggest 'kitbashing', because:

  1. You are looking for a wide variety of of features, many of which are not generally 'genre compatible'. For instance, high technology and magic. I know of games that feature both of these but they are generally very focused on how those things interact with the setting.
  2. If you choose the right 'core' game, this can be fairly easy.
    • FATE: The Dresden Files RPG offers rules for characters with animal features, magic, and modern levels of technology. You can borrow from Spirit of the Century for some of the more 'high action' and 'high technology' features.
    • d20: If you're looking for a system which supports every feature with a rule, Fantasy Craft is your game. It contains rules for many non-standard fantasy species, as well as - if you read the crafty games wiki - a fairly straightforward method for creating new ones. It also has a magic system that doesn't necessarily require your character to be a 'mage'. It uses a 'stance' and special action system in combat which can greatly vary the close combat options available. Also, due to the OGL there are an nigh-infinite number of other d20 games to draw on for inspiration/rules.
    • Storytellering: Exalted features many of the elements you're looking for and the Storytellering system tends to be fairly rules-light (combat not withstanding) making it easy to customize. It's also an excellent example of the 'Rule of Cool' stunt system (in the form of bonus dice). Pick the right rules edition for you, then borrow elements from other Storytellering games until you have what you need. There were even a couple of sci-fi themed 'bonus chapters' - sold separately - of Mirrors.

It's a little more work but often worth it to customize a system to your preferences rather than try to find one that fits perfectly. Depending on how much work you're up for, a rules-light system could also work; PDQ (Prose Descriptive Qualities), for instance.

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I'd probably would have used GURPS, simply because of the genre bending nature of TMNT. While it's ostensibly about anthropomorphic martial arts teenagers, it individual stories can also be sci-fi (ranging from cyberpunk to space opera to post-apocalypse), fantasy, alternate universes, super-heroes, film noir, etc. IMHO, this is one of the things GURPS does best.

I would use the GURPS Action line as the basis for the campaign, especially the supplement GURPS Action 3: Furious Fists. It has much of the work already done for you, and have a lot of useful guidelines for an modern action game. Furius Fists includes enough Martial Arts goodness to get you started, but you'll probably end up wanting GURPS Martial Arts for more details. The character templates from Action, includes an allotment of points for use on lenses, which could be used for an mutant racial template instead. If it's ever released, GURPS Furries probably would probably provide these. ;)

While GURPS Basic should have everything else you'd need, you might want to look into GURPS Powers for added details and guidelines for special powers, and GURPS Thaumatology does the same for magic. GURPS Magic contains an expanded list of spells, that might or might not be useful depending on how you model magic. GURPS High-Tech and GURPS Ultra-Tech would also be useful, and are catalogues of equipment for respectively modern and sci-fi games.

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You've ticked quite a few boxes, but how does it handle the (base) setting of TMNT? Can you play in a dark, oriental themed game? Also you fail to mention any sort of stunt system. Does GURPS have one of those? –  Pureferret Jan 6 '12 at 12:30
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@Pureferret GURPS handles most genres pretty well, and is well suited to dark gritty campaigns. Being a generic game, it doesn't force any particular feel to the campaign, and it really depends on which knobs and switches you turn and how you play. There are also several optional rules which can give stunt like effects, such as the "Buying success". Action suggests a few of these. Also, all templates in the Action includes the luck advantage, which gives rerolls. –  Jo-Herman Haugholt Jan 6 '12 at 12:37
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I just want to emphasize that GURPS is a DIY system. It can handle most genres and settings pretty well, depending on which parts you choose to use. GURPS Action is do a lot of this work for you, providing you with a premade campaign framework and guidelines for which rules to use and avoid for capturing a certain feel of game. –  Jo-Herman Haugholt Jan 6 '12 at 12:42
    
This was also going to be my (hesitant) recommendation. GURPS tends to have VERY slow combat which may not work especially well for something that you want to be high action. –  Wesley Obenshain Jan 6 '12 at 16:41
    
@WesleyObenshain GURPS does lend itself to crunchy detailed combat, which can be quite slow. However, if you are strict with which subset of the rules you use, you can significantly speed things up. I've played in games where combat have felt very drawn out, but also ones where the action has been fast and furious. The biggest problem is novice GMs trying or allowing too many of the optional rules. Using the guidelines in Action I mentioned helps a lot. The best approach is start simple, and only introduce extra rules when you know the system well. –  Jo-Herman Haugholt Jan 9 '12 at 9:39

Palladium Games TMNT & Other Strangeness, combined with the After the Bomb series, can be played with the same darkness of the original comics. I ran a pair of long series with this, one 3 years with 4 players playing the turtles themselves, and another of 5 years as an Arthurian campaign with one of the 6 players becoming king at the end.

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I think the original TMNT & Other strangeness is the really good. We played it quite a bit. We never really liked the campyness of it, so we played it pretty straight.

After The Bomb, was originally made as an add on to TMNT, but was later it's own setting.

Also, check this list out for more anthro goodness:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_furry_role-playing_games

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