Yes, yes, I know… There is already a tabletop roleplaying game in development, based upon the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game, “The Secret World”. But – and this is a big but – there are a lot of issues people have with that TTRPG (mostly that it is based upon the 5E D&D ruleset), and I felt that it might be at least a nice mental exercise ro look into other, currently-existing horror TTRPGs that could be adapted to emulate “The Secret World”.
So, where to begin?
The problem here isn’t in finding some obscure game that would be the perfect choice to use as a TSW TTRPG, because most horror TTRPGs can already do that. Sure, some will do it better than others (for example, I wouldn’t suggest “Call of Cthulhu”, despite how popular it is), but the vast majority of games can be adapted to the setting fairly well. It just takes some imagination, and a bit of work on your part.
Now then, I’m not going to go over a vast array of different games, because that would simply be an exercise in futility. I would suggest keeping it to games that already have mechanics for magical powers the player characters can use built in. That would make your work much easier, but we can go even further still. The official TSW TTRPG has a feature that allows PCs to change their power sets on a short or long rest, effectively allowing them to “respec” almost on the fly. What current TTRPG can do that?
Well, any game, if you really get down to it. But that said, some might work better than others, so I would trim our list down to rules-light TTRPGs, keeping the mechanics as simple as possible. I would also go with narrative-driven games, because that would make running the game as simple as possible for the GameMaster.
Now then, where does that leave us? The list has to be pretty short at this point, right? Well… How about:
- Monster of the Week – While this “Powered by the Apocalypse” game isn’t really built for TSW-style play, it could work if everyone was using the Spellslinger playbook. The GM would probably need to define some spell styles that emulate the Power Wheel from TSW, just to keep things easy, and set a home rule that allows players to swap out spell styles (respec) during downtime scenes, when appropriate. Anyway, it would take a bit of work, but could work quite nicely, when finished.
- Dead of Night – Now, I know this game isn’t really suited to this sort of play, in the long run. This is a game built around playing as disposable victims in a horror movie setting, and as such really won’t normally be a suitable choice for hacking as we have described. But here’s the thing: Since “Dead of Night” is built to emulate all manner of horror movies, it can be hacked to emulate “The Secret World”, with a bit of work. It wouldn’t be my first choice for this, but since the game is so malleable, it absolutely can be crafted down to what you’d need here.
- Kult: Divinity Lost – Okay, here’s another “Powered by the Apocalypse” game I’m suggesting for this idea, but it is in my opinion infinitely better suited to the project than “Monster of the Week”. “Kult” is more of a “Hellraiser”-style of game, when you’re looking at it on face value, but it also is designed around secret societies and conspiracies, which fits very well with TSW. Yes, it will require a bit of hacking, and that sucks for the GM, but in the end it will definitely feel much more like TSW in the end.
Anyway, if you can’t wait until the official TTRPG based on “The Secret World” comes out, or you simply aren’t willing to do so, you might try hacking one of the games above to fit your needs. Just a thought.