A little list of Those Games We Play in French-speaking countries.
And yes, I know, the French translation is stupid.
Well, not really...
The whole thing started somewhen in 1994, when people asked for something about French-language RPGs. Having seen -- and admired -- Surge's work on the Complete List of Role-Playing Game, I decided to make My Own Private RPG List. It started as a posting on rec.games.frp.misc, which I later revamped for WWW.
There will be more updates later. I hope. Anyway, if you have questions or comments on this list, please do not hesitate to email me.
Note: all the comments are my responsibility, and mine only! They are very subjective, sometimes subversive, and only reflect the current state of my twisted mind (oh, and those who collaborate, too). Lose 1d6+999 SAN on reading, no save.
Other note: the name of some games could sound quite differently than what you might think. That's French for you.
Third note: All these games are copyrighted by their owners. So there.
So me people might wonder, "this is supposed to be about French, not Swiss games.." Well, first, one-third of Switzerland actually speaks French. And there are gamers there too. So why should I dissociate both countries? I'd gladly add any Belgian or Quebecois games if I'd know of them..
Run-of-the mill Fantasy RPG, long out of print. The first French RPG.. Followed by a half supplement, half new game, called Les Chroniques de Lynaïs .
Another long out-of-print fantasy game, by a long-dead game company. Based on the Légendes system, written by one of the creators of Légendes by the way. And as tough to play with..
A fantasy background with a touch of sci-fi. One has the possibility, not only to a play a character, but a whole dynasty, hence the title. A quite complete universe, yet more than a few bugs in the original rulebook (i.e. "9 + 6 = 12"..). Might still be available, even if the original editor (Dragon Radieux) went under in 1991. The game should be soon rising back from the dead, thanks to Tamise Productions, the author's new publishing company.
First published by an independent company, this game was retaken by a larger one, and then switched to Multisim, which has published a newer version in 1994. Despite all those problems, it is one of France best-sellers, only topped by INS/MV and the French version of Call of Chtuhlu. The universe is a weird tune between oniric and fantasy. Not for heavy hitters anyway.
Rêve de Dragon for beginners.
Fantasy, non-violent (honest!). The idea was to have a true "fantasy" world, where there would be no metal, e.g. no swords, and no sorcery. A place where humans and animals would live in a harmony of sorts, sometimes bonded in a symbiotic relation. Unfortunately the Laws of the Market, combined with the hack'n'slash'n'think-later attitude of the French public led to its demise (maybe not, but that's another story). Might still be available if you nicely ask Croc, the author, c/o Siroz.
Heroic-fantasy, with weapons, weapons and more weapons! In fact, the characters are weapons!..Not exactly true, in fact it is a couple Humans / Weapon-God. Even if Croc (the author) assures me that it is not a Munchkin game (after all, you change very often of the human part), I'm still not convinced.
Heroic fantasy world, adapted from a serie of French comic books. Don't know much more about it.
Croc's latest game. Thieves in a fantasy urban setting. A la "Thieves World" or the early days of Conan. Lots of character classes and races, a NPC-only powerful magic system, and litteraly tons of background (guilds, social rules, city plans, etc.). Sort of a medieval Shadowrun.
Subtitled "the game of adaptation", Mimetis let you play yourself,
a contemporary person, who ends up after a party in the middle of a large
plain in an unknown world, with only one big hangover and a pocket knife.
The emphasis is on sur vival and, you guessed it, adaptation. The universe
is rich and complete, but the gaming system is not exceptional, I've been
told. Still available from the author, address in the last section.
Thanks to Vincent Mottier (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the info.
The name reeks of Moorcockish heroic fantasy, and from the few I read about it, it is quite close.
Very standard heroic fantasy..
Heroic Fantasy. Lousy title.. Very short also. Was used as a tool to make kiddies roleplay.
A general system for all kinds of fantasy universes. The company seems to have gone under a short while ago.
The world has been badly damaged by these violent, racist, facist humans and humanoids try to survive in it. You get to play the humanoids..
Based on P.J.Farmer's World of Tiers serie of novels. System is quite inspired by Shadowrun , with nice sub-systems to help players go in the Heroic Action mood of the novels. Also a pretty good sourcebook on Farmer novels. Intended for beginners.
Yet to be read. Waits on a shelf for the past months...
The Exploration RPG. Somewhere a few hundred miles by sea from the Old Continent, a New Continent has emerged and is awaiting exploration. Released along a collectible cards game of the same name, based on the same background (just like Feng-Shui and Shadowfist ).
Very beautiful, limited-edition game: nice paper, nicely printed -- if not always easy to read --, a wooden GM screen and a bronze ten-sided die. Unfortunately the game itself isn't really out of ordinary.
Post-apocalyptic, Mad Max-like game. The first game of Croc, one of France's famous game creators. Underwent several version changes; latest one is Bitume Anniversary Edition , published by Siroz .
They are here! Aliens, that is. They have already invaded us, the Armaggeddon is for tomorrow morning, 2 pm GMT. Contemporary, horror, science-fiction and post apocalyptic rolled into one. Not for the weak stomachs.
Based on a book series, set into a far future. An uchrony, where WWII ended in thermonuclear war and people live in the shadow of a Nazi Germany turned into a low-tech Imperium. Not very funny, not very successful, and completely out of print.
Seaquest DSV meets Mad Max. After some nuclear war or another, what is left of humanity survives under the oceans. Labeled by a friend as an "airlock / sea monster / technological artefact" game.
A sci-fi RPG set in a far flung future. Lots of nonhuman races, heavy tech. Not very much combat-oriented if I remember well. The first -- and to my knowledge only -- try at publishing a role-playing through a mainstream media. In France anyway.
Based on a long series of eponymous sci-fi books, this universe is a mix between science fiction and post-holocaust. The Earth is covered by ice, and the only things that remains are trains. Huge ones. Despite a nice idea, the game went down the drain because of its poor presentation, high price and heavily bugged game system
Freedom fighters into a fascist / alien controlled, near-future (2030s) world. Reminiscent of "Total Recall", "The Running Man" and " V" TV series. Out of print.
Hard science-fiction RPG, with only a few outer colonies. Several thousand copies are still in Oriflam's warehouse. Uncommonly ugly artwork and quite a few bugs in the rules.
Koros , Silrin , Berlin XVIII and a few others. Small, cheap sci-fi RPGs published in the earlier times of Siroz, when they were only a small indy game company. Which they are not anymore, for the better or the worse. A single system, and multiple planets with various tech levels in each book.
A long time before Space Hulk, there was Whog Shrog. Super sci-fi warriors in Global Thermonuclear Armor, vaporising everything that moves, and a few other things that don't. The complete opposite of Animonde . System derived from the Universom line. Hopefully out of print.
Cyberpunkish future, without cyber or interface. This leaves a nightmarish city's worst bourough (Sector 18). These are the good news. The bad news are, the characters play the cops. Many releases, the first ones being part of the Universom line.
Non-post-apocalyptic sci-fi, mutating world. A deadly mutagene agent spilled into this future world created several very distinct ecosystems one could access only through mutation. Most probably out of print.
Or " INS/MV II: Catholics in Space". The problem is, it is not funny anymore! 5000 years into the future, after the Armageddon, the Church controls all. Technology has regressed; even the Angels are mere subordinate. The Demon's side is not much better.
A science-fiction with more fiction than science, I've been told. Not that I care much. Characters are working in pairs, telepathically linked, with symbiotic animals.
Space opera, which is told to be pretty forgettable (and was quickly forgotten) by various sources. Published by a now long dead game magazine (Role'Mag) with one of the ugliest layout to be seen -- or, rather, not seen.
"Victorian science-fiction", a la Jules Verne. Set in a world drowned
in a corrosive matter, where only a few islands survive. Low tech, no paper,
and political intrigues. The system is decent, but the heavy dependence on
a detailed background make this game difficult to play without a good preparation.
Thanks to Nicolas Petrikowsky (email@example.com) for assistance.
Space Opera. Characters live in a glaxy controlled by a huge cyber-theocracy, a la TORG .
Science fiction. A bit like the "V" TV series. A cheap version of Les Divisions de l'Ombre , which does not say much of its worth..
Space Opera. Sounds very Douglas Adams-esque..
Unofficial ST:TNG RPG. Sold as a fanzine, each issue adding rules to the game.
Sci-fi space opera in the mood of the 60s-70s novels by Asimov, Dick and other similar authors.
Science-fiction, space opera-like, with a zest of fantasy, in a multicultural world. Okay, I admit it, it is my game. But it is really available, even if you might even have trouble to find it where I live.
The "we are living in interesting times" RPG. Contemporary, hard reality, lots of guns and lethal damage. Published by One Of Those Game Magazines. The kind that die before issue #20. As it happens, it died near #30, but it does not make much of a difference anyway. I've heard of an English translation from Australia, but it may just be a nasty rumour.
The successor to Trauma, a bit more recent. Still big guns, fast life, big money and.. little success. Can also be played in a more "crimefighter" style (playing cops, headhunters and private eyes instead of mercenaries).
Contemporary, hard reality suburb violence. The only game to my knowledge that let one play a rebel teenager against the Big Bad World outside. The presentation was as "destroy" as the subject (it was also Siroz' first game) and the game mechanisms were a bit fuzzy ("yeah, I'm a 14th level Hard-Rocker.."). Out of print.
"Adventurers". Contemporary setting. Based on "Bob Morane", a serie of French "pulp" books published in the 60s-70s, mixing adventures, science-fiction and fantasy settings. The books are not much known out of the French-speaking world, despite an English translation.
"Polar" is French slang for "Crime Novels". Hence one can expect drunk private eyes, taciturnal cops and cheesy blondes.
Subtitled "the smelly-under-the-arms role-playing game", Raoul lets you play the caricatural, average French redneck in everyday situations. This is of course high (or low, if you prefer) irony. Simple game mechanics and a sober presentation, for a cheap and funny little game.
This was also supposed to be a basic system, but for historical fantasy RPGs, i.e. set into a quite exact historic and legendary background. I tried to create a character for it. Once. Very complicated. This system gave birth to several games:
Another historical game, set in the barbaric times before the coming of Charlemagne. That is, Europe ca. 400-700 AD.
"Soldiers of the Christ". An historically correct game about the Crusades, where you get to play Templar Knights. Yes, just that! Okay supplements will let you play other characters, but you'll need the supplements:-)
Don't let the title disturb you, this is a French RPG (tons of them sport English names, silly fashion thing, I suppose), set into the American Wild West. Created by a very small company that went under shortly after, it is out of print now.
An historical game created for the bicentennary of the 1789 French Revolution. Are you Monarchist or "Sans Culottes"? Most probably out of print.
Historical. Seems to be a goofy attempt at the 1789 French revolution, with characters as Live-Action roleplayers attempting to revive the French Revolution three hundred years later.
"Bucanneer". Pirate setting.
Prehistoric setting. Very cheap production value. Published by a gaming club in Paris.
Mystery, occult and horror at the turn of this century (1880-1920). Not the Unspeakable Horror (TM) kind of occult, but more like back country witch doctors and sorcerers. Very documented supplements on magic and creatures of darkness. One of the top five sellers in France, topped only by Rêve de Dragon , In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas and Bloodlust .
Vampires before Vampire . Contemporary setting, fangy characters who are afraid of sunlight: the works. Another out of print game.
Characters are psychiatrists of a very strange kind: they get into people's dream and try to help them solve their problems from the inside. Nice, eh? But there is a catch: mess a bit too much with their psych and you can end up dead, brain-dead, or having your patient in worse shape than before..
Another historical RPG, with a bit of a twist. Players are wanderers in a caravan rolling slowly in France all throughout the Middle Ages and Modern times until the beginning of the 20th century. They also are were-creatures. This is a problem in such troubled times. The accent is put on role playing, i.e. the game mechanisms are at their simplest. Beautiful presentation, not very expensive (according to French standards, anyway). Now out of print.
A second edition / sequel to Hurlements . Characters are Dragons (i.e. top-ranking were-creatures in the Hurlements world), incarnated on Earth to experience life. One can use his or her former Hurlements character, as s/he was a Dragon at the time, but didn't knew it. Yeah, I know, it sounds like one of those "you have to be there" games. Top quality layout.
Contemporary fantastic, by Croc. Characters are Demons or Angels, living in our modern world. Depending on an heavy supernatural bureaucracy, they are sent by their superiors (being either higher ranking Angels / Demons or Archangels / Demon Princes), to spoil the other side's efforts. Or maybe something else. This is NOT a game to take seriously. Situations and characters are pretty caricatural. Soon (in a few months, give or take an eon) to be adapted in English by SJG.
School boys and girls (about college age) stuck in a demon-operated school. Formerly known as "Compte à Rebours".
Despite (or maybe because of) being one of the most catholic states in the Old Continent, France has quite a production of "demonic" games. In this game, the characters are dead people sent back from Heav en for missions on Earth (who said anything about Michael Landon?). Published in an oooooold issue of Jeux et Stratégies.
Contemporary mystical game, a bit like Mage , but with alchemists and
other immortals. Uses the Chaosium rule system, and is now published by the
same Chaosium, in English.
Thanks to Laurent Mynard (Laurent.Mynard@laforia.ibp.fr) for the information.
Contemporary fantasy, by Croc, with Dragons and Faeries, Alchemists and Technomancers, and stuff. To sum up shortly, characters are part of a group composed of one Dragon creature, and several seemingly normal people, who in fact are of Faerie blood, and drawn to the Dragon's magical abilities. Dragons collect magic, Faerie need it to survive, and in contact with it, regain their former selves. Much politics, and interesting roleplaying possibilities.
Intended for children, this game (a 10-pager) was included in a book about mythology, folklore and standard (i.e. ghosts & vampires) monsters, for children. The rules, although quite simple, were apt to their intended role. Hachette is one of the most famous French publishers. Availability unknown.
Fairies, Leprechauns, Korrigans and other Elves, get out of the woods for the great game! A fantasy, zany game, with riddle duels and stupid games for losers. One, two, three, four, five, six, bozzle, eight..
"Dark Nightmare". Horror.
The first Swiss RPG. Onirism, symbols, psycho-analysis. Very beautiful, with many original engravings and eau-fortes, but of course very expensive. I mean very expensive (around $100, not refunded by Social security)!
Adapt your favourite Manga setting to RPG! Need I say more? Quite bad layout and production values. The writers (Koneko) and publishers didn't put their names on it, except by deduction.
From what I heard, a game based on ancient Egypt, with a diceless system, long before all the ruckus about Amber. Some thing to do with an order sheet. As a matter of fact, I wonder if it is really a role-playing game.
The game is inspired from a popular French comic book. PCs are reduced to one tenth of their size and live in a high tech civilisation, hidden from common humans. The creator suggested playing in your own house using Playmobil as Scale 1 figures.
You play a cat. Gutter cat, Interior cat, etc. Exciting heh, when you think that a cat spend nearly 20 hours a day sleeping..
First published as special issues of long-dead game magazine Jeux et Stratégie , and then revamped by still-alive game magazine Casus Belli with a much better layout, this is an effort towards a quite general, multiverse RPG. It is supposed to be simple and easy to learn. I have doubts.
A bit like Mega , Simulacres is supposed to be a generic role-playing system, and a very simple one at that, with lots of supplements / worldbooks. It is also sort of "public domain", i.e. if you write a Simulacres universe, you can copy / photocopy the basic rules and sell it free of copyrights. If I remember well. There are thus a lot of fan-made supplements and gaming universes available, mostly to their creators. Below are four universes published by Jeux Descartes:
Cross-genre, time-travel. If you want to play a werewolf cowboy, a Scottish ghost, an intelligent begonia from the planet Fortytwo or a Gargoyle, all in the same group, this game's for you! Would I lie to you? The most recent release of our small, informal, Geneva-based company.
Another try at a generic universal etc. system. Some say that it is more than a system, a complete philosophy. I smell irony, there..
The world's simplest RPG.
Another good contender for the "Smallest RPG in the world" award. No table and three paragraphs of rules. Sold with a 2-sided die !
And while we're talking about publishers..
Okay, folks: much as I would like, this list is far from complete, and most probably far from accurate. I know the addresses of a few game companies, was able to pick a few others, but these darn things change. Some companies go under, some others drop products on the unexpecting lap of other companies, and most of the editors listed are, either single individual, or quite short-lived associations.
So it goes.
All this to say I try to keep this as accurate as possible, but it is by no means gospel.
1 rue du Colonel Pierre-Avia
Home page: http://www.excelsior.fr/
1, route de Versailles
Fax. (+33 1) 69 41 68 10
E-mail contact: Stéphane Bura (firstname.lastname@example.org) or try the direct Siroz email email@example.com
EPM "Les Cormorans"
7, rue des Messageries
24/26 rue des Prairies
Tel. (+33 1) 43 49 22 28, Fax. (+33 1) 43 49 08 32
Home page (in French): http://www.planete.net/~multisim/Intro.html
132, rue de Marly
25, rue de Caze
c/o Paul & Pascaline Chion
c/o Gilles Candotti
15, quai de-Dion-Bouton
Tel: (+33 1) 46 97 00 10
115, rue de la Gare
94290 Villeneuve Le Roi
Tel: (+33 1) 49 61 59 41
141B, rue Félix-Mayol
Tel. (+33) 94 91 10 34
E-mail contact: Michel Picard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Fire in Harmony!.."
Version 2.2, December 25, 1997 (Xmas is for wimps!)
Technical help from Patrice "The Collector" Mermoud (email@example.com) for those particularly obscure games.
And a few more people, I tried to thank for their local contributions where it is due. My apologies if I've forgotten anyone, you know where to mail.
By the way, if anyone want to recover this list and keep it up-to-date, do not hesitate to contact me, as I unfortunately do not have the time to do it anymore.