Monday, November 1, 2010


Crossovers are a time-honored tradition in media, going back to the ancient Greeks (remember the Argonauts?) at least. The intertwining of genre literature characters hit its high mark with the so-called Wold-Newton Universe. What Philip Jose Farmer created to give a give illustrious pedigrees to Tarzan and Doc Savage, others have turned into a grand unified theory of crossovers.

The appeal's obvious to any genre fan. If the Shadow meeting Doc Savage is good, throwing in the Cthulhu Mythos and Shaft might just make it better--particularly if a way to really explain all these characters existence in the same universe could be found.

“Anything (or almost anything) goes” crossovers can have a lot gaming appeal. Superman can join the Avengers in a supers game. Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade might cross paths with investigators in Call of Cthulhu. Or maybe its apes versus machine, as Escape from the Planet of the Apes meets the Terminator.

Crossovers can also be used on a smaller scale to create setting continuity. PCs from one game might show up as NPCs in another, or events from a previous game might be referenced. This can even work cross-game and cross-genre. The Hyborian Age of Conan was long part of the prehistorical past of the Marvel Universe, so there’s no reason one’s D&D game could be somehow related to the history of one’s superhero game, or even one’s modern occult game.

All this just scraps the surface. Anybody have any crossover examples from their own games?


Tim Knight said...

In several of our (comparatively) recent D&D(ish) campaigns, the demi-gods/saints of the sole religion were all based on the superhero characters we'd played during our long-running V&V campaign back in the day.

The suggestion was this current world was either a parallel universe or a distant future version of the Earth where the superheroes did their stuff.

Unknown said...

Crossovers have been a staple of our group's games for almost 20 years. Even beyond our cross-dimensional games, characters from other settings often make cameos. This works especially well for drop-in guest players, who get to play a favorite character in a novel setting. Sometimes, it is the actual character making an appearance (like those that are capable of traveling between worlds). In other cases, the character is an alternate version that is appropriate to the setting.

I even assimilated the Lankhamr game that I ran back in high-school/college as a shared dream in a long-running cyberpunk/fantasy game.

Sometime, we use crossover as a gigantic in-joke. In our D&D 2e, our characters established a chain of high-end espresso cafes. Those cafes have subsequently appeared in entirely unrelated settings.

migellito said...

Other than having crossovers with many literature settings, players on rare occasion found evidence of their characters between my DnD, CoC and Marvel games.

Trey said...

@Flea - That's pretty cool!

@Risus - I think you win. ;)

@Migellito - That sounds similar to what I've done--though the games themselves might vary.

christian said...

I've always wanted to run a cross-genre game. I am green with envy every time I read about a successful foray into that format.

jbeltman said...

You should check this out. This guy did a map of a whole bunch of television shows and how they relate to each other via crossovers.