RPG Jam – What’s So Cool About The Paranormal Unified Field Theory

tl;dr Check out the game here.

I recently finished another itch.io tabletop RPG game jam, the What’s So Cool About Jam? based on hacking the game What’s So Cool About Space? by Jared Sinclair. WSCAS is an incredibly light-weight RPG based on Sword & Backpack, Tunnel Goons, Classic Traveller, and others. The simplicity of its construction make it the perfect RPG to hack, as evidenced by the massive 140 entries to the jam.

It took me a while to pin down the theme I wanted to use for the game, but having been recently binging on a variety of paranormal podcasts such as MonsterTalk, In reSearch Of, And That’s Why We Drink, I landed on a paranormal theme. I based the idea of the game around the modern phenomena of previously distinct paranormal events blurring together, with locations containing ghost, cryptid, and UFO sightings at once. The main gameplay idea is that a team of varied experts in the paranormal would investigate a location without the GM even knowing where the investigation would lead.

I added two main gameplay elements on top of the WSCAS core – the Current Theory and the Conclusion Count. The Current Theory is small bonus to rolls for creating a new, novel theory, an incentive for the players to keep coming up with wild ideas of how the investigation could go. The Conclusion Count is a GM and player aid to see where the investigation is headed. If the UFOlogist count is at 3 and the Cryptozoologist count is at 1, the players know that the overall feel of the investigation is leaning towards a UFO conclusion, but could easily swing wildly at any time. It is then meant to provide some structure to the GM if they need assistance figuring out where the investigation will lead.

This is one of the first printed works I have put together into a publishable end, I kept the layout fairly simple for that reason. I tried to lean hard into the 90’s X-Files vibe with the cover and font choices, being one of my first exposures to the world of paranormal investigations.

Check out the whole game here, as well as all of the other amazing entries to the jam here. The creative focus of these jams as well as the fact that the jams have hard deadlines have been a great motivators to start working on and playing around with so many ideas that I have been kicking around. For anyone who has been toying with the idea of creating RPG materials but has no idea where to start, I highly recommend finding a jam on itch and jumping in head first.

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