Munchkin is a reality-mashing, planet-destroying “let’s see you try and save this Earth, Superman!” cross-genre machine. After 10 years of expansions, Steve Jackson’s opus to killing monsters and taking their stuff has incorporated almost every speculative fiction genre imaginable, all of which beg – nay demand -- that gamers combine them.
Given that this month’s RPG Blog carnival is about cross-genre mashups in role-playing games, I thought it was a good time to visit the best of these Munchkin crossovers.
One of our first mashups, Starspawn Munchkin is a no-brainer thanks to the inclusion of Great Cthulhu himself in the original Star Munchkin (and yes, this means that by combining the two you get to fight Cthulhu twice! And if you're lucky, you can fight his clone too!!) The horror/science fiction combination nicely recreates horror flicks like The Thing, the Aliens series and any other film where man’s thirst for knowledge leads him fight (and likely get eaten by) unspeakable horrors.
When I first heard about Firefly, I was skeptical: a space western just seemed like a stretch, no matter how much Star Trek was imagined as a “Wagon Train to the Stars”. But it worked, and in honor of it week combined The Good, The Bad and the Munchkin with Star Munchkin to create our own ode to Serenity. It’s a fun mash-up that lets you ride horses (thanks to TGTBATM’s mount rules) while simultaneously blasting enemies with your Bananafana Fo Phaser-maser-laser. It gets even better if you get the Star Munchkin Spaceships microexpansion, which introduces ship rules from Munchkin Booty to the science fiction genre.
Delta Green Munchkin
Delta Green, Pagan Publishing’s modern take on the Cthuhlu mythos, is one of my gaming group’s favorite Call of Cthulhu settings. Combining Munchkin: Impossible with Cthulhu Munchkin makes for a comedic “night at the opera” that will have multinational superspies going up against cultists to save (or destroy) the world.
The cultist mechanic from Munchkin Cthulhu is one of my favorite Munchkin additions. In short, every time a new person becomes a cultist, all of the cultists gain a +1 bonus. There’s a downside though – if everyone in the game becomes a cultist, the game ends and the person with the highest power wins. In a Delta Green Munchkin game this effect nicely recreates the sense of impending doom that hangs over the entire covert franchise.
Super Zombie Munchkin
I played Munchkin Zombies at MEPACon, and loved it. Somewhat surprisingly (at least to me), everyone in the game ends up a zombie; exactly what kind of zombie depends on what power cards you draw (fast, burning, etc.). I’d expected a balance of zombie and zombie-hunter options, but perhaps we’ll see that in a future expansion.
In any case, while playing the game I immediately though of the next mashup I want to try: Marvel Zombies, or more generically … Super Zombies! In the Marvel Comics series, Earth’s mightiest heroes and villains fall victim to the zombie plague. Transformed into insatiable undead, the supers proceed to devour humanity, Galactus, and just about every civilization in the galaxy. It’s a darkly humorous book, and a good fit for the Munchkin mythos. Mechanically, it’s a good fit, as both games use the powers mechanic. Adding supers to the game also gives the zombies a worthwhile opponent to fight and/or eat.
We've got plenty of other mashups to try out. Among our lesser played sets are Munchkin Fu, Munchkin Bites and, of course, the original fantasy Munchkin series. What are your favorite mashups?