RPG a Day 2023 – Obscure Game You’ve Played

The most obscure game I’ve played is Gamma World 7th Edition (2010). It was designed by Richard Baker and Bruce R. Cordell based on the D&D 4th Edition rules and saw a core box set plus two boxed-set-based expansions.

That level of support by a major publisher might lead you to believe the game isn’t that obscure, but I only played the game once … and it was a game I ran! The 4e rules, plus card-based random mutant powers, made the game its own special kind of gonzo. The core boxed set came with a bunch of cards, but you could buy more as boosters (though good luck finding them).

D&D 4e could never be said to be an obscure game, but it has been eclipsed by the popularity of 5th Edition. As such, Gamma World 7th Edition is the sort of game you’d need to go out of your way to play, and I suspect people would rather play one of the early old-school editions than this gonzo 4e mutation.

Gamma World is the most obscure game I’ve played, a bunch of other obscure, unplayed RPGs are on my bookshelf. They include:

  • Diaspora: A hard science fiction setting and game powered by the FATE rules. Its most interesting mechanic is its planetary network generation rules, which create a number of linked star systems and planets. Winner of the 2010 Gold ENnie Award for Best Rules (if you win an ENnie, can you be considered obscure? If you’re talking about it 13 years later … I think so).
  • Those Dark Places: An “industrial science fiction” role-playing game that shares DNA (at least from a cinematic standpoint) with the ALIEN and the Mothership RPGs. I bought it out of curiosity and as inspiration for those other games, but to be honest, I haven’t made much progress in reading it, let alone playing it.
  • Hellboy Sourcebook and Roleplaying Game: I picked this up as part of a bundle at GenCon (though honestly, I don’t recall which GenCon). Published by Steve Jackson Games, it presents a GURPS-powered Hellboy universe. Published in 2002, its understanding of said universe is limited to that era, but the game’s still a fun exploration of Hellboy’s tropes. If you want to punch Nazis with a big red fist, this may be the obscure game for you.

This post is part of the RPG a Day 2023 event. Catch up on Nuketown’s posts via the project page and learn more about the event at its community page on Facebook.

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Cover art for the Gamma World 7th Edition rulebook. Credit: Wizards of the Coast

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