Sunday 17 May 2009

Suggestions for Dollhouse RPG system

Now I've pretty much finished university, having handed in my dissertation, I can concentrate more time on the blog.

Us Dollhouse fans are celebrating Fox's decision to renew the show for a second season or transhuman angst, albeit on a lower budget. For those who haven't seen the show I'll explain it. There is an ominous organization called 'the Dollhouse' that takes in volunteers (at least we think they are at the moment) and wipes their brains of all memory and data apart from basic functions, essentially putting them in some creepy complacent kid-like state. The cool part is that these 'dolls' can be programmed with different personalities in order to be hired out by wealthy people to do, well, whatever the hell they want. The main character, played by Eliza Dushku, is called Echo and to date we've seen her become a negotiator, assassin, midwife, dominatrix, security guard, spy hunter and more. However, without giving any spoilers away, Echo has started remembering things and is becoming slightly self-aware, which shouldn't happen.

It's an excellent show and would make a brilliant RPG as it has almost unlimited possibilities. But I was wondering what system would fit best for the premise? I'm pretty sure T&T wouldn't work as well as other mechanics, but I really want to use it so I can call it Trollhouse.

Any suggestions?


  1. That's a tough one because of the way the characters' skill sets and abilities change. My first impulse would be to use Primetime Adventures and aim to emulate the show's theme and feel as a whole rather than individual characters' abilities. That would, in my mind, give the most satisfying play experience.

    Another possibility would be to try using something like FATE/SotC. Aspects could drive a lot of the feel and if you really want the "reprogrammed" feel to it you could allow the shifting of skills up and down the pyramid according to the "mission" although I would probably limit the amount of shifting allowed if you're playing more than a 1-on-1 game to guarantee niche protection. Overall though I think you could leave the skills in place and just use aspects and maybe some sort of Stunt swap to do the rest.

  2. I actually wrote a rules-lite system for Dollhouse called "What You Don't Know." It's modeled a little bit after Risus, although I've adapted it to a pretty big extent.

    At this point, it's really only good for one-shots, but with another supplement I'm planning on releasing in a few weeks (called "Tabula Rasa"), I'm planning on incorporating more of the mythology of the show.

    Could you check it out? I would love your feedback!


  3. @Aaron That's just what I'm looking for. Oddly enough I was listening to 'What you don't know' just as I was checking your comment. I'll check these out. Thanks.

  4. If you're really insistent on a Troll title, you could use Ron Edwards' Trollbabe ( which is pretty rules light and narrativist. It would fit better than T&T.

    However other than that - depends how much work you want to put into it. I could envision a full "GURPS Dollhouse" where you easily can overlay all the template skills - this would be if you wanted to obsessively design the "overlays" etc. You could certainly do it with FATE. My personal favorite for a cinematic system is Feng Shui, and it would provide a little more granularity than some of the pure-indie choices while still being easy to manage.

  5. Easy. Tri-stat dX. Alternate Form: Full-Powered Form with either Dynamic Powers or Power Flux, and put at least some of those changeable points into Highly Skilled and Enhanced Stat. Could stat up a doll in about 20 min. I don't know if the system is the best for getting the feel of the show, but for mechanics, it's a great fit.

  6. SAvage Wourd would be a good system. It is symple enought to use, and the skills could be modified to fit each personality the charecters play per adventure, as some of the edges (feets).


  7. I was thinking of running a Dollhouse-like adventure with Eclipse Phase. Dollhouse is one of the bigger influences on that particular game (psychosurgery, high-class body banks that may as well be the Dollhouse) so the game mechanics are already there (including skills in flux, though the math is probably going to be rough).

  8. Eclipse Phase's mechanics for sleeving could compliment a Dollhouse game.