There will always be a place in my heart for media reference books. You know, the encyclopedia for that popular movie franchise. The episode guide for the favorite TV show. Character compendiums like the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Guides to long-running series of novels. I love that stuff, because nearly everything you could possibly need to run a roleplaying game based on that setting, short of a solid set of mechanics, is contained within those pages.
One of my design goals when putting together the Lighthouse System was to do just that. When there is no official roleplaying game for a particular property, grab it and get started. If you’re not keen on the licensed game that does exist, or it’s gone out of print and is too expensive to acquire, we’ve got you covered. Yes, you can do that with nearly any universal system. With an emphasis on storytelling, though, Lighthouse System makes adaptation easy.
The key to this is the way character creation works. Which is to say, character creation in Lighthouse is largely a freeform exercise. There are traits, which describe the sort of things a character can do. A setting might have wonders, things like magic, superpowers, or cyberware. There are guidelines, which can be tweaked to suit the setting and the type of stories you want to tell. Some rigor and boundaries exist. Basically, it’s “write it down, your character can do that.”, and you’re done.
Which means you can open up one of those reference books and say “that’s my protagonist, right there!” and character creation is done. The guide can pull antagonists and supporting characters from the same place. You can even use online fan guides, or Wikipedia entries, for instance.
Characters Without Numbers
There is no single, official character sheet, and the format of the write up can vary from setting to setting if you want. Use something that looks like the character’s FBI personnel file, if that suits. Each player can write a short story about the character’s background, if you want. Create something akin to the DC Who’s Who entry for superhero characters. Have a list of required traits that fits on an index card. Change it up based on your needs, because the mechanics work the same.
There are no abilities scores. No numerical modifiers written on the character record. Everything in Lighthouse System is treated as a situational modifier. If it says right there that a character is supposed to be an expert at something, the guide will assign a modifier to your roll. When it’s canon that they’re not good at something there might be a penalty. Play the character, in character, and leave the number crunching to the guide.