1) STEAL! All the best authors and artists have done it — they either call it an homage (think the Great Machine or the even the Shadows v. Vorlons metaplot of Babylon 5 [Forbidden Planet and Lensman respectively]) or a re-envisioning (everything friggin’ thing Shakespeare or John Scalzi wrote)…

You want a terrifying monster on your spacecraft light years from help? Alien…doesn’t have to be that particular alien, but you get the notion. Maybe you want that particular beastie in one of your campaigns…they’d drop into a Mythos campaign rather nicely, I think. Want a slightly run-down but noble contract pilot with a one eyed dog for your pulp campaign? Nothing says he has to be called Jake Cutter (but he is in my pulp China campaign…) You want to do a 1980s cop show with hot cars and clothes? You know where to steal from…just do it.

Steal ship designs from games you like. If I ever get around to my homebrew sci-fi setting, I’m using the ships from Jovian Chronicles. Steal guns — the pulse rifle from Aliens or the BFG Deckard has in Blade Runner jump to mind for your sci-fi or cyberpunk campaign; I stole the Tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell for my Serenity campaign (minus the cheery voices, but after thinking about the Fruity Oaty Bars commercials…) Steal characters and modify them; rename them if you like. I’ve used a variant of Sam Elliot’s character from the not-great but fun Shakedown in Bond games for 20 years; more recently I used his character from Avenger wholesale. (’cause Sam Elliot can rescue almost any scene, if not a movie…)

The real gold mine for stuff to steal — especially if you have a square like me in your group that doesn’t do computer or console gaming: video games! Dead Space, Mass Effect, L.A. Noire (man, this one’s almost enough to get me to buy an XBox360…), etc. These are great for set pieces, alien races, characters, ship, etc.

2) REUSE…or steal from yourself or other campaigns you’ve been in. I reuse plot lines all the time — some without modification, some with heavy alteration. I and other reuse characters. My ex-wife played a variant of her first character from an old Bond campaign in subsequent campaigns, in a Stargate campaign, in a superheroes campaign. Others have used the same general character tweaked and renamed — Jed Callahan is always the acrophobic, wise-talking inventor/ gunsmith/mechanic who likes guns way to much, and manages to get himself into trouble at every turn (and the rest of the players with him.) He started out as a Car Wars character, became a superhero character whose only power was he couldn’t die and healed very quickly…otherwise, normal. He was in an espionage campaign or two. He showed up in a sci-fi game.

3) [Insert name of series here] RE IMAGINED! They did it with Batman, James Bond, Battlestar Galactica  and you can do it, too. Have an old campaign that died on the vine with one group? Revitalize it with the new group. Or have a look at how you want to change the tone — the new espionage campaign I’m running, The Professionals, is similar to the last Bond campaign — a super-elite group that fights bad guys around the world. Last time, the characters were CIA, and were the honest and true guardians of America fighting bad political decisions and getting slapped around for it. They couldn’t operate legally in the US, but sometimes had to. It was more Sandbaggers than James Bond.

This time, the group is a test program — an interdepartmental task force that has sworn Secret Service agents and CIA special action team members on it, and is co-operated by the National Clandestine Service and Department of Homeland Security. Are they legal? Well, Eric Holder says so, but it remains to be seen…they have a short time to prove their worth to the law enforcement and intelligence communities, and to make the various directors look good. It’s one part The Shield, one part 24, and one part The Unit…they’re not always right, they’re rarely pretty, and the piss a lot of people off. But they get the job done (so far…)

I’m thinking about firing up a version of the Gorilla Ace! campaign that had so much potential before that gaming group blew up. Maybe it’ll fly, maybe it won’t — bu the idea was too good to let die & I need a filler pulp game for the time being, as my wife is out of rotation for the next few months due to baby and work scheduling.