• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[Buffy/Angel] CineUni in 2017 - houserule or different system?


Another Kill Team...
Staff member
RPGnet Member
I'm rewatching Buffy/Angel, and you know what that means - uncontrollable urge to roleplay the damn thing :)

I have a lingering fondness for CineUnisystem, since Drama Points were a noble attempt to address an important problem, and the character creation is pretty satisfying. I think a lot of people really enjoy embodying their character concept with the "right" bits from the setting-specialised lego box, and it certainly saves a bunch of work over trying to achieve the same effect by writing up stuff for another system.

However with the heady late 90s/early 2000s nostalgia comes something you could arguably (if uncharitably) characterise as common to the time - significant balance problems. While like many games CineUni has worked just splendidly for many groups, others stumbled across issues, and I'm in the "can't unsee" camp with balance problems. Dex being too good, multiactions being busted, an enterprising White Hat player with her eye on the DP economy being far more powerful than a Hero etc. (some of this I dimly remember from far back in the day, others from chatting with someone who got through a *12 year* Buffy campaign).

Furthermore I'm not sure the show's dynamic of "pummel for a while, then stake" is sufficiently supported by stake mechanics when decapitations or what have you are options, it probably needs some love there.


- I want to run a PbP game because all my synchronous life slots are full
- I want fighting vampires to be engaging and idiomatic to the show within the constraints of being light enough for PbP
- I care about balance problems and mechanical flaws in general, and prefer not to have to mitigate them on the fly
- I'd like the players to get something closely approximating the ease and fun of putting together a Slayerverse character with CineUni

Are my best options:

- Houserule CineUni?
- Pick up {{your favourite game}} and adapt it?
- Wait for the madness to pass because the effort/reward ratio isn't good enough?

Coyote's Own

Former ACME QA Tester.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I know this will sound trite but: How about Fate?

I mean DFRPG give the tools to do Buffy/Angel out of the box, including refresh to handle to the Slayer/Scoobies and Champion/White Hats power balance.


Unisystem Zombie
Validated User

Dan Davenport

Hardboiled GMshoe
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Personally, I'd still go with CineUni these days, but keep an eye on Wicked Pacts. Lisa and I played it yesterday at GenCon, and it scratches a lot of the same itches.


Validated User
Also kinda trite, but... PbtA, specifically Monster of the Week?

It's a game that was specifically created to emulate the genre of "occult action/fantasy TV show" and it captures the essence of the Buffy rpg while avoiding the issues.


Validated User
If I were going to run a Buffy-verse game using what I've got now, my thoughts go something like this:

1. Atomic Robo -- It does a really good job of covering the sort of urban fantasy/ low end supers power level that you get in some portions of the setting. Brainstorming especially is super appropriate, because research and talking over how to come at a monster is so central to the show. Magic can work by means of special skills and the invention system (which is used with few alterations in Dresden Files Accelerated to do ritual magic anyhow). There's also a strong temptation to err toward things like combining odd skills modes (robot, soldier, and demon come to mind).

2. Dresden Files Accelerated -- I'd need to do up a bunch of new mantles, which might be a little bit of a chore, but the trade off is that it'd be lighter in play than Atomic Robo. It's also got more explicit support for magic and such. But the approach that it takes to most things should overall make things simpler and faster.

3. Monster of the Week -- This would cover the bases right out of the game, with zero alteration. You just choose playbooks appropriate to a Buffy-verse game (Chosen, Expert, Initiated, Monstrous, Mundane... actually almost any of them works just fine, now that I think about it for a second). Because this game actually lists Buffy (and the X Files) as major sources of inspiration. It's pretty much spot on perfect.

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
I'd probably go with Buffy and some houserules, but admittedly that comes from running it for six years.

I've considered de-Uberstatting Dexterity before, maybe moving Block/Parry to Strength and making Dodge no good against... grapples or something. Maybe using Dodge costs you an attack action as well as the defence.

I also move throwing attacks fully to Sports, to make that actually worth having on the character sheet.

Maybe weaken or otherwise restrict Decapitation, because it really is the end-a-fight-in-one-action move.

I'd also seriously look at how Sorcery stacks with Intelligence and Occultism so players are adding three things they probably have high before rolling.

Other than that, I'd be reasonably happy running it from the books.

Kevin Mowery

Validated User
The Vortex system, used in Doctor Who, Primeval, and Rocket Age, is really close to Cinematic Unisystem. I'd adopt Vortex's success system* and damage system** over Cinematic Unisystem's. Other than that, I'd probably just keep it as is.

* Vortex uses 2d6 instead of 1d10 and the success levels are, from worst to best, "No and," "No but," "Yes but," and "Yes and."

** Vortex has lower damage values for most weapons, but damage subtracts directly from stats rather than a pool of hit points.


Another Kill Team...
Staff member
RPGnet Member
I did enjoy Spirit of the Century/Fate Accelerated so DF Accelerated could be good, and I'd like to fill in the PbtA hole in my gaming resume, but how are they in combat? I realise focusing on PbP has implications on the tactical level, but I'd still like the vamp-dusting to be good fun.
Last edited:


Registered User
Validated User
PbtA games are hard to beat when it comes to combat IMO. It's all a part of the conversation, so no initiative or turns or anything that can slow the action down. Players just describe what they do, roll the dice when moves trigger and the GM responds with what happens and moves the spotlight around. It's very free flowing and cinematic in a way I've not seen in any other game. Monster of the Week is very similar to AW itself in that the Kick their ass move handles a fairly large amount of action compared to many other games, so it should be pretty good for PbP.
Top Bottom