Before I start with the whole Dragon’s Dogma thing, I would like to discuss the process of adapting a video game itself. It will help explain my decisions.
The excellent GURPS Adaptations contains a wealth of detail on how to adapt traditional fiction into an GURPS campaign, and while a lot of that is equally applicable to adapting from a video game I feel there are some important additional considerations. These concern gameplay.
“Gameplay” is a term that encompasses everything you do in the game as a player, as well as the workings of these actions. Different genres of games give you different levels of insight into these workings, from the intuitive feel you get for your jumping distance in a platformer to all the numbers an electronic RPG shows you.
Fiction has no gameplay. Even the longest fantasy novel with the most lovingly described magic system will never make its readers do anything other than read the text to see what happens next. Video games are the exact opposite of this. Even the most immersive and story-intensive of games will always demand that you pay as much attention to its gameplay as you do to its story and setting.
If you think this sounds kinda similar to adapting from one tabletop RPG to another, you’re getting it!
Essentially, adapting a video game into a tabletop RPG campaign presents us with all the difficulties of adapting fiction and with all the difficulties of converting material from a different game system!
The more transparent those mechanics are, paradoxically, the harder they make the adaptation effort. When adapting mechanics, whether from a video game or from other tabletop RPG, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of trying to convert them as closely as possible. While that can be an interesting intellectual exercise, it rarely generates a simple and practical result.
My preferred approach is to rely on the strengths of the “destination” system as much as possible, adapting the fiction and trying to recreate the same feel of the original mechanics without getting hung up on its details. Whenever the two conflict in the original, the fiction takes precedence. For games that are part of a franchise, I pick from the bits of setting information and mechanics that give me the most coherent picture (or at least the picture I like the most).
In the end, I hope to have a campaign framework that is enjoyable to play and fits GURPS idioms. And I hope you agree with me about the result :).