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Power Rangers, G.I. Joe, and Transformers role-playing games are on the way

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All three will use the new Essence20 system, and will not share Dungeons & Dragons’ 5th edition ruleset

Art used for a game masters screen in G.I. Joe Roleplaying Game features iconic characters with a cartoonish art style. Image: Renegade Game Studios

Three new licensed role-playing games based on the Power Rangers, G.I. Joe, and Transformers universes are on the way. Publisher Renegade Game Studios first announced these projects in September 2020. Now it says they won’t be using the same mechanics that power Dungeons & Dragons. Instead, the company has come up with its own d20-based system called Essence20. Development is being led by designer Elisa Teague.

All three brands are being used under license from Hasbro, which also owns D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast, Renegade said in a news release. Alongside D&D, Wizards also offers an open-source version of its ruleset, known as the 5th Edition Open Gaming License. Many other companies produce content based on the OGL, and often market that content as being compatible with D&D.

The OGL most recently made headlines as the foundation for Auroboros: Coils of the Serpent, a new tabletop RPG setting from Warcraft and StarCraft co-creator Chris Metzen that earned more than $1.2 million on Kickstarter in May.

Cover art for Power Rangers Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook. Image: Renegade Game Studios
Cover art for Transformers Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook Image: Renegade Game Studios
Cover art for G.I. Joe Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook Image: Renegade Game Studios

“While we originally announced that these RPGs would be using the 5th Edition Open Game License,” Renegade said, “during development, it became clear that a custom system would allow fans to take better advantage of these unique worlds.”

Essence20, Renegade says, will also use a 20-sided die. However, the core mechanic adds a second die to those rolls, ranging from d2 to d20, based on a character’s skill ranking. Players add the result of the two dice together, trying to exceed the difficulty rating of any challenge they encounter.

“Characters with a specialization in the skill being tested get to roll their skill die and all dice below it,” Renegade says, “and pick the highest result to add to their d20 roll, increasing their odds of success! What’s more, a max value roll on ANY die is a critical success, leading to more chances for crits and more opportunities for great roleplaying incorporating them.”

While Renegade gave no release window, the company launched pre-orders for three new books. The G.I. Joe Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, Power Rangers Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, and Transformers Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook are $55 each.