The HackMaster GameMaster's Guide, Rolemaster Arms Law, and two Castles & Crusades books--what do all these have in common? I'll be using all of them in some capacity in my next campaign.
When I next sit down to a full RPG campaign, my system of choice will be Castles & Crusades. But that doesn't mean I can't and won't enjoy the tables and magic items of HackMaster, or the critical hit tables of Rolemaster (actually, Arms Law was designed to be usable with various RPG systems). What follows is Gestalt Gaming: taking aspects of various games, and merging them into a single RPG experience.
While some folks already do this, it seems to me this used to be more common; I remember Basic D&D being used with the cool stuff out of the AD&D DM's Guide with regular frequency in those first forays into gaming. We ran Palladium Fantasy in Greyhawk, and incorporated Traveller elements into d6. Perhaps its more of the whole "kitbashing", freewheeling style of play--I have no doubt it was messy, but I also remember it being a whole lot of fun.
Somewhere, along the way, I think folks (including myself) got less comfortable doing this. Dom't ask me to mark where or when the break occured, but it seems a lot less prevalent nowadays, almost as if there's a reluctance in some quarters to engage in anything so "messy".
In any case, here's a few example of Gestalt Gaming I've seen or participated in:
System + Setting:
-Savage Worlds + Rifts
-True 20 + Forgotten Realms 3e
System + System:
-Basic D&D + Advanced D&D
(perhaps one of the most common cocktails)
-HARP + Rolemaster
System + System + Setting:
-Basic D&D + Arduin + Arduin
(Not a typo)
-Palladium Fantasy + the Arduin Grimoire + Mystara
(Not as horrible as you'd think)
Some of these sound like monstrosities, and likely some are. But the fact remains that some folks seem to craft unnecessary barriers to enjoy the best parts of multiple systems. I'm not suggesting everything works well together, but that there's more of a chance that it will than some people think.
In the end, gestalt gaming can almost be like throwing combinations together in your kitchen--you might get some weird tastes, but you might also find a great dish most people wouldn't have thought of.
So, what are your thoughts/experiences on gestalt gaming aka a "RPG cocktail"?