Cartoon Action Hour campaigns are fake series that pay homage to Eighties cartoons. The book itself includes shout-outs to many of these shows, especially in the "game seeds" section, which includes ideas for campaigns based on series such as Transformers ("Transbots") and ThunderCats ("Action Cats"). And then there's the full-length game Warriors of the Cosmos, which is basically a love letter to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983).
Warhammer 40,000 has tonnes of these, some subtle, some just plain obvious. The Inquisitor Lord Fyodor Karamazov is a Shout-Out to The Brothers Karamazov, there used to be a Dark Eldar character with black and white hair called "Kruellagh the Vile" (Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians), and the entire Necron race is one big Shout-Out to the Terminator franchise.
Originally intended as one. It took on a life of its own.
The Cain books are jam-packed with Shout Outs, including a lot of Punny Names.
Aliens are generally known as "xenos", but Tyranids have been referred to as "xenomorphs" before. The Imperial Guard have even been known to nickname the 'Nids as "bugs".
On the other tiny, subtle and easy to miss end, in the 3rd edition Craftworld Eldar book, the section on the craftworld Saim-Hann has a footnote consisting of an Edit War about how to properly pronounce it that refers to the oft fumbled pronounciation of Samhain.
And that's not even considering Kurze's backstory is like an even more GRIMDARK version of Batman if he was mixed with the Punisher.
One is found in the Dark Heresy rulebook under "Sanctioning Side-effects". One of the rolls gives you the starting condition of "Pain by nerve induction", complete with a fear of bald women.
Dark Heresy: Ascension has a quote by Vindicare Assassin cognomen-designate LIIVI, which in itself doesn't sound very weird, but if you snoop around fanon, you'll see that LIIVI also appears in the popular Warhammer 40000 fanfic Love Can Bloom, which ironically is about a Vindicare Assassin named LIIVI who falls in love with Farseer Taldeer from Dawn of War: Dark Crusade.
The latest Imperial Guard codex states that some members of the older members of the Cult of Mars are more machine than man.
And then, in the Blood Angels codex, there is a story about a Librarian defending a world from a Tyranid fleet. It specifically states that his "force can't repel a Tyranid onslaught of that magnitude."
Commander Farsight was a prominent leader of an Empire's military forces. He eventually led some of his brethren in a rebellion against the powerful ruling caste, whose whims most Tau serve their entire lives. He is also known as O'Shovah.
The fifth edition Necron codex makes mention of a planet called Eden Prime.
The GURPSSuper Hero sourcebook International Super Teams has a number of shout outs buried in its text and timeline, including references to The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the Wild Cards novels, John Irving's The World According To Garp and the 1985 film The Legend of Billie Jean. Another suggests that reality altering "timequakes" might be especially common in worlds with superhumans.
GURPSSteam-Tech includes a bit of fluff text about a group of monster hunters: Frederick, 46th Lord Runcorne, and his Fabulous Friends Daffers, Socks, Lunchpail and "faithful four-footed Skara Brae". They're clearly intended as a Victorian Mystery Inc.
GURPS Illuminati was written by Nigel D. Findley, a big fan of Robert A. Heinlein who put many Heinlein Shout Outs in his Shadowrun works. In the section on Connections he mentions a connection between the length of women's skirts and the sunspot cycle and mentions women's hemlines again later, all of which he borrowed from Heinlein's novel Friday.
The supplement Tir Tairngire has "Frag you and the horse you rode in on" and the Lone Star supplement has "Frag you and the hog you rode in on". Both are a reference to John Bigboote's line "Damn John Whorfin and the horse he rode in on!".
Supplements Sprawl Sites and Contacts. One of the Club Owner's quotes is "Look, I don't care what you done someplace else. When you play my club, you're just another act and I expect to get what I paid for." In the film the nightclub owner tells the Hong Kong Cavaliers "When you play my joint, you're just another act. I want some music outta you characters."
Bored of the Rings. Virtual Realities 2.0 mentions a decker who has IC "lusting for her chitlins" (trying to kill her). In the novel, when Legolam and Gimlet draw weapons and are about to attack each other it says that they're "lusting for each other's chitlins".
2nd Edition main rules. The Tribal Chief in the Contacts section has as one of his quotes: "I have a fine horse, so who needs a car? A horse is a renewable resource. Have you had any success breeding your car lately?" Tunnel in the Sky has the following line: "...which made horses more practical than helicopters. Machinery gets out of order and requires a complex technology to keep it going but good old "hayburners" keep right on breeding..."
Denver: The City of Shadows boxed set. Aztechnology places "scuttling charges" in visiting medical vehicles, a reference to the "remote control destruction packs" put in police vehicles in Friday. Also, people use "cubic" as a term for volume, a term taken from The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
Lone Star. The Watchers are said to "fight like an angry buzz saw". Heinlein's Glory Road says that candidates to become Emperor/Empress of the 20 Universes were trained in personal combat so they could fight like an angry buzz saw. The phrase also appears in the Aztlan supplement.
Man & Machine: Cyberware mentioned hollowing out a compartment behind the navel as a storage container, which the title character in Friday had.
Native American Nations Volume 1 has two. The quote "Vox Populi Vox Dei usually translates as 'My God, how did we get into this mess?'" is from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long section of Time Enough for Love. A Salt Lake City police officer is quoted as saying "Can I do you a service, citizen?" Almost the exact same quote appears in the short stories "Methuselah's Children" and "Coventry".
Native American Nations Volume 2 has the quote "Inuit hatred makes the blackest, vilest form of hatred you'll encounter in Seattle seem like mild displeasure in comparison." Stranger in a Strange Land has "Martian hate is an emotion so black that the nearest human equivalent could only be called a mild distaste."
The Neo-Anarchists' Guide to North America. There's a restaurant in the Dallas/Fort Worth megaplex called Tanstaafl. This is taken from the acronym TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
The Neo-Anarchists' Guide to Real Life. The semiballistic and Wolverine Security are taken from the novel Friday.
Nigel Findley's supplements often used words and phrases that Heinlein used in his work, such as "yammer", "no huhu" and "cobber" (from The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress), "slitch" (from Friday) and "biological back pressure" (AKA desire to have sex, from Glory Road).
Paranormal Animals of North America. The blood kite is taken directly from Heinlein's Glory Road, including its habit of deliberately attacking arrows in flight and being killed by them. Likewise, the firedrake uses a tactic borrowed from the "dragons" in the same novel: using its fiery breath to fry burrowing mammals inside their burrows and then digging up and eating their burned bodies.
The Tir Tairngire sourcebook refers to the Tir's air traffic control network as "No Sparrow Shall Fall". In Heinlein's novel The Puppet Masters this phrase was used to describe the U.S. air traffic control net, and in his short story "If This Goes On" the Prophet's news network was called the "No-Sparrow-Shall-Fall News Service".
Virtual Realities 2.0 has a quote by a decker named "Hassan the Assassin" (a character in Starship Troopers had the nickname "Hassan the Assassin").
Monty Python's Flying Circus. After a riot five rioters were declared "Missing believed pacified". In a Monty Python sketch about curing athletes' foot with dynamite, twelve patients were declared "Missing believed cured".
Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge. Members of the Lone Star Department of Psychology have the nickname "The Grey Men", taken from the villains in Harrison's book. Both groups use psychology to brainwash their victims.
1st and 2nd edition supplements had references to a character named Jetblack being dead. The name is taken from Hotblack Desiato, a character in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series who once spent a year dead for tax reasons.
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's novel Oath of Fealty.
The Neo-Anarchists' Guide to Real Life. A decker describes a security system with weird layered defenses including anesthetic darts to take out unarmored intruders, sleep gas to take out intruders not wearing protective suits and intense heat to make those wearing armor and suits take them off. This set-up is what the Todos Santos arcology in the novel uses to protect its power plant.
The Germany Sourcebook mentions the FROMATES, a radical environmentalist terrorist group that originally appeared in this novel. FROMATES stood for FRiends Of Man And The Earth Society.
Running Scared (1986). One quote for a plain-clothes cop is "Que hablo Colt Manhunter?" In the film, while plain-clothes cop Danny Costanza is pointing a gun at a criminal he says "Hablo Smith & Wesson?"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Requiem for Methuselah". In Shadowrun Immortal Elves who lived thousands of years before the time the game takes place were the artists known as Rembrandt, Constable, Van Gogh and Grandma Moses. During the Sixth World they painted works in the same style they used in their earlier roles. In the Star Trek episode, the Enterprise crew found unknown works by Leonardo da Vinci and Johannes Brahms in Flint's home - works created by Flint himself, since he was an immortal who was the original da Vinci and Brahms.
The Tir Tairngire supplement says that the Tir Tairngire government requires all students to learn creative arts. In Earthdawn, being tainted by a Horror prevented a person from being creative. The leaders of Tir Tairngire were immortal elves who lived during the Earthdawn period and knew that the Horrors would eventually return, so they decided to teach everyone creative arts so it would be easier to identify people who had been Horror tainted.
The Germany Sourcebook had an ad with an endorsement from Max Hein•Rügen, a reference to Mark Rein•Hagen of White Wolf Games.
The London Sourcebook has a couple.
Disney's Mary Poppins. There was an ad for the Dawes, Dawes, Munny Grubb and Banks Fidelity Fiduciary Bank. It mentioned "Self-Amortising Canals", from the song "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank".
An ad for "Chauncey's Flower and Garden Shop" (Being There's Chance the Gardener).
The Neo-Anarchists' Guide to Real Life
Chapter "Dressed to Kill". A decker uses the term "Saturday Night Firefight". This is a reference to the combat system of R. Talsorian Games' original Cyberpunk 2020 boxed set, which was titled "Friday Night Firefight".
A decker named Ridley calls a decker named Unicorn "ugly one-horned mule". This was a line from the film Legend, which was directed by Ridley Scott.
The logins of various products' shadowtalkers include references to everything from Shakespeare to talk radio hosts to Guys and Dolls.
Shadowtech. A decker named Kent says that he has cyberware that makes him faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound - a reference to the Superman phrase.
Awakenings. A decker named Al Phee is a reference to a character of that name in the Callahan's Bar short story "Have You Heard the One...?"
In an episode of the old Wormy comic strip that appeared in Dragon magazine, a mage named Gremorly used "Sons of Thunder!" as an exclamation.
Shadowbeat. Concrete Dreams' first music trideo (3D video) was for their song "Sons of Thunder".
Portfolio of a Dragon: Dunkelzahn's Secrets. Dunkelzahn's will leaves a bequest to a shadowrunner group named "Sons of Thunder". It's possible that, In-Universe, the group named itself after the Concrete Dreams song.
Bug City. Truman Technologies operatives dressed up as Eagle Security officers captured Fuchi-employed gang members, lined them up against a wall and ruthlessly murdered them. This was based on the Real Life 1929 "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre", in which killers hired by Al Capone's gang dressed as police officers, captured members of the North Side gang and executed them.
Denver: The City of Shadows boxed set.
When talking about the U.S. government's attempt to destroy the former Air Force Academy, a decker named Hicks says that they "should nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." This is a reference to the line Ripley and Corporal Hicks speak in the movie Aliens.
A decker uses the phrase "un-mutual", a phrase prominently used in The Prisoner episode "A Change of Mind".
In the write-up for the NPC smuggler character Zak, it says that he's been lucky enough to avoid any "official entanglements", a reference to Ben Kenobi's line to Han Solo about avoiding any "Imperial entanglements" in Star Wars A New Hope.
The description of The Phoenix talisman shop says that its numerology software couldn't generate "the Nine Billion Names of God", a reference to the Arthur C. Clarke short story "The Nine Billion Names of God". One of the items on sale at the shop is an idol carved from red stone in the form of a demon holding a pink crystal sphere to its chest. This is a reference to the Horror-powered idol in the Tabletop Game/Shadowrun adventure Bottled Demon.
Another ad with an endorsement by Max Hein•Rügen (see Germany Sourcebook entry above).
Corporate Enclaves had a reference to The Big Lebowski. One of the ten most influential people in Hollywood is one Joe "The Dude" Kliebermann, an unemployed slob who would be otherwise unremarkable save for his knack for stumbling into incredibly outlandish situations while broadcasting his POV live online.
Runner's Companion. One of the options for Changelings is a Thagomizer tail.
Arsenal gives players the option to customize the interfaces of certain electronic devices with personality software. Among the available personalities are Hal 9001, Max Headnode and The Shadow.
Corporate Shadowfiles as a precursor to extraterritoriality lists a themepark in Florida called "Futureland" that even in the 1970s constituted its own county with its own police force and a corporate-run council. You know, like Disneyworld.
The early years had a number of brief Shout Outs, from major (Alexsandr Kerensky, named after the leader of the government overthrown by Lenin), to minor (James "The Kirk" Yalos, a mercenary captain, named in honor of Star Trek.)
And before FASA got hit by a barrage of infringement suits, there was Team Banzai and many of the game's Battlemech designs were directly taken from Mechaanime, primarily Macross.
Loren L. Coleman likes to use name puns to make his shout outs. Colonel Nin Ten Doh of the Capellan armed forces, anyone? (Naturally, two licensed Mech Warrior games were on the Super Nintendo console.)
An extremely subtle one exists on the Grand Titan. Printed in rather unusual-looking lettering on its upper arm in the official artwork◊, you can make out the words "ROLL OUT." The words are a font that heavily resembles Cybertronian script. This is due in large part to the Grand Titan itself resembling the iconic Autobot leader Optimus Prime.
The displacer beast, a cat-like creature with tentacles coming out of its shoulders, is loosely based on a similar creature called the Coeurl from The Voyage of the Space Beagle. The xill, a race of four-armed marauders that lay their eggs in still-living victims, are similarly inspired by the Ixtl from the same novel.
The derro, a race of degenerate human/dwarf hybrids, were inspired by the Deros, a race of Ultraterrestrials from the writings of Richard Sharpe Shaver.
Many classes can be traced to popular fantasy characters—the Ranger is based on Aragorn, the Thief is the Gray Mouser, the Barbarian is Conan, and so on.
The whole "fire and forget" method of spellcasting is taken from the works of Jack Vance. Other Vancian lifts include the Githyanki race (In Name Only), Ioun Stones, the Robe of Eyes and the 'Prismatic Spray'' spell.
Though Gary Gygax denied heavy influence from The Lord of the Rings, the original D&D game borrowed a lot of elements all the same: hobbits (later re-named halflings), wights, orcs and goblins, mithril (later re-named mithral), balrogs (re-named Type VI demons), ents (re-named treants), and so on.
The iconic Mind Flayer was inspired by the cover of Brian Lumley's novel, The Burrowers Beneath.
Greyhawk Adventures. The Sea Zombie was based on the zombie/ghosts in John Carpenter's film The Fog. They traveled inland under the cover of fog, and the picture has a Sea Zombie breaking through a door with a boathook, a technique used by the ghost/zombies in the movie.
GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri: "Freeze! Glantri Vice!" (Miami Vice), diamond loyalty forehead implant (Dune's Suk Doctor diamond forehead tattoo).
H2 Mines of Bloodstone: Ruggedo the Gnome King (from the Oz series character).
H3 Bloodstone Wars: Adair and Arthur (Norm and Cliff from Cheers)
I3 Pharaoh: "My name is Maniozimus" ("My name is Ozymandias", from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem "Ozymandias")
I9 Day of Al'Akbar: baking brownies Kieb-Lar and Kieb-Lor (Keebler elves)
I12 Egg of the Phoenix: Mikael Gorchaboff (Mikhail Gorbachev), Fflanidor Fflem (Fflewddur Fflam in the Chronicles of Prydain) and Mersyn Olan (actor Merlin Olsen)
I13 Adventure Pack I, adventure "The Weird Woods of Baron Orchid". A sign says "I'd turn back if I were you", a reference to the sign in the woods near the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
IM3 The Best of Intentions: The Warren (Paranoia's Alpha Complex) and Yertle the turtle king (from Dr. Seuss)
WG7 Castle Greyhawk: The Plane of Silly and Unused Monsters (Island of Misfit Toys in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), bats being used to send messages (Mad Monster Party), the three cooks Larifyne, Mowlenhowad and Kurlenshembes (The Three Stooges: Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Jerome "Curly" Howard and Shemp Howard), Poppinfarsh the Dough Golem (Poppin'Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy).
Module X2 Castle Amber. The weird and powerful Amber family members who lived inside the title castle were engaged in constant infighting. They and the castle were inspired by the Amberites and Castle Amber in Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber series. In the module, one character uses magical Tarot cards. In Zelazny's Amber setting, Amberites use the Trump deck for fortune telling as if it were a Tarot deck. The module also introduces Grab Grass, which can grab hold of creatures. In Zelazny's work, the Courts of Chaos have grass that does the same thing. Also, two encounters in the castle were references to Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" and the Norwegian fairy tale "The Three Billy Goats Gruff".
2nd Edition had a few as well.
Al Qadim setting boxed set A Dozen and One Adventures (1993) had two of them.
The beautiful pahari (mermaid) Salana had red hair and was forbidden to have any contact with surface dwellers because she was too young. She rebelled against this order and tried to learn about their ways, including investigating shipwrecks. She didn't bother to wear clothes when in human form as she was oblivious to the demands of modesty. Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989), anyone?
Adventure "Eleven baneful Gates". In the city of Al-Anwahr there's an inscription on the remains of a statue: "I am Azaltin! See my works, ye mighty, and despair!". It's from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem "Ozymandias".
Ravenloft campaign expansion Masque of the Red Death. In the adventure "Red Tide" the PCs can find a statuette of a creature with wings, an obese body and a score of tentacles hanging from its bulbous head. This is a reference to how Cthulhu was portrayed in the Call of Cthulhu game.
Dungeonscape included a bouncy ball as part of the gear you can buy. Given one of the authors is Rich Burlew, it is clearly a shout out to Xykon's combination of such an item with a Symbol of Insanity.
The Folchurian Lyrist from Complete Adventurer is essentially an updated version of the first edition bard.
The Cavalier and Thief-Acrobat are based on the AD&D v1.5 classes of the same name.
The 3.5 Source BookTome of Magic introduces the Binder class. The class gets its powers by binding various vestiges with seals. While the source of inspiration is obvious many of the vestiges are taken directly from the Ars Goetia, including their appearance, names and seals.
Word of God: Interestingly, Nimbrese have no word for "Wood" or "Forest," because, despite some open meadows and cleared farmlands, they regard all of Nimbral as a place of trees. So, in essence, "The Word for World Is Forest" (or vice versa), right?
World of Darkness: Innocents features a Shout Out that's actually downright disturbing. In the combat chapter, the examples consistently use a pair of siblings named Charlie and Lola.
Less disturbingly, one adventure seed revolves around a character who is very, very obviously modeled on the villain of The Night of the Hunter — Word of God is that he was even going to be named Harry Powell until they realized that might cause legal issues.
The Mekhet clanbook for Vampire: The Requiem has the main character seeking out various Mekhet in London for information on the clan's history, one of whom is an occult charlatan who uses New Age mysticism to lure in targets. The first comment on his side of the conversation is, "No, Frances, the M25 is not a demonic sigil."
The Mekhet book is full of shout outs. The main character is named Frances Black (Frances after a friend of the author, and Black for the lead singer of the band The Pixies), and the aforementioned occult charlatan she met with was either going to be named Vincent Moon or Howard Noir (the author went with the first one, in case you're wondering).
In the core book for Hunter: The Vigil, there's a conspiracy called Aegis Kai Doru. The picture accompanying it (to represent a typical member) is almost exactly the same as the cover of Devil May Cry 3 — the only difference is that "Dante" is holding a rifle over his shoulder instead of Rebellion.
It's debatable whether or not this is a shot-out and not a piece of plagiarism. The artist for the picture was fired for it.
Half-Life. In the section of Hunter dealing with the Scientist profession in the main rulebook, there's also a statement that "more than one theoretical physicist has taken up a crowbar to beat back a swarm of living dead."
Millennium. There's a department of the FBI that uses psychic flashes to track down serial killers.
Many of the factions in the collectible miniatures game Monsterpocalypse are based heavily on famous sci-fi franchises, sometimes to the point of Expy. G.U.A.R.D. is an homage to Humongous Mecha anime, the Terrasaurs and the Planet Eaters are clearly based on the Godzilla movies, the Shadow Sun Syndicate's monsters are based on Ultraman, the Martian Menace are based on alien invasion films such as the 1953 film version of The War Of The Worlds, and the Lords of Cthul are based on the Cthulhu Mythos.
The "Freedom City" setting for Mutants & Masterminds superhero RPG. There isn't a single aspect of it that isn't a Shout-Out to Marvel or DC. One example: Not only are the Grue shapeshifting aliens reminiscent of the Skrulls; not only is there a Meta-Grue, equivalent to the Super-Skrull, not only is their Meta-Mind leader a Shout-Out to the Supreme Intelligence of the Skrulls' enemies, the Kree; but their home planet is called Gruen-World, in homage to the late Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald.
You forgot Zork. "You have been eaten by a Grue" indeed.
German RPG Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye) has unbelievably many. Besides the countless that work only in German, there are things like the towns "Camparisodano" and "Wodkalemonis", "Sylla" and "Charypso" (Scylla and Charybdis, two obstacles for Odysseus). The dwarf Gargi, son of Gax wrote the book "Dragons and Demons" (Gary Gygax, Dungeons & Dragons), another book is called "Der ringende Herr" (compare the German title of Lord of the Rings: Der Herr der Ringe), Gandolf von Gareth wrote the books "Ringkunde für Anfänger" und "Ringkunde für Fortgeschrittene" (Rings for Beginners and Rings for Advanced Learners). For more go to this (German) site
In the revised Nosferatu clanbook of Vampire: The Masquerade there is a section entitled "Interview with a Vampire," set in New Orleans, wherein a Nosferatu confronts an unnamed author of vampire books, asking:
Exalted is usually fairly subtle with its shout outs, but the discovery of a First Age messaging service known as the Dextrous Midnight Runners (musical group Dexys Midnight Runners) is not subtle at all.
Don't forget the Nameless Solar, who invented a martial art based around the setting's equivalent of guns.
There's a city mentioned in the Underworld book called Graf-Vindak. The Graff Vynda-K was a one-off villain from the Doctor Who serial "The Ribos Operation".
The newest adventure (In Hunting a Monster) contains shout outs to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air (read the background of the character Useless Sparrow) and a shout out to one of Exalted's spiritual influences, the Scarred Lands (also by White Wolf).
Hellstriders are pretty clearly inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion, being inhuman creatures fused into mecha that unfold biological components when losing control.
A "wild card" encounter encourages the game master to make up a random encounter, such as with the Flying Dutchman, Judge Crater, ET The Extraterrestrial, or Killer Penguins (from SPI's Swords & Sorcery game).
In the abandoned nuclear reactor the PCs will encounter several ranks of Sierra Clubbers named after Yogi Bear characters: Boo-Boos, Yogis and a Mr. Ranger Sir. They can also encounter a Smokey The Bearbot that tries to put out fires while saying "Only you! (...can prevent forest fires.").
In Mission 4 the Troubleshooters will go Outside. They wll meet the Cyberpunk gang leaders Jake and Elwood (from The Blues Brothers), may acquire a little red Corvette (from the Prince song of the same name) and meet the Nouvelle Vague gang, whose catchphrase is "We're an anarcho-syndicaliist commune" (a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail).
1E adventure Send in the Clones.
A Troubleshooter named Zhon-B-VJN is in obsessive pursuit of a group of traitors who stole a loaf of synthebread. He is a reference to two characters in Les Misérables: Jean Valjean, who was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing bread, and Inspector Javert, who dedicated himself to tracking down Valjean.
Zhon-B-VJN has given his gatorbots names such as Albert (costumed alligator mascot Albert of the University of Florida), Wally (Hanna-Barbera character Wally Gator) and Murgatroyd (the Catch Phrase of Snagglepuss, another Hanna-Barbera character, was "Heavens to Murgatroyd!").
While in the sewers the Troubleshooters will encounter the Captain Botaroo studio and the robot kid show host Captain Botaroo himself. Captain Botaroo is a reference to the Captain Kangaroo character.
The Troubleshooters are sent to pick up their experimental gear from the R&D department of QQQ sector - a reference to James Bond's Q Branch.
One place the Troubleshooters will encounter is the NBD Commissary, which has terrible food. During Johnny Carson's long run on NBC's The Tonight Show, one of his standard jokes was to complain about the food in the NBC Commissary.
At some point the Troubleshooters will end up in Studio 54 and participate in the Wide Complex of Sports. Studio 54 is a reference to the one-time famous nightclub of the same name, and Wide Complex of Sports refers to the ABC show Wide World of Sports.
The vidshow "Date With Death" is hosted by Don-Y-OSM (Donny Osmond).
During Teela-O-MLY's death scene she says "Computer of Mercy, is this the end of Teela? I ain't so tough! Top o' the Complex, Computer...top o' the Complex". This is a combination of the dying words of two film characters: Edward G. Robinson's Caesar Enrico "Rico" Bandello in Little Caesar ("Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?") and Jimmy Cagney's Cody Jarrett in White Heat ("Top o' the world!").
The adventure "Me and My Shadow Mark IV" has: the clone Aunt-MAY (Spiderman), briefing officer Jonnie-B-GUD (Chuck Berry's song "Johnny Be Good"), the clone Robb-Y-RBT (Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot), scrubot 409-D (the Real Life Formula 409 family of cleaning products) and Episode Nine Part 1's title "The Charge of the Red Brigade" (Lord Tennyson's The Charge Of The Light Brigade).
"Warriors of the Night Cycle" had many Japanese-related clone names (Sam-U-RAI, Bush-I-DOE, Hik-U-VRS, Sure-I-KEN, Da-I-MYO), as well as Thedra-G-ONN (Enter the Dragon), Grass-O-PPR (Kung Fu) and Yojimbots (Yojimbo).
"The Harder They Clone" had Bill-Y-IDL (Billy Idol) who sings "What a nice day for a blood-letting..." (his song "White Wedding") and the section title "Ears for Fears" (Tears For Fears).
The pre-generated characters are named after Hill Street Blues characters: Andrew-B-RNK (Andy Renko), Mick-B-LKR (Mick Belker), Lucy-B-ATZ (Lucy Bates), Bob-B-HIL (Bobby Hill), Jay-B-LRU (J.D. LaRue) and Gold-B-LUM (Henry Goldblume).
The Fed-R-ALL Express Messenger Service can deliver packages quickly.
The sample adventure "First Blood and Then Some" has a character named Ram-B-EAU.
Tabletop Game/Paranoia XP. Even after Paranoia was "purged of excruciating pop-culture wackiness", there is still Soylent [YOUR CLEARANCE HERE] food being given out.
Tabletop Game/Paranoia XP supplement Service, Service!, adventure "Nightcycle Shift". The Troubleshooters enter a room filled with bizarre but strangely compelling-looking furniture and decorations. There's a slim, strangely life-like female mannequin wearing a leotard in the room. It's actually a female clone holding completely still. This is a reference to a scene in the movie Blade Runner when Deckard enters a room in J.F. Sebastian's apartment where Priss is hiding in plain sight waiting to ambush him.
HPD&MC has an advertising campaign to get citizens to move to the Underple: "A new life awaits you in the under-plex colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure". Replace "under-plex" with "off-world" and you have the advertising slogan being broadcast by the blimp in ''Film/Bladerunner".
Area 31 is a secret research area set up by R&D. The title is a reference to Area 51, which UFO conspiracy theorists believe is a site where UFO's are stored and studied.
Don't Rest Your Head manages to toss in a few. For instance, throwaway lines in both the corebook and supplement Don't Lose Your Mind indicate that Mister Hyde, the Jabberwock, and the original Frankenstein's Monster have all managed to become Nightmares.
Agricola manages to squeeze in a few in the card art. The Stone Carrier (who also appears on the Quarry improvement) kinda looks like Obelix, the Dock Worker is based on Klaus Teuber, creator of Settlers of Catan, and the Social Climber is a dead ringer for Gaston.
Pokethulhu is one long shout-out to both Pokémon and the works of H. P. Lovecraft. The Team Rocket knockoffs are named Derleth and Bloch, after a pair of Cthulhu Mythos writers, and signs on the map include "Yellow" (a reference to The King in Yellow) and "Muskratonic University" (because the artist is John Kovalic, who has a soft spot for muskrats). It goes on like this for quite a while.
C.L.O.W.N.. The C.L.O.W.N. base's Danger Room used funny cartoon images as "threats". One of them was a starship firing a cream pie, a reference to Fred Saberhagen's Berserker short story "Mr. Jester". At the end of the story a berserker ship fired a giant custard pie at a human ship.
The shoe box size Homing Car Robot Bomb could drive through traffic until it reached the target car and blew up the car (and itself). It was based on an assassination device that appeared in the Tom Selleck film Runaway.
In the novel Ecotopia, the title country's armed forces used missiles that deployed streamers to tangle up the blades of attacking U.S. helicopters. This inspired the "Puff" ground to air missile, which deployed Kevlar streamers which snagged and fouled the propellers of prop-driven aircraft and helicopters.
Adventure Deathstroke. When the force field surrounding the nuclear weapon is breached a recording starts: "I am a thirty second bomb...29...28..." This is reference to Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers novel. While Juan Rico was on a raid against the Skinnies, he entered a room full of them and tossed in a bomb that said the same thing in the Skinny language.
FATAL has references to The Lord of the Rings (the One Ring is actually a magical item, known as the "Ring of the Lords"), Army of Darkness (a mirror that creates tiny copies of you), and Highlander (there's a magical book that makes you immortal unless beheaded.)
A TV Guide page from the year 2013. One of the entries is for a game show called Deal With The Devil, with host Sam Neill. The actor Sam Neill played Damien Thorn, the son of the Devil, in the 1981 movie The Final Conflict.
The leader of an anime poser gang kidnaps a woman, has a biosculpt job done on her which gives her huge eyes, a tiny mouth, weird hair color and tiny horns on her head, and makes her wear a tiger print bikini - thus making her look like the character Lum/Lamu in Urusei Yatsura. This is Lamp Shaded by a character saying that "It had something to do with some old Pacific Rim export cartoon."
A man buys a computer system that was owned by Fort Meade (AKA the National Security Agency). It has a file on it called "NORAD I" which consists of a huge list of 10 digit numbers. This is a reference to the movie WarGames, where the W.O.P.P.E.R. computer at NORAD ran through a list of 10 digit numbers to find the code that would allow it to launch all of the U.S. land-based ICBMs against the Soviet Union.
Night City supplement (1991).
There are multiple references to the Real Life McDonald's fast food chain. (a) The restaurant Global Foods is owned by Raymond Kroc. McDonald's (which eventually grew worldwide) was founded by Ray Kroc in 1955. (b) The fast food restaurants MacDonovan's and MacDonnell's.
One of Night City's businesses is Universal Export, which is reputed to be a front for the British Provisional Government's Army Intelligence Active Service. This is a reference to the James Bond stories, in which MI-6 used a company called Universal Export as a front.
The owner of a game store runs a Tabletop RPG called The Field Trip. The title is taken from the 1970's game The Fantasy Trip, which was written by Steve Jackson and published by Metagaming.
There is a bookstore downtown called Puddleforge's, "where old copies of Cyberpunk V1 can be bought for a song and burned as fuel." This is a reference to "Alice Through the Mirrorshades," a Cross Over adventure with Paranoia which ends with the PCs encountering a hobo named Mike Puddleforge, an obvious Captain Ersatz of Cyberpunk creator Mike Pondsmith, burning old RPG rulebooks for warmth.
Piper Memorial Sports Arena is named after a professional wrestler who died from gunshot wounds while foiling a terrorist plot to hijack a plane and dive it into the White House to assassinate the President (yes, yet another example of a "hijack an airliner and fly it into a building" plot in fiction well before 9-11). Although the text doesn't give his full name, it is "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.
NeoTribes (1995). "Chicago: The Adventure" has an NPC named Carrie Laisson. This is a reference to either the phrase "Kyrie eleison or the 1985 song "Kyrie" by Mr. Mister, which includes that phrase.
The name of the solo "John Jones (Manhunter)" is taken from the DC Universe comic book character J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter.
Amber Diceless Role-Playing, based on Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber series. The supplement Shadow Knight has a mini-adventure called "Quest for Frakir". During the adventure the PCs enter a Shadow of the Forest of Arden and encounter spiders that spin webs throughout the trees, have poisonous bites that cause paralysis and pull away paralyzed victims to be hung from trees. This is a clear reference to the spiders of Mirkwood in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.
Everway supplement Spherewalker Sourcebook. The Soulseekers have the ability to remember their past lives, with masters of "true recall" able to remember dozens. However, some Soulseekers are not able to handle all of these past personalities. Some go mad or are possessed by one of the stronger personalities. This is a reference to Frank Herbert's Dune novel Children of Dune, in which Alia was almost taken over by the personality of Baron Harkonnen and was possessed (and driven insane) by the memories of her ancestor's lives, and Leto merged with the personality of one of his ancestors.
The Paranormal Investigator archetype Men in Black uses an "Amnesia Ray" to remove the memories of supernatural encounters from the minds of innocent citizens (the Neuralyzer in the Men in Black franchise).
The Wandering Hero archetype is a monk from China who is half British and half Chinese. He wanders the Earth fighting against injustice and helping other people (Kwai Chang Caine in the Kung FuLive-Action TV show).
A Lost World plateau exists in the Amazon rain forest. It says that a British expedition reached it and returned, without any proof of their findings but with a fortune in uncut diamonds (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World).
The spire on top of the Empire State Building is covered with mystical symbols and parts of it are made with a strange orange metal, making it an antenna for mystical energy. This is a reference to Ghostbusters, where Ivo Shandor's building used girders with cores of pure selenium and was a "antenna...designed expressly for pulling in spiritual turbulence."
Eclipse Phase owes a great deal to the Takeshi Kovacs series - the term "cortical stack" is lifted directly - and they made sure any fans of the novel knew it by having a character in the opening fiction get annoyed that the body he'd been installed into was a smoker, much like Kovacs.
One strain of nanovirus that was developed by the TITANs is called the Uzumaki. It causes the body of the infectee to erupt with fleshy growths in the shape of spirals...
In Gatecrashing, it's mentioned that one Angelina Germanotta is a member of a certain hedonistic space colony. She might be better known to you by another name ...
Starblazer Adventures, based on the 1980s British Comic Book. In Chapter 10 "How To Do Things" the Supplemental Actions section mentions "composing a sonnet while fencing", a reference to Robert A. Heinlein's Glory Road. In that novel the protagonist Oscar Gordon has to come up with poetry while dueling the Never-Born (who was himself a Shout Out to Cyrano de Bergerac).
Dark Dungeon RPG, supplement Samaris, Island of Adventure. In the Back Story the giant city covering the title island was destroyed in a war between the demonic wizard king Acecerax and the demon witch empress Vekna. Acecerax and Vekna are references to characters in 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons: Acecerax from the demilich Acererak in module S1 Tomb of Horrors and Vekna from the lich Vecna of "the Eye and Hand of Vecna" fame.
The sample alien is a Gleep, an amorphous blob-like creature. Just to make it clear that it's a reference to the Gleep of Space Ghost, the picture of the alien is clearly the Gleep from the show.
James Bond 007 RPG (Victory Games), supplement Thrilling Locations. While at sea the PCs can encounter a man with a limp who is hunting a large white sailfish, a reference to Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick.
Danger International main rules. The description for the Forensic Medicine skill starts off with the line "Welcome to the exciting world of forensic medicine". This was inspired by what the title character says in the opening titles of the Live-Action TV show Quincy. "You are about to enter the most fascinating sphere of police work - the world of forensic medicine."
One of the Demon Prince Valefor's invocation modifiers is "My God! The Lost Monet!" This is the punchline to a joke by Steve Martin in his Stand-Up Comedy act, as recorded in his book "Cruel Shoes". A group of dogs had stolen a variety of artwork and were being observed by the narrator. The phrase was the punchline of the joke.
Supplement 11 Library Data (N-Z). The science of psychohistory allowed the prediction and manipulation of the future behavior of large populations.
The name of some emperors, such as Cleon.
Megatraveller Journal #3
Article "Worldguide: Vincennes". The TL 16 world Vincennes is dependent on robotics, its people stay home and don't interact with other people most of the time, and they "visit" other peoples' homes via holographic projection. This is based on the society of the planet Solaria in The Naked Sun, one of Isaac Asimov's robot novels.
Adventure "Rapid Repo". The PC team receive their mission equipment at a technical section called "Q Division".
Supplement 2 Animal Encounters. While on a desert planet PCs could encounter drum sand, which echoes footsteps and attracts local predators. This is a direct steal from Frank Herbert's Dune. On the planet Arrakis, walking on drum sand made a loud noise that attracted any Sand Worms in the area.
Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #4 article "The Bestiary". The Reticulan Parasite is clearly based on the xenomorph in the Alien series. The illustration is identical to the "face-hugger" stage, they're found in large pods (eggs), etc.
Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #18 article "Small Cargoes and Special Handling". Several of the possible smuggling cargoes.
Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. In The Mote in God's Eye, that coffee is reserved for the Imperial Family. Imperial Navy ships carry it to the Imperial palace on the planet Sparta.
Blue Valonaise Wine. If exposed to unusual acceleration or gravity conditions its sediments will get mixed up, making it undrinkable. This is a reference to The Mote in God's Eye, in which the interstellar merchant Horace Hussein Bury had the following line.
I find it annoying and expensive that some of my ships must move under constant acceleration merely to protect a wine bottle from its own sediments. Why can they not simply be centrifuged on arrival?
Game 3 Azhanti High Lightning, scenario "The Great Wine Heist". Emperor Strephon loves Tokaj Eszencia wine from Earth and has reserved it for the Imperial table. This is a reference to The Mote in God's Eye, in which Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is reserved for the Imperial Family on Sparta.
The Traveller Adventure campaign
Chapter "Exotic Encounters", adventure "Charter to Cratersea". The PCs' employer is eccentric, mercurial, volatile, unpredictable and sometimes ruthlessly malicious toward them. He is named Cai Calula, a name very much like the famous Roman emperor Caligula, who had similar qualities.
Chapter "First Call at Zila". While the PCs and some Oberlindes Lines crewmen from the starship Margin of Profit are seated together in the Dead Spacer starport bar, a group of enemy Akerut Lines crew try to start a fight. First an Akerut man says that the March Harrier (the PCs' ship) is a "fat sow too slow to win anything but a garbage contract, and so old that it's only the rust that holds it together." If the PCs want to attack them the Oberlindes crewmen will restrain them because they don't want any trouble. Then the Akerut crewman says "But it's a good thing the March Harrier turned up - maybe we can give her the garbage run and have the Margin of Profit hauled off with the rest of the refuse." The Oberlindes crew immediately attacks the Akerut crew.
This is a reference to the bar scene in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles". Crew members from the Enterprise and a Klingon ship are sitting in a starport bar and a Klingon named Korax starts insulting the Enterprise crew. Chekov wants to start a fight but Scotty restrains him. Then:
Korax: We like the Enterprise. We, we really do. That sagging old rust bucket is designed like a garbage scow. Half the quadrant knows it. That's why they're learning to speak Klingonese.
Scotty: Laddie, don't you think you should rephrase that?
Korax: You're right, I should. I didn't mean to say that the Enterprise should be hauling garbage. I meant to say that it should be hauled away as garbage.
Scotty: [Punches him and a fight starts]
Supplement Merchants and Merchandise. The LHeP9(Or) Series 12/136 computer system had two of them. Feature 1138 was a reference to the early George Lucas film THX 1138. Artificial Intelligence Feature 2001 was an artificial personality that could take over the computer. It was inspired by the computer H.A.L. 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Supplement SORAG. Killalc pills, psychotomimetic drugs and Narcolethe are all taken from The Stainless Steel Rat novels by Harry Harrison. Personal firearms are from The Mote in God's Eye (the weapons personalized by Motie miniatures for the Marines). The "molecular acid" used in Hypo Gun AP (Acid Point) rounds is from the Alien movie, where the alien's acid blood was compared to "molecular acid".
Call of Cthulhu supplement Dark Designs, adventure "The Menace from Sumatra". One of the books in Dr. Granger's library is The Dynamics of an Asteroid, a work written by Professor James Moriarty in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.
One of the new monsters was the Cauldron-Born, a type of zombie that loses Hit Points in proportion to how far away they are from their creator. This was a reference to the Cauldron-Born in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain stories, who were created by Arawn Deathlord by putting dead bodies into a magical cauldron. The further they traveled away from Arawn, the weaker they got.
The room called The Bakery is filled with references to nursery rhymes. In this room the PCs can find a rancid pastry filled with dead blackbirds ("four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" from Sing a Song of Sixpence), the rotting remains of curds and whey upon the floor (Little Miss Muffet) and a plum pie with a severed thumb sticking out of it (Little Jack Horner).
The wargame Flintloque is set in a fantasy version of the Napoleonic Wars; the Elves are the French, the Orcs are the British, the Dwarfs are the Germans etc. The greatest Orcish soldier is Captain Rekhardt Sharke (with Sgt Harpy and his Chosen Orcs). A less great one is Captain Arry Flashorc.
Chivalry & Sorcery, 3rd Edition adventure Stormwatch. One possible event that can befall the party: as it is breaking camp, one of the characters finds a snake in his boot. This is a reference to the movie Toy Story - when Woody's string was pulled, one of the possible phrases spoken was "There's a snake in my boot!"
Mutazoids Game Master Screen and Mini Module. In the mini module "Burning White", there was a mutazoid character named Mr. Eyes who had both of his eyes on stalks. Sometimes he will make both eyes stare at each other and laugh hysterically. If asked what is so funny, he will say he read it in a novel. This is a reference to the Larry Niven novel Ringworld. Pierson's Puppeteers have two eyes on stalks. In the novel a Puppeteer named Nessus would have his two eyes look at each other, and Louis Wu suspected that doing so was the Puppeteer version of laughter.
USA Alive newspaper insert. The paper has a review of a band called the Short Controlled Bursts, a reference to a line in the film Aliens spoken by Corporal Hicks as the xenomorphs are about to attack the Marines: "Remember, short controlled bursts."
SLA Industries. The Shaktar race are honorable, bipedal humanoid warriors with dreadlocks and bizarre mandible-like lips that throw power discs that cut through things. In other words, they're Predators.
Iron Crown Enterprises (I.C.E.) Cyberspace main rules
The New Edison Mega Corp. owns a subsidiary called Martian Metals that gives its name to a large building in San Francisco and mines Mars for metal. In Real Life Martian Metals was a small company that made miniature figurines for use with role playing games during the 1970s and early 1980s.
The Serendipity Mega Corp.'s headquarters is an orbital space station called Crystal Palace. This is a reference to the NORAD Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, which was code named "Crystal Palace".
The subdermal pouch (a pouch implanted in the body that can hold small objects) is taken from an identical device in Robert A. Heinlein's novel Friday.
A store that implants cybernetic devices is called Lee Press-On Limbs, a reference to the Real Life product Lee Press-On Nails.
In Book 3 of the main rules, one possible campaign setting was an After the End world controlled by apes with human-level intelligence. It features semi-intelligent wild humans without the power of speech and mutated humans with severe cosmetic disorders and psychic powers. Yet nowhere does it mention its obvious inspiration, the films Planet Ofthe Apes (1968) and Beneath the Planet Ofthe Apes (1970).
The Phoenix Organization's operatives were stored as Human Popsicles in cryosleep capsules in a high tech fortress called Phoenix Base. They would stay there until the situation had stabilized after the Scourge and they could help civilization rebuild itself. This was a clear reference to The Morrow Project, which had the same situation, with Morrow Project teams in cryosleep and controlled by a "Prime Base". The Aftermath! product even called Phoenix Base "Prime Base" once.
Snoorin Ironbelly (King Snurre Ironbelly in Dungeons & Dragons module G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King), Dayglo Smuggins and Cheeso Grabbins (Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit), Lost Dungeon of Arne's Son (Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons)
Races based on Dungeons & Dragons races: Dogs (humans), Squirrels (elves), Badgers (dwarves), Mice (halflings).