Tuesday, 3 June 2014

More Dream Games

I haven't much to post at the moment. I'm slogging through writing sword and sorcery style stories for the MA's Final Project, researching a PhD proposal, and put part of my first novel in for the Bridport Prize.

Otherwise I'm bouncing back and forth in the grip of indecision about things like gaming (I'm not sure I want to go back to the hobby because, frankly the idea of trying to organise a game makes me feel stressed and I find myself thinking that if all gaming can be amounts to the list of things I don't like then I'm not sure I want to be involved with it).

Anyway, I wanted to post more ideas about 'dream games' and throw them out for your delight and edification. I think a lot of these would end up being run with a generic system like FATE or BRP but I'm not sure.

Damnation County

Something dark has woken in the American West, a murderous spirit ushered into being by the Civil War, fostered by New England's folklore and the race for the west. It has suckled on the shadows of the USA, grown fat on slaughter and pain. Where it goes darkness follows.

The dead rise from their graves, animals sicken, curses carry weight and the old, forgotten secrets in every family scratch their way to the surface.

Somewhere a headless horseman rides the night.

The player characters are people living in Damnation County - I don't suppose it much matters who they are as long as they're willing to stand against the darkness (I keep toying with the idea of generating characters for this, starting with a two fisted preacher with an attachment to the bottle and an outlaw who kept the preacher alive during a hard winter when they were fleeing west).

As a game this would take place in a fictional county in the USA, or perhaps more properly North America given the ongoing Civil War and the attraction of states like Colorado (which I think was unaligned for a lot of the war). I think I would want the game to initially be tied to the county very strongly - using the setting generator in Diaspora with a few tweaks, if possible. Later on I'd be happy to expand outwards but at present I'm very wary of anything that's too ambitious.

"Mercy Heights"*

A space hospital that tours the galaxy, offering medical aid in war zones. The hospital is part of the Intergalactic Red Cross and the player characters are all members of staff, medics, ambulance pilots and so on, dealing with evacuating areas, collecting the wounded and other duties. They are armed but the focus on the game would hopefully not cater to fights much beyond scaring off scavengers, dealing with truculent patients and dealing with the occasional saboteur.

The game would open with the hospital arriving at a new theatre of war, meaning that characters would have to establish the local faultlines, work out alliances, loyalties and all the rest of it before starting to run missions to rescue people. A fun twist might be having guerrilla units out on some of the planets, adding to a danger of attack from some desperate cells when the ambulances land. Add in a black market in medical goods, the danger of being taken hostage and the game starts to get quite a few levels.

I think I'd run this with Mind Jammer given half the chance, or maybe with FATE core. A similar game would be possible with Eclipse Phase, albeit in a stripped back form, probably resembling Thunderbirds more than a hospital drama.

*The name is taken from a 2000AD strip that had this concept.

The Dig

A game idea for Numenera which casts the characters as part of an expedition for the University of Qi - the setting's biggest centre of learning. I wanted to avoid the 'wandering adventurers' idea and go for something more grounded whilst at the same time playing to the game's strengths.

The expedition has fetched up at a strange city in a circular one hundred mile stretch of desert and the plan is to explore it, document new finds and bring back rare pieces of the past to the camp. Obstacles exist in the form of various local tribes, creatures in the ruins and the city itself which is difficult to traverse thanks to the jumble of broken walls, oddly angled walkways and general lack of repair. That's before you even get to the issues in the camp, two battling professors who hate each other's guts (and theories), a mysterious mercenary who excuses himself at every meal and an apprentice who is secretly in the pay of a renegade scholar who's looking for artefacts to keep for himself.  This last would lead into other adventures as the player characters discover a plot amongst the mean people conspiracy (sorry I just can't recall the group's name) to try and either kill or save one of their leaders which is spilling out into the world at large.

And then there's the nature of the city, which is actually a crashed alien spacecraft, composed of liquid memory metals and which, once awakened, can change its shape at will.

My gut feeling is that this would make a good arc to lead up to but there should probably be some sort of opening adventures to let players be comfortable with the game system first. These might involve recovering a map that leads to the city or finding some of the liquid metal as part of an adventure to set up the premise of the main arc. I would not want to delay getting to the meat of the game too much but a handful of small introductory adventures to establish the world seems like a good thing to have.

London Pride

A Dr Who game, spinning off the learning drugs in school idea I posted in the first Dream Games blog. The basic idea is to run a campaign set entirely inside one place, I'd be using London obviously, but with the freedom to go back and forth in time. This would let the TARDIS go back to Roman times and forward to who knows what - part of the joy of the series is that the future is not set and you can do pretty much anything with it, which opens up a lot of possibilities. The reason why the TARDIS is stuck in London would be a major plot point for the campaign (I'd need to check my Who villains to work out a likely candidate, it smacks of Gallifrey but we all know that that's sealed outside time, right? Right?).

There are lots of possibilities for villains and plots, lots of untouched bits of history to play around with. You could have a chase through the Great Fire to catch someone who's managed to abscond with the TARDIS, Weeping Angels haunting Victorian London, or a Cyberman at the court of William the Conqueror; the possibilities are endless.

Again, this feels like it could be a basic game suitable for beginners, after all you can start off with a few adventures set in London before the player characters discover that they're trapped (my commitment to some sort of openness at character gen means the players themselves would know that initially they'd be stuck there). I'm not sure if a good Microscope session should be part of character generation/session zero, would it be too restrictive to have futures mapped out and given the wibbly wobbly nature of Who's timelines would mapping the future be inherently redundant?

And that's it for now... hope you enjoy the concepts.

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