A Optimistic Post-Apocalyptic Setting

I decided to dust off this blog to post something a little longer then would fit on Mastodon. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of running a post-apocalyptic game for a long time. It has all the upsides of typical fantasy settings, which is no large governmental network to provide aid, which makes room for a lot of adventures, and yet also allows for modern and science fiction concepts. If I have any readers of this blog left from back when I posted regularly, I’m sure you will be utterly unsurprised by this.

My views on this are heavily influenced by Daybreak 2250 AD by Andre Norton. I read this novel as a kid, and at least once or twice since then, and the images of the protagonist exploring the ruined city not to get weapons or armour, but useful things for his village of people, paper, food, books with useful knowledge have stuck with me to this day.

After that, the earliest influence on me was reading articles on Gamma World in Dragon Magazine as a kid, and seeing all the wild and strange art, mutated creatures and so on. That is the first post-apocalyptic setting I searched for on the internet when I was a kid, and it lead me to the others. I found it’s early fansites tended to lean into what was called back then a more “Gonzo” play style. Very silly, anything goes type of stuff, which wasn’t what I was looking for. However, recently Tumblr posts about it, such as those by Black Ray Gun have made me more interested in the aesthetic, with devices made out of scrap and used for purposes never intended, and the colour of it, after years of Bethesda’s Fallout games green and grey and brown.

When Fallout 3 came out, I being a fan of Oblivion got it, and it made me fall deeply in love with Bethesda games. While it certainly had its issues with the writing of the main story quest, it got the feeling of walking thorough abandoned buildings very well, as did Fallout 4 to a large extent. These games I have issues with though. Particularly in Fallout 4, why are people living in shacks full of holes when there are hundreds of large, dead trees around that could be cut down to make shelter? Why are people not living in log cabins?

The final piece of inspiration for this setting mix is anime. I found Wolf’s Rain after watching Cowboy Bebop during my undergrad, and wanting more like it. It wasn’t like it, at all, but it has a sequence that has stuck with me, where the main characters are venturing through a ruin and are attack by an old war robot following long-forgotten orders. More directly relevant is the asthetic and world of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. The contract between the creepy radioactive wastes, the vibrant colours of the toxic forests, and the pastoral landscape of the valley of the winds feels right. People are building new things, using what technology they can, and making due with older bits when they can’t. They KNOW what cars and such are, but they don’t necessarily have the technology base to make new ones, so they use pack animals. They mostly use their own stuff, but are fine with scavenging, though they mostly do so from the natural forest rather then the ruins.

In high school and university I moved into running The Call of Cthulhu due how easy it is to teach, and left this idea alone. However, I ran a campaign of my own making for the first time recently, rather then working in an existing campaign setting, and I liked the feeling. It didn’t last long due to me not having the focus to keep a play by post game running while dealing with grad school, but it gave me a taste. Now I want to run something similar, something I can adapt per-existing adventures to but with my own flavour. Now, due to one of my partners being VERY much not into dark, apocalyptic settings, so I’m thinking of a more stable setting.

The players are from an established farming community that is doing well, and there isn’t that much for them to do during the summer, so they head out after planting, with the goal of finding things that will help their community and getting back before the harvest when their help is needed. Anything from toys for children, new types of seeds, textbooks (or really, any books), tools, or even contact with other communities so that trade deals and mutual aid can be set up. To do this the players would have to explore the local area beyond where the village normally travels, based on the stories of the older members of the community and maps purchased from traders. Track down rumours of ruins in the wilderness, and so on.

Perhaps they find a broken truck in the wilderness, still full of canned food, a perfect emergency stash for their community in case of a bad harvest. Then the adventure then becomes how do they get this back to their community without a working truck? The other thing would be finding good tables of STUFF for the players to find and letting them figure out how it could help their community. I love seeing players being creative in ways I didn’t anticipate and that sort of thing would be very cool.

Honestly, the hard part as a DM would be making sure to show all the small ways the players were improving the town over time, making the players feel good about what they are doing. Kind of like what Three Dog did in Fallout 3, those broadcasts did a lot to make me feel connected to the world and part of it.

Anyway, no idea if anyone will see this after most of a decade, but it was fun to write and get my ideas down.

Until I post again, whenever that is, stay geeky.

–Canageek

Published in: on January 24, 2021 at 5:24 pm  Comments (4)  
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Have some true cyberpunk

A while back I ranted about punk and how it should be darker and more nihilistic, but didn’t really give any modern examples of the genre. Well, here you go. Some nudity, drugs, totally not depressing, dark and horrible. Trigger warnings? Lets just go with ‘all of them’.

Well, how was that? Get what I’m saying now? Remember: High tech, low life or your genre’s equivalent.

Until I find some more things worth saying or sharing, Stay Geeky and burn the world.
–Canageek

Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 8:43 am  Comments (7)  
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Occupypunk

I’m going to start this post off with a disclaimer: This is about a roleplaying setting, and I do not categorically endorse real world violent rebellion against the police. This would generally be a bad idea and get you arrested, and there are probably a small number of bad apples giving the rest of the police a bad name.

Right, now, take all that real world restraint and lock it away. Put on some angry music; punk would be best, but anything will work; some old NWA (911 is a Joke, for example) would also work if you are into rap, or Hammers in my Head by A Miracle of Sound if you want something more modern, if a bit less angry then would be ideal.

You’ve got your music on? Good, now lets do some inspirational reading. Lets start with something I got off Reddit’s News of the Weird. Now look up some things on Adam Nobody. Heck, just go on youtube and watch police brutality videos for a bit. Then imagine this was Standard Operating Procedure; if you have trouble with this Transmetropolitan is a great comic series. Now take all of these bad, horrible things and turn them up to 11, at least in the cities; place a Bradburian dystopia in the suburbs. Now that we’ve set the stage, I give you:

Occupypunk, (Alternate Title: Yippiepunk)

They killed my Charlotte. Sweet innocent girl, just trying to make the world a better place, protesting and going to sit-ins and crap. Then the pigs beat her to death, and left me for dead. Too bad for them I didn’t die, and remembered their faces. I waited outside police stations for days, waited until I saw one I recognized, followed him home, out to the nice, safe, surveillance-free suburbs. Then I beat him to death, just like he did my Charlotte. The next one I just shot; after the first they were more careful. I had to get help with the next few; they knew my face by then, but luckily with all the shootings and beatings the pigs do, it wasn’t hard to find help. Once the government let them off their leashes, they’ve been running rampant, and there are a lot of people who’ve lost loved ones, limbs, friends, and bedmates to them. Only deal I had to promise them was that once we finish the ones who killed Charlotte, I’d help them with the ones who hurt them. You know, if I’m still alive. It isn’t like pighunting is conductive to a long and healthy life. One day they’ll catch me, like they caught Joe. Sent an entire SWAT team after him. Too bad for them someone got word to Joe that they were coming, and he had time to take so many uppers and dreck that he forgot how to die, for a little while anyway. Jumped them with a couple hatchets. They had to take him and a whole buncha the cops out in a bag, cus they couldn’t figure out what bits belonged to who. They’ll never get the blood out of that apartment, I live there now. Rent is really cheap, and the splatter is kinda artistic, if you’re into that kinda thing. Anyway, I don’t expect to have a long life, but hell, the courts ain’t administering justice, so someone has to.

I can’t think of much to add to this: It is probably the most straightforward of my settings, just channelling that helpless rage we feel when we watch the news these days into something constructive. Also, ripping off part of Steal This Book.

Anyway, I have some ideas on how you could do this setting in a game, to reward self-destructive punk gameplay. I’ll try and write them up later, until then, stay geeky.

–Canageek

Edit: I forgot to link the original RPG.net thread.

Abolitionpunk

Over on RPG.net there is a very inserting thread about ideas for -punk settings. Now, punk in this context is descended both from the musical/social movement, and cyberpunk. Steampunk also, but only true steampunk, none of that atheistic top-hat foppery. Therefore it should be dark, gritty, ugly, and the characters should be self-destructive and nihilistic. Not something I’d like to play in or even read, but great fun to muse about and design.

wapa created a setting called Anebellumpunk:

In the South they’re breedin’ men like they was animals. Worse than animals; they’re treatin’ them like they was tools – breedin’ them up, strappin’ them into moulds and feedin’ them up on quack formulae from birth so you’d barely know they was men, and what them rich folk are doin’ to their own kids only looks prettier on the outside. North ain’t much better – they’re fixin’ to replace men with clocks and steam engines, where they ain’t just ruled by ’em. Ain’t none of it Godly. But some folk, decent, churchgoing folk are out to abolish all that in the name of the Lord – and in the meantime just get on by. We’re all God’s children, whether we got a clock for a heart or grown eight times the proper size, and God’s children gotta look out for each other.

I like the idea, but thought it was too clean and optimistic, and thus I created Abolitionpunk:

A man can only see so much, you know? For me, I broke when I saw an innocent young, slip of a girl being torn apart by dogs. I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I set the dogs on her asshole of a master, and shot the overseers. Then me an’ some buddies, and a couple of the now-free slaves armed up, and decided to take out all the goddamn slavers in one go. We waited till Sunday, rolled a big carriage up to the doors of the church, then burned all them bastards inside, womenfolk and all. Not like they don’t order slaves beaten even more then the men. Then we headed out of town, pointing the way north to the slaves, and taking off before the army shows up. Now we live like bandits, killing and murdering slavers all across the south, staying one step ahead of the law. Sure, they’ll catch us eventually, but damn if we haven’t brought justice to a hell of a lot of bad, bad men on our way. Sides, you ever seen one of those big plantation houses burn down? Its a pretty, pretty sight. Even better when we get our hands on some dynamite and can blow it up.

Yeah, that would be a hell of a dark campaign. Characters would include abolitionists sick of a lack of action, washed up cowboys, defrocked priests, brutal norther agents, ex-slaves and so on.

Next time I’ll show you my even more violent setting: Occupypunk. Until then, Stay Geeky
–Canageek

Edit: Kris Newton, (@FeedRPG on twitter) liked my concept enough to create a spin off of it, adding vampires, and making it even darker (YouTube). I wouldn’t necessarily play in that game, but it is a really cool take on it and I encourage people to check it out.

A Tangential Universe

The universe is composed of many dimensions. The simplest view of these is as cables in a bundle. At the centre of the bundle is baseline, (0,0), the parties’s home. Each universe out from that diverges slightly at some point in the past.

First come historical changes: Japan invades Russia during WWII, preventing them from using Siberian troops against the Germans; WWII never happens as Hitler died in 1929, The Roman Republic managed civic reforms that prevented it from becoming an Imperial state; China discovered America and gains access to its natural resources during the middle ages; The Egyptian Empire avoids cultural and technological stagnation and still stands in the 22nd century. In a cable this is the thin strands of copper at the center.

Further out from that in the bundle metaphor lie worlds that diverged far enough back in time so as to have biological changes: Empires of Cat-people, dog-people, Civilizations of dolphins, lands where dinosaurs roam the earth. While there are many more of these dimensions then there are of the Historical dimensions there is much less known about them due to the fact they have been far less heavily explored.  This would be the strands of rubber insulation around the copper.

Then you have the rubber coating of the cable: These are realms where things diverged back when the solar system or universe was forming. Earths locked in ice ages; earths backing in the sun; earths with CO2 atmospheres and whatnot all exist here. Very little is known about this region as exploring it is very dangerous for obvious reasons.

Beyond that lies Terra Incognita, the land unknown. This is the strange region that no one really understands. Almost no travellers have returned from here, and those that do report wildly varying laws of physics, worlds full of magic, worlds with psionic and stranger things. Most expeditions to this region have not returned, and it is thought this is because they traveled into areas in which dimensional travelling technology does not work, or areas where the laws of physics do not support the existence of human life. This is normally described as the area beyond the cable.

This is the basic outline of the universe my next campaign will take place in. I’ve given some of the ideas I am working off of before, but what with running this campaign very soon I thought it would help with the adventure to set things down on digital paper. I will freely admit that most of this is taken directly from Tangents, which is the backdrop of my campaign, but with my own ideas mixed in. I’ve started out with tangents as the base, which I’ve posted a summary of below, and then will spend latter posts documenting my divergence from this idea, including  the problems with the cable model, the fuzzy nature of individual strands, tears in the universe and how to travel using them and what the Z-coordinate means.

Until Next TIme, Stay Geeky

–Canageek

Ideas for my online game

As you all probably know, I am planning on running an online game this summer. I am not officially recruiting yet, as I am unsure of my schedule once I start my job, and that seems like an important thing to know. However, I love writing out game ideas, so I thought I would set some down here.

Idea #1: “XSlayers” (Ie Dungeonslayers meets X-Crawl) I’ve blogged about this one a lot before, specifically when I first mentioned my summer game. To recap: The players are sports starts who descend into short, premade dungeons before a live and televised audience. A Master of Ceremonies runs the show,  providing live commentary, flavour and possibly altering the dungeon as the players move through it.

Idea #2: “Megaslayers” This is very similar to idea #1, except that the players move through a large megadungeon. A megadungeon is one of those giant, many levelled complexes with perhaps hundreds of rooms in it, where the players will never truly “clear” it: New monsters will move in, old ones will leave, and monsters may well migrate as the players kill others and create vacuums within the dungeon. This is set in the same world as number 1, but instead of being a short sports event this is a weekly show. Players still are in a modern setting, but instead of being in a small dungeon 1-page dungeon style affair they are in a long megadungeon, and thus can play monsters off against one another, retreat to the surface, will have to rest in the dungeon and conserve resources.

Idea #3: “XSlayers Classic”  This would be like idea #1 except that instead of going through an adaptation of a one-page dungeon or something short that I cook up the part will go through an adaption of a classic adventure. Probably an old TSR adventure, but I can take suggestions provided players promise not to use out of game knowledge to their advantage. This could very well branch into “Megaslayers Classic” if a longer adventure like the Temple of Elemental Evil is chosen to.

Idea #4: Straight up Dungeonslayers: If the modern-reality TV dungeon idea is not popular then I could go with running a traditonal fantasy version of Dungeonslayers.

Idea #5: “Dungeonslayers Classic”: If people like the idea of mixing Dungeonslayers and classic D&D adventures, but do not like the idea of the modern-dungeon crawling then I could do that to.

Idea #6: “Megadungeonslayers” Again, Megadungeon+Dungeonslayers but no modern.

Idea #7: Dimensional Hoppers: Another idea that I have blogged about before, this game would involve the players travelling across dimensions in search of a way home. Each dimension will be part of a slightly different genre and tech level for a highly episodic feel, but with (hopefully) continuing characters. I would be using a variant BRP system.

Idea #8: Dungeonworld/The Sargasso of Dungeons: Really I can’t think of much to add to this, except that I’d probably use Dungeonslayers, or if I can’t get support for that something like Warrior, Rouge & Mage or a retroclone. This one could be modern, fantasy or some combination of the above.

Idea #9: Tangents. I recently found the Tangents book for Alternity and discovered that it has a really cool adventure series in it. I would be willing to run this with the caveat that players either have to make their own characters or use a premade one from the adventure, as I don’t have enough experience to help them with it as I do the other systems.

I think I’m the most interested in running #1,#3 and #7, followed by #4, #5, #8 and #9, but if I get a bunch of enthusiastic players for any of them I think I’d catch the enthusiasm myself pretty quickly. Also it should be noted that while I listed a bunch of megadungeon ideas they all rated pretty low on my list: This is likely because I’ve not run enough dungeons yet to create a good atmosphere in most of them, and have them react organically to events in the dungeon. The Sargasso would be an inherently random place, so I think it might work more easily… That isn’t to say I wouldn’t try, which is why I listed them. Ideas which I really like, but am unsure I could run, like this idea I have for a game set on a Spacehulk/Sargasso of Death setting I haven’t listed, as I am sure I could run it, but can’t think of a system I am comfortable enough with and that has enough creatures for me to stock it with.

So, does anyone have any feedback on these ideas? Would anyone be interested in playing in one of them? Questions on bits of the setting that seem unclear? Just want more details on one or more of them? Please leave a comment!

Until then, or next time, Stay Geeky!

–Canageek

My New Campagin: Modern Dungeon Crawling with Dungeonslayers

I’ve been thinking of running an online game of Dungeonslayers this summer if I can find enough interested players. I’m going to start putting more work into this once I am done exams (end of the week), but am starting to put thought into it during my study breaks.

I’ve been a fan of modern dungeon crawling ideas since I heard about XCrawl, though I was reasonably disappointed in the book and setting when I read them (Great ideas, poor implementation –though latter books improved it a fair bit) and have done some writing on the topic.

I was looking at the dungeons posted and was thinking that it might be fun to mix things up by adding in a modern twist.

I’ve started writing up a bit of background. I’ve used some ideas from X-Crawl, some of my own and random bits from a couple of other places.

Gladiatorial matches have long been a staple of the Empire. For years gladiatorial matches have been popular on television. Recently a small arena owner, bored of traditional events set up an obstacle course filled with lethal traps and several monsters in mini-arenas. The event was huge, and the sport of Dungeonslayers was born. The mazes quickly evolved into full blown dungeons, more monsters were added, each slayer has dozens of statistics tabulated and compiled after each dungeon and managers, bookies and fans pay pour over these numbers. Slayers start in simple dungeons made of plywood, scrap metal and concrete slaying rats and spiders, and if they live eventually face demons and dragons in recreation dungeons in front of live audiences of half a million. Guns are not allowed in the dungeons as it makes it far to hard to have a live audience, but a fair amount of other things are allowed.

Dungeons would be similar to normal, but the traps may use modern mechanisms and there is of course live commentary and occasional anachronisms. Guns are not allowed in dungeons as it makes it too hard to have live audiences. I am also thinking that a a late 80s-early 90s level of technology would work quite well- TV is big, possibly some BBSes, but less gadgets and whatnot for players to want me to rule on, while at the same time being familiar enough to me to be comfortable with it. Magic replaces technology in some instances, however due to black boxing no one really cares about which is which.

Any suggestions on using Dungeonslayers for this? Ideas for me to put in my dungeons? What about converting traditional fantasy dungeons to have a live-sports feel? Heck, would anyone be interested in playing? I’ve not worked out times or medium or whatnot yet, but I can start work on that once I have preliminary expressions of interest.

Well, sorry for the long gap between posts, school distracted me for a while. I’ll try to post more regularly after exams. I’ve got my first ever blog recommendation coming up, which I meant to write up oh, a few months ago and got busy. Anyway, until next time, Stay Geeky.

–Canageek

Escape to the Tangents

I’ve been reading the Alternity supplement Tangents and I’m really caught by the idea. I’ll probably never run a game in it, since I’d have to write all the adventures myself, but I have thought up a really cool campaign opening. This would also work for GURPS infinite worlds, which I suspect Tangents is copied off of, and the d20 Modern Dimension Hopping setting, stolen from Tangents.

“We were just rookies, about to do our first solo mission. A probe had crashed in an unoccupied world and we were to go retrieve it. We were sitting in a conference room, planning things out, exited as hell, when suddenly the alarms all start going off, their wailing punctuated by the distant thunder of explosions. As we headed for the door the sharp staccato of machine guy fire began, and the emergency evacuation siren began to scream. We ran for the transport bay, but had to detour around a sealed section, so most of the transports were gone. We were shoved into one of the smallest d-hoppers, an outdated and barely functional little model with just enough room for us. We set the only coordinates that we could think of, those of the crashed probe. As we shifted out we watched soldiers in unknown uniforms burst in. We know that we can’t go home, but we don’t know where else to go. Our only hope of getting off this empty world was to find the probe and pull the coordinates of it’s last jumps out of memory. Hopefully by backtracking along it’s route we will be able to find an outpost that is still safe. If we are really lucky the attacks will not be following us across the dimensions…but we aren’t taken any chances….”

DJ Elemental

I’ve been thinking of my old modern dungeon crawling idea more, and have thrown together a couple of DJs for an XCrawl like event. I found that the information on the DJs in the xcrawl book was a touch bland, with a couple of very interesting DJs, but most of them rather bland. I find that this is one of the most interesting ideas of XCrawl as the DJ designs the dungeon. I think that every DJ will have some sort of trademarks and themes they like to place in the dungeon, to let the fans watching instantly recognize them. This will also help make each crawl feel a bit different, so that the players don’t encounter dungeon after dungeon of 10×10 rooms.

The first idea I had was DJ Elemental. Elemental themed dungeons are not a new idea, I mean, look at the Temple of Elemental Evil, so it struck me that someone in the dungeon crawling league must enjoy elemental themed dungeons. They would have a very distinctive visual element, allow lots of dramatic special effects, and have a number of very obvious monsters. So without further ado: DJ ELEMENTAL!

(more…)

Every Book’s a Sourcebook: Worlds of the Imperium

Recently I was reading a blog by the name ‘Blog of Holding’ and read this post. In summary he thinks that every book has roleplaying ideas in it, just waiting to be unlocked. I think this is an excellent idea, so I am going to go over some of the books I have done this summer. As a warning each one of these posts will have spoilers in it, though I will try not to give away too much. (more…)