Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hanging out here for a while

If you frequent my other blog (and Analytics tells me that a whole lot more of you do that than come here) then you know I'm a bit soured on the wargaming side of my hobby universe.

Ergo, I've been packing up my paints and busting out more three-ring binders down on the hobby table as I contemplate my RPG stuff.  I've got one iron in the fire right now, my one-shot for End of the World 2011 (EOW).  That's the annual five-day gamefest that I play with a few of my friends back home.  There's three full days of gaming with one of us running an all-day session Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  This year I'm running one of the sessions, and for the first time I'm running a scenario set in the group's primary setting, Morrow Project.

For those who are unfamiliar with Morrow Project, the game was written initially in the mid-70's but wasn't published until 1984, smack in the middle of the heightened anxiety of a nuclear war.  Drawing from the same creative muses that produced Mad Max and Red Dawn, the PC's are part of a cell of cryogenically frozen Americans who were to survive the impending nuclear exchange and rebuild America.  However in the RPG the main computer, Prime Base, is sabotaged and the PC's end up sleeping for 150 years, during which time the post-apocalyptic landscape of America changes radically, including such lovelies as giant spiders and radiation-themed vampires.

The game was a also a military-enthusiast's dream.  There were pages of 1980's-era military vehicles and guns out the wazoo that could be introduced into the game.  The rules were clunky and unsophisticated, but the game still enjoys a bit of a cult following (including us).

Instead of using the rules as written, this particular gaming group, which has been around for over 20 years, modified the rules using two other systems at hand: Traveller, and the Star Trek RPG produced by FASA, taking the life path creation system from former, and the stat and skill system from the latter.  This homebrewed gumbo looks a lot like someone put thousand island dressing on vanilla ice cream, but it works (sort of) for a lot of different genres, primarily ones that feature guns, which most of the EOW games do.  See, you have to use the system at EOW, regardless of genre.  So everyone take a whack at running whatever they want using the same rules.  It's an interesting exercise in some ways, and illustrates how important story is in comparison to what system you run.

Example, two years ago I ran a session at EOW in which the game took place in a four-color, pulp fantasy world where all the PC's played versions of various pulp-era heroes, e.g. Doc Samson, the Shadow, Tarzan, etc.  I introduced some alterations to the hand-to-hand combat rules, because they were pretty weak and pulp-heroes do a lot more talking with their fists.

But this year, I'm doing Morrow Project.  And I've been planning this for a year.  I'm going for a "shoot the moon" kind of scenario that'll either fall flat or be epic.  I've mostly been wrestling with how to make it work, but I think I've got it down.  One of the things I've always wondered about is what kind of person would voluntarily have themselves hurled a hundred years into a post-apoc future, and what that first few days are like.  That'll be what my game is about, and hopefully it'll do well.  We'll find out in October.

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