Monday, 4 January 2010
But first, 3:16.
This puzzle of a game continues to occupy the odd occasional thought. I love the idea of a £10 RPG with slimmed-down mechanisms and razor-sharp focus but struggle to see it working well when played. I keep trying and failing to create a scenario that's something more interesting than the standard three of four fights against aliens.
Then I tidied up the bookcases and created a few stacks of RPG books while sorting everything out. I looked at the pile and it immediately struck me that either by chance or intervention from the subconscious I'd thrown 3:16 on top of 2nd edition Paranoia, the UK printing by Games Workshop. Bloody hell, thinks I, that's the answer!
Instead of trying to satirise the War on Terror and the film version of Starship Troopers (A film I "got" but still hated) why not approach things from the idea of 3:16 being run by the boys from Alpha Complex. Who knows, this might end up being more realistic than trying to be realistic could ever achieve.
So, following from realising that Paranoia was the missing jigsaw piece that suddenly made 3:16 perfect, I started wondering what else would be improved from being filtered through the distorting lens of Alpha Complex.
And it struck me again. The other "problem" RPG I have, or more specifically "problem module", S1 Tomb of Horrors.
Everything bad about this module suddenly gets massaged out of the equation just like a climate change scientist throwing away all the data that doesn't fit his pre-defined findings.
It's full of deathtraps - But you have 6 clones .
It's shockingly unfair - And your point is?
It's illogical and makes no sense - And your point is?
The players will know everything in there in advance - Yes and while separating player and PC knowledge in AD&D is tricky enough, in Paranoia nobody is ever going to let it slip that they've read the module. They'll even act dumb and do things they know will be bad even just to avoid looking like they possess treasonous knowledge of the scenario .
It requires careful teamwork or the PCs will end up dead (six times over) very quickly - But Friend Computer wouldn't have promoted the clones from Infrared level to the giddy heights of Red Level Clearance if they weren't fine team players would he? Thought not.
So... recast Acererack as ACER-W-ACK-6, a deceased Ultraviolet Level High Programmer, get another bunch of Ultraviolets who are after all his worldly goods to send a team of Red Level troubleshooters off to GHK sector to loot his tomb (the titular TOMBOFHOR-R-ORS) and bring the goodies back to them. Hopefully. Everything becomes a section of GHK sector built from reclaimed Old Reckoning masonry and Top Secret R&D equipment.
And of course I'd run it in the way I always ran Paranoia which is to say that I might run it without even having the rulebook to hand. Back In The Day I borrowed the rulesbook off a friend, read the background, gave it him back and went straight to running games without even looking at the rules section. To this day I don't know a single rule of the game, I've never seen it run with the rules, nor do I recall seeing a single rule mechanism or stat in any of the scenarios that White Dwarf published. In fact I was initially surprised to discover there was a full rules system included in the main book.
Every single time I played in it or ran it it was Kriegspieled or more accurately purely run on Gamesmasters whim. The more amusing something was, the more often it worked. The less interesting something was, it generally didn't. Sometimes I'd throw a dice behind a screen (the only game I ever used one for BTW) and pretend it meant something.
In a way I wish I'd had this idea a few months ago - then I could perhaps have had it ready for the round of Christmas one-off games at Stourbridge.