Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Power And The Glory

The Power And The Glory is a idea for an RPG that has been knocking around at the back of my mind for about an year now - an RPG of being a racing driver in a deadly era, i.e. the 1930s, the 1950s or the 1960s. It draws it's inspiration from reading motorsport history and seeing how shocking the fatality rate was in those days along with the classic films Grand Prix and Le Mans, both of which have an air of impending death/serious injury that seems alien to anybody brought up on modern motorsport in which "nobody gets killed".

I have only inchoate ideas for the game at the moment so have decided to start doing my thinking in the open and seeing if that helps shift the logjam of ideas (translation - blog about it).

For a start, TPATG needs to be something unique in RPGs - a RPG in which a PC (or several PCs) has to die. No ifs, no buts. It's dramatically important that at least one fatal racing accident happens.

So at the start of the game, which represents "highlights" of a season in the 30s, 50s or 60s I was thinking that each player would draw a bead or chit or similar in secret, that indicates whether the driver to their right is destinated to live or die. And they keep this secret until the relevant time and so you don't know whether your PC can survive or not. It's in the lap of the gods and the hidden bead that the player to your left has.

At some point, a PC will be in a life-or-death situation, a real 50/50. At this moment, the bead is revealed.

That is effectively the start and end point of the game mechanism. Dramas will be narrated around the table, PCs will invoke some mechanism to try and avoid trouble and somehow benefit (what exactly this will be I'm not sure yet - possibly some way of pushing that 50/50 back as long as possible) and for each player there will be a dramatic denouement whereby they offer themselves up to the Gods and see what coloured bead the other player has for them. I suspect that this won't need a GM.

It's the bits inbetween I haven't sorted yet :)


  1. Nice idea. There may be some mileage (oh dear) in borrowing bits of Pendragon. There's a strict line between normal life and adventuring in that which could work well for the distinction between a driver's general existence and the Big Race.

    During the "winter phase", events could happen which affect the drivers' standings, which would then affect how they want to approach the big race, how risky they want to take it, and so on. It could even be something like "Driver A has been having an affair with Driver B's wife" so then Driver B has a reason to be a bit more risky during the race, in an attempt to show up his rival. He might even try to kill hill off deliberately.

    The challenge, I think, will be in making the Big Race interesting without it getting bogged down in mechanics.

  2. Worth getting in touch with Martin McKenna. He has some absolutely brilliant alternate '30s racing car art.

  3. Building off Kelvin's idea, how about multiple colors for the beads? Depending on how risky a choice you made (or how weather is impacting the track, say), an Orange bead might not kill you, where a Red one definitely would. And a White bead is definitely all-clear. That would add more than a 50/50 chance to the mix. Of course, you need to build in incentives to encourage riskier driving.