Saturday, 21 April 2012

Movie Magic and the Modern Gamer.

Saturday Potpourri

Welcome to the first installment of Saturday Potpourri, where i delve deep into.. well... whatever the hell I feel like today!
Seriously though, thanks for dropping in. Today i want to talk a little about Movies as inspiration for gaming. I think I can safely say that everyone loves movies. Everyone. They take us to places we never thought about before, they make us laugh, they make some cry, but inevitably they make us forget about whatever is bothering us and whisk us away to somewhere else for 90 minutes or more.
So, i figure, if they are doing something right... then we should straight up jack their ideas for our games!
Think about it. How many Roleplaying sessions have you attended that seemed terrifyingly familiar, but you couldn't put your finger on it? Or even realized you were playing a scene pulled word for word straight from the silver screen (I'm terribly guilty for this when i GM)? Well it's said that imitation is the most earnest form of flattery, so lets be earnest (Verne can stay at home... wow.. i bet that comment dated me a bit) and discuss a few great movie  scenes and see how we can adapt them to some of my favorite game systems.

But what movies should we steal adapts scenes from? (glad you asked Mr.Strawman) How about:

1. Heat (1995, starring Al Pachino, Robert Deniro, Val Kilmer).
    Scene: The bank heist/major shootout at the climax of the movie

2. The 13th Warrior (1999, starring Antonio Banderas, Vladimir Kulich)
    Scene: The journey to the besieged North-man hold

3. Aliens (1986, starring Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton)
    Scene: The last stand of the USMC Marines inside the complex.

And now, to choose the Game Systems:

1. Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition
2. Star Wars Saga Edition
3. Dead Lands
4. Mutant Chronicles
5. Rifts Rpg
6. Deathwatch Rpg

So let's get started!



The Scene: 3 Villains (Robert Deniro, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore) have just walked out of a bank and are walking to their getaway car. Kilmer spots the P.D. ambush and opens fire with an Automatic rifle. All hell breaks loose.

The Games: Mutant Chronicles & Dead Lands

How are we going to do this?

The players need to case the joint (making a few detection rolls to spot the hidden security), and plan their attack.  Spend a session or two figuring out their plan of attack. You'll need a blueprint of the bank, which a quick google image search will bring up, or craft your own with good ol' pencil and graph paper.
They'll need to arrange transport, weapons and armor (if they have their own, is it traceable?). Maybe have them make a few contact rolls to get the equipment they need or pull in a few favors from their contacts. Do they have transport? do they need to hire on a few more bodies for the heist?
These are all things the players will need to answer.
And by all means, don't make it easy.
If they have to outsource help, make them sleazy, back stabbing bastards. If they need equipment, give them old surplus. This will force your players to work the system to get good quality men and gear. Give them suspect information and specs for the bank, so they HAVE to do recon.
All of this will make the players really invest themselves in the heist. Make it theirs.

Then REWARD their hard work.when they put the plan in motion, have everything go smoothly. If they didn't and just mucked about or made little effort, make sure there are plenty of "heroes" in the bank. Security guards, tough guys, wanna-be lawyers. Anything to make things rough on them. Then when all is said and done... AMBUSH THEM IN THE STREET WITH THE LAW DAWGS.
I guarantee that your players will talk about the session for ages.

Adaptations for the Game systems:
Mutant Chronicles: Make the bank a Weapons development firm (maybe Imperial or Bauhaus), or better yet, make the Target firm a company owned by a corporation that has backstabbed the freelancer before. Make their contractor a competing Corporation like Capital or Mishima. This will make getting in and out quietly even more important, because their history will mean they'll be recognized and possibly (if caught) executed for espionage.
And besides, there are always more freelancers to try again, so you can be guaranteed that the parent corporation will disavow any knowledge of the attempt.

Deadlands: Little will need to be changed really. This kind of thing is common in the Wierd West, and makes the game almost cliche (in a good way). If you want to spice it up, make the vault have some kind of ward or ghost-rock powered guardian that the players must neutralize. Maybe make the object of the heist some kind of artifact in a security box, that, when it's delivered to the players hirer, unleashes some kind of new hell in the Weird West... AND IT'S ALL THE PLAYERS FAULT.

The 13th Warrior

Gozer takes a rest from battling the Ghost-Busters... oops wrong movie.

The Scene: Pus n' Boots Banderas' character has been recruited (unwillingly) as the fated 13th warrior in a group of north-men journeying in aid of a North-man hold under assault by an ancient evil. Unfortunately his new allies arn't big fans of their new compatriot and he has to prove himself to them before they arrive at their destination... or else find himself alone in a dangerous foreign land...under supernatural threat.

The Games: Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition and Rifts Rpg.

How are we going to do this?
Well isn't this the perfect starting game? You have a situation requiring unknown characters to make nice and prove their skills, a long journey to unknown lands, and an unknown threat at the end to draw them together. So many unknowns IT'S PERFECT!
This setup is prebuilt for allowing a GM to start off a new gaming group or introduce a new party to each other. The journey allows players to flex their roleplaying muscles and show off what they can do. Add a couple of minor encounters over the course of the quest geared toward showing off different aspects of the group, whether it's a minor fight with some bandits (for the combat characters), a rare magical beast looking for a quick snack (for the more magically inclined characters to bluster over and/or slay and loot for ingredients and useful bits), or an isolated camp under duress from a nasty plague (for the gallant or healers of the group). The few loose encounters you employ on the trip will allow the players to gel as a unit and discover their strengths and weaknesses to better operate as a whole. In addition, you will inevitably have one player move to the fore as the mover and shaker of the group and become the leader. It's a wonderful setup.

Adaptations for the Game systems:
D&D 4e: This system has a built in mechanic for long arduous journeys. The skill Challenge. Run a skill challenge for each of the different types of terrain the players will have to travel over (Plains, seas and mountains for example) broken up by those minor encounters to get the players to work together and figure out their specializations. I'm a huge fan of the Skill Challenge mechanic and am constantly looking for ways to adapt it to other systems as well.

Rifts Rpg: Rifts is really nothing more than your average fantasy game with awesome future-tech and a wickedly cool storyline (The Coalition is BADASS!), so treat it that way. Take everything you love about fantasy and add in robots, it's as simple as that!  Take what was written above, give the bandits some wilks or northern gun tech and Bob's your uncle. Oh, and maybe add in some mechanoids. But that's just cause I have an unhealthy love of homicidal quatto-monsters driving psionic murder-machines....


Hey Ripley, got a band-aid?

Scene: The USMC Marines have been cornered by aliens, the reactor is going to blow soon and they've been harried and picked off one by one. They decide to attempt a last stand... to Hudson's (and Burkes') distress.

The Games: Deathwatch Rpg and Star Wars Saga Edition.

How are we going to do this?
This scenario is pretty much written for an epic battle, something every player enjoys. Supplies have run out, time is running short, and the  enemy is coming in wave after wave of slashing claws, acid blood and belly-impregnating face-humpers (ugh). This is a best used as the epic finale to either a series of mission or an entire campaign, where everything has been done to wear the player characters down. Even a Space Marine can only take so much. Hit the players with wave after wave of low or equal level enemies and watch supporting characters falter and fail. One of the keys to making a scene like this truly threatening is to leave no way out... that the players know of. Only have an escape route reveal itself when all seems lost and every character is on their last legs. Maybe an explosion takes out a wall revealing a previously undetectable vent shaft. Or the preliminary shaking of the base as the reactor begins to overload causes the floor to give way to an inaccessible pathway. This is the time to tie up any loose-ends as well, such as ancillary characters, baddies-become-friends, etc.
The most important thing is to keep the players on the edge of death and their chairs.

Adaptations for the Game systems:
Deathwatch Rpg: This scenario is something that the Deathwatch are not only familiar with, but will be facing often, so you need to ramp it up even higher. The genestealers are scary as it is... but including carnifii (is that the multiple of a carnifex? carnifexes, carnipeeni?), or even a Zoanthrope can up the ante considerably.
Or you (if not using Tyranids) can add to the atmosphere by forcing them into strange environments, such as Zero-G or lava venting tubes or something suitably horrendous (and capable of messing up their armor!).

Star Wars Saga Edition:
Starwars is replete with dozens of horrifying aliens that can fit the bill for the aliens, or even feel free to create something new (it IS your game after all). And even worse than the bug-like aliens form the movies, THESE aliens are all sentient and therefor far more devious. Or you could replace the Aliens with seperatist droid armies. Unthinking, unfeeling killing machines bent on your players destruction.
Or worst of all... the most truly terrifying. Replace the Aliens with Ewoks and let the horror commence.
Because fuck Ewoks.. seriously.

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