Danger, nostalgia detected! Time for looking forward! (Or, how did we get into this mess, anyway?)

by mshrm

Once the second season of the Space Cowboys game came to a dramatic conclusion, we found ourselves adrift. We wanted something more gritty, with more combat. We kicked around various ideas, and for a while, it looked like we were going to dig into a Mystic Martial Arts game — the kind where the fate of the world is decided by a bunch of scruffy street fighters engaging in fisticuffs.

But, then, some of us got to talking about video games. I had just picked up one of the Fallout titles for the first time. One thing led to another, and I suddenly found myself agreeing to run a low-down, nasty, survivor-horror, post-apocalyptic game. The easy example these days would be the zombie apocalypse, in the style of the “Walking Dead”, but I swore I wouldn’t use zombies; one of the players had already staked out that scenario, and I didn’t want to poach it.* In fact, as the idea rolled around, I think one of selling points became the uncertainty of the nature of the end of the world as we know it.

As I studied the problem, I came to certain conclusions. If we wanted a game of survival horror, where one might kill another for a can of beans or a pair of shoes, it would be important to emphasize food and water. We had never really used the starvation rules, so I went to review them. This led to a realization.

We hadn’t even been using the Fatigue rules.

Oh, yeah, we tracked Fatigue in combat for Extra Effort and so forth, and we had seen a Fatigue-draining attack or two, so we used that much of it, at least. What we didn’t do was closely track the recovery of Fatigue. I had skimmed the rules, without actually doing the math, and just handwaved it. All the games were modern enough, it didn’t seem far-fetched for someone to sit down and take a break, even in the face of exciting events. To take an example from the Space Cowboys game, if Osolo felt a little winded, he would sit down and peel potatoes for a bit.

So, long story still fairly long, we decided to set up the Dungeon Fantasy game to ease in to the bookkeeping required to run a good post-apocalyptic game. As a step towards starving characters, we’re running characters who have to eat. As a step towards characters who get exhausted, we’re running characters who get tired and have to rest. As a step towards characters who engage in desperate, no-holds-barred struggles at the drop of a hat for the lowest of stakes, we’re running characters who have to be more involved in a fight than just taking cover and firing a gun.

The unexpected part, I’d say, is how everyone has taken to the DF game. I expected it to be more of an exercise, then on to the main event, but from the reports I’m receiving, it seems like this one has some legs.

I dunno, maybe, someday, we’ll take a break from DF and check on the apocalypse, just long enough for the cannibalism to set in, and then come back to the dungeon. Who knows how it’ll go?


* … and I still want to play it, so I wouldn’t want to sate everyone’s appetite.