Sunday, April 22, 2007

Crossover setting idea: Survivors of the Caribbean

So, what happens when you read back through your old copy of Aftermath! while listening to Jimmy Buffet's "I've Made This Same Album 28 Times"? If you're me, your mind starts moving in odd directions. Well, even odder directions given that it's me we're talking about... Except for Cuba, there's not all that much in the Caribbean likely to have caught a nuke had WWIII happened. Plenty of sailboats. Plenty of oil if you can find a rig that hasn't been destroyed & can figure out how to refine the stuff. Full of colorful characters even without the whole "end of civilization" thing.
Swap out those ass-less chaps and leather jacket for Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt and imagine a version of "Waterworld" that halfway makes sense. This can be played realistically or over the top.

Realistic means that life is likely to be nasty, brutish, and short. No antibiotics, no more spares for your engines, and a slow slide back to 1600's era technology as what little trade is left gets strangled due to the lack of anything resembling the policing of the sea lanes. Pirates in a realistic setting are likely to be very bad men indeed.

Over the top is more fun, and thus much more likely to be played & enjoyed. In an over the top game, it'll be perfectly acceptable to say something like, "Avast ye lubbers, I be here only for the gazzoline. Arrr!" as mohawked lunatics on Skidoos menace the residents of an isolated oil rig. Mad Max on "Talk Like A Pirate Day" and Captain Jack Sparrow with an AK-47 should be the order of the day.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Inspirational Gaming Music Part 1

That's inspirational as in, "Hey, that'd make a great plot/setting/NPC", not necessarily tunes that "&%*#ING RAWK!". For the first installation of this subject, I'm going with the great grandsire of the type: King Crimson's The Court Of The Crimson King. Pretty much everyone who's ever run a swords & sorcery game has mined this one for ideas. Given access to a time machine, I wouldn't be surprised to find a copy of the album on Gygax & Arneson's turntables back in the day.

This "prog rock" classic is younger than myself by a few months, and has admittedly aged better than I have. The album of the same name was recorded in August through September of 1969, and was released in early October of that year. It's got a fuzzy, dream-like quality that sets the mind going in odd directions. It's almost a legal way to trip. I can only imagine what it's like while actually on mind-altering chemicals.

All that said, most older players will flee at the first mention of chanting black queens, fire witches, & yellow jesters in a D&D-like setting. They've seen it too many times. Therefore, use it in pretty much any other setting. Base the background court politics of something ostensibly mundane on the song. Perhaps in your technothriller, that wisecracking Naval Attache from the Chinese Embassy is the one pulling the strings to bring about a coup back home and part of his plot involves getting Dr. Rice to convince Janet Reno to visit Bejing. For that matter, I shudder to think what a good CoC GM could do with it...