Wednesday, August 26, 2015

RPGaDay 2015 #26 Favorite Inspiration For Your Game

I'm sure lots of people will tell you how much they plumb their vast collection of novels, TV shows, movies, or conspiracy theory paperbacks for gaming inspiration. My process is a little different. I tend to lean on the games themselves to inform my campaign building.

At least partly because an awesome game is one where the designer successfully communicates what is awesome about their game. So if I'm reading an awesome game, I'm already cooking up ideas of how I want to see it in action. And outside of licensed or historical settings, most of what is true about a setting is between the pages of the book itself.

One of my favorite sorts of inspiration is the No-Prize. I don't know if Marvel still awards No-Prizes, but for a while they gave out No-Prizes to fans who not only pointed continuity flaws in their comics, but also proposed explanations for how it wasn't really a continuity flaw after all. Is that character's energy blast the wrong color? Rather than blame it on the colorist, maybe it's a new application of that character's power and it makes sense for it to be that color.

So I look in my games for interesting questions that the setting proposes, but doesn't really answer.

One of my favorite adventures that I've come up with was for the GURPS Technomancer setting. The main idea of that setting is that magic replaces the atom as the force that changes the latter half of the 20th Century. In the book, they describe the effects of Ambulatory Necrotic Plague (aka zombie-ism), which is spread by an undead bacterium. It explains that zombie brains continually degrade, but that this can be forestalled by eating brains from other people.

But what if someone with a high IQ stat gets turned into a zombie? If their IQ was high enough, they might have several days before they even dropped below average intelligence. They might even be able to plan ahead and ensure a steady brain supply so that their intelligence will last longer.

I decided that this was going to be my villain. He was a doctor researching ANP who became infected and turned into a zombie. He began a program of abducting people both to keep his brain supply up and as test subjects to hopefully cure himself of the condition.

And that's when our heroes step in.

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