Thursday, May 23, 2013

Campaigns I'd Like to Run: X-COM/STALKER: Fight the Future

Like many GMs I often have more ideas for RPG campaigns than time to run them all. It's part of the fun to build on a creative spark and plan out the "what if" possibilities for new campaigns, even if it's unlikely to hit the table.

This month's RPG Blog Carnival -- hosted by Age of Ravens -- is based on this theme, "Campaigns I'd Like to Run." The Carnival is a great opportunity to work out some of these partially-formed campaign ideas.

X-COM/STALKER: Fight the Future

Yeah, we got the package, Colonel. No we didn't open it.

North of town? No, there's nobody there, no survivors. You see how many of us made it back?

It's perpetual night in there. Like walking though a curtain. Right inside the edge of Zone Mike Three. Gordon lost it right then. Didn't you know that?

The designator signal held out, it's the only way we could have found the package again. We secured it and fell back to the DZ. That's when they hit us. They knew we were there.

This campaign idea is for a near-future sci-fi/horror mashup that combines elements from two complimentary settings, the video game X-COM: Enemy Unknown, and the STALKER tabletop RPG, based on the novel Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky Brothers. Additional inspiration can be found in The X-Files, Delta Green, GURPS Atomic Horror, and GURPS Warehouse 23.

What is the campaign about?

Ever-increasingly desperate battles against an alien threat to humanity. Worldwide, there are gains and losses by both sides. Some areas previously controlled by the aliens have been mysteriously abandoned and are designated Zones. Some of the natural laws of physics no longer apply in the Zones. Despite the danger to body and mind, priceless alien artifacts of every description litter the Zones. It's only a matter of time before we learn how to use what they left behind to finally destroy the aliens. Conspiracy and fear reign: What do the aliens want? Which humans are collaborating with them?

How does the game do this?

The tone and the style of the campaign would depend on the interest of the players. I see two ways to go with the source material, and a sliding continuum between the extremes.

1) Investigation, Research and Building: The player characters are involved with the investigation of alien artifacts, and may be out in the field collecting data and material. This would certainly include forays into Zones of previous alien activity. They could also be involved with the development and management of team and agency resources, from the unit level expanding to the worldwide XCOM organization.

2) Tactical combat: The player characters are assigned to the combat field teams that face the alien threat. This would encompass actual combat roles (ranged, hand-to-hand, sniper) and support roles (medic, engineer, field tech).

As far as which rules system to use, again this would depend on the intended style of the game. For a more investigative game, and a focus on building resources, perhaps GUMSHOE, FATE Core, or Action Cards. For a game focused on combat with the aliens and other field operations, a system with more specific combat options, skills, and weapons might be more appropriate, such as Cyberpunk, Shadowrun or even nWoD. Somewhere in the middle, perhaps True20, Savage Worlds, or Chaosium BRP.


Trey said...

great idea, Steve. I think that would work really well.

Kaiju said...

Thanks, Trey! It's a setting that could be open for many possibilities. Works as a sandbox or tight conspiracy plots.