... now with 35% more arrogance!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Atoms and Alternatives

The name of my work-in-progress atomic-age horror RPG will probably be Alternative V. I haven't seen anything with that title and it doesn't seem to be a trademark, so I think it's looking likely. Possible subtitle "horror-adventure in the Atomic Age".

What the heckazoid do I mean by that?

The genre of '50s and '60s sci-fi films, filled with nuclear threats (On the Beach, Panic in Year Zero, Rocket Attack USA) or post-nuclear threats (These Are the Damned, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Amazing Colossal Man,) science gone wrong (Them, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, Donovan's Brain,) and bug-eyed monster invasions (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, It Came from Outer Space, Kronos.) Lasers, rockets, exploring extreme environments and other planets. The pinnacles of the genre, for me, are The Day the Earth Stood Still, This Island Earth, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Invaders from Mars.

The genre is reeking with anxiety and xenophobia, full of weird science overstepping our bounds, accidentally or deliberately, but it's always science (plus occasionally military might) that wins in the end. Science tempered by moral virtue, not an outright rejection of science, is the solution. It's a weird mix of pessimism and optimism.

So that's the inspiration, but what's the goal? Adventures based around the expansion of science, especially space exploration. Potential mishaps of science and alien intervention. Sabotage and infiltration by foreign powers. There will be a "ladder" of events of increasing tension. There will be a reaction roll-based mechanic, similar to the one I proposed for kingdom or barony management, which can determine what the Enemy is secretly up to.

The guts of the system are actually more or less done: it's Liber Zero or D&D, with the class system replaced with my stripped-down classes, focusing on Fighter, Trickster, Charmer, a Trickster variant (Gadgeteer,) and the option of Psychic (for mutants.) Plus, the Blanc background system. This means, of course, that Liber Zero and Liber Blanc need to be finished first, followed by the special background stuff. The Malopticon and the Cerebrapod will be a part of Alternative V, which is why I've tagged them "atomic". I'll be posting more atomic monsters soon, all of which are also usable in straight D&D and its clones, of course.

Text in bold above are just a few of the topics I plan to cover this month.

A sidenote: I am also planning a space patrol-style game which will be a supplement to Alternative V. The planned title is Populuxe Planet Patrol, again depending on whether I discover that name's already been used.


  1. Sounds completely awesome!
    I'd enjoy the hell out a game like that and it is a genre that is certainly under-represented in the RPG biz.

    Following your blog now for the A-Z Challenge.

    The Other Side

  2. Sounds interesting!
    And This Island Earth always makes me think of MST3K...

  3. It sounds even better today than it did yesterday. That reaction roll idea is very clean.

  4. Atomic Horror is an awesome choice for this project. Bring on the Interocitors and Really Giant Ants. Have you started any Atomic-style geomorphs?

  5. I'm with NetherWerks. I want some Atomic-style geomorphs! Heck, I may do some more (other than the two I did after Moon Soldiers Must Die!)

  6. @Alex: "Later, I may ram my ovipositer down your throat and lay eggs in your chest, but I'M NOT AN ALIEN!" Even though I have great respect for This Island Earth, I do like the MST3k version...

    @NetherWerks, Risus Monkey: I hadn't thought of atomic geomorphs, because geomorphs didn't quite seem to fit the Alternative V concept... so all the planned geomorphs this month are G-series gears and machinery. I suppose it would be possible to do an A-series (Atomic-Age or Alien Base.) I'll think about it.