... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Future of the Fifties

Alternative V will be set in the '50s by default, not just because it's the era of some atomic-age horror movies, and not just because it's an underused era in RPGs. It's actually useful in terms of game mechanics for (re-)inventing anachronistic devices. If we set the game in the past, we can cheat a bit, subtracting the current year in the game world from the year when a "futuristic" (to the '50s) product became available.

Sputnik was launched into Earth orbit in '57. If scientist-heroes in '52 are working on an independent satellite program, they need to "jump ahead" five years in the timeline. If they are trying to put a man on the moon ('69,) they need to jump ahead 17 years. Make a reaction roll to see how their research is going: on a High reaction, they can jump ahead in their understanding of the topic 1d6 years, or double that on a Very High reaction. Once a prototype is made, it's still experimental: make an Avoid Accident roll (4 or less on d6) to avoid a malfunction, with +1 difficulty to the roll if the prototype is 10 years ahead of its time, +2 for 20 years, and an additional +1 for every doubling of the years.

Note: I had a post on FTL travel for today's A to Z challenge, written up weeks ago. But I decided that's more of a Populuxe Planet Patrol feature, plus I decided this post really needed to be written for the letter F, so I'm rescheduling FTL travel for a different day.


  1. Good thinking. That strikes me as very original.

  2. Thanks. I'm trying to keep everything simple. We'll see if it stays that way...

  3. Sounds cool!

    I'm a big fan of alternate pasts. I did a alternate Sci-Fi (and Spy-Fi) '60s comic for an online contest a couple of years ago.

  4. Very cool. Will there be Metalunan Mutants in Alternative V? The ones with the pincers, bulgy-brains and natty pants?

  5. @NetherWerks: they'd certainly be possible; I'll probably have a section on modified insects, animals, and plants that perform slave labor. But I probably won't have the Mut-Ants specifically, or the Metalunans.

    Even though Famous Monsters used to have ads for a Mut-Ant mask that I used to yearn for...