Games I Want To Run

Action Force
Action Force

Over the years I have had ideas for games that I don’t think I’ll ever get around to actually running. I used to post them up as quick notes on my LiveJournal, under the tag “game i want to run.” Now I’m compiled them all on this page, which I’ll update as I get more ideas for crazy-ass games.

Nextwave: The Next Wave

Nextwave, the Next Wave: H.A.T.E. tries to create a new anti-terrorist group to beat up people and make America a safer place. The current idea is a group of reject heroes who have to deal with a bunch of retired supervillains and prove that they’re threats to justify H.A.T.E.’s bailout application.

Since Nextwave is a modern “remix” of 80s characters and ideas, I’d probably use the original TSR Marvel Super Heroes system (or maybe the Four Color System, since it’s also a remix of an 80s superhero game).

Robot City

Robot City is a world almost completely covered by one metropolis, run by a caste system of robotic tribes. The society is a bit like late-Communist Russia, with a little bit of the Hindu caste system. One tribe of outcasts, a collection of robots found to be unsuitable or too broken to function in their caste, start to organize a revolt about the powers that be. (I had much more extensive notes, but I have no idea where they disappeared off to.)

There’s actually a lot of vectors to come at this game at, but it would likely be a short-run or one-shot game, since the idea of playing in an all-robot society would probably not sustain itself too long for regular play. I would probably pick a light-weight system for this, such as FUDGE or Savage Worlds, something that’s easy to hack at and tweak.

Action Force 1948

The year is 1948. World War II is over. However, a group of radical fascists have banded together in secret to attempt to undo the victory of the Allies. James McCullen Destro, Baroness Anastasia DeCobray, and a masked man known only as the Commander have secretly acquired Nazi, Italian and Japanese technology in an attempt to create their own terrorist force independant of national boundries. Rather than reveal to the world that the defeat of fascism in Europe was not complete, the League of Nations create a secret military force called “Action Force.” Commanded by General Lawrence J. Flagg and his First Sergeant Conrad “Duke” Hauser, Action Force attempts to defeat the dangerous Cobra Command.

Yes, it’s noir G.I. Joe, with a dash of the British Action Force for flavor. Depending on the mood I wanted to go for, I could use anything from Top Secret/SI with theAgent 13 sourcebook to Two Fisted Tales to Savage Worlds to Spycraft. (Cartoon Action Hour would appear to be a logical choice, but I think it would be too campy for this setup, and CAH doesn’t quite do “just humans” as well as I’d like.)

League of Heroes

David and I once talked about doing a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-style game that would use pulp heroes from the 1930s. Original pulp characters such as The Shadow, The Phantom, and Doc Savage could be teamed with “modern pulp” characters like The Sandman and The Rocketeer, or even with less “superheroic” characters from that time-period such as The Saint.

David recommended Cartoon Action Hour (which I would be inclined to use if I ever decided to run this), but Adventure! and Two-Fisted Tales would also work quite well.

… dark mirror …

This is a campaign that I almost ran in 2001 but ended up scrapping (mainly due to the insane patchwork of systems I created to try to pull it off). Basically, a former “black book” government agency has gone rogue, what with the US government collapsing, and has started working with professional mercenaries (so-called “Edgerunners”) towards their original secret goals of dealing with the supernatural and aliens, while working against another former government agency that has been acquired by Militech. Gritty futuristic military conspiracy under a layer of cyberpunk flash and style.

When I first tried to run this, I used the original Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0. system. I had an old article on converting Call of Cthulhu to the CP2020 system, which I used to port Delta Green over. Then I tossed in the old Night’s Edge sourcebooks that added supernatural creatures and powers to CP2020. The result, while technically workable, was really a complete mess, and the game never got off the ground as a result. If I were to do it all over again, I would probably use the CP2020 books with Delta Green as inspiration, and port the entire thing over to one cohesive system. Assuming I didn’t lose my mind and try to develop a whole new system to use, the top four contenders (in no particular order) would be:

Call of Cthulhu D20 – With the upcoming revised Delta Green sourcebook for CoC D20, I could probably use something like Digital Burn to cover the cyberpunk elements, and CoC D20 is sufficiently action-adventure oriented. Plus, most people have played some sort of D20 variation in my potential gaming pool.

GURPS – I have GURPS Cyberpunk, GURPS Cthulhupunk, GURPS Horror, and GURPS Illuminati. If I picked up Special Ops and maybe Ultra-Tech, I should have everything I would need for the series. The only real drawback is that I’m not that familiar with GURPS, but at least the system components would play well with each other (probably more so than trying to mix D20 suppliments).

FUDGE – The next option is to go minimalist and just port the whole thing over to FUDGE, making design decisions as I needed to. While this would offer the maximum flexability, my inexperience with FUDGE means that I would end up tweaking the game system as we played, which is not the best solution for the players (“Wait, we could do that before, why not now?”).

Savage Worlds – I’ve been looking for a reason to try this out, and the Savage Worlds system seems to be a good, solid, lightweight system. However, it might be a little TOO lightweight, but if I wanted to make the game more miniatures-oriented, this would be the only way to go.

War of Houses

Part Dune, part Shakespeare, part Mechwarrior, and part Robotech. In a distant future, the Earth has expanded into a huge galactic empire, and the various worlds are all ruled and controlled by vast noble houses. These houses are constantly on the verge of civil war, as intersteller politics and arranged marriages dictate from week to week what allegiance a certain world holds. The passion and fury of select nobles can shake the galaxy apart, and frequently does in this galactic soap opera.

War of Houses can be run with Big Eyes, Small Mouth, BESM d20 with the d20 Mecha book, the d20 mini-game Mecha Crusade in Polyhedron 154 (which requires d20 Modern), Mekton Z, the upcoming 1PG from Deep7 called Exosuit A-OK, or maybe even Cartoon Action Hour. I might write up a more “cartoony” version of this idea forAfter These Messages…, but the original idea as presented is intended to be high melodrama with lots of giant robot military action.

“Questions”

Fire… Cold. So cold. I can’t feel my hands. They’re a couple of twitching lumps of meat at the end of my arms, uncaring about my needs or desires. I push them closer to the fire sputtering in a rusted oil drum, but the heat is as unconcerned about me as my hands are.

Across from me, the man with the long, diamond-shaped scar covering his cheek smiles, his teeth as black and broken as the ancient blacktop around us. “It’s cold tonight,” he says. I nod and look away to avoid gagging on breath that smells like cigarettes stubbed out in used cat litter. The lumps twitch toward the illusion of warmth again.

“Name’s Claude,” he says. “You’re new.”

I nod again, still looking out into the empty street near the alley. It’s bad enough that I lost everything – my job, my home, my family. But now I’m going to be trapped in this alleyway, snow melting into my shoes, listening to a disfigured man with breath as stale as his conversation forever. This isn’t just another November night. It’s a pit of hell that I’m trapped in, a punishment for unknown crimes against the universe.

“Sometimes the innocent are put in jail, and the guilty go free.”

Surprised by the comment, I turn back to him. “What?”

Claude’s face twists into a grin, his scar stretched into a new, more hideous shape. “That’s what I like about new guys. They ask questions.”

I shove my hands under my arms, giving up on the fire. “What are you talking about?”

“Questions. You have them. I don’t.”

“You don’t ask questions?”

“I don’t have them. Questions are energy. At some point, you reach a zero point of energy, and the questions run out.”

“Where does this energy go?” I’m drawn into the conversation. Not out of any real interest, but to keep my mind from going numb.

Claude smiles again, stroking his scar. “To the monsters.”

“Monsters,” I say flatly.

Claude laughs. “You’re going to have to do better than that. Already they’re sucking the energy out of you.”

I shake my head. “Just leave me alone. I’ve lost everything I cared about, and I don’t want to die listening to some insane homeless person.”

“You’re wrong. I’m not insane, nor am I a person.”

“Not a person? Then what the hell are you?”

“Again.”

“What?”

“More. Ask me more.”

“You want me to ask you more questions?”

“Yes.” He licks his lips.

“Like ‘where’ve you been?’ and ‘what time is it?’ and ‘where’s the cat?’”

“Yes, yes, yes.”

Claude starts to shake. His voice is suddenly feeble, whispering “yes, yes” over and over to himself. His smile grows and the scar stretches further and further before it suddenly splits. Something oozes out of the wound, but it’s not blood. It’s a thick, bright red sludge, like melting red lipstick. I watch in horror as the slime slides down Claude’s face while he twitches in some private fit. It falls to the ground with a wet squelch into the watery snow.

And then the ooze slides over the ground, coming for me.

I back away from it, but my feet slip on the slush. My head slams against the slick concrete with a wet thud, and my vision blurs into a haze. I squeeze my eyes shut as I try to shove myself backwards, but my palms just slap against the broken asphalt. I can feel the ooze slide into my shoes.

The cold sogginess fades to nothing. I can’t feel my feet at all now. I use my legs to throw my heels against the ground, desperate to shake the ooze out of my shoes, desperate to feel something. My feet bounce once on the concrete, twice, and then my legs start to go numb as well.

I can see Claude curled up in a ball near me, between my clouds of breath. He’s staring at me, his eyes wide and glittering in the faint light of the fire. The skin of his cheek hangs down, quivering as he mouths the words “yes, yes.”

I don’t feel so cold. Not so cold… anymore. I don’t feel… much of… anything.

I…

I open my mouth to… to ask Claude what he is… why he’s doing this… why I have to die.

I try… I try to speak, but there isn’t… I don’t…

I don’t have the energy to ask the questions.

Writer. Gamer. Sherlockian. Usually Not Dead.

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