Sunday, January 6, 2013

Random Campaign Generator

Many years ago, on a mailing list I'm on, someone mentioned a little game they play where they pull three GURPS books at random off of the bookshelf and come up with a campaign. I decided to help them out with a little campaign generator that randomly selects three books. Thus was created The GURPS Random Campaign Generator.

The app picks the books, you take the inspiration, name the campaign, and write a description. The app stores it with a search engine front-end. Over 900 campaigns are in the database now.

While testing it out over the years, I've created a few campaign ideas -- at least, I think they are worthwhile. I'm going share them with you over the next few weeks.

Recently, a friend mentioned a thing his group does, Iron GM. Three players pick a 'secret ingredient' book, then the GM makes a campaign from it. I pointed him to the generator and wrote this post.

A Werewolf in Carson City
(Old West, Cabal, China)

The Cabal has been established in the Nevada territory. Undead and werewolves roam the range. They are challenged by a group of gunslingers and martial artists. Silver bullets and ancient Chinese mysticism against fangs and claws.

I think this is imminently playable from either side of the conflict. Kwai Chang Caine and Wyatt Earp team forces against the evil shapeshifters. Or maybe the shapeshifters just want to co-exist with the settlers, but are misunderstood. The image of Wyatt Earp as Werewolf Hunter, with silver bullets and silver-plated brass knuckles, is just too juicy. Maybe someone makes him some hard leather armor to keep the claws away, or a metal plate ala A Fist Full of Dollars and Back to the Future III. After Cowboys and Aliens and Deadlands, the Old West has been opened for cross-genre mashups. In fact, of the campaigns I designed by this method, four were Old West-based. Here's another.

Magnificent Seven vs. Quetzalcoatl
Old West, Aztecs, Japan)

A small town in Texas is terrorized by Aztec mages and their demons, until seven heroes, five gunslingers and two Samurai, come to stand between them and the villagers.

First, let me say that I think The Seven Samurai is one of the best pieces of film ever made. Top Ten Film of All Time for me. The fact that it was translated into a western, The Magnificent Seven, by John Sturges is simply icing. Then there's the movie that brought these two films together in a way -- Red Sun. In it, Charles Bronson from The Magnificent Seven and Toshiro Mifune from The Seven Samurai work together to retrieve a valuable samurai sword being delivered to the U.S. President. Now we have samurai in the old west, so, now all we need is to just add the Aztecs, and voila! Souffle! I think the protecting the village plot is ultimately playable. I've run it as a sci-fi scenario and a fantasy one. Tons of fun, and it lets the GM play with spectacular death scenes.

I strongly recommend borrowing from Kurosawa. His plots are always good, regardless of the source. Is he borrowing from Shakespeare? Is it his own creation? It doesn't matter. They are fresh and new. Besides, American (and Italian) directors have been cribbing from his notes practically from day one.

#irongm #randomcampaignsunday

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