Thursday, October 2, 2008

Superhero Apocalyptic Horror

Since there are multiple themes running on the various RPG blogs this month, Horror, Superheroes, and the Apocalypse, I thought I would try to combine the three for this post. What follows are just some quick thoughts for a game with all three elements. Keep in mind this is not a detailed adventure, just some basic concepts and ideas I'm toying around with. If you decide to use it you will need to flesh it out a bit more to suit your game.

Character Concept:
First of all the power level for this campaign will have to be fairly low to moderate. Think of a team more along the lines of Booster Gold, Wolverine, Iron Fist, Batman and Cyclops. Thor, Superman, and the Hulk would likely be a bit too powerful for this one. Though if you really like the high powered games you would have to increase the threat level proportionally, but I'm sticking with the low to moderate level. If a player manages to min/max a PC with at least one outstanding power, such as a speedster, make sure to note their inherent weakness. In the case of the speedster example, they are not indestructible, probably can't fly and are still susceptible to the same things as a normal human, which can be exploited.

Campaign Concept:
Towns all across the globe(or keep it in a specific country to start) are being transformed from healthy communities into run down ghost towns over night. The people are all disappearing and the towns themselves look to have been abandoned decades ago. The buildings that were only a few years old now appear to have aged to the point of being run down, and dilapidated shells. The area within a 10 mile radius also appears to be affected by the same thing as the town with vegetation over running the area. Some towns are so over run that they are near impossible to reach by way of vehicle due to the think plant growth that covers the now cracked and broken pavement.
The occurrences are happening more and more often and beginning to affect larger towns. At the current rate over half of the world(or country) will fall into ruins within a month unless these strange occurrences are stopped.

The PC are tasked with finding out about the strange occurrences, either by their own accord or by the government. They find out that Lexington, Kentucky and the surrounding area have just succumbed and is now in ruins, devoid of human life. The PCs arrive by air and begin to investigate.

The PCs and the Mystery:
While in Lexington the PCs confirm that no people, or few animals can be found in the area and that everything seems to have aged many years. If there is a psychic or magic user on the team you could have them get incredibly horrific feedback from the area, such as panic, and terror, apparently from those that are missing. If not just have the PCs experience an overwhelming feeling of dread.
During their investigation of the area they notice some strange smell (sulfur, salt water, corn syrup... you decide) which is very faint but still noticeable in some areas. Communication devices no longer work and the PCs are left without a way to call for back up if needed.
You could also use the psychic feedback idea to keep psychics or magic users from just calling for help. Flyers should not be hampered, since they likely won't be strong enough to cary the whole team out due to the power level. Speedsters will be inhibited by the overgrowth in the area.
During their investigation the team discovers a strange glowing spot in the center of town (the actual center of the occurence). It grows more brightly as the PCs approach.
When they reach a certain distance, you decide if they actually have to touch it, there is a brilliant light and they disappear.

The Big Bad World:
The PCs find themselves in a world that is a horrific, dark reflection of our earth (think of the movie Nightwatch, a Tim Burton film, or Silent HIll). While they still can not find the missing people the area is familiar as it is nothing but the dark reflection of the town they were in. Everything is basically in the same location as in our world.
Allow the group to explore a little bit and have them feel they are being watched, but see no one yet. As they explore have them hear chanting in the distance. They will naturally want to investigate and find it coming from a church or large gathering place in town... you decide. As they approach they see a gathering of robed figures around an altar. On the altar is a statue of some horrific being. You could make it Cthulhu, or any other horrific being you want.
This is when you start throwing monsters at the group.
Again depending on the type of monsters you prefer you could have all the hooded "people" be Cthulhu spawn, vampires, zombies or some combination. This should also give the PCs a little time to shine as they can flex some muscle and smarter PCs will try to do some investigating as well.

The Discovery:
Basically the PCs discover/realize that this is our world's dark twin and that the beings of this world somehow discovered the existence of our world. Every creature in this world is basically some type of monster and pretty much nowhere is safe. The inhabitants of this world, or more likely their horrible leader, is temporarily transporting areas from our world to theirs so that they can kidnap all the people and use them for food and/or slave labor. The side effect is that the area is influenced by the warped world and ages rapidly. The only reson nothing surives upon the towns return is the fact that everything ages so quickly nothing had time to reproduce.

You can really go many different ways with the concept. Here are a few possibilities off the top of my head.
1) Stick with the horror theme and have the PCs fight their way out, finding and rescuing as many people as they can. Only to return to our world, you decide how, to find that while they were gone the creatures succeeded with their plans and our world is being over run by the monsters.
2) Same as above except the PCs defeat the leader and/or smash the device that allows them to access our world, then escape and eveyrone leves happily ever after. For now...
3) They become trapped in this warped world and try to defeat the monsters in an attempt make it a better place and keep the surviving people alive until they can find a way home. This could be an ongoing campaign.
4) You get a TPK and they have to roll up new heroes that go looking for the first group. I like this one ;-)


Granger44 said...

I once played in a game similar to what you propose. It was billed as a gritty superheroes game using Gurps as the rules system and the Wildcard backdrop. It was later revealed after the game puttered out that it was really a horror style game using somewhat ordinary character that happened to have super powers.

I remember this game with both great fondness and some frustration. We had several events occur, including an attack on our clinic which was foretold by our psychic comrade. While playing the game, many of us were frustrated that we didn't make much progress in unraveling what was going on. While we did discover that one of our hosts at the clinic was up to no good, much of the rest was only revealed in the post-campaign discussion.

At the same time, this might be the best group role playing effort in which I've participated. As an FBI agent who had grown an extra set of arms and eventually manifested faster than normal healing, I was sometimes caught between my duties to the FBI and the growing camaraderie with my fellow Wildcards. Other players had similar crises or events from their past that were played through. From that perspective, the game was great and I'd gladly do it again if some attention was paid to how long we were left hanging without any answers.

Geek Gazette said...

This was kind of a brain storming session, the actual way I come up with campaigns. I just decided to put it in blog form and share it because it fit with some of the themes going around the network.
As you can see, and as I stated it is not ready to play, just a somewhat organized series of ideas.
I'm actually thinking about fleshing it out and running it. But at a very low power level, more than likely a Daredevil/Batman power level.

Any campaign can be a good one or bad one depending on how it is run. I try never to leave players hanging. If they can't figure it out I give the info to them, somehow, and get on with the game.

Try running the game again making sure not to let the story get hung up and complicated.

Tomcat1066 said...

Oh sure. Take my apocalyptic super heroes and try and one up me? Is that how it goes?

Seriously, it sounds like an interesting concept. I'd look forward to seeing how this works for other groups who might try it.

Geek Gazette said...

The best ideas are the ones you steal from others ;-) .

I've really enjoyed the apocalypse theme you've been running. I also wanted to participate in the Carnival Superhero theme and still stick to my horror theme for the month... so I combined them.

Granted I didn't go into much detail, just some ideas off the top of my head. I may flesh it out and post the updated version later.

Tomcat1066 said...

I'm glad you're liking the apocalypse theme at The Geek Emporium. It was pretty spontaneous, but I'm enjoying writing it ;)

I can relate to wanting to combine the two themes of apocalypse and super heroes. I know I managed to pull it off.

At least, I think I did ;)

Geek Gazette said...

I've really enjoyed your apocalypse theme. I think it has been fun to speculate.