Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spirit of '77 Adventure Seeds

I was doodling a bit the other day and started coming up with one-liners I thought would make a good title for an adventure for Spirit of '77. These are in no particular order and may of them are clearly mixing some familiar things:

  • Land of the Lost Saucer
  • Space: 1977
  • The Outlaw Mary Tyler Moore
  • Interstate '77
  • Cloned to Run
  • Schoolhouse Rockets
  • The Poseidon Inferno
  • Any Which Way You Can Lose
  • Capricorn Dos
  • How the West was Run
  • The Galileo '77
  • The Shiner Syndrome
  • Kotter vs. Kotter
  • May the Magnum Force Be With You
  • The Computer Wore Racing Slicks
Now those alone might be enough to start your wheels turning, but here's what I came up with for them as I thought through it a little more. I may have individual entries on them down the road when the final rules come out.

  • "The Computer Wore Racing Slicks" - The world's first intelligent car is being tested - then it takes off! The PC's are hired to secretly (SECRETLY!) bring it back "alive". The car appears to have an agenda of its own and there may be more going on than simple advanced electronics. There are also other parties interested in acquiring the vehicle for themselves, some far less scrupulous than the party.
  • "Land of the Lost Saucer" - An old friend of one of the PC's, a crazy scientist, has been working on a wrecked alien spacecraft and its robotic crew. When terrorists interrupt his first attempt to power up the craft, the crew takes a journey to ... somewhere else. Somewhere with dinosaurs, furry humanoids, scaly humanoids, and strange crystal-filled pylons.
  • "Space: 1977" -  Organized crime has taken a crew of NASA astronauts hostage. They are the only ones trained to fly a new experimental spacecraft and with the launch only days away the agency needs them back, pronto! One of them may have escaped - and is now hiding on the tour bus of a famous rock band.
  • "The Galileo '77" - a massive, high-tech airship named "Galileo" is taking its maiden voyage from LA to Honolulu and the PC's are invited. While on board they get to know the other members of the inaugural passenger list and everything seems fine until a storm and a series of equipment failures force the airship down onto a strange island filled with strange, savage inhabitants. Can the PC's keep the peace? Can they get everyone working together to repair the craft? Can they protect everyone from the savage inhabitants?
  • "The Outlaw Mary Tyler Moore" - An old reporter friend of the PC's shows up on the FBI's ten most wanted list. Has this once happy big city girl gone rogue and fallen in with kidnappers? Is it case of stockholm syndrome? Or is there more to this than meets the eye? 
  • "Interstate '77" - in a nod to the wonderful 90's PC game Interstate 76 the team crosses paths with Groove Champion and Taurus for some automotive mayhem out west.
  • "Cloned to Run" - a new criminal gang is causing trouble back east and when the PC's intervene and get a chance to remove some perpetrators' helmets it turns out they are identical! A science experiment gone wrong falls into the hands of organized crime and it's up to our heroes to clean up the mess.
  • "Schoolhouse Rockets" - A high school auto shop class in the inner city has become affiliated with a powerful local gang. When the PC's intervene to save a kid brother, the gangs don't take it well. Lessons are learned and extreme property damage is inflicted. An ABC Afterschool special produced by Michael Bay.
  • The Poseidonworld Inferno - The PCs are on vacation at a massive underwater resort which suffers a few problems when a nearby underwater volcano erupts. Also, why is the robotic waiter looking at us that way?
  • "Every Which Way You Can Lose" - Clyde the Yeti has escaped and taken up with a trucker and part-time brawler out west. Add in a animal activists, corporate repo men, vengeful motorcycle gang, a legend ready to retire, and some rival girlfriends and things get complicated quick. (PC hooks include contact by the biologist or being old friends of the trucker) Lots of room for a sequel too.
  • "Capricorn Dos" - A fringe reporter friend of the PC's has photographic evidence that an astronaut who supposedly dies in an accident years ago is actually alive and living in Mexico. He wants the PCs to head south of the border and find out what's going on.
  • "The Shiner Syndrome" - In the wake of widespread reports about the appalling conditions of the big corporate breweries the best little brewery in Texas is trying to expand -  but the Big Beer Companies are trying to buy them out (to water them down like any other corporate beer) and the PC's are called in to help out and deliver a special shipment to a potential benefactor across the country.
  • Kotter vs. Kotter (double sequel) - A high school teacher meets himself walking into class one morning. A science prodigy with a thing for the teacher's wife accidentally clones the teacher instead. Ties back to "Schoolhouse Rockets" and "Cloned to Run"
  • "May the Magnum Force Be With You" - San Francisco's greatest inspector runs thinks he's investigating a series of grisly killings but this time the perps are Not From Around Here and this time the .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, may not be enough.
  • How the West was Run - A greatest hits adventure as all of the notable NPC's from all of the other adventures - and some new ones - come together for a "friendly" race across the country. A big "season finale" adventure that's going to take multiple sessions to complete. It should also lay the groundwork for some future encounters too. Featuring:
    • The Car from Computer Wore Racing Slicks 
    • The Mad Scientist from Land of the Lost Saucer who shows up in an unusual prototype
    • Groove Champion and Taurus
    • The High School crew from "Schoolhouse Rockets" has an entry - possibly the cloned teacher from K vs, K
    • The main NPC from EWWYCL (and Clyde?). The motorcycle gang will probably show up somewhere along the way too. 
    • Reformed bad guy from Shiner Syndrome shows up as another driver
    • Outlaw Mary could be an entry
    • A famous Russian race driver
    • A British secret service agent

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More on Patreon, VIPs, and Insider Access

On the ranty side of things... 

A month ago I posted about the creeping doom of Patreon infiltrating a bunch of gaming sites. Poking around I see that both Priority One and Critical Hit are asking for money now. EN World has started their "EnSider" program. Several blogs are doing it now too.

All of these things started out as hobby endeavors, becoming another link in the chain of fan-produced support of a particular game or type of game. At some point, they have exceeded the capacity of the creators to produce them the way they want to without seeking additional funding from outsiders, at least that's how it is presented. 

To me, the Patreon type support is unlikely to be enough to replace a full time income. I can see it helping to offset bandwith costs, sure.  So one of the common complaints of "it takes too much time to support it" - well, I'm not sure how a hundred bucks a month buys you more hours in the day. You still have a day job, you still have some kind of family/social obligations. Presumably you still need/want to spend some time actually playing the game that got you interested enough to start the whole thing in the first place. If the mindset has become "wow for as much time as I spend on this thing I should really be making some money off of it" then that's great but this particular hobby doesn't seem to carry that kind of weight for most people. 

Some of them seem to be more interested in funding their hobby activities too. I'm not terribly interested in helping other people get to conventions, shoot videos (what's the additional cost here? videotape?), get new mics (how many microphones do you need?), travel costs to game companies (seriously? what happened to phones and the internet?). Some also hold out special insider content or early access to new content as a reward. I'm sure some people get excited about that kind of thing but it does little to nothing for me.   

So while they're growing past "easy fun hobby project" none of them seem determined to turn it into a real business - and many of them cannot (see below, though ENWorld already is to a point with ads etc) - so they're going to an intermediate level of asking for donations. It doesn't hurt to try, but there is a whole lot of asking for money going on in the hobby right now and I am not at all confident in how sustainable it is. If you realize at some point if you can't afford to meet your vision on your own is it no longer acceptable to just run it as best you can at the level that you can?

Part of the problem here is that all of these projects (and many others) revolve around properties they do not own. In fact, the reason that most of them exist in the first place is that most creators/copyright holders know that fan activity and discussion is a healthy thing for a business. They tend to be fairly liberal with the rules and encourage participation right up until someone tries to make money off of it. If you don't own a license from CBS or Paramount there is not a lot you can do to make money off of Star Trek. Perhaps this is the downfall, an inevitable cycle of growth and collapse:

  • Enthusiast discovers there is a Star Battle online game or RPG
  • Enthusiast creates a podcast or blog about Star Battle
  • Site becomes very popular, taking more time and possibly money to run
  • Enthusiast (or Enthusiast's spouse or boss or bank account) signals that the level of involvement has become unacceptable and unsustainable
  • Enthusiast tries various adjustments and modifications 
  • Enthusiast and either achieves a new, sustainable level of involvement and continues with a revamp or does not and podfades or sees more intermittent content updates as time goes on.
So it's awesome to have these awesome sites about awesome things such as  Trek or Marvel or D&D but ... they aren't yours. While many of us are grateful for the megafans who perform ridiculous feats of posting or podding I also know it's not a terribly rational decision, but many of them are done by the younger end of the gaming curve and they aren't terribly concerned about that anyway. I think a thing can be both admirable and unsustainable. Regardless, you're unlikely to get rich investing a tremendous amount of time and effort into promoting and supporting something you do not own.

So we get GoFundMe requests and Patreon links.

Maybe the future will bring a new and better option.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Runaround

The good stuff:

  • Green Ronin has a fun list of movie plots to adapt to an RPG session when you need an idea in a hurry.
  • Barking Alien had an interesting post about Types of Games last week. It's worth a look if you haven't seen it yet. 
  • If anyone out there is still playing Marvel Heroic then you should know that over the last monthPlot Points has been posting up a complete event - Fear Itself. It's always good to have more of those on the shelf and this one is now complete. 
Tomorrow - the ranty stuff