Man, I haven’t felt like that in months! I feel like spending the whole damn day at the keyboard and churn out thousands upon thousands of words just for the sake of it. That’s always a good sign.
I’m one avid reader. I read novels by the buckets when I have the time to do it. When my urge to write waned these past months, I made up for it by reading and watching TV more.
Having been around long enough to resist falling into the trap of trying to make a RPG campaign out of everything cool I read or saw on a screen, I had an idea.
Why not try a new series where I share plot elements of books I read with you guys to set the ideas engine off for our collective RPG campaigns. Not quite reviews nor campaign plans, I just plan to ramble about cool stuff I’ve read and maybe try to churn new ideas for RPGs.
I start the series with my favorite author.
I’ve long been a fan of Neal Stephenson’s work. To this date, his Snow Crash and Age of Diamonds novels are, by far, my favorite Sci-Fi stories . I’ve read Snow Crash every two years since it’s first printing as a paperback and I’ve read the Diamond Age 3 times already and I’m starting to feel the pull to read it again.
Do note that Stephenson, much like the early work of William Gibson, assumes his readers are expert in the field he writes about… or are goddamn geniuses! This made me throw a few of his books away in disgust!
FYI: Feel free to skip any long Data Dump you can’t fathom, chances are its not necessary for the story. I ended up doing it for his 3 book Baroque cycle!
So here’s a quick summary of each story and sample of the key tropes I got from each book:
A jerkish ecological militant, bordering on eco-terrorism, is the chemical equivalent of a film noir Detective. He gets caught in a conspiracy-level ploy that leads to the discovery of massive amounts of toxic wastes being released in his city’s Boston’s water.
The well meaning jerk: The main character is one monumental asshole and he knows it.
The evil corporation: There’s always one, willing to pitiful things like client safety and future growth for some thing more important like this semeter’s bottomline
The cool boat: Zodiac boats! Weee! Not as cool now, but still the Eco-Guerrila vehicle of choice!
I think that the well meaning Jerk NPC is a great way of modeling a modern day Magnificent Bastard. As usual, be careful not to piss your PCs too much (unless you want them to). This NPC model lives to annoy PC and motivate them through negative reinforcement.
Eco-terrorism is going to be a subject whose popularity will likely rise in the current global polarizing of opinions and stances. This makes it an interesting approach to explore, especially if you go at it cross genre.
- Fantasy: What if the rising use of Magitek had noticeable, yet still debatable ecological impact on the world? Final Fantasy VII’s initial plot hook IIRC.
- Horror: What if rising global pollution was a condition for summoning the Great Old Ones as they can’t survive if the Ocean is not polluted enough? Maybe those crazy cultists that blew up 5 stolen nukes under Bikini Atol are on to something.
Summary: TV Tropes writes it up better than I ever could.
The tale of a Mafia-backed badass pizza delivery guy who teams up with a badass courier in a Post Cyber Punk disincorporated USA to fight “Snow Crash” – a computer virus for the brain. Oh, and there’s a badass biker with glass knives and a nuclear bomb strapped to his motorbike, too.
This book is pure applied Rule of Cool.
Bad Ass characters and villains: This book is bursting at the seems with characters who are scary strong.
Cool Car and Boat (see a theme here?): The Deliverator is a high tech military grade car for… delivering pizzas. And part of the action of the book takes place on an Aircraft Carrier turned into a floating refugee city.
Big Fraking Gun: “Portable”-nuclear-powered-depleted-uranium-needle-shooting Gatling Gun… ’nuff said! It’s called “Reason” and you should listen to it.
The Plucky girl: A “I don’t take crap from nobody” 15 year old sketboard courrier girl. She somehow managed to also show up in a William Gibson novel… fancy that!
Serious Business: Your pizza in 30 minutes, or the delivery boy murdered free!
As I said, if you are a geek, like cyberpunk and haven’t read Snow Crash, go get it now!
I really like the concept of brain hacking. There’s something sinister and powerful behind that idea. You can easily build a whole campaign, regardless of genres, around an Evil Overlord (corporate or classic) going around and making zombies of the average population without having to invoke complicated rituals that PCs can interrupt by dropping a d20 on it.
Also, having tried it, making your characters Bad Asses in the eyes of ‘the average’ NPC makes for an Epic feeling in your game. Yes the bad guy waiting for you outside the bar can rip cars in half. However, while you are in that bar, the waitress is impressed with YOU.
I also really like the concept of the frail looking, Waif-fu mastering, teenaged NPC. So much so that my players now automatically assume that any underaged NPC I introduce in my games are automatically some sort of Avatar for a god of Battle or a guidance system for an Orbital laser cannon.
Then, there’s something to be said to let PCs handle an experimental, exceedingly deadly weapon and then throw something equally stupid cool at them for the weapon to be used. I mean, if you are going to be giving them a Wand of Nuking with four charges left, I suggest that you send them a squadron of flying Titanium Elemental Bombers!
Finally, that ‘serious business’ part, makes for such a great tyrannical, Lawful Evil, setting spark.
Anyone else got ideas from these two books?