Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Bucket List 2015 (Part One)

You know the games. The ones that have been simmering on the back burner for a long time, deepening their flavours, waiting for the right time, the right group. Sometimes you're not prepared to run a game for pedestrian reasons like not having the time to do adequate preparation, or not being in the right frame of mind. I abandoned a couple of games in the last few years just before running them because something wasn't right, and I'd rather pull the plug than run a game and have it fall apart somewhere in the middle. That just plain sucks.

Sometimes, you wait. And wait.

Constant readers may remember that I wrote a series about some of the games and genres that were my "White Whales" waaaay back in early 2014. If not, check those out too. I am pleased to report that I've actually knocked a couple of things off that list in the intervening time. 

This series is going to be less about "White Whales" and more about games that I've got pitches for that haven't been played yet. (I'll avoid repeating games that I've already spent time describing in these pages, because no one wants a blog that's seldom read to be repeating itself in obscurity, like some doddering codger muttering the same things over and over.) Maybe some of them will tantalize my players. Maybe not.

A game I've been fascinated by for a long time, but haven't really known what to do with, is Greg Stolze's UNKNOWN ARMIES. Virtually every page of it sings with ideas, atmosphere, promises of glory. And I'm baffled by it. I like occult games, I like gritty games, I like high-pressure games where players are sometimes pitted against each other because of conflicting beliefs. And for years, I've had no idea what to do with UA, which leverages all of those things.

That is, until I found THE WORLD OF OUR DESIRES, a UA hack by way of APOCALYPSE WORLD. Something about the combination of those familiar mechanics and the ideas of UA made connections in my brain happen, at long last. An idea started to gel.

The game is set in San Francisco, 1967, at the height of the counterculture movement we now think of as "hippies". The Summer of Love is just about to happen, with tens of thousands of young people from all over America converging on San Francisco in search of a better world. 

The men and women of this movement are free thinkers, poets, artists, political activists, anarchists, musicians, bikers, doctors, academics, acid-fueled visionaries. They believe in a better world, and they're trying to build a road map to get us there. They are Utopians.

What if some of these people were also magicians, in the UA style, who were waging an occult war to remake the world? What if a group of young people were really trying to bring about the Age of Aquarius in an attic just down the street from where the Grateful Dead jam?

This feels to me like a rich, historical setting that really pulls the ideas of UA to the foreground, and sets the stage for some really interesting play. Anyone who knows anything about the 1960s counterculture movement knows that although a lot of those people had similar goals, they did not necessarily agree on the appropriate methods. Who you gotta blow up to build your better world? You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Free love, free flowing VD, experimental drugs, radical politics, feminism, dodgy gurus and wannabe mystics gathering small cults, violent clashes with the police, a confluence of fascinating real life supporting characters, a transcendental rock and roll soundtrack... San Francisco in 1967 has it all. 

The game will be called WHITE RABBIT. Right now, it's at the top of my bucket list.

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