If you follow our blog, you may have noticed a few mentions of Deadworld campaigns. There is something we find enticing about these post-apocalyptic settings, and as a result, we keep coming back to them.
Recently I decided to try running a gaming session for Ken, which isn’t something that happens often. We agreed to take a break from our current campaign, one set in a series of hidden, magical kingdoms, and have a one-off gaming session.
Why the Drama?
After some consideration, I decided to use DramaSystem (published in Hillfolk by Pelgrane Press) as our recent attempts with it have created a lot of tension and allow us to focus on the interpersonal drama, something I thought would be ideal in this setting.
Something I love about DramaSystem is the ability to share game-mastering duties, and for all participants to feel like they have a say in the story.
As it turns out, the one-off session really took off, and between the two of us, the game is going as smoothly as any game set in a world that is falling apart would.
Interested in hearing how it went? Below is the introduction as the main character, played by Ken, made his way to his girlfriend.
Have you used DramaSystem? Ever tried a post-apocalyptic setting?
The crunching sound of metal in the distance made Andy jump as he pedalled down the abandoned side road. The silence that followed was unnerving but he kept pedalling, forced to move toward where the sound came from. He wiped the sweat from his brow.
“They’re evacuating us, Andy. I’ll wait as long as I can, but we have to go.”
Her voice still rung in his ears.
“Please, Andy. Please get here.”
The vehicle came into view up ahead. It was a small blue car, and the front of it was now wrapped around the telephone pole on the left-hand side of the road. Smoke billowed from the engine. Andy slowed down, hopping off his bike and walking it closer. He kept his distance from the vehicle but peered in the half open windows from the other side of the street. He could see still figures in both front seats.
“Hello?” he called out cautiously.
“Hello? You alive in there?” he called again.
This time he heard a groan from in the vehicle. Setting his bike down in the middle of the road, Andy glanced around before approaching the car carefully. The body in the passenger seat moved, groaning again as he raised his head.
“Hey, you okay?” Andy asked, lowering his shoulder bag to the ground next to his bike before moving around to the passenger side of the car cautiously.
“Oh, my head,” murmured the passenger. Andy still couldn’t get a good look at him. He was wearing a dark blue hoodie, and his face was twisted in a grimace of pain.
“Alright, but you’re okay? You’re alive?” he asked. His heart was pounding in his chest, but he was standing still, poised to move forward to help, or run toward his bike.
“Yeah, yeah,” responded the man, a bit disorientated. He sat up now, rubbing his head and grimacing once more. Andy couldn’t see any blood on him. The airbag had deployed and the man seemed dazed more than anything else. Andy moved forward quickly and opened the passenger side door as the driver’s hand twitched.
“Your friend, is he okay?” asked Andy, glancing the stirring figure nervously.
“I don’t know. Chris?” the man asked, turning to look over at the driver. The body twitched again, and then suddenly sat straight up before vomiting a black liquid all over the dash and deflated airbags. A guttural howl emerged from his mouth and he turned to Andy and the passenger.
“Come on, you’ve got to get out of the car,” Andy said frantically, pulling a pocket knife.
“Chris?” the passenger asked, looking toward the driver’s seat in horror while fumbling with his seat belt clasp.
“Get out! Get out!” Andy called, slashing the seat belt with the knife.
He grabbed the groggy passenger and tried to pull him free of the car as the driver lunged toward the passenger seat screaming. A hand reached out and grabbed Andy’s arm as he pushed the deflated airbag out of the way. The driver, his face twisted in rage, lunged toward the pair. He was not restrained by a seat belt, and the grip on Andy’s arm was tight. Andy, grip still tight on the passenger, tried to pull away. The driver’s leg seemed to be caught and he howled again, mouth wide open. Andy gritted his teeth and wrenched both himself and the passenger free. The pair tumbled to the ground outside the vehicle, and Andy managed to kick the door closed.
He scrambled to his feet, holding a hand out for the man, who took it and stood up himself with Andy’s assistance. The pair backed away from the vehicle as the drive let out another guttural howl and began to feverishly alternate between banging on the car window and extending his arms out of it toward the two young men.
“What’s your name?” asked Andy glancing at the stranger and back at his bike. He quickly picked it up, setting the tires on the asphalt and straightening the strap of the side bag he had slung over his backpack. The weight of the bags was heavy, but he knew the contents could be useful.
“Matt,” said the man in shock, staring at the car. He was wearing well-worn jeans and a pair of beat-up sneakers with his hoodie.
“Where you going, Matt?” asked Andy, wheeling his bike away from the vehicle. “We should walk while we do this,” he added.
“Oh, uh, away from here….” Matt trailed off, running a hand through his short hair.
Andy nodded and glanced back to see Matt making his way to the trunk of the car.
“What are you doing? We have to go,” Andy said, glancing nervously at the angry driver.
“My bag, it’s in there,” he gestured at the trunk.
“What do you have in there, man?” asked Andy, eyeing the driver who was still flailing his arms angrily out of the car window.
“My bag, it’s got food in it, and my stuff,” he replied, looking helplessly at the lock and then back at the driver.
“Yeah, you can probably find more food, lets just keep going,” said Andy.
Matt looked at the trunk again and glanced doubtfully at Andy.
The thing that was once the driver let out another angry scream. His head was now out of the window, his arms reaching for Andy, who stood a good ten feet away.
“Matt, let’s go!” said Andy sharply. “He’s going to get out of there at some point and he sounds pissed. Let’s get a move on.”
Matt shook his head, almost coming to and nodded. The two of them started off down the road, Andy pushing his bike and shouldering his large backpack and shoulder bag, Matt empty handed.
The two of them walked briskly in silence for a few minutes, the hostile screams of the driver still echoing down the abandoned side road.
“What happened?” asked Andy. “Why’d you crash?”
A look came across Matt’s face. He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again. He shook his head and opened his mouth once more, almost not believing what he was about to say.
Andy frowned and looked over at the man. He had to be about seventeen, a few years younger than Andy. He was wearing jeans and t-shirt, which was now flecked with dirt and a few pieces of grass from the fall out of the car. The boy ran his hand absently through his short blonde hair again and winced as his hand ran over a bruise on his head.
“A wasp?” Andy clarified.
“A wasp,” Matt confirmed. “Chris is,” he started, “was, really afraid of them. Freaked out every time one came near him. One flew into the car while we were driving and he started yelling and flailing his arms around at it. Next thing I knew that pole was coming right at us.”
Andy looked horrified.
There a moment of silence.
“Where you heading to?” he asked Matt.
The boy gestured north, toward the direction Andy had come from.
“We were trying to get out of there,” he said. “It was getting bad. No real destination though.”
As if on cue, a series of small explosions could be heard from that direction.
“We need to pick up the pace,” said Andy worriedly.
Matt nodded and tried to speed up, still a bit shaken from the recent accident. He rubbed his arms.
“Where are you going?” he asked conversationally.
“Olympia,” said Andy thoughtfully.
“Yeah, you got people there?” he asked.
“Hopefully,” Andy replied.
He closed his eyes for a moment, remembering the end of the call.
“Andy, there’s something I have to tell you.”
Her usually confident voice had sounded scared, pleading. And then the line went dead.
What did she need to tell him? Will he make it to her in time?