And Then, Things Got Worse

Long ago I worked on a modern action/adventure-themed RPG to be called “And Then Things Got Worse” – a game based not on traditional settings/characters/goals but rather just efforts that go horribly wrong through no fault or effort of the players. I think the idea sprang from a game con discussion with Erick Wujcik about how the “Bad Stuff” mechanic was supposed to work in Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game.

Of course, then Jason Morningstar’s Fiasco came out from Bully Pupit Games and this game concept became wholly redundant.

Anyway, here’s scraps from the adventure design part of the game…

The Restaurant

Your waiter was bribed to seat you in the impending crossfire. And see all those huge fish tanks full of exotic sealife? They’re gonna dump a lot of water on the floor when the bullets start flying. You already knew those ethnic-looking gentlemen in the corner are organized crime members, right? Why else would there be a guy with a shotgun running through the kitchen? And that gorgeous woman sitting alone by the door? She’s an undercover cop wired to tip off the SWAT team out front. Enjoy your meal.

The Factory

Valuable secrets are locked up in the foreman’s office. Those rent-a-cops aren’t half as tough or foolhardy as the guys stuck working third shift. And doesn’t it make sense to turn on every machine at once? More noise covers your movements better. Of course, all those random conveyors, forklifts, waste crushers and OSHA-violating table saws do make the place a bit dangerous. Especially when the overhead lights get turned off. Or shot out. And notice all those unlabeled barrels in the back? The chemicals inside them become toxic gas when burned.

The Warehouse

An acre of mislabeled cargo containers – what could possibly be inside them? Certainly not “lost” military equipment and surplus weapons bound for offshore arms dealers. And certainly not desperate foreigners trying to get into or out of the country. Over there – are those bundles of narcotics wrapped in plastic bricks? No, couldn’t be. That’s odd – those longshoremen coming this way look over-dressed for work, and does that one have a gun? Nah, couldn’t be.

The Truck Depot

A whole busy yard of 18-wheeler tractor-trailer rigs: workhorses of America, hauling all kinds of stuff over state lines. Sometimes those rigs haul chemicals, sometimes fuel… lots of fuel… like a 9,000-gallon load of fuel, moving at speeds up to 65 miles per hour. You know, wet pavement is kinda slick; ice is a lot worse. And by the way, you don’t believe all those stories about truckers swallowing handfuls of amphetimines just to stay awake on the road, do you?

The Mall

There’s thousands of them across the country, all almost identical: same crowded shoe stores, electronics huts, jeans outfitters, candy shops and high-fat food court counters. All those vacant-eyes teen-agers, flashy gansta wannabees, and uptight senior citizens: Why does the word “hostages” scream through the back of your mind? And this center aisle is so wide – you could drive a car down it with plenty of room to maneuver. You know that one part of the mall no one goes, the old “shopping center” wing that hasn’t been renovated since Carter was president? Somebody should do some impromptu renovating there today, let the insurance company pay for it. It’d be like some sort of public service, you know?

The Zoo

In a pinch, what would the authorities give higher priority too – capturing wild predators let loose from their cages, or looking for you? And how damn cool would you look if you stormed the bad guys’ place mounted on a zebra. Hell, why not an elephant? And you wonder – do rare and endangered species of lizard really taste like chicken?

The Elementary School

Sure it’s an obvious place from which the bad guys can snatch hostages, but if they try, the cops will respond faster than when its double coupon day at Doughnut Shack. What if that was the point? Dump your contraband there at night and there’s no way those goons can show up in force during daylight hours to take it away. At least, that’s how you’re betting.

Other Places

The Police Station
The Courthouse
The Dock
The Train Station
The Bus Station
The Museum
The Art Gallery
The University Campus
The City Park
The Riverwalk District
The Amusement Park
The National Guard Armory
The Public Housing Complex
The Slums
The All-Night Cemetery
The Diner
The Old Neighborhood Bar
The Trendy Nightclub
The Newspaper Building
The Office Building
The Skyscraper
The Subway
The Theater and Arts District
The Power Plant
The Airport
The Abandoned Industrial Park
The Posh Hotel
The Tribal Casino
The Federal Bank Depository
The Hospital
The Embassy
The Cathedral
The Subterranean Sewers