RPPR Episode 83: Maps and Legends

Level 1 of the Zombie Factory from the upcoming Base Raiders RPGNews: Fallout Without End, a new scenario of the No Security ransom pack from Hebanon Games is now available! We’re still cranking out videos at Raillery. The map is part of the Zombie Factory, a chapter in the upcoming Base Raiders RPG.

Synopsis: Travel and exploration is adventurous in real life but not in role playing games. Someone like Marco Polo is a major figure in history, yet in Dungeons and Dragons, his accomplishments would be minor compared to the average 10th level fighter. Tom and I try to tackle why exploration in games fails to capture the sense of adventure it does in reality and how it can be made to do so. We even tackle random encounter tables, sense of place, and other tangentially connected topics. Instead of a letter, Tom discusses his trip to Seattle and of course shout outs and an anecdote or two.

Shout outs

  • Ship Breaker: Good YA dystopian sci-fi novel about a kid living as a salvager of old oil tankers – bleak but well written. Great setting too.
  • Nemesis: A totally insane cyberpunk action film with more gunfire than the Matrix. For reals. Also, check out this gif.
  • Great White Space: An interesting if flawed Lovecraftian horror novel about a doomed expedition.
  • Apocalypse World: An indie post-apocalyptic RPG that’s all the rage with the Seattle scene apparently.
  • The Upper Berth: A ghost story with the best framing device ever. More cigars and champagne!
  • The Devil’s Rock: A New Zealand made WW2 horror film. I did Nazi that coming. Okay I’ll go now.
  • Speed Tribes: A book about the different subcultures of the younger generations in Tokyo. A bit dated, but still a great read.
  • McBain: A Rifftrax where Christopher Walken sleepwalks through an action film that makes literally no sense. Highly entertaining! Aaron recommends it.
  • Todd and The Book of Pure Evil: A 2 season comedy horror TV show on Netflix about high school, cults, and heavy metal. What’s not to love?

Music: Ghost Maps by The Minor Leagues.

Liked it? Take a second to support RPPR on Patreon!

  10 comments for “RPPR Episode 83: Maps and Legends

  1. February 6, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Tom, you break my heart, sir.

    You come all the way out to Seattle and don’t bother to call me? What did I do, Tom? Was my playtest of Divine Fire Libya so hateful to you that you took me off speed-dial?

    So many things you missed in my fair city. The tunnels under the Pioneer Square neighborhood. Freemont, a neighborhood with a Troll, a rocket and a statue of Lenin. You could have taken a ride on the South Lake Union Trolley… and while the city has changed the name after they realized that the anagram was SLUT, you can still get the t-shirts that say “I rode the SLUT for a dollar.”

    You could have seen ground zero for the impending zombie-apocalypse: Zymogenetics! The creepiest bio-tech firm in the city. You could have made it to Archie MacFee’s! The Greenwood Space Travel Supply Store! Gasworks park! The Boeing aircraft museum! Not to mention the assault on your liver delivered by the nearly 700 microbreweries in town.

    You were short changed, sir.

  2. David Jay
    February 6, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Yeah yeah yeah. Apocalypse World is the best game ever. I’d love nothing more than to hear you guys to an AP on that.
    I ordered mine from the writer and from what I remember it came pretty quickly. He also sent the pdfs the day after I put in the order.
    Anyway, nice episode. Keep up the good work.

  3. Tom Church
    February 6, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Mr. Glancy sir. A thousand pardons. I was so gobsmacked about going to Seattle that I forgot all about you. I was also visiting family, and my brain was elsewhere. But do not despair. I plan on a return this Summer. I never got to do the whale watching stuff. I must do that, as well as everything you mentioned. All except the drinking. As the RPPR group knows all too well…I do not drink.

  4. February 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    In the vein of all cities being “The City,” we had recently playtested a CoC scenario set in Chicago and involving tall buildings and the module hadn’t considered using any major Chicago landmarks. I’m not saying that everything should draw on obvious or well- known places, but if you’re going to run a game in tall cities in Chicago, why not go for the Sears (yeah yeah Willis) Tower or the Hancock Building? Our notes to the writer ended up including use of either of those buildings or (given other details of the scenario) something like the massive Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.

    Also I’ve run into issues several times in attempts to make use of maps, mostly because I end trying to use them to create a fully fleshed out city. As stated before, there is only so much processing information in the GM’s head. In my case I was trying to run a prohibition era crime game in Savannah, GA. Attempting to run a game type I hadn’t tried before in a time period I wasn’t too familiar with in a city I hadn’t spent too much time in proved to be a bit more than I could easily research and write out in the course of a few months.

  5. Julian
    February 7, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I am ashamed of my fellow Seattleites. How friggin hipsterish have we gotten that we would consider Eclipse Phase too mainstream? We don’t all only play smelly hippy RPGs here. I mean, I’ll play the shit out of some Dread or Fiasco when I get a chance, but my weekly games are Exalted and Shadowrun and Mouse Guard, and most of my friends play D&D, various White Wolf settings and GURPS.

    I don’t think Eclipse Phase is great for one-shots, though. The setting is super weird, and if you’re not already invested in it there’s a real chance it’s going to feel completely foreign and unrelatable. It has the Shadowrun problem of mixing a bunch of different unfamiliar things, but also the transhumanist tech that influences your everyday interactions are hard to understand unless you immerse yourself in it. I’m not really surpised that it didn’t click with people coming into it cold.

    I don’t really understand complaining about the system though. The core of it is simple: roll as high as possible without going over your skill, which is printed on your character sheet, and doubles are crits. But there’s plenty of crunch if you want to go in depth on certain things. IMO, it’s a really great accessible system, which helps offset how obscure the setting is.

  6. Journ-O-LST-3
    February 19, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Ah, maps and travel. I think that Dark Continent did it best with travel rules and descriptions for most terrain in Africa. Also the xp was called renown and you could get more by going to famous/interesting places. Pathfinder is trying it with a “path” thing that I’m playing now. I wish I could get my group to play Eclipse Phase. Another good adventure that uses travel well is “Tatters of the King” for CoC. Which managed to climb above the standard of most globe trotting.

    Here’s my funny map story. In Masks in Egypt under the pyramids: the players have been mapping their trip. I’ve been giving them descriptions and telling them where there are turns. After about thirty minutes I ask to see the map because they’re talking about being lost. The map did not match the one in the book. It did however include spirals, zig-zags and every other way a line can turn while not matching the book at all. It was pretty bad but really funny. Then they ran away from the monsters.

  7. Tim
    March 3, 2013 at 1:28 am

    The framing device in some of the Jorkens tales by Lord Dunsany is very similar to The Upper Bearth. Basically people at a club telling stories which enviably get one upped by Jorkens. Or people buy Jorkens a drunk for his stories. I would recommend them but I am a bit of a Dunsany fan boy so your mileage may vary.

  8. joecrak
    March 28, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Very late to the party, but just listened today…

    I don’t consider myself a hipster, but I don’t think Eclipse Phase is too mainstream. That being said I’m in agreement with the guys you ran for Tom.

    I love Caleb’s story, and all the characters, but I’m just not a fan of the setting, the basics of the system I have no problem with, all the crunch from god knows how many items makes my head swim when I hear about it though. Still, I like it more than d20 systems, they are always so bland in comparison to so many others out there.

    Having never played Eclipse Phase, I can’t accurately comment on it though, I think it’s mostly just the hard Sci-fi setting that turns me off, I was always more of a fantasy/super hero guy.

  9. KenR
    April 14, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Also pretty late to the party, but so it goes.

    I really enjoyed your considerations of traveling and different cities. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit, but it’s hard to distill down what can make two cities feel very different, as Seattle and Portland or Tokyo and Kyoto do.

    I was able to visit Seattle recently and can attest to Mr. Glancy’s wonderful recommendations. Fremont has a statue of Lenin made from bronze and is basically out of a scarcely believable Unknown Armies paragraph. While we were there on Christmas Eve, bronze Lenin’s hands had been painted red and we were served coffee by a barista dressed as a clown. “I figured anyone going to work today would be pissed off and this might help.” she explained. “Plus I had all the stuff already..”

    The tunnels underneath and the story about the actual underground businesses and streets was also great. When it comes to character in cities, Seattle has a ton.

    I was pretty amused by hearing about Apocalypse World from before it became the whole “powered by the Apocalypse” phenomenon that it is now. And that Eclipse Phase was “too mainstream” – hardly anyone I know has heard of it.

    As for maps – I’ve tried a few things for maps in my games. I found a really evocative old London map for a CoC Victorian game, but it wasn’t very practical for finding anything. I found a pretty good one of old New York, which gave a sense of place to the gangs of the 1850s.

    For my Dungeon World game, I started with a blank posterboard and drew one city. I had the characters start there, then gave each player a pencil. I told them that they were from different parts of the world and that they should draw their home or somewhere they wanted to go eventually. I repeated this a couple times; while I did eventually end up with a phallic peninsula city named Stedtown, I also ended up with a rich matriarchy that’s one of the most interesting cities in the campaign. That one was done as a collaborative session with each person adding something to the country, which worked out in a very cool way.

    Plus this way they actually remember the place names, which is something that I always struggle with in fantasy games. The map should be a cool memento of the game once it’s over, too.

Leave a Reply