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[one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York 
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Post [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
Draconis, our local con, is coming up (mid-October) and I need to start planning what I'm going to run. Usually, I'm brimming with ideas and new games I want to try out, but this year I'm just too busy with real life and other projects.

However, I just bought the soundtrack album for Escape From New York and it got me totally psyched. I took the neighbour's dog for a walk and cranked it. If you like pared-down pre-80's synth, à la Tangerine Dream (but much more pared-down) with a raw edge, I highly recommend this album. Plus, it's peppered with cool little soundbites from the movie* and if you listen to our podcast, you know how much I love those.

But anyhow, I got inspired to run an Escape From New York one-shot. Instead of a single ex-military lifer, we'll have 4 PCs, with varied skills. I think the micro-bomb in the neck is a great pacesetter for a con game and I can use the music at the beginning to set the mood.

However, I would like to avoid the kind of long, set-piece combats that are the staple of con games. It just doesn't seem to quite fit the tone (Escape From New York has a lot more tension than actual combat). Not that I don't want there to be ass-kicking, I'd just it rather take a different form. More like short, intense bursts.

So despite my thread title, I'm not sure Savage Worlds is the perfect system, encourage as it does those kinds of bigger battles. I could probably get away with it, but I wonder if anyone has any other suggestions.

Another issue, is that I was thinking that I would let the players decide the reason their character (who will otherwise be pre-genned) was in jail in the first place. Then based on that backstory, they each get to choose one mechanical advantage. That would be an Edge in Savage Worlds, but I don't want to waste time going through the edges and choosing the right one, especially if some of the players aren't familiar with SW. I was thinking a system with freeform traits would work better for this, but I don't want something too light as it doesn't seem right for the setting to me.

Finally, I'm kind of thinking it would be cool if there was a plot twist. The primary plot should be the extraction of the president, but I thought it might be cool to have some kind of betrayal that would force the characters to improvise and break the storyline from that of the movie. Is this a good idea? Is it even necessary? If so, any suggestions?

Any other input would be welcome as well.


*example of one of these soundbites:
Bob Hauk: There was an accident. About an hour ago, a small jet went down inside New York City. The President was on board.
Snake Plissken: The president of what?

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Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:34 pm
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Post Re: [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
walkerp wrote:
However, I would like to avoid the kind of long, set-piece combats that are the staple of con games. It just doesn't seem to quite fit the tone (Escape From New York has a lot more tension than actual combat). Not that I don't want there to be ass-kicking, I'd just it rather take a different form. More like short, intense bursts.

So despite my thread title, I'm not sure Savage Worlds is the perfect system, encourage as it does those kinds of bigger battles. I could probably get away with it, but I wonder if anyone has any other suggestions.


I don't really like SW but you do. Plus it is a fairly fast system, which is nice for one-shots, especially at a con.

I know you have experience with FATE and although I've never played with the core mechanic it looks like it is very character-driven and should handle tension well. Plus, when all the dressing is removed there is something pulpy about my recollection of Escape From New-York.

The three things I would look for:

1-Am I comfortable mastering this system for strangers? I will prefer to be on top of my game in this situation, while I would have no problems playing a game I barely know with regulars.
2-Do I want to push particular buttons? Like fear, character development, tactical combat... all this "System Matters" stuff
3-If after asking the two previous questions I still have several games at my disposal to choose from, is there a game I would like to pimp? It's a con, I see nothing wrong with "evangelizing" a little, giving exposure to an underdog.


walkerp wrote:
Another issue, is that I was thinking that I would let the players decide the reason their character (who will otherwise be pre-genned) was in jail in the first place. Then based on that backstory, they each get to choose one mechanical advantage.


Wow! I love that idea. The reverse might also work for a light system: the reason they are in prison is pre-generated (along with some choice edges and stats) but the rest is left for them to fill. This give you four badass specialists. The classic "they were chosen because of their skills". Gives it a dirty dozen vibe. You present their character sheets as criminal records. In effect, they fill the rest of he details, what "the system" doesn't know about them.

walkerp wrote:
D
Finally, I'm kind of thinking it would be cool if there was a plot twist. The primary plot should be the extraction of the president, but I thought it might be cool to have some kind of betrayal that would force the characters to improvise and break the storyline from that of the movie. Is this a good idea? Is it even necessary? If so, any suggestions?


Well, I prefer games loosely inspired from movies. Escape is a well-known classic. I'd avoid too many twists but I wouldn't hesitate to change a lot of details. It's still always good to have backup plans if the simple scenario is resolved too quickly. What if another team of hardcore convict was sent, competing with the protagonists? That's the kind of backup plans that might work and lead to a cool finale (especially with some judicious foreshadowing during the game setup)


walkerp wrote:
Any other input would be welcome as well.


For movies, I like to use "It's like ______________ but ____________________"

So, insert: "It's like Escape From NY but

with zombies loose
In space
and so on...

Imagine if the PCs are crack expert hackers who have been convicted. As part of their sentence, they must jack themselves in cyberspace and do dirty work such as find virus, porn prevention and all sorts of boring stuff. Only one day the president disappears and the only hints of where he might be and what is happening are in the virtual world. Dress up as needed and you have a cyberpunkish Escape From New-York.

Hope that helps!

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Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:16 am
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Post Re: [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
Why not use Imaginations Toybox?

This also sounds like a nice Risus set-up.
Hmm, how story-games do want this? A nice conflict resolution mechanic would make the fights quick (and perhaps brutal).

Which reminds me: I ran a Risus game that was Victorian Sci Fi on a passenger ship with Zombie Pirates. To add a some extra zest I gave everyone a special card. Each card gave some tidbit of info about the character and a mechanical bonus when it was brought into play.

Several cards indicated a relationship with the character of the player sitting to the left. Love/Hate/Rivalry, that sort of thing. One card actually indicated the player was a mole for the bad guys.

It let the players generate some of the twist that made the game memorable.

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Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:11 am
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Post Re: [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
Very helpful, CD. Food for thought which I must masticate a bit. I do really like your 3-step game-choosing process and I think I will go through my bookshelf and apply it to all the games that appeal to me for this.

MZR, what is Imagination Toybox and why would it be good for this scenario?

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Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:27 pm
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Post Re: [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
WalkerP,
Sorry. I got my long-dsitance friends confused :?

If you were Uncle Bear you would use Imaginations Toybox because that's the game your developing. Since you're not him...nevermind.

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Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:10 pm
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Post Re: [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
Darn! I thought it was going to be some super-obscure, rules-light game that would be the perfect balance between story-games and quick combat tacticall badassedness that would be perfect for Escape From New York! Way to get a guy's hopes up.

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Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:38 pm
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Post Re: [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
What about PDQ? I've checked out very briefly several times and its never grabbed me, but people are pretty psyched about its implementation in Jaws of the Six Serpents.

Over the Edge?

I just really don't want a lot of crunch in this game, but I want fighting that delivers the impact of a slightly more crunchy game.

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Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:29 pm
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Post Re: [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
True20.
It's fast, highly tweakable and can be pretty lethal... but it costs money. I think it would be ideal for what you want, but it does have connections to d20, which I know you dislike. however the revised corebook $20.00 has everything you'd need to construct the setting and the other stuff you'd need. it's also really easy to learn (for your players) especially if they have any kind of d20 experience.

Also I'd suggest the escape from New York with Zombies variant. with zomboes everywhere, you have tension everywhere, but with the clock ticking your guys would have to be very careful about picking their battles.


Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:52 pm
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Post Re: [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
How light does True20 go?

Here's my main problem with the D20 system: the initiative and round structure. I could definitely shake this up, but maybe wouldn't have to if I could grit it up enough so that combat would never last more than 2 or 3 rounds (at most). Is that possible, yet while still giving the PCs an out so they won't get killed early?

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Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:13 pm
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Post Re: [one-shot development] Escape from Savage New York
True20 is wicked light. Character gen is 5-10 minutes (the first time). I think you could easily run combats this way, especially if you use minions, however, combat in True20 is really, really fast. Some reviews i read even complained that it was too fast. So you may not have to worry so much about actual round count.
I suggest some practice combats so you get a feel for the system. It's really simple- i swear.


Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:37 pm
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