Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Game Translation: Blood Dragon

Sometimes it's good for a game to not take itself seriously. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a shooter which satirises 1980s action films. The setting is a mixture of retro and futuristic and it sprawls across an island filled with those who need a good killing. You play eye-patched cyborg protagonist Sergeant Rex Power Colt.

In a game like this, tropes are the thing. This game has cyborgs, Russian - American nuclear war, rogue agents, zombies, literal blood dragons, rescuing scientists and conquering bases. Naturally there's a hot female doctor who assists you in, ahem, more ways than one.

This is the kind of tongue in cheek affair that many players would love to play, at least once in awhile, and I'd thoroughly recommend horror STs try their hand at it once in awhile. It's a good way to get some escapism, unwind, and laugh at yourself, your hobby, and everything else you're dealing with at the time. The big trick here is to not let it get into cutting satire. You don't want to lambast it as the sorry state of roleplay. You just want to pack so many tropes into a single game that it tips over the border into absurd.

Firstly, remember this is a shooter. The system you use needs to give the players plenty of hit points to play around with and the combat needs to be short, sharp and sweet so that they can mow down dozens of bad guys in between healing up. Pathfinder can work for this, though I'd recommend reducing the hit points of most creatures so that most of them are, at best, paper tigers. They hit hard but they die easy. At least easy compared to the players. There are other systems that would probably work even better (i.e. Tenra Bansho Zero) but that's the most mainstream one I can think of which would work out.

The gameplay should be varied, as well. Throw in some creatures that are more powerful than others! Let them mow down a dozen of the running dead and then throw down with some kind of super-cyborg. And remember to describe all the damage they deal to the bad guys with relish (though not to the point of evoking imagery of pain and grotesquery - think comic book style).

If I were you, I'd recommend including some kind of narrator. The players could occasionally take turns at this or it might be storyteller only. Basically, start each session with a summary that evokes bad blockbuster movie trailers and which drops heavy, yet bizarre, spoilers for the next session. "Last time...." "S/he was just doing his/her job smashing bad guys when...." "Little did they know but things were about to get a lot worse...." "On a mission they weren't expected to survive...." This page will give you some ideas of what to say or, at least, how to say it.

Go Big or Go Home....
To help diversify the bad guys, play around with the idea of called shots. These could be quite narratively done. If you say you hit its eyes, you deal damage normally. Otherwise the damage is halved. No penalty to hit the eyes, though. Of course, if you do use these quirks make them uncommon so that they're entertaining rather than an irritating game of "strike every body part once". Also the players should be able to look at the monster and get an idea of where to strike just by the look of it. In other words, a giant eye or a fleshy mouth that is only open sometimes is just begging for a smack. Yes, it may not be as much of a Blood Dragon thing but it's a pretty big gaming trope anyhow.

Hammy one liners should deal extra damage to an enemy. Make it small but significant so that the players keep making them. If it ends up making everyone laugh, let the damage be a full (but small) damage dice or something similar. Only let each player benefit from this twice a battle, though, you don't want it to grate.

Use the game as an excuse to watch over-the-top movies or shows. Or at the very least, play a trailer of one as the starting ritual to get everyone on the same page. This can also act as handy inspiration for you. As can the web-site TV Tropes.

You should include at least one puns that's really important to the game. It could be a password, a description of a boss, or even a vital clue said by an NPC. C'mon, you know most folks hate puns. Time to get them groaning.

Anyway, a campaign based around Blood Dragon or including elements of it, should appeal to - you guessed it - Action Heroes the most. I could take you through the rest of the list but really most of the other groups will tag along for the entertainment value but probably wouldn't be into it for the long haul unless the satire was really funny to them. Still, that doesn't mean they wouldn't enjoy it as a breather adventure or short campaign. If you want to check out the trailer, you can find it here. If you want to read up on the TV Tropes you can find them here.

For the next Game Translation (which will be in a fortnight's time), you have a choice of these: Tomb Raider (the latest), Dracula: Origins, Outlast, Vampire: the Masquerade (Bloodlines) or Deadly Premonitions. If no one picks anything by next fortnight, it'll probably be Deadly Premonitions.

If you want to see the list of games I've done thus far, you can find the Game Translation series starter over here.

No comments:

Post a Comment