Game Mastery

Brainstorm #1 – Invader

by on Nov.17, 2013, under brainstorming

Whoa, two posts in the same day!  What?!  Well,  I just posted about wanting to brainstorm game ideas.  Here’s a game idea.  It shouldn’t be too big of a stretch of the imagination that I had an idea to brainstorm.

I’ve had Invader by Judas Priest stuck in my head for the past week. The imagery at the beginning makes me want to drop a UFO in a cornfield in front of the PCs.


That’s a big red flag in my book.  I don’t like mixing sci-fi and fantasy.  I don’t even like mixing sci-fact in my fantasy.  It takes the mystery out of things and hurts the genre.


But since we’re just brainstorming here, let’s go with it and see what happens.


Ok.  UFO.  Cornfield.  PCs.  Description here will matter a lot.  Words like flying saucer won’t make a ton of sense in this context.  The players will know what they mean and read into it before the players do.  I’d describe a streak of fire, the smell of ozone, and a crash landing.  Or something.  I really want this to be subtle, but a UFO crash landing is pretty much the opposite.


I’m guessing the players will attack whatever is in the UFO.  That’s what they do.  I’m going to punsih that behavior.  This UFO is a messenger with a warning.  The warning is something along the lines of “they’re coming,” implying a much bigger threat.


Okay, sidenote time.  Players signing up for a D&D game probably want a fantasy dungeon crawler.  Maybe courtly intrigue.  Starting them out with sci-fi is a bait and switch.  I’m not really sure how to get around that.  I don’t think it’s fair to lie about the premise of the game.  I might send out the previous paragraph as an intro email.  I might run it as a one shot with premade characters and then let the players make their real characters.  Not sure.  Also not relevant until I get some real, live players.


What’s the bigger threat?  Let’s go big.  Invading force from another solar system.  So big that when they show up the first order of business is to eat the sun.



Okay maybe that was too big.  Let’s go with it anyway.  Constraints are a great source of creativity and imposing something this big on the world is a huge constraint.


I like the image of the sun disappearing in the middle of the day.  But it lacks suspense.  I want some tension.  Instead, let’s have this happen right in the middle of the night when one of the PCs is on watch.  When the sun goes out, so does its reflection on the moon.  The moon going dark seems ominous, but not quite so catostrophic to me.  I imagine the player who is on guard will wake the others, but there won’t be a whole hell of a lot they can do.  I figure they’ll wait till day.  They’re going to be waiting a while…


So the sun’s gone.  Invasion is imminent.  But I don’t see any reason why the invaders would show up right away.  For now I’m more worried about what’s happening on a global scale.


1. Long term this seems like the sort of game where the end game is to unite all the races agaisnt a common enemy.  Let’s screw with that.  The orc population of the world is going to do the opposite.  They’ll have had some prophecy about when the moon goes dark, it’s their time to rule the world.  The orcish tribes will unite against the other humanoids.  Inconvenient.


2. The undead must be addressed.  With no sun, vampires have no weakness.  I see them getting cocky and trying to run amok.  I also see them going a bit nutty without the moon.  Vampires are always tied to the moon in some spiritual sense.  I don’t think they’d admit it, but they wouldn’t be functioning properly.


3. On that note, Lycanthropes might still function.  The moon is still present, it just doesn’t show up.  I figure that means it they could wolf it up every 29 days or so.  Or you could also say a full dose of moonlight is what makes them shift, so lycanthropy is subdued.  That sounds lovely at first, but it might also mean that the lycanthropes want things to stay the way they are and work against anyone trying to return the sun.


I’m comfortable working with either option.  I might do some research to see if there’s any definitive mythology.  Or I might leave it up in the air and go with whatever best serves the plot.


4. Crop shortages.  This might take a while to come up.  Even though the players can summon their own food, I figure most of the world lives off farming.  This’ll lead to widespread panic (which is also likely exacerbated by untimely seasonal affectation disorder) and a screwy economy.  (I was considering making the UFO mithral or adamantine or something cool.  If the economy is ruined, this wealth isn’t as much of a problem.)  I don’t really know where this is going long term.  Short term it seems like a good distraction and a cause for people do go against each other when that’s the exact opposite of what they should do.


5. Magic.  Sun gods will suffer.  If a PC wants to be a cleric of Pelor, they’re gonna have a bad time.  I might kill off the god, I might just remove that aspect from the god’s portfolio.  I might also target moon gods too.


That should be enough global shenanigans for now.  Let’s go back to the aliens.


Sufficiently advanced technology should be indistinguishable from magic.  This means the aliens should be capable of things the players don’t understand.  But I think the opposite applies as well in that the players should have access to magic that the aliens don’t understand.  In a world that has magic, I think it’s reasonable that the aliens would have magic too.  But I don’t think that’s as interesting.  I like the asymmetry of magic vs tech better than PC magic vs alien magic.  I also this it’d be interesting for the PCs to figure out why they have magic and the aliens don’t.


I think there’s enough here for a game.  No, not in this post, but in the idea.  I’ve been writing for two hours and it just keeps coming.  That’s a good sign that the game has potential.


What I like to do at this point is think about an end for the game.  When I wrote sketch comedy in college, one of the interesing pieces of advice I kept was that once you have a premise sorted out, the next thing to write is the ending.  If you can’t come up with a good ending at this point, with nothing committed to the middle, you’re probably not going to come up with an ending and so the idea should be scrapped.


Keep in mind that this isn’t a fixed ending.  It’s just a possible ending.


So I like the magic vs tech idea.  I’ve always been of the opinion that magic screws with physics and anyone who tries to combine the two finds out that magic does not behave in a consistent manner.  Since the aliens rely on technology for pretty much everything, I like the idea of magic disrupting it.


Let’s go back to the sun being eaten.  Actually “eating” it seems a bit vulgar, but I still like the idea.  What if what I meant by this was that the sun was somehow tapped of its energy by the aliens?  I’ve seen at least two three sci-fi stories wherein the sun is surrounded by solar panels, capturing all of its energy instead of just the stuff that makes it to earth.  Maybe this is the first thing the aliens did.  Take the sun and use its energy to fuel their campaign, and eventually their life once they take the plaent.  That’s actually kind of civilized.


That’s a lot of energy though.  They’re probably not burning it all at once.  It’s probably being stored in some sort of battery or capacitor or something.


This is where magic comes in.  With enough research I’d let a mage find a way to release all that.  Maybe even channel it somewhere.  At the very least, they could sabotage the aliens by draining their energy.  Best case, send it somewhere useful.  (Either way I really like the image of the player doing this being burned to a crisp in the process.)


If we go with the idea about the sun gods being shut down, I might use that power to disrupt the solar sphere, restoring the sun.  That should restore the sun gods power.  Could that be enough to tip the balance in favor of the PCs?

No comments for this entry yet...

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...