Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The One True Table, First Draft + Reader Participation

So here's my first draft of The One Table. Theory is, it'll generate adventures.

Use it like a magic 8ball and ask it these questions, then roll d100...

Where's the basic plot of this thing coming from?

With a side of what?

Where am I going to get an idea for the big, crazy fight?

And the totally incongruous element?

The multivalent trick the PCs can fuck with and turn against the adventure?

And the new monster?

Dumb prop/DM gimmick?

Nondeath situation-altering punishment a PC might face?

___________
1-The Return of...whoever you just killed, or offended or...

2-Frank Miller Daredevil (Run 1--fall in love with someone who wants to kill you.)

3-Frank Miller Daredevil (Run 2--you wake up to find your greatest enemy is slowly destroying your life for fun using his/her political influence.)

(A foe under some taboo or restriction or in some legal bind preventing him/her from physically harming the PCs is probably the most interesting situation here.)

4-Groundhog Day. (You just have to set it up so the players don't hate you once they realize they have to do something all over again.)

5-Cannonball Run.

6-Apocalypse Now (Notably, despite his instructions--"learn what you can along the way and terminate his command"--Martin Sheen learns almost nothing along the way about Colonel Kurtz except what he reads in his dossier he brings with him. It seems like in a game the thing to do would be to seed information about the final target around different places on the way to finally meeting the bad guy and to seed it in such a way that getting certain pieces of information at certain times might make the PCs want to back track a little and to decide to maybe revisit certain places since, for example, they find out the bad guy is half slug they might wanna go back to the salt mines of Arturas and steal a sodium cannon.)

7-Angel Blade (This is a japanese sci-fi porn cartoon. The main premise involves a totally un-futuristic looking girls school menaced by an evil monster queen. I just like the idea of having my players in a girls school, I think.)

8-Genesis Pits

9-The anti-life equation.

10-Secret Wars (the original) (Alien intelligence seeks to understand the nature of humanity. So he makes you fight dozens of weirdos on a "battleworld". Ok, so there's that (incidentally this comic book is the one Sasha Grey's boyfriend can be seen reading in the backround of the first few episodes of Axe) other than that premise which is pretty good by itself the thing I liked about Secret Wars and several similar comics was you got to see the villains bickering with each other. This is something hard to get across in RPGs since the traditional model is first person but it might be worthwhile to sit down for a bit and invent some devices allowing the PCs to spy on the internal pressures of their foes.)

11-Gravity's Rainbow (You're an experiment on a self-imposed quest to find out something about yourself which everyone but you seems to already know.)(The idea of setting up elaborate secret backstories for the PCs that they themselves don't know anything about and then building the campaign world on top of that seems to have legs. This is kind of the reverse of places like Greyhawk where things that the DMs old players constructed or invented or became at the end of their lives are littered about the place. In this model every single thing about the campaign world could be generated out of things you learn or decide about the PCs like, Mandy knows her cleric is part demon and was found on the doorstep of the Temple of Vorn and there's about a million different directions you could go just to explain that.)

12-Bend Sinister (Imprisoned by surreal bureaucracy for incomprehensible crime.)

13-Pale Fire (There's a work of art. Properly interpreting it provides valuable setting information. I very much like the idea of taking something like Mad Meg or Fall of the Rebel Angels and somehow hiding everything single thing the players could possibly want to know about the game world in the painting.)

14-London Fields (Someone will be murdered. We know who the victim will be. There are two possible murderers. Two suspects present themselves but they're both valuable to the PCs. The victim may actually want to be murdered. Taken broadly (it doesn't have to be murder it could be pretty much anything) the trick is having the PCs care enough about any NPC that they wouldn't just off him/her immediately. But it's possible the get around this by attaching some sort of dire consequences to making the wrong choice. Again you could fit this into pretty much anything at any time, for instance, there's a room the room has a treasure one of the inhabitants of the dungeon will pursue the PCs unto her/his/it's last breath if they steal the treasure the other one won't but will curse them forever if they kill it or otherwise fuck with it.)

15-Silence of the Lambs (Only clues to find or defeat a foe are given in the form of cryptic koans from an even deadlier foe. In the book and movie Lecter is conveniently held in an asylum so the FBI chick can go talk to him whenever obviously in a game you'd want to complicated this situation a little. Put it so that if the players want to know something they have to brave perils to find it plus figure out what the psycho savant wants.)

16-The Triumph of Death painting by Breghel (Basically, the bad guys run everything but the thing is in order to be interesting they have to actually run it. Like make it work. I've touched on this idea before when I was talking about the roguish work ethic but if you put the PCs in a guerilla war type situation vis a vis the bad guys and you make the bad guys hierarchy complicated you could make it so the players can get all strategic about which targets to hit and loot. Like, if we loot this tomb then we get that thing and if we loot this armory we deprive the enemy of that resource it could become and interesting sort of anti-sandbox where you not only kill things and take their stuff but each time you do it it has some dramatic effect on the rest of the world or just the rest of the dungeon.)

17-Star Wars (pursued by enemies, prison break, assault on location containing prison)

18-Empire (assaulted, pursued by enemies, swallowed, followed, double-crossed, escape)

19-Jedi (prison break, showy execution goes wrong, 3-front assault)

20-Diamonds Are Forever (disrupt smuggling operation--possibly via impersonation, acquire mcguffin, get attacked by people who think they're double-crossing whoever you're impersonating, stumble on wider plot involving high-level NPC being replaced by villain, get chased, seek out replaced NPC, gain key to whereabouts of villain, assault)(probably missed something in the middle there)

21-Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas + Legion of Super Heroes Volume 4 issues 1-24 (you must avoid the law)

22-Alan Moore's "Twilight of the Super-Heroes" (warring houses, key people are not what they seem)(problem is building up NPCs to the point where PCs care what they seem to be)

23-Grant Morrison Doom Patrol

24-Daredevil #276 (the hundred heads of Ultron)

25- Borges

26-Random metal song.

27-Random metal band name. (Eminent Throne, anyone?)(Goat Cinder?)

28-Implied backstory of an artifact or relic from the AD&D DMG.

29-The Civil War (not the Marvel comics one, the actual one).

30-Big Lebowski

31-Love Boat

32-Three Steps To Memorable Villainy method

33-First comic off the shelf

34-Alice's Adventures In Wonderland or Through The Looking Glass

35-Walt Simonson's run on Thor (Featuring hateful hosts of kabuki-colored elves in rigid masks.)

36-That Jack Vance story with the eyeball-collecting monster.

37-Viriconium.

38-Elric stories

39-Zulayka Seduces Yusef (painting by Bihzad)

40-Black Sabbath.

41-Iron Maiden.

42-Roky Erickson.

43-Barbarella.

44-Monster Magnet.

45-Aeschylus.

46-John Milton.

47-Dr. Strange.

48-Fritz Leiber.

49-H. P. Lovecraft

50-Zork.

51-Killing of a Chinese Bookie.

52-What I remember about 1001 Arabian Knights.

53-The Elder Edda.

54-The Younger Edda.

55-Bauhaus.

56-Motorhead.

57-Arnim Zola

58-Modok

59-Dr. Doom

60-Tucker Carlson

61-Larry Flint/Baron Harkonnen

62-Yi Yang

63-D4 1-Classically Surreal 2-Weird 3-Horror 4-Metal

64-Bloody Hammer

65-Giant Slorr

66-The Basilisk's Throne

67-The reigning deity here is Demogorgon

68-Irish...

69-The Greased Goat--The Sign of Denied Passions.

70-The reigning deity here is Vorn--grim grey, gaunt god of iron and of rain.

71-The Witchling Star - The Sign of Magic.

72-Dungeoncrawlesque.

73-Magical fairy enchanted horrible.

74-Such logic as reigns in the Realm of Beelzebub (mm1 v 1).

75-Petty god.

76-An absolutely sane extrapolation of what one would expect based on previous events and assuming all involved are rational actors.

77-Evil. If already evil, eviller.

78-Like Peter Jackson would do it based on a libretto by Tolkien.

79-Kafka

80-Unexpectedly epic

81-Francis Bacon

82-Hieronymus Bosch

84-William S. Burroughs

85-The mastermind here is a (random monster)

86-Backwards

87-An unsettling inversion of the expected trope here.

88-Secretly, it's a puzzle.

89-Secretly, it's a test.

90-Villain's plot here undermined by secondary villain.

91-The people who were supposed to be doing this would have no problem with it, but we're stuck with the PCs.

92-Apparent gibberish isn't

93-Roll a random monster. Build the most stereotypical situation you can around this monster. Investigate all possible naturalistic inconsistencies in said situation.

94-Composite beast.

95-What would Gardner Fox do?

96-What would Gary do?

97-What would the last blogger who updated do?

98-Stupidest idea you can think of in 2 seconds. Now make it nonstupid.

99-Fairy tale

100-Today's news

__________


Here's my first test.

Reader participation bit:
Try to throw together something based on the following results and put it in the comments...

Where's the basic plot of this thing coming from?
Aeschylus

With a side of what?
Dr Doom

Where am I going to get an idea for the big, crazy fight?
Modok

And the totally incongruous element?
Elric stories

The multivalent trick the PCs can fuck with and turn against the adventure?
Love boat

And the new monster?
The mastermind here is a (random monster). I used some online 3.5 thing and got an aasimar which is some angel-type thing, then got bored and rolled again and got a doppleganger. It's some hybrid of both.

Dumb prop/DM gimmick?
Roll a random monster. Build the most stereotypical situation you can around this monster. Investigate all possible naturalistic inconsistencies in said situation.

I rolled 'Dog'.

Nondeath situation-altering punishment a PC might face?
The anti-life equation.

17 comments:

Barking Alien said...

So you don't run Superheroes regularly because...?

Zak S said...

@Barking

...most of my players don't read comics

papajoemambo said...

A major nasty NPC's even more-evil wife (perhaps a couple the PCs have encountered either socially or antagonisticly) has killed him because he accidentally allowed a former sex-slave and servant with incredible magical/psionic abilities through the use of a rare artifact/scroll/gauntlet he left lying around. She is jealous of the now-freakishly psionic former slave who seems to be able to open portals to alternate realities just by thinking about people she happens upon (including the PCs) when she sees them. The NPC's widow now wants the artifact for herself and the former servant girl dead.

The totally incongruous element is a GOOD version of the evil NPC wife who has a sword of power (a mirror image/sister item of the artifact that endowed the servant with the power). The good version of the wife wants to kill the bad version of the wife, absorb her into the artifact she's carrying and then use the combined energy to get back home.

The major fight consists of various versions of the characters from throughout the multiverse in varying levels of power streaming through the palace of the setting, defending the former servant from the PCs as well as the psychotic evil queen.

The multivalent trick is a flying boat from an alternate reality where the servant has been befriended by the PCs - On the boat is a half-dozen different versions of the PCs ready to lend a hand (it's a bit of a DEUS EX MACHINA, but it's a good way to avoid TPK, and hey, it's Aeschylus - if you can't have a Deus Ex Machina in a classic Greek saga, then where can you have it?).

The easiest way to befriend the incredibly powerful servant is by reintroducing her to her pet puppy, who is still in the servant's chambers, cowering under the bed. Also under the bed is the original artifact in question, which opens the user's mind to every possible way they and everyone else they see can be destroyed. In rare cases, it lends the user incredible power, in most cases, it pops them out of this reality into another where up until then they had never existed. If the PCs get a hold of it, mayhem can ensue.

papajoemambo said...

(making Cassandra into Modok with Clytemestra/Doom wanting her dead was irresistable...)

Adrian said...

Here's what I got, rerolling a few of the numbers after the first go-through because I wasn't sure how to integrate them. Some of my own notes are also included. This was a really fun exercise and it's pretty great how this can all be tied together into something somewhat coherent within just 10 minutes of thinking.

Where's the basic plot of this thing coming from?

85-The mastermind here is a Huge Giant Queen Ant

With a side of what?

18-Empire (assaulted, pursued by enemies, swallowed, followed, double-crossed, escape). Black ant empire of all ants?

Where am I going to get an idea for the big, crazy fight?

68-Irish... Fire ants revolting against black ant Empire. Think _Wind that Shakes the Barley_.

And the totally incongruous element?

10-Secret Wars (the original); Ant wishes to understand the adventurers and so throws them in a fight. Beginning of adventure? Arguments between red ants / black ants who are guarding the staged fight.

The multivalent trick the PCs can fuck with and turn against the adventure?

100-Today's news; Wikileaks? (see dumb prop)

And the new monster?
63-D4 4-Metal

Dumb prop/DM gimmick?

6-Apocalypse Now (Notably, despite his instructions--"learn what you can along the way and terminate his command"--Martin Sheen learns almost nothing along the way about Colonel Kurtz except what he reads in his dossier he brings with him. It seems like in a game the thing to do would be to seed information about the final target around different places on the way to finally meeting the bad guy and to seed it in such a way that getting certain pieces of information at certain times might make the PCs want to back track a little and to decide to maybe revisit certain places since, for example, they find out the bad guy is half slug they might wanna go back to the salt mines of Arturas and steal a sodium cannon.)

Nondeath situation-altering punishment a PC might face?

30-Big Lebowski; The black ant princess has kidnapped herself? Player is drugged? Bad information? Nihilists?

mordicai said...

"Situation altering" is one way of describing the Anti-Life Equation.

IHaveTilFive said...

The party must command units to attack a city. King Victor of Latveria, possibly the most powerful man in world, opposes the Council of Ideas in their machine-city of Kirby. Unknown to the party, he also wants to get his mother out of Hell. The final battle will likely occur in the High Council’s domed citadel of clone vats. Arriving in the city under cover of a cloak of Ebon, a fragile traveler is searching for a life-drinking artifact which will prolong his own life.

The Council created, through science and sorcery, a being of psionic powers – the ability to assume any form just one of them. Mod Okarum, he’s called, has ascended his consciousness into the 4th dimension, where he is looking for the knowledge of an arcane formula. This formula is said to give the possessor power to enslave the will of the world.

A brightly colored ship anchored in the harbor has left every passenger leaving with a smile on his/face and a spring in the step. Perhaps if the party could somehow get Victor and members of the Council on board, this big mess can all be avoided? And what about the scene in Victor’s castle? His dog was all alone in the pantry for a month, yet it was seen burying a bone. Where did that bone come from? The party must use caution; if captured by the Council, they will certainly be subjected to rudimentary applications of the will-erasing equation Mod Okarum’s been calculating.

biopunk said...

An hour and a bit later, et voilà:

Where's the basic plot of this thing coming from?

42-Roky Erickson
The party has been asked to join a levitating troubadour and his two-headed dog in an attempt to overthrow the dictatorship of Monkey Island.
He mutters claims of having walked with zombies and reverberations and earthquakes.
Obviously, he speaks from the gods...

With a side of what?

25-Borges
Accompanying the party is an ideologically conflicted minotaur who seeks to return to his island home and overthrow it's oppressive masters by inspiring the populace to rise up against them.
He has an innate ability to navigate the labyrinth due to his birth, as well as a predilection for felines, both big and small.


Where am I going to get an idea for the big, crazy fight?

48-Fritz Leiber (Space-Time for Springers)
Gummitch, a super intelligent cat, will come to the party's aid to defeat the dictators by revealing that it is really the demon-child who is controlling the island's rulers (...as long as the final battle isn't in the Hall of Mirrors, or any squirrels are accompanying the party. Two-headed dogs might be quite problematic, as well..)

And the totally incongruous element?

81-Francis Bacon
The PCs find an alchemist locked in his laboratory in the citadel, surrounded by his scrolls, manuscripts and experiments.
If Borges is with the PCs, a lengthy debate on who the best candidate(s) to replace the present dictatorship and what system to use ensues.
If Motörhead is present, Francis reconsiders his theory of Novum Organum and won't leave his lab until he has come up with a classification to better suit their views.
If Roky and Gummitch are both present, the conversation turns to other planes of existence, the nature of the gods, as well Socratic and Aristotelian systems of knowledge.
(DM's Note: This encounter could last for days...)

The multivalent trick the PCs can fuck with and turn against the adventure?

56-Motörhead
A band of three leather-clad mercenary rogues led by the 'Killmeister'. If not attacked on sight, they befriend the PCs over a shared alcoholic libation and talk non-stop, making strange claims that The Chase Is Better Than Catch while Waiting For The Snake.
They also mention Wolves, Dogs, Traitors, Blackhearts, Boogeymen, and rolling rocks and stoning the deaf frequently.
They also speak of eating the rich, just 'cos they got the power... (Whereupon they will set about hatching a plan to overthrow the dictatorship and eat them.)
They will fuck anything that wants to fuck them, and proclaim: "Love Me Like A Reptile".
If the Killmeister is fucked, he will shout: "I am the one, Orgasmatron!" and all within earshot must save, or be Deaf Forever...

(Cont'd)

biopunk said...

And the new monster?

A parasite that infects the hands, gradually diminishing control of their movement and replacing the fingers with ten squirming larvae, before they drop off to pupate in the soil (in 1d20 rounds).
Spellcasters will have a higher frequency of spell failure and effectively wielding a melee or ranged weapon will become increasing difficult.

Dumb prop/DM gimmick?
A giant skunk, trapped in the labyrinth, distraught and hungry.
If the two-headed dog is still with the party, it will run ahead of the party, barking, only to return, covered in a foul-smelling musk.
The giant skunk has a particular affinity for the taste of the parasitic finger larvae.

Nondeath situation-altering punishment a PC might face?

33-First comic off the shelf (Image Groo #7)
Illegal lizardfolk labourers are crossing the water to work in a prosperous human settlement.
PCs will have to negotiate labour relations and contracts between the two races.
A dual katana wielding barbarian of questionable intellect may interfere.
Any attempt to leave Monkey Island by ship while in the company of the barbarian will rapidly result in a shipwreck or sinking.

mordicai said...

Too big to post here, so I blogged it:

http://mordicai.livejournal.com/1850519.html

TheCramp said...

So I lost an entire morning to this. I was thinking, "meh, don't know if this will work." And then I rolled up a set of responses.
1 Where's the basic plot of this thing coming from?
Silence of the Lambs (#15)

2 With a side of what?
London Fields (#14)

3 Where am I going to get an idea for the big, crazy fight?
Viriconium. (#37) [I went with the roman city, not Vance.]

4 And the totally incongruous element?
Composite Beast (#94)

5 The multivalent trick the PCs can fuck with and turn against the adventure?
Jedi (prison break, showy execution goes wrong, 3-front assault, #19)

6 And the new monster?
Apparent gibberish isn't (#92)

7 Dumb prop/DM gimmick?
Larry Flint/Baron Harkonnen (#61)

8 Nondeath situation-altering punishment a PC might face?
The Civil War (not the Marvel comics one, the actual one #29 [I went with Ireland’s])

I was hooked with the very first roll. Write up here:

http://thedeadmeta.blogspot.com/2010/12/men-and-woman-of-action.html

kelvingreen said...

This is about the best I could do, and the weakness of it is down to me rather than The Table, I'm sure.

-----

One day, mysterious hooded figures appear on street corners, telling miserable stories which drain the will to live from all who hear them. People become apathetic, then angry, then suicidal.

(The players too may be affected should they fail Willpower/Sanity rolls, or the local equivalent.)

The stories are mainly about a mighty warrior and king who despite all his power, cannot stop all those he loves being killed horribly, sometimes by his own hand.

The figures turn out to be machines, relaying the stories from a broadcasting point on the nearby island of Dionysia.

There, an old war hero, clad in robes and a mask like those of the robots, writes the stories and records them for broadcast, having turned quite mad. He is sane enough to explain that he became aware of the futility of life after spending his youth fighting in wars, only to come out of it with a scarred face and a dead brother. A god visited him in his dreams and told him how to get his revenge on the world, through the writing of these miserable stories.

In a vault in the hero's library is an abandoned manuscript, a romantic comedy began in his youth, about a boat and its crew. If reminded of this, the hero can be convinced to halt his campaign of misery.

If this is done, a rift opens, and the hero's god appears, a celestial fire-breathing turtle (Gamera/Bowser), who kills the hero before shapechanging into a flying cyborg head for the final battle.

-----

I went round and round, but couldn't find a place for the dog. Perhaps the manuscript is being guarded by a loyal but dopey hound?

kelvingreen said...

Oh, and that's based on your rolls, which was how I interpreted your instructions. I did roll a set of my own, but I'll tackle those later.

Roger the GS said...

Heh ... I can't see how an emo antihero kinslayer can be "totally incongruous" with Aeschylus and Dr. Doom.

I need to tend to my own blog but I'll probably roll my own later.

Zak S said...

@Roger

it isn't meant to be "add elric" it's "add anything from an elric story"

Roger the GS said...

Aha, I see. The example helps a lot! But now I realize I gotta roll my own table with all of my own favorite allusions ...

Barking Alien said...

@Zak

"...most of my players don't read comics"

Perfect!