From time to time, I use this blog as a sounding board for things that I am designing. I find that it can help to get my ideas out there and into some sort of tangible form to help me figure out what I want to do with a particular idea that I may have.
An idea that has been rolling around in my brain for a while now, something that I have talked about to gaming friends and mentioned on places like RPGnet has been a game setting that I have called Gutterpunk.
There has been a bit of resistance in the minds of some "typical" gamers when I talk about Gutterpunk because it doesn't have any of the standard trappings that you would find in an RPG. The characters are very normal people. There are no "kewl powerz" of any sort, no magic or anything. The game is about people who manage to find themselves in fairly crappy situations and have to deal with these situations as best as they can. The resolutions to their situations aren't always all that good either. Like I said, not your standard RPG fare, but it was something that I went into realizing that whis wasn't going to be the next D&D. I know that this game will have a fairly limited appeal, but I don't want to let that stop me from doing it.
Mind you, this isn't some "art for art's sake" game either. I can't stand when people do that with any sort of endeavor that they undertake.
The characters in Gutterpunk are, as I said above, normal. They are squatters, dropouts, homeless people, and the working poor who are just trying to get by in their lives and keep things from falling apart. It is a game about people outside of the normal social structures of American society, whether by choice or circumstance, who just want to live their lives as best as they can. I'm sure that this sounds pretty boring, huh?
But I think that I have finally found a system that would support what I want to do with Gutterpunk. That would be Chad Underkoffler's Prose Descriptive (PDQ) System. Follow that link to Chad's company site (Atomic Sock Monkey Press) for more information about the system. You can even find a free stripped down version of the game in the Freebies section.
What I like about Chad's system is that it can allow you to make normal people who can do something without having to have a lot of special powers in order to be unique and to be able to accomplish something. Yes, it does at time perhaps flirt with those "narrative" labels that I really don't like but for a game like Gutterpunk I think that it would be a good system choice. Yet again, it gives a way for "normal" characters to be able to stand out and do something without having to have a laundry list of powers, spells or special abilities.
I want to be able to tell other types of stories with the players during a game session, and play other types of games. "Escape" isn't something that is only one option which is fulfilled the exact same way for everyone at the gaming table (or in the gaming hobby). So, if I want a game to fill that On The Road meets Fight Club niche that I am looking for from time to time, Gutterpunk will be able to do that for me. That's why I called this post Fantasy Doesn't Always Mean Escape, because there can be more to an RPG than just pure escapism, just like there can be for any other form of entertainment. I'm pretty sure that there are a few people out there who have some similar ideas to mine on this topic.
Part of the reason why I posted these very early "design notes" here instead of someplace like RPGnet is because I wanted to pull some of the concepts that have been swirling around in my subconscious without the typical responses of "That doesn't sound like fun" or "That isn't escape." Who knows, I might cross-post this elsewhere but for now I want to see what, if anything, comes up from the people who read this blog (regularly or irregularly).
Post a comment and let me know what you think. Let me know what you would do with a game like this.