14 January, 2013

Apocalypse Diaries

Another of my White Whales...it's a single player game.

During the first phase of the game, the character’s life is good. They start with a sizeable pool of resources at their disposal but minimal character depth. During the course of the first phase, it is easy for a character to convert their resources to character depth; but for every degree of depth the character gains, the fewer the resources they have at their disposal and the harder it will be for them to continue to operate in the shallow and superficial world of socialites and glamour.  

At any time, the apocalypse will strike.

When this occurs, the second phase begins. Many of the renewable resources of the first phase become single use entities, others disappear completely. Now the character must rely on their depth to get them through the worst of the events that the Apocalypse might throw against them.

The game is played out with a single player writing out a diary of their character’s life in the world. Every day the player deals out a hand of cards that describes a significant scene in their character’s life. They write a few sentences describing the place where the scene happens, the people involved and the ways things looked to be unfolding at the start of the scene. They make some choices about this scene, and then resolve this scene through a combination of their choices, the previous events written on earlier pages and the draw of a few extra cards.

Once the scene has been resolved, the player writes the rest of the scene, detailing how they ended up as a result of it, what may have changed in their life and how the world around them was affected. In the first phase of the game, the outside world will tend to be fairly static (sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing), while the character’s life will gradually improve (even though they might suffer an occasional set-back). In the second phase of the game, the outside world will degenerate (this could occur quickly or gradually), and the character’s life is a struggle to maintain a stable level as the troubles around them worsen.

In most cases, the character will die a horrible death. This could be at the hands of enemies slighted in the past, angry mobs, nightmarish monstrosities, disease, poisoning (due to toxic or degraded foods), hypothermia, suicide, or something else. Characters who survive long enough during the second phase of the game might have a chance of being “rescued” or might help to form a community of survivors, but this is highly unlikely. The joy of this game is in watching the obnoxious socialite suffering terribly at the miseries around them, their beautiful life in the social circles means nothing when those social circles no longer exist. 

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