17 November, 2015

FUBAR needs a setting

In my FUBAR rewrite I've decided that I need a default setting for the game. It was always intended to be a bit cyberpunk, and since we now live in the era that was once considered the edge of the cyberpunk timeframe, the game will be somewhere between our world and the worlds depicted in Shadowrun or Cyberpunk 2020. A bit like the way White Wolf's World of Darkness was an "urban gothic/fantasy", this setting will be "urban sci-fi".

So I've started drawing a map of a city that could have been, maybe somewhere on a Pacific island, where there is a space port to take advantage of the equatorial spin. Maybe this location is a corporate tax haven, like a Micronesian equivalent of Dubai, drawing on trade influence with Asia, the Americas, Australiasia, and within flight distance of India.

This gives the setting stereotypical access to criminal groups like Triads, Yakuza, and Singaporean Pirates. It offers the potential for corporations and organisations based on cultural patterns from various nations or religious. Unlike regular cyberpunk, mobile-phones/cell-phones will be a more significant thing, so will the world wide web as something everyone has access to, and social media is a thing. But more like the cyberpunk settings, computers will work like they do on TV ("zoom in on those pixels", "hack into that security feed"), there will be more prevalent space travel, possibly even a station on the moon. This is the reality of modern action movies and superhero movies, but if there are any superheroes they are more akin to Daredevil. Going beyond the accepted world is possible, but if you go in that direction things get strange...Psychosis lies down that road, but so do advanced cybernetics, artificial intelligence, functional Em-drives, genetic engineering, and statistical manipulation of reality itself. 

All of this is possible on the atoll, if you know where to look and you're willing to pay the right price to the right people. 

It looks like this incarnation of FUBAR is turning into another "storygamed" interpretation of Mage: the Ascension. I guess the idea of magic through surreal interpretations of the absurdity of modern life fits the original FUBAR concept of "Dadaism, 4 minutes into the future". Anything that exists in the real world is acceptable (no magic required). Anything you'd typically see in an action movie or spy movie (but not in the real world) is plausible (high skill or coincidental magic, maybe both). Anything that would seem out of place even in one of those movies risks disbelief (true magic). But most games basically do this, most characters in most games too. A fighter in D&D doesn't call their incredible combat feats "magic", but their skill with weaponry and capability to inflict harm is beyond the scope of a regular person. 

We don't need a "magic system" to handle the abilities that transcend the mundane abilities of the masses. On the other hand, a few pointers to explain what happens when awesomeness hits the table might be useful.

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