March 25th, 2009

  • paka

fluff rather than crunch

I've been falling in love with the old-skool WoD again, and I've been really enjoying the communities here on LiveJournal here which feature photographs of old, abandoned, decaying, rusted, and trashed-out urban scenery. Where I live now, in the San Francisco Bay Area, property values are so high that it's often hard to imagine a place standing abandoned for very long before it's knocked down and replaced with a tract of overpriced housing or a strip mall, so I was pretty surprised by how many thematically rich, cool-lookin' places there were out there in the world, often fairly close to pretty vibrant and heavily populated areas.

Having characters chasing each other/performing rituals/racing motorcycles/doing clandestine magic deals in the junked and ruined wreckage of what used to be someone's house, someone's factory, and someone's hope for the future -- and then traveling a comparatively short distance to get to nightclubs, upscale apartments, and so on -- is a very World of Darkness sort of thing. There's got to be some reasoning behind having thematically cool buildings show up in a modern game. When you think about machinery, OSHA regulations, and property values, you can figure out what structures are likely to be replaced by housing developments or stand neglected for decades. So that's exactly what I thought about over coffee today;

Factories are the most likely structures to stay abandoned. They're full of machinery, underground tanks and other features which would be costly to pull out and replace. Frequently factories are located in places where property values aren't that high, so if nobody buys the land and bulldozes it, you're looking at an urban ruin that might be there for a while.

Hospitals might stand abandoned for quite some time. They're full of machinery and possible chemical spills that would be costly to clean up.

Mental hospitals are usually semi-rural and have some of the same limitations as hospitals, so they, too, might stand abandoned for quite some time.

Railroad yards and structures aren't exactly abandoned, but because they're an awkward shape, in crummy areas, and because the railways usually want to maintain at least one active track through the area, places where tracks, car barns, and maintenance facilities once stood are likely to stay unused for decades.

Houses aren't built especially solidly, and they're unlikely to have special machinery or OSHA violations to worry about, so whether a house is abandoned for decades, refurbished, or bulldozed immediately basically depends on property values. Nobody bulldozes those blocks of neglected houses in Detroit because there's little chance that anyone will pay more money than the contractors cost, to move in there.

Houses of worship are the least likely to stand abandoned, even though they're thematic additions to movies like X-Men United or The Crow. Big kitchens, classrooms and sanctuaries mean that when one church moves out, another one is likely to move in -- and even if nobody else wants the place, a church will probably sit squarely in a residential area where the land is valuable. If there's an exception out there, it's probably nestled among blocks of unwanted houses.


I've been thinking about trying to start up a new campaign, and it's taken me a while to figure out exactly what setting I'd like to use. I think I've finally decided on a post-apocalyptic setting, but that's really all I've decided on so far. I know it sounds cliche, but it seems like a good setting to me. What I'm asking for are recommendations for a system that would cater to the needs of a GM trying to set up a semi-futuristic RPG, set in, say, the 23rd or 24th century, a couple of hundred years after The Big Day that destroyed half the population or whatever the backstory will end up being. I'm looking for something that has futuristic weaponry, aliens, that sort of thing. I checked out D20 Modern, but it doesn't seem to be...modern enough, as it were. Any recommendations would be much appreciated!