Morrow Project: running an Urban Campaign
TMP always seems to be set in the wilderness – or in a village. I’d like to suggest that it could be set in a city.
A few thoughts on how to run such a variant…..
First of all, this is a game about hope contrasting with cynicism. It’s not quite ‘Film Noir’ – but that’s the closest equivalent I can think of.
The city-dwellers are likely to be intelligent, ruthless and suspicious – yet they should also be capable of honour, idealism and self-sacrifice. The players are supposed to bring hope that things can change; they are the heroes of near-legend in a dark and crumbling world. The PD should keep repeating this.
Secondly, it’s a world with haunting similarities to the one that used to be. Technology has not (yet) devolved to flintlocks and buckskins – although the city’s tech level seems to be held only by force of will. There are cars, antique trucks, powerlines – even telephones (although the plastic casings are invariably cracked and faded). People dress in styles that echo the 20th century and in clothes made by machines – not slaves.
Then – once the players are used to this – the PD has to introduce anachronisms. For example, while watching an antique TV set in a cafe, the players notice a Police Officer riding by on a horse, he’s armed with a sten gun (plus laser sight). Later, the players might witness such a “Badge” casually killing some wild dogs that are annoying the street traders (who are selling everything from food to books to electronic components).
Thirdly, there should be horror – but not the traditional monsters.
This is not the usual, comfortable, “village-level” game , where”innocent bystanders” have nothing to lose and things can only get better once the Imps/Bikers/Krells/Orcs have been slaughtered. This is a game where citizens know that things could get worse – and accept that they and their city may be forced to do terrible things in order to preserve what they have. The players should become aware of at least one of these “terrible things” [I’d suggest that they don’t actually witness this – horror is more effective when implied]
Finally, in an urban MP game, players can’t rely on firepower to solve problems. Not only is there a big risk of ‘collateral damage’, the potential victims of ‘collateral damage’ are quite likely to shoot back.
Possible sources for Inspiration?
Anything by Dashiell Hammett, especially “Red Harvest” (inspiration for numerous movies from “Fistful of Dollars” to “Last Man Standing”)