USR Wednesdays: The End

Well, this is it… Google+ goes away in a week, before the next entry in this series would appear there. Of course, we’re on MeWe now, so it’s a moot point, but it does give me an excuse to write about this topic: Bringing an end to your game.

If your roleplaying game experiences are anything like mine, your games nearly always end because players stop showing up, and it’s impossible to schedule a game session. So usually you have stories that end somewhere in the middle. But in this case, we’re talking about a satisfying ending, something dramatic and exciting that leaves your fictional world different (better?) than before.

A tropic storm, or Cthulhu?
Your new game setting.

Really The End

The first thing that comes to mind is a literal end, like a 4A or Robot Revolution story, where the world faces an apocalypse and is never the same. The player characters are the heroes of your story; why not make them the people who literally change the world forever? They may defeat the villain, but at a dramatic cost to the land around them. Or maybe the world has always been decayed from a great, fanciful Golden Age, and the heroes have made it a little less difficult, at least for the people they have to live with every day.

Level Up

Another option is for the characters to drastically improve. Of course the end of an adventure is a great time to level up — but let’s take this post-apocalypse concept a little farther, and show how, in the words of Lucy from “The Lego Movie 2”:

“This new life has toughened and hardened us all.”

Give the heroes a bonus +1 or +2 to spend on their existing Specialisms or to create a new one. It represents them developing their skills and honing their survival instincts in the time between the old world and the new, post-apocalyptic one. It may be just days since the nuclear bombs fell, months after the zombies rose, or even two years after the melted ice caps raised the water level 20 feet and drowned millions before the heroes start adventuring again. No matter what happened, the heroes have had a chance to improve in the chaos following the apocalypse.

A Whole New World

Or maybe it’s time to recreate characters entirely — they keep their personalities and inherent qualities (stats), but their abilities (Specialisms) and equipment (Combat Gear) changes. What if the fantasy heroes fall through a magical portal into the modern world? And a high-tech cyberpunk’s talents with a computer won’t help if he’s dragged into the poverty-stricken underworld of the megaopolis. Their first adventure in their new setting will be a struggle, as they’re literally not “built” for the experience. But after each successful adventure, give the heroes a chance to swap a no-longer-useful Specialism for one they’ve had a chance to learn, and trade out their equipment for something more useful.

P.S. I’m using the opportunity of “The End” to take a little break, too. USR Wednesdays will be on hiatus for a few weeks. I plan to come back to it with more setting ideas, adventures, and characters. In the meantime, I want to work on the website where you’re reading this, and also turn these blog posts into a book — a “Pathfinder” to USR 3.0’s “Third Edition,” if you will. I will come back here and update. I appreciate the readership, and I will keep checking in for other great USR ideas.

USR Wednesdays: Robot Revolution

If the robots rise up against the humans, there will be war, at least with the survivors, the humans that aren’t wiped out by being at the wrong place at the wrong time, or the humans that can’t make it without electronics. Thanks to the ingenuity of people, there are robots of every size and shape available in the robot army, and it’s easy enough for them to start producing still more robots, including kinds that don’t exist in the real world yet.

John Connor or Spike Witwicky? No contest.
It’s this plus humans.

So that’s where we start:

Monster Power Level and examples

I: Tiny, mostly harmless service robots like vacuum cleaners or checkout machines

II: Human-size robots that aren’t built for combat — a manufacturing arm or a translator

III: The classic security robot that moves and acts like an ordinary human with a gun

IV: An advanced security robot, bigger, tougher, and more maneuverable — maybe with wheels, treads or spider-type legs

V: A robot transport, which provides cover fire before it drops off a load of killer robots

VI: A self-driving vehicle — one bristling with weapons, like a tank or fighter jet

Characters in this setting are action-oriented; they have their highest stats in Action (if they’re the gun-toting soldier kind) or Wits (if they’re the genius programmer that turns the robots against themselves kind). Ego is less important in this genre, though a typical adventure probably has at least one opportunity for a hero to pretend he’s a robot to get through a dangerous situation, or to talk another group of survivors into joining forces.

Specialisms

Think of Specialisms that offer skills: Robot Programming, Discipline, Driving, Stealth. And make sure your character isn’t a generic hard-bitten warrior with personality traits like Practical Joker, Silent And Deadly, or Master Negotiator.