Tuesday, September 26, 2023

An Email Exchange

[Thanks to Steve for allowing me to post this.]


Hi, Jeff! I'm preparing to run Broodmother Skyfortress and trash my 20+-year campaign, played annually with good friends since university in the 90s. Per your kind  p5 invitation, checking in with Mission Control.

My campaign is not medieval/D&D but post-apocalyptic. System is genre-agnostic ELEMENTAL, easy enough adapt to d&d-style rules and kind of meant for this kind of stream-crossing.

I've decided the giants are mutants and, um, the creators are Space Gods or something? I don't think the average wasteland dweller is going to react much differently to the giant invasion than the average medieval peasant -- it's going to be days of WTF is the world ending again?! Armed response will be louder, and communication faster. But it's still baffling, early reports nonsensical. 

Our heroes are all packed onto a pickup truck and can get places fast. A number of ideas will no doubt occur for getting Up There, anticipating no problem there. The giants will still be very dangerous, and maybe firearms-resistant.

Some of my players may be bitchy about this wild upset of player expectations/tone. I'm fine with that (bitchiness is a part of our group's charming culture) but I hope to entertain more than dismay!    
  • I started the campaign with the map from the original (1997) Fallout, the PCs are from vault 13, and they've been everywhere in the region: spent a few weeks in LA, which would take the giants a few nights raiding (a week?) to destroy the populated parts of the city, maybe a neighbourhood a night. 
  • The underground vaults are probably safe from the giants for now. There's a nuke in the possession of one of the villains someone might turn on a vault or a skyfortress. 
  • Truck Stop, the longtime base town of friendly mutants and assorted refugees is perpetually in peril, packed with repeat NPCs and the PCs favourite cocktail lounge. There's more than enough people and stuff to threaten, but this place is probably the one that would hurt most. It would be crushed in a night.

  • The first village they came to outside the vault is Shady Sands, and that's where I'll start. Probably nobody remembers that first game in like 1999-2000, but there may be notes on the long-forgotten NPCs, none of whom are likely to be heartbreakers. Anyway, now it's all a trampled, mildly radioactive, gory mess anyway, gone in an hour, and the green cloud of mutant lightning nimbus death is headed to whichever locale is next on the shitlist. 
See what the players do next, so far so good. But then what? Do people honestly do this to their campaigns and remain on speaking terms with their players?



Thanks for the email!  Mission control is here to help!

To the best of my knowledge you've got the longest-running campaign anyone has inflicted Broodmother upon, so I'm not fully sure how to advise you. But here are a few thoughts:

If you decide that the giants are as resistant to small arms as they are to medieval weaponry (which I heartily endorse), you might want to signal that. A dying man whose last words are "whatever they are, they're bulletproof...ack." ought to do the trick.

Is there something the giants could steal or someone that they could kidnap that could serve as a symbol of hope for the party? "Truck Stop is in ruins and Shady Sands will never be the same, but at least we got ______ back. Life will go on." If you don't have such a thing already, have some NPC explain how the last known copy of Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" was the secret glue of the community. "We would always play it once a year as the centerpiece of the local festival. If only we could get that back, maybe we would have the heart to rebuild." Did you all have a favorite song back in '99? Maybe use that instead of Miles Davis. Or whatever other MacGuffin you could hang some emotional stakes on.

Does that help?

That does, thanks, Jeff! Turning my thoughts towards MacGuffins…There’s a functioning radio station with a popular brain-in-a-jar robot DJ, Dick Personality…so either he or the station/transmitter/irreplaceable music collection (the last Kind of Blue is a great idea) could suffice along those lines. Thank you for writing this beautiful bonkers adventure and helping interpret it!

Please let me know how it goes, even if it is a disaster. Hell, send me hate mail for ruining your campaign, if it helps you feel better.

First session rocked utterly. 

Destroyed a couple of places, including one PC's tribal homeland (and tribe). I laid down the campaign map and ostentatiously crossed the lost places off one by one. Much arriving too late, lamentations, whining, bitching, moaning, this is so unfair, so cruel, what are even supposed to do-hoo-hoo -- and then they started fighting back. They evacuated the base town  (Truck Stop) ahead of the mystery murder cloud, and watched from a distance as the giants wrecked all the old beloved places there, and finally saw what they were up against. 

Next up: The Doom of LA: While Swordmaniac, Chainmonster and Vomitboy rampaged across Disneyland, they landed on the Skyfortress in a handy small VTOL craft (they also took the precaution of packing parachutes, lucky as a gust of wind hit them at the Obelisk and whisked one character off into the wild blue yonder).  They explored the ruins, where they discovered the charm monster/mind control ring and a mighty rubble of various stolen landmarks of this campaign and others -- is that an entire medieval guard tower? 
Chainmonster by Ian MacLean

Enroute to the Skyfortress proper,  they caught the Runt mid-business at the Stank Hole, discombobulated him with some mutant psychic zapping, and, in an epic confrontation, FUCKED HIM UP! Victory, catharsis, to be continued (likely in a year, as that's about as often as this far-flung crew can manage to be in the same place).   

Holy shit, Jeff! It works! 

Hey, been busy at work at and just checked my gmail for the first time in days. Thanks for putting a smile on this tired guy's face.

May I incorporate some of your emails into a blog post? If not, no harm done.

Heck yes, blog away! 

[The new printing of Broodmother Skyfortress is available here. PDF version here.]