Recently I’ve had strange thoughts cross pollinating and thought I’d share. The common theme is the end of the world– in a transformative way.
The idea was inserted into my brain by Joshua’s quick overview of Children of Men. That, in turn, brought back memories of Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, a different book about a humanity that just stops reproducing and slowly dwindles. It’s a cool look at cloning and social biases– not on the same point as Children of Men (as I understand it), but closely related.
Recently I’ve been reading The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, a book about the Wraeththu. After reading some good critiques of the original series and overall setup, I know I’m reading the new book with a somewhat tainted mind, but it’s still interesting. In the backstory, a successor race (the Wraeththu) emerges from the midst of humanity and starts competing and killing it off. It’s kind of a “vampire/zombie plague” like spread, and is a fascinating look at the struggle between humanity’s remnants and its heirs.
In that, it reminded me of Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear. In Darwin’s Radio, a few people giving birth to Homo Sapien’s (assumed) successor, strange children with talents as different from us as we are different from Neanderthals.
The other thread it sparked was the fantasy twist– the Patryns and Sartan from the Death Gate Cycle. They too are descended from humanity, grow up in its midst, and eventually blow up and recreate the world in a new pattern. (That’s all backstory!) The Deryni series is another story of insiders… thinking of the Wraeththu and Patryns and Sartan makes me wonder if their history, shadowed and paralleling the larger humanity’s, would also work.
So, five or six threads came to mind, none of which match together smoothly. The Deyrni are different from the rest– but always close to my heart I guess– I’ll set them aside. The rest are about a huge upheaval, the changing of the world.
On further thought, I can think of one RPG that kind of fits this mold– including the ambivalent role of a newly emerging superrace. White Wolf’s Aberrant is reputedly straight on target– super beings emerge in a relatively “realistic” world of today. It’s a bit like X-men (at least the movie versions I’m familiar with), with their interactions in larger society a little strained, with everyone trying to figure out how to pigeon hole them.
I wonder if an interactive history style game would work. For the first four ideas (humanity dies out, what replaces it), it’d be interesting to have a general timeline [maybe play out society wide stuff Reign or Aria style], then dip into specific characters at times of crisis in the history. So maybe start with a short series centered on the eruption of the alternate race, with the PCs playing both sides of the fence. Then hop forward a few decades or centuries and play characters in the new situation, as the balance between the new and old changes.
Anyway, I’m not actively planning anything along these lines at the moment– strangely, this came up just as I was studying the very heroic Spirit of the Century. I wonder if my interest is as a balance to the optimism of the pulps. Or just getting hit with similar plot ideas several times in succession.