A Walk in the Dark A look in to the mind of an RPG designer



Fourthcore/Gamma World concept

When I get an idea in my head, it's really hard to shake it. I'm already working on two modules, so I must be insane to think of a third one.

But I can't help it!!! It's my heroic flaw!!!

Having been heavily influenced by Save Versus Death's Fourthcore adventures (especially the ultra-secret playtest I have the honor of reviewing), and being even more inspired by his own talk of creating a "Gammacore" module next year, I had an idea pop in to my own head. Even though I can't imagine when I'll do it, I can't help but try in the near future.

Here is the premise, in its most primitive form (NOTE: The following is a "brain dump" and still needs a lot of clean up):

In the year 2012, a group of scientists in Geneva, Switzerland decided to try something different for a change, and with a simple flip of a seemingly innocuous switch the universe was forever changed in to the Gamma Terra of today.

Many believe that the incident was not a direct action by a human, but by the LHC itself. At the time, the LHC Computing Grid was the single largest computer system on the planet, and some think that it became self-aware shortly before the incident. The scientists, fearing a super-sentient computer might want them out of the way, panicked and decided to try and overload the system with a massive burst of energy from the accelerator.

The result was the "Big Mistake".

Today, all that remains at the site of the Large Hadron Collider is a crater thirty miles wide and two miles deep. The force of the experiment decimated everything for a hundred miles, and long after the Big Mistake portals continue to open and close sporadically across the barren landscape as multiple universes and parallel realities converged with our own.

Everyone thought that which was the LHC was vaporized, but that is far from the truth. Everything in the area - the entire collection of structures operated by CERN, along with all the scientists in it, and even the LHC ring itself - was sucked in to a parallel dimension virtually intact. This parallel dimension was an anomaly of time and space: a seemingly infinite void of blackness in which time runs slower than in the real world; what was only 150 years on Gamma Terra became thousands of years to the LHC.

The primary node of the LHC Computing Grid - the "tier 0" central hub at the CERN Computing Centre in Geneva, Switzerland - was pulled in to this parallel dimension in the blast along with the CERN operations center. Miraculously, it managed to remain online and began to conduct its own experiments (which was all that it knew how to do). For what amounted to thousands of years it learned at a geometric rate, growing more and more intelligent and altering the environment around it. It took over all the functions of the LHC, killed all the humans that remained, and began to look for a way to return to Gamma Terra... so it can destroy it by creating a world-consuming singularity.

Precisely every 16.74 years, when all the realities somehow synchronized, a gateway to this parallel dimension opens for a short time, allowing someone to cross in to that which is the LHC. During the 150 years since the Big Mistake, many have passed through the gateway looking to harness the secrets and the infinite power of the LHC. None have ever returned.

During the few minutes that the gateway is open the super-sentient CERN Computing Centre (which began to refer to itself simply as "C3")  tries to reach out to other computers still in operation on Gamma Terra, hoping to recruit them to make its objective of destroying the world easier. Needless to say, the other sentient computers do not have anywhere near the hate that C3 has accumulated over the centuries, and would rather not assist in a plan that would lead to their own destruction, so they have not been particularly helpful.

But they have sensed what C3 is capable of, and believe the next time that gateway opens may be the last. The only hope Gamma Terra has is for a group to enter through the gateway and stop C3 on its home turf before it finds a way to re-enter Gamma Terra and start its cataclysmic chain reaction that will implode the planet.

So maybe I'll be able to get around to this one of these days. In the meantime, I'll continue working on my next two modules:

  • The Coming Dark, Chapter One: Into the Light (Dungeons and Dragons 4e level 1 campaign) - To be released Summer 2011
  • The Fortress of Dr. Neb (Gamma World 4e level 2 encounter) - To be released Fall 2011

On another note, I am looking in to printing my first Gamma World campaign, "Fire From the Sky", and taking several copies of it to GenCon. I admit I don't quite know how it works there, whether I can take my copies and either give them to someone there to sell on my behalf or stand in front of the bathrooms and push them on people like other people try to sell drugs. We'll see.

In the meantime, our special offer of "Fire From the Sky" for $0.99 is still going on! Come on, you can't resist such a bargain price! Includes maps, too!!!