While the rest of you are heading out to Gencon with your suitcase repacked from ComicCon (or SDCC, if you like, since that's now the trend), I'm making preparations for our own gaming convention. Gaming At The Lake weekend, or GATLing, as we call it. It's a very exclusive con for gamers in the Ottawa area with only 6 seats available and we'll always booked well in advance.
For our 3rd GATLing, we're breaking from tradition (we normally play a D&D epic level slaughterfest where the main villain is a deity; first it was Orcus, then Pelor on the hit list) and running the first Optional System playtest. To make the event twice as sweet, I'm working on a Matrix one-shot and calling it Matrix: Restoration.
Do You Think That's Air You're Breathing?
The Matrix trilogy, despite the heavy mythology placed on the final two films, is a rich tapestry of RPG heaven. While I'm not a fan of the Hollywood trend to simply license an existing product, the fact that no one has been able to release a Matrix RPG seems like a crying shame. And Waterworld, but I digress. Forums are loaded to the gills with everyone's homebrew Matrix campaign (particularly in the d20 community) and no sooner had I mentioned the idea of using the Matrix for the OS playtest did everyone not only jump, they banged their head on the ceiling just thinking about playing Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity.
So why the Matrix? Because there is no "official" RPG for it, which means there's nothing to compare it to. I had considered Star Wars, but that one's gone through more handlers than a police dog and everyone in our group swears to the old d6 version. The Matrix is ripe territory and the mechanics are completely open to translation. More importantly, a Matrix setting and the films' action sequences were one of the core inspirations for the OS combat mechanics. Switching from guns to swords to martial arts, that's what the OS is all about. And the best solution to allowing your players to run on the ceiling or jump across buildings? More dice! Boo-yah!!
Allowing the players to use Neo and the gang was crossed off my list right away. Only one person can play Neo and he's WAY more powerful than anyone else combined. No thanks. Instead, I'm opting for something a little different and bucking the trend of most Matrix fans by embracing the trilogy's ending.
Matrix: Restoration takes place five years after the conclusion of the original trilogy. Peace remains between the machines and humans and the Matrix remains in place. Rather than rebellious hackers, the players are monitors entering the Matrix to help those humans who wish to unplug reach Xion safely and maintain a vigil over the Matrix to ensure the machines hold up to their end of the bargain. Morpheus is their captain (and a supporting character played by me). When the crew arrives to unplug a human, they discover a plot to break the peace accord before a new herald (AKA Neo) can be found.
All the players will use the monitor creed to build their characters - if Trinity were built with the OS, she's be a monitor. I'm also playing with the idea of an operator creed, someone who doesn't enter the Matrix, but aids from outside. Chances are no one will go for this one, but you never know. If that's the case, I'll be the Operator (instead of the Director). Monitors will be able to contact the Operator and realign their training points to suit any challenges ahead. For example, if a monitor needs to learn how to hotwire a car, he contacts the Operator and can move any existing training points to a new skill, Hotwire.
The main benefit of the monitor creed is the Matrix master stat. Whenever a monitor operates inside the Matrix, he can use +1d12 master dice to any roll and thereby accomplish the impossible. The creed will also provide skills, unique powers (i.e. Defy Gravity allows you to use a Move option to run up walls as an automatic option), and reactions.
It's Bullet Time!
Still, that's not quite enough. There needs to be something else. Bullet time, that magnificent SFX which captivated our geeky hearts. While I've been toying around with various concepts, this game would not be the Matrix without something to represent bullet time. My original plan was to use the master dice, but that seems a bit lame. There has to be something else, something better.
Let the synapses begin.