Thursday, September 2, 2010

[Aftermath!] GURPS Operation Morpheus: Introduction

For September, I've decided to continue the break from the Aftermath! D.C. Campaign and write up some info on another past Aftermath! campaign. (Don't worry, I will get back to the D.C. Campaign.)

Aftermath! Module A1 Operation Morpheus: The Ruins of the University is a setting module, the first of two (A2 Sydney: The Wilderness Campaign is the second one), set in Australia about 100 years after the Ruin.

A super-flu named "The Scourge of God" ran rampant over the world, wiping out most of the population.
Australia was one of the last cohesive governments to fall and in the end, with the United States and the Soviet Union trading nukes to sterilize the planet, researchers sought a cure.

The remains of the USSR military might invaded Australia on a one-way ticket to grab the cure and Australian society collapsed in a frenzy of blood, disease and chaos.
In the midst of this madness, several Australian University compounds survived intact, even as their staff, students and faculty succumbed to the disease, because of early planning - the Universities were fortified with armed and automated defenses, fusion reactors were installed to provide power, and advanced robotics, including security robots, were installed.

The University of Sydney is one of these surviving university - empty of people but guarded by machines. A central IA defense computer, left to it's own devices and continuing the last orders given it by men long dead, is the tasked with keeping the campus secure - and it does so with a vengance. But it realizes that, eventually, the machines will fail without trained personnel to support it and it will fall to the rapacious survivors outside the walls.

But there is hope: a few years prior to the Ruin, a special program testing cryogenics for deep space exploration was implemented. Over three thousand people were frozen to test this technology. Could these pre-Ruin sleepers be the way Society rebuilds? Will the University rise again?

I ran two long GURPS Aftermath! Operation Morpheus campaigns in 2003 and 2004 for two different groups, one of which was the Corvis Monkey Troupe. I wrote up some of the sessions for the other group and will present them here but never managed to get much written on the CMT sessions. No matter, we had a good time playing.

I have a long history with Operation Morpheus. I've run the module nearly a dozen times and I am very familiar with it. At first, I ran it "as written" but never achieved any satisfactory game play - mainly because "as written" is very much like a dungeon crawl, but with very tough opponents, usually robotic security or building defenses, around every corner. Most of those campaigns ended in explosions and TPKs. I kept picking up the module, again and again, trying to get a good campaign going but it wasn't until I thought of putting the setting in the larger scheme of a community that I achieved what I consider one of the best campaigns I've run.

Placing the dungeon crawl nature of Operation Morpheus into a situation where the PCs have to work together for the greater good was all that was needed. Sure, there was a lot of conflict, sometimes with each other, sometimes with their hierarchy in the community, but it set a goal for the PCs to operate with - if they failed, then so did their community, if they succeeded, then tomorrow would have another challenge. It gave the players an opportunity to develop their characters through relationships with other survivors, not simply as a collection of high-tech equipment or special abilities.

I hope you enjoy these write-ups. I think that running these sessions improved my storytelling and provided my players with a rich and live world to interact in.


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