Monday, November 23, 2009

Using "real" life in your games.

Thanks to Ken at The Rusty Battleaxe and his kick-ass d30 Random Blog Topic Table, this post will deal with three real life locations that I use in my Mutant Future campaign.  First, let me say how much I have loved having a d30 around; one of my players recently procured one and has been bringing it to the Sunday game night.

We are now proud members of the Order of the d30, and in addition to scaring the shit out of my players when I used my once-per-session roll of the d30 for the 40' long, two headed snapping turtle's initiative, I borrowed the 30 sided behemoth for a quick roll on Ken's table and got a 22.

"22. Three Actual Historic/Geographic Settings for Campaigning"

My entire Mutant Future campaign so far has been set in post-apocalyptic Oregon, and most of it has occurred in the Willamette Valley in the Eugene/Springfield area.  In the grand old Gamma World tradition of naming things based on their present names with a twist (and preferably a funny twist), my players have been trudging around in the Willing Mate Valley.

Location Number One:  Skinner Butte

This small butte rises over downtown Eugene, just south of the Willamette River.  It is known for its columnar basalt rock formations, and it is also known for the parking lot on top of the butte where people go to make out in their cars and look out over the city at night.  In my Mutant Future campaign, it is known as Skinny Butt and is the home base of the players.  Skinny Butt is a community of mutants living in tunnels dug into the basalt, farming terraces cut into the sides of the butte and fishing over the cliffs into the swamp below.  I have found that using real life places for my campaign has made my life as a DM much easier; I can describe what the players are seeing, I know what sort of ruins they are likely to encounter, and I can use Google maps for my campaign maps!  Here is Skinny Butt on the map:

I use the "terrain" feature in Google Maps, which gives me a much more detailed map than I was likely to ever draw.  This has come in very handy, particularly when the PCs were chasing some Knights of Genetic Purity through the Sottles (Mutant Futurese for the South Hills of Eugene); I was able to point to each little ridge that they were cresting and tell them, "You catch a glimpse of your quarry in the gully below you, then they round a corner and you lose sight" and everyone was looking at a beautifully rendered 3D map of the terrain and knew exactly what was going on.

Location Number Two:
 The University of Oregon

Home of the best college football team in America, not to mention some pretty cool old brick buildings and extensive underground science labs that make for a great "dungeon" in the Mutant Future.  The University of Oregon, or UO, has become the home of the Ooh-Oh Monks in my campaign.  Worshiping the great god Intur Netz, the monks seek to understand what causes and control mutations through experiments carried out in their underground labs.  Three things make the University a perfect location for my campaign - the brick buildings would have survived pretty well, a good portion of campus is located on a small, sloping hill that would keep the buildings above the level of the swamp, and the campus is situated over a labyrinth of underground complexes.  The present day University of Oregon has such an extensive network of underground science labs that when I was eating a delicious Indian meal the other night across Franklin Boulevard from the UO, I was sitting directly above the world's largest zebra fish breeding facility! There are also very hush hush primate research labs as well as all kinds of other crazy stuff going on underground at the UO.  I will be posting more about the Ooh-Oh Monks soon, because the party has finally made contact with them and learned quite a bit about the reclusive monks.  Heck, they even got an audience with his Magnificence the Dean Docco Profus Flipsham Eggwar himself!  

One teaser - the lowest levels below the Ooh-Oh Monks have been sealed off for centuries, because the lab mice mutated and revolted.  These mutant mice reprogrammed a robotic manufacturing center and created "giant" (human sized) mech suits to run around in and were thoroughly overpowering the hated scientists before they were shut off from the surface.  These mice have been living for centuries under the delusion that the outside world was completely destroyed, and their "kingdom of the pure" was the only remaining life on the planet.  My players just made contact with Nicodemus the door guard and are seeking an alliance with the mice - so more Mice in Mechs coming soon!

Location Three: The John Day Fossil Beds

When my players spent several weeks out in the Eastern Desert trying to prevent the Knights of Genetic Purity from procuring a nuclear missile or three, the locale was the amazingly beautiful painted hills of the John Day Fossil Beds.  This would make for a great location in your typical fantasy campaign as well.  The terrain is very rugged, with steep gulches eroded out of sandstone hills, and there are frickin' dinosaur bones everywhere!  What more do you want, people?  Once again, Google Maps Terrain feature came in invaluable here.  Check it out:

The players spent quite a while manipulating the three desert factions that come together once a year for the Ramming Dan festival that culminates with the burning of a giant wooden statue (Burning Dan) and the ceremonial descent into the missile silo by the three High Priests to ask the god Intur Netz questions.  Unfortunately for anyone in the Mutant Future that wants to visit this picturesque area, the party ended up nuking the place!  That will definitely have to be explained in more detail than I can go into here in a later post, but the short version is that the players accidentally let a dimension spanning blob of alien flesh of unknown dimensions (possibly larger than the entire planet, once it finished coming out of its wormhole) out of the bottle.  They were rightfully scared, and figured that just setting one of the missiles off on a trajectory that would take it back to the silo to detonate while they fled in the hovercraft was the best thing to do.  Oh, those rascally PCs!  


  1. May steal bits of your campaign setting Carl?

    I'd like to do a similar thing, but in my local area in the UK.

  2. @ Buccaneers Guild - Of course! Anything that is helpful you are welcome to plunder. Using the local setting that I am familiar with has made the campaign much easier to run.

    @ Rusty Battle Axe - Thanks! Your table inspired it!

  3. Yes, very well articulated. It is a treat to learn your secrets, even the ones I already have an inkling about from game play. . .

  4. Nice to see the Pacific Northwest getting some love. I found my recent MF creations being influence by my Puget Sound upbringing/habitat.




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