I enjoyed sharing some morsels from my current work on Vegas After Midnight yesterday, so I’m going to share some more today, and probably every so often over the next couple of weeks.
Before I do, though, I want to point out that none of this stuff should be taken as an example of the finished text – either how it’ll be written or how it’ll be organized. These morsels are practically a stream-of consciousness info-dump without much linear continuity or instructive process. They’re morsels that will eventually weave into concepts that build upon one another sensibly, but I make no such promises at this point. If you’re still interested, read on.
Vegas After Midnight is a setting and alternate rules supplement meant to be played with the Don’t Rest Your Head rpg from Evil Hat Productions. In that meta-sense, it’s a game – or at least a supplement/alternate means of playing a game. But within the conceit of VAM itself is also a concept called “The Game”. We only recently started calling it that. You’d think it would be obvious, but actually the thought of bringing in the conceit of a giant metaphysical game of chance as an actual in-world concept, rather than just the metastructure of the design, only came up a few months ago. David Moore, my co-developer on the VAM project, gets credit for the breakthrough. He wrote me a question: “What causes people to wake up and get in The Game?” And I ran with it. Now, along with our old standby “Welcome to the Madness, Baby!”, “Wake up and get in The Game!” is now VAM’s tagline/slogan.
The idea of “The Game” is this – In the world of VAM, life itself can be seen as an ongoing contest to win security, power, resources, and sanity. The ‘gods’ are playing poker with the universe, and the characters are the cards. Something terribly bizarre has occurred at some point in the past, and the world has become a strange nightmare realm dominated by Madness and Pain, where the gaudy facade of all the tropes and archetypes of Las Vegas have become the reality, where only the buzzing and glittering glow of neon and halogen illuminate the ever-present darkness. Many of the denizens of the setting are not aware that their world has gone mad. They are mere cogs in a nightmare machine that has overwritten all former realities. They go through life, they do what they’re told, they toil for awhile upon the stage, never realizing that all around them the world is one big table and the fate of Everything is playing out on its tattered felt surface.
But the player characters in VAM, along with many of the movers and shakers they’ll be interacting with, have become awakened to at least some of the Truth. They have been drawn into The Game. This is not to say that awakened folk know everything – I don’t think even the High Rollers know everything – but they’re at least aware that the world is infested with a preternatural spirit of Madness, and if that Madness isn’t stopped – or brought under control – then everything will eventually just devolve into one big entropic mess of utter chaos. How the players/characters end up dealing with this becomes the throughline of play in VAM. Various approaches and temperaments will fall under the influence of the four suits and two colors of a deck of playing cards. Different suits and colors will govern certain natures and temperaments (kind of like horoscopes, tarot, or cartomancy). And the Aces of each suit, along with the two Jokers, will represent a pantheon of primary archetypal beings known as the High Rollers. These High Rollers are the ones who are running The Game – or at least they think they are. They’re the ones going around awakening certain people (including the player characters) and drawing them into The Game. Each High Roller becomes the patron of the people they awaken. A player character’s relationship to her patron High Roller and its corresponding suit/color becomes the foundation upon which the character launches into play.
Well, that’s enough for now. Next up, I’ll share a bit about the natures symbolized by the card suits and also let you peek at the High Rollers.
Vegas After Midnight by Mick Bradley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.