Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Going Gonzo

When I went to college I got a job writing schedules for freshmen. The hours were long but the pay was low. On the bright side it was easy work once you got the hang off it and during registration my friends and I had down time usually before quitting, when no one wanted to show up. So we played Traveller.

One of my friends gm'ed and he threw together a huge mash-up. A time rift had struck the universe and the timelines of Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica and Trek existed simultaneously some how. We were trying to stop the Empire led by Darth Vader from invading Earth. Moonbase Alpha tried to hold off the TIE fighters with Eagles but didn't have a chance till Hawk fighter from Earth Defense showed up. It was looking bad until Gary Seven allied with Colonel Green to try to take down Khan's operation to create an Empire fifth column on Earth. Then the Galactica and Pegasus showed up.

It was glorious. Screw who could beat who. this was years before or Atomic Rockets for that matter. It was only a few years ago that I found out this style of storytelling is called gonzo roleplaying. We just referred to it as 'insane' or 'the Armageddon style.'

It might have had something to do with 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' being published.

I can't really define gonzo storytelling though I know it when I see it. Basically everything in it is epic. You characters are repelling a Martian invasion and need some D-cells or a pack of gum and on the way to the convenience store you fall into a wormhole and wind up in the Mirror Universe  (which is also being invaded by beardless good guys.) There are minor characters. They are called foes and they die. The villains are epic bad, usually amped up several notches: Darkseid after drinking a few gallons of energy drinks and eating some dilithium crystals comes to mind.

I have not mastered gonzo storytelling. My chief influence is Traveller and while it could be used for gonzo it just seemed to elude me despite my friend's Armageddon game. Some games, like Risus just seem to lend itself to the style. I think the Blackmoor setting was a sort of gonzo, especially as I'm reading about how Dave Arneson ran it (sorcery and science, deadly frogs and a crashed star ship and whatever the hell the Egg was.)

Part of my problem is I'm very organized when I ref stuff (and in nothing else to hear the wife tell it.) Gonzo is too much for me to process at times. However I have reffed a lot of games and I feel like I have a little gonzo in me wanted to get out.