GM's Corner 05: Red Markets Episodes 8-9

One of the chief tenants of writing for any media is to never throw away ideas. If something has potential, do not forget it or destroy it because it doesn’t work at the moment. There is always a new angle to make a concept work. Case in point was the Mega Playground scenario.

When I was first coming up with contracts for my players to obtain, I was trying to think of different adventures for them to come up with. The first that came to mind is one they never encountered, raiding a spice manufacturer and fighting with the people who took up residence. My second concept was to have the players emulate the game Five Nights at Freddy’s by having them invade a children’s restaurant and fighting with the Casualties wrapped up in animatronic nightmares. While I fell in love with this idea, as I further talked with my players they indicated they wanted a more serious campaign. It was instantly obvious that this Five Nights at Freddy’s concept was a bit too absurd, and I had to abandon it.

I was disappointed, because the chief image in my mind was the Takers going into a kids’ restaurant to fight zombies. It was a striking image that I wanted to recreate in game, but couldn’t find an angle. So I kept my notes, but continued to create new missions, like Anton’s mission and the LIttle Pittsburg Mine.

One day while driving, I was reflecting on the Five Nights at Freddy’s contract while racking my brain for a new idea for a contract as I was fresh out of ideas and needed more in case my players weren’t interested. I started to think, well, if a video game kids restaurant wouldn’t work, what would? I thought of Chuck E Cheese, but it’s more of an arcade than a playground, like Discovery Zone–

There was my answer, my angle. I laughed out loud in my car as the concept seemed so obvious in hindsight. Discovery Zones were an active restaurant, with a huge playground complete with climbing structures and a huge ball pit, as well as an arcade. A place where the players would have to fight through the playground and clear out the party rooms. A means of reflecting on how far things have fallen in the Loss and looking at the individual tragedies, like Charlotte sending her daughter to a birthday party and never seeing her again, somehow forever lost in the Crash.

Even if an idea has to be cast aside, do not throw it into the dustbin of history. You never know when a stray thought can unlock a scenario, chapters of text, or clarify an image or shot. That absurdity or odd piece might become the centerpiece of your creation. The Mega Playground was one of if not the personal highlight of my creations for The Reformers. I hope it’s also one of yours.