Monday, May 25, 2015

What Can Mad Max teach us about D&D Adventure Design?

I saw Fury Road again on Saturday, wanted to see in in 2D after seeing it last week in 3D. I have seen Road Warrior more times than I can count. They keep the plot moving, why because

They Don’t Waste Time on Backstory

Max does not care how Lord Humongous became leader of the warlord of a band of raging bandits. Max just wants to fill up his tank and move on. Likewise we do not need to how Joe came to rule the citadel, or how the uneasy alliance between Bullet town, Gas town and the Citadel works, he just wants to survive. If your adventure has three pages of backstory on a guy who is never going to interact with the party outside of initiative you have failed.

I have some quibbles with the movie, mostly the end. Max is the hero who reluctantly helps and his reward is ending off worse than he was.  It should have ended with Max on the ground, beaten and battered and the enemy not wasting their time to finish him off. Thunderdome and Road Warrior share this ending to good effect. We don’t need to see Furiosa return to the Citadel. Just the ladies getting away with a voice over from one of them saying they won their freedom, found their green place. and never saw the one called Max again.

The beginning plays out like a typical RPG debate between a DM who wants to keep some semblance continuity in his campaign and a player who is being selfish.

DM: OK lets pick up from last time. You are battered and bruised on the ground barley haven survived. As Aunty leaves you pass out. When you awake you are being handled by men covered in white paint. In your weakened condition you can offer little resistance.
Player: Wait wait wati before we start I built this character to drive an interceptor, can I find one?

DM: No the one you had was “The last of the V8s”, besides you’re the one who set a bobby trap you were so proud.

Player: Come on you killed my animal companion, give me my car back.

DM: Noooo

Player: But last time I barley even drove a car.  I am playing a Road Warrior I should have gone straight fighter if I never drive anyway.

DM:  But it won’t make sense, your car blew up.

Player: It’s just us man who cares

DM: Fine you have your car. Men in vehicles approach at high speed, they look like they are covered in white paint.

Player: I jam the gas, I am pretty sure I can out run them…..