Tuesday, 19 December 2017

#RPG12 Q10: Mobile phones, the internet and modern day RPGs

Mobile phones and the internet in an RPG setting in the modern day world (perhaps with fantastic elements): discuss. What possibilities do they open up? What, if any, issues come with them when it comes to RPG scenarios?

The modern day (with a weird or dark twist) is my favourite RPG setting, for two key reasons.

Familiar background: I don’t need to explain the modern day to the players - we all know what that means. So that means the games can concentrate on the game and whatever weirdness has been added.

Unknown: I like the fact that history isn’t yet written in the modern day. This was always a problem I had with historical Call of Cthulhu games - particularly “global campaigns to save mankind”. They never meant anything because we knew how history played out. It wasn’t real. That safety blanket doesn’t exist in a modern day game, and that’s why I prefer modern day games.

It’s hard to keep up with the modern day though.

Technology changes so fast that what I think of as modern day soon becomes a historical setting. We’ve had to set some of our murder mystery games in particular years, even when I think of them as modern day, because technology has moved on so much in the few years that they’ve been written. (For example, a game where a video tape is a key prop sets the game 10-15 years ago at least, even though I think of it as a “modern day” game.)

I guess to me, “modern day” means at any point during my lifetime...

Anyway, over the summer I ran a modern day urban fantasy game - so it had smartphones and everything else. The PCs used smartphone tracking to trace a suspect’s movements (I hadn’t planned for this, but it wasn’t an issue as they could have used magic to trace the suspect, and I expected that might be an option).

At one point the PCs decided to arrest a suspect in the middle of London Millenium Bridge in broad daylight. We ended the session with the arrest, and we started the next session with the arrest all over social media. I then worked out what the bad guys would do with that knowledge, assuming that they had seen it.

So the modern day - pros and cons. But for me the pros outweigh the cons.

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