The end of the world didn't seem so bad and fit our fantasy filled brains with mutants and magic and the ruins of humanity's society.
But the reality, no doubt, would have been much more grim than that and I think we all knew that.
Or would it be...?
In the mid-eighties, both here in the states and in Great Britian, the powers that be released two movies aimed to show the horrors of a nuclear war; the American television drama called "The Day After" and the BBC drama called "Threads".
some great additional commentary on The Day After can be found here).
|In America, radiation sickness isn't too bad.|
Perhaps it was horrifying. But having grown up playing war games and fantasy rpgs and reading comics, I knew the affects to be much more dramatic than a few Hollywood stars loosing their hair due to radiation sickness. I wasn't impressed at the time and felt it was a sugar coated, over expositioned version of the realities of a nuclear war so as not to strike any real fear into the populous, but only to get them to chat about seeing the movie around the water cooler for a day or two but being a catalyst for no real change.
|The last shot in The Day After as America doesn't|
loose it's humanity.
To their credit, the producers display a disclaimer after the film that says that things will actually be much worse than those depicted. So why not show the worst?
That was left to the BBC.
Now Threads on the other-hand...
If you want to see a provocative, disturbing realistic portrait of a nuclear war I urge you to check out this film from the BBC released roughly during the same time as the US version.
There were no big stars (at least that Americans would recognize), or doctors or heroes. Threads portrays just regular folks going about their seemingly mundane lives as political forces outside their control bring the world to destruction, all of which gave an incredible foundation of normalcy which the every-man can connect with. The viewer can place themselves into any one of these characters plus with it's almost documentary feel gives the whole thing a great sense of non-hyped realism. As in the American The Day After, the first hour counts down to d-day.
|Starving survivors acting like it's a Zombie Walk|
But what does this all have to do with a prelude to a Mutant Future (Gamma World) game?
Well, keep reading.....
I urge you to watch the movie Threads before reading further.
Only one character that we meet in the beginning of Threads survives to carry us through to the many years after the war.
The woman Ruth, who becomes pregnant at the beginning of the story carries her baby to term in the months after the war. Though the brief narration mentions the dismal future of having a successful birth, Ruth manages to birth her baby on her own in a shed while a barking dog watches.
Here is where the Mutant Future begins...
|The contents of the basket of this street vendor contains|
Eventually leaving this small society, this girl is on her own. Scrounging and scavenging she eventually hooks up with two other boys possibly also born after the war. A new generation born into this Mutant Future / Gamma World. Together they loot the ruins for food but one of them is shot as a looter. The girl and one boy escape. The girl, now thirteen, becomes pregnant from the surviving boy and eventually is on her own again. In labor, she finds shelter in some broken down 'medical center' where some old woman is helping a sick dying man. It is here that the girl gives birth. The 'nurse' gives the wrapped baby to the young girl and as this girl removes the swaths to view the face of her baby she begins to scream (the film ends in a freeze frame before the scream is actually heard).
This last moment is where we can be thrust into the beginnings of our post-apocalyptic game. You initially think that the baby may be still-born but with the look on the mother's face at the very end tends to push the thought that the baby is indeed alive but in some horrible mutant state. Realistically, I am sure this Mutant baby would either eventually die or live a pretty horrible brutal life, but in games terms, using Threads and a prelude to a post-apocalyptic game, you get the beginnings of a mutant race.
Now I don't mean to make lite of an incredibly serious subject. I was shocked and moved by this movie as a whole, even thirty years after it was made but this is what our games represent. Though Gamma World is just a fantasy RPG it's foundation is based on some pretty grim and brutal realities as this movie shows. Why not explore that, feel that and make it part of your game. It will definitely set a realistic foundation to a fantastical game setting.
Anyways, just thought I'd share...
|A hopeless mutant character or a role playing opportunity?|