Friday, January 20, 2012

What If Your PCs Were All on Drugs?

In the comments on Zak's latest post, bombasticus writes:

Now that you mention it, though I almost want to run a really decadent Third Imperium "drift" game, Victor's European Vacation in space where they confront the inherent anomie of existence. And do space drugs.

For some reason this really clicks with me. I immediately thought, "Well what if they were all addicts? That would be a pretty dang great reason for them to go adventuring. They'd need money, and that'd get them into the usual trouble, and then the drugs themselves would get them into even more trouble. It'd neatly explain the usual player character batshittery."

Especially if they weren't all the same drugs. Like if I was going to take this concept really seriously, I'd have a random table that told you what drugs you were hooked on at the start of play. Maybe more than one.

It even explains how the characters know each other: You met through your drug dealer. Or otherwise through that fraternity that always seems to exist amongst users and addicts. It'd be easy to integrate new characters into the game. Which would probably be necessary, for something like this.

Traveller is a pretty obvious system/genre for this kinda thing, but I think it'd work for any sufficiently urbanized setting. D&D and cyberpunk would both be pretty obvious options.

I might do it with Traveller, though, just because I've had trouble with that system in the past (for some reason) and that might help me get a handle on the shape of the campaign. Or not. I've been meaning to run a "wastrel noble scions" game of D&D for a while, and this might be just the thing.


  1. As a note, Cyberpunk 2020 has an entire system for designing your own drugs and their effects - and there is a great more definitive version from the Interface magazine.

    I mention this only because I run Traveller using the CP2020 because the Lifepath system combined with Advanced Character Generation is one of the most enjoyable character creation methods I or my players have ever engaged in.


  2. Andrew Keenan Richardson20/1/12 3:05 PM

    I have run sessions where the PCs were all on drugs. In one, the PCs knew each other because they did drugs together. One had started out with a ton of money, one liked to party, and one had a stockpile of illegal goods and some underground contacts (he was the dealer). So we figured they just hung out in the rich guy's mansion and did drugs in between adventures.

    It made for an interesting game. One problem is that none of the players felt that their PCs were motivated to go out and have adventures when they were all rich, drug-addled misanthropes.

    Mostly I took it as an opportunity to have fun describing the events of the game through the perception filter of LSD, mescalin, or cocaine. I had to do some research and make some shit up, but fortunately my players were just as lacking in reference experiences as I was.

    It allowed for some interesting motivations, like "You're out of chips and you need to fight through the zombies to get to the 7-11. You're really hungry." Also the PCs were sometimes much more amusing, as the players were comfortable role-playing a disregard for common-sense and self preservation. "No, jumping through that glass door didn't hurt at all. Take 5pts of damage."

    In another campaign, I believe the characters were doing drugs to achieve power in some way. They were engaged in dubious medical/magical experimentation (on themselves) that I decided should have side effects.

    I also once created a HERO System character whose spells were cheapened, point-buy-wise, by inducing hallucinatory side-effects and other mental handicaps, such as phobias, delusions, etc.

    All in all, I would say drugged up PCs usually lead to comedy and plans gone horribly awry.

    I should also note that there's a lot of fun drugs in Paranoia.

  3. Well, Night does have a habit of sniffing, snorting, sipping or eating darn near everything he encounters... >.>

  4. It's a very good idea - not wholly original, but inspired nontheless. I say it is not original because White Wolf already based the two most popular games in the two Worlds of Darkness (Vampire the Masquerade e V: the Requiem) on the very same root... except that a vampire's fix is always already in sombody else's veins, of course.

  5. Pretty much one of the cornerstones of Mayfair's late, lamented(by all too few... :-( ) Underground RPG.

    for those who don't know:

    Mayfair's seminal Cyberpunk Superhero game is an RPG like no other. Guiding a sanity-damaged geneteched ex-mercenary in their quest to change a bleak and deranged dystopia rife with Cannibalism, Corporatism, and Corruption is an experience that is unforgettable. At best, the triumph of tragedy, with some dark humour along for the ride....

    Irreverent and edgy, lethal and sardonic, tragic and heroic: these are only a few good descriptors for Mayfair's unsung Cyberpunk Superhero game. All you needed were a cause, a big gun, the will to fight, and a hefty dose of your stress medication to take down the crooks who sold out the American Dream.

    Brainwashed by violent comic book fantasies in a VR Paradise, genetically altered with alien biotechnology, barely able to manage the strain of utilizing their abilities, left to decay in a system that had no further use for burned out veterans, social rejects struggle to change the nation, possibly the bleak, twisted mockery the world has become.

    Tastee Ghoul Cannibal Fast-food Franchises, genetically mass produced humans created only to consume, advertising in the Constitution, violent assassinations during company meetings, gangs 'brain jack' people to resell grey matter as hard drives, people sell their own brains for extra cash and get synthetic ones that allow them to enjoy low-brow pop culture tailor made for their particular model, ongoing mercenary conflicts chartered by world governments, the U. S. owns all of North America(plus Cuba) excepting a Communist Quebec, Scientology is now Europe's One True Religion, and its adherents are attempting to subvert the non-believer's nations....

    The Powers That Be reckoned without their throwaways though. Many of the ex-vets took Truth, Justice, and the ideals of the American Way a bit too seriously...

    A great Near Future(2021) Dystopia(with a glimmering of hope) setting utilizing the MEGS units first seen in DC Superheroes, but the system now adds opposed rolls to pass/fail target numbers, with only a very simple Result chart to be consulted.

    The feel of the game is grimy, but with a patina of moral righteousness; 90's EXTREEM collides with Antonio Gramsci, X-games aesthetics meets a Most Uncivil Society filtered through Max Headroom, if you will.

    Its mechanics are easy to learn, and fast in play, with excellent step by step breakdowns in the book.
    The stripped down MEGS chart doesn't seem to intrude and all you need is 2d10, the book, some scratch paper and a desire to wreck (a dirty) shop For Great Justice!

    Not to mention this game features art by Peter Chung, of Aeon Flux fame and its flavor text begins with William S Burroughs' 'A Thanksgiving Prayer'! 8-D

    proselytize */

    Sorry for my review synopsis, but this just *might* be of interest given some of your past posts regarding gaming interests. :-)
    This post was +1!

  6. We had an LSD moment in one D&D campaign I played in- our party's bard wanted to use her 'suggestion' SLA to anesthetize a large number of wounded ala "behave as if under X drug". Once the DM seemed willing to let this work (and everyone had forfeited their saves) she named the drug as morning she's married to a dwarven fighter. Her goal with that character seemed to be; lookup Bards, subheading Evil Bards in the PHB; accomplish all activities listed there; ???; Profit.

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