Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Alpha Dregs

I've been mulling over for a while now a game where you have a set of skills that are, at face value, basically useless. The challenge is to overcome difficulties by creative use of unsuitable skills. But what sort of game would it be?

As I was coming to work today, I had a sudden idea for a game concept that I'm going to call Alpha Dregs.

What is Alpha Dregs?

In a mildly dystopian near future, sinister corporation Nextstep was established by forward-thinking entrepreneurs as a new solution to staffing needs. Using radiation, gene tech, cybernetics and secret alien science leaked by government officials, they planned to produce special employees to fit a whole range of special needs, starting with the private military world.

Nextstep collapsed without ever getting to market after a series of tax laws and technical problems, combined with growing investor anxiety, left their business model unworkable. The enhancement projects were shut down; lacking any better ideas, the existing alpha prototypes were abandoned to work things out for themselves. Now they must make their uneducated, ill-suited way through the modern world.

Nextstep never managed to control their enhancement techniques. The alphas carry a range of abilities that might, in bad light and from a funny angle, be considered "superpowers". Grown in vats, they have no formal education and minimal experience of social contact: some received hypnotic instruction in niche roles, others were given military training they aren't qualified to use. Mutations and vulnerabilities are widespread.


Basically, the idea is that you create characters who have a range of unusual skills and abilities, none of them very useful - but don't have ordinary everyday abilities.

For example, you might have Assume Stone Form, Detect Cutlery, Illusory Birds, Repel Liquids, Hover and Transport via Adverts as powers. You might have Evade Guards, Parachuting, Operate Flamethrower, Poison, Assume False Identity and Bomb Disposal and skills. However, all your other abilities are very limited, so your best bet is to find ways to creatively use what you have. Operate Flamethrower is totally relevant to hosting a barbecue, right?

I'm going to have to mull this one over more, but this is a start.

You'd also have a random Weakness chart, something like:

  1. Afraid of
  2. Allergic to
  3. Can't interact with
  4. Fixates on
  1. Cats
  2. Porcelain
  3. Electricity
  4. Brunettes
  5. Uniformed officers
  6. Purple
  7. Jazz
  8. Mint

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