Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tower Power

As I alluded to about a month ago, I've been helping Ramzca design a tabletop role-playing game, which takes place in the mystical city of Adelphon. The goal was to combine film noir-style detective fiction with a setting similar to the works of Jorge Luis Borges. The result I was hoping for was a setting that was at once dark and brooding but almost paradoxically bright and colorful. In my mind I imagined Adelphon to be constantly sunny, every street was a winding cobblestone path and every building was a beautiful French villa, their facades covered in lush green ivy.

At least that's why I hoped for. But alas, Adelphon isn't so much a city as it is a war zone now. See, Ramzca has been playing a lot of World War II games recently and it's obvious from talking to him in Steam Chat that it's affecting his thinking. As a result every question he comes to me with about the setting isn't about local culture or the history of the city. It's about how many pieces of military equipment he can cram into the campaign and how many landmarks he can demolish. Every discussion we have devolves into talk about nebelwerfers or battleships appearing to destroy the city in one fell swoop. He's even alluded to actual Germans invading Adelphon, which really has nothing to do with the story as I understand it.

Basically, he's systematically ignored every suggestion I've made. Plus, I'm all but certain he's forgotten that the main characters were supposed to be telepathic (he's actually told me he's removed some elements of gameplay involved with telepathy in order to focus more on gunplay). The result is less "Quasi-Mystic Detective Fiction" that I was promised and more "Alternate History World War II". At the very least I was able to convince him to make our version of The Germans into giant inter-dimensional crabs so at least there's that small victory.

His strategic undermining of my work is never more obvious then what he plans to do to the setting as a whole. I don't mind telling you that I spent a fair chunk of time coming up with a rough cosmology for this game, drawing maps of this city according to his specifications and giving it a personality, a history. He plans to ignore all that, totally remove the city of Adelphon from the game and have it all take place inside a flak tower.

It goes without saying that this is totally outrageous.

Granted, while this change flies in the face of everything I planned for the setting it's at least a change with some serious potential. For those not in the know, the flak towers, or die Flakt├╝rme, were truly enormous concrete fortresses built in Hamberg, Berlin and Vienna around 1940. As Wikipedia will tell you, the flaktowers were used by the Luftwaffe as defense against enemy bombers and served as air-raid shelters during the war, arguably doing their job too well.

Hitler himself was deeply involved in their design and construction, insisting that they be huge and well armored. In a mere six months the first flak towers were built. It was such a Herculean undertaking that the entire national rail system had to be rescheduled to divert concrete, steel and lumber to the construction sites. The result? Huge, diabolical towers with walls of 3.5 meter thick concrete, bristling with anti-aircraft guns that could fire at a rate of 8000 rounds per minute from multiple levels of the tower with a full three-hundred sixty degree range of vision. Under extreme duress, the towers could house around 10,000 civilians and even a fully stocked hospital ward. They were for all intents and purposes nigh-indomitable.

When the RAF flew bombing runs over Germany they did everything they could to simply avoid the towers altogether. It was simply futile to try and crack through their superior armor. When the Soviets invaded Berlin they had to maneuver around the towers because they simply could not inflict any damage on them, not even with their cartoonishly oversized 203 millimeter howitzer cannons. Plus, the soldiers inside the towers eventually turned their anti-aircraft guns to fire at targets on the ground, turning the ground around the towers to a blasted wasteland from which there was no escape. Eventually, their reign of terror did come to an end, not because the Soviets were actually able to break through the concrete, but because they finally ran out of supplies and eventually surrendered on their own volition. It could only be assumed that if they managed to start pumpkin farms on top of the towers they might still be there today.

In fact, the towers are still there today, simply because the effort needed to tear them down would be too much work. Theoretically, an RAF Grand Slam bomb would be enough to tear down the G-Tower in Berlin, but the sheer explosive yield from it's detonation would probably be enough to demolish the rest of Berlin with it.

They were nothing short of modern-day castle keeps constructed from sheer malevolence.



So yes, I stand by my opinion that moving the game's setting from a sunny sea port town to an irresistible tower of doom to be deviating from the original plan just a bit.

But I know what you're thinking; "Where would this impenetrable tower of evil be exactly?". Space apparently. Not anywhere in particular in space, just floating around in a nebular void of some kind. One can't help but feel like he hasn't exactly thought this through. Much like another totalitarian dictator I can mention.

4 comments:

Chanel said...

Write about how much you hate me.

do it

Anonymous said...

Big fan of your Paranoia trilogy...sorry to hear you won't be doing any more...

Shadgrimgrvy said...

Well there might be in the future. Just not right now, I'm too pooped.

gamer said...

Keep moving,dude

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