Monday, February 20, 2017

Back to Back to the Future

Taking time away from the noise, away from overstretching the mind, is difficult. Especially when you have periods of time where your mind can do little but wander. Standing on patrol in my dayjob, I found myself thinking about Back to the Future

That epic poster!
I miss the Eighties. Sure I was a nerdy teenager, full of desperation and angst. Stumbling through school, playing far too much D&D, and sitting in my room hunched over a ZX Spectrum.

I used to get obsessed with things far too easily. I loved Star Wars and everything that went with it. Was obsessed by Tron. No surprises there I suppose. However, one thing I was obsessed by in my teens that you may not know was Back to the Future

It's weird looking back. In this age when trailer and film posters just about give you the whole movie on a plate, Back to the Future was an enigma. The poster, that iconic Drew Struzan poster, gave nothing away. The trailers were really vague. But there was something about the wording of the title that got you interested. And it was that guy from Family Ties, so it had to be okay.

I mean, that was the only trailer I saw. It was cool, ambiguous and slick. Had me intrigued!

After the film I wasn't much better. Sure I was fourteen and too old for that nonsense but it didn't stop me from collecting the stickers (only one short of the album). I still have it somewhere, with that one missing sticker that even Panini couldn't supply direct as all the Michael J Fox fangirls had bought them all and stuck them on their exercise books at school.

When the VHS came out it was surprisingly cheap, unlike some of the other movies I was sad enough to save up to buy as a rental version - (I'm looking at you Ghostbusters and Temple of Doom). 

Rewatching the film I became fascinated by a shadow that goes across a sign at the Twin Pines Mall car park at the beginning and I started formulating theories that it was Marty coming back and witnessing the events again, even though the mall's name had changed indicating it was a new timeline...

But, hey. I was young. It was before the internet. It kept me quiet. It still is an awesome movie, and for a socially awkward teenager it proved that someone as awkward as me (George McFly) could find the girl of his dreams.

The lame cover I made for my
Ghostbusters adventure
"Back to Transylvania"
When I started trying to get into game writing, Back to the Future loomed in my head again. I had already submitted one adventure for Ghostbusters that drew upon Weird Science and being frightened by a yoghurt in my youth. 

My next attempt at writing for West End Games would be influenced by Back to the Future, Dracula and Moonlighting. As you can imagine, it didn't see light of day...

Why now to write a blog post about Back to the Future? Not entirely sure. I was at my dayjob, patrolling and keeping an eye on things in the shop, and standing next to the Back to the Future merchandise. I started thinking about RPGing BTTF and thinking about how the DeLorean would work using the Doctor Who RPG rules.

Thinking about it, the DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine isn't too complicated as a gadget. The basic one from BTTF has Vortex (Special Trait - 8pts) as it can travel through time, but it probably has a Rare Fuel (Bad Trait - 2pts) to make it a little cheaper as it requires plutonium (or that lightning strike) to power it, and Frozen Hull (Bad Trait - 1pt) for it emerging from travel frozen up and covered in ice. It'll be up to the Gamemaster if the DeLorean actually travels through the Vortex, or does the film-like instant time-jump. It'd have 5 Story Points.

Of course, the later model loses the Rare Fuel Bad Trait, and gains Flight (Major Good Trait - 2pts). It'd probably have 9 Story Points.

Then I started thinking about Back to the Future as an RPG. You could have Doc and Marty going off on loads of adventures a bit like TV series. Remember there was a TV series of Back to the Future?

Doc could create weird new devices and things could go wrong and they could... oh... oh wait...

I just realised I've started thinking of a Rick and Morty RPG and have to stop myself.


Tyler said...

Back to the Future is a personal favorite of mine, as well. It's one of those movies I know by heart, and wore out the video tape through watching and rewatching as a kid.

Does the Doctor Who RPG cover the kind of instant timeline changes seen in the BTTF films in any mechanical sense?

David F. Chapman said...

Not so much, it's very tied to the way Doctor Who works. Though watching Timeless recently has inspired me to think about that sort of gameplay. A rogue Timelord or Time Agent going back in time and trying to undermine things, change history. PCs have to stop them.
In Dr Who, it's always been big events like that which seem immune to change - go back and kill Hitler and someone simply jumps in their place and history is fairly similar.
Time travel is always a bit flakey like that. Is Marty now in an alternate reality when he returns to the eighties? Timeless and BTTF have more in common than Dr Who's notions of timelines...
Maybe a look at the TimeWatch RPG is in order. I did get my Kickstarted copy but haven't had chance to have a read...

Tyler said...

I think my brain is trapped in an era where Continuum is the only "real" time travel game. TimeWatch passed me by completely somehow. Interesting!