Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Mega Dungeons Of Total Recall - An Old School Campaign Idea For Your Science Fantasy Game

File:Total recall.jpg

The other night I was watching Total Recall the 1990 blockbuster with Arnold & it struck me that there's a perfectly good Mega Dungeon stuck right into the middle of the film! 

Who knows what other secrets the mine contains? 
The pyramid mine is a multi level mine on the surface of Mars where the rare fuel tribinum is mined!

Mars of Total Recall has an atmosphere & is in the middle of being exploited for its natural resources. 

 The place is mostly a space colony settled around the Pyramid Mine with mutants, hookers, miners, & a very repressive government 

Its a far cry from the world of  Barsoom but is it? 

 This is a Mars much closer to Robinson Crusoe on Mars actually! 

This an ancient Mars where all of the life has disappeared & only the ancient relics remain to be found. 
The mutants,VenusVille, etc elements all come much later! This is a used up Mars & its been thoroughly explored. 

It always seemed to me that this guy knew there was ancient relics down in his mine! 

Perhaps Hauser knew that they were there long before they began to exploit all that Trinbinum in the mine. 
How?  Planetary administrator Vilos Cohaagen  has knowledge about the relics in the Pyramid mine but not what it or they are or do. Who did the real exploration? 


Commander Christopher 'Kit' Draper had already been there & discovered the methods by which man might survive on Mars! 

First, he burns some coal-like rocks for warmth and accidentally discovers that heating them gives off oxygen. This allows him to refill his air tank and move around in the thin atmosphere. 
Robinson Crusoe of Mars 

This is what's left of Mars in the 1964 movie. Yet under the planet Mars are millions of miles of tunnels 
Then we've got shots like this one.  Could those be some of the remains of Green Thark villages? 


There might be more just a few buried secrets down in that plant 
This might simply be the start of something more! 
The mine might connect to far more then that one giant atmosphere plant. There could be hundreds of tunnels lined with antechambers. The alien remains of kings, traps, etc. 


If we speculate that 'Friday' from Robinson Crusoe is a red man then perhaps the Sarnmak took the remains of the Barsoomians lock, stock, & barrel off world. They might be using them only as slave labor to mine the remains of the  turbinium ore  on the surface when & where they can! 

These guys certainly fit the general pattern for Wells Sarnmak aliens. These ships operate in threes & they're ruthlessly exploiting their slave labor force 

 Then there's that turbinium ore that powers the reactor. The psionic mutants that get those echoes about the reactor might be the remains of the telepathy that the Barsoomians used on a daily basis.  What about Vilos Cohaagen, the ruthless director of the Mars Colony and friend of Hauser who stops at nothing in the mining of turbinium ore which places innocent people at risk. His strangle hold on the planet is nothing short of spectacular
He knows it all. Every dirty little secret about the plan, the people, he knows where the bodies are buried. 
The answer is that for years the various corporations have been exploiting the knowledge of the various expeditions to the planet in the past 
 novel Total Recall  had a subplot wherein the aliens planted a fail safe device within their Mars technology, so that if it were misused or destroyed, the local star would go nova and therefore prevent the species from entering the galactic community. It coincided with a comment earlier in the novel that astronomers were noticing an abnormal number of recent supernovae, giving an indication that the aliens seeded their tech as part of a galactic experiment in technological maturity

There are few other films which use the idea of a fossilized Mars being exploited by mankind only to have the past bite them in the ass.
Ghosts of Mars
Comes To mind

Another Mars that almost goes extinct at the hands of ancient original inhabitants

The Legacy Of VenusVille Or Ten Ways To Use Total Recall In Your OSR Game 

  1. Before Hauser ever existed perhaps there was  an expedition down into some of the unexplored galleries of the mine. What if your party was that team? Could they have been memory wiped & placed on Earth as well? 
  2. Could the  turbinium ore have been used by a Cthulhu Mythos race as well as the Martians say The Great Race? Perhaps there might be other reactors on other planets that use this stuff? 
  3. Wad there a reason for the creation of the mutants that it wasn't simple chance? Are the mutant populations being groomed for something greater? Could they be the next Martians or is there a more sinister purpose? Could your party find out? 
  4. Venusville has lots of hidden alleys & secrets who or what might be lurking in there? 
  5. If   Vilos Cohaagen, the ruthless director of the Mars Colony is dead what other corporations might be willing to take his place? Could he actually be alive on Earth & planning a coup? Could your party find out? 
  6. Could certain sensitive folks have racial astral memories of the Martains implanted within their RNA? Could your players be some of those folks & only a trip to Recall will help retrieve them? 
  7. A trip deep into the Pyramid Mine reveals a Shaggoth! What other secrets are down in the lower galleries? 
  8. Turbinium Ore is found on other planets within the solar system or beyond! What is the connection to the Pyramid mine! Can your players find out & live to exploit the knowledge? 
  9. Keuto Lives! The memories, knowledge, etc of the mutant revolutionary were passed onto another mutant but who or what was it? Could the characters find out? 
  10. The reactor was only the start of it! Hundreds of incidents of alien technology erupts across the face of the planet. Can your party find out why? Can they live to tell the tale let alone remember it? 


    The Relics Of Conquest 

    Ghosts of Mars offers some unique ideas here as well. The alien species that we see might actually fit right into a Total Recall style of game. Imagine what happens when 2 separate species wake up at the same time? Could these two be ancient enemies fighting through the eons each time a new set of settlers come to Mars? Could the party sent to investigate be placed at the center of a 12 million year old war? 
       Could someone possessed be given over to the tender mercies of a recall chair device tumble through the ages to remember answers to the present war? 

                The Recall Connection 

Recall itself offers a DM endless possibilities for adventure hooks from a total brain screw job on a player's character to using the company as a front for a mind flayer style operation. The possibilities are endless when you go recall!* 

* This blog is for entertainment purposes only & we are not responsible for any side effects of your ego trip. These effects may include but are not limited to complete & total memory inversion, brain hemorrhaging due to memory implants, complete mental failure, planetary revelation,  mutations, brain replacement or thinking that you may be someone named Quad, Hauser, or Kuato 

When running this I would suggest Mutant Future, Labyrinth Lord, or any number of other retroclones remember your mileage may vary 

Don't let this happen to your PC! Explosive decompression isn't fun! Only you can prevent blow ups  

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