Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Sinister Undertones of the Logan's Run TV Show As Fodder For Your Old School Campaigns.

So the other night I started looking back into and rewatching the Logan's Run television series, this is the perfect compliment to Mutant Future, Gamma World,Crawling Under A Broken Moon  or many post apocalyptic retroclone games. The series starred Gregory Harrison as title character Logan 5, and Heather Menzies as Jessica 6.

There's actually lots of differences between the film & the television series; the basic plot expands in a completely different direction then the film;
"The series maintains the basic premise and visual style of the film in that Logan and Jessica have escaped from the "City of Domes" so that they will not have to die once they reach the age of 30. However, the series differs from the plot of the movie in various ways, and depicts Logan and Jessica on the run in each episode in various locations on future Earth as they search for the mythical place known as "Sanctuary". Logan and Jessica are also assisted in each episode by an android called Rem (Donald Moffat) who did not appear in the film version."
Right off the bat is the fact that adventure location is named & we get the party of adventurers running into all kinds of weirdness from the get go. They get a sweet little solar powered hover car and immediately begin hex crawling through the wilds of America. They're pursued by a sandmen team and Logan's old partner Francis. Each episode they stumbled upon another post apocalyptic society or small knot of survivors. But they also ran into aliens and there was a bit of a Star Trek feel to the series because; "D. C. Fontana served as story editor and worked alongside several other writers from Star Trek as well as one of the original novel's authors. Executive Producers of the TV show were Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, who had created Charlie's Angels the year before."  Man, you have to love the Seventies when it came to that sort of cross Hollywood and television politics. Now when it comes to gaming the television show was the perfect point between the film and the novel for gaming . In fact a couple of years ago I used the television series as part of an alternative Trek timeline during the world war that had taken place in the 90's. Anyhow the television series is a perfect template for old school post apocalyptic gaming with the party journeying from hex to hex to find Sanctuary or as a part of a wilderness or wasteland. 

There are wrinkles that a DM can take advantage of when it comes to planning out adventures in Logan's America.
The television series differed greatly from the film and wiki has a cool little break down of those differences:
Although based on the 1976 film (itself based loosely on the 1967 novel), the series differed from the film in several ways:
  • The film is set in the year 2274. The series begins in the year 2318.
  • In the film, the city in which Logan and Jessica come from is simply referred to as "The City". In the series, they refer to it as the "City of Domes".
  • In the film, each citizen of the City has a lifeclock crystal implanted in the palm of their hand at birth, which changes color as they get older and blinks as they approach 30. The lifeclocks were not seen in the series.
  • Logan's motive for the leaving the City of Domes is different. In the film, the City's computer makes his lifeclock blink early and sends him on a covert mission to find and destroy Sanctuary. In the series, Logan begins to question Carousel and the need to die at 30, and decides to run by himself.
  • In the film, participants in Carousel were seemingly shot and killed in a shower of sparks (like a laser blast). When they are killed in the series, they glow and are vaporized.
  • In the film, the City is run by a computer. In the series, it is run by a secret cabal of old men.
  • In the series, the Sandmen are given vehicles with which they can travel outside of the City to pursue Runners. In the film there were no vehicles that travelled outside of the City. The solar-powered hovercraft vehicle that Logan and Jessica find and use was not featured in the film either.
  • The character of Francis 7 was killed in the film version, but lives throughout the series.
This isn't the only way of utilizing & indeed inverting the Logan's Run television show to a DM's advantage. There are several factors that can turn the City of Domes into one of the most dangerous factions that a party can face. The first thing is the fact that the society that Logan comes from is an isolated, enclosed society with all of its own rules, norms, a completely enclosed package. It has it own private security and police force making it the perfect NPC menace or evil to dog PC's as a faction of extreme but limited power. Within its sphere of influence the Domed City is lord and master of the wastelands.
Replace the computer or the council of old men in the Domed City with Morlocks from George Pal's The Time Machine  and suddenly this wasteland location is an isolated colony of the Eloi. Suddenly the whole eco system takes on a far more sinister vibe then simply dying in Carousel.And whose maintaining those wonderful super science systems in the city of domes?

And what about Carousel? Doesn't that seem like a very inefficient and ritualistic way of murdering the youths of your society or does it actually seem like a bit of a Seventies sinister black magick rite in fact? Could the time of carousel actually be a rite for the Lovecraftian entity that's actually been living down below the 'City of Domes' for hundreds of years now all but forgotten by everyone?  What is actually below that giant pulsing red crystal whist the crowd cheers on the deaths of their fellow Dome City citizens? The crowd building to a point to feed the hungers of the monster blow the thing waiting for when the stars are right. In fact the idea of the runners being hunted could be used as a funnel with only the strongest surviving their ordeal only to find out the lie of Sanctuary

The City of Domes is the perfect Utopian cult society, lots of sex to control the flock, weird rites, a standing police force, and a limited shelf life for the worshipers. This is an option that I've used several times with Dome like societies in Gamma World, Carcosa, and even with far flung colonies of space dwellers.  The totalitarian future (23rd-century) society in which no one is permitted to live beyond age 30 always seemed to me to a good faction to add into the wastelands. It's blue print is perfect for a wide variety of applications for old school campaigns.

The television show only lasted from 1977 through 1978 but its a great blue print for old school wasteland and post apocalyptic adventuring!

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