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Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Thing

Since its sub zero Fahrenheit here in western NY, (it about -2 with wind chill its -22) I figured this would be a great time for this post given the location of the movie!

Continuing my musings on campaign worlds on the blog as of late, here's a thought: How about a game (and it could work in almost any game system) based on the Thing? Obviously, the horror genre games would work, but in a way it could be derivative of zombie genre as I covered here or perhaps using Twilight 2000? These are just a few thoughts that come to mind.

The Thing is based on the work Who goes There? (1) (which I'm still reading despite reading two other books). It was first made into the movie, The Thing from Another World in 1951; smack dab in the middle of the UFO craze of the 1940s and 50s. Later it would be remade by John Carpenter in 1982 as The Thing with a prequel in 2011. All three are different with the 1982 and 2011 versions obviously having the same storyline. While I like all three, the 1982 version is clearly superior.

That the 1982 Thing is a very good is an understatement its exceptional; and at time very underrated movie. Underrated in the sense that there are tons of clues scattered throughout and is very much a mystery movie wrapped in the horror genre. Reading the novella that is drawn from this is readily apparent. Add to the fact that Carpenter and his team a had a long period of time to work on the story (and it shows) there is lots of subtle clues throughout. On such place browse these clues is  the forum at Outpost 31 For the sake of brevity here, for those not in the know The Thing had an unusually long time before they actually started shooting (something like 17 months as far as I can recall) and Carpenter admitted they had plenty of time to plan out the plot, which camera shots they would use, etc to far greater detail then he might otherwise done.

So as an RPG? Imagine it starts out at a research station isolated in the Arctic or Antarctic (doesnt have to be the same Outpost 31 although it could be) and the players are confronted with the events as the unfold in the beginning of the movie. Where it goes from there is almost endless but at the same time a nice tidy sandbox. Perhaps a better ploy is to just get into the action as they will most likely already know the story. Add a different cast of characters (the players PCs) and keep the weaponry minimal. Then again even having high-powered military rifles, the PCs are screwed  as they aren't very good against Things (2).

Barring that, how about a Thing has made it to the mainland and Blair's prediction starts playing itself out. Its going to take lots of flamethrowers or nukes once its too far gone.

In such a post apocalyptic scenario(s), movies like 28 Days Later or World War Z are going to seem like a walk in the park!  If Things start reproducing in vast quantities in large human population centers, its largely game over. Such a game would quickly shift to extreme paranoia and one of ultra-extreme survival. Come to think of it with no recourse but to wipe out 7 billion or so Things it might be an exercise in futility.

If a GM uses Twilight 2000 it could add a good twist on the horrors of World War III;  dropping some Things into that already horrific scenario? That could really mess things up. Of course it could also muddy stuff too much. Perhaps a better solution is to simply use the rules for Twilight 2000 and place it in modern day with the scenario outlined above. The only issue is that there is no really rules for monsters per say in Twilight 2000, so the GM would need to do some work, not insurmountable, but doable. Another thought is use the Savage World system which would definitely keep things moving quickly, but I think with minimal fuss All Flesh Must Be Eaten would be best.

In closing, I think such a game is better for a one-off/short campaign, or rather a series of short episodes as opposed to a multi-year/session campaign. There probably isn't going to be much "winning" if the Thing(s) make it out of Antarctica. It could be a fun/blow um up/ go out in a blaze of glory type of deal, but if there was ever a "no win scenario" this is it. Think of the end of the 1982 movie, not much (read: none) hope at the end and lots of question marks instead...

And of course I would be remiss if I didn't point out one of the best lines in the history of cinema: 

No kidding indeed.

(1) Who goes there can be found on such online places at the iTunes book store for free.

(2) The Norwegian with the sweet gun was using a Heckler & Koch HK33. Details to the weapon at IMDB is here or the full details on a wiki for weaponry used in movies.


  1. Actually there is a horror supp for Twilight 2000 and Merc 2000 called Twilight Nightmares.

  2. Well, look at that, learn something new everyday on the blog. my guess is you have a copy or four!

  3. I have a single copy - Nothing truly like the Thing in there but there are a few "alien" style encounters, one very much like Predator. There is even a Nightmare on Elm Street mini adventure LOL

  4. Never knew about the supplement as it came out just as I stopped playing TW2000. It's interesting that I had the same thought as GDW regarding cross pollination. The problem I can see with TW2000 is at the best of times its rules get cumbersome; then add another "layer" to it?

  5. You definitely have to become a subject expert where the combat rules are concerned for T2000. I actually came across (and downloaded) a combat adaptation for T2000 derived from Cyberpunk 2020. I'd probably use that if I ever ran a game. Just as gritty and deadly as T2000's with less rule bloat and pain.

  6. The thing is nasty enough for use in super hero or high fantasy's still a real campaign changer if not kept isolated.

    Fear the THING! (love both movies)