How do you make a “Generic Story”?
One of the brilliant things about GURPS is that it is genre-agnostic; you could have the game set in the old west, on a space ship, in a Lovecraftian universe, or a sword-and-sorcery fantasy. We all really wanted to emphasize this incredible flexibility in the system by making a story that touched on many different genres…
Here’s the first draft of a script that came from a night of many beers:
You create your character – an average Joe in a modern setting. As the game begins, you are meeting with your significant other in a sunny park. After a little talking, everything seems to be going great for your date tonight. As soon as you say goodbye, a group of black-robed cultists jumps out and grab your girl/boyfriend. Chasing them you see them drag him/her to a dark and spooky mansion on the edge of town. If you call the police, an officer will show up – but he’s grabbed the moment he knocks on the door! It’s up to you.Although we weren’t thinking seriously of making the game described above, it still stands as a testimony of the bizarrely humorous design aesthetic of our team.
Finding a way inside the house, there is mysterious chanting and ritualistic goings-on. In your search, you find many tomes referring to a Cthulhu-esque monster that the cult is trying to bring to this world with blood sacrifices. At this point, we’re firmly in a horror genre.
As your search continues, you reach the dark tunnels beneath the mansion and come across a massive crystalline pillar. As you look into the pillar, you see the shadowy form of a human, just inside the cloudy crystal… Interesting…
Eventually, you come to a huge underground cave where a statue of the Lovecraftian god looms over the proceedings. On the other side of a smoky pit, the High-Priests are preparing your significant other for sacrifice! Unfortunately, the priests are simply too tough for you to fight, and you will soon be overwhelmed by the cultists and brought to the edge of the pit. As the high-priest raises his knife over your girl/boyfriend, he gives the order, and you are pushed into the black-depths of the pit!
Waking up, you find yourself on a huge pile of debris – everything from trash bags, to fast food containers, to rotting skeletons. It seems the cultists – who are nowhere to be found - are using this weird pit as a waste dump. On closer inspection, you find the body of a police officer among the detritus, with his service revolver intact.
Gun in hand, you make your way through the caves and out into bright sunlight. You are startled by what you see: no city, a dense jungle, an erupting volcano, and pterodactyls flying in the skies. Somehow that pit dropped you millions of years into the past! Now, lost in a dangerous dinosaur-filled world, you must find a way back. At this point, the game changes to a prehistoric survival genre.
Exploring the jungle-primeval, your brawn, endurance, and stealth are tested as you fight raptors, run from charging triceratops, and evade T-Rexes. In your journey, you find strange anachronistic devices scattered about that seem to have fallen like meteors. Some are sort of like flashlights, while others are explosives or portable force-fields.
As you reach the top of a hill, you see a glint of metal at the end of a nearby canyon. Making your way towards it, you quickly realize that the canyon is actually a massive trench dredged by the hull of a crashing space ship! The ship’s appears mostly intact, but a storage bay seems to have been ripped open. However, a sealed door with a strange red symbol on it bars your way deeper into the ship.
Just outside of the wreckage, a nasty lemur-like monkey chitters and hisses at you from a rock. You notice that it is holding a metallic card with a strange red symbol on it. Trying to coax the monkey towards you, it laughs, points and throws poo at you. This vicious cur scampers from rock to rock, just out of reach, and taunting you maliciously. After being thoroughly humiliated by the critter, you eventually shoot it, trap it, or throw a rock at it, smashing its little skull, but gaining the keycard. Good riddance!
Using the card to enter the ship, you now enter a science-fiction genre. You find malfunctioning robots, laser guns, and nasty, lurking alien creatures. You find a universal translator in a room that helps you understand the computer systems in the ship. Eventually making your way to the command bridge, you find that the little gray aliens who crashed here were all eaten by the dangerous aliens they were transporting. The ship’s mission was to collect species from across time and space – and you suddenly realize that the ship is a time machine!
After activating the computers and repairing the drive core, you are ready to begin take-off. You punch in your future destination date and set the time reactors to go. The fragile ship lists into the sky, and suddenly rockets into hyperspace. In a blink you find yourself soaring towards skyscrapers! Trying your best, you clip a few of the buildings as you crash into the ground with a crunch.
You make your way out of the space ship and find yourself in the heart of a massive metropolis. As you look about confused, a human-sized dinosaur moves up to you. As you see it, it’s eyes go wide and it runs from you screaming “the Aliens have arrived!”. Somehow you’ve reached a future where anthropomorphic dinosaurs rule the earth!
You now find yourself in a dystopian cyberpunk genre where velociraptor punks hack the net with cybernetic implants and brontosaurus bouncers flex their augmented muscle implants. Weird? Yes. But kinda cool.
As you flee from the gun toting DinoTech corporate soldiers (who were told to “only bring back alien bodies”), you make your way into the underground of the city. There you find the destitute dino-punks who fight against the evil corporations controlling the people. Your universal translator lets you communicate with them, and they think that the alien technology you bring will finally be the thing they need to win the war. They give you a holographic emitter to hide your alien-ness.
Still trying to find out where you are, you find a data library and research the history of the planet. As it turns out, humans never evolved! Suddenly the terrible truth dawns on you: that nasty little monkey with the keycard was the ancestor of all mankind! D’oh!
With your ship mostly destroyed and now captured by DinoTech Inc, you’re really in a jam. Somehow, you convince your dino-punk allies to help you get into the corporation and get your ship back.
Before the mission, a stegosaurus mad-scientist working for the resistance has a solution to the corporate thug’s electro-stun weapons. He calls it “Superconducting Underwear”, and has made a prototype pair just for you.
As you and your dino allies break into the corporation, you find that the engineers at DinoTech have already disassembled your ship and are testing the various components. You find from hacking a computer that they are testing the “Temporal Stability Modulator” in a secret lab. Fighting your way to the lab, you arrive just in time to see the experiment underway. The time-core has created a swirling time portal (that looks just like that dark well), and the dino-techs are about to send a test capsule through it. Securing the room with your dino allies, you punch in the coordinates to take you back to the past and jump into the capsule as it begins to move into the time portal.
Just as you are entering, a group of corporate security burst into the room and begin shooting at the time-core! Just as the core explodes, you slip into the closing time portal and are sent spiraling through an unstable wormhole!
You see yourself flying across space and time, eventually racing towards a planet, and sizzling through its atmosphere. Before you can do anything, you crash like a meteor straight into the spires of a black-stone castle, and come to a landing nearby.
Crawling out of the capsule and from beneath the stone rubble, you see a human dressed in an elaborate “evil wizard” getup approaching you. As you speak, he cuts you off with a wave of his hand and begins monologuing. He proclaims that he is the dark lord of this land, blah blah, master of lightning, blah, blah, and how dare you attack his castle, blah, blah, and he will now destroy you. Like some kind of disco dancer, the wizard waves his hands through the air, collecting a charge of electricity and sends the crackling bolt at you!
And nothing happens. Your superconducting underwear dissipated the bolt. Alarmed, the wizard blasts at you again and again, but to no avail. After awhile, you grow bored and lay him out with one punch.
Since you just single-handedly defeated the dark-lord of the land, you are immediately heralded as a hero. With his evil minions fleeing for the hills, the people can turn to their regular pastime – enslaving the faerie people.
You now find yourself in a darkly humorous fantasy world, where faerie-tales are turned on their head – now entering the sword and sorcery genre!
The sorceress in the nearby village notices something different about you. She can tell you’re from another time and place and vows to help you – right after you do a few little quests for her. As it turns out, gold is worthless - quests are the real currency of the land.
So, after several quests – rescuing a dragon from a princess, protecting a dungeon of peace-loving orcs from rampaging heroes, and delivering flowers to the underworld – the sorceress finally helps you. She hands you three potions. She says to drink the red one, give the blue one to the monkey, then drink the green one.
Drinking the red potion, you find yourself flung into space, hurling towards earth, and landing in prehistoric times right outside of the crashed space ship. Unable to move, you look on as you see yourself trying to coax the passcard from the monkey. You watch as you get frustrated enough to commit lemurcide and take the passcard. As the spaceship takes off, you regain movement and approach the dying monkey. Giving him a sip of the blue potion, it quickly jumps to its feet, throws poo on you, and scampers off. Lovely.
Finally, you drink the green potion. You see green crystalline growth spread out from your body and quickly encase you in a pillar of jagged crystal. You watch as the sun spins above you as the ages dart past. You see yourself buried in a volcanic blast, and then millennia later, watch as the human miners unearth you and drag you to their underground complex. You look on motionless as your younger self approaches your crystalline pillar in the dark basement, trying to make out your shadowy form.
As your younger self leaves the basement, the crystal begins to crack, quickly breaking apart and releasing you into the basement. You follow after yourself, making quick work of the cultists who were about to jump your earlier inexperienced self.
You arrive in the underground cave right as your earlier self is hurled into the pit. As the high-priest raises his dagger over your significant other, you burst into the ceremony! The cultists who had overwhelmed you before are no match to the skills and strange equipment you’ve gained on your adventures!
After knocking out the high-priest and his minions, you rescue your girl/boyfriend with style, reminding them with a kiss of your date tonight... The End.