Monday, 8 June 2009

This kiss you give is never going to fade away.

Saw Terminator: Salvation over the weekend and mostly hated it (though there's no denying the brilliance of the effects and some great explosions and crunching action scenes). But it has me in a post-apocalyptic frame of mind.

I was 10 years old when the Iron Curtain fell and therefore of that last generation who knew at least something of the Cold War. (I remember being told by a primary school teacher what to do in the event of a nuclear attack - I think it boiled down to getting into a bath and covering it with a mattress, or if not, hiding under something slanted like a conveniently placed door taken off its hinges and leant against a wall. Even at the age of 9 these methods struck me as somewhat unlikely. If only I'd seen the fourth Indiana Jones film - I would have known to just get in the fridge.) I even participated in a debate on the merits of Britain maintaining its nuclear deterrent at the age of 10 or so; as a young boy who liked drawing pictures of stuff blowing up, I was naturally in favour.

So although nostalgia is perhaps the wrong word, nuclear war does have something of an old-fashioned, almost retro feel to it that I oddly appreciate. It is as associated with my childhood as is Mr. Whippy ice cream, summertime ant plagues, football in the park after school, and fights with my sister. Something that was in the background and which we didn't think much about, but lurked there all the same. A very distant and very vague threat that manifested itself in news stories about the Berlin Wall, Ceausescu, Trident and Letters of Last Resort.

I've thought about post-apocalyptic gaming many times before, but never really played it - unless Cyberpunk 2020 counts, which I suppose it might. Perhaps another idea for GURPS. Ah, the possibilities, the possibilities:
  • What would have happened if the Cuba Missile Crisis had kicked off?
  • What would have happened if the Nazis had won the race to nuclear power?
  • Some unlikely future scenario?
  • The invention of time travel sees a temporal cold war a la Star Trek: Enterprise except good, finally resulting in nuclear apocalypse in the Age of Sail?
The last is my favourite.


  1. I've always thought of D&D to be, in some part, post-apocalyptic, elswise, where do all those conveniently treasure soaked ruins and castles come from?

    As for your question about the Cuban Missile Crisis, well, we'd all be dead.

  2. Agree with the last idea greatly.

    Also, upon reflection, I've decided the fridge scene was supposed to parody those old safety announcements, much like the Duck and Cover sequence in The Iron Giant

  3. That's fine, but what is the rest of the film parodying? ;)

  4. Is there a Terminator RPG? Am just thinking, taking the logical extension of Rise Of The Machines - the early part of the film where the female Terminator is hunting people who would be potential threats to Skynet in the future - you could run a game in that way. Almost real-world-ish I guess, but with set pieces, the target plus friends constantly trying to escape from this unstoppable killing machine which absolutely will not stop - EVER!

  5. Even though I say Term 4 as the second part of a Sci Fi Academy double screening right after Drag Me To Hell (two movies in one day is usually too much for me), I still had fun with it. I didn't mind what they did with it so much as how stuff I didn't like in the TV show is part of continuity. There is just waaaay too much time travel. In the first episode they even have Conner and mom jump ahead (far too easily) in time just so they could have it take place in the current year (or whatever).

    As for Post-Apoc, I have been thinking of doing Mutant Future as an alternative to my ongoing D&D. I had big fun with Gamma World as a kid. Still a nuclear future, but caused by terrorist nations/organizations rather than any kind of cold war stuff.

    Nuclear horror is still a real threat. Many think tank experts say it is likely that a nuke will be deployed in a major American city in the next 10 years. I'm just hoping it's East Coast!

  6. Dunno about the Cuban Missle Crisis, but here's one for a nuclear war in 1957:

  7. Hamlet: Interesting idea. I suppose that was sort of made explicit with Dark Sun.

    Rach: I think you're giving Spielberg and Lucas too much credit. Shia LaBeuf swinging through the trees with monkeys: need I say more?

    kelvingreen: Very good.

    zero_zero_one: Probably not but should be doable with GURPS, no?

    crazyred: Best song about nuclear weapons EVER.

    Brunomac: The problem with the terrorist/dirty bomb scenario is that I just don't see it causing a nuclear apocalypse. Bye-bye Manhattan, maybe, but not bye-bye the world.

    John Stephens: Nice, but I'm not sure that China would have been a staunch ally of the USSR even in 1957. The split didn't occur until later but after Stalin's death relations had already begun to sour.