I wasn’t expecting to be running again so soon after the end of Sea Dogs. But the Olympus (Saturday) group found itself between GMs, and when the dust settled, I ended up next on the schedule again. Earthfall is, effectively, a “spiritual successor” to the previous After the End campaign I ran for the Core Group (Friday)—same overall concept, in a new apocalyptic setting. I should start running a couple of weeks from now—early August—barring any unexpected delays.
I originally pitched this campaign to Olympus in May of 2019, but retracted it in favor of Sea Dogs when one of the others started talking about a possible Post-Apocalypse run. Back then, I had done the usual Q&A barrage to sort out the particulars, all of which I kept for this run, pretty much as-is. One of the players wasn’t a fan of the former eschatological premise, so that was replaced. I’m keeping the nature of that replacement close-to-the-vest for the moment, but it’ll become apparent very early on.
This isn’t the first time I’ve attempted this current campaign in some form—I pitched it to the Core Group, in 2011, and a similar storyline was featured in a couple of sequel-concepts to Dreamland and Temporal Solutions (which tended to overlap a lot anyway). As an official “alternate timeline” of the Daniverse, all the usual background elements exist (even if they don’t actually appear). Plus, anyone familiar with the official Daniverse timeline will likely recognize the term “Earthfall,” and have a pretty good idea what it’s about as a result—though that could be a trick. 😉
The initial pregame Q&A resulted in a basic plan for the PC group: they would be “first-responders,” in a less-populated part of the country, on a manhunt in the forest when SHTF. We opted for a low-level start: 150 point, non-cinematic nobodys. Inspired by my Outlanders campaign, they would use names from classic sci-fi writers—though I can’t think of a catchy reference like the “Gun Show” at the moment, sadly. I decided on a town near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The “first-responder” thing morphed a bit in the working process: we ended up with one of the PCs as the kidnapper being brought in by a deputy-sheriff and some other manhunt participants, volunteer or otherwise.
I ripped off the Sea Dogs “Treasure Maps” concept here, as well. Each PC has an “Objective”—some thing he needs to do, place he needs to reach, person he needs to find, etc. It serves the same purpose as its inspiration, that is, to establish differing personal goals, to get and keep the PCs moving actively forward.
Other than the new setting, my plan is basically the same as the previous After the End campaign. It will be a no-pulled-punches pure-sandbox making heavy use of Google Earth, tarot card draws, and random encounters. Unlike its predecessor, which predated the release of GURPS After the End, this one will feature material from that series as well. There is one potential issue with this run, though, which is that Google Earth isn’t accessible through the Fantasy Grounds VTT software—we can still use it, externally, of course, but it won’t be a part of the live-stream or recording for YouTube. This probably means I’m going to have to use a lot of screenshots, some of which may need to be created on the fly. I’m going to plan on doing a standard 12-week run, but that may change as we get under way.
Closing (Or Rather, Opening)
I feel pretty confident running this campaign. I’ve done it before, and I know what works and doesn’t. Given it’s a sandbox, though, I have no idea how/where it’s going to end up. Should be an interesting gauge of how I’ve improved (or not) as a GM.