[DayTrippers] Golden Age Adventures

edited March 2016 in Directed Promotion
This is where it all began, and yesterday the prodigal reality-hopping hybrid surreal SF RPG expanded to include a monster supplement I call "Golden Age Adventures". It's an anthology of 16 roleplaying adventures based on stories by well-known science fiction writers of the 1930s-50s.


My approach in this book has been to break down the source stories into what I call "PlotFields" - basically taking an "object-oriented" approach to the construction of settings complete with monsters, obstacles, maguffins and narrative drives - but without forcing any particular arrangement such as a "plot". (The full text of each source story is also included, so you are free to follow the original plot if you want to, but that's up to you.)

Because these PlotFields are so constructed, they may be used as source material for any type of game that requires alien worlds and narrative components. The DayTrippers system is deliberately simple, and conversion tables are included in the books for other popular game systems. (Not just systems, but whole approaches: the DayTrippers Core Rules book includes a set of "Collaborative Mission" rules which crosses the line between Tradgames and Storygames.)

I'll be using this thread to drop off news and answer any questions anyone might have, and explain some of the techniques I use in the book.


  • edited April 2016
    Oh yeah. Now available at: DrivethruRPG RPGnow Payhip

    Available in PDF, softbound and hardbound editions!

  • edited March 2016
    What does a "PlotField" look like? Good question. I've drawn them several ways over the last year or two, and here's what I've come to...


    Here's a 2-page PDF explaining what all the little bits mean:

  • I like the cover art! Was it inspired by the classic SF story "A Martian Oddysey"?
  • edited March 2016
    Yes indeed!
    That piece is by Robert Petillo. It's Dirk Jarvis and Tweel encountering the Dream Beast.

  • Hey, nice graphic!

    What's the difference between a "Plot Field" and a relationship map?
  • Looks like Plot Field = relationship map + locations. R-Map + Map, kinda. I dig it. Distinguishes between close interactions and interactions over distances, with some implications about travel and time.

    @AsIf, how many pre-made PlotFields does the book include? Are they in color?
  • What I like about this approach is that it allows you to a) preconceive what might happen in the game, and b) improvise wildly without losing track of any of the ingredients of the playset.

    It also facilitates any degree of playstyle from “GM like a Boss” to – as Lucifer’s much nicer younger brother likes to say – “trust and love”, and, still better in my opinion, to switch and adjust to any of the gradients in between. If you’re a GM, you can make conscious decisions about how to react to the unconscious behaviour of the players; if you’re a player, you can engineer opportunities to redirect play.

    The sobriquet “Golden Age” is apposite not only to the origin of the stories on which the scenario-sets are based but to the feeling they engender; they’re kind of old-fashioned but reassuring. I feel it would be possible to “new wave” them up a bit by mechanizing opportunities for players to make the end-game specifically meaningful to the emotions revealed in play by their characters. (One of the characteristics of SF’s new wave is the swapping of “inner” and “outer” space.) A story gamer might have to make some alterations to DayTrippers’ toolkit in order to make this happen, but I like that: you can prep for players you already know well or improvise for those you don’t, or both.
  • edited March 2016
    Thanks, you guys!
    What's the difference between a "Plot Field" and a relationship map?
    A PlotField Diagram is a schematic of a PlotField, and a PlotField is an object-oriented collection of narrative objects (Characters, Locations, Items and Events) which have Relations (shown with arrows) among them. So effectively Dave is right: it's like a relationship map superimposed on an abstract map of the environment itself, except that it shows relations between various different types of objects (not just characters).
    @AsIf, how many pre-made PlotFields does the book include? Are they in color?
    The whole book is in color, and there's a PlotField (as well as a complete object listing) for each story (that is, 16).

    The current diagram is the second published design (and the 12th experimental design). The first was the ill-fated "RunSheet" which (while it looked cool) was pretty useless in play. I didn't even use it myself. The current approach I actually do use, I even draw them by hand for custom scenarios. The whole idea is to provide the GM (or the storygaming group) with a one-page abstraction of the entire PlotField at a glance. The use of color (in addition to shapes and placement) turned out to be key to compressing all that information.

  • edited April 2016
    @Abstract_Machine has written a thought-provoking review of Golden Age Adventures. It's actually more of an essay on the nature of shared emergent narrative under different playstyles, and how this may be approached using the book in a game of DayTrippers. "Storygame" or "Trad"? Right up the middle? Season to your own tastes!

    Here's the full monty.

    Abstract Machine has the ability to phrase me better than I sometimes phrase myself. As I've said in other threads, DayTrippers aims to provide a unified mechanic, a flexible character building system, and a toolkit (the GMs Guide) which may be used by any SF group regardless of their style of play. This may be why I get disgruntled reviews from diehards at the extreme ends of the trad/narr spectrum, and pleasant reviews from curious people who enjoy different approaches to games, somewhere up the middle.

    As for the swapping of inner and outer space, this ties into Bleed and Psychic Content. If this is the sort of experience you're going for (and for me it often is), there are essays in the DayTrippers GameMasters Guide on how to do that more effectively. It also ties into the rules for Progressive Character Generation, LifeShaping, and Character Development Scenes - all of which have to do with Player input and its (re-)utilization in play.

    Here's how I might use GAA for storygame play. First, everyone who wants to may read the original story (provided in its entirety), and the object listings (and PlotField) will remain available to everyone during play. We would use the Collab Mission rules from the DayTrippers Core Rules book and choose a GM. Progressive Character Generation allows us to sketch our characters quickly and develop them as we go, so no bottlenecks there, and the Collaborative Mission Rules help us create a basic PlotField, selecting objects from the listings on the front page of the adventure (each adventure has a listing of obstacles, complications, perks & "maguffins" [sic] which may be used to choose from). Then for about 15 minutes, the Players would set up their PC sheets and talk about relations while the GM sketch-preps some additional details on the PlotField (but no pre-drawn conclusions), using the Generators in the GMG to randomize/brainstorm as needed. Again, the object listings are available to everyone, so whenever an Obstacle is encountered (for instance), anyone in the group could select a suitable object from the book (depending on Region and Location) to be that Obstacle, or we could roll one (random encounter tables are provided for every region). Basically the object listings become the "story bible" from which the group collectively draws - but the format is geographical and object-oriented, not narrative/chronological.

    Finally, for groups who like to play with tossing narrative control back and forth a lot, I would recommend running the session as a "Dream World" mission. This type of mission allows for the PCs to momentarily "take over" aspects of reality (effectively causing "magic" effects to occur at will) based on their Lucid Dreaming skills. In play, this tends to create surreal gonzo scenes with lots of Psychic Content, as the tendency for everyone (when they gain narrative control) is to do something even weirder than the last person. Which - this being a Dream World after all - is perfectly fitting.

  • The RPG Pundit has written a review of Golden Age Adventures - and he likes it!

    I know a few people here are not terribly enamored of the Pundit, but you gotta admit, pleasing him is a pretty rare thing, and I'm glad to have done it. :-)

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