Dec 5 14 12:08 AM

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Dear Eric and Peter,

I was hoping for your input on one of the more bizzare ideas I've had.

This year's halloween game, a friend of mine ran an Inception game, where we dove into an NPC's mind searching for information, and I wanted help brainstorming my own one-off in a similar direction because, while everyone enjoyed it, there were problems. Essentially, we dove through four different nightmares, each with a monster from the NPC's past, a hint to the information we needed, and a way out. Yes, the GM is in fact a psych major who loves Lovecraft to death.

The problem was that the GM put us on a 3 hour time limit in real time, less if any of the dreams destabilized from our actions. If we didn't retrieve the information by the end, we all die. Add in the party min-maxer, who kept rolling Spirit checks to make sure he had his gun in every stage, and the GM shaved off almost a full hour of game time. The GM had to drop a full level from the outline because of the reduced time.

I liked the one-off, but that time penalty really irked me. So I'm making my own idea for a universe cross-over game, which will hopefully fix some of the issues. I was hoping for your help.

The idea I have is that several parallel universes (mostly video games) are getting compressed together because...well, get back to me on that one. Players would have to start in the Perfect Dark universe and have to hop from universe to universe collecting whatever items are in the wrong place. There are two twists, though;
  1. Carrington Institute only has a finite amount of power to send them through with, so the time they will have in each place will be preset and limited.
  2. I intend to borrow the Demon Souls death mechanic. If anyone (player or NPC) dies, a black phantom version of them invades the world and attempts to stop the player.
  3. Basically, whenever a player character dies, he stays in limbo for the time left on the clock, I (the GM) take his character's sheet and use it as an NPC to try to stop the players. If they defeat it, IT gets kicked into the next universe where they have to beat it again. The plan is this will become a cascade of terrible things by the end, as players have to deal with copies of themselves while searching for the keystones.
"You know when you met Solid Snake? You know how he died heroically? You know how you got the infinite ammo bandana from him? I wasn't doing you a favor." (Solid Snake Black Phantom appears).

I was hoping you could give me some pointers, both for how I could mechanically tie together several hard SF universes, a standard present day setting, and a high fantasy one mechanically, but also what kind of things I could do to balance this on the fly to keep the players guessing, but not overwhelmed. What other kinds of bizzare one-offs have you done and how did they go?

Your Listener,