This is a follow on from my article “TV series and films that would make great PBEM games”, which has become the most popular on my blog and I only hope has inspired many people to create new PBEM games (or play-by-post games as I agreed I’d call them).
Inspiration can come from many places, why not take a concept of a pre-created world and run with it?
First aired in 1963, Dr Who is the worlds longest running sci-fi TV show. The format of the show and the storylines can vary wildly, probably accounting for it’s long-running success. A new actor plays the Doctor almost every season, keeping the character fresh and different. The character of the Doctor remains throughout, although his travelling companions change often. This makes it very difficult to propose a play-by-post game based on this as the lead character is so strong, and a Play-by-post usually works best with an ensemble group of characters. So to create a play-by-post game set in the Doctor Who universe it would likely be set away from the Doctor himself, and focus on other characters.
The Doctor is the last of the Time-lords, a race of aliens who have the ability to control time. Although the series states that he is the last of the time-lords (following the great time war with the Daleks), it might be possible to mention many more time-lords which also escaped after the war which the Doctor doesn’t know about. Also over the years many other aliens have been mentioned, some friendly which could be used as main characters, but mostly monsters which your characters could meet on a daily basis and have to fight, or run away from, or thwart their deadly plans.
The Doctor travels in a time machine called the TARDIS, which is a small box with a cloaking device to disguise itself as something inconspicuous. The TARDIS is larger inside than on the outside. In the TV show we normally are only shown one room, but it has been mentioned that the TARDIS contains many rooms, and is actually the size of a city. For your play-by-post game your characters could have a TARDIS of their own, and this could be expanded much more, showing the vast inside and the rooms within it.
A typical story for your play-by-post game could have the TARDIS arrive at a location in space and time (options here are almost infinite as the TARDIS can travel anywhere in the universe and at any time period), your characters would react to their surroundings and either explore, or save some innocent people from a dangerous enemy.
This was a short-lived TV series based on the extremely long-running British sci-fi show Dr Who. When “Torchwood” was first mentioned in various episodes of Dr Who, it was a nefarious organisation which collects alien technology and uses for its own purpose. The TV series “Torchwood” depicted a more friendly Torchwood organisation, headed by Captain Jack Harkness. Captain Jack ran the Cardiff branch of the organisation (Torchwood 3) to investigate alien phenomenon and generally protect the world from baddies. At the end of the series however the Torchwood HQ in Cardiff was destroyed by a large explosion.
Other Torchwood bases do exist, and presumably are still operational. A play-by-post game based on Torchwood could exist in any of these other bases, using new characters which you can invent yourself. The style of storyline would be that an alien disturbance is going on, and your characters have to investigate it and solve it, or perhaps the Earth is under attack from an alien and you have to find it and defeat it. The Torchwood TV series had very interesting characters and dealt with a lot of adult or taboo subjects, as well as having a quirky sense of humour. It wouldn’t be hard to bring that across into your game.
This is a hospital drama very similar to the American show ER. It is based in the fictional “Holby City Hospital”. The story often goes as follows: Something terrible happens to members of the public, (or often to the members of the hospital themselves) and the Paramedics have to save them, sometimes risking their lives as they do so. The patients are brought back to the hospital, where doctors and nurses battle to save their lives, sometimes battling with internal politics. It wouldn’t be hard to recreate this in a play-by-post game, but there would have to be a lot of focus on character development as the story is mostly the same each time.
Red Dwarf is a comedy science fiction about characters travelling through space. The premise of the series is that Dave Lister (the main character) was placed in stasis for three million years onboard a spaceship he was stationed on (The Red Dwarf). When he was brought out of stasis, the entire crew had died and he was alone apart from a hologram of his bunk-mate, and a humanoid which had evolved from his pet cat. This is mostly a TV series about these characters, and additional characters they meet in later series, and how they deal with loneliness and having to survive in space. The world they inhabit is explained loosely over the eight TV series, and they do encounter baddies and monsters along the way.
Not too much explanation is ever given about the universe they inhabit, so making a play-by-post game of Red Dwarf would require a lot of thought into developing the universe yourself. It would be possible to play the characters described in the TV series, but this may lead to complications of who plays which characters, and also a limit of only five main characters.
As the universe is open to interpretation, this might be a good thing and allow you a lot of creative freedom to write it how you see fit. You could base your characters in any location in the galaxy, and also in any time period you wish. You could set your game in the time period before Lister was put into stasis, or the 3 million years afterwards in the bleak future.
This is a TV show about a team of people who investigate “anomalies” which are gateways into the distant past which spontaneously appear around Great Britain. These gateways allow prehistoric animals and dinosaurs to come through and cause havoc in the modern world. The team (operating out of their HQ called the Anomaly Research Centre or “Arc”) is dispatched to the scene of the anomaly where they have to either kill or capture the rampaging dinosaur, or coerce it back through the anomaly to the time period it came from.
This was a short-lived sci-fi comedy set on a British spaceship named the HMS Camden Lock. Although the series wasn’t very popular (and was too heavily compared to Red Dwarf), it introduced many very quirky and hilarious sci-fi concepts. The best way to describe Hyperdrive is a direct spoof of Star Trek the Next Generation, done in the style of The Office.
The characters from the series are extremely fun, but two-dimensional. There’s the idiotic Captain, an egotistical Security Officer, lazy crew, and a robot woman called Sandstrom who controls the ship. You might have a lot of fun using them, but this will be limiting.
Technology and equipment you might encounter and use might be the “dreamgate” allowing you to enter other character’s dreams, the “instradrunk” a tablet which gets you instantly drunk.
Aliens you might encounter might be the “Pasty lords from Cornish 5”, “Red Shiny Robot of Vortis”, the “Queppu” (a medievil race who desire everyone to constantly “marvel” at their civilisation ), the “Lallakkis” (who have the mental capacity of a 10 year old and make a song for every war they fight), the repulsive “Glish” (who have odd customs like rubbing their tentacles on each others faces as a greeting), and the extradimensional “Engulfers” (who swallow spaceships whole and excrete black holes).
A play-by-post game based on Hyperdrive would be a typical Star Trek scenario, with a Captain, First Officer, Security Officer etc, but without the constraints of technology. Ideal for members who like the format but want to be creative with it, and post about ridiculous but fun stories.
The Bill is a British cop show. A team of police constables and detectives have to solve crime and capture criminals. A very simple idea which could be turned into a play-by-post game with very few constraints. The format could be applied to any town in the UK (or any other country), where members would each have a character occupying a role in the hierarchy of the local Police force. The GM would lead the story, writing the actions of the criminals, and the members would have to investigate them, arrest them and question them.
A popular childrens TV series from the 1960’s using string puppets. This show had a lot of high-tech gadgets and spaceships all beautifully crafted in miniature, which for the time it was created was the height of special effects. The “Thunderbirds” is a name of the futuristic vehicles piloted by International Rescue, a team of (mostly) brothers who will rescue anyone in distress. International Rescue is based on Tracy Island, which disguises the launch bays for each of their high-tech Thunderbirds under houses and swimming pools to keep the location of their HQ a secret from other organisations who may wish to steal their technology.
A typical play-by-post game based on Thunderbirds could be set on Tracy Island, perhaps several years after the original. Your characters could play the original team members of International Rescue, or perhaps new members who have replaced the original (the originals might have perhaps retired by now). The story would be mission based, and each mission being to rescue some people from a dangerous situation, like a raging fire, or a collapsed building. International Rescue has a wide range of vehicles to cope with any situation, many have been shown already on the show, but you could always make your own.
An added complication would be an enemy for your members to fight whilst rescuing helpless civilians. The “Hood” was the enemy in the show, and by now he might have an entire army of people working for him. Also other rival corporations could make an entrance.