I watched the Cloud Atlas movie last night and quite enjoyed it. I found the overall message of the movie and the ending to be a bit poorly focussed and trite but overall I liked the movie for the settings that it provided. If you have not seen this movie it is about six different time periods in Earth’s history that have the same “soul” moving through them and telling part of a larger story. So why do I blog about this movie? It is all about the setting.
Watching this movie takes you through scenes of six different settings. One of a musician probably very early 1900’s, writing his Opus. Another is that of a Lawyer in 1845 who befriends a black slave stowaway on a ship, a third is in 1973 with a journalist researching some strange deaths around a nuclear power station. In 2012 we have a publisher who hits the big time only to be falsely “imprisoned” in an old persons home, then there is Neo Seoul probably a 100 years from now (not exactly sure) where there is a tale told of manufactured replicants for the food service industry. Finally in the far future there is a tale about the primitive villagers and the high tech race that now exist on an irradiated Earth filled with cannibals and strange devils.
|The characters from Neo Seoul captivated me
Image was downloaded from the Warner Bros. Cloud Atlas promotional site
It was an ambitious movie and I think that is why it felt a little unfocused at the end. It was a little all over the place and it is a long movie. With six stories to tell it was always going to be a long movie. There were two settings, regardless of the quality of the movie, that caught my attention. The one I will do nothing about is the final one, the far future irradiated Earth. For those of you that love Numenara this setting screamed that game at me. It screamed it over and over again so if you like that game and find it hard to get your head around some of the concepts, watch this movie. You will find it useful. The second setting that I did absolutely fall in love with and hopefully will expand on is Neo Seoul.
This is a high tech setting with a dark under current to it. The city itself is under threat of being submerged by the rising levels of the sea. Technology holds the waters at bay as the city thrives. Their are two sorts of inhabitants, the true bloods and the fabricants. The true bloods live their life pretty much the same as we do except all of the jobs that exist are now highly skilled. The menial labour tasks are done by fabricants. Humans engineered rather than born to do the service jobs so others do not need to. There is a big story that goes around these two that I do not want to ruin so let us just leave it at that. The city is high tech but grungy. To me it is very William Gibson (Neuromancer) meets Peter Hamilton (Loads of high tech sci-fi books).
I intend to run a game in a setting like this as it seems like it could offer a load of plots to be played out. There is darkness in those streets lit with neon and I want to explore its alleys and gravity street thoroughfares. I might explore it in Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, Traveller or even bring it to the environs of a one off Fate Core game. I am not likely to sit through the movie again but I will take my impressions and run a game from it.
|The movie poster does not really communicate the movie well
This image was downloaded from the Warner Bros. promo site for the movie
I am always on the look out for material like this. Sure, Neo Seoul is not the first time that a city of this nature has been portrayed on screen but it is one of the best. The characters in the main story made me want to expand on the setting and find out how it is governed and what is happening below the surface of its fine exterior. As I was thinking this, I was thinking to myself, what other settings have other GM’s brought to the table that started off from inspiration in the media, be it a book or a movie or TV show!
So that is the challenge for today. A bit off topic from what I normally do but please tell me about what your inspirations have been in game? Did you replicate them piece by piece or just use them for the basis of your game? Tell me what you discovered about the setting and if you have tips for GM’s about how to do this would be great. I look forward to reading your stories! Keep rolling….