Horrible, horrible disease

edited July 2009 in Story Games
A list of things in the ol' idea bucket lately:

1) The Strain by GdT and Chuck Hogan, and it's horrible, creepy, unsexy (and thus sexy-as-hell) vampires and their shades of SARS, AIDS, and Influenza-inspired spread and the response thereto;
2) Pandemic, the most excellent (and now Origins-award-winning) cooperative boardgame about the out-of-control spread of 4 presumably horrible diseases and the dedicated scientists and specialists beating them back;
3) This damned head-cold I've had that has basically cleared up except for the lingering cough and related gobs of delightful phlegm;
4) The report of the second H1N1-related death in Alberta.

So! Here's a design doc for Centre for Disease Control: The RPG!

What is this game about?
-Playing the research scientists, doctors, and field agents who are set to task developing a cure for a rapidly mutating and deadly infection -- or into maintaining quarantine if no cure is to be found; think Outbreak.

How does it do that?
-Mechanics required: research, viral spread and mutation, quarantine, administration of the cure, media/government/etc. meddling (a good outbreak story -- like most disaster stories -- always has someone who wants to keep it a secret to prevent panic/buoy a political career).

What behaviours does it reward?
-This one is tricky. The game mechanics will probably revolve on a series of challenge->response scenes (eg: Challenge: The regional government won't allow quarantine because it's tourist season and they will lose millions; response: the players must try to outwit the regional government by appealing to the national government, the media, or by enforcing quarantine in some other way). Some sort of mechanism will need to be in place to help generate these challenges, and give the players the resources to combat them. With Great Powerstyle story arc? Geiger Counter-style challenge resource?

So, chew away at it! Let's see what we can brainstorm.


  • I was thinking to give this a more "Story Now" aspect, maybe the players have to sacrifice their "Connections": family, friends, personal life, health, etc, in order to gain ground on the track of researching/combating the disease. Is this too board-gamey? Is it possible to think of this as a hybrid boardgame/RPG?
  • Will your cures be of real-world length to create, or of cinematic length? That is, will the characters come up with a cure after months to years of research, or in a few days to weeks?
  • Hm... that's a good question.

    It can go either way, though: even if the cure takes a realistic amount of time to find, there's no reason that long periods of 'downtime' can't be skipped in play, once the disease has been contained.

    Depending on the level of realism, of course, a lot of major 'demics just burn themselves out, given enough time.
  • Posted By: Ryan MacklinHere's a short thread from back in late April with a similar ideathat you might mine for inspiration or thoughts.
    I checked this out, and it looks like it covered most of the ground I was interested in. Did anything else come of it?
  • Not that I'm aware of. Of course, you could be working on the "anything else come of it' project. :)
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