Gaming in a time of plague

I work in a major New York hospital, and things are pretty horrible for a lot of people. My family was very lucky with our brush with this thing, generally very light cases, although my wife and eldest had worse versions of it than I did. I used my time in quarantine to finish writing up a game, and my return to work has humbled me in the face of the monumental task that nurses have caring for these critically ill patients. I am grateful for my health, for even breathing.

The game I wrote is an Odysseys and Overlords version of an adventureI have mentioned previously, set in my home campaign, in the city of Northport.

I have been working on this setting for about 18 years in different versions of GURPS, and because I am not Douglas Cole, and do not have a license for GURPS material, I am releasing it in a system with an OGL. One of the primary conceits, as mentioned previously came from one of my favorite Dragon Magazines, number 138. This had to do with a campaign set in a post plague world, which for me gave a twist on the borderlands idea; it is not the colonial border of human lands and an inhabited land to be conquered, but the edge of the remnant of a semi-collapsed civilization, adjacent to places depopulated by fatal sickness, and chock full of under maintained ruins, still full of treasure, where the remaining inhabitants are beset by banditry and an unchecked level of monstrous incursions.

When I wrote a lot of Northport, I designed a dungeon under a city that was full of mass graves of plague victims that had become undead due to improper burial, I had not conceived of the reality of the same thing (minus the undead) happening now, to patients I knew and had worked with. The concept hits me a lot harder, and fills me with sadness.

The idea of a rat borne plague has featured in the other gaming products I have written; in both Beneath the Fallen Tower, and in Northport, it spread because available adventurers were doing mercenary work in local wars, and no one was left to chase the rats out of an innkeeper’s cellar.

Meanwhile, as the need to engage social distancing to save our lives prohibits actual tabletop play, my preferred method of gaming, play by post, works as well as it ever has, although there is a hell of a lot less downtime at work to post.

It fells awkward having the pretend issues of my game suddenly become relevant in real life; gaming is supposed to be an escape.

Be safe out there people.

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