In this week’s issue of The Escapist, we examine how all games are role playing games, if you just look at them the right way. Early videogames didn’t provide much of a story or background for your actions, so we’ve filled in a few of the blanks and revealed the true stories behind some classic games. You’ll have to figure out what they are for yourselves, but you should be able to piece together enough clues from the tales.
After you’ve read through these, be sure to add your own!
Mud caked Spike’s face, now cracking in the high noon sun. His calves stung from holding a crouched position for hours. He had not moved since sunrise, his eyes peeled on the horizon. Ahead of him was the fortress, formidable and unassuming. Beyond that were fields of waist-high grass and a few sparse trees.
The camp had been alerted to intruders earlier that week. Animal rights activists, always on the prowl for a lost cause, were planning on breaking into the fortress’ secret lab and releasing the ducks. To the activists, the ducks were innocent victims, used and abused by the country’s greatest minds. But to Spike, and the other soldiers stationed around the periphery, they were death incarnate. Death, on the wings of a duck.
The ducks were being used to test a deadly bioagent. He didn’t know what kind it was or what it was for; it wasn’t his job to know those kinds of things. All he knew was that if any of these ducks made it to a water source, mankind as he knew it was doomed. His briefing had been very clear in his mission: kill them all.
He had been issued a dog from the K9 unit. It was all jowl and ears. The dog was well-trained, clearly intelligent – Spike had been told that it was “very special,” but so far he had been unimpressed. Of course, he hadn’t seen the pup in action yet. The pup sat diligently by his side, ears perking slightly.
And then he heard it – the unmistakable quacking of an adult duck. Strike that. Ducks. There was more than one. He shouldered his rifle, steadying his sights slightly above the grassline. The first green headed bird flew out of the grass, heading towards the south. He shot, and reloaded. The dog bounded from Spike’s side and into the brush, emerging with the still-shuddering corpse in his mouth.
He shot, reloaded, and shot again. The dog collected the carcasses, dropping them into a pile by Spike’s feet. The ducks were coming faster now, alarmed and frightened by the shots ringing from all directions. They took to the sky in groups, haphazardly changing directions as their brethren fell to the ground. There were far too many of them. Spike was a sure and steady shot, but even he hadn’t been prepared for the sheer number of the birds. A few of them got away, and Spike could only hope that the soldiers stationed further down the line. Each time Spike aimed and missed a shot, the dog seemed to grin. The very idea of a grinning dog sounded ridiculous in Spike’s head, but there it was. Spike became increasingly frustrated with each missed shot, which only lead to even more free birds. There was no doubt in his mind now. The dog was definitely mocking him.
Spike knew what he had to do. He couldn’t let a mangy dog ruin an entire mission. It would be his hide if they failed, and he didn’t really want to be responsible for the destruction of all mankind. Slowly, he turned the gun towards the dog’s mocking face. The gun was cocked and loaded. He pulled the trigger. The bullet should have gone straight through its head; it was a perfect, point-blank shot. But the dog remained standing, its grin growing ever wider. Spike suddenly realized the extent of the lab’s dangerous experiments. The birds, the dog, the soldiers. They were all part of one giant experiment. And he was failing. The grinning dog would be the last thing he saw.
My name is Althea Morgan. I’m the last remaining member of Outpost 352 of the New America Colony on planet designation F-Theta. I have stayed behind to man the defensive cannons in the hopes of giving the other colonists enough to get off the planet, but I’m not optimistic. The carrier doesn’t have enough fuel to do much more than get into orbit – this was always supposed to be a one-way trip – but they have to at least try.
They showed up on our outer perimeter scans about two weeks ago. We couldn’t figure out what they were at first. They were too small to be ships, too slow and orderly to be asteroids. We thought maybe something was wrong with the scanners – Devlin was pulling his hair out trying to find the malfunction. We finally got a visual on them three days ago. They’re…I don’t know what they are. They look like something out of a child’s nightmare. And, near as we can tell, they’re coming straight for us.
Jensen tried every way she could think of to communicate with them, but no response. Maybe they just can’t understand us. Maybe they don’t even know we’re here. They haven’t made any aggressive moves yet, but they haven’t deviated from their course, either. They just keep coming, in their neat little rows, each kind apart from the rest. Oh, I forgot to say that…they’re different kinds. Some of them have what look like long legs, others have appendages like antennae…maybe they’re actually different species that just travel together for protection.Wish we had a xenobiologist with us. Maybe then we’d understand them better.
Near as we can figure it, if these aliens have been on this course for a while, they passed right by G-Alpha. We tried to get in touch with the colonists there, but didn’t have any luck. At this point, we have to assume the colony is lost, and that we’re on track to suffer a similar fate. Whatever fate that is.
Kendall is getting everyone together right now. We drew straws to see who’d stay behind to fire the cannon. Markin drew the short straw but he has kids…he should be with them, whatever happens, so I took his place. The cannon’s got a decent range and mobility. Between the cannon and the outer barriers we have in place, I should be able to provide enough cover for the carrier to get away. Maybe it can make it to Alpha, launch a beacon…there’s always hope, right?
(sound of an alarm)
That’s the proximity alarm. Time to get on the stick. If you’re hearing this, I guess that means that I failed and they landed. Please, warn everyone you can about these invaders, especially the colonies here on the outer boundaries. And if you can, find Jack and Theresa Morgan in Plainview, Texas and tell them …
The walls of the city rise up around me, tall and foreboding and enclosing. No matter how far or how fast I run, I’ll never be free of these walls; I’ll never be free of this maze. One street leads to another and another still, and just when you think you’ve found the way out at last, you end up right back where you started.
But it wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t being chased. I don’t know what they are – sometimes I only catch brief glimpses of them, horrible and nightmarish reflections in mirrors as I flee for my life. What are they? Maybe they’re monsters trying to eat me. Maybe they’re just ghosts of my past. Maybe I’m imagining the whole thing. I don’t know, but I can’t stop running. All I know is that if they catch me, it’ll be the end. That’ll be it – game over.
The pills keep them away. The pills make them run. I don’t know what’s in the pills, but they work. They make me feel stronger, like I can fight back. But it doesn’t last forever, and I have to start running again. How long will it be until I run out of pills? They won’t last forever, and all I’m doing is racing against time.
Eating helps. Eating is the only thing that always helps. Every piece of mercifully fresh fruit and every little bite of bread makes me feel better … it keeps me going. It gives me the strength I need to run on. I have to run on. I can’t ever stop. Who knows what will happen if I do?
Heironimus T. Frog missed his grandpoles and he decided that he would visit them on this fine sunny day in May before he got too old. The problem was that the trip from his little pond to the river where his young tadpoles were hatching had become quite treacherous, ever since that busy road was put there. But Heironimus was nothing if not a stubborn old frog and he decided that he would see his sires today, traffic be damned.
So he jumped onto the first lane of the road, and looked to his left. No cars. There. That wasn’t so hard now was it. Then he looked to his right and was surprised to see a car barreling down on him at breakneck speed. Heironimus jumped to the next lane as quickly as his rubbery old frog legs would take him. But there was no respite there for a huge truck was speeding along in that lane too. He jumped back to the first lane and tried to catch his breath, but that didn’t last long either, for another car was coming. It was all Heironimus could to stay ahead of the traffic until he took a quick turn and dove into the river.
Now, you might think that the water would be safe for an old amphibian, but a big storm had swept through the region the night before and the fast moving waters were terribly dangerous for an old frog. There were also huge logs clogging the river from all of the downed trees. Luckily, Heironimus was able to jump on one of these before he got pulled under the terrible currents. Not so lucky was his next leap, which landed him in the mouth of clever Crocodile Jones who had disguised himself as a log in order to trick unsuspecting old amphibians.
Heironimus T. Frog met his end that fine sunny day in the month of May because he was too stubborn to admit that he was a old frog, and that sometimes the progress of the world is too much for one such as he. Next time, he should convince his grandpoles to visit him in his tiny little pond.
Please, madam, do have a seat and cease your incessant screaming. I merely wish to speak with you about the role of femininity and misogyny within the ruling class. I beg of you, do not be turned away by my frightening countenance and brusque ways. I can assure you, I will act with the utmost of respect. Madame, if you must continue screaming for help, I must insist that you do so elsewhere. My ears are delicate.
My butler tells me another guest has arrived. I do wish you had told me you wished to bring a guest, Madame. He will be arriving shortly, but I’m afraid we must wait for my chef to concoct another plate. You simply must try his flan de huevo, it is nothing short of heavenly.
It seems your guest has run into a bit of trouble. Let’s see here …
Oh my, I do apologize sir. I am afraid one of my wine barrels has come loose from its tethers and is now rolling perilously towards you.
Oh dear! A flame has erupted in my living quarters! I do hope you will avoid it at all costs, Mr.Jumpman. I will have that looked into directly. It just won’t do for my living quarters to be filled with soot and ash!
Oh my! In a highly unlikely series of events, it seems the barrel has rolled directly into the flame, creating a flaming barrel! It is careening towards you as we speak, Mr. Jumpman! Please do avoid it at all costs. I would hate for your magnificent mustache to be singed.
Well done, sir, very well done! I must applaud your triumphant display of acrobatics! Perhaps now we can all sit down together and enjoy a well-deserved meal. What’s this? The lady and yourself need to leave immediately? Why, of course. Just take that door to the right, and the butler will escort you out promptly.
… Well played, Mr.Jumpman, well played. Let’s see how you fare against the next room …