Geiger Gamma: Three Sources of Conditions

August 10, 2011

In Geiger Counter, there are three sources of conditions. Collectively, we call these sources “the Menace.”

First, there’s pressures, which are environmental or circumstantial factors that place the characters in imminent danger, all by themselves. There’s a list of these and each one has 2-4 conditions attached to it. The list includes pressures such as being underwater, underground, in the dark, in space, in a research facility, on a ship, amidst ancient ruins, amidst hostile terrain, isolated far from civilization, or more specific things like being in the arctic, having some critical machinery just break, or facing an impending disaster like an approaching hurricane. Each game can involve more than one of these. After all, Alien vs. Predator takes place underground, in the arctic, amidst ancient ruins. That’s a bit much, but it’s a good example. The associated conditions clearly derive from the pressures, with the arctic being a great place for debilitating frostbite, for example.

Second, there’s ambitions that are unique to each character, often the reasons why they ended up in this pressure-filled deathtrap. A character might be here for thrill-seeking, science!, to rescue someone else, due to a poor choice of occupation, because they were forced at gunpoint, for the money, for the fame, to guide an expedition here, because they are an expert in something, to escape somewhere or someone else, due to desparation, because they are following orders, to do something impossible, to save the world, or for any other stupid or noble reason. Consequently, each character has a few conditions unique to their particular circumstances and hubris, recorded on their character card. Sometimes these conditions can also be given to others when that particular character is in play, since a character might carry a mysterious cursed artifact or expose others to danger through their recklessness.

Finally, there’s horrors, what were traditionally referred to as the menace, an abomination of science, nature, or the supernatural that stalks or swarms after the characters. Having horrors in your game is, in fact, completely optional. The pressures and ambitions your characters are saddled with are enough to doom them, but you can use any combination of pressures and horrors to form the external threats to the survival of your ill-fated band of misfits. Different types of horrors, of course, also allow for characters to be vexed with different types of conditions.

When it’s your turn to play the Menace, its your job to hit on whatever assortment of pressures, ambitions, and horrors makes the most sense to you and for the game. Bring on the storm, play up the captain’s self-loathing, or have the kraken pick off a crew member… or do all three. And there will be better guidelines — a cross between AW-style GM guidance and what I was already working on for Geiger Gamma — on how to do this in a really effective way.

Additionally, as you can already tell, breaking up the Menace this way makes it much more adaptable and open to hacking and new material, in the way that AW and Fiasco are. Creating new pressures, characters (w/ ambitions), and horrors is going to be part of the fun.

One Response to “Geiger Gamma: Three Sources of Conditions”

  1. ben robbins Says:

    Very innnnteresting. I’m listening…

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