Friday, August 11, 2017

Razorfist on "The Road Warrior", & the Car Wars Connection

Razorfist continues Mad Max Month with the best film in the franchise: The Road Warrior.

Remember when I said that this series had a big influence on Car Wars? This film is the reason why. While the game doesn't worry so much about gasoline, and the people tend to use firearms (and more advanced weapons) more often, the general idea is the same: limited nuclear exchange lead to economic collapse, civilization is in city-states and the countryside is contested territory, militarization of common vehicles is omnipresent and as such a class of warriors--"autoduelists"--arose to fight the new battles.

While Car Wars is a tabletop wargame (of the cheap sort; paper maps and cardboard chits with standard dice), the setting has plenty of room for tabletop role-playing- something the original edition allowed for by making your Driver into a PC you can use outside of the vehicle. When GURPS Autoduel came along, that potential got explored fast with a series of setting guides by region- itself an outgrowth of a regular feature of Autodeal Quarterly.

That's when the influence of the Mad Max films became clear, and the "V-8 Western" vibe really took shape. There's no world-shaking threats. There's no epic quest narratives. It's more like Conan's pre-kingship tales, where he's just a man making his way through the world. That's your standard autoduelist: an adventurer, gunslinger, etc. doing his best to earn a living with the skills he's got. It's just that his skills often put him into conflict with others, routinely including others like him working for the opposition. Sometimes it's personal, sometimes it's business, and sometimes he's just in the wrong place at the right time. (Compare with Knight Rider, sans the backing of the Knight Foundation.)

That sort of fun has been sorely lacking, and even in the franchise now they've lost that plot to a significant degree (to the point of making Max an irrelevant character in a film with his name on it), but it's never gone away from Car Wars because you're not The Hero. You're Just Some Guy. Gaming works best when this is explicit, because--due to practical realities--it routinely comes across as shallow and hollow when The Hero is attempted (and fails). Gaming and fiction have sicknesses beyond the obvious stupidity of SJW bullshit; that "Save The Cat" crap is just as bad, and it's time it too got hit with all guns blazing. It is time to restore room to more personal adventures, as many of the classics presented. Not everything needs to be Personal and Epic.

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