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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Retrospace: The Kamandi Hack!

Anyone growing up in the 70s was treated to the best of the incomparable Jack Kirby.  During that decade, this prolific writer and illustrator worked for both Marvel and DC comics, and we're richer for his awesome imagination.  From 1971-75, he worked for DC, where he spearheaded the excellent Kamandi before Marvel comics requisitioned his genius to close out the decade...

It was a GREAT time to read comics, and the Kamandi series, written, drawn, and edited by Jack Kirby stood alone!  

Kamandi imagined a great catastrophe (unspecified, but something involving radiation) that destroyed the world as we knew it and gave rise to something incredible in its place.  It's a world ruled by intelligent talking animals (the product of human research gone amok when civilization fell).  Humans, on the other hand, are primitive creatures largely confined to so-called human preserves.

The world, it appears, is over...

If you sense a parallel to Planet of the Apes, also popular at the time, you'd be correct.  But this is really a world of bulldogs, gorillas, lions, and even rats!  And unlike Apes, these animals are more technologically advanced, complete with motorcycles and guns stripped from the rubble and pressed to the service of their growing empires.  Political ambitions aren't just for humans!    

We highly recommend checking this series out if you like that sort of thing (I certainly do).  And it occurred to me that Kamandi suggests a compelling campaign setting.  Luckily, Kirby mapped this incredible world in all its awesome potential.

So I've decided to run a short Kamandi-styled campaign using Retrospace (our Blood of Pangea expansion).  This simple narrative game provides alien races easily tailored to Kirby's apocalyptic universe and all the technology (or a close facsimile) found in his futuristic setting.  One need only read the comics, familiarize themselves with its world, and make any needed tweaks...

The excellent world map is
practically all you'll need to know... 

So here's my Kamandi hack (so far):

GORILLAS are ORDIANS.  Big, strong, but not stupid! 

HUMAN characters must be intelligent and capable of speech, perhaps originating in some vault.  These are TERRANS per the Retrospace rulebook, being clever and resourceful.

KANGA RATS are MORI, one of the supplemental species.   

LIONS are KAZIN, although some adjustments for game balance might be necessary (no injury bonuses/damage points can be split). 

MUTANTS are treated as CYBORGS, resistant and capable of self-repair through genetic engineering rather than robotics.

English bulldogs and German
gorillas added some cultural flair! 

Of course, leopards and similar cats can be treated as lions and reptiles as Arturans or whatever.

You get the idea.  One of the great things about role-playing is customization and the sense of ownership you can only get from making a system your own!  And when you find something cool you want to experiment with, there's nothing out of reach...

There's more work to do.  Giant insects and (intelligent) killer whales flesh out this strange world, but most of these can be added on an "as-needed" basis using Retrospace.  This can be done using any system, limited only by the ambition of the GM, noting here that Retrospace is simple enough for a one-off adventure game.

Now Retrospace is typical of our games in that damage is more gradual (barring poison and traps), allowing players to survive long enough to enjoy the game.  But it CAN be lethal:

ALTERNATE GUN RULE: Archaic weapons deal standard damage, with firearms doing more (1d6, +1 for rifles).  This results in a lethal gameplay experience more in line with old-school stuff.

When I started gaming in 78', I was overwhelmed with the endless possibilities the hobby had to offer.  Any idea that struck my fancy could be incorporated into an existing campaign (AD&D, with it's many planes, supports this easily), including the great fantasy from the early 1970s.  Pre-gaming stuff mostly free of the conventions geekdom would quickly adopt, and Jack Kirby led the charge...

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