Movies To Use for MegaRuins Inspirations

One common response to yesterday’s MegaRuins campaign ideas article was to ask “what kinds of ttRPG adventures would happen in this setting?” That’s a great question, and one I feel too few ttRPG campaign ideas address. The short answer is “anything you like,” since MegaRuins was conceived as a setting, not a specific plot or theme, but that’s not particularly helpful to a GM looking for inspiration. So, instead, here’s a list of movies that I believe are good inspirations for MegaRuins ttRPG plots.

These movies ALL have a range of content warnings to consider before watching them. Please take appropriate care for yourself, and maybe check out a site such as doesthedogdie.com if there are ideas and visuals you don’t need getting added to your head. (Goodness knows I’m not always in the right headspace to witness recreations of cruelty, horror, or trauma).

(Art by azstondesgins)

Aliens (1986)/Attack the Block (2011), Deep Rising (1998)/Gremlins 2 (1990)/Re-Animator (1985)/Resident Evil (2002)/The Silent Sea (2021)/The Thing (1984)/Virus (1999)
The “trapped somewhere with unexpected horrors” genre includes a lot more than the movies I listed, but they feel representative. Whether a secret lab or ground zero of some new threat, the area is remote or locked down and they aren’t trapped in there with you… you’re trapped in there with them.

The more interesting the “there” you are trapped in, the more fun as a ttRPG scenario. It’s one thing to face a shapeshifting alien mutant zombie in an underground lab run by a mad AI, and something very different to do it on the city-block-sized gondola of a rotating ten-mile-high Ferris wheel arcology… with a mad AI.

The Belko Experiment (2016)/Mayhem (2017)
You might want to change why this happens (this is a great place for a rogue AI to make terrible decisions for what it feels are logical reasons, for example), and you can change from just an office environment to any sealable section of your MegaRuin/MegaStructure, but the core idea of Battle Royal In A Building remains both a good kickoff for a dystopian campaign, and a nice backdrop to set something else for the PCs to have to do, like rescue someone important (a la Escape From New York) or use the distraction for a heist (shades of Army of the Dead).

Daylight (1996), Meteor (1979), The Poseidon Adventure (1972 and 2005… and Poseidon in 2006), Skyscraper (2018), The Towering Inferno (1974)
If I was splitting hairs more narrowly I’d make a distinction between movies where you are trying to prevent or mitigate a disaster, and those where you are just trying to survive it. Both plots are great sources of ttRPG scenarios, though since a Gm has less control than a scriptwriter you may end up planning to run one of these plots and end up with PCs (though great success… or great failure) end up mostly tackling the other. And, of course, there’s the related sub-genre of running rescue missions in such conditions, which leans more closely to San Andreas (2015), Volcano (1997), and The Wave (2015), or of crooks using the opportunity to try to pull off a crime such as in Hard Rain (1998) or The Hurricane Heist (2018).

Die Hard (1988), Dredd (2012), The Raid (2011), The Rock (1996)
Criminals in buildings, and the need to stop them/survive their plot/get to them, can have the dystopian and/or scifi level ratcheted up when instead of a highrise, the building is an underground megacavern saltmine arcology, miles-long bridge city connecting continents, or any other MegaRuin.

Escape From New York (1981), Escape Plan (2013), The Platform (2019)
Whether the MegaRuin has been turned into a prison out of convenience, or it had a prison to begin with that’s now far more dangerous or uncontrolled than planned, dystopian prison stories offer a lot of options for PC adventures.

High-Rise (2015)
This is much more about societal breakdown than the kind of action-adventure I tend to thin of as near-future-dystopia ttRPG hooks… but there are a lot of different types of games and gamers out there, and this could translate very easily to a crumbling MegaStructure gone wrong.

Cube (1997), Death Race (2008), Death Race 2000 (1975), Escape Room (2019), The Most Dangerous Game (1932 and 2022), Hunger Games (2012)
The why can be adjusted to meet GM taste, the core issue is that the PCs have been put someplace full of traps, killer vehicles, and/or other contestants, and are being watched and hunted. Maybe it’s a 1-time thing… maybe it’s a weekly broadcast for the depraved masses.

Das Boot (1981), Murder on the Orient Express (1974 at al), Snowpiercer (2013), Speed (1994), The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974 and 1998), Train to Busan (2016), Under Siege (1992), Unstoppable (2020)
Very little links these movies except that they all primarily take place on or around a vehicle… and that’s my point. Watching all of these should give you a great idea how to have a special setting influence lots of different genres of story, and that insight applies directly to doing near-future stories in structures that don’t exist yet. It’d be easy to put Speed on a building-sized dirigible, Murder on the Orient Express in an underwater mansion with hours before the next sub shuttle comes along, or Unstoppable on a space elevator car heading up toward the top anchor at dangerous speed.

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on October 20, 2022, in Adventure Design, Adventure Sketch, Microsetting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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