DD-MICHAEL CRICHTON’S SCIENCE PARK DISASTER GAME

MICHAEL CRICHTON’S SCIENCE PARK DISASTER GAME

In the fast-paced super science world of Michael Crichton books and movies (Jurassic Park, Westworld, Futureworld, etc.) scientists make remarkable discoveries and invent things that shake the very foundation of our understanding of the universe. And what, inevitably, is the first thing scientists do with these discoveries? Why, build a theme park of course!

But often these scientists are so preoccupied with whether they could, they don’t stop to consider if they should. So, just as inevitably, disaster strikes!

This is where you come in. In this cooperative game, you play as one of the denizens of a Crichton-style science park on the day when everything goes wrong!

GETTING STARTED

This game will require a few players, some paper, 6 sided dice for every player, and an MC, which usually stands for Master of Ceremonies, but in this game stands for Michael Crichton.

The MC acts as a director of sorts, making sure the characters get equal time to shine, playing non player characters, keeping things moving at a good pace, and deciding when scenes end.

First, as a group, choose what kind of science park you’re playing in. It can be based on any science, but (and this is important) you must NOT look up any in-depth scientific information to help. Research is not the Michael Crichton way. Here are some ideas you can choose from if you need a place to start:

Dinosaurs

The Deep Sea

Themed Androids

Mars Tourism

The Human Body

Superintelligent Apes

Virtual Reality

The Earth’s Core

ROLES AND GOALS

Once you’ve decided on the park’s theme, choose a character that interests you. Each character type also has a goal that they want to achieve. Achieving these goals means you survive the Showdown against the park’s biggest threat. Don’t worry too much about that at the start of the game; you don’t have to know exactly what the target of your goal is right off the bat. Rather, as you play, keep your character goal in mind. If the goal asks you to make a decision, remember- specificity is more interesting than being vague. 

Here are the characters you can choose from:

Role                    Goal

Precocious Child

Something in this park could become your ally. It might be a literal character or creature that you make friends with or in a more abstract sense you might find a thing or activity to be your ally, such as a computer system you know like the back of your hand. When you use this to help someone other than yourself, you have achieved your goal.

Insane CEO

There’s something you haven’t told anyone. Something about the park that would be damning if it ever got out. Play a scene to show what this is and feel free to get input from the other players. Once you’ve decided, it’s time to hurry. You’ve got to cover it up and keep this PR disaster from getting any worse. If none of the other characters find out about this, you succeed. 

Harried Park Administrator

Your career is everything to you. You are not about to let this park get destroyed. You want to FIX IT. If the park is saved and not merely abandoned, you succeed. If it’s beyond saving? There’s still a way out. Help the majority of the other players achieve their goal and this counts as achieving yours.

Hot Scientist

One of the other characters is your love connection. If they return your feelings in a dramatic way, you succeed. Clear this with the player playing your romantic interest first. If it doesn’t fit anyone’s character work with the MC to choose an NPC. You may choose the Precocious Child BUT in this case “love” must be the love of parenting. 

Frightened Tourist

You just came here to get away from it all. It will be fun, they said, the triumphs of science they said! Well now look what happened. This park is a minefield and you are about to step in it. If you get yourself into deep trouble and have to be rescued by the rest of the group or if you rescue someone else in the group by yourself, you succeed.

Duplicitous Park Employee

They say crisis is a combination of danger and opportunity. You know the location of some corporate secrets to sell- if you can get out of this place. Where are they? What do they look like? Blueprints, stock projections, frozen embryos? If you can get them without letting anyone else in the party know what you’re up to, you succeed.

Gung Ho Big Game Hunter

Someone or something in this park is stalking you. You can sense it, biding its time. Introduce a scene about your enemy. Who or what are they? Note that this must be different from the park’s biggest threat that you will face in the showdown. This is personal. If you are victorious in the hunt, you succeed.

Write down your choice on a piece of paper and give this character a name. Share your thoughts with the other players and MC, and discuss if your characters might know each other before the events of the Disaster.

SKILLS

Next, rate your skills. Each character has 4 skills, rated 1-4, with the higher numbers being things your character is best at. Each player can add an additional +1 to any skill they like. 

SKILL

DESCRIPTION

Science

Anything related to scientific fields- park related or otherwise.

Park

Knowledge of the park and its inner workings.

Heart

Ability to connect with other people- or creatures.

Fighting

How good you are at any form of combat.

Whenever your character does something with a significant chance of failure, roll your six-sided die for the relevant skill. If you roll under your number, you succeed! If you roll your number exactly, you crit! Tell the table something really good that happens on top of the success to help you out.

If, however, you roll above your number, that’s a complication! Tell the table what happens to make things more difficult or dangerous. If you’re stuck on what to do for a crit or complication, feel free to ask the table for suggestions.

SCENES

A Scene, in this game, is just a way of saying a sequence of events where characters interact and something happens to drive the plot forward. There are no dead ends in this game, even failing means something happens. Scenes end in logical places when the MC chooses to cut away. The next scene starts with the person who called for the scene giving a brief set-up. (e.g. “You escaped the great white in your mini sub. But as you approach the Coraldome, you hear a distress signal coming from within!)

The MC will call for scenes in the scene order. Players can optionally call for scenes that are based primarily around their character Goals when they feel it is necessary and when it follows from the fiction of the story. These scenes can be called for as soon as the current scene is over.

SCENE ORDER

  1. Introductions- Play out a scene to introduce your characters. If it makes sense to introduce multiple characters at a time, do so.

  2. Accidents waiting to happen- Play a scene of daily life at the park from all the characters’ points of view. Players should decide what is the park’s “accident waiting to happen”. Cut corners? A saboteur? Corporate espionage? Robot sentience?

  3. Things go horribly wrong- Play out the disaster. But know this- every crisis has a way of bringing our group together as a team.

  4. Making a plan- How are your characters going to deal with the park falling apart? Can it be fixed, or will you need to make your escape?

  5. Obstacles- Each player at the table should describe one obstacle their character knows of that stands between them and executing the plan. Play out overcoming these obstacles as a team.

  6. Showdown- Before the plan can succeed, there will be a showdown with the park. Play out this encounter that pits you directly against the park’s biggest threat.

  7. Executing the plan- You have faced many complications. Is your plan still viable? Play out what ultimately happens.

  8. Epilogue. Give a short summary or play a short scene of what happens to your character after the events of the park.

This game text is ??Derring-Do! Games, Sept. 2020.

Find me on Twitter, @FeatofDerringDo or on Reddit as /u/FeatsOfDerringDo

I do not own the name Michael Crichton, his novels and screenplays, or any of their derivative works. This game is a work of parody and is not meant to imply affiliation or ownership by the Michael Crichton estate or his publishers. It is presented in good faith to any Crichton copyright holders.

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