I’ve pledged to the Hillfolk kickstarter, and since I’ve read the pre-release draft version, I’ve had a couple of ideas for Series Pitches. Here’s the first one, in which I try to invoke movies like Crimson Tide, or books like Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October, or Patrick Robinson’s Nimitz Class, Kilo Class or HMS Unseen.
A DramaSystem Series Pitch
The crew of a nuclear submarine try to stay alive in a hostile ocean, after a new civil war breaks out in the USA.
The main cast are the key members of the submarine crew. Roles the players may adopt include:
- The Captain
- The First Officer
- Senior officers
- Senior NCOs
- Junior specialist sailors
The unthinkable has happened: the United States of America has erupted into a full-scale civil war. Fighting on both sides is brutal and casualties are high.
What caused the civil war to start?
How are the sides distributed geographically?
The PCs are part of the crew of a nuclear submarine, capable of remaining submerged for weeks or months at a time, whilst on patrol.
What is the name of the submarine?
Does it belong to the former USA, or does it belong to another country?
Is it a missile boat, or an attack boat?
Is it steaming the Atlantic, Pacific or Indian Ocean?
Where is its home base? Is it still safe to visit?
The US Military has split into two factions, each supporting one side of the war, which it feels is morally correct in the current conflict.
Which side does the crew of the submarine support and why?
The rest of the world is trying to avoid being pulled into the conflict, for fear of sparking another World War. However, the war in the USA is sending shockwaves through global financial markets, which are now on the verge of collapse.
Which countries, if any, have been pulled into the conflict, and which side(s) are they supporting?
Have the foreign powers allied themselves against both sides of the conflict?
How aggressively are they protecting their own interests?
Communications to the submarine are very limited since the war broke out. Whereas before the war, the submarine was in constant communication with the land based military hierarchy, the submarine has only been getting patchy communications at best in recent weeks.
Which side controls most of the US Military communications network?
How actively is the other side trying to gain control of it, or disrupt it?
Submarines are being actively hunted by both sides, because of the risk they pose with their stealth ability and weapons loads.
How aggressively is your crew involved in the fighting?
Are they doing their best to remain hidden, or are they regularly engaged in combat against the enemy?
Episode themes participants could invoke include:
- Allegiance: Which side does the crew pledge their allegiance to? Would they consider changing?
- Diplomacy: Sometimes talking is a better solution to problems than fighting.
- Hunted: No where is safe; someone is always trying to hunt down and destroy the submarine.
- Isolation: The crew is all alone, without support, in the middle of very large ocean.
- Loyalty: Who do the crew ally themselves with?
- Morale: With the situation so volatile, how is the crew’s morale affected?
- Mutiny: Will the whole crew act in unison, or will there be uprisings that need to be quashed?
- Paranoia: No one can be sure which side former comrades are allied with. What used to be a friendly vessel or port may have turned against the crew since they were last encountered.
- Recriminations: Will there be recriminations for the crew’s actions?
- Rules of Warfare: What constitutes a legal order? Is there a point where the rules of warfare no longer apply?
- Sabotage: Someone on board the submarine intentionally damages the vessel, putting everyone’s lives at risk.
- Scarcity: Supplies could run low, or it may be even something as simple as fresh air.
Tightening The Screws
- The submarine is badly damaged in a fight. Finding a safe port to make repairs is going to be hard.
- The submarine is now being hunted by foreign naval forces after being blamed for sinking a civilian cruise ship.
- Naval commanders order the submarine to do something that the crew find morally repugnant.
- A vessel from the opposing side sends out a distress signal. Do the crew respond and save their former comrades, or do they go in for the kill?