Roleplaying in the Modern World
I recently went to see a new British film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels , and thought: Why don’t we ever roleplay in a world like this?

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, it is a fast-paced, witty, and often violent journey through the criminal underworld of London’s East End as the four lead characters, Eddy, Tom, Bacon and Soap attempt to raise half a million pounds to pay off a gambling debt that Eddy has run up on their behalf.

Thinking further, it occurred to me that whilst novels, films and television programs are almost entirely set in the modern world, with science fiction, horror, fantasy and super hero stories a minority pursuit, the situation in the roleplaying world is almost the reverse. In fact, it almost seems to be a rule that a roleplaying setting has to have something that sets it apart from our world, either magic, technology, or people that possess incredible powers.

Why? The perceived wisdom is that our world, late 20th century Earth, is a boring setting for action or intrigue which needs additional elements to spice it up, be they super-powers, supernatural creatures or alien invaders. Yet this premise would seem to be contradicted by about 80% of the action films produced by Hollywood.

So my suggestion is this. Set a roleplaying scenario in the modern world. No vampires. No spaceships. No supernatural horrors erupting from below. No pumped up heroes with bullet proof skins or hands of flame. Populate it with assorted criminals, policeman (bent or otherwise), cash and greed. Light the blue touch paper and stand back.

Maybe you’ll be surprised.
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copyright © 1998 Jonny Nexus