Sporting Events in RPGs
With the World Series having just ended my mind is on baseball. I love baseball. Originally a New Yorker and having grown up primarily in Connecticut, I'm still a Mets fan despite having lived inthe Boston area for nearly twenty years now. And I'm in a little bit of mourning right now given the Mets lost to the Royals in the World Series. Though given the pain of the past few years, I'm really able to focus on "omigod we made it to the World Series!!!"
Off the top of my head, I don't think there's a lot of RPG adventures in which sporting events are featured prominently. I'm sure there are some but I don't think they're incredibly common. It's a pity because they're opportunities for all sorts of scenes. There is of course the possibility of battles in an arena. I did one of those in my Star Wars game - before Attack of the Clones featured one. It was a somewhat similar scene - some PCs had been captured by an Imperial Moff and were being made to fight in an arena. The remaining PCs burst in to rescue them.
Once upon a time I had a brief Star Trek campaign featuring a starship that was bouncing from one parallel universe to another. Universes where the Borg triumphed, universes where the Klingons and the Federation were embroiled in a never-ending war. One of the adventures had a bit of a convoluted setup but was rather fun. The Federation existed in this future Earth but Earth had diverged in a major way in the 1860's with a Confederate victory in the American Civil War. The late 1990's and early 2000's featured a gradual rapprochement between the USA and CSA, with a World Series established between the champions of the USA and CSA baseball teams. Drawing on some of then-Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker's controversial comments, I made his parallel version an extreme racist for the alternate Atlanta Braves. This version became legendary for a famous handshake and friendship established with that universe's Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs in the parallel 2000 World Series (It's worth noting that in such a universe the Braves would never be in Atlanta as they got their start in Boston.) The Romulans of the parallel 24th century had gone back in time to stop this event from happening and the PCs had to stop them or the parallel Federation would cease to exist. Weird, I know, but fun. Lots of running through the locker rooms and hallways of baseball stadiums, chasing after Romulans who were supporting racist groups planning to set off a bomb.
Now that I think of it, one of the things I like about making use of sporting events is how interesting the environment is:
- Lots and lots of people - innocent bystanders, chances to get lost in crowds, people getting in the way of chases, etc.
- Interesting environment - the spectator sections, the field, the locker rooms, luxury boxes, etc.
- The security - checkpoints at entrances, restricted areas, etc.
- Lots of attention - people pay attention to major sporting events. If you're part of a secret government conspiracy dedicated to stopping the monsters of the Cthulhu Mythos, getting caught on camera running across a baseball diamond with a horde of Deep Ones chasing you is not the best of ideas.
Oh and for good measure here are the comments of John Rocker from the December 27, 1999 Sports Illustrated when asked if he'd ever play for a New York team:
I'd retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing... The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?[