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Modern Settings

Originally Posted by Michael Silverbane View Post
Night's Black Agents (A GUMSHOE system game based around a vampire conspiracy)
While I'm not the biggest fan of GUMSHOE (it has a lot of good ideas on what it does, but the rest is a bit boringly standard), I have to recommend that if you get NBA, also get the Dracula Dossier. It's amazingly great, and contains enough material for multiple campaigns.

It's interesting, given the dominance of the genre in television and movies, that there aren't more games where you just play cops in a normal modern city.

(I know, the overlap of RPG players with fans of fantasy and science fiction in other media is probably close to 100%.)

For a game where you play law enforcement, you might want to try out Police Cops (for being cool police cops in a campy, 80’s, TV show).

I am envisaging a group of characters made up entirely of divorced men with drinking problems and Irish and Polish names who Don't Play By The Book, But Get Results.

Hmm well that's interesting. I didn't really think about a police thriller set in modern times.

The Dresden files actually is a real eye opener as I was looking to introduce some low-key fantasy / supernatural elements within contemporary location.

One of my modern settings is what I call 'Golden Dawn'. It started in the 1930's as a pulp fiction style game with people who had either extraordinary abilities or gear. There was a guy with a rocket pack (several actually) a person who could start fires with their mind, a guy who piloted a robot, a super spy, and on. Over the years time advanced until it met up with modern day and even a bit into the near future, or 'the day after tomorrow' if you will. It was never a true super hero game, but had elements of it and sometimes subverted the genre. Also because of the time span that the game ran it, I was able to incorporate time travel and pre-existing heroes from the past. The last time I ran it, the players were members of the Lamplighters Society and were trying to Solve a murder mystery that involved an android doppelgänger, a Nazi base in Antarctica, a German Luftwaffe Flying Saucer and aliens trying to conquer the world from their moon base. I'm not really sure what genre it is, really. I've used a variety of systems to run it including Marvel RPG, D20 modern, d&d3.5, and have hoped to kit up a fate game around it.

Originally Posted by KenL View Post
Good point on the broadness of the term. I was more thinking of settings within the modern scope of 'today'.

I suppose I should clarify it to be realistic modern with 'undertow' That undertow can be secret organizations, a shadowy secret world, supernatural elements. VTM would qualify as it takes place in 'modern' times as you noted but in a very almost realistic environment but at the fringe.
I could throw out a few ideas.
Firefly in the modern era?
Post WW2 to around the 80's or 90's was the boom time for tramp freighters. It's dwindled off since then, but still exists. Their biggest areas of operations are Central America (think Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean area), and the Indonesian area (basically the area between Australia and China) where there were a lot of islands of various levels of isolation that could often use the small to medium scale trade that Tramp Freighters brought.
Lots of opportunities for adventure there.
A ragtag group of modern adventurous spirits with a built in reason to be together and to have the sorts of skills and outlook you'd like without stretching credulity in a modern setting. Illegal smuggling, drug running or fights against cartels. Government clandestine operations, meddling with society and foreign governments. Isolated locations with the potential for mystical shenanigans, secret government experimentation, evil scientist lairs, etc to be stumbled on.
Personally if I was going to run it I'd dial it back to the 80's. The information age does kind of muck with that sort of game a bit.

Originally Posted by Penchant View Post
One of my modern settings is what I call 'Golden Dawn' <Snip> a Nazi base in Antarctica, a German Luftwaffe Flying Saucer and aliens trying to conquer the world from their moon base. I'm not really sure what genre it is, really.
I'd call it the Two-Fisted Tales part of the Pulp genre.

I'm curious if anyone has played 'Kentucky Route 0'

The themes visited there seemed pretty compelling for a setting on its own.

The issue with adventuring in the modern day is the technology and legalities if you're trying to 'keep it real'. Unless you're willing to bend the reality somewhat (easiest would be in the legal area) then being a "professional adventurer" is basically illegal today in Europe or the US. That isn't to say there aren't adventure elements you can have. Dan Brown's books show what I would consider to be light adventure but true to modern technology and legalities along with that touch of "other" you seem to be looking for. There's also the Supernatural TV series or the much better in my opinion Dresden books that have already been mentioned. Any of the books by Brad Thor or set in the "thriller" genre can be good inspiration as well.

I would advise you to start with defining what is "real" and what isn't. Are there angels and demons? Vampires and werewolves? Cryptids and ghosts? The Illuminati and other secret organizations? Mages and psychics? How do those fantastical elements blend in with today's internet, technology and 24-hour news cycle? Personally, I like throwing occasional fantastic elements alongside a lot of hoaxes to keep players on edge and not knowing what to expect.

I'm a GURPS fan, so I'd recommend that system's Horror, Special Ops, Illuminati and Espionage books for sources. Even if you're not using the system, the research in those books can help you figure out your world's setting and how to meld it with your plans for adventuring.

Although I do love SpatulaODoom's suggestion of Firefly as modern tramp freighters as well but as they said, you'd really have to set it in the 80s or 70s for it to work without tripping over today's technology and social-political-economic realities.

That depends entirely on your definition of "adventure." I can run a game, with a system, all about a couple of airline pilots flying around the country and getting into parties in different cities. And tell me that doesn't sound like an HBO Showtime Cinemax show.


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