Among the aforementioned RPG campaigns I am currently running is a game called Extended Mission. One of the free role playing games designed for the 24 Hour RPG project that I discovered at 1KM1KT, Extended Mission is the brainchild of talented mad genius Jim Clunie. I hope Mr. Clunie can forgive me for what I did to his game.
The original premise of Extended Mission is that you essentially play space probes that have been sent to a previously ruined Earth from a colonized Mars in the 25th century to find out if the homeworld is habitable again. An awesome idea and a great alternative concept for sci-fi gaming. Unfortunately I also felt it was a hard sell to most of my players and not an easy game to run long term.
Now its extremely rare that I come across a concept that I like and don't have the uncontrollable urge to mess with it royally. As a matter of fact, the more I like it at its very core, the more I want to expand it and screw around with it. While trying to think of how to do that with Extended Mission I found myself watching several show on the National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel such as Life After People and Aftermath: Population Zero. Inspired but a bit depressed by these programs I decided to switch gears and put on my DVD copy of WALL*E. And then it hit me...
The players are all various types of artificially intelligent droid-like robots on a robot piloted exploration ship. The PCs and their craft have a tech level and look that's akin to science-ficition of the 1970's. I used a variant of Extended Missions rules but customized the probe/robot building system to allow more options and still keep it very, very rules-lite.
Activated after an unknown amount of time being offline, a glitching message tells them to alter course and investigate a planet which appears to be emitting an intelligent radio signal. After encounters with the nearly dead planet's strange lifeforms, hostile terrain and dangerous weather, the PCs encounter other robots considerably more advanced then themselves. After a battle and a quick escape to repair and regroup they are able to decode the original message and the radio signal. The alien planet is none other then the Earth thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of years in the future.
In the two adventures we've played we've learned only that the Earth, several moon bases and a few other areas of the Solar System were devastated in a civil war many millenia ago. Mars appears to have faired better but we haven't gone there because the hostile enemy robots are using it as a base.
So far its one of the best campaigns I've run in a long time. Having only two players and myself at the start, we've added one new player (a lovely young lady and first time gamer named Ashley) who picked up the rules and the story right away (probably helped that she is a big anime/manga and console/computer gaming fan).
So I want to apologize to Jim Clunie for twisting his creation beyond all recognition and thank him profusely for inspiring one of my coolest games ever. To you Jim!