Reading for fun and gaming: Seven Ancient Wonders

Control-PanelIdeas do not grow on trees, one of my teachers used to say – but truth to be told, they can be found almost anywhere.
The trick is not finding the right idea – it’s finding two or three ideas, and rub them together in the right way to spark something that’s more than the sum of those ideas.
That’s why we pay novelists, storytellers and game designers.
Because that’s their job.
Then we can just stea… ehm, get inspired by their work.

Consider, if you will, the works of Australian adventure thriller champion, mister Matthew Reilly, and his novel Seven Ancient Wonders

Matthew ReillySevenAncient.jpg
Seven Ancient Wonders
MacMillan, 2005

This one is an almost ready-made campaign packaged as a fast-paced, no-holds-barred novel.
Read-it & Run-it, really.
It’s a fun read, it can be easily acquired for cheap and will not displease lovers of old pulp narrative.

It features it all

  • a small team of crack operatives
  • thrilling locations
  • ancient mysteries
  • superscience and ultratech
  • an assortment of bad guys
  • traps, a lot of traps (sliding ceilings a specialty)
  • codes and puzzles and hieroglyphs
  • a well-defined, ready-made timeline

Drawbacks:

  • might require some railroading
Photo of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the last o...

Photo of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a nutshell

 . Highly priced commodity: the Golden Capstone of the Great Pyramid

 . Might require some assembly: comes in seven pieces

 . As seen in: very secret or rare documents preserved in unlikely places

 . Only one previous owner: Alexander the Great

 . Other interested parties: the (evil) USA Govt.; “Old Europe” (unholy coalition of Italy, France, Germany and the Vatican); various terrorist organizations

 . Your mission, should you decide to accept it: Retrieve the seven pieces of the Capstone on behalf of a consortium of small nations, and in doing so, save the world.

 . Have gun, will travel: Europe, Mediterranean Area, Africa, Near and Middle East (you do not break an artifact in seven pieces to keep them all together)

 … and a side serving of: kids with (pretty limited but plot-essential) special powers; cool animal companions for the main characters

The novel is fast and satisfying.
Great literature maybe it is not, but we are not running a reading circle, we are running a Savage Worlds game.
And Seven Ancient Wonders  can very easily be adapted to a SW game – you’ll need the basic handbook and little else.
OK, maybe a detailed world atlas (or sat pics off Google Earth – the team will love them as handouts), and some work to prepare the vehicles.
As a bonus for gamers, the book comes packed with maps for all the key locations.

Set to a 20% investigation, 80% furious action, it is almost too good to be true as a source for Savage Worlds.
The setting is very near future – say next year – but with a minimum of tweaking can be redesigned to be played in the 1930s-1950s time bracket.
Just add Nazis…

Which also means this might fuel a high-octane campaign for Call of Cthulhu (there’s Egyptian artifacts in it, right?) or even a game of Conspiracy X (considering the amount of conspiracies, evil government agencies and assorted stuff). And really, this would work just great with the old reliable, Dark Conspiracy (where big calibers and high explosives are the norm).
Or indeed, with TORG!
And yes, of course, Delta Green.

 

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