One of the movies that I actually hadn’t seen when I wrote School Daze was 1998’s The Faculty. I saw it not too long after publishing the game, and it made me think of School Daze instantly. The plot works like a high school movie is supposed to work, and the characters map to School Daze very well. It’s a little edgy (swearing and drug use), it’s violent, and it has a ridiculous factor that would make for a great session or campaign.
If you’re not familiar, The Faculty is an alien invasion movie. Think the faculty of a high school in Ohio (of course it’s Ohio) get taken over by parasitic, body-possessing aliens. It doesn’t take long before most of the town is taken over, minus our protagonists.
This post is going to spoil basically everything about the movie, so if you want to see how it goes down yourself, go check it out. As of this writing, it’s on Netflix.
And speaking of…
How the Characters Map to School Daze
Marybeth Louise Hutchinson
You’ll notice that not everyone has three Ranks. The film doesn’t really flesh out all of the characters equally, and the Ranks in School Daze don’t quite cover the nuances of the characters that seem to be shallow at first glance.
Each of the characters doesn’t start off with much of a Motivation, either. Those that are present are pretty thin, and they get eclipsed by Oh Shit, We Need to Survive pretty early on. That indicates to me that this movie isn’t a single session of the game, but a short campaign.
How the Plot Maps to School Daze
Here’s where the meat is. When I wrote School Daze, I didn’t give any tools for working with the plot of a movie, or adapting a movie to the game. I said “we all know how high school movies go” and left it at that. This article is going to be the start of making a template or plot arc that can generally work for School Daze games. It’s going to evolve as I write them, as I get feedback, and as I analyze more movies.
This post is only going to make it to the point where the plot really kicks into gear, because that’s when things start to get a little complex, game-wise. I was hoping I’d be able to include that part in this post as well. However, when I started writing this, I realized I’d need more time to do it justice. That’ll make this a two-part post (or more, if needed).
Step One: The Setup
The Faculty starts off with the kind of setup that the Administrator would need to do before the game. The aliens have come and have started possessing some of the faculty. The Administrator would need to decide who’s possessed, what makes the most sense in terms of story tension, and what would work the best in terms of introducing the students to the problem. The Faculty does this primarily through passing interactions: weirdness in the hallways, sustained looks as a teacher walks into the lounge, etc. Those setup moments give the students the idea that something’s wrong, but no idea what it actually is.
Step Two: Introductions
This is where a typical game of School Daze kicks off. “It’s 7:15am, about 15 minutes before the first bell. Where are you and what are you doing?” We get an intro to each of the characters here. It’s one that gives you a really good snapshot of who they are in and of themselves, and in some cases, who they are to each other. Those connections are good to foster in a School Daze game.
At a convention, I tend to ignore the Relationships section of the character sheet. In its original design, it was intended for the creation of NPCs. I’m starting to think that it can also be a place where players can write down how they’re connected to one another, if they are. I lean heavily on my ability to make different character agendas intersect when I’m running a convention game. That makes Relationships not matter as much for con games. Here’s a change I’ll propose, based on these thoughts.
- Relationships don’t have to be NPCs. They can connect one Student to another. And those connections don’t have to be shared. Very often one person can think they have one type of connection, while someone else views that connection differently, or doesn’t even think it exists.
In this section, we also get a small glimpse of each character’s initial Motivations. They’re pretty simple, for the most part, and they begin to crumble quickly as the real threat of the plot presents itself. That says to me that School Daze should have more room for that, as well. Again, in convention games, I take all of the different Motivations and tie them together. A home game or campaign should have room for character motivations to change. That brings me to another proposed change:
- Character Motivations can be changed more frequently than from year to year. Depending on the type of game you’re going for, they can change session to session.
To Be Continued…
As I said, this is proving to be a deeper subject than I thought, and one that I want to give more time and attention. I’m going to come back to The Faculty next week and give a bigger breakdown of the main plot and how it can work in the form of a School Daze session.
So, we’ve got two possible changes that could work to make School Daze function more effectively. I’m going to examine those potential changes in more detail in later posts, too. For now, go watch The Faculty and let me know what you think about how it would work for School Daze.