© 2006, Guy Hoyle
It was a lazy summer morning on the mighty Missourippi River, which suited Wild Bill Shatner just fine. He's had a bit too much to drink in the parlor of the Proud Mary last night, and that green-skinned dance hall floozie had been a challenge even for his notorious amorous proclivities. His sometime compadre, Pecos Bill Clinton, sauntered up to the rail and watched as the big paddlewheel on the starboard side kept on turnin'. He looked none the worse for wear, even though he'd made himself available to half the unmarried women aboard the steamer last night, and some of the married ones, to boot. Or so Pecos said.
"Telegraph operator says there's no word from Frostbite Falls," Pecos Bill drawled. "Prob'ly just a line down," Shatner replied. His eyes narrowed, however, when they saw the cloud of smoke on the horizon, from just about where their next port of call should be. Without thinking, his right hand reached for the holster at his side. It wasn't there; no wearing sidearms on the ship, he remembered, and he swore.
Pecos Bill grinned and held up Wild Bill's gunbelt. "Thought you might need this when we make port."
A patch of color on the water, outlined against the gray smudge of smoke, caught the gunfighter's eye. "Looks like we might need 'em a sight sooner than that." He gestured with a shrug as he belted on the pair of six-shooters.
Pecos Bill's eyes squinted at the sails of the dragon-prowed ships rowing swiftly towards them, and his face went as gray as his immaculately-groomed hair. He started running for the ship's steward, yelling "Sound the alert! We've got half a dozen ships loaded with Minnesota Vikings comin' right at us, and I don't think they're here to play games!"
Arachnomerica is a game set in "historical" America of the Twentieth Century... from the perspective of someone a thousand years in the future, who doesn't particularly mind a few "artistic liberties" and historical inaccuracies in the name of a good story. While purportedly set in the Twentieth Century, anachronisms like Ben Franklinstein, Merrie Olde Newe Englande, and a tribe of Mongols led by Genghis Wayne also make appearances. Nuances of politics, culture, and history are forgotten or ignored. The result is a comic mishmash well suited to episodic comedy-adventures.
CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE
This setting borrows the premise of Heliograph, Inc.’s “Diana: Warrior Princess”: that of an Action/Adventure/Comedy “tv series” produced a long time in the future, with an inaccurate view of 20th century geography, culture and history (the way “Hercules” and “Xena” make a hash of Greek history and mythology).
While I adore the premise and most of the characters from the game, some of its references are a bit too uniquely British for my purposes; I wanted to set a campaign in America. Therefore, I came up with my own setting and characters, based in America. This campaign also owes a lot of inspiration to Jared Sorenson’s “octaNe: premium uNleaded” and its supplement, “Against the Reich!” by Paul Elliot and Jared Sorenson, especially the character roles I’m swiping as clichés for Risus (to be forthcoming.)
"Damnation Decade" by Robert Toth is a twisted alternate reality version of the Seventies. It's a world where California falls into the ocean, where "The Omega Man" and "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "Charlies' Angels" all coexist, and this world's version of Richard Nixon is still in office. Not for those with an acute sense of fashion!
I have also received some valuable suggestions from friends of mine, including Rich Fleider, John Harvey, and the members of the RisusTalk mailing list. Many thanks for your help, guys!
And mention must be made of Risus: The Anything RPG, which is the free game system I'll be using for this campaign, along with the utterly invaluable Risus Companion.