They took my blood, they took my car

Posted by Matthew on May 24th, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

It was an agonising wait, but the other night I finally saw Mad Max: Fury Road. I have been looking forward to this movie, ever since I read that 80% of it is done in practical effects. Anyone who knows the kinds of movies I love knows that I am a hopeless sucker for practical effects.

I was not disappointed. Mad Max: Fury Road is a great movie. Fantastically written, beautifully shot, engaging sound design and compelling acting. Easily one of the best movies I have ever seen.

What is great about Fury Road, though, is what it can tell us about tabletop game. The story is very simple, characters go from point A to point D via points B and C. It isn’t complicated or convoluted, but that premise is gradually build on using action and character interaction, to create a story that seems far more complex.

Mad Max: Fury Road

The first thing that spring to mind, people who could learn something from this movie, are roleplayers. Gamemasters and Dungeon Masters can take this as a lesson, that stories don’t have to be overly complex. They can be quite basic, a journey from one location to another. But as long as you provide something compelling for your players to interact with they probably won’t care that the story is so linear.

Also, you can create a party of players or begin a quest without having to resort to the traditional tropes, like meeting in a tavern. Fury Road does an excellent job of presenting a group of characters that, initially, you don’t think will ever become a team. One of them uses the other as a hood ornament for the majority of the first act! But gradually, through events that challenge the characters both individually and as a group, they become a natural unit. Their relationship doesn’t feel forced, but actually quite organic.

Mad Max: Fury Road

This lesson on linear progression can equally be applied to other tabletop games too, and is probably something worth keeping in mind for game designers. Sometimes games don’t have to be complex affairs. As long as all the players are engaged and having a good time, then it can be quite basic.

Any detail you add should contribute to the understanding of the game, much like the details in Fury Road. Each vehicle and character is a collection of individual flourishes and eccentricities. From the elaborate textured ceiling of the War Rig, to the garden trowel used to construct Max’s muzzle. Everything contributes to building the world without getting in the way of the basic story, and the fundamental understand of what is happening.

Mad Max: Fury Road

These little details are terrific, in a practical sense, for the miniature converters and modellers. Vehicles are fantastical amalgams of different cars, and everyday objects are repurposed in new and inventive ways. But most of all, even through the world is a bleak wasteland, there is still so much vibrancy in the colour and personalities. It gives miniature enthusiasts real inspiration to push what they can do with their painting and diorama building.

Mad Max: Fury Road is an amazing movie in its own right. What is even more amazing about it, though, is the way it blends a straight forward formula with the beauty of an artistic film. And what we tabletop gamers and hobbyists can learn from this is astounding.

What a lovely day to be a tabletop gamer.

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