by James Wallis
Alas Vegas, the first new RPG by James ‘Baron Munchausen’ Wallis in fifteen years, is running a Kickstarter campaign that ends on 28th February. Aiming to raise £3000 to cover the game’s art, the pledge drive has so far had more than £12,000 pledged, and unlocked stretch goals by game authors including Robin D. Laws, John Tynes and Gareth Hanrahan.
Alas Vegas is set in a mysterious desert city that looks like Las Vegas but isn’t. The locals call it ‘the Game’. The player-characters wake up in a shallow grave on the edge of the desert, with no memory of who they are or how they got there, and must rediscover their identities and history before they can come to understand the city, how they come to be there, and how they can escape it.
Along the way are encounters with celebrities and guest-stars, disappearing corpses, people who have seen too much, high-stakes gambling and at least one old-fashioned heist. If you wanted to describe it in a line, you’d say it’s Ocean’s Eleven directed by David Lynch.
The Alas Vegas rulebook contains a dedicated system of rules tied to this specific background, and an adventure that plays out over four sessions, using a self-contained RPG format known as a ‘blast’. At least, that was the plan until Kickstarter got involved. Now the rules have been spun off into a system known as ‘Fugue’, and there are two background/adventures included with the game: ‘Alas Vegas’ itself, and ‘Yet Already’, a game of time-travel and fractured realities by Gareth ‘Laundry RPG’ Hanrahan. If the total pledged passes £12,000 then a third background will be unlocked, ‘Warlock Kings’, a delicious slice of old-school fantasy pie featuring dark overlords, a coming war, and famous hand- and eye-based artifacts, by former Paranoia line-editor Allen Varney.
There are also articles from Robin D. Laws on using tarot cards to create ideas on the fly for RPGs—the Fugue system uses a tarot deck as its primary randomiser—as well as one on mixing Vegas-themed cocktails by John Tynes. And if the Kickstarter continues to go well, then new articles by Matt Forbeck, Rich Dansky and Mike Selinker will be added to the mix, as well as a fourth campaign setting. The Alas Vegas book has already doubled its original pagecount, and it may go higher still.
The game will have stunning tarot-based artwork by World Fantasy Award-winning artist John Coulthart, and a knockout cover by renowned video-game artist Niki Hunter. Alas Vegas will be published later this year by Pelgrane Press, once all the Kickstarter rewards have been sent out.
The Kickstarter page can be found here and James Wallis talked about the game and its genesis and structure in more detail in an earlier issue of Page XX here.