B-Movie Inspiration: Narcopolis (2015)
I came across another movie while browsing my streaming options that intrigued me by the movie poster and the name. Not knowing anything about it other than it was sci-fi, I decided to give it a try. Sometimes I will start a movie like this and stop it after the first 5 minutes while other times the movie will grab me and I will watch it to the end.
Narcopolis starts out a little weird but eventually starts to make sense as time goes on. Eventually you find out that it involves time travel and that’s why it’s confusing. If you know it involves time travel, it might make more sense but I went in blind. Narcopolis is a reference to a near future world where all drugs are legalized in the UK. It stars Elliot Cowan, Jonathan Pryce, Harry Lloyd, and James Callis (of new Battlestar Galactica fame). Cowan plays Frank Grieves, a cop that gets drawn into a weird case that involves a mysterious corpse with strange symptoms. The corpse arrived in Grieves’ purview via the opening scene which takes place 20 years later.
The movie turns into a long and somewhat brooding intrigue-filled chase scene as Grieves digs deeper into a plot that involves the largest supplier of legal drugs in the UK and some time jumping rebels. These time jumpers are using some kind of injection into their neck that enables them to travel through time. That really does not sound all that precise but whatever works. I think that gets into the whole premise of the movie.
The movie ends with a surprise ending. I will leave that to the reader to find out about. Overall, the movie as a pleasant surprise. There were some slow moments that I had to fast forward to but it kept me wondering to the end. I had to find out what was going to happen in the end.
But at the center of the movie was sort of a Timothy Leary-esque approach to drugs and the human brain. Very subtly, the premise basically says that opening the mind through drugs, especially the designer drugs this big company was pushing out, can open the potential of the mind. So much so, that one can access the power to travel through time, with the right mix of narcotics.
One of the oldest tropes of sci-fi movies like this is that “we only use 10% of our brain” and in saying that, it poses a question of what if we used all 100% of it. The movie (and subsequent TV series) Limitless dealt with this in a much more subtle way. So in an RPG, what does this mean? Can a drug be used to give players temporary abilities? Imagine a super hero game where the players are normals that gain their abilities through drugs. Or a transhuman sci-fi game where abilities begin to rise in a transhuman colony because of drugs given to them to survive the harshness of their world. It could be a very cool gimmick for a one shot. It also can be an interesting campaign, chasing down the manufacturers of these drugs and having to take them just to fend off their thugs along the way.