B-Movie Inspiration: Outerworld (1987)
I have been trying to shorten my Netflix list this year and watch more of the lesser known movies to get them off my list. Some of those movies have been pretty bad and I can not believe I had them on my list for so long. Others had nuggets of coolness that got my mind thinking. Of course, my thoughts always go straight to gaming and what RPGs I can use these ideas in, but that’s just who I am.
An alien spaceship is being sought by various factions on Earth. A female cyborg and a rogue trader team up to stop evil forces from taking over the ship.
I found it hard to believe that this was 1987. I think they went back in post-production and added some CGI in the space battles because those were pretty decent for a low budget film. According to what I have read online, this was a micro-budget film, almost literally filmed in the backyard of the director or producer’s house. Considering that fact, this is a pretty good movie. It has special effects reminiscent of Gerry Anderson but also some CGI mixed in (which as I said was added in when the technology was cheaper). The acting is HORRIBLE! However, the story line was what I liked a lot. I also liked the style of the movie.
The story line and setting had some similarities to Babylon 5 and other near future settings. An alien ship just appeared in orbit around the Earth, abandoned and derelict. From that, we obtained technology to explore the stars. No other signs of this alien race have been found…until now. It is a mad dash to find this new relic of the ancient aliens.
Stylistically, it had homage to Alien and Blade Runner – more the latter than the former. Thematically, it had elements of a Phillip K. Dick story as well. Of course, the terrible acting and the patchwork set design was a distraction. If you can ignore that, though, it was a great story.
My mind was immediately pulled in by the initial premise of the movie. Here is a good line that grabbed me.
Since the initial discovery of the alien spacecraft in 2054 by the Antigen Corporation, we have located no other remnants of the Teserand culture. Why they abandoned the vessel? What do they look like? Where do they come from? Where did they go? All we have is a tantalizing piece of machinery and damned few answers.
This of course ties into the classic ancient alien plot lines that are present in many sci-fi settings – Babylon 5, Stargate, Star Drive, and Fading Suns, just to name a few. Any setting with built-in ancients could take advantage of this kind of plot line.
Of course, this is not an original idea, but it is still very cool. Alien artifacts drop out of nowhere and hurl humanity to a new level of technology. Like the monoliths of 2001: A Space Odyssey, this device takes man to its next level of advancement. I have always been fascinated by derelicts and wrecks; old houses and ruins. They all have stories to tell and this ship is no different. This could be a great jumping off point of a campaign or a cool premise of game setting.
The plot line to the movie is also a cool idea for an adventure. “They found another one and everyone and their brother wants it!” It’s fairly easy to see the potential in that.
Here are a few ideas that popped into my head for settings I have played:
- Setting: Fading Suns – The ancient ship is actually a ship from the Second Republic. It was found by a developing alien race and helped advance its technology. Now the human-centric Pheonix Empire has to face an alien race armed with technology roughly equivalent to the Second Republic. What would the Church say? An entire race “corrupted” by Second Republic tech?
- Setting: Fading Suns – Like the ship in Outerworld, the jumpgates affected human history in Fading Suns on many levels. It propelled them into interstellar space. Through the Second Republic, they found many of the jumpgates. But what if they found something else related to the jumpgates – an ancient key manufacturing ship or a jumpgate construction ship. There would be a mad dash to find things like that.
- Setting: Stargate – A Stargate team gates to a world where the people have tapped an ancient alien technology not seen before. They learn of the orbiting ancient alien ship and find that this people treat it as a holy sanctuary and no non-natives are allowed aboard. Of course, something will drive the players to that ship and they find something dark about it.
Those are just a few ideas that popped into my head while watching this movie.