B-movie Inspirations: Forbidden World (1982)
In his over 50 years of filmmaking, Roger Corman has to be one of the best sources where an RPG game master might look for inspiration. Any good GM that is also a B-movie fan should know who he is and has probably seen at least one of his movies. Forbidden World is not one of his best but it has some entertainment value as well as inspiration in it.
Bottom line, Forbidden World is a cheap rip-off of Alien. Even the creature looked like a bloated copy of a xenomorph. According to IMDB.com, Roger Corman originally wanted a sci-fi version of Lawrence of Arabia but settled for the Alien copy. Trust me, however, the clumsy puppet they used for it was so cheesy that it was embarrassing to watch. I also had a facepalm moment when I recognized the first few scenes that made up the space battle between the main character and some pirates as recycled scenes from another Corman movie, Battle Beyond the Stars. In addition, I recognized some sets that were recycled from Galaxy of Terror.
The basic premise of the movie is that far in the future where man has colonized many worlds a government enforcer/troubleshooter of some kind (Mike Colby played by Jesse Vint) is sent to investigate an incident at a experimental genetics station on some remote and desolate world. Why a remote and desolate world, I am not sure but the scientists are working on some means to solve the galaxy-wide food problem. Apparently, despite having the technology to colonize other worlds, we still do not have enough fertile worlds to feed all of us.
Of course, the foolish scientists, ever so obsessive about learning more about the universe, find themselves in trouble when they create a generic aberration they can not control. Part synthetic DNA, part human, this creature evolves rapidly and starts killing off station members one by one, turning some into food. I should note, along with all this gore, there are also a few sexually explicit scenes (R rated) and several gratuitous topless female scenes, so do not watch this with your kids.
The subtle subtext of the story was that the creature was keeping humans around to create a food supply for itself, tying it into the original premise of the station in a sort of ironic fashion. I thought that was kind of creative.
From an RPG game master point of view, this kind of story has been done before over and over again. It could be a strange creature summoned from another plane, or a magical golem created by a mad wizard. There are several seeds that you can draw from this.
- Something’s wrong at the station: Always a good plotline. Something has gone wrong at a remote location like on a space station, island, abandoned oil rig or derelict ship. Anything can happen there; the key thing is to have it mapped out. Like a first person shooter, plant supplies for the players to get. Perhaps place a key element clear across the location where they have to get past a peril to get to it. Instilling a sense of claustrophobia and limited resources always challenges a party. Have them keep track of their ammo, their supplies and the sense of fear will definitely set in.
- Alien intruder: Another plot line that requires a good and fully fleshed-out location, the alien intruder could be anything. The key to this is it has to be something that the players have not seen before or can not predict (something a little outside the typical Monster Manual creature). Use these kinds of plot lines to show your creativity in creature creation but also keep it balanced. The last thing you want the players to feel is railroaded into a unbeatable situation. Give them all the resources they need to defeat whatever they are facing.
- Mixing things you shouldn’t: Central to the theme of this movie is scientists mixing DNA from multiple sources. Although primarily a sci-fi idea, it can be applied to other genres. It does not have to be DNA. It could be types of magic or types of planer energies. It could be anything. The key to this is that it’s something forbidden or cutting edge; something no one has tried before. The experiments being performed can be forgotten or lost lore, something that someone has tried before and failed with dire consequences. This can be a true test of the imagination because even if it is something the players have seen before, the result can be totally original.
As I said, Roger Corman is one of the best resources for adventure ideas from movies. He has many decades of movies, transcending many eras of movie making. Forbidden World is not an original film but it has some good stuff in it if you can get past the cheese. Enjoy these movies for what they are worth. Inspirations!