Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cleared: Pandorum

Woo Hoo! 20 movies cleared! I finally got up the gumption to watch Pandorum and was glad I did. First of all, I'd forgotten that the movie stars Ben Foster, who I always really like as an actor, and this was no exception; he's as great as ever in this. Also, without spoiling things, for a sci-fi action-horror movie this has an incredibly hopeful thread that runs through it. Foster's character in particular is an amazingly gutsy, heroic and decent sort. He's also smart, which is nice to see. I enjoyed the movie a great deal, and I'd love to see a sequel that picks up a few years after the end of this one, though it would feel completely different. If you can handle a few scares and some gore, I'd recommend it. Oh, and a weird misconception the box art and posters give that I'm happy to dispel: the movie is not all about body horror involving tubes. Its scares come more from environmental dangers, claustrophobia, and madness.

RPG notes: [SPOILER WARNING] Everything I'm about to discuss in this part of this post is about as spoileriffic as spoiler-y spoilers can be. If you haven't watched Pandorum and want to, for the love of cinema, do so first and only then read further![SPOILER WARNING]

This one was packed with cool ideas, most of which are only truly revealed towards the middle-to-end parts of the film. The idea of a "last colony ship" with the sole survivors of humanity onboard escaping from a destroyed Earth is obviously one that's been done a number of times before, but some of the other elements are completely different. For example: the ship ISN'T actually in space at all, having crashed in the ocean on the planet they were headed to hundreds of years ago. Humanity actually IS saved, they just didn't realize it, and once they escaped from the hell that was the inside of the Elysium, you get a very strong sense that everything is going to be okay for them. The monsters inside the ship (evolved/mutated humans adapted to live inside a ship) were also an interesting, incredibly creepy touch and one that could make for a very cool set of opponents if done correctly. If I were going to run a game in this setting, I'd almost certainly start it about an hour after the movie finishes. That ship is full of resources, but it's also dangerous. The planet is dangerous in different ways, and also unknown, but also full of possibility. In fact, if you wanted to run a post-Pandorum game, there's actually an existing product with a lot of similar concepts that could be easily hacked to do it: Blue Devil Games' Dawning Star setting. The base concept, however, needn't be limited to sci-fi or even space travel games. Refugees trapped in an ark that's become a very dangerous place that need to escape to a better life that's waiting outside if they can just figure out what's really going on would work in fantasy, too. (You could do planar travel or even just a sealed "tomb" designed to wait out something like the Lunar Rain from Dragonmech or even some sort of other apocalyptic event (possibly even a cyclical one) that affects a fantasy world.


  1. Love the idea of Pandorum in a planar fantasy setting or the crypt. In fact, Earth Dawn has the idea of Kaer, underground vaults, magically protected, where humanity tries to wait out the Horrors. That would make a perfect place for a Pandorum type campaign.


  2. Thanks for commenting, Runester! Your podcast was the inspiration for the RPG notes portion of my blog, as I've mentioned.