Dark Fates, Dystopia, Cyborgs and RPG – why we’re all obsessed with the end of the world
It’s one of the most frequently imitated scenes in movie history. Having taken its place in pop
culture notoriety alongside other often-quoted lines such as ‘I am your father’ and ‘you were
only supposed to blow the bloody doors off’, there are surely few people in the world who
haven’t at some point or another ominously uttered the words ‘I’ll be back’ (preferably in a
dodgy faux-Austrian accent whilst rocking a leather jacket and a pair of Gargoyle’s Ansi
The Terminator franchise is now thirty-five years old which means, given the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s titular character was supposedly from the year 2029; we’re now just one decade away from a time in which director James Cameron envisioned there was a good chance we would be living in a world of human-like cyborgs and murderous artificial intelligence. Thankfully, while there are more than a few people who would undoubtedly argue that we’re not that far off living in a world dominated by machines, we remain, for the time being, blissfully cyborg free.
The latest instalment in the Terminator series, Terminator: Dark Fate will be released in theatres across Australia on 31st October. The sixth film to feature the T-800, Dark Fate is the fifth in the series (let’s not forget that 2015’s Genysis was, in fact, a sort of reboot rather than a continuation) but also a direct sequel to the franchise’s second outing, Judgement Day. Confusing? That’s time travelling robots for you.
Whilst Terminator; Dark Fate might not be a Halloween movie in the traditional sense - aside
from acting as a catalyst for a worldwide explosion of Sarah Connor-inspired party costumes
- the release of the film is remarkably well-timed. Halloween is a time for scares, frights, and
things that keep you up at night.
And nothing keeps you up at night better, or more effectively than considering what the end of the world might look like. From super volcanoes to zombie viruses to biomechanically engineered plagues, we’re all obsessed with the apocalypse – and this isn’t a new thing.
Speculating about what might bring about the end of the human race has long been a mainstay of conversations over a few beers in the pub. Movies like Dredd, Cloverfield and World War Z (amongst countless others) have offered us more alternative theories for how worldwide destruction might come about than we could ever imagine by ourselves. REM even sang a song about it once. So why is it that we all seem to be so concerned with the end? According to both Nostradamus and the Mayans, the human race should have already been long gone by now.
Perhaps, it is not so much our destruction that fascinates us, but the possibility of our survival. After all, who hasn’t sat and spent a few hours planning out how they’d outrun a zombie, or outwit a malevolent robot intent on using their organs for breakfast cereal? Whether it be monsters, aliens or machines that we’re faced with, if the movies have taught us nothing else, it’s that when it comes to the apocalypse, the one thing humans are not likely to do is sit on the sidelines.
This desire to survive against the odds in a post-apocalyptic universe can be seen in the
gaming world nowhere more fervently than in the realms of RPG. Whilst some other
TTRPG’s focus almost exclusively in fantasy and pre-industrial era settings, games such as
Shadowrun offer players the opportunity to immerse themselves in a science fiction inspired,
dystopian near future.
The game, which was launched in 1989, remains exceedingly popular thirty years later with the latest instalment Sixth edition having been released in summer of this year. Whilst Shadowrun features familiar RPG character choices such as orks, elves, and goblins, the scenarios available to play out have a distinctly modern flavour, with themes such as cyberpunk and urban fantasy underpinning the entire storyline.
Dicebox currently has a wide range of Shadowrun products to appeal to everyone from
complete beginners to experienced RPG pros, with opportunities for unique character
creations, varying mission objectives, and intricate world-building – depending of course, on
which edition you’re playing.
For seasoned Shadowrun GMs, the Sixth World RPG GM Screen (priced at $30.00 and available from late November) offers the chance to enhance the player experience with a variety of screen inserts and gives complete control and easy visual tracking of NPCs, character stats and references.
Alternatively, for those familiar with RPG but new to the Shadowrun world, Shadowrun RPG30 Nights campaign (priced at $60.00) provides a jumping-off point for introducing players
to the Sixth Edition new rules and storylines. With enough flexibility in the plots and
potential scenarios to give GMs the option to present a single session or a more detailed quest
over a longer playing period, 30 nights is ideal for those who want complex, immersive
storytelling in a game that can be just as inclusive for beginners as it can for diehard fans.
Of course, if you prefer to imagine a more light-hearted version of the end of days, or RPG isn’t your thing, you could always give Unstable Unicorns ($37.00) a try. A strategic card playing game with multiple expansion packs (including the Rainbow Apocalypse $23.00), it’s still the end of the world, only with fewer genetically enhanced monsters and more adorably destructive magical mayhem. Be warned, however - cute they may be, safe for work they most definitely are not.
So while you’re busy waiting for Terminator: Dark Fate to be released, wondering about the
destinies of Sarah and John Connor and contemplating how well you might fare against the
T-800, we suggest you call a few friends over, hole up in the bunker with some tinned goods
and spend a few hours getting lost in a good campaign.
Because whilst, thankfully, the cyborg apocalypse does not yet seem to be upon us, Dark Fate serves as a timely reminder that there’s no excuse not be prepared. Until next time, hasta la vista baby.
Oh come on, you all knew how this was going to end.