Jurassic Park: Chaos Theory – A Savage Worlds Adventure
For my generation, Jurassic Park is Star Wars. Well honestly, Star Wars is every generation’s Star Wars, but Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster turned kids of my age onto dinosaurs, CGI, and Sam Neil. Josh and I had been reminiscing about Jurassic Park lately and I realized Savage Worlds would be perfect for running an adventure in John Hammond’s latest doomed theme park.
Most of this game was done on the fly because I didn’t really have much time for prep besides the ideas in my head. I came up with a few key scenes, found some stats for dinos, and I asked the players what kind of heroes they wanted to be. I boiled Jurassic Park characters into three “classes,” although I did not impose any limits on character creation. Our three classes were: Scientist (Alan Grant, Ian Malcom), Mercenary (Robert Muldoon, dudes from the video games), or Tourist (the kids, Nick Van Owen). One player decided to be a scientist while the others were mercenaries. Since they favored the gunplay here, I decided they were all working for BioSyn, the evil corporation that’s always trying to steal from the park and cause havoc.
There were a few scenes that I wanted to happen in the adventure, and then I made the rest up as we went along. The first key scene was that their helicopter would crash at the top of a waterfall, and they would have to escape before it fell. My original idea was that they would need to save an unconcious John Hammond as well, but since they were bad guys, I left a rocket launcher in there for them. They lost it, but hey, you don’t put a rocket launcher in the first act unless it blows up a T-Rex in the third.
The other scenes I wanted were a series of tunnels under the island and a battle with the T-Rex at the docks. I also wanted a fight with pteranadons in an unfinished hotel, but unfortunately the scene was skipped because they never explored the balconies in the hotel rooms.
The rest was easy to fill in. Dinosaurs in the jungle make for the ultimate monsters in the closet. It’s easy to drop them in during a lull in the action, and the wide variety of dinos means you can constantly switch up the challenge.
While we didn’t use miniatures, we did use a map. The scientist character brought a tablet computer with him, so I decided that would be the perfect GPS system. I used the map to represent the computer, and I filled in detail as they explored the island. A helicopter ride gave them a chance to fill in some vague information at the beginning of the game. I thought it worked so well, it’s how I want to handle maps in any game now, especially any modern or futuristic settings. I think it ties the players to the game more when you can show them something that their character is literally using.
So the “heroes” got to put Ian Malcom’s chaos theory to the test. The park became pandemonium on its own which forced them to have to deal with dinosaurs in some unexpected places, but their role as mercenaries and bad guys made the solution to their dino problem pretty obvious. They had plenty of shoot outs, car chases, and then the T-Rex fight at the end was appropriately epic. One player ran for the rocket launcher since they battle was at the crash site, and the other players distracted the T-Rex. I should have made them roll on the fear table, but the players were scared enough on their own as the tyrannosaurus nearly caught them until the scientist threw a grenade in its face. It allowed them enough time to get free as the mercenary finished it off with the rocket launcher. Their mission was sucessful, and the Jurassic Park theme swelled in triumph.
It was so easy to run a Jurassic Park setting for Savage Worlds, and it really proved the simplicity of the system. The game is so great for one shots because the quick combat means you can finish a lengthy story in one session. I don’t know if we’ll continue with this campaign, but it was so easy that we can jump back into the Lost World whenever we’d like.