Beardcrumbs – Chernobyl in Grey

Hiya! Here’s a little experiment.

I’ve read that a good tip for writers is to do a little writing each day (obviously).

Not going to happen.

However- the tip (from the dummie’s guide) added that this can be achieved by writing short 300 word statements that examine one’s own writing. This could be a recap, or analysis of an old piece, or just revising some work in progress as a way to take a fresh look at it. It’s all practise.

So, that’s what I’m going to do- to keep my writing sharp and keep my blog updated, I will write short diary-like entries about past, present and future projects. I’m tentatively calling it ‘Beardcrumbs’.

Not every day. Don’t be absurd.


Anyway, to this end, I’m going to start by looking at a Sleepwalkers RPG game I ran:

Chernobyl In Grey – Adapting the Zone for Sleepwalkers


A month or so back, I ran a playtest of the Sleepwalkers RPG setting. I’m not going to go too much into the mechanics and how they need loads of work. I am however going to discuss the setting I chose, specifically translating the story of Stalker to the setting of Sleepwalkers.

This may sound odd. I’d wanted to run Stalker as an RPG for ages, but here was a chance to run Sleepwalkers. So I squished ‘em together. Astonishingly, it worked, so I’m going to try to explain how.

When I say Stalker, I refer to the PC game. However, I also borrowed heavily from the film of the same name and the book (Roadside Picnic) for help with the atmosphere and the less visual aspects of the zone.

So, for this first little dalliance, let’s compare the settings in overview:


Lots of info about this on my site already. A second world exists; a grey purgatorial place that mirrors this world in shape and dimensions, but is heavily influenced by thought and emotion. This world is called the Fringe and is inhabited by Spirits (ghosts of the dead), but also by Sleepwalkers, who are living people able to travel to the Fringe despite being alive- fulfilling a shamanic role of dream exploration and both in and out of body travel. Their name comes from the fact that the Fringe is close to death and so the best way to get there is in sleep. The setting is modern day; in fact, the Fringe is in peril, because there are just too many Spirits and Sleepwalkers and they are too well organised and equipped- the Fringe has gone from being a purgatory to a frontier.


The Zone of Alienation in Chernobyl is a huge area of the Ukraine which is largely forbidden to the public due to fallout from the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster. Stalker takes that situation and combines it with the setting of the movie Stalker- a strange, devastated wasteland where people are affected by fluctuations in physics and in the very wellness of the world. At the centre of this place is the Wish Granter- an artefact that can make a man’s dreams come true. In Stalker, this becomes the Chernobyl NPP. At some point a second disaster has occurred of unknown origin- so now the Zone has become a wild place, both radioactive and effected by the anomalies of the movie, and mutants and hoodlums and all the rest. Very bleak, very atmospheric, very Ukrainian.


So how does Stalker fit into Sleepwalkers?

Like this, to cut a long story short. In the ‘Real’ (the normal waking world), the Zone is just as it is in reality (hardly pleasant but nothing mystical in the overt sense of the word). In the Fringe, the mirror of the real world has been skewed by the tragedy of the disaster- and so the Fringe bears the characteristics of the Zone as it is in the game.


Next time, I’ll introduce the characters we used (real names baleeted guys) and go into how the two settings gelled together in detail.



by Bret

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