Would you ever pick up a book without any cover art or even title and just start reading from page 1? Or would you ever begin watching a movie without having looked at the DVD case, front or back, and without even knowing the film's name? I suspect you wouldn't, and neither would I. The risk of time wasted on a bad story is just too great.
Still, one thing I've always wanted to try was a role-playing campaign that starts with an ambiguous setting. I imagine a game where the players know nothing of the setting, where the PCs are simply normal everyday people. All the players know is that their characters will experience something fantastic (after all, RPGs are about fantasy and escapism right?) and the "normal" world will be turned upside down. Exactly how the game-world gets changed depends on the GM's whim. Perhaps the PCs will all be bathed in cosmic rays and develop super-powers, segueing into a super-hero game. Or maybe the PCs will inadvertently uncover some unspeakable cosmic horror and be thrust into the Cthulhu Mythos. Maybe the PCs get abducted by aliens or time travelers and find adventures among the stars, or perhaps instead become embroiled in a cloak-and-dagger espionage conspiracy here on "regular" old earth. Or our PCs can simply drift off to sleep, and in their dreams find a portal to a magical land of beasts and kings, wizards and elves. The point is I think it would be a blast starting out a campaign and having no clue exactly what kind of game I would end up playing.
Attempting such a radical role-playing experiment would require a solid role-playing group, with a lot of trust. Constant moving due to my job has left me without any group for decades, let alone one with the implicit trust to go for such schemes. Luckily however I discovered the Mythic Game Master Emulator (GME) which allows one to role-play without a group (or GM). Sometimes solo-gaming has its advantages and this freedom to experiment is one.
Using the Mythic GME I've decided to start build a game setting. I have no clue where it will end up, whether it will be traditional fantasy, sci-fi, horror, crime, spy, pulp or any other genre. Since the initial start of the setting is the real-world modern day, I've chosen FU, the Free Universal Role-Playing Game as my system for task resolution. Basically my idea is to simply start with scene one of an adventure. Obviously there will have to be a notional "PC" or group of PCs to focus the action around, but these may not last more than a few scenes. Therefore, the PC(s) will not have any game statistics at the beginning; such characteristics will be generated on the fly by asking the Fate Chart and rolling dice. For example, muggers confront a character, who so far appears to be a graduate student type. I would ask "does the character have any hand-to-hand combat skills" and assign the odds as Very Unlikely. If I got a "yes" then I would have to change my idea of exactly who this character is. Perhaps the character is a veteran, or an ex-collegiate wrestler. An extreme answer may actually indicate an Edge (using the FU system).
As stated above however, the characters serve only to focus the scenes, and may not last. Think of them as characters in the opening scenes of a movie. Perhaps these are the main protagonists of the film, but maybe their actions just introduce the conflict, and as the story develops they fade into the background. R2D2 and C-3PO in the first (1977) Star Wars movie are a perfect example of what I'm talking about.
OK, so this task would be impossible without some basis to start. In order to prompt my imagination and define both the starting place/time (geography, season) and starting characters, I generated five random dictionary words:
I was amazed at how quick a little story popped into my head. What I went with for the opening scene was Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, February 2013. The characters are a group of zoology researchers from Boise State University, traveling to the central Asian country to investigate a genetic anomaly: a cluster of consistently fecund horse-donkey hybrids. I wasn't sure how to work in "sneer" or "measles", but I rolled to set up the scene, as per Mythic, and got an action/subject of "dominate/technology". I used the "sneer" and "measles" dictionary words to interpret the event further. Scene 1's location starts at the International Airport, where one of the research group gets singled out by Customs officials for improper immunization records (measles). This turns out to be a ruse by the officials to pilfer the unfortunate American's expensive electronics equipment (dominate/technology). I then rolled, per Mythic rules, to see if the scene was altered or interrupted. I got an interrupt, with a focus of "close thread" and action/subject of "gratify/illness". I decided since the only thread was arriving and getting to the research site, closing the thread meant a total detour. So instead the scene starts with the single character, on a jet-liner leaving Bishkek for Hong-Kong (thus closing the thread of researching)! How did he get there? When he (I rolled the character is male) confronted the corrupt officials, they laugh and tell him he's powerless (sneer). The resulting altercation (I rolled that he loses his temper) left the American in a cell, where he was bailed out by the US State Department, and promptly put on an outbound plane to avoid an international incident. So the scene starts with a single male character with a scientific background but fiery temper, sulking in an airline seat. But what about the "gratify/illness"? Well, what the character doesn't know is that the senior pilot of the Russian airliner suffers from the illness of alcoholism, and as the co-pilot sleeps the plane's captain indulges. It's going to be a bumpy ride...