Movies for Gamers #15: The Man from Earth

Yesterday I watched one of those lesser known, lower budget movies that are gems. The Man from Earth. Although the acting was a bit stilted, especially in the first couple of scenes, I was quite impressed. It's a story that keeps humming in the back of your head.

The premise is, that a professor decides to move on and invites his befriended scholars for a farewell party. And then he reveals something about his past. That he is a man who is... 14,000 years old. A very interesting, suspensefuland yet philosophical long conversation follows as the scholars try to find out if what the professor says is true.

There's no big special effects, no agonising chases with stunts, there's hardly more than one room as a location. It's more of a play than a movie. And yet, it works.

So it made me think, could you do such a conversation-like story as a role playing session too? I think that's possible indeed. All you really need is  a non player character who is mysterious enough with his past, and cooperating, but also antagonising enough presenting the heroes with a puzzle of his past. Actually, I remember doing this during a campaign where the heroes tried to pry out the truth from a supervillain with memory loss. And all the time the question also was, when would he also remember what he once held against the heroes? It worked pretty well.

I think you could do the same by inviting the heroes and confronting them with someone like the professor - as long as there are enough hooks, they might also want to know if he's really 14,000 years old. An educated cave man.

The Man from Earth was made poshumously after a script by Jerome Bixby, known for his work on Star Trek. He was the writer of the famous Mirror Mirror episode in the old series. So, it is kind of fitting that Star Trek actors and a Star Trek director took up the story and filmed it. I found it inspiring on many levels. Anyone else who already watched it?

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