[supers] O brave new world!

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Our computer system is down at work so I have some time to dump some thoughts on the page about a supers game I’m tossing around in my brain. It’s been years since I’ve run a supers game (I’m still sad that my last game died from scheduling problems probably 1 or 2 sessions from the wrap. I never got to have the big climactic fight scene where everybody was wearing timelines like suits of mech armor!)

Major inspirations here: Planetary, Lost, Doom Patrol, a dream I had about writing a Defenders series.

I thought about doing this with massive in-game spoilers but that may be too manipulative. Instead I’m going to do all my thinky thoughts about the premise out in the open.

Assuming I’m going to use my standard Alphaverse setting for this, the PCs would be members of the Pariah Club (my analog of the Doom Patrol/early X-Men). I may or may not place this after the Omega War (where everybody on Earth has been exposed to Event Energies and has super powers. That’s another setting I want to explore some day, but not today). It doesn’t really matter.

Because the opening scene is the PCs waking up in a warehouse/on a mesa/somewhere. Their memories of the past couple of days are gone (see, this is why I didn’t want to spring this as a spoiler on the players, because I hate that kind of crap). More alarming as they check out the world around them is that there are no supers. No Majestic Twelve, no SuperNaturals, no Teen Justice Force. Never have been. There were never any Events, no mythical heroes from ancient time, no aliens. Pretty much the current world today. The PCs still have their powers but so far as they can tell they’re the ONLY ones, and the only ones with memories of the world that was.

So the campaign (is this short-duration? long term? not sure) is in a) figuring out what happened to the world (or did they just get moved? theories will no doubt abound), b) fixing it (or, you know, not). I see this partly as the Planetary homage game I’ve always wanted to run – digging up the super-archaeology of the world, following clues to unlock what’s going on here. Part of the key is that I wouldn’t necessarily have all the answers about this stuff – that it would be established by me and the players together in a Gumshoe investigative style as the game goes forward. Somebody posits a “Science City Zero” must exist or remembers it, then it’s into the continuity. Consensual worldbuilding as we go along.

I then see a “volume 2” where maybe they figure it out and in the attempt to set things right/go home they bounce around through alternate worlds and settings trying to get it right. This may be where a lot of the stuff that was developed in Volume 1 comes into play.

I’d want to rock the nonlinear storytelling hard in the first phase – lots of flashbacks, cut scenes, etc. Like a Christopher Priest comic (the Black Panther/Quantum & Woody writer, not the author of the Prestige). I always do that but I want to turn it up to 11 for this kind of game. Probably lots of the players taking on alternate roles for the scenes as well.

System-wise, no idea. I think anything would work fairly well as the narrative is more important than the crunch here. This may be a good candidate for PTA with lots of scene-establishing and whatnot. Some guidance (although maybe not a fixed economic system) toward the worldbuilding part would likely be helpful. But heck, this could be done with Mutants & Masterminds or Champions or anything really to handle the inevitable fight scenes and to quantify powers.

This is pretty ambitious. But nobody ever got to be a better gamer or GM by just killing orcs.

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4 Responses to “[supers] O brave new world!”

  1. Moth Says:

    I kill the other players and rule that world as a god! 🙂

  2. Dan Glovier Says:

    That does sound like fun, and I would jump all over this game if I lived within 100 miles of you. Booo, distance!

    I like where your head is at on this: doing things that push the boundary of your comfort level. Great stuff, great idea. I applaud your desire to walk that high wire.

    System … it sounds like this could get into heavy narrative with some POW! and CRRACK! thrown in for fun. But here’s the thing: it’s a supers game, so even though the ZOWIE! and WHAMM! won’t constitute the majority of the game, it will need heavy support because, well … SUPERS! This, I think, will be an interesting choice … have you considered kit-bashing something together? Maybe PTA for everything BUT the fight scenes?

    Good luck, and keep us up to speed!

    • Christopher Tatro Says:

      I spent 10 years pretty much kit bashing everything I could, including adapting Dogs in the Vineyard for my last supers game. But I came to the conclusion I don’t like doing that very much, so I’d rather just use something off the shelf even if it has some warts.

      And yeah, supers by its nature is a genre that I think begs for crunch and accumulates it exponentially. I’m going to resist that little voice though. Because the comics writers don’t have detailed Champions sheets next tot hem when they’re writing – they have guidelines or character bibles and vague generalized notions that “x is stronger than y”. I keep coming back in my mind to Marvel Super Heroes (with the FASERIP abilities and Good/Excellent/Amazing etc rankings) as just about the right level of crunch for me.

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