stevekenson: (go-play)
[personal profile] stevekenson

So watching “The Knights of Tomorrow” episode of Batman: The Brave & the Bold, and re-reading Aaron Allston’s classic Champions article from Space Gamer #48, got me considering “legacy” style settings for superhero gaming. I’ve played around with elements of that concept in settings like Freedom City, where several generations of Bowmen have fought crime in the city, for example.

Which got me thinking—dangerous thing, that—I’ve been running various superhero RPGs since middle school, well over (gulp) twenty years ago. In essence, I have run enough superhero games to have my own “legacy” series of setting elements! What if I were to mash-up all of those various settings, Crisis on Infinite Earths-style, to create a single massive meta-setting? Let’s find out, shall we?

The Ground Rules
I’m going with elements from superhero RPGs I have run, rather than ones I’ve written. Certainly, a fair amount of stuff inspired by my various home games has found its way into my writing, but I’m steering clear of published setting material like Freedom City, which I designed from the ground up before I ever ran a game set there.

I’m also going with superhero settings that can be combined. While my Aberrant “Gods & Monsters” game was a lot of fun and generated some interesting characters and stories, it wasn’t “comic book” enough for the purposes of this exercise.

Lastly, I’m generally not counting superhero campaigns I’ve played in but had no part in running, with one exception, connected to a campaign I started.

The Settings
That leaves the following superhero campaigns:

• Paragons: My oldest, and longest-running superhero game. The Paragons campaign started under Marvel Super Heroes (the Advanced Set) but we also used Champions (third and fourth editions) and even DC Heroes for it.

• Project Youngblood: A spin-off of the Paragons campaign, featuring young protégés of some of the original PCs and new characters. Run by various GMs before it eventually folded.

• The Sentinels: A short-lived game using a homebrew set of rules based off of the Torg RPG.

• The New Paragons: A “ten years later” game set in the Paragons campaign world, using the Fuzion rules from Champions: The New Millennium and some of the same “new generation of heroes” ethos.

• The Guardians: A Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game series, featuring a new team of heroes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts (the original name being “Granite State Guardians”).

• Thrilling Tales of the Midnight Society: This is kind of a borderline, since it is technically a pulp-era (rather than superhero) game using Spirit of the Century, and set in 1930s Freedom City, but featuring original elements.

• Icons: My occasional ICONS playtest game, with characters like Volcano and Grey.

I expect to start revisiting the idea of mixing-and-match these different campaigns in future blog entries, and we’ll see what comes of it together. Until then...

Date: 2010-11-24 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My campaigns have spanned a similar time range, I think (except for the first in the list!). In order of internal chronology rather than when I ran them:

Ghazi: Muslims granted powers based on the Hundred Names of God to repel the First Crusade [Godlike]
Heroes of 1889: adventurers and low-end supers in an alternate Victorian London [Space 1889]
Gods and Monsters: a secret supers campaign inspired by League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Planetary, and at a comparable power level, set in London in 1920 [FUDGE]
Pulp Heroes: unpowered costumed adventurers (some with gadgets or weird talents) in 1920s San Francisco [Champions]
Masks: low- to midrange supers in 1960 [a homebrew]
DC Realtime: an alternate DC universe of the 1990s, where heroes started their careers when first published and aged realistically [DC Heroes]
Sovereignty: present-day, based in Belgium, in a world where high-end supers are legally sovereign states [GURPS Supers]

Obviously you couldn't fit DC Realtime into an actual series, for copyright reasons if nothing else. Making all the others fit together would be an interesting exercise. We seem to have similarly diverse histories of system choice!

Gods and Monsters (a name similarity!) was where I tried out the rules that later became my version of FUDGE Supers; on the other hand, the test campaign for my version of GURPS Supers was run by my friend [ profile] ebenbrooks—we converted to 4/e and to my draft rules midway through, and it was very instructive, not least because I played the combat monster, La Gata Encantada. But I took GURPS Supers out for a spin in Sovereignty, ending with a climactic battle against Ares and Athene on the slopes of Olympus.

If I recall correctly at least two of the teams were called "the Vanguard," while one was called "the Midnight Society" (that was the pulp era San Francisco campaign—another name similarity!).

Date: 2010-11-25 04:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow. That Champions article led to so much. We had no gaming store at the time and the internet didn't exist. I didn't know there was such a thing as a superhero RPG until I got that issue. Some time later, 2nd edition Champions was in my hands and led to 10 years of various Champions adventures.

Marvel Super Heroes was also big with another large group I was part of, and led to a kind of 'Super Infinite Crossover Crisis' where the two campaigns would cross pollinate each other.



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