Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cosmic supers creation 2

91 days until Cosmic Tales.
Click here for Part One

The Origin of All Things

At their core, all good supers universes share a common obsession with history. Large scale events in Marvel, DC, Hellboy, Godland, or what have you, almost always have their roots in their setting's history, and it is not uncommon for these roots to stretch all the way back to the actual origin of the universe itself. Building a sense of history into your setting is essential. So all cliches aside, it is perhaps best to start at the beginning... Maybe.

To expand on that last point, it is possible and, perhaps, even desirable to work backward. If you have a batch of player characters in front of you, it is likely at least one of them has a power set that could easily be tied into the setting, or perhaps allude to significant components of it, such as New Genesis; Krypton or Asgard. Don't be afraid to retcon something in either- remember, changing the past to suit the needs of the present is totally in genre. If you feel uncomfortable with this, do a realty warping time travel adventure that brings the change about.

Further, I highly suggest that as each campaign comes to a close, PCs are retired from active play and folded into the setting as prominent NPCs and replaced by new characters. Encourage legacy characters, like Nightowl or Batman Beyond, which will tie the game world's past to its present. These steps will lend your setting a sense of solidity.

Returning to the history and origins of the universe, it is probably not absolutely necessary to know exactly what triggered the big bang (although Godland and DC's various crisis comics, among others, do some interesting things with this) but it is a good idea to at least go as far back as the dawn of humanity and a few thousand years into the future as well.

The immediate past is also important. What is the recent event, be it something like Marvel's Civil War; Watchmen's Keene Act; The death of Superman, or what have you, that sets the tone for the current era of heroes?

Some more questions to ponder:

What is the origin of the universe?

Who are the most powerful beings within the universe and what is their connection (if any) to the origin event? To its eventual destruction?

What makes super powers possible?

What are the three biggest secrets of the World's past?

What are the two biggest threats to the peace and/or continued existence of the earth/universe?

Here's a thing, though, one may not want to know the answers to all these questions. It can kill the mystery. That's how I roll, too; however, one can always retcon or crisis wipe away any problematic/soul suckingly stupid elements that survive into game time later on.

Homework:

Jack Kirby's Fourth World Vol 1-4.

Eternals Vol 1 (Jack Kirby)

You can't really talk about world building and comics without talking about the King.

Next time: Step by step universe creation part one.

 

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Making a cosmic supers setting: part one

A pic of things to come...
 

(92 days until the launch of my Webcomic: Cosmic Tales: The Planet Eaters.)

Introduction

In order to have access to the full range of possible adventure types seen in superhero comics it is necessary to have a solid setting. As with all genres of table top, many players and referees prefer to make use of a published setting. These settings come with significant drawbacks in regards to the above mentioned goal, however. For example, your player character cannot hope to fill Batman's niche if he exists alongside batman; he can't find the Microverse or the Negative Zone or the Great Refuge for the first time either, because Reed Richards already did all that. The best PCs in such a setting can hope for is to be shadows of the established heroes.

At this point, one might ask what is meant by the "full range of possible adventure types?" The truth is writing an adventure that involves taking down bank robbers doesn't really require much in the way of world building. However, if you wish to do space, cosmic, alternate reality, time travel and/or world/universe saving adventures, having at the very least the bare bones of the greater setting in which these adventures take place will prove invaluable.

It is the purpose of this series of posts to explore and explain methods of superhero universe creation, and in so doing provide the referee with the tools necessary to create her own realty or series thereof.

Point of imformation, this will mot ne an easy process. You will have to read, and make stuff, and we're doing this my way, not in some general touchy feely fashion. I have a step by step method which is labor intesive. So if you want to do it the easy way, and it is a game, so who can blame you for wanting it to be easy, pick a piblished setting, do the homework below anyway- at least read DC's 52 if nothing else. Also, take this one peice of advice, if you use DC/Marvel the heavy hitters like Captain America or Superman or whoever should, in my opinion, be MIA presumed dead for the duration of your campaign. This will give the PCs the center spot.

Homework:

Comics:

Fantastic Four (1963) 1-100. Annuals 1-7. The first truly modern superhero comic. Marvel universe is more or less constructed during the course of this legendary run. It is all available on Marvel Unlimited. Includes everything you really need to know about superheroes. It is to superhero comics what the Beatles are to pop music. By our modern standards it may seem a little clumsy from time to time, but there is in fact, very little wasted beyond a few hundred words here and there. Start here.

Godland 1-36 & Finale. A cool cosmic story and an interesting and self-concious take on comic book world building.

Crisis of the Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis. DC multiverse lives and dies. Superman sings. Commonly available at libraries. The first one is really text heavy.

DC 52: a fantastic example of maybe how one could go about using original characters in a major setting.

If the list above seems daunting there are always cartoons.

JLA: Twilight parts one and two for world building stuff.

All the DC animated universe cartoons for an excellent presentation of the full range of adventure possibilities.

Batman the Brave and the Bold: another excellent example of what supers can be.

Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes

Obviously you can't get to all of this at once, but if you enjoy supers you'll get to as much of it as you can as soon as you can anyway- if you have not already. If you don't enjoy supers, I doubt you have made it this far.

Note: All my other projects are still under way and regular posting on them will resume in the near future. I just need to get this shit out of my head.

 

 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Earth? One page space supers setting

I am in and out of the desert right now and have been since April. I am working ahead and regular posting will resume as soon as I can put together a buffer, probably sometime next month. I'll start with entries on the Cyclops Wood, the Ruinlands, and a long series of posts on map making and how to put together and run a cosmic supers setting. Here is a bit of a preview of the last.

Larger version

 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Planet Eaters 1- with words!

Another preview: my oldest son assires me that webcomics ate supposed to be B&W and abot video games... I am redesigning Ord, down there at the bottomwhich is why he is uncolored.

This is page one, probably the only preview for a while...

Larger version

 

 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Planet Eaters - color arts.

Taking a break from gaming stuff to work on Cosmic Tales, my comic. It may be a long break. A really long break. I have been drawing non stop for about two weeks. I am making good progress and I really feel that my art is improving. This might be page one out of a projected one fifty or so. I'll get back to gaming stuff at so e point, but imma follow this to wherver it leads. As I said to someone last night, if R. Crumb was a tit man and trying to pass himself off as Jack Kirby, the art might have looked a bit like this.

This story is called the Planet Eaters, btw.

Larger version

 

And another from later on.

Even the most cursory and abusive comments would be appreciated.

 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

[map] Cyclops Wood Full

This is the initial campiagn area; after moving through Zimon's Gate, the characters will find themselves at the top of a mountain road that brings them down onto the sotheast portion of the map. Referees could also begin in Dogwall or Molt without too much trouble. Dogwall is a day's walk (more or less) on the other side of the stone bridge, and Molt is upriver on an island in the glacial lake.

Larger version

This was a bitch to draw, btw.