Friday, November 21, 2014
So I was workong on my Mars xmass game thing when it occured to me that some things I'd done earlier, namely Skull and the Deep Desert stuff in the left sidebar, were better suited to Mars than they were to Metal Earth- and suddenly I have the backbone of a settng and, with some correction and alteration, a campaign area.
Anyway the first map is new. No effort has been made at any kind of accuracy.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Sorry about the lack of posts. The season was supposed to be over, but I have been in the field pretty much every day since my last appearence here. However, I broke my leg, coming down a badland feature last Monday, so now my season is totally over. The good news is that I am getting paid. However, some dumbass fucked up my car while I was on the way back from the doctor. It has been a week.
I am going to use this time to write draw and game. I am probably going to launch a mars type game as early as tomorrow, and a Metal Earth game soon after.
Don't enlarge the pic below if yer at work, it has nipples.
Mars first. I posted this at TRPS earlier, but as I am seldom on line these days, I forgot the shit nature of forums. They're even worse for conversation than ghost towns like this blog.
First lets start with systems:
Warriors of the Red Planet, despite its authors' best efforts to conceal its actual existence, is a nice fit for this sort of game. It has some bullshit anti-world building pro illusionism DM advice (pps 55-56) which seems out of place in such a game, but this is as easily ignored as it is repugnant; it wouldn't be the OSR, after all, if someone didn't present opinion as fact.
The game has four character classes: fighting man (a cumbersome name, but an acceptable nod to nastolgia given the source material); Scoundrel (thief); Mentalist; and Scientist. The former pair hold no real surprises, the latter repackage spell like abilities as psionic powers and gadgets, respectively.
There are several races, mostly genric so it would be relatively easy to craft your own flavors of each. One could easily do Planet of the Apes, Kamandi, Dying Earth or Barsoom with this game. Mix it with something like B/X, with which it is pretty much compatible, and you could do just about anything. I think race and class are significant components of the core of a gameworlds' identity. This game does a good job of giving you just enough in this regard without forcing unwanted flavor into the mix. There are some racial level limits, however, which I have an issue with in regards to the fact I think such limits should be campaign/setting specific, not generic.
The Monster section contains over a hundred genre fitting critters by my count, although many are different types of "men" it remains an impressive selection. My only complaint here is the lack of B/X style moral rules. The authors use ascending (and descending, be cool) AC, so they don't have THE FEAR OF GARY why the fuck not use the better (or ar least more intuitive) of the DnD morale systems?
The book is rounded out by some random tables of various levels of usability.
It is a good game. I give it a 7 bumped to an 8 because it is treading newish ground, bumped back down to a 7 because no pdf/table of contents, bumped back up to an 8 because it is a beta.
Also, @ Thomas Denmark if you are here- failing to release a product has exactly the impact on sales as it does on theft. Release the pdf. I can't even believe I have to say that in 2014. 2014, man. 2014. 184.108.40.206.
Another fine DnD that can do the job, easily, and has a PDF, a free one even, is Fantastic Heroes and Witchery. One would have to cherry pick the classes and races, relying mostly on the weird science bunch, but that is how the game is made to be used, anyway. However, the game currently lacks a bestiary. It being DnD, however, you can probably find whatever critters you need in a book you already own. I have to be honest here, I like WoTRP, and I am going to use it in some capacity, but FH&W is a solid 9+, has an index, a TOC, two pdf versions (paid and free) and a far better value for your momey. This is especially true if you are playing online, as the free pdf mAkes the purchase of more than one hard copy needless.
The TSR Dark Sun setting could easily be converted to a Barsoom like world by sweeping out the demi humans and replacing them with in genre races. The 4e set has some excellent shit on deserts and easily adapatable survival rules for the same, if nothing else.
Another, lesser known setting, is Savage Swords of Athanor. You can get it from the lower right colunm at the blog of the same name, here.
However, I think it is important to point out that while extreme environments are the rule in this sort of setting, they need not be homogenous. Barsoom has room for all sorts of environments ranging from deserts to jungles to frozen poles and underground seas.
Okay, so system concerns are out of the way, as well as a quick setting fix if one is desired.
Were I, and as mentioned above, I am about to do so twice, about to start up a T&P game i would begin with the characters as Earthers more or less at the moment of their arrival at the setting. See Planet of Apes and Kamandi for excellent examples of the same. This would solve the problem of introducing the setting and getting players to invest in it. The setting is a mystery that the players must solve, at least to an extent, if they wish to survive. Regardless of how I feel about seasons 4-6, early episodes of LOST are really good at revealing bits and pieces of setting lore. The island sequences on Arrow do a good job of this too. Check that shit out.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
I intend on adding a key in the area to the right and. ideally, I am goimg to turn most of the named locations into one page or half page adventures. I have been wanting to do somethng of the sort for awhile.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
So I am going to try to post three times a week for the next few months. We'll see how that goes.
Monday's are reserved for drawings. Every Monday I will post a new image.
I think this is a space monster, or a burrowing animal, or both.
Wednesday this week will be a map or something. Friday we'll get another instalment in the Cosmic Worlds essay.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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.
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
(92 days until the launch of my Webcomic: Cosmic Tales: The Planet Eaters.)
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.
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.