Sunday, September 28, 2014

[ART] Image Bank 1

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

Cosmic supers creation 2

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.


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...



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.