Σάββατο, 25 Μαΐου 2013

Human Slaves of An Insect Nation, Part 13-Sexy In Spandex (short)

I’m only eating this dude because he’s EVIL! What? Eating people’s wrong now? Oh screw you, society, screw you!

Human Slaves of An Insect Nation, Part 13 (shortie)-Sexy In Spandex

I was always curious as to why almost every attempt of mine to run anything other than a fantasy campaign failed so utterly. It took me about ten years before I made an honest, earnest attempt at setting up an overarching plot, devoting all my brainjuice into this singular act of weaving a long-running supers story and two years before I could properly run it, before I realized what I had been doing wrong.

Now, this revelation wasn’t exactly apocalyptic in nature, but it was one of those realizations that you stumble across as you’re busy bumbling along yet another soul-rending session, paddling along on a sotyr that has long since keeled over and died.

So what’s necessary to run a competent, complete supers campaign? Well I guess you oughtta get yourself…

About a half-dozen superhero nerds.
Behold! The Reverse Engineer!

For better or worse, superhero campaigns cannot (and will not) appeal to anyone who’s not into the genre in general. Not because the game itself maybe convoluted or the fluff may soon become unworkable, but because a superhero game requires some knowledge and understanding of how superheroes work (or are supposed to work).

It also requires a pretty hefty suspension of disbelief, the kind that you cannot overcome by waving your hand and going ‘eh, Magic’ the way you do for Dungeons and Dragons. The simplified morality, the over-the-topness of even the lowest-powered supers will cause a number of implications for non-nerd gamers that will soon grind the game to a screeching halt, out of virtue of the players having stopped giving a damn.

With that team secured, you’ll have to get yourself…

A rockin’ theme

Save the world. Get the girl. Doom the neighboring Solar System. Plunge mankind into a thousand years of darkness. Make everyone immortal. Make everyone dead.
Superhero culture has taught enthusiasts of the genre that a certain theme is required to good stories and that is all the more so true for supers campaigns. Not just because the players are accustomed to the IDEA of a thematically-driven and characterized story, but because it helps you add that extra layer of awesome into the mix.

Fantasy roleplaying games have not been made with the intention of a greater story in mind. Superhero games, on the other hand, cannot escape it. Call it narrative conditioning, but you cannot allow the campaign to lose its focus, no matter how grand, epic or even ridiculous in scope and magnitude it may be.
But while you’re doing that, make sure you…

Don’t forget the little things

A supers campaign requires even more of an emphasis on character development than a standard game, if only because your players need to feel important and central to the plot.

If you thought managing personal character arcs for your regular campaign was tough, then be prepared to get your ass kicked for a supers campaign. Why? Well, mostly because players like to wear capes and make woosh noises with their mouths when they think no one’s looking, but also because they enjoy thinking of their characters adorning monthly issue covers or punching Hitler.

Got that extra mile and focus on the supers. Make sure your players are also aware of that and pretty soon, they will be weaving their own stories, paving their own path across the world that you built for them.
But always, ALWAYS keep in mind that…

A supers campaign setting is not something that really ought to be taken seriously.
Boom! Applied Multiversal Theory

A superhero setting exists in order for it to explode, collapse and be endangered according to the needs of the story and the heroes’ individual motivations. It’s not a hive of political activity and none of them exists within a sociopolitical web of machinations and manipulations.

While a competent supers setting (and campaign) will instill some measure in the characters of understanding the gravity of the consequences, it should not be a heavy-handed political mess that bogs everything down. If it doesn’t work, tear it down and let them rebuild it. After all, that’s what superheroes are for!
And lastly…
Don’t plan further than one step ahead.

A successful supers campaign is just as likely (or more likely) to fail as a regular one, mostly due to the fact that it is heavily based on its characters and its players, as well as constant threat to drive it along.
As a storyteller, you are excused if you are overcome with the need to weave an epic, complex saga that will lead the League of Champions to the Edges of the Universe and beyond, but you cannot count on it happening.
The reasons can be many, but I’ll just focus on two very glaring ones:
-The players could lose interest. Same as with a printed, legitimate superhero, a player could grow tired of the options provided to him by his character and require a retooling or just give up on his idea altogether.
-Secondly, most supers systems are plain old terrible. They offer little room for improvement and handle like drunken oxen from the moment the characters exceed a certain power level. As a result, a very strict control of the players’ growth is required to avoid breaking the system (and subsequently your heart).

But above all, a supers campaign is not a contracted work that guarantees a following by virtue of entertainment conglomerates backing you up. It’s a far more humble undertaking, that will test your mettle and let you weave wonderful stories in Universes that you imagined!
One last thing…
Steer Clear of Franchise Settings

They’re limiting, convoluted and almost stifling. Plus, they sort of force you to shove Thor down everyone’s nose so everyone can keep pretending they’re having fun.

I’d rather suffer a game of unimaginative capes and masks where I fight Generic Alien Threat #279 than have to put up with the fucking Skrull again.

Addendum:And here's how being an asshole works, brought to you by College Humor. This damn thing is so eloquent, it brings tears to my eyes.

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