Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The other day, Erin (Palette) and I were talking and she wanted to know if I'd developed any more for my gritty golden age Superhero RPG campaign 'THE BIG ONE'. Since she helped me get the idea rolling she was eager to help with the development of characters, especially or specifically ideas for villains.
And why not? I mean, the creation of stuff to fill our fictional gaming milieus is one of the great joys of being a Gamemaster right? We love to create villains, NPCs, locations, items and all other manner of toys to throw into the sandbox and see which ones the players take to and want to play with.
That's definitely a fun factor of 25 on a scale of 1 to 10 for me but it's not where I begin. No. See, I'm Adam of Barking Alien. I gotta be different.
I start with thinking about Atmosphere.
How is the setting going to look and feel? What words or visuals can I use to convey the campaign's style and theme to the players from the first moment of the first game? To me this is the single most important thing I can consider about the game before I get started actually designing stuff for it.
For this game specifically, I'm researching two different approaches side by side in search of the right balance between the two. Source material that is perfectly in line with what I'm looking for does exist (most notably the RPG 'GODLIKE' for example) but I'm actually saving the reviewing of such material for last as not to cloud possible inspiration gained by starting from scratch.
From the comic book superhero side of things I'm focusing on my personal favorites The Justice Society of America, the All-Star Squadron and especially the original Freedom Fighters (all DC Comics though Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters were originally owned by Quality Comics and published later through National Comics which eventually became DC). In addition I am looking at the Nedor/Better/Standard Comics characters (mentioned in the comments of my last post by Velaran) which include American Crusader, the Black Terror, Fighting Yank, The Ghost, Miss Masque, Pyroman and The Woman in Red among others.
I'm looking for golden age stories that define the look and feel that most people think of when the term in mentioned as well as those moments that are, to some, 'uncharacteristically' deep and edgy (kudos to Velaran for bringing that up and reminding me of it).
From the World War II side my source are a bit...eclectic. My initial focus is on films. From personal favorites like A Bridge Too Far, The Guns of Navarone, Midway and Tora! Tora! Tora! to more recent entries like Saving Private Ryan and Inglorious Bastards. From there I'm looking into a number of different history books, especially anything with good photos or illustrations. Osprey Books are a must as is anything entitled, 'An Illustrated/Visual History of World War II' or anything along those lines.
I also have a number of old stories my grandfather told me about when he served in the war. Those will be reviewed along with my own comic book universes' less than stellar golden age period.
What I want to end up with is a means of describing what the PCs see and hear and having that convey a sense of what the situation is and what's to come. I've considering several different opening sequences already, going over the 'cinematography' in my head and I think I have some good scenes. What I'm waiting for is more info on the PCs so I can figure out where they are when the events start to unfold. Timing and placement is crucial to capture a sense that they are in a living, breathing world as well as giving it cinematic pacing. It may sound strange but its been a big part of how I GM for over 15 years now.
I want a living movie if they makes even a lick of sense.
Do you worry this much about the words you use to describe things? Do you plan out what your adventure will look like 'onscreen'? Let me know.
This is going to be AWEsomazing.