February was, as I noted recently, pretty low on page views, very likely because it was also pretty low on posts. A real bummer and a little bit of a surprise since the posts I did make were largely focused on Traveller and Supers, two things that usually bring a lot of people 'round the campfire. Ooh, s'mores are almost done! Where was I? Ah yes...
I did get more comments than usual and that's a good sign but my goal is to get a little more of both. I want a lot of people to come visit, stay a bit and talk. It's lonely here in this orbital pod all by myself.
As recent as yesterday morning, I was having a conversation with Erin Palettle about some material she created for a Traveller game she is running. The conversation inspired me to post something about the particulars of Jump Drive 'In My Traveller Universe' (IMTU TM*), which differ a bit from the traditional canon of the game.
I would prefer to post my material after she posts hers, so I am going to hold off on that for the moment. Instead, I will address something of the Superheroic persuasion, which I feel is of interest to gamers in other genres as well, although I've seen it in Supers more than anywhere else. This posts inspiration comes from conversations I've had with a fellow you may know as WQRobb. If you don't know him, well, consider what you're missing out on!
A Superheroes RPG is an extremely difficult game to run if your players aren't comic book fans.
I will amend that statement slightly. A Superheroes RPG is an extremely difficult game to run if your players aren't comic book fans and you are hoping for a Superhero Comic Book style campaign.
While it isn't too difficult to explain Dungeons & Dragons to someone who hasn't read Lord of The Rings or get someone who's never seen Babylon 5 into a session of Traveller, I would wish you good luck running Supers for someone who doesn't have a few dozen issues of The Avengers or Teen Titans under their belt.
With the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres, you can easily point to the medieval period of European history or an issue of Discover Magazine that discusses exo-planets and space travel. Fantasy goes back to fairy tales and the time of kings and knights. Science Fiction looks toward the future and the What If? of where we are going with technology and culture.
Supers is a strange bird (no, it's a plane...no, it's Super...ahem). It postulates an impossible now in which certain utterly ridiculous constants are common place and excepted.
One running gag in our previous Champions campaign was that one player refused to have his PC wear a costume, when all the other Supers of the world thought of it as not only normal but a given. Decked out in his leather jacket and shades he viewed himself as looking way cooler and more logical than any of the colorfully garbed, spandex lot. Unfortunately, all the NPCs, from fellow Supers to the Police to Reporters failed to understand why he dressed so strangely for an official Superhero. Many times our SHIELD-like organizations (PRIMUS and UNTIL) would tell him to get out of the way and get to safety, thinking he wasn't supposed to be at the battle.
PRIMUS Officer: "I'm sorry sir. This is a restricted area. There is a superhuman battle going on. All civilians must get to a safe distance."
ARCANE: "I'm a member of Project: UNITY. I have superpowers." (Shows Officer his ID).
PRIMUS Officer: "Oh I see. Sorry. Why aren't you in costume? How is anyone supposed to know?"
It was viewed as normal to wear a costume and a mask if you were a Superhero. It was tradition. Otherwise you're just some metahuman yahoo or worse, a poser.
On a related note, here is something that gets me (mini-rant warning)...
Sometimes, you have a group of players, all about the same age, who ARE big comic book fans. They've read and like a lot of the same comics and talk about what's happening in different titles all the time. Then, when you get together to create characters for a Supers RPG (Yes CREATE, not Generate, as the most popular Supers RPGs, Champions and Mutants & Masterminds, are both point-based systems that let you create the character you want to play) you get characters you would almost never see in an American Superhero Comic.
Why?! Please someone tell me why this is! It defies all logic. I get it if some of the players are familiar with comics and some aren't but when you gather a group of comic book fans and get un-comic book like characters...well...What the Hell?! Seriously.
I have tried to run Supers RPGs for those who don't know much about or even aren't into comics and it never goes well. It has gone less-than-horribly a few times but rarely close to what I would deem 'really good'. Maybe once but I got lucky, I had great players.
Why is this? That is to say, why is Supers hard to comprehend for the non-comic reader? Aren't comic books and comic book heroes the modern myths, filled with present day Daedaluses and Dianas? If you can understand a Wizard battling a Dragon why is Superman striving to fell Chemo so hard to wrap one's head around?
I honestly don't have an answer for this since I get it.
What do you all think?
*There is no actual trademarking going on here. ;)