Monday, June 10, 2013

Kingdom Come

This weekend I picked up the fourth and final book in Green Ronin Publishing's Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition powered, DC Adventures Role Playing Game, thereby completing my collection of it and all things both DC and RPG related.

As I noted briefly in a previous post, this is not only the end of this particular line of superhero role playing products but in some ways, a beautiful and useful last will and testament to the pre-New 52 DC Comics universe.

Foregoing a direct attempt to define and detail a specific point in DC Comics seventy-seven year publishing history, Green Ronin set about describing the iconic and rarely changing elements of their characters, their worlds and their mythologies.

While the majority of the information is presented as close to the "current" incarnation of the DC Universe as possible as of 2010-2011*, many of the specifics of long standing characters are easily understandable to the reader even if they haven't seen the character in many years. In addition, a number of side bars and boxes explain some of the changes that have been applied throughout different incarnations (it is also in the background and flavor text for appropriate individuals).

While I did notice an error here and there, a few characters didn't make the cut and I would've loved a four book series just on the Legion of Superheroes, I think they did a great job. Really. That's big praise coming from me. Trust me.

Kudos Green Ronin. I tip my hat to you.


I starting reading the final book Saturday night but with being so busy with the Learning Center Sunday, I haven't finished it just yet. I intend to read Book 4 completely once, all the way through, and then go back over certain key points that interest me. Afterwards I will probably reread the entire series.

The 'Universe Book' details all aspects of the DC multiverse, from the Infinite Earths to Jack Kirby's Fourth World of the New Gods and onward into the past, the 'present' and the future. Detailed descriptions of the ficitional cities and countries that make up DC's "Earth Zero", or New Earth, which is essentially the world that replaced the erased parallel Earths at the end of the first Crisis (Crisis on Infinite Earths). In addition, the New Earth described appears to incorporate the Earth that followed Infinite Crisis. We also get the planets of the galaxy, the powers known as The Endless and all the cool legends created and complied over the course of seven decades of comic book creativity.

Reading through it, I am simultaneously inspired and saddened beyond measure. Alright, beyond easy measure.

As I peruse the pages of this powerful and poignant publication, I am struck solidly with the knowledge that I remember it all. Taking in this text in not so much a learning experience as a refresher course. This is my childhood, my high school and college years (minus a gap in the 90's). This data is not just stats and images. This was a part of my life from the time I was very young.

I had an older female cousin who read comics and among her favorites were Archie, Casper and Hot Stuff and The Legion of Superheroes. My uncle worked for a newspaper and magazine distributor who distributed, among other things, Mad Magazine and DC Comics. My favorite superhero was Green Lantern, partially because my father was a police officer.

This is all different now. Not only is my life quite different of course but the comics I read, the histories I know, the information in this book are different now. I hold in my hand over seventy years of professional work that someone two years ago determined doesn't matter. It didn't happen. It's not the first time either but it is so radically different in some instances this time around and, in my humble opinion, so poorly executed, that I long for the stories this book, this RPG book, is telling me. That is, reminding me of.

The wheels are spinning in my cape crusading brain, you can be sure of that. Ideas leap off the page at me at every turn. Each familiar face is a brand new challenge waiting to be sprung on my players, beings far less informed about this particular universe than I.

I've always wanted to update Time Commander. I've got a great idea for a plot with him and...Hmmm, Yellow Martians. Almost forgot about them and their connection to...Wow. St. Roch is a fantastic and different modern city setting. Perhaps I could...Ah yes, the Silent Knight. Always liked his look. Ooh! Ultra The Multi-Alien!

Where to begin...

Barking Alien

*DC Comics was founded in 1934, originally holding the name National Allied Publications. It's publishing history therefore dates back 79 years, not 77 as I indicate above. I used the span of 77 years however because in 2011, DC altered its continuity to that of the 'New 52', which I do not enjoy. The DC Adventures RPG by Green Ronin only covers the characters, elements and history of the DC Comics universe up to 2011 and contains no New 52 information (although some of the images are from the time when the change over was first made).

Other related posts in the past on this subject that you might find interesting include:

Crisis on Infinite Crises
DC Adventures - Who's Who
DC Adventures - Identity Crisis Part 1
DC Adventures - Identity Crisis Part 2
DC Reboots Its Universe Again...Again.
The Original Universe
Where Legends Live

One final note...

In a recent and really interesting post on his blog, Zak Smith wrote...

"Like all RPGs and few horror stories, the characters are criminals. They break and flee the law."

The line fits perfectly with the post he made about a very particular style of weird horror noir. As is sometimes the case with me, I just have to totally disagree with the first part. Most RPGs. Popular RPGs even. Not my RPGs. At least not the best ones I've run and played.

Good night.


  1. Nice summation. I'm wanting for my copy as well. It is sad that 70+ years of fiction should be completely rebooted. Philistines.

    If I do go with DCA and not M&M proper for my next supers game, I'm thinking of taking a page from the DC Online MMO and running a campaign along those lines. A future Luthor comes back in time and sends out the "metagene" to make more supers to prepare for Braniac's invasion force.

    1. The central idea of that is indeed a fantastic catalyst for a DC Universe based game.

      Good Luck!

  2. And for those who do not what I reference:

  3. Is it really 70+ years of fiction that got rebooted or merely the 25+ years of fiction since the last reboot that got rebooted? In any case, I'm not too upset about it as I still have a closet worth of comics that I can revisit anytime I want. What I really need is a place to hang my clothes.

    1. You have a point, but the key difference this time out is that they have made changes that not only significantly alter the characters, they also change the fundamental feel of the universe.

      Regardless of how familiar you are with the DC universe, the RPG will still have references you will recognize. If you are only familiar with the New52, this will largely not be the case.

  4. Superheroes break the law all the time, Adam. As Batman points out in Dark Knight Returns "We've always been criminals, Clark".
    Hell, every time someone climbs a roof, they're breaking the law.
    Next time you think I said something that isn't true, run it by me, and I'll explain it.

    1. Explained or not, I never said it was untrue per se but rather that it is untrue from my perspective. It is, very simply and with no weight other than my opinion, not how I see it in most of the games I run.

      The officers of a Starfleet vessel are not criminals. Superheroes, while breaking the laws of our real world, are not criminals in their reality. The giant robot pilots taking down kaiju are not committing any crimes.

      As I said, I just see it diffidently. No disrespect intended.

  5. It's on my list this year to complete this same set so I'm a little bit envious that you have them all now. Looks like you're enjoying them. Planning anything new from this inspirational recharge?

  6. Yes, as a matter of fact I am.

    While I have a few things to complete between now and my next big idea project, I do want to start a new, regularly run Google Hangouts game as I mentioned briefly in a previous post.

    I am currently involved in a fair number of games and for my next major campaign to start, one or more of these would have to end.

    Between two jobs, freelance work and a recent bout of bad health I realize I only have so much free time and I like spending time to make my games the best they can be. For the aforementioned reasons, I'm already having trouble doing that.

    Something's gotta give.

  7. This was a great post.

    I'm miss the DCU proper, too.