Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Annual Crossover

Whenever an old year fades into the beginning of a new one, we gamers, often inadvertently, begin contemplating new game ideas. We can't help it. It's in our nature.

I tried very hard not to do that this time out, instead hoping to focus my creative juices on the two major RPG campaigns I am currently and quite happily running, classic Traveller and FASA Star Trek.

At the same time, it is nearly impossible to resist the lure of the 'new year, new game' syndrome and for someone as Gamer ADD addled as I, doubly so. Better make that quadruply.

In order to quench my deep down body thirst* for something a little different, on January 1st of 2014, I grabbed myself a Gatorade* of alternative Superhero gaming in the form of Base Raiders by Slang Design, written and created by Ross Payton.

I ran a one-shot with three of my regular players and a very special fourth - a special guest appearance by my good friend Dave. Barking Alien fans and long time readers may remember him as Night Knight and Silver Sun from our past Champions campaign.

If you wish to check out a review of the game and some audio and video of people actually playing it, look no further than the ever awesome Age of Ravens blog.


This was/is an odd one for me. The concept is very interesting and what got me to check this game out. It is essentially D&D style dungeon crawls in a modern day, Superhero setting. PCs explore the Batcaves and Castle Dooms of a world that no longer has such major heroes and villains. Although gone, their secret hideouts and undersea bases remain, ripe for the plundering by modern adventurers.

Now it's a bit more involved than that and indeed it comes with a well thought out setting all its all that makes the concept really jive.

Of course, me being me, the idea for this game was both really intriguing and really frustrating.

First, I don't like dungeon crawls. At least not traditional ones. I have some nostalgic fondness for a few of the great TSR modules of my youth but for the most part I modified those heavily to add stories to them and make them work for my groups and I. For the last 25+ years, I have dungeon crawl at pretty much the bottom of my list when it comes to scenarios and settings for the games I run.

Could I revive, heck, instill an interest in the concept if it was mixed with Supers?

Second, like it or not, I am Adam Dickstein. That means unless we're talking about certain long established IPs, I don't want your world setting. If it's good (and this one isn't bad at all) I will steal some ideas from it but I will design my own world thank you very much.

I decided to create a world for this setting based on one of my idea obsessions for Superheroes that I haven't been able to effectively use elsewhere.

Basically, this was a world once populated by all those public domain superheroes I'm so fond of, who were never seen or heard from again after the Golden Age. In this universe, an event connected with the appearance of an extraterrestrial object (called 'The Ragnarok Star' in my version), eliminated all major superhuman powers in 1964. There was never a Silver Age.

Ever since, the governments of the world, evil organizations, former heroes and villains and adventurers looking for a score like no other, have been searching for the hidden fortresses and secret labs of the great costumed crusaders and criminals of yesteryear.

Our adventure found the PCs in the employ of Taylor Peddy, grandson of the original Red Panther. After many years of searching, Peddy had discovered the lair of The Laughing Skull, a former enemy of Red Panther and a member of the villainous Death Battalion. Peddy's family never recovered the mantle (costume) of the original Red Panther, said to be made from the hide of a mythical African animal of the same name.

Peddy would fund the expedition to raid Laughing Skull's base, located behind Niagara Falls (and based on a real life abandoned power station there), if the PCs would return the Red Panther's uniform to him if they found it there. Oh, and a cut of the loot from any notable finds to repay his expenditures.

The PCs agreed, each having their own (awesome) reasons for wanting to raid the base.

The game ran well if a bit short. We really only got to one encounter with a group of robot skeletons guarding the tunnels that lead to the base proper. The PCs then descended into the base and we had to call it quits (work the next day for most of us).

Dave echoed my thoughts on the game exactly when he said, "I can see its potential".

I couldn't agree more, but would I have the patience to wait for its potential to be fulfilled when I could be GMing Champions or M&M. Maybe. I'm not sure.


Another annual event that seems to occur with our group (and strongly related to the 'new year, new game' dynamic mentioned above) is my taking the role of a player in a campaign run by my friend Ray.

Since my medieval fantasy campaigns haven't been hitting the mark with the group or myself lately, Ray declared his interest in running Pathfinder.

Pathfinder. With me as a player.

Let that sink in.

I'll be honest, I am intrigued if not overly excited. I tend to not like to play as I've mentioned and Pathfinder is simply version 3.x of a game I am not found of. I am certainly not enamored of the genre it focuses on.

On the plus side, it's Ray and Ray tends to run a good game. He knows and likes the setting and system a lot which is key and I have faith in him to make it a step above when I imagine it would be like. If anyone can make Pathfinder more than the sum of its perceived parts it's Ray.

Stay tuned friends. If nothing else, reading my descriptions of ripping my own hair out should be entertaining.

Barking Alien

*Don't forget gang - Gatorade is thirst aid, for that deep down body thirst.


  1. I don't really see the appeal of "dungeon crawls" in fantasy games, much less super heroes. Even when swinging a sword I don't get the appeal of slaughtering creatures and looting their corpses...

    If I get to play a super hero, I want to fly around New York City and fight crime and foil evil plots of super villains.

    Guess it's not for me.

    1. Yay! People still read my blog. Seriously, what the heck happened? I mention Superheroes mixed with dungeons crawls and not a single comment in 5 days?

      It might not be for me either Matt (I am still largely undecided), as I agree with you wholeheartedly, but I felt the need to give it a go.

      For one thing, I like being able to say I've tried every Superhero RPG known to man and than some, and for another, the concept had just the right spark to make go stop and say, "Hmmm. Curious crossbreed. Let's see what it's like."

      I would definitely run it again as a one-shot or at a convention, but no, it's taking the place of Champions or M&M for my Superhero needs any time soon.

  2. I try to check for updates pretty often. Sometimes I don't comment as I have nothing to say on some topics.

    Wish I knew some folks who would play Muppets with me!

    1. So do I Matt. That is my deepest wish for you. Oh, and money. Craploads of money.