Friday, July 30, 2010

Daily Planet Update

Things have been extremely busy here at the Doghouse of Solitude of late and I thought I would take a brief moment to update my vast legions of followers. Ok, the forty some odd people who bother with me. Thanks by the way. I feel wanted. Not supervillain wanted, just...well, you get the idea.

I have a new full time job! Woo Hoo! Starting Monday, August 2nd, I am now an assistant Canine Behaviour Counselor. I've been pursuing my interest in dog behaviour and training and I've finally reached the next level. I can't tell you how excited I am. I not only get paid to work with dogs but I will get to continue additional education on the subject of canine training and psychology while I work. Too awesome.

Now, on to cool comic book superhero RPG stuff...

First, get inspired for running the new DC Adventures RPG by Green Ronin by watching the newest DC Universe Online trailer, the San Diego Comic Con trailer for Young Justice and if you know what's good for you, the DC Showcase Jonah Hex animated short that comes with the new Batman: Under The Red Hood direct to video animated film. The film is very good...the Jonah Hex short is so good it will make you cry REAL MAN tears.

The PDF of the DC Adventure RPG is out if you pre-ordered the RPG online through Green Ronin. I am not certain if it is yet available any other way. So far, it looks awesome and it gives you a preview of the Mutants & Masterminds third edition game which will have the exact same rules system. There are a number of tweaks and changes between 2E and 3E M&M and so far I likes what I sees.

OK, more to come on Sunday. I think I'm going to go watch Jonah Hex again.

Barking Alien

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Brave and The Bold

"Fortune favors the bold." Phormio by Terence

No one phrase better describes my overall attitude towards the players in my games than this. While my games certainly include complex plots, romantic entanglements and deep philosphical questions, I'll be damned if you can't solve a good number of problems by grabbing a bus and throwing it at your opponent. If you hide from the action, you hide from the rewards. If you leap into the fray, you may just land on fame and fortune.

I will even go so far as to say that this player...

"OK, I open the door BUT I don't actually OPEN it. I nudge it just enough that I will be able to hear anyone inside without the sound being too muffled. I should also be able to smell any strong odors through the tiny space between the door and the door frame. Now, if I get any indication of unsafe conditions before I nudge the door, I call the thief over to check for traps. As I matter of fact, lets send the thief over first and I (the heavily armed and armored Paladin with high stats and hit points) will wait some distance behind her until its clear. Now..." going to die. If not die than its a good bet they'll be maimed horribly.

This person on the other hand...

"OK, drawing my sword, I kick the door open and immediately duck and roll to my right. As the next person comes in behind me I let out my battle cry to distract any opponents and get them focused on me. I shield bash the first foul thing to approach me and slash the next one with my blade!" more likely to survive and discover the lost treasure of the Merchant Barons of Bressdore. Or whatever.

My gaming is inspired by American Comic Books, Japanese Animation and a variety of action/adventure movies. Smarts are indeed a prime factor in successfully getting through an adventure session but the smarts of a coward are not nearly as cool as those of a hero.

Be a hero. Take a chance. Try something crazy.

Kick down a door.

Barking Alien

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Comic Book Crossovers

I thought I'd relax a little after my previous post and do something a bit nostalgic and fun.

Here, for your idea-inspiring pleasure, is a list of "My Favorite Non-Superhero Game Modules to Use for Superhero Gaming!" Huzzah!

WARNING: Possible Old School Module Spoilers. Don't say I didn't warn you.

GW1 Legion of Gold (Gamma World, TSR 1981) 

After defeating a major villain of the high technology, world-conqueror/megalomaniac variety, the heroes discover the bad guy's hidden cache of failed and/or unfinished projects. Among them are a set of golden armored robots and a small sphere.

Messing with the sphere sends the team into the distant future. At that point, run the module as normal with the goal of locating the time shifting globe - which seems to have vanished - before a villainous future mutant does.

In a Marvel Comics setting perhaps the robots, the sphere, and other items were obtained from Kang, The Conqueror. In DC, travel to the future world of Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth. Maybe there is a villain controlling the gear in the future who is a descendant of the villain the PC's defeated in the first place. Maybe it is the villain himself, having survived into this distant time of the Apocalypse.

S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (Dungeons & Dragons, TSR, 1980)

In an attempt to escape from local authorities and/or superheroes, a low grade telepathic villain hides in the mountains near his small town. Deep in the recesses of this poorly mapped locale, the psionic comes across a cave that leads to an advanced spacecraft buried for hundreds of years.

While exploring the ship, the uninvited guest locates a suspended animation pod containing the vessel's only Human survivor, the ship's commanding officer. The telepath attempts to read his mind and is overwhelmed by the combination of future knowledge and latent psychic ability the captain possessed. Weeks later the PCs are called in because the region's emergency services are overwhelmed by calls of robot monsters and all manner of strange things attacking townsfolk and travelers near the mountains. The culprit is the telepath, now believing himself to be 'Captain DarkStar' or something and getting the original crew's mission horribly garbled in his now severely deluded mind.

In Marvel, the telepath is a Mutant and the vessel is a lost Kree or Shi'ar ship. In DC the vessel could be from any number of worlds or from the future (the Legion's 30th Century or the alternate 21st Century of Tommy Tomorrow). Perhaps the persona of the telepath is fighting to break free of this gestalt mind and will aid the PCs if possible.

EX 1-2 Dungeonland and Beyond The Magic Mirror (Dungeons & Draogns, TSR, 1983)

If you are unfamiliar with these two brilliantly twisted modules for shame on you. They are two of Gary Gygax's last, great, acid trip adventures before his departure from TSR. They are also perfect for Superhero RPG players who are getting a little too full of their ability to leap tall buildings and bend steel with their bare hands.

There are so many ways to go with these two devilishly, dangerous diversions into the world of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland that I hardly know where to begin. In Marvel, perhaps none of it is real and rather an elaborate high-tech trap filled theme park built by Arcade. The same could be done in DC if the Mad Hatter teamed up with a high technology villain.

However, a team-up of Mad Hatter and Mr. Mxyzptlk would pretty much kick ass too and everything would be 'real'.

I6 Ravenloft (Dungeons & Dragons, TSR, 1983)

The PCs can easily get caught up in the Count's plot, either by finding themselves in the middle of the conflict, while investigating some other crime (which may or may not be connected), or because one of them has supernatural ties.

In a Marvel game Zarovich may be an enemy of Morbius, The Living Vampire or trying to steal the mystic power of Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, or another supernatural character. In DC I could see Strahd becoming obsessed with Zatanna, who resembles his lost love, which distracts him from his other goals unless he thinks he can use her to defeat his enemies. Also, the often forgotten Lord Bennett of I...Vampire could play a role in the story. Heheheh...more ideas are on the way...

Barking Alien

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Original Universe

Another of DC's promotional taglines was "DC - The Original Universe".

This one always bugged me because it was used quite some time after Crisis on Infinite Earths basically eliminated the 'Original Universe' of DC Comics.

I've always felt that DC Comics was either afraid of or terribly embarrased by it greatest asset; Its roughly 70 of years of comic book history. You get the feeling that their editors and writers are all sitting around at some reunion party, all cool, hip jet-setters, looking at old photos and saying, "Wow, can you believe we used to let Supergirl dress like that?" "Whose idea was it to have a villain called Crazy Quilt?" "Did I really have an issue with White Kryptonite that kills plants?"

Yes. You did. Don't ignore it like you would that nerdy girl who had a crush on you in high school. Don't pretend it didn't happen. And for the love of Pete, please don't create a company-wide crossover series to eliminate all those awesome, creative, gonzo ideas so you can retcon everything into the new, edgy DC. If I wanted a new, edgy DC I'd read Marvel. Or Krypto forbid, Wildstorm. -SHUDDER-

If you take a second look at that nerdy chick you'll more than likely realize she grew up to be pretty hot and you're going to kick yourself for ignoring her. Its amazing to me how short sighted professional creative people can be. Instead of destroying stuff or saying something didn't happen, just don't use it if you don't have any good ideas for what to do with it. I mean, did killing off the Question and making the character a latina, lesbian ex-cop really net you a lot more money than you were making with the classic Vic Sage version. guess is no. So why do it? For the sake of doing it? Maybe because you don't have enough minority characters (an issue DC has always had that I will address in another post)? Than maybe make some new original ones.

My point is, only the concept of Hypertime really explained in well. In a nutshell, everything happened. Superman was Superboy in his teens and he wasn't. There are an infinite number of parallel Earths and there aren't. I want my dozen types of Kryptonite, the Inferior Five, the original Donna Troy origin and everything else someone at some point thought was cool enough to create and someone else thought to erase from continuity in favor of an idea that didn't last half as long in anyone's memory.

If you have what you think is a good idea, use it. If you can't think of what to do with an idea that already exists, leave it alone. Let the fans decide if you were right with their wallets.

Barking Alien