Friday, May 31, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 15

15: Characters in Champions

I had promised myself that I would work out all four of the main main movie heroes in HERO terms for today’s post but it just didn’t happen. I should, heaven knows, but I’m too close to deadline and just don’t have the energy. This is why if I were to run a HERO game it would be in something like this where I only had to build one villain every two months.

More specifically I get to the skills system and come to a screeching halt. I prefer my skill systems to cap out at 20 or so skills, seeing anything past that as skills being too specific or trying to cover too many genres. HERO has a lot more than that, plus things like their skill based martial arts by maneuver, defensive actions and so on. The costs are weighted so much to combat as to be, at least to me, comic. It’s cheaper to be an un-paralleled surgeon than a modestly good martial artist, and being a really good martial artist has to cost as much as being a potent superhuman, in the name of balance. There are reasons why I don’t use the system.  Think I need someone to run a good yearlong HERO game for me to see why it’s so beloved. I get the rules, I can model powers, arrange point balances, etc. but I just don’t understand why.

In any event, here are two of the four heroes. And with all the grousing I’ve done lately about Star Trek no points for guessing what I’m up to next month.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Musings: Last Hero Movie request

Growing up I was a big fan of Iron Man and was therefore thrilled when Marvel got the Iron Man movie right. I liked the X-Men and have been satisfied with the first, second and first class films, even if they stray farther from the comics than I'd like in places (and don't give Cyclops enough to do). I was also a Batman fan but his movies have been very much a mixed bag, and I didn't even bother to go see the last one.

My crown jewel growing up was Fantastic Four. It's a shame that the movie version was so bad. It's a delicate concept in the family dynamics and exploration and I fear I will never see it done right for the same reasons I was grousing about Trek recently - exploration is not a flashy summer blockbuster.

Still, my real question is who you'd like to see a movie for AT ALL. No commenting on how you'd like to see X done right. It has to be a super hero who's never hit the movie screen.

Chewing on this myself I think I'll go with... Blue Devil. Call me crazy but his original series, the first year of it at least, was a lot of fun. Plus it's set in Holywood and about actors and stunt people and Holywood loves being narcissitc. It could be a fun action/comedy horror movie. the feel good folm of the summer!

C'mon - who's with me!

As a side note, I want to plug this awesome blog
covers to super hero team ups that never happened. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 14

14: Game Mechanics Changes in HERO

I am not a natural fan of the HERO system and Champions. I admire how long it’s been in publication and how closely it hewed to its original rules but I find character creation to be too math intensive and granular and the characters are too balanced for combat, which makes the fights last too long. This campaign, however, is somewhere that I think it would work well.

First of all, the granularity is a boon when you’re trying to differentiate between the supporting characters – especially in situations with multiple band members or doctors who would have identical backgrounds in V&V. And the time it takes to build a character in HERO is less of a factor when as a GM I only have to make up one villain per movie, along with some mook stats. That takes the burden off.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


This marks post 101. Heh. I guess I'm really doing this. 

I did get a nice affirmation from the readers at Monkey House Games that there were some V&V players who tuned it for last month. Glad to have the company. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 13

13: Characters in V&V

Here are the sample heroes in V&V, to give you an idea of what I was talking about with rules mods. Broad Backgrounds are ALL CAPS, focused backgrounds are Standard Caps. The character Origin is in (parenthesis) as normal.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Star Trek: Dark Tidings

Just as a feared any attempts to discuss the depth of failure and suckatude of the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movie (to be fair, I have not given them money - I saw the first, and the reviews from people I trust are coming back very bad, and the synopses of the plot are worse than I dreamed, and after having suffered through the first one I feel comfortable in trusting that the reviews are accurate) is being met with the usual chorus of "it was a fun ride", "it wasn't that bad" and the worst "you're just too attached to the old series."

Personally I want my movies to engage me, surprise me or challenge me, but I'm not averse to fun rides. But if I wanted a fun ride I would go see Furious 6. But you you liked it as a fun ride, it was designed to be a fun ride, I'm glad it worked for you, please read no further. Your opinion is completely valid.

I just don't share it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 12

12: Game Mechanics Changes - V&V

After all that hoo-ha it’s time to do some game mechanics! As I stated at the beginning I’d likely use Villains & Vigilantes. V&V has an awful lot going for it, but for our purposes it’s big selling point is that powers are clearly separated from the rest of the character – if your hero is super strong it’s because you have the power of Super-Strength, which integrates seamlessly into your attributes but stands on its own. That makes Frequency easier to integrate as a concept. Plus, the really iconic super heroes can boil down to a handful of key abilities, which V&V does without getting bogged down into a lot of in the weeds rules.

It’s not perfect, however – that same ‘view from 500 feet’ ethos that works for the powers makes it hard to model the supporting cast PCs. Sure, someone can have a range of above average stats and hold their own in a fight, but as written it doesn’t model skills that don’t reach to the super-human level (doubly so when it’s an out of combat skill). Backgrounds are loosely defined, which can be a blessing or a curse. I discussed some rules mods back in the Heroes of the United Worlds posts and I’ll be reusing some of them here.

1. Similar to Inventing % being Intelligence x3, characters have Feat  % (Strength x3), a Resistance % (Endurance x3), Acrobatics % (Agility x3) and Influence % (Charisma x3) as a ‘mid-range’ saving throw. GMs use these for truly complex tests against Backgrounds, while moderate tests are done at d20. Outside their Backgrounds moderate tests are done at the x3 numbers and complex tests are done on d% vs. the attribute.

2. Like Inventing Points, characters have Level-increased Points for Charisma (Contact Points, used to create one use or long term contacts in play), Endurance (Resistance Points, used in place of the % save vs. Power Score to avoid death in the current rules) and Evasion Points (Spent to eliminate one single source of damage, a ‘get the hell out of the way’ roll). All of these points require an appropriate save and are single use.

3. In lieu of all other actions in combat characters can make a Feat % to add another Strength Multiple to their carrying capacity. This costs 5 Power Points, takes all actions and goes on Initiative 1 at the end of the round. This gets heroes into the movie levels of super human strength without going nuts.

4. Rules 3 applies to powers as well, with Endurance subbing for Strength for physical powers and Charisma for mental ones. Damages are Increased based on the original powers damage:
D8 normal normally becomes d8 when ‘pushed’
D10 normal normally becomes d12 when ‘pushed’
D12 normal normally becomes 2d8 when ‘pushed’
2d8 normal normally becomes 3d10 when ‘pushed’
D20 normal normally becomes 4d10 when ‘pushed’

5. Rather than changing weight for body transformation powers, each level of the Growth table
a) increases your carrying capacity by the weight factor
b) divides any incoming damage by the height factor, so if you’re at x1.5 height a 9 damage energy blast would do 6 damage; If you’re at 6 times height is does 1.5 rounded down to 1, and
c) your height modifier is added to your Initiative Interval  so at 1x height you act every 15 phases, at 1.5 it’s every 16, and at 7 times height it’s every 22 phases.
Other weight increasing powers can benchmark against the growth chart. The character becomes strong, hard to hurt and slow without recalculating everything.

6. Charisma is no longer a measure of how Good or Evil you are, it’s just how charismatic you are and the ‘same side’ bonuses apply to all.

Now on to the “new” rules

7. Increase the basic HTH chance to 8 – people are just better able to hit. However, you should also place the modifiers for weapons AFTER defenses, making weapons less useful against defense types. This privileges super-types who have defenses as their ability to punch mooks is unhindered but the mooks don’t have that advantage.

8. A character has 2 Backgrounds that count at the ‘broad’ level or 1 at professional and 2 at ’focused’, or 4 at ‘focused’. The difference is in the background’s Penumbra (thanks to Chad Underkoffler for that term) – Broad level is assumed to include a wide array of skills, experience and contacts – a DOCTOR is assumed to have experience with all fields of medicine, instrumentation, contacts in specialized fields and anything else a doctor might do. Focused backgrounds are smaller in their penumbra, with at most one or two contacts and little experience outside the area noted on the sheet – such Doctor would have a specialization in, say, anesthesiology or ophthalmology, in which they may be very skilled (based off their intelligence) but lack the polymath level of their DOCTOR compatriot. All of this links to rules mod #1.

9. Supporting Cast members have a power roll of 1 (so 3 rolls, 1 power or 2 powers + weakness) and those powers should be either on the skills table or designed in such a way as to be extreme skills or other things that aren’t exactly powers. Feel free to get a little wacky with some of these – Nurse Betty has the power of Summon Bondage Incident, after all, so fidelity to the genre rules is much more important than reality. Secondary heroes roll up as normal.

10. For the main heroes go as broad as you want with the powers once they’re rolled – don’t focus on the rulebook except as a starting point. The main heroes probably still have a limited number of Powers as concepts but they are able to be very versatile with those powers. If their heroes have a background of any sort of experience they should be level 4 when they first appear; assume 2 levels of improvement between movies.

That’s all we need to do really to get V&V to work for this. I’ll again stress that it’s just a wonderful system for iconic heroes. The later rules will make more sense with the example heroes next week.

That’s all for today – I’ve been told by reliable sources that my blog posts run too long (Me? Wordy? Never?!?!) and it’s late, so I’m going to cut this one short.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Musings: Borrowing. or, the ending credits

With the presentation of the Universal Comics movies finished I need to run some closing credits for where I stole ideas.

Phoenix first appeared as Rebecca's PC in David Utter's Four Winds PbEM, a V&V campaign where people got powers at the turn of the millennium. She had said once she wanted to do more with the character so I grafted on a new, campaign specific origin story and went nuts when I was prepping to pitch this idea to my players some time ago. For the movie write ups I raided the Four Winds archive for villain concepts. It was a fun little campaign, and if you follow the link you'll be surprised to learn that Tripod is still hosting pages out in webspace.

The original concepts in Captain Nostalgia first came from Dr. Nostalgia, a Champions character created by Scott K. Jamison and described in Alarums & Excursions #400. He got a new background and a change from Doctor to Captain since the UCU was swarming with Doctors already, but the but the idea of the eternally optimistic jetpack and raygun wielding detective came from Scott. Nostalgia's secret id is a nod to Forrest Ackerman, to whom all of us in fandom are indebted. The character's look is directly modeled on Ackerman's costume, seen in the picture accompanying this article.

David Twiddy came up with a lot of the ideas on Aeaea (which he informed me is actually written Aeaeae, but I was too far gone in the posts to try to go back and change it). While take full responsibility for Potemkin Villager and Matryoshka, Mr. Alphabet's original design came from Adam Star Ruvola's V&V campaign for David in the 80's, of which David is still exceedingly fond.

James Cambias obviously came up with Doc Toltec, but I think the link made that clear.

The Chilean Mandrinate's master plan from the second crossover movie was drawn from Stephen Baxter's Xeelee sequence. I have other master plans for them if I ever get to use them.

I think that's everything. Now, what have you been stealing for your games, and from whom?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 11

11: The Rest of the Movies

The creation of a shared cinematic universe is very new. The idea of standard old super-hero sequels go back to the Christopher Reeve Superman films, but the idea that the sequels should form some sort of coherent ‘arc’ for the character is also pretty new. Movies – outside of the James Bond franchise – have real problems with iconic characters. Robin Laws defines Iconic as the heroes who change the lives of the people around them while they don’t substantially change. Bond is a great example in that in each movie Bond is, well Bond and there’s little to no change to his character and techniques.

(They broke this rule with the Daniel Craig films to date, in which they flet the need to do an origin story to get Bond to being Bond over 3 films; one wonders what they’ll do next, other stand start over again. But I digress.)

Movies, as we discussed earlier, have their love of origin stories because of their strong through lines and obvious character growth. Unfortunately a lot of comic book heroes are iconic, and there isn’t a ton of room for what screenwriters consider to be character growth before they stop being who they should be. As Christopher Nolan explored in his Batman films one of the ways for Bruce Wayne – who spent his life training to be one specific thing – to meaningfully change is to stop being Batman. So he does, bot at the start of Dark Knight Rises and at the end, but I don’t want to see Bruce Wayne not be Batman. But Hollywood has no interest in the other changes Bruce Wayne might make. While we making games that should feel like movies that doesn’t mean we have wear those same blinkers when it comes to our sequels. Those blinkers include
·         The hero loses his powers (or control of same) in the second act and has to recover/relearn how to use them – i.e. rerun the origin story.
·         The hero has a new romantic interest (and the old one has vanished) so we can rerun the romantic subplot.

I had started talking about the need for trilogy plotting but decided against it as the math just isn’t there. Therefore I caution you against thinking that way, but will probably example things out like that anyway.

The cinematic universe conceit means that after we get through the next cycle of solo movies we have another team up film, but as long as we have the same connective ideas we established earlier (and perhaps add new ones) the films don’t have to have very strong links to each other or to the next team up. It’s much more important that the underlying Power Metaphor, Universe Origin and tone from the core hero’s first movie stay in place. The first two help link the shared universe together, but the last keeps the hero’s own continuity and style intact. Here are your check points for the sequels
·         Any supporting cast that can return should return
·         If people don’t have PCs; consider taking a secondary hero from the team up film, or creating a new secondary hero.
·         Continue any emotional arcs from the first film – love stories should advance, rivalries should deepen, etc…
·         If a secondary hero with powers similar to the main hero is introduced we might want to have their origin story.
·         Mine the original publication history for one or maybe two bad guys. If you go with two consider having one planner and one tough guy, or figure out how the villains might also be at odds.
Again, examples would help

Captain Nostalgia II

Now is the time to bring in 6E as an agent of the Ad Astras, and Nostalgia has a supporting cast of pretty capable people with similar powers (he, Buzz & 6E) in terms of the willpower, combat training and (for Nostlagia and 6E) the physical advantages, so the Frequency rules are important. Since the Ad Astras are worldwide organization we should take advantage of that. Hollywood would love to have the inherently optimistic Ad Astras actually have a rotten core as the villain but that runs absolutely against the Nostalgia tone. I think that Ralph Crabtree was the villain in the Conflagration and he had ties to Ad Astras, so we kinda did that already. So any tension should be about the Ad Astra repurposing of the Uberjaager training to make 6E but that’s just a character bit and not the core of the plot.

My idea for the plot therefore is the Ad Astras fighting a world wide conspiracy that is something of their opposite number, trying to control scientific advancement and restrain human development (something like the Four from planetary). That lets us start with a murder mystery in the first act (this is captain Nostalgia, after all) that turns into a round the world thriller. All we need now is the fourth PC, and Dave asked to bring in Adam Prime, a Universal Comics character who is an albino gorilla who mastered a universal sign language and served as a G-Man in the 1930’s. His origin started with a murder mystery, and his odd science background works with the Ad Astras. This movie will probably end up feeling like a later era James Bond film.

Aeaea II

Aeaea needs a large new supporting cast, but we can keep Aldebaron. Someone asks to play Glenda, Fairy Princess and that pretty much nails down the villain as being evil Faerie. However the GM wanted to do something with the cold war soviet villains. Solution – Potemkin Villager is now working for Baba Yaga. Finally we can introduce a new love interest since Karnak is gone and not coming back.

First act is some stuff with Aldebaron and Aeaea dealing with routine magical issues that bring them in contact with whoever Aeaea’s new love interest is as well as Glenda. The first act will pull them all together fighting some magical event that is being orchestrated by Potemkin Villager, who is as creepy as we can make him, and who is a cat’s-paw for Baba Yaga, who is aiming for Russian dominance of the bay area’s high magic zone, in part to fight an even bigger threat. If the Nostalgia movies are world spanning mysteries the Aeaea movies are tinged with horror; the inclusion of a magic shoe girl will not change that.

Phoenix: Red Sky Diary

Phoenix’s key supporting cast member, Freddie, is still around, and the player asks to tap into the story arc of Amanda hitting it big in the music scene, becoming the new guitarist and back up vocalist for the band Red Sky Diary. This moves her out of the struggling NYC scene and into the worldwide music glitterati, and Freddie’s job expands to helping her keep her head (yeah, good plan) in the new environment. The other two supporting cast members can be the other band members, one of whom is a romantic interest and the other one is a secret villain, said secret villain is a conflagration victim who happens to show up in the cities that RSD is playing.

I kind of like the idea of the origin story for this movie being the member of the band slowly undergoing a bodily metamorphosis into Chimera, and since Chimera is a shape-shifter we can easily have a fake out villain. Phoenix isn’t really a detective hero so we can string this out long enough. This one feels a little weak, but that’s somewhat common for the second movie….

Doc Toltec II: True Nurse Adventures

Since Ralph Crabtree became the villain and Dr. Robinson died we’re now at the status quo for Doc and Nurse Betty. The other two PCs are a police officer who had been at best a secondary character in the original book an Bill Jackson, who is now a tech guy as he is in the TV show. The movie takes things down from the cosmic level to have Doc Toltec fighting organized crime in Chicago. There’s a war going on between the old school mobs and ONI, who have taken on something of a Tong aspect but with their weird high tech magic. At the end ONI are just a bigger threat and the third act should be Toltec teaming up with the mob to defeat them, and then arrange a sting to capture the core mobsters as well, cleaning up the city in one fell swoop.

In this three way war we see the rise of one particular mobster, Johnny Deuce, who has the hots for Nurse Betty (and come on, who doesn’t?). We could also set things up where Deuce is the 4th player character. In any event the movie should end with Deuce in charge of the remaining Chicago mobs and set things up for the next fim.

Crossover II

And it’s time for the next big crossover movie. The villain in this one is ONI, who are revealed as being the agents of the Chilean Mandrinate, villains from the Aeaea book originally who have been populating the Doc Toltec movies and staying in the background in Aeaea. The Mandrinate’s big plan is to steal one of the existing time machines (ideally Doc Toltec’s time platform, but it could be from Ad Astra) to go back to their own founding and uplift themselves. This means midway through the movie the Mandrinate become vastly, staggeringly more powerful as they have 600+ years of technological and magical advancement as well as improving their own bodies with stolen 23rd Nazi eugenics techniques. Plus they suddenly unveil a colony on Venus and unleash an army. Ideally at the end of the film Phoenix makes a sacrifice play that makes it look like she’s dead but in fact she’s thrown to a new arm of the galaxy.

Captain Nostalgia III

Eztra-Diimensional Nazis appear!

Aeaea III

Mandrinate Clean Up, I expect. I really don’t want to have the HIV demon come back.

Phoenix: Map of Stars

It’s the “other side of the galaxy, getting home” arc

Doc Toltec III

Doc and Johnny Deuce fight Vampires!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 10

10: The Inevitable Crossover!

I’ve been hinting at this for a while, but we’re here now – the movie in which we link together the other films.

Now, in theory we should have had teaser sequences linking one film to another (a good reason to sketch first acts in advance) but nothing is immediately coming to mind. In theory we should also have another movie – either Captain Nostalgia 2 or Aeaea 2 – before the big film to fit in the Iron Man 2 movie, but I’m skipping that. Yes, I could probably use the screen real estate but I also have to take into consideration spotlight time issues.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 9

9: the first film sequence, part 2

Now to detail the other movies in the first sequence:

Phoenix, the Movie!

As discussed last time the PC structure of this movie, along with the basics of the Phoenix stories, is a parallel story that focuses in one part on Amanda and Freddie and the other part on Robinson and Sun. In both cases the threat is Manticore, one of the classic Phoenix villains from the NYC era. To make sure these tie together Abrowski can be Freddie’s uncle (not his father – that might reveal that he has a last name!).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Musings: More movie disappointments

OK, this is a potential spoiler/rumor

If this is true - and part of me is really worried that it is - than Warner Brothers won't be seeing a dime of my money on this one. How hard can it be to get the Superman origin right. I mean really. I don't know why you feel the overwhelming need to do the origin freakin' again, but it's not hard. You want to have someone actual person or group rather than natural forces make Krypton explode I'll be a little unhappy but they did this in the post crisis comic (where the Black Circle group's evil weapons started the chain reaction that destroyed the planet centuries later) so I can let it slide. You want to have General Zod be specifically responsible for it I'll think you're indulging in pointless Hollywood daddy issues. But this? This is a deal breaker. this means that they aren't taking this seriously at all.

Likewise, the identity of the villain in the new Star Trek movie makes it look even stupider than the trailer made it look.

I can tell you, however, that Iron Man 3 was pretty damn good. I don't have much to add past what Jim discusses here, but it was nice being at a movie that wasn't actively insulting my intelligence, trashing the source material, or both.

So what movies are you actively not looking forward to?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 8

8: The First Film Sequence

With the first film out of the way we should look at the other films in the first sequence. Timing wise I’m of two minds on this – do you have this conversation while you’re talking about act I of the first movie, or after the first movie has been gamed out? – but I think some discussion while you’re thrashing out Act I is best.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Glenda, Fairy princess

7.5 Glenda, Fairy Princess

Here’s a supporting cast member in the Aeaea universe who I developed just because I thought it was odd

Glenda Goodfellow is a pre-teen girl living in the generic American town of Springdale. After her mother’s death when Glenda was just a child she was raised by her father until he re-married Harriet Hiss and provided her with a pair of older step sisters. Unfortunately, Anastasia & Drusilla Hiss are mean spirited girls who use their popularity and good looks to cover for their various dastardly deeds, often maneuvering things so that the somewhat plain and bookish Glenda would take the blame. This changed when her father gave her a piece of her mother’s jewelry: a key shaped locket which if held and turned opened a mid-air door to a cabinet of wonders!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 7

7: Supporting Cast and Screenplay

Now we transition building the supporting cast and the plot

Last time we discussed the ideas behind a core hero’s supporting cast – how it gives the character someone to play off of for characterization, rounds out their weaker areas (though unlike team heroes the core hero is probably not wholly deficient in any area that matters for his stories) and give the other players a chance to work with secondary/NPC archetypes that can be fun to tackle as a player as long as there is equitable sharing of spotlight time.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 6

4: First Sample PC, part 2

Back to Captain Nostalgia, and today we’re going to be looking at some conceptual mechanics and work out the supporting cast in his movie.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


5.5 Starling Nurse Adventures on TV!

In 2011 I had a chance to test out the Smallville RPG character/campaign creation system.

Here’s a brief description: the game tries to emulate the form of a televised soap opera, both in terminology (the PCs are Leads, NPCs are Extras or Features based on whether they are important to one Lead or more than one) and in scenario design (GMs are advised to design episodes based on wedges that stress the Leads relationships to each other). Character and Campaign creation are a simultaneous group affair in which the players define their Leads as they define all of the resources (locations, Extras and Features) the lead can draw on, with other players linking to those resources or defining relationships between resources and Leads. Creation takes place along a lifepath where each stage gets mapped by each player allowing for some general character improvements along with a predetermined number of resources or links draw onto the butcher paper holding the relationship web.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 5

5: Remaining Sample PC

One last sample PC before we move on.

Sample PC 4: Phoenix

Our last sample PC is the youngest of the bunch, a female super hero who was a child of the Conflagration. The character first appeared in the Conflagration crossover with the idea being that the new shared universe needed a powerful super-heroine to balance out the team. The top UC creative people (Corey Lawson and Keith Wilson, team behind the popular Psi-Men book) were working the crossover and designed the following:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Make way for Captain Harryhausen!

Ray Harryhausen died today. He was 92 and lived a full life, so I can't feel too bad about it, but I must mark the occasion by sharing some ideas about a man of his skill, patience and dedication to his craft. The man was an expert, a genius, and the giant upon whose shoulders much of the modern blockbuster's special effects stands.

Which makes me wonder what would have happened if he'd turned his genius to super-hero movies. He worked in the monster movies of the 50's because they were what sold, after all. Imagine what he could have done with Superman, or Captain Marvel, fighting an army of robots, or a giant alien? Getting the flight effects to work might have been tricky, but the super-strength? Yeah, I bet he could manage that.

Rather than be regretful I am thankful for the joys and terrors he gave me as a child. Everyone raise a glass to his memory tonight, if you can.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 4

4: Other Sample PCs

One aspect of this style of game is that a certain amount of plotting has to be done in advance to better integrate the various comic book histories. As such each player should make up their core characters in advance, everyone should read them and there should be some further collaboration on world building amongst the group. Given that there has already been discussion on the (potentially) shared metaphor and the (definitely) shared origin type there should be hooks for linking everything together.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 3

3: First Sample PC, Part 1

This is our first sample PC for the Universal Comics movie line. The format for this is going to be unusual because right now I’m not concerned with the characters specific powers & mechanics so much as I am with their concepts and publication history.

Point 3 on my “differences between movies and comics” is that the movies extensively mine the character’s history to fit the themes and origin and then pepper the film with Easter Eggs for the fans. If we want to capture that concept it means we have to actually have a history that can be mined. Comic book histories are made up by the accretion of ideas: some great, some terrible, most OK. Each new creative team adds some as they re-use and rework some others. The characters slowly change personality and powers, some elements take precedence for a while and then fade into the background, events in real life or pop culture change the direction of the book. Obviously your newly created PC won’t have such a history, so we have to build one.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Musings: Film Disappointments

OK, before we go any further, read this. It's a shot by shot breakdown of the new Man of Steel trailer, and by heaven if it doesn't look like they're going to have General Zod be responsible for the destruction of Krypton and attack the Kent's farm. Which means odds on the hero's final motivation is going to be "get the guy who killed my dad(s)" because Hollywood doesn't understand anything else.

If I have just one pet peeve with superhero movies (and to be honest I have a lot more than one) it's this.  Cam we, just for a little while, NOT have a main villain be responsible for the hero's dad's/father figure's death/disappearance. Did it really need to be added to Batman, then indirectly to Batman Begins with Ras a Ghul claiming that he engineered Joe Chill's actions? Did it need to be added to Spider-Man 3? to Daredevil? to the Star Trek reboot? to the Spider Man reboot? At least Iron Man's daddy issues in IM2 are with someone trashing Howard Stark's legacy and not being responsible for his murder.

That's my big gripe about Superhero film translations. What's yours?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 2

2: Design Conceptual Framework

My first point from Monday was that movie super heroes are much tighter in their allowed origin stories than the comics. Let’s look at a few ways to get to that point in your game.

First is that you don’t have to start from scratch. If you’re already running a super hero game you can stop it at a certain point, look over what you’ve done so far for commonalities and then rework everything around those. In some ways this is a big boon when we get to the Easter Egg issue, and a lot of the ideas below still apply (with some modification).

I think it’s more likely, however, that you will be starting from scratch and building a comic book continuity being fitted to movie-style logic from the get go. In this case you should think about two things: Power Metaphor and Shared Origin.