Monday, January 1, 2024

New Salem Introduction

This series is going to explore possible ways to build an OSR style play for a comic book super-hero setting. This is perceived as difficult for a couple of reasons, but the big one is Comic book super-heroes are defenders of the status quo and hence reactionary, restoring order when the villains actions have created chaos; OSR play emphasizes player-defined goals that will inherently change the setting.

(Other reasons - such as mechanical complexity and rigor in many supers systems, or the presence hero point systems that place narrative control in players hands - are resolved just by system selection. Villains & Vigilantes 2.1 Edition was primarily written in 1982 and is much an OSR era design as its original edition from1979. No hero points, narrative expectations, random event tables, random character creation, no enforced character balance; perfect for this experiment.)

I'm trying to solve this problem by taking a Batman Year 1 approach: the city the heroes are operating in is fundamentally broken. The government is corrupt; the police are by and large little more than their own gang; organized crime rules much of the city. There are 'points of light' the PCs can protect and nourish - the one good cop, the crusading DA, the indominable publisher of one local paper - as well as the swaths of every day people who need protecting. But the PCs heroes have to drive it: pick where in the city to start, how to tackle what problem, who to negotiate with, who to take down. The city may someday have a bright status quo to protect, but the PCs have to get there. 

To start I'm following TardisCaptain's annual character creation challenge: 31 days, 31 characters for New Salem, mostly villains, some points of light (no other heroes; that's the PCs job), with the villains laid out in a Conspyramid (see the Alexandrian's review of Nights Black Agents to explain that, or my prior playing with it) to give me a sense of the city's villain politics. 

Over the rest of the year I'll start looking at ways to apply the conspyramid, how to handle change over time, and tweaks tot he V&V 2.1 rules for this, and so on. But for right now we're building some villains! 

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