This idea started as a twitter thread. I started listing the various settings of D&D. That was both useful and a reminder of the limits of Twitter. What I ran into was the limited character count of twitter. This made me abbreviate the list in places where I shouldn’t have. I also failed to list a couple of major items. This post is part of my attempt to be more thorough.
I have been thinking alot about Superhero RPG’s lately. I am a fan of them and I have been since the TSR Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game came out in the 80’s. I went on to run multiple games in multiple systems, but Champions certainly got most of my time.
I love comics…let me restate that…I LOVE COMICS!
I read a whole bunch of comics. I have been reading them pretty much since I learned how to read. Most of them were superhero stories, so enjoying superhero RPG;s ties into that. I fell off playing the superhero RPG’s about a decade ago. Over time as the design sensibilities of RPG’s moved on, but a lot of the superhero games did not follow those changes. There have been a couple of major games developed since I stopped running them, so maybe they caught up.
I recently started watching Calisto6 rpg streams. It is a superhero game set in a cyberpunk future, using the Cypher system, and involving the players from the Star Trek RPG stream, Shields of Tomorrow. They are doing a good job with the games and it has refreshed my desire to make a good superhero RPG of my own.
With that in mind, here are some design guidelines I would use and look for in a superhero RPG.
Honor Among Thieves
They say there is no honor among thieves. That is probably true, but there are rules. There are societies, crews and of course guilds. I have written up a few guilds and there are plenty of others to draw on, but it can be hard for some folks to figure out how to use them.
The easiest use of course is adversaries. They steal the PC’s stuff and the PC’s have to get it back. Either that, or they beat the PC’s to the loot. That is fine but is not always the most compelling answer. Many players are into the whole idea of playing criminals. There is something to the appeal of crime stories. There is a reason why we keep seeing heist films getting made. Gangster flicks are iconic and Robin Hood is an enduring legend. Criminal societies make good stories.
The problem is, not everyone knows how to translate that kind of story to table top. If you will permit, I will offer some advice on that point.
So….new year. Last year was not great on so may levels. It was a bad year. It gets no biscuit. Now we begin a new year with a new plan. The plans may go off the rails, but you got to start somewhere. A plan is not a resolution. A plan is structure of activities and goals. Here is my plan for 2018.
I think I have established I love spell books. The spell book is an integral part of the wizardry motif. The book, the object, is a needed part of what wizards do in D&D. The current rules do require you to record your spells, but I do think it could be even more emphasized.
I love spell books. I did a video about them and everything. They are fascinating elements to magic in fantasy. Wizards are supposed to be wise. They got that way because of what they learned. None of that is cutting deals with powers, thank you very much. I am looking at you Warlocks. Books are where you store that knowledge.
First post of the new year, and it isn’t a resolutions post? What silliness is this? Nope, I am going to post another in my series on doing a scifi game in 5e. The first post can be found here.
Where was I? Ah, Backgrounds.
Backgrounds are awesome. It is one of the most interesting aspects to 5th editions is the idea of backgrounds. It adds more depth than just class and race. It adds variety to characters, flavor, and themes. Things like it had existed before, of course. In 2nd edition, there were the kits, which sort of tied to a background, and also added some subclass like features.
A few things. First, you can find my earlier posts on this Science Fiction 5e thread here, and here.
Second, let me know if you like these. I will keep writing them if people are getting anything out of them.
Third, sorry it took a day or two longer to get this out. Writing races is not as exciting and writing classes. I also had some other issues going on, but real life is like that some times. I did briefly consider doing my own artwork for these, but remembered I am not a great artist.
So, I started out with the notion of making a 5th edition Scifi game. This was spurred by the idea of exploring what you can do with the 5th edition system framework. All fun and games, until you realize how much work it can be. Oh well, we continue the madness.
The problems with setting
The question of game design is one of experience. What stories are the players going to have here? What experiences do you want them to have? The original role-playing games, proto-D&D and its ilk, were extensions of war games. They were changed because the players wanted a different experience from what they were finding in the wargames. The rules grew out of that desire for a new experience.
Because I am lazy.
Not really, but it sounded funny. Let me explain.