I’ve been reading a lot of old comics this week.
- Warren Ellis Planetary
- The Eclipse Miracleman stories.
- I’m trying to track down my Authority trade paperbacks as well.
There’s been a recent thread on RPG.net about creating a setting where Superheroes conquered the world.
This, along with other memes, was part of what I was working on with the Watchtower game.
When I first started writing my own superhero settings for the Marvel Super Heroes game, I started with Zenith. This was the name of a team of superheroes based in the UK (and years before Zenith the superhero started in 2000AD). The original lineup was Metalon (strongman), a Minddancer (telepath) and Shatter (telekinetic). As time went on, the lineup changed. Metalon and Shatter stayed, but they added Aura (telepath), Scorch (pyrokinetic), Sentinel (energy manipulator) and Synapse (speedster). It was around this time that I started writing my own fiction around these characters which turned into my first and only attempt at a novel. As I was about fourteen, it needed some work, needless to say.
Zenith stayed with me for around 3 years until they lost their government funding. Synapse died, Metalon and Sentinel left and a new group called Apocalypse Inc. started, funded by the rich but probably insane Hemlock (snaffled from Jack of Hearts, Marvel Premiere #44). Additions to the team were Stasis (Healer) and Nucleon (radiation controller). There were also villains from the time: Tantrum and Hysteria, Skybreaker, The Red Menace, Lillith. This was all using the Marvel System.
I started writing my combined UK background for superheroes, including the WW1 supersoldier, Yeoman, his modern day clone, Lionheart, Lancaster, Vitesse, Prodigy, La Feu, Striker, Plasma, Blaze “Death!”, Frost, Nano, DeathMaster, Deacon, Schreck.
Not long after I started playing in Jeremy’s game and this introduced the Zombie Squad to my cosmology. The lineup, as I recall, was Sergeant Strike (scrapper with a force field), Demon Motorbike guy (it had a graser too), UnderGraduate Von Doom (you know, ruler of small country, but before he got his doctorate), Stick (a martial artist) and Baron Samedi (voodoo loa). They fought giant robots, travelled to Ravenloft (where we recruited Strahd) and other places and annoyed an ancient evil a million years ago in a place a million light years away which immediately started pursuing them at light speed. And should have arrived…just…about…then. I don’t remember fighting it. I think we may have changed game. Or left the group. I don’t remember. We used Jeremy’s homebrew system for this game.
The next superhero game involved the Protectors. These individuals: Glitter, Warhead, Download, Quill, Inferno – faced off a weather manipulator in Colorado and that was the only game we played. We used the ill-fated Heroes and Heroines for this.
After that, we had quite a few one-offs until I got a few friends together, wrote a backstory for the US involvement in the world and started my first Watchtower game. This was really the first superhero game that I placed in the USA. The Watchtower was an organisation that spanned the US with approximately 40 offices across the nation. They had quasi-legal status with the US government though few actual legal powers but a good relationship with the Federal government made crime-fighting a lot easier. The San Francisco team had recently been killed by a bloodthirsty voillain known as Bloodrage and they were recruiting new members. They were Jade Dragon (Alan), Atomic III (Gavin), Bullet (Iain), Ebony (John) and Ivory (Aidan). Gavin’s second character, Wraith, debuted when he let Atomic III go mad. Aidan’s second character, Quickening, replaced Ivory pretty soon as well. Most notably they eliminated (yes, that is a euphemism for killed) Bloodrage and defeated ARES. the US Supersoldier. They also witnessed first hand the issues with FORTRESS and why time-travel is bad.
This involved creating a whole background for the US as well. This was “The American Dream” and had luminaries such as Atomic I, Lifeline, Moon Boy and others I don’t remember. World War 2 superheroes and their unfinished legacies.
A few years later, we continued with the New York Watchtower. Again it started with a recruitment drive where Balance (Paul), Yellowfist (Gavin), Indigo (Aidan) and Skyhook (Rob) joined up with other existing members (Red Shift, Psiren, Jack White) to bolster out the membership. There was a conspiracy afoot to extend the reach of the Watchtower globally though ‘conspiracy’ often has negative connotations. This was the beginnings of an “Authority” level campaign which is why I permitted the monstrously powerful characters that the players had. e.g.
- Yellowfist, a modern-day Native American shaman gained his powers by channeling spirits. In theory he could do anything but he only had Falcon and Bear at the start.
- Skyhook could move huge amounts of stuff around with the power of his mind. This includes a TK gun platform as well as being able to lift huge amounts.
- Balance has absolute control over matter – being able to shape almost any amount at will and being able to transmute other amounts.
- Indigo, a high tech hero, had teleportation abilities which could place objects on the outskirts of the solar system.
The “plan” was that they would have the opportunity to step into these roles. Yellowfist as the infantry, with Skyhook as artillery, Balance as the engineers and Indigo as recon and supply. Sadly they only got round to cleaning up the oceans before, due to real life, we had to split the group.
I’d still like to continue that game, in theory, with the same or different characters.
This finishes some of the cosmology for my superhero games.
I have your Authority BIG-ASS reprint, if you’re looking for that. Make sure you have some lifting gear to read it though.
(ps – that sum at the end is bloody hard)
Last issue of Planetary is next month. Have been waiting for that one for an age.