The post for which I was writing this comment seems to have disappeared, and now I can no longer recall the name of whom I am quoting, but I wanted to save this idea. EDIT: It was Sam Zeitlin who came up with this great idea!

If you want to run a supers game, why not take the premise that you are a new edgy British writer who has been given control of a flagging title with freedom to retcon and revamp to meet his ideas of what’s realistic and interesting, leaving the characters to cope?

I would play this game so hard.

Most of the graphic novels on my shelf are deconstructions or “beloved character seen through the perspective of genre-weary writers”: Watchmen, Top 10, Tom Strong, Astro City, Supreme, etc. I feel like no one has yet attempted this meta-genre in an RPG. I don’t even know if it can be done!

28 thoughts on “The post for which I was writing this comment seems to have disappeared, and now I can no longer recall the name of…

  1. This sort of intersects with today’s #INDIEGAMEaDAY2016  question, in that this may be obscure and unrelatable, not to mention require a huge amount of knowledge of the subject matter on the part of all the participants. I mean, I dunno that you could have a random group of people sit down for this game and produce anything resembling the source material.

    I suppose you could frame the game around picking a well-known character from mainstream comics and then creating a subverted version of them, and play would involve a lot of nodding and winking about how said character is being subverted. I have no idea if that would be fun.

    If it were a GM’ed game, you probably also need a well-designed set of principles and “moves” — to use PbtA parlance — that ensures the world will react the way an “edgy British writer’s” world would.

    I dunno. Not sure this is possible.

  2. < ![CDATA[This sort of intersects with today's #INDIEGAMEaDAY2016  question, in that this may be obscure and unrelatable, not to mention require a huge amount of knowledge of the subject matter on the part of all the participants. I mean, I dunno that you could have a random group of people sit down for this game and produce anything resembling the source material. I suppose you could frame the game around picking a well-known character from mainstream comics and then creating a subverted version of them, and play would involve a lot of nodding and winking about how said character is being subverted. I have no idea if that would be fun. If it were a GM'ed game, you probably also need a well-designed set of principles and "moves" — to use PbtA parlance — that ensures the world will react the way an "edgy British writer's" world would. I dunno. Not sure this is possible.]]>

  3. I think it can be done elegantly. Hardest part might be defining the terms of engagement around “innocence and edginess” or whatever. And of course Alan Moore can always try to de-subvert the subverted so people roll.

  4. < ![CDATA[I think it can be done elegantly. Hardest part might be defining the terms of engagement around "innocence and edginess" or whatever. And of course Alan Moore can always try to de-subvert the subverted so people roll.]]>

  5. I am having a hard time imagining how the rules would make this work. Maybe start with a palette (like Microscope) of traditional superhero elements and then brainstorm the trope-subversions of your list. Create the characters for the “straight” tropes, but some element of play creates changes to the tropes that lead them toward the subverted tropes?

    Might put you on a tightrope between “weary British writers” and “_The Incredibles the RPG_”… which, frankly might be fun regardless of which side it fell on.

  6. < ![CDATA[I am having a hard time imagining how the rules would make this work. Maybe start with a palette (like Microscope) of traditional superhero elements and then brainstorm the trope-subversions of your list. Create the characters for the “straight” tropes, but some element of play creates changes to the tropes that lead them toward the subverted tropes?
    Might put you on a tightrope between “weary British writers” and “_The Incredibles the RPG_”… which, frankly might be fun regardless of which side it fell on.]]>

  7. Co-create the source comic, with a focus on being as four-color as possible, then take a round of players darkening the world in specific ways, then facilitate / require examinations of the origin.

    Actually, though, I think systemically most of the work will be done by explaining the premise. People will be good at filling it in and the mechanics can be light-touch in that area.

  8. < ![CDATA[Co-create the source comic, with a focus on being as four-color as possible, then take a round of players darkening the world in specific ways, then facilitate / require examinations of the origin. Actually, though, I think systemically most of the work will be done by explaining the premise. People will be good at filling it in and the mechanics can be light-touch in that area.]]>

  9. < ![CDATA[That method probably requires a lot of genre awareness, both of "four-colour" and of the reply movement. Which might not be a problem: those people are probably your target market anyway.]]>

  10. That was my post! I was sad when my TLDR vanished.

    Two friends and I did set up something similar to the genre-reinvisioning people are talking about in this thread (although we have never actually run it). Basically, we first created a four-color hero and supporting cast. Then we each picked an era/movement in comics – I think we had golden age, grimdark deconstruction, and 90s mythic-style (think sandman, spectre, promethea, etc). The plan was that each player was the GM for their genre. So we’d play a golden age arc with one GM as a comic published in the 40s, then shift to grimdark and play an arc published in the 80s with another GM (the three core roles of hero, sidekick, and GM would cycle between the three of us), and play around with reimagining the same characters/events/elements across different styles. Never got off the ground because we never found a supers system we really liked, but our fake comic was awesome and doing this is still on our bucket list.

  11. < ![CDATA[That was my post! I was sad when my TLDR vanished. Two friends and I did set up something similar to the genre-reinvisioning people are talking about in this thread (although we have never actually run it). Basically, we first created a four-color hero and supporting cast. Then we each picked an era/movement in comics - I think we had golden age, grimdark deconstruction, and 90s mythic-style (think sandman, spectre, promethea, etc). The plan was that each player was the GM for their genre. So we'd play a golden age arc with one GM as a comic published in the 40s, then shift to grimdark and play an arc published in the 80s with another GM (the three core roles of hero, sidekick, and GM would cycle between the three of us), and play around with reimagining the same characters/events/elements across different styles. Never got off the ground because we never found a supers system we really liked, but our fake comic was awesome and doing this is still on our bucket list.]]>

  12. I had a similar idea for Joshua A.C. Newman’s Shock:Social Science Fiction. It was the game of incorrect futures. You take an era and do a Shock issue / Shock grid. So, like, the 20s, you might have Robot Men crossed with jazz, cocaine, and anarchism.

  13. < ![CDATA[I had a similar idea for Joshua A.C. Newman's Shock:Social Science Fiction. It was the game of incorrect futures. You take an era and do a Shock issue / Shock grid. So, like, the 20s, you might have Robot Men crossed with jazz, cocaine, and anarchism.]]>

  14. Robert Bohl I wonder if there is a required level of familiarity with the source material that may be a hurdle for some. For example, your experience of the Furst Family in Astro City or the pest control gag in Top 10 is greatly enhanced if you are well-versed with, respectively, the Fantastic Four and big events like DC’s various Crises or Marvel’s Secret Wars and such.

    Not that you can’t just comment on Four Color or Iron Age as general concepts, but the more specific you get, the more pointed and enjoyable the commentary.

    So, is a game where you’re essentially playing-as-commentary going to be enjoyable, and for whom? That’s what I keep wondering.

    The more I think about Sam’s original idea, the more I’m reminded of Left Coast by Steve Hickey. The one time I played the first edition, I felt like those of us who knew something about ’70s literary SF were getting a bit more “oomph” out of the game.

  15. < ![CDATA[Robert Bohl I wonder if there is a required level of familiarity with the source material that may be a hurdle for some. For example, your experience of the Furst Family in Astro City or the pest control gag in Top 10 is greatly enhanced if you are well-versed with, respectively, the Fantastic Four and big events like DC’s various Crises or Marvel’s Secret Wars and such.
    Not that you can’t just comment on Four Color or Iron Age as general concepts, but the more specific you get, the more pointed and enjoyable the commentary.
    So, is a game where you’re essentially playing-as-commentary going to be enjoyable, and for whom? That’s what I keep wondering.
    The more I think about Sam’s original idea, the more I’m reminded of Left Coast by Steve Hickey. The one time I played the first edition, I felt like those of us who knew something about ’70s literary SF were getting a bit more “oomph” out of the game.]]>