Superheroes campaign idea... too complex?

Raduin711

Explorer
So I had this idea for a superheroes game a while back and I was recently reminded of it. I kind of worry that it's a little too high-concept/complex/weird, but maybe you guys would have different thoughts.

Basically the idea for the campaign is that there is a fictional comic book company and we are going to, as the campaign progresses, create the lore for.

We would start the campaign by creating a group of Golden-Age style heroes. Characters should fit the general style and theme for the era, and then we would run a story set in that era.

After it was finished, we would set these characters aside and then move on to the Silver-Age. At the same time, we would decide what happened to the Golden-Age Heroes in the intervening years, in broad terms. I think I might enforce this with a roll on a random table, that might look like this:

1- Your character endures. You enter the next age with the same character.
2- Your character endures, with revisions. Make 3 significant changes to power set and/or weaknesses.
3- Your character endures, but passes on the mantle. Create a new character with the same mantle and general power set, but with a new origin. Your old hero is "retired" and serves as a mentor to the new hero.
4- Your character passes on into obscurity. Create a new, unrelated character.
5- Your character died, tragically. Create a new, unrelated character.
etc.

However, just because a character dies, retires, or fades into obscurity, does not mean they are gone forever. This is comics, after all.

At this time, we will not fill in the details of how this happened, exactly. Just that it happened.

Essentially, as the campaign continues, players will eventually create 4 characters for the 4 ages of comic books (Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern) and after each story we will jump around in the timeline of the comics. So if the Silver Hornet died somewhere in the silver age, then later on we can run a session where the Silver Hornet makes his heroic sacrifice. Or instead, we might run a Bronze age comic where the characters discover a frozen capsule and inside is... The Silver Hornet! How did this happen? Well, to find that out, we will have to go back to the Golden Age, and play THAT story.

Essentially, players will see their characters fall into and out of obscurity, rise from the dead, have their powers changed and then changed back, etc. Not to mention the villains, who are going to have their own histories and threads to follow. They might even become heroes!
 

John Dallman

Explorer
I'd advise against the random table. Allowing the players to chose what happens to their characters between eras gives them much more control; having options corresponding to that table would be perfectly reasonable.
 

monsmord

Explorer
I'd advise against the random table. Allowing the players to chose what happens to their characters between eras gives them much more control; having options corresponding to that table would be perfectly reasonable.
I agree in principle. But consider what happens when new writers take over lines, retcon origins/deaths/identities, even reinvent costumes, etc. These sorts of "what the?" deviations from the creator's original vision are a significant part of comics history and character development (looking at you, Hydra Captain America!). And not much different from having a character die or be altered by random events in a traditional tabletop adventure. Maybe a mechanic (or simple house rule/judgment call) that allows the player to shape, "push" (to a result one lower or higher), or reroll a problematic randomization?

ETA: The core idea is fun. I'd be down for a game like this.
 

Raduin711

Explorer
I'd advise against the random table. Allowing the players to chose what happens to their characters between eras gives them much more control; having options corresponding to that table would be perfectly reasonable.
I can definitely see what you are saying. Sometimes random tables help to "enforce" the concept if players aren't quite getting it.

It's kind of like if I ran the session 1 in the Golden age, finished, and then went on to the silver age and all the players were like "Oh, I'll just be running the same character again with no changes."

Like, I get that you are attached to your character and want to play him again, but bitch, not every hero made it out of the goldens. We can come back to these characters later.

Plus tables can be kind of fun like that. We can all collectively gasp when it turns out Captain Thunder fades into obscurity and feel all the more excited when he gets reintroduced in the modern.

If players seem to be digging the concept then the tables can become much less ironclad and can be treated more like suggestions.

Seems like a solid idea. Would you require revised or new characters to be period appropriate?

Silver Age = radioactive or alien
Bronze Age = spooky or hippy
Iron Age = grim n' gritty
I think regardless of what people play they should try to look at their character through the lens of the age. Even Superman had his grim n' gritty phase. But don't overdo it (I'm looking at you, Speedball...) unless, you know, you want to.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
I’d play in a campaign like this, no question.

i don’t think I’d do the randomizer table, though. I’d ask each player to make a choice At the beginning of the campaign. Maybe even design/outline the other era’s heroes from day one. Think...Dark Sun character trees.

Heck, some concepts contain within them the seeds of progression through the ages, like The Phantom or The Green Lanterns. Time Lords. Or government super soldiers. Members of the same family. Etc. Randomize that kind of concept and you’re probably making things less enjoyable for the player.
 
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DrunkonDuty

Adventurer
I'm another one who'd love this campaign.

I'd prefer to avoid the random tables to determine what happens to my characters but I can see how they'd at least be useful for inspiration.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
You could see the wikis of different superheroes comics to get ideas. And other superheroes TTRPG, for example Aberrant, Champions or Brave New World.

Usually the most of TTRPGs are about from zero to hero, starting with a low level of power and growing after many adventures and challenges. But the comics are different, because if there aren't plans abut an end, then we meet something like the "Boo syndrome", what is this? Dragon Ball is about facing a stronger villan than the previous. If Boo had appeared in the begining of Son Goku as "superheroe" this couldn't defeat him.

Other matter is when the "superheroes" aren't in the side of the good guys, maybe because they are morally corrupt (Garth Enni's the boys, Epic Comics' Marshall Law) or tainted (black larterns in the darkest night, Leaving Megalopolis, Marvel zombis, Dceased..).
 

Ulfgeir

Explorer
Society as such might also become more and more corrupt as times passes. So now the general public wants the heroes that kill the villains instead of the ones that don't. Look at KIngdom Come for inspiration.
 

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