|The skyscrapers of Central District dominate the Knight City skyline...|
During my recent ruminations on a possible future superheroic RPG campaign (probably using Villains & Vigilantes 3.0, when it is properly released) I expressed doubts about balancing my love of the comic book genre with the reality of running a superhero tabletop game.
"I fear the game could quickly devolve into superpowered Dungeons & Dragons on the streets of Knight City, rather than the multi-layered, character-led, sub-plot laden, dream campaign I've long entertained."However, Erik Ménard, my partner-in-playtesting (you may recall we were given a behind-the-curtains peek by one of the game's creators, Jeff Dee, during last year's Kickstarter campaign), quickly came forward with some suggestions to defuse my genre-emulation anxieties.
"I don't think this will be a problem, provided you get the Tuesday Knights to invest in their characters' [civilian identities] and truly understand their motivations for doing the 'hero' thing, " he wrote.
"When we were playing the Vanguard City campaign, [Percy, the gamesmaster] had us really delve into out characters' pre-hero [life, before] he gave us our powers. For example, my character, Christopher Church, was an emergency room doctor, who also did ride-alongs with the VC ambulance service. He'd also served a short stint with Doctors Without Borders.
"He was all about serving humanity, to the best of his ability. His powers were just an amplification of this. Also due to his origin he had a strong desire to protect humanity from the dangers of the amoral application of science. He thoroughly believed that science should serve the greater good..."
Erik suggested I "start now" and get the Tuesday Knights to work on their characters' real lives, adding:
"...have them create people that would 'Do The Right Thing' even without powers; develop there families, friends, N.P.C.'s . Make Knight City a living, breathing place, and they'll want to be involved. Give them a stake in the city, too. Let them develop parts of it, like we did in Vanguard City, then it truly becomes not just your City, but their's too.
"By time you get started they'll be chomping at the bit to see how all that work unfolds."I'm wary about asking too much of the Tuesday Knights right now, having already got (some of) them working on character concepts for a Knight City campaign, then pulling the plug, talking about changing the genre, and then finally throwing my hands up and admitting to burn out (in the wake of our hugely successful three-year Heroes & Other Worlds fantasy campaign).
Pete has very generously stepped up and relaunched his Top Secret campaign, so one session into that, I don't want to be seen to be trying to steal the spotlight back to a campaign that still might not even take off.
I'm looking forward, also, to being a player again and letting someone else do all the heavy-lifting on a campaign for a while.
I pointed out to Erik that: "One thing that needs to be factored in is that our monthly game sessions are usually just 2.5-3 hours long, which is why and [always tried] to run them at breakneck speed.
"And not all of the group have the time - or, more importantly, inclination - for 'away-from-table role playing' (the classic concept of 'Blue-booking')"
Erik pointed out that I should let those willing to participate in this 'added value' style of play run with it, and then maybe their enthusiasm will become infectious, and inspire the others to make their contributions to the development of Knight City.
We shall see.
Hopefully I haven't queered the pitch too much with my faffing around. And when Pete decides - however far down the line that is - that he's getting tired of running his campaign, I can start sounding the Tuesday Knights out again on the possibility of donning masks and capes to battle crime in Knight City.