Sunday, June 12, 2011

This Is Why I Shouldn't Go To The Movies

So, last night, my wife and I went to see "X-Men: First Class." I'd heard it was good, but man, it totally rocked me.  Of course, this is a blog for gaming, not movie reviews, so I'm not going into details.  Besides, I'm really mentioning this because this awesome superhero movie was, in some respects, the last thing I should have seen.


Because of Gamer ADD, that's why.  OK, in all probability it's just normal Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, but I've never pursued a formal diagnosis and it mostly manifests in my gaming, causing me to flit around from one bright and shiny object to another.  The good news in this case is that I'm more keyed up to run Champions again than I was before.

The bad news is, I'm now torn between resurrecting two of my old settings.  Meridian, I fear, isn't the only one of my campaign worlds that got put out to pasture before it could flourish.  If only that were the case, things would be a lot easier.  Honestly, I've probably got a half-dosen superhero settings laying around in various stages of development.  Most never made it to the play stage, but Meridian did, as did IMPACT.

IMPACT stands for the Inquiry on Metahuman and Paranormal Abilities, Capabilities, and Technologies.  It's a super-spies campaign.  Sort of.  Actually, the original elevator pitch was "WildCATs meets The Six Million Dollar Man to watch the X-Files."  While I lifted scads of villains wholesale from the Champions Universe, the setting itself was a substantial departure.  Set in the Cold War 80s, the world of IMPACT was one of superpowered government agents, terrorists, and mercenaries, a techno-thriller with superpowers.  It was the first game I tried to run when I moved to Houston.  Unfortunately, it didn't work out very well.

The very first player I recruited (apart from my wife), was an utter disaster.  He brought some great players with him, but it only took one bad apple to throw this game off.  I was so desperate to run my game that I didn't really vet the PCs the way I should, which led to one that blatantly broke the rules (the aforementioned disaster player) coupled with a number of characters that would have been fine conventional superheroes, but who were ill-suited for the setting.  After a few frustrating sessions, I put it aside for a more traditional four-color game, which lasted for a couple of years.  We shed the disaster player, recruited some others (including Justin of A Field Guide to Doomsday), and had a good time.

But IMPACT remains one of my "if only" games, the sort that I know would have been awesome if things had only been just a little different.  And "X-Men: First Class" is exactly the kind of story IMPACT was designed to tell. 

So yeah, right now, I'm more amped to play than I've been in ages.  But which of my "children" to choose?


  1. Howsabout running your various campaigns in "seasonal arcs"? Set each game up for 4-6 (or whatever) sessions, with a solid beginning and loose ending in mind, with plenty of room to screw things up in the middle?

    That way, you don't run into inertia or boredom issues, and the players go in knowing we need to hit hard and fast. Everyone on the same page that there's a limited window to take care of business.

    We'll all collectively meet the "goals" of the game, and we're well-prepared for when it's time to shift from spandex to Feng Shui or fantasy or whatever.

    Running your games like seasons on the calendar. Or in the style of Burn Notice or Leverage--you get 12 wks over the summer, then a new series takes over for a few months, then the inevitable return the next year...?

  2. You may be onto something there. Must ponder.

  3. I say stay the course. You picked Meridian first. It's only seeing First Class that brought IMPACT back in front of your eyes.

  4. As I see it, Meridian is a place and IMPACT is a premise. Do the two really need to be mutually exclusive?

  5. @Dan: Good question. Mostly, it's a matter of tone. Even if Meridian is a place, it's got a very definite feel to it, one that is jarringly different from IMPACT. At its core, Meridian is largely a fairly standard superhero setting, with guys who fly around and rescue cats from trees. In IMPACT, the notion of the independent superhero is looked upon with, if not outright derision, definite suspicion. Think of how Marvel's Ultimate setting started out and that's kind of the vibe IMPACT has.