World Building 308 – Whats your story?

Ok so I am finally going to close out the Supers world building series.

Now then with everything else that has been put into this series about world building you most likely are wondering why in the monkey I would save the actual story until last.

Well the reason is because of the evolution of comic books themselves. Just to use Marvel comics as an example… If you look back you will see a number of comic book titles that were created early on. And then for marketing and profitability they put some of their more popular characters together to create the Avengers. And THEN they started thinking about continuity. I know that this is a massive oversimplification and that there are some rather beautiful examples of characters and storylines surviving even from the earliest days of comic book publication. However if you look at comics in general it takes a while to get characters and titles to cross over. And the actions taken in one story rarely directly effect what is going on in another characters book. Or even the books that the character is involved with as a team member (**cough cough** Wolverine **cough cough**) unless the character dies.

When those crossovers finally happen you usually end up having to rewrite so many of the rules on how the world functions, or how powerful one character is in relation to another that you end up changing the nature of characters. When that sort of thing happens in comic books it is not always bad, and can lead to some interesting follow up stories. However when you are playing in an RPG it can really piss players off if suddenly the physics of the world changes. Or suddenly one of the minor villains accidentally becomes unstoppable because now all his stories about magic being real are no longer a joke and no one in the game has magic powers because they were not part of the world and so you cant counter him (sorry personal grudge there). Or when your power levels are not clearly defined and a single agent can take on a super hero (crap another grudge there). Are you getting the picture there?

If you put your story ahead of your world, and your characters, then from my personal experience 7 out of 10 times you will piss off at least half of your players. And yes I have had enough experience in bad supers games to make that assessment.

The second big part of it is that when you are building a world you are going to start finding all sorts of things you want to limit or put center stage. You will discover you want to encourage certain types of characters or NPCs to be a part of the world. And once you have it all laid out that makes it fairly easy to wrap a story into your world.

So all of that is why I save the story for last.

Now then there is absolutely NOTHING stopping you from going the other way around about it. You can totally start with your story and build a world to fit it. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with doing things in a different order. This is just the order that makes the most sense to me and has worked best in my experience.

The other benefit of doing things in this manner is that if you are someone like me who works with a bunch of different game engines you can pick the one that really suits the world you have built up and take advantage of everything you want to do. That way your world, your game engine and your story all compliment each other. If you have only one engine you like to work with then this sort of order might not make as much sense because your world and story will need to fit into the engine you are using. And if you are using a licensed product then you will have a predefined world to fit everything in to.

So lets take a look at the world I have been building here…

  • 301 – Origin of Power – A cosmic/celestial event causes mutations. Also technology.
  • 302 – Which Earth – Our earth
  • 303 – Timeline – Slightly in the future. So that things like cybernetics and power armor could be possible.
  • 304 – Percent of power – 1 / 25000 have mutation. Specific tech that could be called super powers is more common.
  • 305 – Perception of power – Mutants are the new target of fear and racism, Tech characters are seen as heroes.
  • 306 – Power level – World – Mutants vary but low power is more common, and that does mean power, all mutants have something extra. Tech is fairly standard and can make one man equal to about a Main Battle Tank. Game – Mutants will be on the higher end but not the top. Tech characters will have unique toys that go well past the current standards.
  • 307 – Known Earth – There is going to be an alien research vessel that knows about Earth. They noted the unusual solar flare activity and they have been monitoring the effect on humans since. Both physically and sociologically. They trade out teams on a regular basis and have rules about interacting with humans. I have no intention of introducing the aliens any time soon. I think if the players get creative they might be able to find them and go chat. But unless the game needs a kick in the butt, I have no intention of dropping this in the players path.

So this world gives me a few types of stories I can tell…

  1. Humans who fear mutants and use tech to keep them at bay.
    1. Using tech to take away their powers
    2. Using tech to be more powerful
    3. Using tech to imprison or drive off the mutants
  2. Mutants who want more than what they have
    1. Rule the world
    2. Be free of oppression
    3. Live in peace with everyone
    4. Escape earth and find a world of their own
  3. Mixed groups who want to unite mutants and humans for whatever reason
  4. Normal people living day to day

Personally I want to tell story about characters who want to see how far they can push both technology and mutant powers. And that being heroes is a great way to exercise that growth. This means they are going to be put in the path of human supremacists, mutant supremacists and be looked to in regards to how to develop both tech and powers. They may decide that one side is wrong, or all sides are just too messed up and that they should find another world to inhabit or something else along those lines but that is going to be up to the players to decide.

The game engine I have decided to use is Palladium Books Heroes Unlimited. The reason for this is because it has clearly defined classes for mutants and tech based heroes. And while it wont stop a mutant from taking up tech and using it, there is no way they will ever be as good with it as a pure tech character. Also it is not possible for a tech hero to mutate without a complete change in character class and loosing most of their ability with tech. This division makes the kinds of stories that I can tell in this world a lot more powerful because there will be rules that enforce what sort of stories I want to tell already built into the system. Also there is a random power table that players can use to get their mutations. And personally in a world like this I find that to be a great option. Sure you dont have to use it, but it can make for some very interesting combinations of powers that you would not usually see.

I do have some home brew rules I want to add on the mutant side so that I can have a few over the top powerhouses in the world that will still fit the environment. Such as in the original rules they have a strict rule that if you roll a power more than once you have to reroll. However the publishers have made some NPC characters that have a single power more than once and I want to incorporate that. Specifically into some characters like Dust. If I stack the teleportation power multiple times on the character it will have the same effect that Dan originally wrote up for the way his powers worked.

Any way, that rolls up the world, the setting and the stories I want to tell with it.

Not sure what the next World Building series might be but I will do another in the future.

Keep gaming and keep having fun, all while thinking your own thoughts on how you want to game and what you want to game with.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many NPCs I can fit into an ordinary shoe box.

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  1. #1 by dantherpgman on March 11, 2019 - 5:44 am

    Nice wrap up on the Supers series. And hey Dust gets a mention! Also, did I see a reference to Mr. Agents…? ; )

    Like

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