Saturday, January 28, 2012

Reason #3 I should do a Secret Wars Campaign

The Doom/Kang War

The villain side of the Secret Wars had some pretty heavy hitters, people who should, even on their own have made a challenge for an entire collective of heroes.  I'm not talking about Galactus--he's so over-the-top he's more a plot device than a character.  I'm talking about Doctor Doom, Kang, and Ultron.  Of those three, Ultron seems a little two-dimensional to be interesting, but the idea of Doom and Kang both stuck on the same mudball of a planet is too good to pass up.  Neither of them are really the kind to play second violin, so I'm thinking that in the aftermath of the Secret Wars both men head off in different directions.  Doom creates New Latveria, populated largely by Doombots, a handful of home-grown supervillains like Titania, and a few stray humans who for whatever reason can't or won't live in Denver.  Kang on the other hand is all about raising an army to conquer whatever he can, and I see him heading out into the Battleworld to recruit aliens also stranded on the Battleworld.

So what you have is a sort of Cold War between the two.  Kang launches the odd clandestine foray into New Latveria, while Doom sabotages Kang's attempts to coalesce enough troops to seize control.  Both of them could subtly direct fledgling heroes against the other, pawns in the Great Game.

Of course, eventually it'll go from Cold to Hot, and you know Denver will be in the middle...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Reason #2 I should do a Secret Wars Campaign

The Terran City of Denver

One thing that was never really fully developed in the Secret Wars was the fact that a chunk of the city of Denver was taken to the Battleworld.  The biggest impact the city had was providing new characters Spider-Woman, Titania, and Volcana to the roster.

But, in my version of the Secret Wars, Denver has become a stranded community of humans in another galaxy.  Forced to find a way to survive on the Battleworld, the local government of Denver has teamed up with the remaining heroes to develop a strong, safe community.  In order to meet the essential needs like power and food, some of the alien technology found on the Battleworld has been co-opted by the residents of Denver.

The city is run by a five person council, one representative elected from four different quadrants, and one representative from the superhero community (currently that's the Human Torch, now almost fifty years old).  The five elect from their own body one person to serve as mayor, but that person can not be the person from the superhero community.  This was done to ensure the populace did not feel that the superheroes were controlling all aspects of their lives.

Many brave people have taken to living in the outskirts of Denver on farms to help provide enough food for the city, and to get out of the urban crowding that is occurring. To help keep people content the city commissioned a second football team, the Mustangs, to regularly play the Broncos in exhibition football matches.  It's a friendly rivalry, and most people either root for one team or the other.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reason #1 I should do a Secret Wars Campaign

Xavier's Secret School of Gifted Youngsters

One thing that bothers me about the Marvel Universe is the inconsistent way they apply the prejudice against mutants.  For one thing, what is it about mutants that makes them more frightening that any other superhuman origin?  Also, I thought that the whole "X-Men die in Dallas" bit was supposed to be the big moment where the public realizes that the X-Men are heroes.  But even now, in the pages of the Avengers, you have people saying, "Why is there a mutant on the team?"  Um, because there is already an alien, a robot, and a red hulk on the team.

But anyways, back in 1984 the whole fear-the-mutant storyline was in full swing, and it was touched on early in the Secret Wars series when the Avengers and the Fantastic Four are reluctant to team up with the X-Men, especially because Magneto was currently in their ranks.  In the end, the X-Men declare they are a "third force" in the War, Magneto essentially excuses himself from the conflict entirely, and everyone goes about their business.  Sadly, this tension didn't last and the X-Men are folded into the heroic team by the end, culminating in Colossus playing a pivotal role in their victory.

But this is my alternative storyline, and in my version the X-Men stayed out as a third party.  Following the death of the Beyonder, the X-Men continued to operate outside of the post-War society of Denver and its hero teams.  Even now, the X-Men are in hiding, recruiting the odd mutant child born in Denver and pursuing their own agenda.  Professor X was never the most stable of personalities, and with Magneto constantly around, who knows what they might be planning to do?

In game terms, the X-Men (or whatever they might be calling themselves now) are an unknown factor, a shadow group whose motives should be suspect.  Any mutant PC might be approached by the X-Men to join them rather than the Denver-based human community.

[Campaign Premise] Secret Wars, the Next Generation

Thirty years ago, Earth's mightiest heroes faced a group of the worst villains imaginable in an epic conflict on another world.

Both sides lost.

Now the city of Denver, Colorado and all its residents are stranded on an alien planet in another galaxy with only a handful of people to protect them.

That's you.

Back in What If Vol. 2 Issue 114 they had a story called "Brave New World" where the "what if" basically was, "what if the Secret Wars didn't end with everyone going home?"  In the story the heroes and villains declare an armistice after several people from each side are killed and the Beyonder and Galactus have destroyed each other, thus preventing them from returning home.  A second generation of villains, led by the son of Doctor Doom and the Enchantress, break the treaty and attempt to overthrow Battleworld.  They are opposed by a corresponding second generation of heroes.

It's a cool story and a great concept, but I thought they really undersold the whole story.  Part of that was because it was a one-shot and the real focus was on this whole new cast of characters usually made of up half-and-half versions of existing heroes (e.g. Captain America plus Rogue, the Human Torch plus Wasp, etc.)

But a lot was left out, like the whole notion of other alien races on Battleworld, not to mention the entire city of Denver, Colorado.  Furthermore, the Secret Wars was done in this time period where a lot of characters and teams were getting overhauled.  It was the big "mutant menace" period of the X-Men.  She-Hulk became a major character as an addition to the Fantastic Four.  The genesis of Venom.  Of course, Marvel pounded the story into the ground with "Secret Wars II" which was unbelievably lame.

Ever since the first time I read "Brave New World" I thought there was a lot of meat left on that bone.  I haven't ever thought about using a pre-made universe for superhero games, much less a major publishing house-specific one.  But my biggest hang-up about Supers RPG's is that they all sort of look a lot alike: a pretty random group of superheroes team up in this loose confederation and battle the villain of the week.

But in this case you've got about forty established characters to build off of, not to mention assorted off-spring, a large central city, and an entire planet of mystery.  You've got the "big plot" of "how do we survive on the Battleworld long enough to figure out a way back to Earth," and a host of possible sub-plots.  Most importantly, you have a compelling reason for the heroes to both exist and be vitally important to their universe.

So, here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to flesh out a "Secret Wars: the Next Generation" (SW:TNG) campaign.  I think that if I get enough ideas going, I'll give the campaign a go.

Over at Strange Vistas