Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My Strange Cinematic Universe




I spent some time last week writing about a potential shift in my regular, grown-up gaming group, but I didn't even consider that my kiddos would have some input.  We've been on a bit of a super-hero binge here at the Walls residence, blasting through the Marvel Cinematic Universe one flick at a time.  While my wife and I have seen several of the movies (Iron Man, The Avengers, and Captain America: The First Avenger), the kids had only seen bits and pieces of these, all when they were younger.  So my daughter Evie and I made a trip over to the local CD Warehouse and grabbed up Captain America: Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant Man.  

Adding these to our existing collection we started watching one movie a day.  It's been a lot of fun exploring these films with the family, especially those that I hadn't seen yet.  Each child's reaction has been different, and somewhat surprising.  

Cooper's favorite super hero is Spider Man... wait, now he says Batman... wait, he just said his "pretty close favorite one is Iron Man."  I think it's safe to say that my five year old isn't quite ready to commit to a favorite yet.  Further confusing is how both Spider Man and Batman came into our conversation just now, considering they were not in the Marvel movies we watched recently.  

Quite surprising is that neither Evie nor Carrie listed a favorite "super hero" from the movies, but instead rattled off the names of villains.  Evie's favorite character was Loki from the Avengers, and Carrie's was Bucky from Captain America: Winter Soldier.  Perhaps I should fear these dark streaks.  

My favorite character from this week's super hero lineup was Hellboy... 

... because he's my favorite super hero of all time, and I sneaked in a viewing late one night while sick.  If Nick Fury really wanted to be rid of Hydra quickly he should've just called his friends over at the BPRD.  

The topic of role-playing games came up last night just after finishing Avengers: Age of Ultron.  I told the girls that I was interested in playing an RPG on my birthday Friday, and Carrie turned to me, bright eyed, exclaiming "super heroes!"  I've spent a lot of time formulating ideas for a supers game with my online group, but it didn't really cross my mind for the kiddos.  

I delayed bedtime last night, and Carrie, Evie, and I drafted some initial thoughts for something we are going to call...

Agents of The Estate


Fans of the The Strange, a Cypher System powered campaign setting by Monte Cook Games, will recognize "The Estate" as a secretive organization that protects the Earth from the dangers of an alien dark energy network.  Estate agents travel across many new worlds and pocket universes, called "Recursions", often spawned from myth and legend.  

Regular readers of this blog may note my love of The Strange, and how easy it is to create incredible mash-up adventures using the setting.    

My daughters are also fans of The Strange, and each have Estate agent characters from previous games.  Together we noted a few parallels between S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Estate while watching the Marvel movies together, although in The Strange the only way (supposedly) to have super powers is to gain them by traveling to recursions.  But still, we could see heroes like Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Falcon working for the Estate.  plan on using The Estate in a similar manner as the BPRD (Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense) from Hellboy, with our heroes being more secretive and undercover wherever possible.  

The three of us all agreed that a super hero style campaign set in The Strange's multiverse would be a lot of fun, but there was one problem:

The girls wanted to be super heroes even on Earth.

They weren't talking Black Widow or Hawkeye super-spies either; both girls had some very well thought out super hero concepts requiring magic or super-science.

Evie wants to play a young goddess (like Thor or Loki) who wields a magic bow.  

Carrie wants to play a super creative artist who can draw pictures and then animate them into reality.  

Neither of these fit a world with standard physics (a concept from The Strange), but there is no way I'm telling anyone "no."  I just need to figure out how to make this work...

... so I'm open to suggestions.  

Right now I'm thinking about having something occur at the end of my current Cypher System Fantasy/The Strange adventure series that will make this all possible.  I'm just not sure "what" yet.  I've already allowed characters from the recursion of Ardeyn to come to Earth along with their types and foci, so perhaps I've already left this door open and am just now coming to the realization.  

SCU


Marvel fans have their Marvel Cinematic Universe, or "MCU", and my players in The Strange have the same.  Since kicking off my very first playtest of The Strange in December of 2013, I've always considered each adventure and campaign as taking place in the same universe.  As we've moved from one game to another, previous characters have made cameos, either as Estate agents, or of Hoffman Institute operatives (an organization from Alternity: Dark Matter that I used in some early playtests.)

My Marvel fan friends have been very clear that I need to watch the movies in proper order, so I thought I'd come up with my own version of this chronology... but for my games in The Strange.

  • The Strange Playtest #1 [Classified, but it involved Norse mythology]
  • The Strange Playtest #2 [Classified, but it involved fantasy video games and a U-Haul Golem]
  • The Dark Spiral Playtest [Classified, but GM'd by +Jeremy Land.  Characters from this game, especially my paradox Conrad Merrick, have made cameos in later sessions.]
  • Dingo & The Cosmos, sessions 1-4 [A short series of adventures with my wife and daughters.]
  • Eschatology Code
  • All Gobbled Up [A Thanksgiving-themed one-shot]
  • Granite Mountain Prison [A D&D Adventure converted to The Strange]
  • Under Strange Suns, sessions 1-5 [A Dark Sun/Star Wars/Sherlock Holmes mash-up campaign]
  • Cypher System Fantasy, sessions 1-4 [Actually a campaign of The Strange, but Ardeyn-native]
  • Gobbler Road: Beyond Gravy Dome [Strange Thanksgiving Special #2, featuring Dingo & the Cosmos]
  • Cypher System Fantasy, sessions 5-12 
  • Agents of The Estate [Starting this Friday, May 13th, which is my birthday!]