Saturday, September 3, 2016

Earth-3 Project: Time Travel

I'm currently reading through The Great Darkness Saga (a well-regarded Legion of Super-Heroes story arc). Naturally, reading stories about the far future of the DC universe made the gears turn on how time travel works on Earth-3.
I fucking love these 90s colors.

There's some stuff I could draw on to fluff Earth-3's future eras like the Super Syndicate from One Million. I definitely want to throw in Waverider and an Armageddon 2001-esque little metaplot. But beyond that, I feel like time travelers from the future could undermine some of the roleplaying potential of Earth-3. If everything is shiny and lawful in the 30th century, would Underground or Syndicate grunts really feel the need to keep fighting?

While such issues can be handwaved in static fiction, I think it infringes a bit on player agency and emergent storytelling in a roleplaying game. Therefore I'm putting a bunch of characters I like (Booster Gold, O.M.A.C., the Legion, Zoom) into cold storage. It feels like I'm cutting out some potential fun but I think it's for the best.

On the other hand, I think that allowing time travelers from the past can add a lot to the story. A character from a pre-Syndicate era can be horrified or awed by the modern world while also providing a different perspective to present-day mutahumans.

RPG design and open minds

As a warning, today's gonna be a two-fer day. Raining, pouring, etc.

As I said in my last post, I'm working on an OSR thingy. Here's an excerpt from my outline for myself (which may see print if I ever finish the damned thing, although the typoes will be fixed by then, I assure you):

How is this game different from other OSR or retro-clone games?

3. It purposefully avoids detailing traditional Races (such as Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, and Halflings) and traditional Classes (such as Clerics, Fighters, Theives, and Wizards). This is not because I hate them (except for Gnomes, which I’m iffy on) but rather because I feel that with the many, many versions already available on the market I don’t need to cover them.
I'm mostly sticking by what I said about the races although I might make some Eldar/Elric/Hellboy 2-inspired Elves to serve as monsters. But the classes part is something I've started reversing on. When I started brainstorming it seemed like the four iconic classes really were superfluous. But then I changed a mechanic specifically the BAB/THAC0 one (I'm still waffling over which one to use). From there, I began idly wondering how a Fighter would work with my alterations while still feeling like a Fighter. Then there was the Thief/Rogue. Idle brainstorming formed into a pretty solid concept of a master tool-user. The Wizard was sort of already in since I was planning on making an Illusionist based on the original version that appeared in The Strategic Review. But then I stumbled upon the Arcanist, a class from Pathfinder. I hare Pathfinder but like the spellcasting system the Arcanist uses; it's a good medium between pure Vancian (which I'm not a fan of) and purely spontaneous (which has always felt poorly-implemented in a D&D context). Now I'm toying with the idea of splitting the cleric into three classes each dedicated to a specific archetypical theme like healing, necromancy, and fighting/monster-hunting.

The point I'm trying to make is that if and when you start to write something, be willing to go back and revise things when you make a change. Don't think of such revisions as "giving in" or "selling out"; rather, think of them as explorations of other avenues.