Wednesday, July 06, 2011

In Which The Warlock Muses on a New Project...Again...

One of the biggest residual benefits that I tend to pull from Origins is the "post-convention inspiration".  I find that, after our trips to major gaming conventions, I come back with a brain-ful of inspiration, ready to start writing.

This year, I was determined to channel that inspiration into my already-existing projects, and hopefully finish out either SunnyVale Acres or Dungeon Slam!, and possibly even get a playtestable version of Lumberjack Wars up and running.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still working on those, but they've taken a bit of a back burner to a new project...

Fantastic Four #1:
In the heart of the Silver Age
Running ICONS at Origins (and talking with Gareth-Michael Skarka, one of the creators!), I was really high on the ability for a simple game-system to emulate the Silver Age of Comics.  While light on the rules--really, one of the draws for me--the biggest benefit of ICONS is the way in which it fosters the "over the top" actions as a default.  Heroes are encouraged to take risks, try new power combinations, and lay the one-liners on thick and heavy, as they take down alliteratively named villains.

Many superheroes systems have done their best to provide a "generic" view of comics.  Mutants and Masterminds, particularly, does its best to appeal to all the eras of comics, providing a "kitchen sink" approach to design--from street-level to cosmic, you can potentially build any Hero in such a system...the system isn't particularly geared for any particular type of gaming.  They suffer from "d20 syndrome" in the fact that the system mechanics aren't geared towards supporting the setting.  As such, the mechanics become bland and the onus of telling the story resides only with the players and Game-Master, not the game as well.

But, then it struck me. While the Silver Age of Comics has its representation...what about the pinnacle of comics storytelling: the Iron Age?

Rorschach, a seminal
Iron Age anti-hero...
Not familiar with the Iron Age of Comics?  Yes, you are.  You just might not know it yet.  Seen Watchmen?  Alan Moore's magnum opus was the seminal work of the Iron Age.  Enjoyed The Dark Knight?  Yeah, based thematically on Iron Age comics series The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, and The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb.  Don't get me started on the lordly might of comics legend Denny O'Neil, and his character-defining runs on Iron Man, Green Arrow, and The Question

As such, I set a new goal for myself:  write a game based in the Iron Age--my favorite era of comics, and what may well be the greatest era of comics as a storytelling medium.  The Iron Age took superheroes away from dealing with fantastical threats, towards a more grounded, realistic series of conflicts.  Not satisfied with "villains of the week", Iron Age writers and artists sought to bring depth, experience, and poignancy to a medium often relegated to children.  And no role-playing game has dared to try to bring those stories to the forefront, despite the fact that they are perennial favorites of both comics-fans and laymen alike.

That leaves me where I am now:  about 20,000 words into what I'm calling Cold Steel Wardens:  Adventures in the Iron Age of Comics.  Working a typical "work-week"....oh, who am I kidding....working from about 7pm till about 4 am, I manage about 2,500 words a day, with occasional spikes into much higher word counts.  Hell, the first day I sat down to write, I pumped out about 9,000 words alone!  Plus, I've been able to maintain a feel suitable to the Iron Age--martial arts combat styles, a focus on investigation and human foes, and a visceral damage mechanic...I think I'm onto something here!

With a bit of luck and continued work, I should have a completed rules-set by the end of August, with a completed manuscript, ready for editing, by the end of the year!  I'll keep you posted, friends and neighbors!  There's more to come!

No comments:

Post a Comment