Tuesday, January 12, 2010

That's just Super - GM and the Action!

We've looked at supers players and the hooks to wheel them in, what else does a game need? Someone to run it and give the players stuff to do! Supers games provide a unique opportunity for a GM. A genre of opposing dichotomies is available to the lucky game master who picks a system like Mutants & Masterminds or Wild Talents. Essentially Super-GM's (what I'm going to call GM's who run supers games from here out) get to tell two stories at the same time.

Let's look at Batman. Batman is a character that haunts criminals in the streets at night of Gotham city. He has protects the innocent, nabs criminals, and solves the most difficult mysteries. All this is done under the mask. Half the time, however, Batman is Bruce Wayne. Bruce is a playboy billionaire (nowadays at least, formerly millionaire) who sleeps late, barely handles his company, and flirts with the latest 19 year old super model fresh off the boat from Europe. And yet, without Bruce Wayne, Batman doesn't exist. The alternate identity makes the superhero, and the GM has the opportunity to really play with this fact. Secret or not, the identity can easily add drama and make things difficult for the players, and when I say difficult, I of course mean interesting!

You could also easily play a game of characters stuck morally in the past dealing with a modern world with modern dangers. Again, using Batman as an example, the "no kill" policy of most modern heroes can fly in the face of logic and public opinion. Why doesn't Batman just kill the joker and avoid any future murders? These kinds of conflicts are loaded with role playing potential the GM can exploit and push their players into better role playing techniques than ever before.

The Super-GM, in hosting a modern game, also has the draw of a shared point of reference. Everyone understands what a meth head is as a reference in modern society, but what about a cocaine user in the late 1800's or an Orcblood Addict in the land of New Medievla? This makes the Super-GM's job easier because everyone gets the reference and understands how their character would likely act in the face of modern situations. I understand some people play games strictly for emergence in a fake world where they get to play outside their own personal issues. That being said, the supers in a super game don't just have to figure out how to pay rent or get through another excrutiating day in their 5' x 5' cubicle, they also have to figure out how to stop the killer robots, deactivate the nuclear bomb, and save the girl from the grips of the mad mutants from mars. Take advantage of this if your players complain about the game being too realistic.

As far as specific action goes, there's really no limit to the kind of stories you can tell within the supers genre. Here's a quick rundown of the themes off the top of my head I could pull from for a supers game: horror, mystery, action, war, science fiction, romance, comedy, exploration, cinematic, episodic, etc.. I think I've run out of movie themes. Why people wouldn't want to give it a shot is beyond me. I throw my hands up and say bah!

Thanks for reading my ranting on the supers genre!

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