Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Process

I wasn't planning on blogging today. Instead, I was going to start prep for my next gaming session. But then, I thought, "Why not both?" So this entry is going to be a brainstorm for the coming session. Apologies in advance, because as a brainstorm, this is probably going to be a mess. It might not even make much sense.

Also, if you have any ideas or ways you could contribute to the brainstorm, please let me know!

Firstly, the game I have settled on is Rotted Capes. Basically, Rotted Capes is a zombie apocalypse game, with superheroes. All the heavy hitters....your Supermen, your Batmen, your Wonder Women...all died or turned into zombies fighting the undead. Players roleplay as the surviving B-Listers...the Robins, Nightwings, or Batgirls...helping society survive.

The adventure is going to be a one-shot, because I'm already running a Call of Cthulhu campaign every other weekend. These off-weekends are supposed to be my "screw around" sessions where I can stretch my legs with a different system, in a different genre. Though, with character creation, I could see Rotted Capes maybe being a two-parter, by necessity.

Anyways, this being my first foray into Rotted Capes, I'd like to do two things: one, put the system through the paces and see how it works; and two, play out some classic superhero tropes, altered for the zombie apocalypse setting.

The first thing that immediately comes to mind is the common trope of "the origin story." Every superhero these days seems to get the deluxe, graphic novel/feature film treatment to explain the entire story of how and why so-and-so became a superhero. So I'm going to make this adventure an origin story. How so? Well, I'm thinking about extensive use of flashbacks. Throughout the adventure, I'll do one flashback per player at the table. Each flashback will feature one of the players. I will work with that player to create a brief flashback scene that takes place before the apocalypse (hereafter called "Z-Day"). To keep the scene focused but loose enough to be creative, I'm going to have the player featured in the flashback scene choose one objective for the scene:

  1. The first time the character gained his/her powers;
  2. The first time the character realized he/she must become a superhero;
  3. A scene establishing the hero's personality;
  4. A meaningful interaction with another superhero or villain.
Of course, each flashback is going to have to somehow tie into the plot of the current adventure. So that will be something to look out for during the story.

(I should probably keep player count low for this game...4 players, max...because of the extra time flashback sequences will add to the session. Plus it might get boring if everyone else has to sit around while one person bathes in the spotlight. I can alleviate that some by letting other players roleplay as bystanders or NPCs or something during the flashback scene, but still, I can't incorporate everybody...)

So with the flashback scenes taking center stage, I'll need a simple but effective story happening in the present to contrast to the stories being told in the past. The first idea that comes to mind is a "seek and destroy" mission: a super-zombie in the area is making life difficult and perilous for the survivors whom the heroes protect. The heroes have decided they cannot let this super-zombie lay siege to their safehouse enclave any longer, and have set out into the city to find and destroy him.

The problem with this plot is I'll have to sell the logic to the PCs. In other words, if the players think leaving the enclave is stupid and don't go, I don't have an adventure! That should be easy enough to fix, though; flashbacks! If the adventure does start with player apprehension, I'll use one or two of the players' flashbacks sequences to establish real, compelling reasons to go on this zombie hunt. Maybe the zombie-to-be was a former lover. Maybe the zombie captured or killed a lover of one of the heroes. Something like that.

So, let's see what we've got:

  1. Our heroes leave the enclave to find the super-zombie who is terrifying the survivors.
  2. Weave in the first flashback here.
  3. An encounter of some-kind, giving a clue as to the super-zombie's lair (Super-zombies still retain most of their human intelligence, and thus usually have schemes, plans, and secret lairs to do said scheming and planning).
  4. The second flashback, relating to what just happened.
  5. The heroes have another encounter, perhaps while trying to enter the lair, or maybe a side mission they undertake while en route to the lair (a building full of innocent people being besieged by a horde of zombies or something).
  6. A third flashback, relating to the previous scene, again.
  7. Heroes find the lair, battle the super-zombie, and are victorious (or die gruesome, tragic deaths; this IS a one-shot, afterall!)
  8. Final flashback, doubling as an epilogue.
That seems like a pretty meaty story, right there. Tomorrow, I'll start thinking about the super-zombie and nailing down some specifics on the encounters the heroes have on the way to the lair. Once again, if you, fair reader, have any ideas about how I should proceed, I am ALL ears.

Oh, and if you live in the D.C. area and you have RSVPed on Meetup.com for a Rotted Capes game, DON'T READ MY BLOG THIS WEEK!

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