Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When Worlds Collide

A problem I've run into recently is that I've had a bit of a falling out with the fantasy genre. I'm so tired of elves and dwarves and dungeon-crawling and bad British accents and all that shit that I've been pretty uninspired to play a fantasy game.

As any RPG enthusiast knows, this is a problem. Fantasy is far and away the most popular genre in the hobby, and the most dominant RPG...Dungeons & fantasy. To not like fantasy is to shut out a huge part of the hobby. And as my Prime Directive is to bring more people into the hobby, disliking fantasy cuts off a huge avenue for which I can achieve this.

I can't make myself like something I don't like, but what I can do is merge what I do like into it. And that is what I'm thinking about today. My flavor of the week right now is superheroes. So what if I merged the supers genre and the fantasy genre together and made a D&D campaign setting that is comic book inspired? Here are some of the thoughts I'm having:

1. Player characters are powerful and cool: In 5th edition, 1st-level characters are pretty flimsy. What if I brought the power level up by having players start their characters at third or fourth level? That way they start pretty cool, but they still have a ton of room to grow. This makes them real heroes from the outset! I'd have to house rule a way to allow players to start with magic items, though...I don't want players just buying them with starting gold, because that becomes what I call an "illusionary choice." In other words, who wouldn't buy a magic item if they had a option to do so?

2. PCs have origin stories: Characters in this supers fantasy world have to be something greater than a mere peasant picking up a sword for adventure and profit. Whether some magic "radiation" gave them their ass-kicking powers or their blood has just turned cold from witnessing the slaughter of their loves ones, characters in this world will need a clear and definite catalyst for turning into heroes beyond the traditional fantasy allure of gold pieces and slaughter. Speaking of adventure and profit...

3. PCs will need to have a heroes' mentality: This will be a tough one. I don't want a traditional "murder-hobos" game where players are just killing machines who kick in a door and take everything not nailed down. If the players' characters are to be superheroes, they're going to have to act the part, too. I know the comics have some nice ways of working around this (Skull-kickers immediately comes to mind), so I'll definitely have to take a closer look at all of that.

4. Villains who are more than sacks of hitpoints: The typical fantasy RPG treats villains like bosses in a videogame: bigger, nastier versions of the thugs the players have been bashing from the start. That can't be the case in a proper super-fantasy world. The villains need to be on a higher level, almost the same level as the heroes.

I'm going to need some more inspiration and ideas to keep spinning this into something I'll actually be excited to play. Definitely could use some suggestions, here, Dear Reader. If you can suggest any fantasy comic books that could show me what a "super-fantasy" world looks like, I am ALL ears!

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