Author Topic: A superhero game with a mystical setting?  (Read 424 times)

Nayt

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A superhero game with a mystical setting?
« on: September 07, 2016, 07:18:10 PM »
So, after reading the Death Defying Dr. Mirage and binging on Justice League Dark, I realize that a superhero campaign that focuses on the occult would be kind of rad. Some of the best stuff I've read seems to have the philosophy of "what if Call of Cthulhu characters were actually competent magicians?," with occult-themed heroes thwarting or taking on monster worshipping cults, dumb people reading from bad books, or the occasional eldritch abomination trying to mosey on its way to Earth.

I have like no experience running Call of Cthulhu or any other sort of gritty occult stuff, so I do not think I'd be able to tackle and GM this idea--I just thought it'd be neat.
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

cornbreab

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Re: A superhero game with a mystical setting?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2016, 09:35:21 PM »
*cough*HELLBOY*cough*

...this is relevant to my interests
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crazon

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Re: A superhero game with a mystical setting?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2016, 09:51:33 PM »
I am inclined to agree, Occult heroes are generally my favourite heroes (Hellboy and Swamp Thing comics being some of my favourites) there's just something about horror monsters juxtaposed into the hero narrative that is fun.

I've actually been running a similarly themed game off and on like Hellboy in Monster of the Week. Though I've used creepypasta monsters as the baddies and threats.

There's even a playbook that basically files off Hellboy's name.
Player of serious silly games! Also host of "Al Dente Rigamortis" creepypasta podcast.

Juju-Monster-Man

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Re: A superhero game with a mystical setting?
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2016, 10:38:24 PM »
So I'm going to have to ask you to explain a bit more what you want to accomplish with your game. Because, while yes, there are "Superhero in Lovecraft-land" games and systems they kind of fundamentally fly in the face of the inherent themes of Lovecraft and the Comic Horror Genre.

With that being said, Yes look to Hellboy. The "Superhero Team" aspect can be read into it, but mostly the entire team is treated like the abominations and harbingers of the Apocalypse they are (Looking at you Abe, Elizabeth, Hellboy, Captain Zombie, Golem-man...). Also Johnny the Homicidal Maniac could technically fall into this idea if you want to interpret it that way. The Repairman Jack series of book is a more SUPER mundane version of this trope.

Either way, a few systems you could look into is: WT Cerebus Club (its is more Victorian than WT and is a bit more suited to the CH feels), Fear Itself (and other systems) have psychic powers and you could add "bonus points" for super powers.

I would highly suggest if you want to have a "Good Side", so your players aren't working to destroy the world for random ass dark gobs, make it so that the good side is just neutral (or a "judge" of sort). Think Eternal Darkness' Mantorok, or the Green Lady in F. Paul Wilson's books (maybe even the "Collector" depending on viewpoint). This would allow you to throw the kitchen sink in for evil plots for random entities but always have a reason to combat them.

Another big question you need to answer is "Why Superheros and not just Heros?" Like what your describing is a "hero," (someone that stands against the bad and can sometimes win), but not a superhero (known to the public, adored by everyone, SUPER OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE, etc.). If you want a Superhero game you need flash and public knowledge; in essence it would be Tiger and Bunny meets Call of Cthuhlu. Everyone is trying to be the most visible to stop the biggest bads to be the biggest heroes. A lower stakes "hero" (like what Delta Green or Dark Heresy) would be much more dirtier and more nebulous game better for the themes of Lovecraft.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 11:13:40 PM by Juju-Monster-Man »

Nayt

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Re: A superhero game with a mystical setting?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2016, 07:16:17 AM »
I've actually been running a similarly themed game off and on like Hellboy in Monster of the Week. Though I've used creepypasta monsters as the baddies and threats.

Aw man, how is Monster of the Week? It looks real fun.

*cough*HELLBOY*cough*

...this is relevant to my interests

RIGHT??? A Hellboy/Hellblazer/Dr. Mirage style of game would be awesome.

Either way, a few systems you could look into is: WT Cerebus Club (its is more Victorian than WT and is a bit more suited to the CH feels), Fear Itself (and other systems) have psychic powers and you could add "bonus points" for super powers.

Well, like I said, I have next to no experience running occult oriented games. I only have stacks of comic books about superheroes fighting demons and slinging spells at Lovecraftian horrors. I don't think I'd be up for running something like this; the idea of it is just cool.

Another big question you need to answer is "Why Superheros and not just Heros?"

Because I love superheroes even more than Max loves anime. Also, Justice League Dark and Dr. Mirage, the examples I listed, are both comprised of superheroes. In JLD, you have John Constantine, Deadman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, and Madame Xanadu as the core cast of characters. With the exception of Deadman (who is a ghost) and Swamp Thing (who is spooky), these are all characters with a public presence. In fact, being a superhero builds up their reputation, which in turn brings money into their day jobs (John Constantine the private investigator, Zatanna the stage performer, and Madame Xanadu the occult saleswoman). Swamp Thing and Deadman are both flashy in everything they do just 'cause that's how they are.

In Dr. Mirage, the titular hero is a television medium that is so widely regarded as legit that no one in the world is a skeptic about it. She solves crimes via talking to ghosts, and she's basically pissed off so many poltergeists, demons, and other sort of shit, and then got filmed laying down some crazy magic to shut them out, that everyone and their mother is like, "Dr. Mirage? Holy hell, she is the bee's knees." Granted, this is my first foray into the Valiant comics universe, so I don't exactly know just how bonkers the world is for the average joe to be like, "yeah man, ghosts and demons and shit, totally legit," but I'm pretty sure it's crazytown. But yeah, being a superhero pays the bills for her.
. o O (I think I must agree with Sliss. The "Fat Chance" would have been a perfect name for our ship.)

crazon

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Re: A superhero game with a mystical setting?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2016, 12:30:34 PM »
I've actually been running a similarly themed game off and on like Hellboy in Monster of the Week. Though I've used creepypasta monsters as the baddies and threats.

Aw man, how is Monster of the Week? It looks real fun.

Monster of the Week is going pretty good for us so far. My group were avid d20 players but have really fallen for PbtA system of playbooks and lighter rules base. I basically double-fisted campaigns (one a silly, more cathartic setup about hunting down and slaying creepypastas monsters as mentioned and a slightly more "serious" game about people lost on a nightmarish continent where the ecosystem is zombies, Italian movie zombies as the focus of this particular arc... and that's the more serious game...) and leapt in to the deep end first to learn the systems and I can say that it's enjoyable though also a learning experience.

Some playbooks are better together than others. We had a Mad Scientist and an Action Scientist from the expanded playbooks list in the same game and after a session or 2 we realized they were "roughly" the same characters for moves. But a simple playbook change after a level up fixed the issue.

I'm also loving how easy it is to "stat"/create a monster or antagonist or backdrops and such in the system. The only thing is breaking the habit of GM rolling dice, after so many years, just administering harm and narrating without the roll seems...weird? I'm getting better though (I hope).
Player of serious silly games! Also host of "Al Dente Rigamortis" creepypasta podcast.

crazon

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Re: A superhero game with a mystical setting?
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2016, 06:57:34 PM »
"Rise, rise from your grave, oh ancient thread!"

Thought I'd toss another thing or two into this with a post.

I actually recently discover a "sort of" lovecraftian superheroes comic, at the very least it draws on the aesthetic appeal and themes of those beasties from beyond the veil of reality most tentacular and sanity rending and the group vigilant in protecting humanity from them and their servitors. I give you "Death Vigil"
https://imagecomics.com/comics/series/death-vigil

Created by Croatian comic aritst Stjepan Seijic or "Nebezial" on Deviant Art (He's also done work for Top Cow's Witch Blade, the Darkness and Rat Queens. And this comic started off as a pet project.)

Basically, a group comprised of people raised from death by the Reaper, fights lovecraftian horrors and the cultist necromancers that summon them.

Also on the subject of why would you use horror themes (in any of it's sub-genres) for a supers narrative when they seemingly conflict. My opinion on the matter is that in this genre (I think more so than others) there are two circles that sometimes cross over: Substance and Style. much like Cthulhu games that are "purist" or "Pulp", Horror Substance is the type of media that is trying to scare and unnerve you. The movies or stories that are more seriously about the subject of fear. It's what horror fiction started with because at the beginning that was the purpose. Horror Style is just that, the styling of horror media and fiction but isn't necessarily scary. It's about the themes and look, because we have had generations of content in the genre that have cult followings and fandoms. it's also that meta-commentary and deconstruction you see in spoofs and parodies. Often this isn't black and white but a crossing of the two circles or a scale that has grey areas.

So with the question of Why have superheroes with horror overtones, the answer for me is, Style. Styling the superhero narrative with dark, occult or horror coat of paint because, hey, horror is cool and you want to invoke some element of that into a different narrative to spice it somewhat.

That's how I see it anyway.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2016, 10:19:36 PM by crazon »
Player of serious silly games! Also host of "Al Dente Rigamortis" creepypasta podcast.

Hemmins

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Re: A superhero game with a mystical setting?
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2017, 02:34:29 AM »
Hellboy for sure.