So, the other night I was watching the Mummy and the Mummy Returns. I was expressing to Jennifer how much I would love to play a game of pulp heroic action. I’ve never really been in a good, long-running pulp game. Many years ago a friend of mine ran a short-lived Masterbook game using the Indiana Jones setting and I got to spend a little time as a pulp mystery man. It was immense fun, but it didn’t last very long. I realized as I thought about it that I didn’t really know what system I’d use for this sort of game. I had toyed with using Hero System or GURPS at one point when I thought about this years ago… after all, GURPS had even created a sourcebook for this style of play.
Looking at the systems I’d consider using now, I looked into several, including White Wolf’s Adventure and even considered using Warhammer Fantasy 2E’s core system and just rewriting some careers. I also remembered someone telling me a about a game called Spirit of the Century. So, I read a little bit about and I then went out and got myself a copy. I realized two things very quickly. The first is that I really, really don’t like the system. I knew this already because John Wick used a system based on SotC in Houses of the Blooded. I don’t like the Aspect system, with its tags and compels one bit. That said, the second thing I found was much more exciting.
In the past, I’ve written about the struggle of making characters in games be connected right from character creation. Spirit of the Century has the coolest way to do this ever. I’m serious. Without going into too much detail, the way it makes connections between characters is by having each player go through several phases of building their aspects and traits. After each player goes through two phases describing their childhood and what they were doing during the Great War, they write about their adventures.
Each player has to write a Novel title for their character and a short blurb about what happened in that pulp novel. Then the players work together to guest star in each other’s adventures. This is amazing. Not only does every PC start with a really fun set of background adventures, but they have built-in connections which are not only narrative, but mechanically meaningful.
My first thought when reading this was how to adapt it superhero games. Each character could have their own “solo series” and could write up a signature adventure from their character’s past, even an origin story, and then the other superheroes could guest star. After all, team-up books are always so much fun. And then you could build the superhero team from there. The Justice League is a team, but most of the main members have their own solo books as well.
Even more exciting, Jennifer and I have been brainstorming ways to turn this into a workable method to use with D&D parties. I don’t know exactly how it would work yet, but we’ve had some ideas. I’ll try to write about those in the next few days.
Thanks for reading.