Between grad school, general life interfering, and working on Madicon, I just haven’t been able to post as much as I’d like to in the last few months. I’m going to try and post more often again, but I’m not making any promises – I’d hate to lie.
One thing I have been doing during this down period is spending a lot of time over at the Mutants and Masterminds forums. I’ve been posting builds to the Roll Call – mostly DC characters (because I’m just not happy with the official versions) – but also Astro City and original characters. It is an interesting task to adapt and model characters from comic books into game statistics. I’ve written before on the idea that ‘games as math’ is often why games don’t work for me. The adaptation of characters is an interesting place to look at this concept, as well as adaptation in a more general sense.
Point One: It’s all a matter of Opinion
While I suppose it is possible to build a set of stats for, say, Superman and have those stats make no sense to anyone who has ever read a Superman comic, I think most builds that are good faith efforts at reflecting a character are all equally valid. That is to say, my perception of the character and your perception of the character are going to differ – to some extent – and so we can argue all day what the values should be, but in the end, you like your Superman and I like mine and that’s all that matters.
Now, this is complicated somewhat when a build is “official.” When a build is published by a gaming company to say, “This is Superman in our system” then it becomes harder to deviate from the established baseline when discussing the build with other players. Because the official version sets the bar for future products and for how other characters are built around the mark set by that version.
This exists in any licensed product. Look at the old West End Games versions of the Star Wars characters, or even the versions presented by Wizards of the Coast. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Boba Fett? Who’s to say that the ‘official’ versions are the best versions? Well, in most cases, the official versions are well made and have passed approval by the licensee. In the case of DC Adventures, this would be DC Comics. Of course, I find myself asking – DC made the characters, but since the characters can’t stay consistent from writer to writer in comics, and since the corporate folk at DC probably only have a limited understanding of the game system – how does their approval really mean anything? For the fans, it’s still going to be a matter of opinion.
That said, once you have a clear image of the character you want to make in your head, once you feel that you know what version you want to stat out, how can you model their abilities? How do you translate a character from one medium to another? Well, I’ll start to explore that in Part Two, which I’ll try to have up Thursday.
As always, Thanks for reading.