More campaign prospectuses

Continuing the discussion from Campaign prospectuses:

A while ago I posted a number of prospectuses for campaigns that I had issued over the years. As we discussed in that thread, my idea of a campaign prospectus in those days was that it was like the prospectus of a new public company: a specification of the proposed enterprise published among possible participants to drum up interest and to attract the participation of a suitable quorum.

Since the days in which I issued those I have taken rather to a concept of campaign prospectuses that I learned of from @whswhs, which is named by analogy with the American equivalent of what at Australian universities we called the “faculty handbook”. This describes several prospective campaigns, and its published among the members of a gaming circle to sort the different members into perhaps several different games.

The following is I think the most recent such prospectus that I have issued. That is, sadly, not to say that it is actually all that recent. I don’t get to game much any more. I post them for your amusement, and for discussion.


1︎⃣ The Side of the Angels

Tag: “A string of contacts. A tin of cash. A shit list miles long. And no-one holding my leash any more.”

Setting: Flat Black in 606 ab destructio Telluram

Genre: Rationalised planetary romance; vengeance capers

System: ForeSight

Pitch: On a thousand worlds, through careers lasting up to ninety years, Imperial servants have to carry out Imperial policy in colonies that are hell-holes, pretty much. And they have to be very scrupulous about not interfering with things that are not Imperial business. Which means building dams and hospitals for despots, and ignoring gruesome customs, and pretending not to notice or care about anything short of an atrocity measure in kilofatalities. Until they retire.

The player characters are retired Imperial Servants whose past careers required that they turn a blind eye to a lot of really horrible things. They have banded together to put some of those things right, one by one. So they go to colonies that have bizarre societies and brutal or bewildering customs and meddle to their hearts’ content.

2︎⃣ Wear a Badge, Carry a Gun

Tag: “You don’t understand. We’re not fooling around any more.”

Setting: Flat Black in 570 ab destructio Telluram

Genre: Rationalised planetary romance; hard-boiled mysteries disguised as police procedurals

System: ForeSight

Pitch: For seventy years there has been an Imperial Crimes Act but no Imperial police to investigate crimes in colonial jurisdiction, and no courts to punish the offenders. But that is about to change. At long last the Imperial Senate has created a system of Imperial courts and an Independent Commission for Justice. The Commission has recruited the best and most honest detectives it could find, put them through a six-month conversion course, and is sending teams to the colonies with badges and guns to start enforcing the law.

The player characters are honest, experienced, and highly expert detectives, mostly from various colonies, who have volunteered for the Imperial Service and passed a six-month intensive training course. They will be sent as a team to some freakish colony where they will apprehend fugitives, investigate crimes, and establish the good reputation of the Commission for Justice.

3︎⃣ Outstanding Cases

Tag: “Same scumbags, different planet.”

Setting: Flat Black in 570 ab destructio Telluram

Genre: Rationalised planetary romance; thrillers and hard-boiled mysteries disguised as police procedurals

System: ForeSight

Pitch: The Independent Commission for Justice is very new, and it is going to be several years before it has enough badged and sworn investigators to put a team on every planet. So it is sending permanent teams first to the worlds where there are the largest populations of fugitives to round up and the steadiest streams of Imperial crimes to investigate. And it is creating a small number of “flying squads” to flit quickly around the colonies where there are just a few outstanding cases.

The player characters are honest, experienced, and highly expert detectives, mostly from various colonies, who have volunteered for the Imperial Service and passed a six-month intensive training course. They will be sent as a team to to a series of colonies each with its own social, legal, and political peculiarities, there to deal with an apprehension or an investigation that is outstanding in one sense or the other.

4︎⃣ Secret Servants

Tag: "I think we’re not the Imperial Secret Service"

Setting: Flat Black in 606 ab destructio Telluram

Genre: Rationalised planetary romance; secret ops adventure/thriller

System: ForeSight

Pitch: The player characters are a team of clandestine operators for a nameless Imperial covert agency. They will be sent to planet after planet, each with its bizarre society and freakish government, on each with a brief to accomplish something that the Empire is utterly forbidden to do. If they are captured, well, they don’t even know who is going to deny knowledge of their activities.

5︎⃣ A Suitable King

Tag: “If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”

Setting: Gehennum in the Archaic Period

Genre: Fantasy intrigue/adventure

System: HindSight

Pitch: The PCs are the attendants of the adolescent heir-apparent to a small kingdom in the Central Isles — his tutor, his athletics coach, his lyre-teacher his mentor, his paidogoges…. When various major powers decide that Gehennum doesn’t need such a lot of little kingdoms any more they become the loyal entourage of a minor, exiled king, a king who has to be taught, trained, protected, guided and, ultimately, restored to his throne.

6︎⃣ A New Age of Science

Tag: “Well! That’s strange!"

Setting: Walpurgis University (the sort of place where Indiana Jones or Professor Challenger might be able to get tenure), in the 1950s

Genre: 1950s non-space sci-fi adventure, with giant ants and radioactive tomatoes and that sort of thing

System: ForeSight/Age of ‘Reason’

Pitch: The PCs are a group of friends among the tenured staff of Walpurgis University, who always have each others’ backs when Dr. West is revivifying corpses in the basement of the Med School building, giant ichneumon wasps are kidnapping and parasitising the undergrads, or glowing meteorites are falling in the hills.

7︎⃣ Red-blooded Earth-men

Tag: “I don’t know where we bloody are, but it beats the hell out of bloody Flanders”

Setting: A decadent post-technological society, rife with intrigue, on a dusty, dying, dark-skied world that might as well be Fairyland.

Genre: Science-fantasy, picaresque/romantic adventure

System: ForeSight

Pitch: The PCs are the survivors of a platoon of Australian infantry caught in the burst of a secret weapon on the Western Front in December 1917, and who find themselves in some sort of otherworld or afterlife, ripe for romance and adventure.

This doesn’t tell me a lot about the sort of character I should generate. Is the game intended for desk jockeys with analytical skills who will work out just where to apply the tiny bit of pressure available to them, or more boots-on-the-ground types?

I’m curious. Presumably these colonies already have their own police forces? So this organisation is for Imperial crimes? I don’t really have a sense of what those are. Or how much cooperation the ICJ agents could expect.

I prefer the latter on the basis that “world of the week” provides ongoing interest, and if everyone’s enjoying a particular world that can be stretched out for longer.

This needs an example or two of what the Empire is utterly forbidden to do. “Depose tyrants, free slaves, and end the mulching of the least productive 10% of students for the Senior Wrangler’s gardens.”

I find this type of “escort quest” campaign intriguing, but often a hard sell. Even if there is opportunity for tragically giving up your True Love because she needs to marry the King for the good of the country.

I would want to know how seriously the group would be inclined to take it. Humourless men played by John Wayne do get wearing after a while.

My immediate assumption is the usual manner of displaced-persons SF, i.e. you establish relations with the locals and graft your own culture with theirs while saving them from the Big Invasion. (Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, most obviously, but also Janissaries and even Destroyermen.) But would that be a correct assumption? I feel that a major part of my enjoyment of this campaign would be predicated on decisions by the group after it starts.

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Good point. The pitch is informed by almost thirty years of GMing Flat Black, often for parties of Imperial servants, during which it became somewhere between a cliché and a running joke that PCs were keeping a list and saving half their salary into a fund for the purchase of explosives, and that when they retired they were going to work through the list and kill the people who needed killing. I assumed that prospective players would understand that the campaign was an opportunity to do that at last, and that it was meant for the kind of retired Imperial servants who had extensive experience on the ground on planets and in actual contact with their atrocious governments and societies. But I really ought to have been explicit about that, also that adventures would (a) be vengeance capers (b) against individuals in some cases and institutions in others (c) surgically precise and not themselves atrocious, and (d) possibly suggested by character-players.

Most colonies have their own police forces, though many are corrupt or ineffectual, and some colonies are feudal or anarchic. As the ICfJ was to be brand new in that campaign the PCs would have the problem of establishing the co-operation of colonial police &c. as best they could manage.

At the time when I circulated that prospectus there was half a page in the players’ briefing for Flat Black that listed Imperial crimes available to the jurisdiction of the ICfJ. I think all the players I circulated that prospectus to were at least minimally familiar with the setting and had copies of the briefing. I think that that is too much information to put in a promotional blurb like this.

When I wrote that prospectus I was depending on the readers to read all of the items in order, so ③ Outstanding Cases does depend on information in the pitch for ② Wear A Badge, Carry a Gun. In particular, the information that “for seventy years there has been an Imperial Crimes Act but no Imperial police to investigate crimes in colonial jurisdiction, and no courts to punish the offenders; but that is about to change:. at long last the Imperial Senate has created a system of Imperial courts and an Independent Commission for Justice” ought to have been repeated.

In principle that’s right, though again this prospectus was written for a group of players who had at least some experience of playing Imperial servants in Flat Black, and copies of a substantial players’ briefing.

I’ve had a couple of successes with it

I had been thinking of the degree of irony found in the Indiana Jones films, and ought to have said so.

I had been thinking more of the PCs integrating into the society of I_can’t_believe_it’s_not_Barsoom and taking a decisive part in its internal conflicts, in a manner inspired by Master Mind of Mars and A Princess of Mars. But I reckon that you might equally describe Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen that way.

Yes, the course of the campaign would depend on the choices made by the player-characters, and I don’t feel that it would work well for me as GM to pre-empt them in the prospectus. It’s meant to be a bit sandboxy, though there would be hostile giants in the sandbox.

Some people like to play in such wide-open games, and I like to run them (sometimes). But I can’t fault players who would want to play in them if they went one way but not if they went in another. Is there any way to deal with that better in a prospectus?

Random thought: all of the Flat Black games are about imperial servants. (Though newly-minted ones with colonial history in the case of Wear a Badge, Carry a Gun.) Didn’t you used to have stories about other people? Did you find players wanted to play imperials?

My first thought is some sort of explicit description of how directed or not the campaign will be. (Mine have mostly been relatively directed, lately, with a “here’s the current problem” structure even if it’s not formally the mission of the week.)

And then I think, surely someone’s done that before? But it’s not in GURPS Horror which is my usual resource for these things. Those are things I do like to know, though they obviously interact a bit:

  • Scale: prosaic to epic. How big are the stakes? Does the monster threaten your granny, or the entire world?
  • Scope: what, who and how? How big is the area we care about: a village, all of Europe, Known Space? Often correlated with scale.
  • Austerity: how much civilisation is there? If you go shooting people, will the law come after you? I like to operate quite high in this space, though often with the PCs having some sort of exemption (e.g. they’re secret agents to whom murdering a bad guy is basically a paperwork problem, though that still means they shouldn’t be attracting attention).
  • Boundaries: which feels to me a lot like scope, the size of the area in which the campaign will happen. But I suppose you could have a globetrotting campaign with a bunch of small important locations.

I might add to those:

  • Power level: could be considered as GURPS points, I suppose, but also: how powerful are the PCs compared with the people they’ll meet? If you specialise in Obscure Lore, are you a world expert in it or just some guy who reads stuff on the Internet?
  • Realism: will vary with game system and I’d like a less pejorative term than “cinematic” or a less positive one than “realistic”, but this could be considered as the game-mechanical version of Austerity: if you take a bullet to the gut, is that “tell my wife I love her” or “I’ll be fine tomorrow”? Are you going to slide down the banister plugging bad guys with dual-wielded SMGs, or are you going to have to sneak round the back and plant explosives?
  • Direction: at one end, “your mission, should you choose to accept it”. At the other, it’s a big wide world out there, what shall we do?

Note that none of this gets into specifics of game systems. OK, some systems probably don’t support some realism levels.

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Yes. It’s one of those things: my original intention when I was devising Flat Black was not to make Imperial servants the focus, but I think two things combined to drive me into an unexpected rut. The first was that in writing the original players’ brief I wrote chiefly about the things that were universal to the setting, leaving the planets and the colonies on them to be implied by the star system and planet generators in ForeSight. That meant that too much of what the players read was history and material about the Empire. The second was I got an idea for the first campaign from watching Brian de Palma’ The Untouchables, which led to the first campaign being about player characters who were criminal investigators for the Justice Department of the Empire. That worked very well (as you recall), and then the next campaign (the Thirtysomething campaign for very wealthy dilettantes from Tau Ceti) did not work well (as you also recall). The urge to re-capture the lightning was to turn back to playing Imperial servants in the first Survey campaign (I don’t think you remember that one). Thus was the rut established, and for a long time players imagined Flat Black as a setting for playing Imperial servants and conducted inquiries that drove me to focus development effort on the Empire. That exacerbated the problem of the Empire being the only thing that players had to read about.

I have struggled a bit. In 1990 I ran a game for mercenaries. I have bruited a campaign for unscrupulous “artifact acquisition agents” (art thieves and archaeological looters) a few times, and once I got one started that could not continue because of scheduling problems. And I have tried to put forward freelance journalists and travel writers without exciting any interest. Since presenting 9,401 at Phenomenon in (IIRC) 2004 I have concentrated what few efforts I have made on adventures for teams of effectives for various interstellar NGOs — Human Heritage, the Journalists’ Guild, and the Sons of Patrick Henry. But then the player character in the campaign that I am struggling to run on Saturday nights believes that he is an Imperial servant under extraordinarily deep cover.

I hope that if you look at the very latest players’ introduction you will see that I have tried to re-structure it to remove the excessive focus on history and the Empire, tried to make the colonies more prominent, and adumbrated a double handful of NGOs as possible organisations for PCs to work for (and against). Whereas my folder of pre-generated PCs for scratch games used to by the JD investigators from 9,401, now it is a team of versatile effectives for an unspecified NGO.

I’ve played a variant of this where the prince was a PC. We all agreed beforehand to be loyal supporters of a terrible heir played by a player who was good at being stupid and fun at the same time. It was a great silly campaign, as long as no one thought to hard about what would happen if the Prince actually ended up in charge. The excellent RP by the Prince’s player definitely helped. Drinking, womanizing, overconfidence, and I’m about 50% sure that he was deeply in love with a camel for like a month.

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I often find it useful to have explicit “mission statements” for proposed campaigns. For example, back in 2005, two of the campaigns I ended up running had the following sketches:

___Boca del Infierno: In the days when Spain ruled Alta California, a Slayer and her companions battle demons, vampires, and other mysterious horrors. Lots of combat, and lots of supernatural elements, with emphasis more on narrative than on mechanics. Rules system: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

___Whispers: At the end of the 21st century, agents of a small private investigative agency deal with informational crimes, from old-fashioned copyright violation and identity theft to unlicensed cloning, nanosocialist sabotage, and mind piracy. Setting will be technologically advanced, with most of the solar system colonized or explored. Characters may be humans, enhanced humans, uplifted animals, or artificial intelligences in robotic or biological shells. Play will be realistic with limited but deadly combat. Rules system: Transhuman Space (“powered by GURPS”).

I think both of those are classic “you are X who do y.” But at the same time, I also ended up running a third campaign that really didn’t have a mission statement:

___Manse: A huge, ancient building in a vast wasteland is occupied by several groups of people, some with unusual abilities. Play will focus on factional conflicts, schemes, and the uncovering of ancient secrets. Each player will have characters from different social strata within the household and the attached village, using a form of “troupe-style play.” Emphasis on intrigue and mysteries. Rules system: World of Darkness, Big Eyes Small Mouth, or Fudge.

Incidentally, I consider that cycle to be the high point of my GMing so far, and likely enough from now on. All three campaigns were going so well that I prolonged them from my customary two years to three, with gratifying results. So it seems that a formal mission is not essential to a good campaign.

What I think may be essential is a way of giving the characters a common focus. Manse had a different source of common focus: All the characters were in the same place, and there really was no other place for them to be. This is the dramatic model of, for example, soap operas. A more intense form can appear in, for example, horror stories, where the characters are in some sense trapped in a confined space (like being in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland).

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I’m starting to think about offering my remote player group a new list of possible campaigns, perhaps to start in 2022; the current campaign, Tapestry, has a confrontation coming up with one of the great powers of the world (modeled more on the White Witch than on Sauron, but definitely dark), which could end with most of them dead, or with them casting her down from her high place and one of them having to step into it (one of them has to take the Ring of Lead!), after which they would be great powers and less likely to have adventures. So I’ve been looking at coming up with new campaigns to offer them. Here’s what I have so far:

_____ Capital. Contemporary fantasy. Mage: The Ascension. Source material: Mage: The Ascension; Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley; Gladiator, by Philip Wylie; At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft; Darker than You Think, by Jack Williamson; the Doc Savage novels; The Prestige.

A campaign whose heroes come from the Order of Reason rather than the Nine Traditions, set in London, the center of the British Empire and of international finance and the home of the Royal Society, shortly after the start of the twentieth century. Enlightened scientists will explore strange new worlds and protect ordinary people against natural and social aberrations. Extraordinary abilities and inventions will use the nine spheres, but with Society taking the place of Prime, and with a much stronger requirement for material foci.

You may enjoy this campaign if you like roleplaying old-fashioned manners and customs; you’re comfortable with freeform magic rules; you want to play the other side in Mage for a change.

_____ Demobbed. Streetlevel supers. GURPS. Source material: Astro City, JSA: The Liberty File, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Planetary, Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, Wild Cards , The Defenders (Netflix series).

It’s 1945, and the boys (and girls) with special powers are coming home from the war. How will they fit into civilian life in a world at peace? Player characters will be streetlevel supers—not necessarily “superheroes,” but generally inclined to obey the law, protect the innocent, and help the helpless. The focus of play will be partly on the usual superheroic combat and partly on inventing a role for people with strange powers and abilities. There won’t be a generic category of “superpowers”; rather, many different types of special abilities will be available, from ancient mystical rituals to superscientific inventions. Combat will be realistic and death will be possible, as will legal consequences for going too far with your abilities.

You may enjoy this campaign if you like streetlevel superheroes or pulp adventurers; a post-World War II setting appeals to you.

_____ Omicron Polypi. Hard science fiction. Big Eyes Small Mouth. Source material: Space Cadet and The Rolling Stones, by Robert Heinlein; Jupiter Project, by Gregory Benford; Learning the World, by Ken MacLeod; Planetes ; Silver Spoon .

Eighty years ago, a slower-than-light starship brought colonists to a remote solar system. Their descendants have spread out over five planets. On the original ship, now an orbital habitat, young people come together for training as “truck drivers” (operators of space vehicles). Play will focus partly on learning and work experience, with the associated dramatic incidents, and partly on personal relationships and cultural differences among students.

You may enjoy this campaign if you want to play in an invented world; you like classic young adult science fiction; you enjoy school settings for drama.

_____ Shadowlands. Near future weird/dark fantasy. World of Darkness: Sorceror. Source material: “Waldo,” by Robert Heinlein; Conjure Wife , by Fritz Leiber; Dies the Fire , by S.M. Stirling; the Laundry Files, by Charles Stross; the Cthulhu mythos, by H.P. Lovecraft and others.

About a decade from now, human civilizations are faced with a new dark age brought on by the progressive failure of technology. In a small city in the United States, people are doing their best to survive as machines and medical treatments become unreliable, and some of them turn to the supernatural as an alternative. Town residents will have to deal with threats to survival, lawlessness, and supernatural incursions. Scenarios will include some combat but will have more emphasis on investigation and problem-solving.

You may enjoy this campaign if you like the horror and weird genres; you’re prepared for a slowly apocalyptic campaign and setting; you enjoy low-key magic systems.

_____ The Gate of Horn . Contemporary fantasy. FUDGE. Source material: “The Brushwood Boy,” by Rudyard Kipling; The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath , by H.P. Lovecraft; The Sandman ; Sense8 .

Dreams aren’t just noise in the sleeping brain, or random fantasy, but journeys of the spirit to another plane of reality. Gifted dreamers can explore the dreamlands with conscious purpose, and remember what they discover from dream to dream—and partially in the waking world. A mysterious affinity draws several such dreamers together and involves them in encounters and quests with echoes in the waking world. Players will have considerable freedom to modify their characters’ abilities and even forms in new sessions. Play will emphasize world exploration, investigation of enigmas, and elements of horror. Most play will take place in the dreamlands, but not all.

You may enjoy this campaign if you have a strong interest in storytelling and mythopoeia; you would enjoy regularly inventing new narrative elements for your character; you want a campaign with a lot of attention to character interaction and relationships; you’d enjoy a campaign with frequent mysteries and enigmas.

I’d like to come up with a sixth option; this list has three out of five offerings that are not merely fantasy but contemporary fantasy, which isn’t quite enough variety. I probably don’t want to do premodern fantasy, as the current premodern fantasy campaign has been going on since 2014; I might look for something else in science fiction or (less likely) supers, or some other genre, perhaps a non-fantastic one—though I would consider straight alternate history to be non-fantastic. Maybe I could do classic science fiction with FTL that doesn’t imply time travel, and probably with aliens . . . but I’d need a premise that I wanted to explore.

I’m also thinking about offerings for local players, but that would be a very different list, based on what was popular the last time I circulated a list.

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All of those look interesting, but Capital would be my first choice.

In descending order of my preference:

  • Capital: I suspect we would argue about what makes a society functional, but I’d definitely be interested in this. The combination of solid historicity plus weird powers is one that I very much enjoy, and I like what I’ve read elsewhere about your take on the Mage… ontology?
  • Omicron Polypi: I love this kind of small-scale hard SF. Less keen on young people drama but I could have fun with this. Character everyone would expect me to play: the guy who’s had a career doing something else, which has ended for [reasons], and is now retraining with these kids.
  • The Gate of Horn: I’d ask how important those echoes in the waking world are going to be, but if there’s either significant crossover or significant stakes in the dream world then this could work well for me.
  • Shadowlands: I don’t like “technology fails”. I was a physicist before I was an economist and I want answers for why batteries don’t work but my nerves still do. (The series I’d mention as an example of doing this well is not Dies the Fire, which I haven’t read, but John Ringo’s (yes, I know, and it has many of Ringo’s usual problems) incomplete series Council Wars, where Earth starts off with pervasive nanotech that can do things like saying “the pressure inside this vessel is more than the allowed limit, so I’m going to remove it before something dangerous happens”, and the big fight is about regaining control of that. But I recognise that that’s not at all the feel you’re going for here.) If you were to, say, break supply chains so that power, in particular, is limited to what you can generate locally, I’d be more on board, but that might be more conventionally post-apocalyptic.
  • Demobbed: I’m still trying to work out what it is specifically about “superheroes” that niggles me, compared with e.g. The Old Guard (comic + film) or my campaign Age of Aquarius (young psi talents in 1960s England). But until I do, I’d tend to avoid anything with that descriptor, though the setting/period is an interesting one.

For a sixth campaign, hmm.

  • Demobbed is pulpy but post-war. What about something pre-WWII pulpy, 1920s-1930s? Straight, or with weird powers, or – I ran Crimson Skies as an RPG for a while.
  • Lensman-style pulpy SF.
  • Travellery space trading, either in the Traveller setting or elsewhere. (The version of this that I want to run is “you have to get a ship from A to B before a generous but not infinite deadline, but any money you make on the way you can keep”.)

For Capital, the question of what makes society work realistically isn’t relevant; this is a Mage campaign, where things work largely because the Masses believe they work. I’ve thought for a while that a campaign where the Technocracy are the protagonists would be an interesting variant.

For Shadowlands, there’s going to be some element of people’s nerves not working, too; if you’ve read Heinlein’s “Waldo” it offers a useful model.

As for superheroes, is it the straightforward polarity of Good and Evil? The code names and flashy costumes? The wide variety of power sources all operating side by side, so that a ghost, a sorcerer, a guy who takes pills, and a high-end body builder can team up to fight crime and villainy? The convention that all powers are “super” and more or less interchangeable? The secret identities? The ability to work outside the law and not have anyone ask questions?

I don’t see myself running space trading; Tapestry, the campaign I’m thinking about ending, was about intercontinental trading at a bronze age tech level, so my players probably wouldn’t be up for another campaign about trading. I’ve thought of a campaign that would actually use the Lensman source material, but with the tweak that the Overlords of Delgon serve the Lovecraftian elder gods and only have an uneasy alliance with the Eddorians; but I’m not sure it would work to run a campaign in a cosmos where the top power levels are already occupied by the Second Stage Lensmen. I used to own Crimson Skies, but I could see that I was never going to run it, even though the background was fun. But either of your first two suggestions is conceivable.

I’ve never particularly been a comics fan, so I don’t have that nostalgia element encouraging me; I think most of your points are things I don’t especially get on with in games, so maybe it’s just that “superhero” is likely to contain a lot of campaign elements I don’t particularly enjoy. (Also, perhaps an extension of your last, the way there seems to be recognisably normal society even though there are supers out there, some of whom are even super-inventors. But that’s really the same problem as D&Desque fantasy having castles and peasants and so on even when the magic system in use makes them obsolete.)

Anyway, side issue.

But it’s kind of an interesting side issue.

For what it’s worth, the only one of the assumptions I named that I plan to preserve is the multiplicity of power sources; I’m looking at using the framework of my Pyramid article “Götterdämmerung,” with over a dozen difference power modifiers associated with different backgrounds. But otherwise, I’m looking at doing a somewhat demythologized treatment: to borrow a terminology from Tom Shippey, an * history of actual events that might have gotten turned into the romanticized narratives of superhero adventure.

I can see, though, that if you don’t have a nostalgic fondness for the superhero genre, playing this sort of game with it might not speak to you.

I like the term “Euhemerised” for that, though I admit that it is a touch obscure.

Things are dying down with Star Wars and I’ve been working with the gang to put together a Savage Worlds Rifts party that fits their personal interest areas and is appropriately bonkers.

So I’ve got:

An N6 biotic from Mass Effect who follows their heart but is a jerk.

A Hogwarts student from Hufflepuff who kind of likes this whole ley line thing.

A keyblade master just looking to catch back up with Emperor Buggs.

Harry Flashman, his sidekick Beni, and his mercenary squad (George, Flashheart, Edmund, Baldric, and Leclerc).

Leader of elite pacific area power armour rescue force (the “iron chefs”) Chairman Kaga.

Ludwig Wittgenstein circa Q4 1922, kidnapped by a deranged magical Bertrand Russel and subjected to a super soldier treatment which severely shortens his lifespan.

Eventually this will become the Savage Worlds Rifts campaign “If memory serves me correctly…” in which our heroes will invade Atlantis to rescue Iron Chef Sakai, kill Bertrand Russell more than once, find out if Voight Kampf analysis can reveal dementors disguised as refugees, deliver a truckload of wine for a mumbling mutant bullfrog in order to afford ammunition, and play a language game which cannot describe itself.