the world that’s coming

Belated joesky tax from last Kirbsday: a super hero setting I’ve been mucking with over the past week or so, basically ripping off Kirby’s mid-1970’s works.  (The collage by Jay Garrattley above captures the concept pretty well, but I only discovered it after writing all this…)

The goal isn’t to literally use the same characters and situations, but rather to tease out the thematic connections, file off some serial numbers, and just fool around for a bit.  Other inspirations might include THX 1138, Zardoz, and Seaguy.

when gods walk the earth

Once upon a time, a zillion years in the past, the Shining Ones descended from the heavens and walked among men.  Some of the men, the Shining Ones changed.

And the Shining Ones departed, but the changed men remained.  Long-lived, brutal, domineering due to altered genes and cultural contamination, in-bred to the point of deformity, in latter days the changed men would inspire sinister veneration.

The Shining Ones left relics of their passing.  So too did the changed men leave strange traces, and stranger descendants, of their prehistoric dominion.  In the fullness of time, antiquarians, eccentrics, and adventurers would scour the globe for these lost artifacts.

Those who decipher the ancient writings know that the Shining Ones promised, or threatened, to return when summoned.

a space odyssey

The world that’s coming is a strange place, where everything from broadcast energy to brain transplants is commonplace.  Thinking machines match adult orphans with childless couples, while DIY sex-droids distract a restless populace from ecological and financial catastrophes.  Geopolitical super powers bellow and squawk in the tar pits of mutually assured nuclear armageddon.  International crises must be defused with preemptive precision.

The road charted by the Shining Ones in millennia gone by leads past miracles of the modern age, but appears to end in holocaust.  The bone begets the bomb—and the bombardier.  When the Space Program encounters undeniable evidence of the Shining Ones, will we at last transcend our patrimony, or will it drive us to the final cataclysm?

The line between man and machine blurs.  Is this triumph of a schizophrenic civilization our brother, our betrayer, or our bulwark against an intergalactic threat?

In the distant future, the Shining Ones have come and gone.  New species with only the dimmest recollection of man’s accomplishments prowl a world thrown into ruin.  Can this fate be avoided?

action! in a mystic realm!

Thinking this over, the closest analogue is maybe Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, though in the future, and hopefully less sucky.  Or maybe The X Files done as pulp adventure rather than as suspense.

My instinct would be to set this in the World That’s Coming, the freaky future of 2001 as seen from the early 1970’s, populated by genetically modified super-cops sworn to non-violence, renegade robots, sinister lurking mutants, devious antiquarians, two-fisted astronauts, and a star-child or two.

One possibility: a tiny nation in equatorial Africa has been selected, after many tortuous rounds of United Nations bickering, as the site of the Space Elevator.  This development project promises riches beyond compare, but at great ecological risk.  The ruling prince, after securing the project, dies and now the nation is sinking into disarray as factions of the royal family scheme for advantage.  KGB and CIA agents parry each other, trying to dispel rumors of an eerie discovery on Mars, while unscrupulous adventurers scour the countryside looking for lost artifacts.

This needs to bake a little bit more: I suspect you’d have to focus on a little piece of the setting, and play it out for a while, and then make up some other guys doing some other thing elsewhere, and I’m also unsure if this would work better as a “party-based” thing or as a bunch of independent protagonists.  But there’s promise here.

8 Responses to “the world that’s coming”

  1. 1 Scott LeMien
    December 12, 2011 at 1:02 am

    This looks like such fun! I’m imagining that I will enjoy play immensely but: I’m thinking you need some kind of GM screen though. Maybe some cardboard and some clear plastic sleeves so you can just make it once. Then slide in inspirational pictures like those for the player side of the GM screen. And a cool soundtrack on your iphone.

  2. December 12, 2011 at 1:15 am

    At this recent SaturCon, the Invincible Overlord and I discovered that it is arguably more fun to reminisce about how insane Machine Man was, than to actually play RPG’s. I think if anyone scores a critical, I show them a crazy Kirby picture.

  3. 3 Scott LeMien
    December 12, 2011 at 1:40 am

    In my never-played Dreaming City world, I had the idea that Calm Handy, Lost Boy O’ North would offer rewards to the PCs Monty Hall style. One was going to be what’s behind a curtain or a 4’X4′ metal box (with that creepy Build-a-Friend from Omac inside.)

    Seriously though, can you do a writeup on the Marvel play? I want to see what was going on. Maybe incorporate the AP into your blogging about hero gaming?

  4. 4 FredH
    December 12, 2011 at 1:54 am

    The bone begets the bomb—and the bombardier.

    Nice line.

  5. December 12, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Well, we’ll just sit right here and wait for it to bake then. ;)

  6. 6 Lord Bodacious
    December 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    This setting sounds awesome. I hope there is a place for flying cars with 4-6 driver seats and one of those funny tube thingies that Orion scoots around in.

  7. December 13, 2011 at 9:44 am

    I would play the hell out of this game. I love 70s Kirby.

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Past Adventures of the Mule

December 2011

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