Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Greatest RPG I Ever Played: Part 1

When I first started gaming, there were no such things as “campaigns.” Role-playing sessions usually consisted of rolling up characters and then getting killed messily in some dungeon or another. The idea of a long-term campaign, with distinct objectives, goals, and some sort of over-all plot, hadn’t exactly caught on yet. Well, there were a few attempts, but no one seemed to be able to manage more than one session before everything fell apart and someone else tried again.

This changed a bit once I graduated from high school. I ended up in a long-running campaign titled Night Watch, which ran much like I expect many campaign do -- until people lost interest or the game group broke up. As time passed I ended up in a number of other games, some as GM, many more as a player. Most followed the open-ended model (i.e it ran until attrition said otherwise), although a few did have a set end point (such as the game that dealt with a group of teen supers and lasted for one school year). Then came a call from Ross Watson....

Ross had recently arrived in Maryland to work as an editor for Games Workshop. He’d read my Kazei 5 material some time ago and had used it to develop his own campaign world. It featured an immense floating city named “Angelus” and whereas Kazei 5 was heavily influenced by such anime as Bubblegum Crisis and Akira, Angelus borrowed mostly from Silent Möbius. Ross had run a game set in his world, and even used some of my NPCs from Kazei 5 in it (how cool is that?). So, now he was up here in Maryland, having left his old gaming group behind, and he wanted to run another session of Shadows Angelus. Would I like to play?

Ever have one of those moments where your brain just sort of shuts down? That’s what happened to me. You’d have thought I’d have come to Ross with a dozen characters, but noooo.... I mean, here I was being offered a change to play in a setting tailor-made to my tastes, in a campaign using my favorite anime sub-genre:  super-powered cops versus the supernatural! What was there not to like? And I had nuthin’....

After a week or more of going in circles, unable to think of an idea I was happy with, I fell on that old standby -- ask the GM what everyone else was playing. I soon found out the rest of the cast consisted of an animal-human hybrid (a.k.a. a Clade) who’d been part of the first Angelus campaign, a paladin, a cybernetically augmented ex-SWAT-team member, and a scientist. And they were all guys....

Stepping back, I realized that A) any Silent Möbius-based game needed a magician, and B) how can you have an anime game and not have any fan-service? (uhm... I mean, and not have at least one female main character?) So I dug around in my website, found my archive of characters I’d created during my attempts to run my own Silent Möbius-based campaign (titled Silent Möbius Zeta), and handed Ross the one I thought would work best:  Jamadigni Renuka.

Now I will admit, Jamadigni isn’t exactly an original character. Back when I was working up numerous NPC officers to fill out the ranks of the Attacked Mystification Police (the police force from Silent Möbius), I freely borrowed ideas from here, there, and everywhere. Jamadigni Renuka was swiped semi-directly from Adam Warren’s wonderful 1997 Elseworlds story for DC Comics’ titled Titans:  Scissors, Paper, Stone (but this being Adam Warren, “Jamadigni” wasn’t exactly an original concept either). And now I offered the concept to Ross for his input.

Ross, probably thinking along the same lines as me (i.e. Silent Möbius + female mage = endless GM plothooks) , agreed to let “Jama” into the game. We haggled over the exact nature of her powers, I rewrote her Silent Möbius Zeta origin into something more in-line with Ross’s setting, I worked up a drawing of the character (once again borrowing from Adam Warren’s original work), and volia! one PC ready and raring to fight nameless horrors from beyond time and space.


  1. Nice way to start out, Mike! :) Always great to talk about the campaign that will never die.

  2. I'll step in to claim at least some credit for Mike's character selection. After complaining of his vaporlock, I did suggest he play a mage (my original suggestion was more closely derived from the character he had played in Night Watch). The rest,as they say, is history... :-)