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Setting idea for a '70s supers game, feedback please

mrlost

Hi I'm Lost
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Well, let's compare him to an Empowered who is reaching down into the planet and bringing water back to Eastern Africa. One is using "Ends Justify the Means" to achieve a goal. One is hurting nobody, helping millions of humans and animals.

This probably isn't the place to get into a big deep philosophical discussion, but any time that "Ends Justify the Means" gets trotted out, someone is going to see you as a villain. And rightfully so.

I think Gaming Poet's point is that there are genuinely good people whose lives and actions don't trod upon moral grey-areas, who can't be seen as villains from a different angle. The Irrigator, Soup-Kitchen Man, and The Veterinarian could form a team that aren't ever going to be battling down the streets of (insert city here) because violence is repulsive, and contrary to their goals.

Your soldier is a villain ... to Americans who have had their Head of State taken, or to anyone who thinks taking hostages to achieve a goal is unacceptable.
And I was trying to make the point that unless somehow your a paragon of virtue the somebody is going to see you as a villain. If that same Unknown Soldier started using his powers to shield both Americans and Viet Cong troops from each others attacks, and thus prevent killing he'd still be seen as a villain for interfering in the War. I'm not sure there is anyway to force Peace on waring factions without dirty.

When the Irrigator restores water to the Sahara, he's going to make the region a target. And even if he and his super team make sure it doesn't remain a target, some organization is likely going to libel him for not restoring water to say the South West USA or for promoting Communism or for helping the wrong people. Still to most he's likely to be seen as a hero, until they find out he's gay.

Its hard to shine when your in the public eye. Heroes & Villains are a matter of public opinion. I can't imagine someone seriously calling themselves a super villain. Their actions no matter how poorly thought out are going to be in the greater good, at least to them.

Soup-Kitchen Man is likely to be okay as a long as he can keep himself in check, though some people may wonder why he isn't out there saving lives. There are unEmpowered people that can watch over the shelter while he does, so why does he need to man the kitchen? Considering that his very presence seems to attract the unwanted attention of the other Empowered such as the Weatherman, a known terrorist currently being hunted down by the FBI and CIA, who is always trying to convince him to take a stand against the Man.

Robin Hood was a villain to the rich, but hero to the poor. But I agree that their must be some actions that are universally held to be good. I'm trying very ineffectively I'd guess to say that the news media regulates popular opinion, and if you control the media you can label someone a hero or a villain no matter the truth, and the label is going to stick with at least some of the population.

Ultimately it is history that decides where the label should stick.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't help your fellow man, or that you should spend all your time gaming and let the world go to hell. I volunteer my spare time with Western Service Workers Association, and occasionally the National Organization of Women, not so much at the moment though. I try to encourage my friends to help out in their community too. Cczernia the GM for the supers game I'm going to start playing in on Monday runs D&D for a libraries after school program, its a interesting way to keep them out of trouble.
 
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mrlost

Hi I'm Lost
RPGnet Member
Validated User
So anyway, the setting takes place in the 1970s so that the players can actually use their powers to create changes and reforms in society on a global level. This was the era that the Civil Rights movement ground to a halt, the time when a majority of people still cared about their neighbors, and a time when people were willing to stand for social justice.

A time that seems to have been more idealistic than the time I live in, at least it does to someone who didn't live through the seventies.

How much more interesting would that time have been if people, at least a few of them had super powers?

What are some other issues that should be addressed?
 
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BASHMAN

Basic Action Games
Validated User
Oh, I was hoping this was more of a Superfriends type thing. Then you could make everybody's powers have a psychological limitation that it fails to work unless preceded by corny narration. For instance:

"If only I could reach my utility belt, I could use the Bat-Wire-Cutters to break free".

"A blast of my frost-breath should cool off these hot-heads"

"If I vibrate my molecules fast enough, I just may be able to walk through that wall."

If the hero doesn't verbalize what they are going to do, they cannot do it, though!
 

Gaming Poet

Retired User
I think Gaming Poet's point is that there are genuinely good people whose lives and actions don't trod upon moral grey-areas, who can't be seen as villains from a different angle. The Irrigator, Soup-Kitchen Man, and The Veterinarian could form a team that aren't ever going to be battling down the streets of (insert city here) because violence is repulsive, and contrary to their goals.
Yes.

Also, my concern is the faux cynicism that is so popular right now. I have read too many posts over the years in the many forums I visit in which people angrily claim that everyone is motivated exclusively by self-interest and that anyone who believes in heroes by definition has serious emotional problems.

And I was trying to make the point that unless somehow your a paragon of virtue the somebody is going to see you as a villain.
There are paragons of virtue in this world. I'm not one of them by any hope and prayer, but they are out there, and I've met one or two.

Incredibly few, perhaps, but they do exist, and many games do not acknowledge it.

I remember one generic gaming aid from some small company which listed altruism as a mental disorder!

But I agree that their must be some actions that are universally held to be good. I'm trying very ineffectively I'd guess to say that the news media regulates popular opinion, and if you control the media you can label someone a hero or a villain no matter the truth, and the label is going to stick with at least some of the population.
Good point, and if I were allowed to play a genuinely selfless, altruistic hero in a game, I would enjoy such a theme!

I volunteer my spare time with Western Service Workers Association, and occasionally the National Organization of Women, not so much at the moment though. I try to encourage my friends to help out in their community too.
Awesome!
 

Gaming Poet

Retired User
What are some other issues that should be addressed?
I think you would do well with the issues we've just addressed about the power of the media and the simultaneous outcry for idealism and political distrust of that idealism when it actually takes place.

Remember, the 1970s was when the television news media became overtly powerful. Until then, its power was invisible even to a lot of media personnel; it was in the 1970s that people began utilizing its power as a tool en masse.

The idealism of the 1960s continued on, but now that the Old Guard was no longer in shock about it, they began to take steps to own it when they could and vilify what they couldn't own.

And don't forget the love of artifice for artifice's sake combined with marketing yourself as though your selfhood was only a product to spindoctor, which began with glitter rock and culminated in disco!
 

mrlost

Hi I'm Lost
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Well a concept that I'm also trying to push is that the Worlds Superpowers i.e. the United States and the Soviet Union don't control the majority of the Empowered, the US might have a handful of shards, and the Soviets have a few less while the majority are infect dozens of people around certain part of Europe. As a Default I was thinking Britain, France, Belgium, and a divided Germany. Or something. I'm open to suggestion.

In the opening stages of the premise, very few people have recognisable powers and those who do get snatched up various governments for study, while quite a number of people react negatively to the contaminant.

The game would of course begin with a group of people either surviving a life threatening event or with them having already survived said event(s) and having subconsciously sought one another out. Or more interestingly, they could have already come into their powers and decided to do something good with them.

Their initial efforts however would be fraught with peril, as they make mistakes or lose control they eventually should learn how to use their powers reliably.

However the News Media would begin to paint a picture of the character depending on a number of factors, please feel free to add some or contest the ones I have so far
  • How "heroic" the character seems
  • How patriotic the character appears to be
  • What the characters politics are, are they a hippie? Are they for the war etc.
  • How photogenic or charismatic s/he is on film

One issue that I haven't addressed is how does society police these Empowered? I've tried to make them Human, and flawed with weaknesses that can be exploited to take them down without killing them, but at the same time I want them to have the potential to be above the law as it were. To operate with impunity. How do you think the status quo would react to this?

For that matter how would the worlds Religions view them?
 
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