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Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

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  • Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

    Hi, My name is Mike, I am a RPG player/GM with over 30 years of experience writing my own games and running original stories within several RPG systems. I have read thru the forum and see tons of people asking for more thorough instructions to create their own games. The standard response is to relive the stories told in the comic books or a film/animated series. I feel this is a dis-service because those stories have already been told, the person(s) know the beginning, middle and end, and it often requires the Gm to force choices limited to a pre-determined outcome. These posters want to know how to create their own stories, their own epic campaigns...

    My sons and I share a deep, fanatical love for all things Batman. The boys have role-played as Bruce and Dick since the tender ages of 4 and 6 respectively. Daddy goes away, to play "HIS GAME" and they want to know why they cannot go with Daddy. Daddy as a talented gamer and gifted GM decided to write them a game. Shadows Over Gotham was born.

    Within this thread, and Green Ronin permitting, I want to relay the steps I took in building my sons game in the DC Adventures game system.

    Thanks Michaelius

  • #2
    Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

    First, welcome to the boards (fellow) Mike !

    Second - personally, I look forward to your ideas. New ideas are always welcome !
    [QUOTE=Enigmatic One;178799][FONT=Verdana]Note to self, get Bruce and his Bat-force to take this one.[/FONT][/QUOTE]

    [URL=""]Earth 218 - JLA Academy Setting[/URL]
    [URL=""]Blade's Builds[/URL]

    [URL=""]The Merge Character Sheet Lists[/URL]
    [URL=""]The Cosmic Merge Character Sheet List[/URL]


    • #3
      Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

      Step 1 - The Environment

      Hello. Right to the point is that regardless of the story, you have to have a location where all this happens. Anyone familiar with Batman knows this is his home city, Gotham. I need to know Gotham City, like Batman knows Gotham City. I found that the comic books have several awesomely detailed maps of the fictional city. I went to Google Images and did a simple search for Gotham City. I got a boatload of images I could copy and paste for use in my game...not for sale, but my own private use.

      Caveat 1: I create a "bible" per se, of the information I am using to create my games. It serves as an index to answer player questions as well as my own. This gives the players more choice in what direction they will choose to take their game. This typically starts out as 3x5 index cards and often gets expanded or includes many Excel spreadsheets by the time I am through. For Shadows Over Gotham, I found as a great resource to answer ANY question Batman related.

      Caveat 2: There are 75 years of multiple Batman comics titles, and an unimaginable super long list of films, TV shows/animated series etc. to draw from. The game is impossible unless you dictate a "timeline" in which your story unfolds. I went directly to the classic Batman: The Animated Series. As I have a great love for Mark Hamil's voice for the Joker and of course, that minx, Harley Quinn. I also looked for the unconventional and drew some characterizations from a later series called simply The Batman.

      So with images copied and pasted into Microsoft Paint, I opened an Excel spreadsheet and typed out every location I could think that was named in my memory. (Wayne Manor, GCPD HQ, Axis Chemicals & Ace Chemical to name a few). I also looked at the image/map of Gotham City and recorded locations named or labeled there. A good start.
      Last edited by Michaelius; 27th June 2015, 05:03 AM. Reason: incorrect coding of bold print


      • #4
        Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

        Step 2 - The Cast

        Essentially the DC Universe, even culled down to the Batman- only area of Gotham City, is still a huge list of names. Commissioner Jim Gordon, Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Harvey Dent/Two-Face etc. Who is in the game, who is not. More directly what past is in place at the start of the campaign? Has Bane broken Batman's back? Is Dick Grayson, actually Robin, or Nightwing? Does anyone actually know Batman's secret identity or not? What about Batgirl, Batwoman, Black Lightning, or any of the other heroes who stand up to the faceless criminals of Gotham.

        I have to make decisions here. Like a casting director for a major film, who is in, who is out. What stories do I want no part of (Knightfall -Batman's back is broken by Bane and a new guy takes over as Batman while Bruce recovers) ((Death in the Family - Robin/Jason Todd's death at the hand of the Joker)). I stuck with the final season of Batman: the Animated Series and made my cast small.

        In my humble opinion, I limit my games to a max. of 4 players. Everyone gets good face time and you are not organizing a small convention of people to match schedules to play together. The final season of Batman: The Animated Series the cast is Batman/Bruce Wayne, Robin/Tim Drake, Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, and Nightwing/Dick Grayson. Perfect for my needs. Now the villain(s)...

        You cannot do Batman without touching on the Joker, but I feel he is the subject of everyone's affection. I love them also, but even the video games go straight for the Clown Prince of Crime and Harley Quinn. Who is next? I like Dr. Hugo Strange as a demented sort of fellow, but he is not in the Heroes and Villains appendices, but Dr. Jonathon Crane/The Scarecrow is in there and I like using him to give the game a darker, Halloween feel. We have a criminal mastermind, but we need a thug, someone to fight with regularly. I guess Killer Croc, an image from the video games, but not so over-used as to be silly and tired.

        Minions: You cannot do Batman without some lackeys to watch the Batman enter from the skylight to commence the butt-kicking we all love. Those Thugs from the Appendices as well as Cultists and Assassins/Ninjas work well to cover something for everyone. This opens more possible storylines for me in the League of Shadows/League of Assassins (Ras Ah Ghul, Talia, Shiva and so on). Since my sons watch both the Arrow and The Flash tv shows, they know about these guys and their effect on the world of Batman.

        I don't know about you, but I can feel the excitement building. I can see a story forming in my mind. Maybe so can you.


        • #5
          Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

          Ah, Gotham City. Something of a personal favorite for me... One of the best resources for roleplaying in the Batman's hometown is the old West End Games' supplement called The Daily Planet Guide to Gotham City.

          Written in 1999 and published in early 2000, the guide is a great source for information on the status quo of Gotham City after the soft re-boot of the Batman comic books that followed the No Man's Land event. Which basically makes it perfect for anyone looking for something set in the city at any point post-Crisis on Infinite Earths and pre-Flashpoint. Heck, it's useful for The New 52 as well, if you make a few small tweaks.

          The Daily Planet Guide books —they have one for Metropolis too— are something like 98% fluff and what little game mechanics it has in it are ridiculously easy to ignore or port into other systems. So it's basically game neutral. But my favorite part about The Daily Planet Guides is that they are written as if they were "in universe" documents. Actual guide books from the actual newspaper! This means you can let your players read everything in it and not worry about them getting any "secret" information — its literally stuff any man on the street could know! So they won't learn that Bruce Wayne is secretly the Batman or the location of the Joker's secret hide-out, but they will learn the best place to grab breakfast after a long night of crime fighting. (I'm partial to MMM Donuts, since we don't all have Alfred to make us waffles!)

          Oh, and if I can plug my own work, I did an extended run of Gotham City builds back in my Character Thread during Second Edition. The mechanics will need to be updated, but I had a lot of tips and tricks on how to make Gotham City's quirky rogues really "pop" in M&M.

          Welcome to Gotham City, and welcome to the Atomic Think Tank!


          • #6
            Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

            Thanks Batgirl III….It is good to draw from a lot of different resources…I hope to be acquiring several of my own here shortly.

            Step 3 – Prepping the cast.

            I already decided on the list of characters available to the players. I prep what will become their character sheets in Hero Lab –Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition basic game format, entering them as NPCs so I can blow the power points out of the water (remember Batman has 283!).
            +-+ Batgirl/Barbara Gordon – Heroes & Villains Vol 1. – pg 42
            +-+ Batman/Bruce Wayne – Heroes & Villains Vol 1. – pg 43
            +-+ Nightwing/Dick Grayson – Heroes & Villains Vol 2. – pg 81
            +-+ Robin/Tim Drake – Heroes & Villains Vol 2. – pg 143

            This is also a great opportunity to take care of some busy work – NPC’s I might need sheets for within the context of the game…
            Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox, Dr. Leslie Thompkins: (Under Batman on pg 43 of Vol 1)
            James Gordon, Maggie Sawyer, Harvey Bullock, Jim Corrigan, and Josie Mac: ( Under Gotham City heading on pgs 39-41)

            I am going to expand these entries, Maggie represents someone of a grade Lt. or Capt in the Gotham City Police force, as well as someone of the same rank from the infamous Major Crimes Unit. Harvey is a good base for a generic street detective, as well as a generic detective from the Major Crimes Unit. Jim Corrigan represents a model for a corrupt cop as well as one who barely walks a beat in Gotham City, though his CSI skills are going to have to be deleted. This gives me a blank template to insert other officers and so on into the game…all I have to do is give them a new name. either from the Batman Wikia or make one up.

            I like the idea of building my as I wrap up the cast, I need to make final decisions. I know I will be using Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow(Vol 2 pg160), as well as Killer Croc (Vol 1 pg 307) Now I have to create some story!


            • #7
              Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

              Sorry so long without a new post...I have literally spent weeks mulling over the details of Gotham City. I also have been doing a lot of reading of the DCA rules mechanics. One simply does not do Batman without some sort of chase scene. Whether across a series of rooftops, or thru the tight twisting streets of Gotham, Batman inevitably gets chased or does the chasing. I have to do something with the Batmobile or the Bat-cycle(s)or there really is no point.

              I see this going one of 2 ways. First, I can see the Batmobile roaring thru Gotham being pursued by the GCPD, and thru sheer speed, Bats escapes. Also I can see all four heroes chasing bad guys on various forms of the Bat-Cycle and having to split up into their own separate chases. I can then move each character, one obstacle at a time, thru their own separate course in and out of the side streets of Gotham. Do the bad guys get away? Do some of our heroes catch the foul villain and cart him/her off to jail?

              This chase constitutes a story element. I go through the process of building as many elements as I can, and then making a story out of them. As you can see with the cast post I made earlier, I can expand the entries from specific characters to more general, everyday sort of people that anyone can meet in Gotham City. So with Scarecrow, I can build an Intro element, an Escape element (where its a trap and Batman and/or others have to escape) A Fight element where some of Scarecrows thugs try to beat the Batman/ This I might do as a light encounter and an upgrade if it goes too easy for the heroes. I will touch more on Elements in a future post...


              • #8
                Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

                WOW...The thread is still here, and like all good things, that which is old becomes new again. After a couple of years away, my sons and I are getting ready to reboot Shadows Over Gotham is there anyone out there interested???


                • #9
                  Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

                  I am keen to hear how it goes


                  • #10
                    Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

                    Batman as a comic book hero tends to be very visual in nature. Look around and tell me you cannot find a reference to some sort of stylized Bat-Symbol. So it goes without saying, that for Shadows Over Gotham, there has to be something very visual for the game, and even some sound/audio in order to get the real feel of Gotham and the Dark Knight.

                    First of all, as a teenager in the 1980's, I tend to use mood music. Songs that I would personally use in the soundtrack of my own film, if I were a filmmaker that is. My sons are now 13 and 11 respectively and their love of music matches my own. Originally the "set list" was filled with classic from the 1980's genre. With the reboot/return to Shadows Over Gotham, my sons have now put their collective 2 cents in on the playlist. Here is the music they use for Shadows Over Gotham.

                    1. Land of Confusion – Disturbed
                    2. Hero – Skillet
                    3. Love the Way You Hate Me – Like A Storm
                    4. Monster – Skillet
                    5. My Demons – Starset
                    6. Bring It – Trapt
                    7. Burn It Down – Skillet
                    8. I Stand Alone – Godsmack
                    9. Freak Like Me – Halestorm
                    10. Smooth Criminal – Alien Ant Farm
                    11. Beat It – Fall Out Boy
                    12. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark - Fall Out Boy
                    13. Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) – Pet Shop Boys
                    14. Opportunities – Reprise – Pet Shop Boys
                    15. Far From Over – Frank Stallone
                    16. Kiss from a Rose – Seal
                    17. Headstrong – Trapt

                    I also use a site called Tabletop Audio takes care of music and background noise while the game moves along...

                    Since I based the game on Batman: The Animated Series, I started off by using a lot of images from the cartoon, but my sons have found an artist, Phil Cho, who has done some brilliant artwork for the Batman family. Especially his Arkham Asylum files that look like mug shots from when they were captured and locked in Arkham. I asked his permission before I used any of his images...but feel free to take a look yourself in Google Images.

                    That should be enough for now.


                    • #11
                      Re: Shadows over Gotham...Batman & Family in DCA (How I Did It, from Scratch)

                      So you wanna play Shadows Over Gotham...I have had to produce a lot of my own materials for this game...To get started you need to follow me to Facebook. is the link to the public site...Join the team and help me bring this series to life...