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  • Grokking DCU for my next game

    So I'm thinking about running a campaign in the DC universe, though me, and the players have mostly only seen the movies and not read a lot of the comics.

    1.) How did the individual adventures and storyline interact with the DC universe? Was it close to a particular "canon" or was it more "Alternate Universe"?


    2.) How does Canada feature in the DCU?

    My one gripe with the DC Universe supplement is that Canada is not described at all. I' Since my group is Canadian, there will probably be a request to locate the game here, but I don't think there's much to work with. Any pointers on that?

    3.) The use of "Big Names", in many settings (Exalted, oWoD) Named NPCs are metaphorical behemoths that can just swat down the PCs and laugh at their pathetic. DCU does not quite seem so bad. How have they been handled in your games?

  • #2
    Re: Grokking DCU for my next game

    .) How did the individual adventures and storyline interact with the DC universe? Was it close to a particular "canon" or was it more "Alternate Universe"?
    For the most part the stories are self sustained capable of standing on their own, however they also integreate fairly smoothly especially in the team books like JLA and JSA and Teen Titans. youll also see the occasional crossover such as Green Arrow popping up in gotham to visit Dinah whose working with Oracle and the Birds of Prey.

    2.) How does Canada feature in the DCU?

    My one gripe with the DC Universe supplement is that Canada is not described at all. I' Since my group is Canadian, there will probably be a request to locate the game here, but I don't think there's much to work with. Any pointers on that?
    For the most part Canada doesn't really play a huge role in the DCU proper its mostly considered connected to America in that regard this doesn't prevent you though from holding adventures there or using a group like Alpha Flight and porting them in or making your own Canadian based hero team and Captain Cannuk as canadas greatest hero/heroine.

    Also don't be afraid to draw from marvels Alpha Flight for some ideas such as a Department H, or the winter gods that Snowbirds from. and so on and so forth.

    3.) The use of "Big Names", in many settings (Exalted, oWoD) Named NPCs are metaphorical behemoths that can just swat down the PCs and laugh at their pathetic. DCU does not quite seem so bad. How have they been handled in your games?
    In General I in the past have used such big names for most starter heroes as a couple fo things. one they act as exposition or plot motivators. batman appears and tries to warn the heroes off of a case the heroes investigate anyways. Superman appears in the middle of an epic battle with Metallo the heroes save lives and be heroes while the battle rages on in the background.

    And so on and so forth

    they can also be used as mentors and allies, and coworkers. and lastly they can be used as cavalry if the heroes cant handle the alien menace or the monster villain is wiping the floor with them having big blue come along can be a good save at the last moment.

    the trick is to use them sparingly don't let Superman be available every time make them stand on theiur own. IF Superman is a mentor play up the fact that Superman is a high ideal to live up to, a great guy no doubt but being his apprentice is a big mountain to climb, if hes an Ally Big Blue is a great one to have, but having him as ally/mentor means you also inherit Lex Luthor or Metallo or similar villains as your own enemies.

    DCU as a power level is generaly much more powerful in many ways more cosmic expansive then Marvel --which skews to the more realistic--DCU has heaven and hell, Angels and Demons and so on and so forth.

    So play it epic play it big. Introduce them to Aquaman and Mera if theyre investigating a missing atlantean artifact and see if they can fight together when they face Black manta and his minions.

    Help Superman by facing down the 4 goons in power armor equipped with kryptonite blasters and force fields, help him investigate the conenciton to Lex copr and rage with Clark when Lex skates because theres no connection, also let them sweat when Lex says Hes glad to meet the heroes hell be keeping an eye on them from now on.

    have the teams mage help Dr Fate with a ritual and join Zatanna as she raeppa tibbar a sekam

    but above all in general have fun
    Dr. Silverback has wryly observed that this is like trying to teach lolcats about Shakespeare

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    • #3
      Re: Grokking DCU for my next game

      The animated DC stuff, now available on Netflix streaming, is a great example of adaptation distillation. Although it's hard to use the printed stats if you use those versions, as they tend to be a bit weaker than the comics.

      I tend to avoid the big name heroes, but I have found using the villains to be really enjoyable. In some ways, just having the pictures alone is a great way to get people into the mood or grok who a character is quickly.

      A few other scattered thoughts. Decide who you want the heroes to be in the DC Universe. This applies to all games, really. Are they protectors of a single city (which works pretty well for PL 10 heroes)? Are they new members of the Justice League? Something like that. If you're using an established universe, it's easier to give them a sense of place.

      I've also often toyed with an all-legacy campaign, where the PCs have to be connected to some facet of the universe in some way. But, that's more suited to people eager to geek out on the DC stuff.

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      • #4
        Re: Grokking DCU for my next game

        If you're worried about Superman stepping on your toes, the fact that Canada is pretty much ignored in DC's universe should help you. Your players are Canada's premier superheroes, and if the JLA come calling, they're in your jurisdiction. Typically though, the DC crowd is pretty territorial, so there's not a lot of crossover with the biggest names on a day to day basis.

        I'll second using the DCAU as a basis for the game, since it's a good distillation of the characters and who they are as well as a smaller continuity with a definitive end point. That way you can say "the campaign starts two years after the series finale of Justice League Unlimited" or something similar without getting into the miscellaneous continuity snarls that the comics DCU has (and oh boy, do they).
        SuperFerret's Shoebox of Solitude - My RollCall thread
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        • #5
          Re: Grokking DCU for my next game

          Did I hear they just formed the JLC (Justice League of Canada).

          I also like the JLA and JLA Unlimited as an easy point to grasp the universe and have been showing them recently as we restart one of our campaigns with new players. But I never let the "real" DC universe effect my game, and don't integrate ongoing continuity in anyway, I just sort of pick a point and take the whole universe over from there moving forward with my own continuity.

          Starting at PL 12 gave our players a strong start point and made them all feel genuinely powerful, but in the future I might start characters at PL10 because with advancement they can grow quickly if you play regularly.

          Both of us who run around here incorporate Big Names, but usually as mostly window dressing around our main story lines.

          I started my first game with Superman dropping out of the sky, and the heroes coming together to stop the fiends who had just felled the man of steel.

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          • #6
            Re: Grokking DCU for my next game

            I haven't gotten a chance to play DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds (although I am looking too soon), but I ran DC Heroes (the old Mayfair game) off and all through the 80's and 90's and I rarely used the established characters except as minor characters.

            Now, I did have an alien team I introduced through the Superman story "Panic in the Sky" (they were prisoners on War World and used the events of the story to escape to Earth). They operated in Metropolis and were even sponsored by Lex Luthor Jr (when Lex was pretending to be his own son and a good guy) but they rarely encountered Superman himself.

            When Doomsday killed him they were part of the group to pick up the slack but when Superman came back, they found out Lex was a bad guy, had cloned them (replacing them with their own clones) and forcing them to flee to California and start all over again working for a movie studio. Those where the days.

            Oh, I also did some of the major summer crossovers like "Darkness Within" but just occasionally.

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            • #7
              Re: Grokking DCU for my next game

              Originally posted by Thunder_Hammer View Post
              1.) How did the individual adventures and storyline interact with the DC universe? Was it close to a particular "canon" or was it more "Alternate Universe"?
              Definitely alt-universe. I have an obsidian portal campaign that details my ideas and such. I went with either make your own character at PL10 or pick a PL10 Justice League member.

              2.) How does Canada feature in the DCU?

              My one gripe with the DC Universe supplement is that Canada is not described at all. I' Since my group is Canadian, there will probably be a request to locate the game here, but I don't think there's much to work with. Any pointers on that?
              As a fellow resident of the Great White North I can say with certainty that it doesn't to any degree. That said Boost Gold is Canadian, and so is Adam Strange.

              Boost Gold being Canadian has to be worth something as a story element for a game.

              3.) The use of "Big Names", in many settings (Exalted, oWoD) Named NPCs are metaphorical behemoths that can just swat down the PCs and laugh at their pathetic. DCU does not quite seem so bad. How have they been handled in your games?
              Either as PCs, or as contact and ocassional background fun.
              Last edited by Beleriphon; 10-29-2016, 02:27 PM.
              My Current Campaign: [URL="https://earth-82.obsidianportal.com"]Earth-82[/URL] (WIP)

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              • #8
                Re: Grokking DCU for my next game

                Originally posted by Thunder_Hammer View Post

                3.) The use of "Big Names", in many settings (Exalted, oWoD) Named NPCs are metaphorical behemoths that can just swat down the PCs and laugh at their pathetic. DCU does not quite seem so bad. How have they been handled in your games?
                Well, I think it helps that many NPCs in DCU are designed to be usable as starting characters of the appropriate power level. A few are even a little under the point total than a starting PC would be (Green Arrow comes to mind). So that's a plus.

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