(or, “What Do You Do After Breaking The Universe - Twice?”)
I’m shortly (probably next Friday, if all foes well) about to launch a third strand of fiction on the site, alongside Strikeforce and Heroes. Here, I’ll try to explain why I’m doing something so insane.
The original Strikeforce game lasted 300 playing sessions over about 7 years. After I “broke” the universe with the Event, I re-started it as the Heroes game, and that ran almost 20 years, bringing the total number of playing sessions to 1000, when I managed to break the universe a second time and bring the whole Game to an end. I was burned out. I had been creating stories in the same universe for 25 years, 1000 “chapters” of a story that, if I ever finish adapting it, is going to be the equivalent a five-million-word novel. (The Bible is three-quarters of a million words. The combined Harry Potter books are slightly over a million. Me and my players have written a BIG story.)
So that was it, I’d had enough of writing superhero plots. I finished on what I hoped was a bang, with a big storyline that tied off as many loose ends as I could manage and literally ended the universe, so I couldn’t change my mind later. Then I sat back and put my feet up.
I was out of the hero business.
For a couple of weeks.
Then I needed to create things again. I can’t help it. It’s what I do.
I approached my players and asked if they’d like to try a fantasy-style game. No superheroes, just knights and wizards and thieves in a clichéd pseudo-mediaeval setting. They said yes, and I started creating a setting, characters, plots, and everything else a game world needed. I picked a set of rules that I’d first played decades ago and had always wanted to run my own game with: Dragonquest.
The rules date from the early 80s, and by modern standards are pretty creaky and over-complex. But in play, they actually work really well, they give you a lot of options (a lot more than the primitive Dungeons & Dragons rules, for example) and don’t attempt to impose any specific background on the game. Which is what I wanted. I’m not interested in modern systems which present a fully-developed world for you to play your games in. Developing the world is what I do.
I already knew the world I would use: the world of mythical Atlantis, shortly before it sank beneath the waves. Taking whatever elements I wanted from the myths, and adding elements of my own, I pretty soon had an entire world sketched out, a main plot arc for the players to follow, and plenty of peripheral characters and plots to allow a theoretically open-ended campaign. I could run 25 years of games in Atlantis, if I wanted to.
But – this wasn’t a new game universe. I didn’t tell the players (they fairly soon figured it out for themselves), but this game was taking place in the past of the Strikeforce universe. And during the game, I would be explaining the history of some of the key mysteries of the Strikeforce universe: magic, demons, Avatar’s Amulet of Karoona, and more. This game wasn’t just Atlantis. It was Strikeforce: Atlantis.
So I had managed to suck myself back in again. There’s something about Strikeforce. I try to move on, but they keep pulling me back. They have become a millstone around my neck.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.