Dark Matter: inspiration and fun

More comics, creativity, and role-playing intersection – it’s a fine day. This is about Abby Baldwin’s own graphic novel Dark Matter, serving as the conceptual jumping-off point for role-playing my alpha version of Champions Now with her dad Robert. Here’s my conversation with Robert about all sorts of concepts and angles on it.

For quick reference on the project, I’ve done my own playtesting with the alpha version, as shown in my videos about the Defiants, and several other groups are giving my feedback (e.g. this post) about doing that too. I’m now moving into Beta testing with several groups at once, and receiving feedback from others too.

The Baldwins’ game’s content is described at his blog Graphs, Paper, and Games: Champions Now. It’s a teen-supers “villain school” story, as our hero Jackie, super-name Dark Matter, copes with peers, teachers, family pressure, secrets, and emergent hassles of all sorts. For purposes of play, Robert has shifted the action away from the specific setting of the graphic novel, at a different school that Jackie is attending as a visiting student for a short time. As you’ll see, one of the fun bits concerns how she invents a superhero persona, Ultraviolet, in order to team up with the hero Captain Hollywood, which was intended to be a brief practical tactic but gets a little out of hand.

In our discussion, you’ll see the following interesting topics:

  • playing with your teen kid
  • canonical content
  • points vs. not-points build and play
  • modes of story production in role-playing, callback to Allston/Mallonee distinction
  • improvement in game and in comics
  • disadvantages, callback to “balance” post
  • setting, location, immediate situation; creativity

It’s really packed, grounds for a whole term’s coursework. Please fire away with all possible comments and questions.

You’ll notice I’m doing a lot of video posting lately, which is sort of my new thing over at Adept Play. It’s not going to be every time for the blog, and I figure it’ll settle out into about half and half eventually.

About Ron Edwards

Game author, publisher, consultant, teacher

Posted on September 18, 2018, in Storytalk, Supers role-playing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This reminded me of when we role-played in Cynosure, the setting for the Grimjack comics, with John Ostrander, the writer/creator of Grimjack. Playing in that sandbox was a balancing act between canon & fanfic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I mention that in the video. My point there is a little different in that I judged GURPS to have rendered all the differing-dimensional content into “skin,” i.e., no longer content but merely cosmetic.

      Whereas in reference to canon, though, the topic is trickier – you and I, unlike the deliberate self-blinding characteristic of fandom, were aware that there was no “Cynosure sourcebook” that John consulted in order to write the comic. Such a setting is license to throw stuff in and to expect it to fit only as theme or as humor, not as externally justifiable or legalistic inclusion. So we didn’t have any of those tedious “would this make sense for Cynosure” or “do the laws of Cynosure permit this-or-that to happen” discussions.

      I remember when Matt Howarth was signing on for a licensed RPG of Those Annoying Post Bros, and how he was astonished that the writers were asking him how long it took for someone killed in Bugtown to be resurrected, and otherwise exactly how it worked, and whether Ron and Russ had different “control” over their dimension-hopping, and similar. Such questions run wholly counter not only to the purpose, but the process of writing such a comic. Not too long after that he put gamer characters in the comic for the Bros to kill very nastily.

      Believe it or not, there are people who asked why Joanne in Omaha the Cat Dancer had pubic hair if she was a bird …


  2. Spectre bought off disadvantages: his foci. He took on the powers himself and that became a HUGE plot point that changed the character’s origin in a shocking way.


    • That’s a Limitation, not Disadvantages. Shifting up Limitations happened a lot, especially in the games I ran after I saw how well it worked in that instance. I’m talking about things like “I burn 20 XP so I don’t have that DNPC any more.” People rewrote their Disads at the same total every so often, but didn’t buy them into zeros as far as I remember.


  3. Hello, my name is Ross and I am the player stupid enough / unfamiliar enough with the system to not say “hell no” when Ron suggested the unholy susceptibility, vulnerability, dependency triple. Clearly this was my penance for inventing a hunted organisation from nowhere and depriving Ron of the chance to do yet more historical research.

    I’m sorry we didn’t manage to engage more actively with the other bits of historical background, Monsanto, US / Mexico border conflicts, that are mentioned in the video, although I admit to being unsure what that would have looked like.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad you guys found the time to record this. I’m fascinated by play with teens/kids. I’ve read Ron’s actual play about D&D3.5 with a neighbor and his son, multiple times. I hope to catch up with the Graph, Paper blog soon. I imagine it very delicate to play one on one with one’s teen daughter. To me, this situation is interesting to see in the light of Ron’s writings about setting, authorship and story before. Imagine what it’d be like if she were the GM, taking people through her fantasy world. Instead, she gets to play as her heroine, authoring stories about her in a very different way.

    Also, the story kicks ass. It makes me want to read Worm all over again. But I’d love to read something like that written by an actual teen. If she ever finishes it and makes it available, I’d love to find out.

    Liked by 1 person

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