Monday, January 4, 2010

I'm Living In the 80's!

I had made a passing comment on wanting to set my new Ultimate Guardians game in 1985. I never expected my players to like the idea, but so far a couple of them do and now I am looking at it realistically.

I am rereading Watchmen and the Elementals to get myself back into that 80's superhero headspace.

I am also reading a bunch of alternate history stuff to see if there are any events I want to change, ala Watchmen-style.

Of course the big upside to this is that in 1985 I still have my Soviets! The 60's weren't so long ago. Lots of heroes can have tours in Vietnam in their backgrounds. Oh and the music Rocks!

So any ideas or suggestions you might have to make this even more fun would be very much welcome.



  1. First, I would seriously reconsider this whole gray type on white background thing you're doing with your blog. I really have a hard time reading it.

    Second, I like the idea of the retro-80s. You've got Reagan and Thatcher and the Soviets and the first Afghanistan conflict (oooo! Rather than your supers participating in the Vietnam war, a la Watchmen, they could covertly fight the Soviets in Afghanistan!), and so much more! Nicaragua! Iran! As you can see, I'm grokking on the idea of your supers taking on international conflicts, which would tie into your alternate history concept.

    Third, don't forget The Dark Knight Returns. That had a seriously interesting take on supers as they fit into society. Especially combined with the international affairs vector. Your supers can be like Superman from DKR, covert super-weapons sent to deal with international conflicts. And, of course, the Soviets have their own covert supers meddling with world affairs....

    I don't have any advice on how to get into the zeitgeist of the era other than music. The TV shows are all pretty much over the top mind-numbing pap. The movies might give you insight into the 80s mindset, however. (Oh, and don't forget the rampant consumerism. If you don't go the whole covert super-weapons route, then your supers should have product endorsements.) Go to your closet, find all 80s t-shirts you can find, and wear them to the game.

  2. I see what you are saying, and there will be elements of that in the game. (I can't write them here cause the players see this site) The thing is though, that's not the campaign focus.

    The focus is going to be on them being an up and coming hero team that will be like the Avengers someday.

    Essentially the old awesome team, the Golden Guardsmen and their leader Guardsman (yes he had THAT big an ego) were decimated by the Axis of Evil (come on! How could I pass that up?), a villain team lead by a surviving Nazi Superman (die Übermensch) and made up of other psychotic/homicidal/anti-American villains. The only survivor is Nightstar, and she disbands the essentially nonexistent team.

    The players will become a new team that will try to fill their boots. They will explore the world and learn the shadows and connections that make things not exactly what they appear to be.

    Plus there will be plenty of 80s' "style over substance" and I will enjoy moving the world towards a more Cyberpunk setting. One of the plans is to have technology start increasing at a tremendous rate and the consumer market jumping right with it. Sort of a Japanese thing.

    More thoughts as I have them.

    So you prefer the new layout?

  3. LOVE the new layout. My comments have increased by 90%.

    Don't forget Booster Gold. I love him for his style over substance approach. He was more worried about the PR hit he'd take because he got his ass kicked on national TV. And there were the endorsements.

    If you're going for an indictment of the 80s, you've gotta include that element.

    Don't forget to give them a shady handler who may or may not work for the CIA. Think along the lines of The Initiative from Buffy. There could also be a "hey, you like your shiny new headquarters? We'd like you to take care of something for us...." vibe going on. (Seriously, I never understood why SHIELD didn't just yank a few superhero chains.)

    Considering the large number of mercenaries in the Marvel-verse, don't forget you could go with a group they fight one month (because the Cubans hired them) and have to team up with the next (because now they work for the Israelis).

    The cyberpunk aspect sounds really cool, too. Really, I'm ashamed to admit this, but Longshot was one of my favorite comics. The whole other-dimensional Mojo thing was completely wasted.

  4. Real fast, I actually liked the Shattershot annuals.

  5. Well, I haven't visited this spot in a while and there seem to be some major changes. Apparently you're doing superheroes now...

    But since this post is about history, I couldn't resist throwing in my two cents idea-wise...

    MK-ULTRA makes heroes crazy and unstable. Always a good plot point. This is the era of high weirdness a la CIA, US Military, etc...The last gasp of the Cold War. Remote viewing, too.

    Space program things...The Shuttle goes up and well, finds stuff. Not thinking Skrull-Avenger level, but maybe some low-level aliens would be cool (even just an "Andromeda Strain" kind of thing would be interesting).

    As mentioned, the whole Central American angle is really fascinating. Killer bees? Radioactive fire ants? Maybe it's not going so well for the US...Monroe Doctrine falling on hard times style situation.

    The mid-80s setting seems rife for a whole "things are not as they seem" vibe...And one can mix this with new technology issues too. Cyborgs (some who look like real people), cybernetics, the nascent internet and computers going crazy (AI ahead of it's time?). Distopian technology rather than technology making things easier (like today).

    Other bad behaviors -- designer drugs (cocaine!), the arms trade, and guerilla war. All the themes witnessed in the TV of the age.

    Maybe the US hasn't pulled out of Southeast Asia, maybe western Europe is infested with commies (heck, some people worried it was...). Maybe Stalin created a super-soldier program before he died. Maybe he never died. Maybe the NAZIs are still around, wormed into positions of power in the US. Don't forget, this is the rise of the new Right (even edgier that Reagan...).

    So many wicked ideas. I miss that time. :)