Question: What’s more daunting than being sucked into a Bizzaro world vortex with Bat-Mite and Mister Mxyzptlk calling the shots?
Answer: How about the New 52?
For those who aren’t readers of DC comics, the company’s entire line of 52 titles is getting relaunched starting Aug. 31. For their signature heroes — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (and my personal favorite, Batgirl) — and a slew of others, it means new costumes, new backgrounds, new storylines and new supporting casts.
But if you’re running a tabletop roleplaying game featuring DC’s costumed characters, such as DC Adventures from Green Ronin, and you run within the comic book continuity, what’s it mean for you and your game?
1. Ease into it
Comic book canon is like 52 flavors of ice cream. There’s always something new and if it tastes better than what came before, we forget the old and embrace the new. But if something doesn’t taste right, we mine the past for old favorites and incorporate it until the next reboot.
The news from ComicCon was that the essential elements to every character’s past have been incorporated into a 5-year timeline that predates the events starting with the new launch. (Which explains how Babs can be Batgirl, then Oracle, run the Birds of Prey, and by some means yet explained, Batgirl once again.)
So, try incorporating only those elements that appeal to you, and do it slowly, so it won’t cause a sea change.
2. Adapt to the new stuff
If you’re playing a stat-driven game, such as DC Adventures and its Mutants and Masterminds game engine, you might have to tinker with powers and such to bring your characters in line. Though details from DC are slim, assume your main supers are getting their powers dialed back a tad.
3. Take what you want, discard the rest
This might be the most appealing, because unless you plan on reading, absorbing and incorporating the new info from 52 titles, it might be easiest to just use the stuff that appeals to you. Heck, if Dick Grayson is STILL your Robin, tagging alongside Batman on patrols of Gotham City, then all the power to you.
4. Reboot your universe, too
Even if you don’t feature DC characters in your game — but you want to shake things up a bit, why not take a cue from the comics book companies. If your supers game is getting convoluted or the timelines are a little bit wacky (how many times can you realistically save Metropolist/Gotham/Central City, anyhow?), turn the timeline back to zero and establish a new canon going forward. I think you’ll find the experience as liberating as the writers and artists for DC’s books say they are.
5. Go retro
Maybe you found the World War II origin of Captain America motion picture interesting. (Yes, I know, Cap works for that OTHER company. It’s just an example). What if you found the Batman-Doc Savage stories of DC’s First Wave compelling? Maybe the Golden Age exploits of the Justice Society are more appealing. Take your game into past and take on the villains of the era you like the best. This way you avoid the reboot issue entirely.
6. One title, one universe
Fans of comic books tend to see canon and character interplay across the entire spectrum. That how terms like DCU (DC Universe) come into play. What happens in a book in the company’s line can affect stories elsewhere, or at least in one line of titles. (Stories in Batman, for example, at least impact other Batman or Gotham City-related titles, if not allied Justice League members, such as Superman).
But what if your game focused only on the universe as one DC character sees it? What if your universe comes from the perspective of Green Arrow, or Aquaman or Huntress? Such a micro look might be an excellent way to get into a supers game. Let a single comic title define your universe, and build on that using characters of your players’ own devising.
So, is the DC relaunch going to affect your supers game, or at least change how you look at the setting of your own supers game? Share your thoughts.