Posts Tagged ‘comics’

The Power of Anything

Lucifer

Lucifer

This was originally an e-mail to one of my regular brainstorming partners, but I thought I’d kick it to the group.

As part of my angel kick, I re-read Vertigo’s LuciferLucifer is the adventures of the former devil as he tries to escape the predestination he believes has been inflicted on him by his father. It’s a neat combination of grand mythology, bastardly trickery, and street level stories about ordinary people getting mixed up in the supernatural.
Reading got me to thinking about one of the problems in roleplaying games that I’ve never been able to solve: how to handle characters whose powers are only loosely defined, like a lot of the characters in Lucifer and Sandman. In Sandman, Dream himself is well-modeled by Nobilis. He has the power to shape, create, and destroy dreams, and he has absolute control over reality within his own realm. Other characters are a little harder.
In his own series, Lucifer demonstrates the following abilities:
  • The ability to bind and bring back anything he kills.
  • The ability to conjure or control fire in any context.
  • The ability to kill mortals without physical action, including at a distance or in vast numbers.
  • The ability to grant souls to the soulless.
  • The ability to use sympathetic magic for a variety of minor effects.
  • The ability to travel anywhere, inside or outside of Creation.
  • The ability to shape the raw energy of Creation into a multiverse.
  • The ability to permanently remove someone’s sexual potency.
And others. The general problem with modeling him in a system is that these abilities seem to occur to Lucifer’s “player” on the spur of the moment. If one were running a game of grand mythology, it would work against the spirit of the thing to have made an absolute list in advance. It’s one of the problems with most games about gods and angels… the powers don’t allow enough on-the-spot effects.
Really, it seems like a game of higher powers should be defined in terms of two things:
  • The general character of the power. For example, Lucifer is the Lightbringer and the Morningstar. As the firstborn son of God, he possesses lesser versions of many of God’s abilities. (God’s abilities being “everything.”)
  • The amount of effort involved in the act. It seems to be possible to exhaust gods and such. But what’s the scale?
So it seems like a game about higher powers needs some system for characterizing those powers without specifying individual abilities. The mechanics need to keep characters on theme more than provide a strict palette of options. And then some kind of a resource system that tells you how much you can do in the way of miracles and how much a given miracle costs.
Nobilis 3e, despite not being quite the right system for the task, seems to point the way.
In Nobilis, the area of reality a character has influence over has a list of Properties. For example, fire:
  • Fire destroys.
  • Fire rages.
  • Fire spreads.
  • Time is the fire in which we burn.
So the Power of Fire can destroy, has influence over rage, and so on. A list of properties for Lucifer as a character might include:
  • Lucifer is proud.
  • Lucifer seeks freedom.
  • Lucifer was God’s lamplighter.
  • Lucifer was the Devil.
So from freedom, one might get the powers of flight and cosmic travel. From being God’s lamplighter, fire and shaping. From the Devil, the ability to levy small curses.
That leaves the question of how you do things. I like the idea that you have a large pool of dice per session, but there are two problems:
  • How do you model the tendency of fictional characters to pull off their biggest feats towards the end?
  • What are the points of reference on the scale?
Perhaps:
  • 0: Make something happen that could have happened anyway. You don’t have to roll for it.
  • 1: Perform a miracle that only affects an individual person or something small.
  • 2: Perform a miracle that affects many people or a large area.
  • 3: Perform a miracle that changes the nature of reality outside the parameters of cause and effect.
  • 4: Perform a miracle that affects an entire world.
Additional difficulty would apply if the effect you’re trying to cause doesn’t relate to one of your Properties.
And then there would also have to be physical combat, because what are angels if you can’t wrestle with them?
What do you think?

Dismissive

Yes, I also believe that the government should give people cookies. Even in the public schools. Gluten-free cookies, even.

Games are sexist. Roleplaying games are sexist. Video games are sexist. Massively multiplayer online games are sexist. Not all of them, not always, but way too many and way too often.

Before we can talk about this, we need to establish something. You’re not a bad person. I mean that. You, personally. You’re not a bad person, and the fact that I’m angry about this does not mean that I think that you are. This is not one of those times when you need to defend yourself.

That’s the problem, though: every time we start to talk about how to make games less sexist, we end up with an argument about whether we should be having the discussion, or whether the issue’s even relevant.

So, in the interests of being able to constructively discuss gender problems and gaming in the future, I’m going to address some of those arguments here in the past. My friend the straw man will provide some arguments in bold, and I’ll respond by setting fire to him.

“Women don’t play games.”

Women do play games. They play games in different types and numbers than men. This doesn’t mean that female gamers aren’t out here. They are… and the sadly hilarious thing is, they’ve been here the whole time. Sit outside the treehouse with a “No Girls Allowed” sign and all you’re doing is ignoring that there are ladies inside painting Tyrranids.

“But they’re a minority.”

That’s what happens when you start splitting a set into subsets. Some are generally bigger than others. That doesn’t mean some subsets don’t exist. There are fewer 3s in a deck of cards than other cards. That doesn’t mean I should be designing my game without 3s in it.

“People can’t agree on what’s sexist, so there’s no point in trying not to be sexist.”

You know what else people can’t agree on? Computing platforms. Somehow, they manage to throw Comdex and make new, more awesome computers every year anyway. Android 3.0 is still going to be really cool even though a lot of people won’t like it as well as iOS 5. We can make things better even if we can’t agree on perfect.

“Feminism is over.”

So’s Nextwave. ‘SPLODE!

“We should be focused on gameplay and story, not gender.”

We’re capable of thinking of more than one thing at once.

“Or, rather, we should be focused on a quality product, rather than one aimed at pleasing a particular demographic.”

Sometimes, people create things without caring what other people think. Most times are not that time. The audience isn’t any more dead than the author.

this is what they want

World of DarknessThe World of Darkness is about THINGS BLOWING UP and PEOPLE GETTING KICKED. And most especially it is about CROSSOVER.

When the Pentex Corporation1  formed an elite force of monsters to test out new Weapons of Mad Destruction, they didn’t expect the bastards to go rogue. Or start saving people. They most especially did not expect them to escape with a copy of the Gehenna Programme and go on a fucking road trip to stop Pentex.

Vampire: Lucita. Her name’s Lucita. Like it’s engraved on the katana, see? She’s a Spanish Lady, and you better not forget that. She is most certainly not Luci Westenra of London, nor does she have four convictions for exposing herself to young boys. Despite the accent.

Werewolf: His real name is a series of grunts and growls your stupid human tongue cannot pronounce. If you must give him a name, let it be written in your blood and entrails. And let it be spelled KILLFUCK SOULSHITTER.

ChangelingBear: Bear is not a fairy. He’s straight. There just seems to be some confusion over that ghost that lives in his balloon. Bear doesn’t like your attitude, hairless one.

Mage: Mage isn’t sure whether he exists or not. He’s especially not sure when he’s talking to Bear’s balloon. He’s pretty sure he knows the nature of reality, though. Or at least he can narrow it down to a few possibilities. One of which involves you exploding. Bai!

The nextwod team have a pocket universe in the trunk of a convertible and all of the firepower you can imagine inside. They are supremely well equipped to shoot and explode anything they may have to to save America.

Fortunately, Pentex has Sam Haight on their side. He has the powers of all supernatural beings, ever. Even some you haven’t heard of. True, once, he got turned into an ashtray, but he fixed that by killing the only dinosaur that remembered he was an ashtray. Killing him TO DEATH. (Mage claims to understand this. Mage may not exist.)

Sam’s leading an army one shitload strong of Fomori.2 And he’s got an assistant, Hunter, who hears things wrong sometimes but is a good kid, anyway. And has some friends online that know things. LEARNING IS GOOD.

  1. An imprint of the Technocracy, or perhaps the other way around — bit of confusion over the merger.
  2. Mutants. Some of them have savage genitalia.

Canon, Setting, and Transmedia

Canon, it’s been observed, is what people argue is true about stories that aren’t. Continuity, similarly, is what’s supposedly consistent in worlds that aren’t.

Metaplot is what you call either one when you want to start a fight.

I’m faintly offended by the idea of canon in roleplaying games. RPGs are by their nature varying and modular. Trying to lock them down to a consistent set of facts is disrespectful to players and painful for everybody.

I’ve been told that a consistent body of facts is essential to establishing a property across multiple media. That if you don’t keep on top of it, and you don’t start early, you lose what’s identifiable about your setting.

That’s only true, I think, if you’re telling a single story across multiple media. And when you’re selling a setting, rather than one story, I’ve thought for some time that it makes sense to reinvent that setting for each medium.

For example, if I’m writing a Green Lantern novel, I have opportunities and limitations that just aren’t present in the Green Lantern comic. I can develop the world in ways that just don’t make sense in comics — complicated aliens, the psychology of power ring use, and so on. And those ideas would often be clumsy and overly detailed if they were ported back to the comics.

Still, as we move towards transmedia-native properties, I’m changing my mind again. Transmedia narrative involves more inherent cross-promotion than “simple” adaptation. Where adaptation is about following a core story or core concept across media, transmedia’s in large part about following the details. It matters that a tweet reflects a detail on a physical asset.

Why am I thinking about transmedia storytelling, anyway? Well, because it’s the way my jobs have been going for several years. When we started the story initiative for EVE, we wanted people to follow information from the chronicles to the news feeds to in-client artifacts. Rather than telling versions of the core story of EVE1 in each medium, we wanted to build one narrative across four or five media.

There were high points and low points to that process. The launch event for The Empyrean Age expansion and novel was extremely effective, despite a few hiccups. We later brought the same techniques together to do an immersive event around Fanfest 2008, using news articles in real time to lead up to a trailer showing a battle between the Amarr and the Gallente. That story had visible effects in-game2, and was reflected in online short stories around the same time. It also quietly resolved a plot thread that we’d left dangling for years.

We were telling a relatively small and simple story, but it worked. People at Fanfest were checking for updates during the show. RP arguments broke out on the forums.

Part of why it worked is that the EVE setting is transmedia native. From the very beginning, EVE stories have been told through pictures of the week, short stories, live events, news feeds, and a host of other channels. In the last few years, we’ve added novels. Since the EVE setting evolved in multiple media, it has strengths rooted in each one.

That’s a happy place to be. Although coordinating multiple channels is a huge effort, it’s paid off. Our consistent body of facts3 has been the backbone for a lot of the cool stories we’ve told.

How should settings be customized to individual media? Does live content have a lasting impact on your perception of a setting? Why do you like complex continuities, and why do you hate them?

  1. Pirates vs. Truckers vs. Day Traders
  2. A starship graveyard. Everyone loves Wolf 359.
  3.  Admittedly, it hasn’t always been consistent.

How crime novelists don’t get women

All Tomorrow's Bodies

"All Tomorrow's Bodies," EVE Online illustration

(This post is not about my personal problems. At least, not anymore than normal.)

What I write for work is basically crime fiction. If you look at the places I’ve been given free reign with the Vampire property, you’ll see that my influences are movies like Go, Brick, and The Godfather.

At one point early in my career, Will Hindmarch told me to “Be Fucking Mamet.” Which I interpreted as “American Buffalo.”1 When I developed the EVE: EXILED storytelling game, my characters were criminals whose trust, and lack thereof, was a key mechanical force in the game.2

Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus

Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus

All of that’s by way of saying that for, basically, a supernatural romance author, I have a long background with crime. I also have a long background with writing about women. You can’t write a book called Kiss of the Succubus and not.

Which was why I was interested in seeing best-selling thriller writer Christopher Rice write “Why Crime Novelists Don’t Get Women.”

Really, it’s more of a “how crime novelists don’t get women.” Rice outlines four archetypes he’s really tired of. I thought I’d share my own impressions of them.

The Cop’s Wife Who Just Doesn’t Get It

You know, the ultimate cop’s wife is Mrs. Columbo. She’s clearly a real presence in his mind, but you never see her.3 If you didn’t actually watch any Columbo movies, you’d get the impression that she represents the silent female.

But she doesn’t. Mrs. Columbo is a real character… a meta-character, actually, because she’s a character Columbo tells stories about. The relationship between Columbo and Mrs. Columbo is an important part of the narrative even though we only see one side of it, via an unreliable narrator.

I like to imagine, by the way, that if the Mrs. Columbo franchise had taken off, we’d have seen dueling narratives between Kate, talking about “Mr. Columbo,” and her husband, and, as viewers, had to guess where the truth lay between them.

The Babe Assassin

Elektra: Assassin

Yes, White Wolf has like three of her

By all rights, I should love this character. Put simple, I love it when pretty girls do violence. It’s because of trauma in my youth. The problem with the babe assassin4 is that she’s generally written as if she’s some sort of exotic animal the writer only read about in a 19th century children’s book.

She has no weight, no texture, no smell. Her clothing says nothing about her. If she’s hurt physically, it’s in a way few of us can relate to, like a gunshot wound. As Rice points out, she usually has epic sexual trauma in her past, but it’s rarely relayed convincingly.

Violence is, I believe, traumatic. I’ve been the victim of it and it’s no fun at all. Inflicting it is something I frequently have to write about and so have researched in some detail. The problem with the babe assassin is that violence doesn’t affect her. She doesn’t have the right traumas or the right callouses.

Let’s be clear, here, I’m not talking about realism, exactly, I’m talking about continuity. There’s no way that a person puts a man’s hand in a garbage disposal, eats dinner at a five-star restaurant two hours later, and doesn’t have some kind of internal life worth writing about going on.

The babe assassin has the same problem with her actions and her breasts: they both lack gravity.

The Ice Queen Bureaucrat

Servalan, with androids

Oh, Servalan. You warped me.

Bureaucrats in crime stories are horribly mistreated. They’re either hard-assed yet compassionate, which is at least a personality, or they’re Vulcans. Rice is talking about the Vulcan type. Pressed shirts, pencil skirts, need every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. Usually, about as close as they get to a personality is that they have “something to prove,” usually that they can do that something “as well as any man.”

Say what you will about the babe assassin, but she rarely quotes “Annie Get Your Gun.” The problem with the ice queen bureaucrat is that it’s usually impossible to imagine how she does her job as well as any man, because she lacks any of the abilities of the people under her command and any of the personal charm or team spirit you actually need to advance as a bureaucrat.

She should at least be plausible as an example of The Peter Principle, but she isn’t.

The best example of a positive spin on this character is Jacqueline Pearce’s Servalan from Blake’s 7, and she’s from entirely the wrong genre. Servalan’s icy and bureaucratic, yes, but you can see how it works for her as a management style. She actually does pretty well managing Travis and the other egos under her command, while maintaining political relationships appropriate to her position.

The Lesbian Cop

Maggie Sawyer

Maggie Sawyer

Well… uh… Maggie Sawyer. That’s all I really got here. Sawyer is a recurring character in the Superman comics. John Byrne may be John Byrne crazy, but it’s interesting that he created two of the least offensive homosexual characters in comics. While the Batman franchise has half a dozen interesting police characters, Superman‘s only got one and a half.

None of my favorite books have lady cops who are overtly lesbian in the way that gentleman cops are overtly straight. Which is part of Rice’s point, I think, but it also leaves me with relatively little to talk about.

The most notable thing I remember about lesbians from a crime novel is that ones in The Black Dahlia are kinda like vampires.5

Others

Pauley Perrette as Abbey from NCIS

The shy hyper-specialist, pictured here for Chuck Wendig

Rice misses a few of my “favorites,” though I’m sure that’s more his word limit kicking in than a lack of insight. A few more to avoid or carefully reconsider:

Dashiell Hammet made the secretary kind of mandatory, to the point that it’s become a multi-gendered archetype. At the risk of short-changing a rich character, Archie Goodwin is Nero Wolfe’s secretary, and perhaps with all the slash that implies.

The kind prostitute is related to the hooker with a heart of gold, the main difference being that she probably doesn’t want to sleep with the lead. (Possible she will, anyway.) She’ll listen to your troubles, but she’s got her own problems here on the streets. She acts mysteriously like the social worker, another archetype. Yeah, she’ll call you if she hears anything. (Which she will.)

The shy hyper-specialist would rather be down in the lab than out on a date, which is good, because she’s the best at what she does and what she does usually involves fragments of human tissue or psyche that the rest of us would rather see intact. Nonetheless, her attractiveness will be noted in passing.

Of all of these, she’s the most likely to get her own series of books.

_____

  1. Which, if you notice, is also “The Pardoner’s Tale” and Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
  2. Hjalti Danielsson, who was the project’s muse, wrote a very good piece based on the EVE RPG before its cancellation.
  3. Except in her own movie, the only evidence that Columbo isn’t entirely making her up.
  4. Or her roleplaying sister, the Lesbian Stripper Ninja.
  5. The movie makes this more overt, and for all its flaws, actually has a lot to offer vampire storytelling.

I was a vampire for the JLA, part 3

Vampire: The Masquerade AnkhCan the Superfriends survive an endless maze of 100’x100′ rooms? Will they be thwarted by someone who’s a little too attached to her sniper rifle? Who is the mysterious “Fifth Yellowjacket”?

Find out in the epic conclusion of this great three-part novel! It may be an imaginary story, but all of it happened just like this….

At the lair, the lead ST told us the National Guard was in place. One of the NPC players interrupted, and told him that they were supposed to be gone. The lead looked flustered, then said something about more Resources being necessary. Ross and I put up our OOC hand-signals and headed over to talk to him- but not before reminding the rest our party to do an “Activate!” at the first sign of trouble.

And walking over towards the ST was when we got stopped by the Gun Lady. I don’t know exactly what her character’s deal was. Earlier, she had kept shouting how she had guns if anybody needed them. She was some kind of Austin vampire expert/cop thingy.

Gun Lady: “You can’t go over there.”

Russell: “We just need to talk to Rob.”

Gun Lady (realizing she’s dealing with newbies): “They’re someplace else. Although this is a Live Action game, some parts of the room represent different locations in the wor–”

Russell (interrupting): “I know. We’re OOC.”

Gun Lady: “But they’re someplace else.”1

Russell (gesturing more emphatically with my crossed OOC fingers): “We’re out of character.”

Gun Lady: “Fine. I was just trying to help, so this doesn’t turn into a big mess.”

By the time we got away from Gun Lady, Rob was very busy, so we left him alone. The Sabbat had already scared away the Guard by that point, anyway.

So, the ALJ sat down and waited. At this point, the game wasn’t live action anymore- we were around waiting for STs to get to us. Which they rarely did, because our initiative sucked, and they were busy enough as is.

One of the NPC players got up to explain what was going on:

“Okay, so we’re all standing in a stone corridor. The Sabbat are in front, with the Camarilla melee fighters behind them, protecting the Tremere. In the meanti– fuck it. The fighters are in the front. Behind them are the Cam fighters, and the rangers. In the middle, we have the magic users. And behind them, there’s another group of fighters and rangers.”

This particular cutting of the bullshit was met with well-deserved laughter. Unfortunately, it only made what the ST said next more painful.

ST: “You’re halfway down the corridor. Glass cases line the wall, containing grotesque living Tarot cards. At the end of the hallway are about 35 cultists, chanting. Behind them is the Nictuku.”

Gun Lady (shouting): “I have a sniper rifle! I can hit the Nictuku!”

From there, it was very unclear what was going on. STs would shuttle back and forth, and there would be occasional shouted updates. One of them was this:

ST: “Finally, you reach the organ pit. The organs and charnel smell vanish as the pit turns into water. Above the pit is a nude woman, spread-eagled, in chains. (Gesturing to Mary the Black’s player**) That’s her right there.”

Gun Lady: “Can I hit anything with my sniper rifle?”

And then more chaos. Mary the Black was cut down from her chains, but one of the Sabbat people cast an illusion that made her appear to still be there. Then one of the Camarilla tried to claim credit. Only she wasn’t Camarilla, she was some kind of a part-demon oracle. Who was hanging with the Camarilla.

I was getting hungry. Melissa the Malk was getting impatient. Gun Lady kept yelling at all of us to move so that our characters were where we were, even though, by this point, nearly all live action stuff had stopped. It had become a huge and disorganized tabletop game, basically.

Somewhere in there, the Justicar died. Another player came up OOC to deliver the news:

Random Player: “The Justicar’s dead!”

Wayne: “Whoa. What happened?”

Gun Lady (as if speaking to a small child): “Well, we’re in a ‘Baali’ lair. ‘Baali’ are vampires who worshi–”

Wayne: “I ST Werewolf, damn it. I’ve played Vampire. I know what the fucking Baali are.”

Gun Lady: “Oh, well, I didn’t know you knew that. So, anyway, our mission is to defeat the Baali. We were given this miss–”

Mel the Malk: “Just let us hear how the Justicar died.”

Gun Lady (obviously hurt): “I’m sorry. I know I have a tendency to be overbearing. I’m just trying to help out the STs…”

Russell (to the rest of the ALJ, under my breath): “Oh, go cuddle your sniper rifle.”

Sigh. So, combat dragged on. Someone with True Faith was on our side, but that bugged some of us. Not Mr. Wayne, of course. He didn’t have much Humanity, you see, owing to his tragical past.

The ALJ made overblown, heroic speeches to each other, and exchanged e-mail addresses. Gun Lady walked around complaining OOC that someone had one of her guns. It was apparently a pretty valuable index card or something. I hope it wasn’t the sniper rifle.

Eventually, we ended up having an OOC awards ceremony. The Cam officials said nice things about everybody, and even invited our group up to the front and complimented not only our costumes, but our figuring out who we were supposed to be.

(We were actually remembered in 2005, too- we got the band back together and, when we were given an award for, uhm, torching half the LARP, one of the STs brought up the Justice League. That’s another story, though.)

I was in a game with one of the STs later, and it turns out that everybody with pregens had a theme group. There were the Sugar Babies (90210), the Rebels With a Cause (Teen Titans), and various others.

The only other player who had figured out who his character was based on was the troublemaker from the Yellowjackets.

Poor guy was Yoko.

  1. She was wrong about this. Actually, the people the ST was talking to were right in front of us.

I was a vampire for the JLA, part 2

Vampire: The Masquerade AnkhSo, there I was, trapped in a world I never made. A vampire. A mad, bloodthirsty creature of the night. And also a Superfriend.

Join me for part two of this epic three-part novel. Not a hoax! Not a dream! But definitely a con!

The next night, after some shopping in the exhibit hall and a meeting with my friend Beth, I headed to the game. I was wearing a black, sueded button-down shirt, open in the front and with the sleeves rolled up. My hair was in mini-spikes. I had green suede bracers on each wrist.

And I had on one very special t-shirt. In the exhibit hall, I’d grabbed a black shirt with an outlined Green Lantern emblem on it. In the center of the lantern design, I’d placed a glow-stick style green disc I’d gotten from the nVidia booth.

Oh, and I had a ring. I didn’t have to tell you that, though, did I?

I met up with my coterie-mates. Lynda was a trenchcoated, tank-topped Spider-Man. Ross (“Wayne”) was wearing a distressed-metal Batman tee. And the wonderful Mel the Malkavian had a t-shirt depicting the entire Silver Age League, as well as Spider-Man and Hawkgirl puppets.

We were officially the goth Justice League. Needless to say, the STs appreciated the effort.

(I should note, at this point, that we were dressed based on what cool stuff we could come up with, rather than what our stats said we were. I’ll fill you guys in on the original sheets later, when I dig my packet out of my luggage.)

Things got off to a good start, with the Sabbat and the Camarilla forming a tenuous alliance to take out a Baali lair. A group of Tremere were organized to do some kind of a ritual.

It got stranger as the first hour moved along, though. Even though we were beginning to notice themes among the other kindred (there were Star Trek and Avengers groups, though they hadn’t noticed), we also couldn’t help but notice that the entire population of the LARP was being organized into combat teams based on their weapon specializations. And that the villains were getting power-creepier. We were now up against a Nictuku (a really nasty geezer Nosferatu) as well as a recently awoken Baali named Mary the Black…

Actually, I was unclear on this. At first, we were told that the Baali were trying to turn Mary the Black. Then, it started to sound like she was the mastermind. Then it went back the other way.

But we were busy. We were trying to get the National Guard pulled out of the infernalist lair before they got slaughtered. Fortunately, two STs told us that was taken care of.

So, anyway, to cut a long story short: we ended up at the lair. And by “we,” I don’t just mean us Superfangs. I mean the whole damn LARP.

The Great Vampire Dungeon Crawl had begun.

Tune in Monday for the exciting conclusion featuring… The Sniper!

I was a vampire for the JLA, part 1

Vampire: The Masquerade AnkhHere begins a story of fear, darkness, and how Dungeons & Dragons comes in handy at the weirdest times.

My story begins the Friday of Gen Con 2004. Gen Con’s pretty much the definitive roleplaying event of the year. Tons of geeks, tons of games, tons of fun. It’s the kind of event where you can run into a noted goth/industrial band, and they’ll be trying to sell you their post-apocalyptic game.

Due to last-minute changes in plans (the law ate my Jeff), I was pretty much on my own. I was looking around for a game, and someone suggested the Camarilla event, Candles in the Dark. Looked like fun, and, let me be frank with you, it had been forever since I did a LARP. And a little longer since I did one that wasn’t stupid.

So, I decided to go along. On the way over, I tried to get into something resembling character. Vampire. Right. Paranoid. Slightly grim. Terrified of myself. Got it.

I picked up my character sheet. Okay, Ventrue. That works… ooh, got three levels of Fortitude. That’s cool. So I found my coterie, and together we had a look at our group description.

We were the “Alliance of the Lawful and Just.” Hrm. We trusted each other implicitly, having fought many battles together. Double hrm. We were “Interested in improving cooperation with human authorities to fight criminals, both human and supernatural.” Holy crap.

And then the Malk uttered one fateful sentence:

“Is this normal? It says I have a lasso.”

“Alliance of the Lawful and Just. ALJ.”

“JLA.”

“Fuck, we’re the Superfriends.”

“You better believe it, Mr. ‘Wayne.'”

Well, didn’t look like we were much for a game of personal horror. So we hit the beats, making deals with the Cam and Sabbat to try and avoid harm to humans. The game was quite a lot of fun until an infernalist showed up in our midst. Killing her took an hour and very few people got to act. Eventually, the lead ST just handwaved it and let people make cool suggestions.

Having been bored to tears, the ALJ’s spirits were down. This wasn’t helped by the fact that we barely missed the bus to get to the Vampire: The Requiem release party. Waiting an extra half hour to go to a kickass pseudo-goth event can be a powerful downer.

Yet, as we stood around on the curb, I had a wonderful, excellent, positively enormous idea.

“Hey, they want a Justice League? We’ll give ‘em a Justice League.

“Tomorrow night… we’re going in costume.”

Tune in Friday! Same Protean time, same Protean channel!