A Good Pair of Old Shoes

March 14, 2005

It’s been a while since Mindcrime (and, I’m no longer calling him C.J. the Artist formerly Known as Mindcrime because of the reasons behind this post and because he is Mindcrime, not some mature putz who thinks otherwise and has to be more ‘pro-fesh-i-a-nal’) or I have thrown up anything relating to RPGs. Manly because neither of us was interested in the whole d20, writing, publishing thing much anymore. It got us both a little burned and a little burned out and we were searching for a way to get back to what we liked about RPGs. Fun.

Some of this will no doubt bore the crap out of you, that’s okay, I’m entitled. It’s my blog.

Recently, as far as a system is concerned for my local group, I went back to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP.) Coincidentally just as I did that, a company came out with an announcement that they were doing a second edition of this fabulous RPG. I managed to get us on the playtesting list. But that didn’t matter to me as much as the fact that we’ve had about a half dozen gaming sessions and it has been an utter blast. Many people like to argue that a game ‘system’ doesn’t inherently set the tone for a game. Maybe they’re right but in my 25+ years of gaming, I’ve played a lot of systems, and my experience says otherwise.

This renewed dose of fun has led to a, um, desperate cry on anguish and yearning from my old buddy Mindcrime. You see, way back in the halcyon days of our college years, I ran a superhero campaign (using the old Mayfair DC Heroes system, which is now called Blood of Heroes by Pulsar Games) that lasted for three years. And it’s greatest capacity I had 11 players. All in all over 16 players came and went. Mindcrime was one of the first three people to join and was there all the way up to the end (the other two were Frostbite and Oberon.) It was a grand bit of fun and a nostalgic look back (since I’m on that subject these recent days) always brings great smiles, enthusiastic reflection and genuine longing for that bright-eyed entertainment we once captured.

And now, Mindcrime is pining for it again. (And I’ll admit I am as well.) He wants to be able to cut loose again in a superhero yarn of daring-do and earth-shattering thrills.

For my own part, I’ve always been nervous about returning to the superhero genre. I’ve run some other memorable and great campaigns: two long standing fantasy campaigns, one World of Darkness campaign and even the short story structure I’m now using (as I find I don’t have the same amount of time I once had in college) have all been fantastic and rewarding in their own right. I have fond memories of those games. Flesh bending daggers and psychotic witchhunters and one of the greatest villains I ever created – The Shade. What’s not to love?

But Heroes was something different.

It’s spawned some of the best and most in-depth characterization from a ‘game’ that I’ve ever seen. The Book of Emptiness is a sequel, of sorts, to that long ago campaign. The names Mindcrime, Oberon, Legion, Frostbite and Pinpoint; Telagor, AZ’urath, Solo, The Wolves of Heaven and many others have taken on epic status that still ring with grand and fond memories even today.

It has been over ten years since ‘Winds of Change’ blared from a set of speakers and despite the testosterone of seven grown men sitting around a table, dice in hand, and trying hard to remain manly, we were all reduced to tears as we realized an era had come to an end.

Yes, there was the recognition that we would all be going on to the true challenge, real life. But think about this, two of the best friends, no, THE two best friends I have ever had came from that campaign. Call it silly, call it not living in reality, call it the dying embers of adolescence, I don’t care. That campaign, that game, that event, was something that really can’t be described.

So, you can understand why I’ve been hesitant to go back. I’m afraid of either tarnishing what it was or not living up to the past.

But the more Mindcrime and I talk, the more the engines start to turn. The more I start to create, the more I start to think about the world, about possible adventures, about the types of plots to enmesh the characters in. I haven’t been this excited about a game, since, well, since the first time Mindcrime (the REAL Mindcrime) tried to mind control Legion (the REAL Legion) and from that moment the two of them developed a deep-seated loathing of each other. A loathing that would have great and surprising consequences over the next three years.

So, maybe it’s time. Maybe you can’t ever go back, but what’s to say that the new places you visit in old shoes won’t feel as good as the day you first put ’em on? And besides, even at 40, what little boy doesn’t want to put on a cape, fly around the world and battle the minions of evil?