When it comes to genre blending in film, books, and rpg’s I tend to become very OCPD’sh in my need to have everything organized and separated out into their proper places; firm boundaries all around. It’s kind of the like the guy who can’t tolerate the different food groups touching or co-mingling on his plate, although in real life, I would bludgeon you to a bloody pulp Thunderdome styles for some chocolate smeared with peanut butter. I don’t know what to say, I just dislike guns in my fantasy worlds and vise versa swords in my sci-fi worlds (lightsabres being the obvious exception of course as I could accept and rationalize their presence in any and all genres. Hell I am playing a born again Jedi in my next D&D adventure). All of which makes it a little surprising that I have mixed in some superhero/comic book content into my Dark Sun game.
How this all took shape is actually an interesting example of collaborative story telling. The groups Thri-Kreen Warlord decided to sacrifice himself at the end of the last LIM. He hurled himself into a portal to the elemental chaos after defeating the BBEG (who was using it to summon his master from the 9 hells) before it closed. His reasoning being that he was taking the seed of life (recently acquired Thri-Kreen artifact and what he had established was the treasure hidden in an ancient vault) into the abyss where it would ignite and become the catalyst for a new Green Age on Athas. He then established that the area around the “muto” oasis began to grow lush with vegetation.
With Clikk Sandflea’s heroic sacrifice the player needed to create a new character for the game. This is when he told me that he was going to make Green Lantern. I was like “..oh…okayyy, sounds interesting? (voice rising a few octaves at the end). He then described how the spark from the beginning of the new green age had awakened his character’s green wood ring (a family heirloom) and unlocked new and amazing powers along with a vision for the future. It sounded cool so I was interested in seeing where it would head. At the same time the player of “Nori”, the party’s female Mul Warden, established that his character had a connection to the next city the group was heading to. The player stated that Nori was a famous gladiator who ran afoul of a crooked templar for failing to throw a fight in the arena.
I took these bits of emergent fiction and decided to go balls deep into genre blending and embrace the comic book motif as I crafted the next location. I know it’s not as blatant as Gandalph shooting the Balrog in the face with a 12-gauge, but you know…baby steps. I decided to flesh out this crooked templar a bit. I modeled the city of Alturak on the series Deadwood and made the crooked templar the de facto ruler of the town. Then I was pondering about what to do with this new “Green Lantern” and I had an epiphany and thus “Sinestrago” and the Yellow Templar Corps was born, complete with yellow power rings. I set to re-skinning and altering monsters to build the corps and narrated their powers as creating constructs. The guy playing Green Lantern upon hearing all of this decided to tie his background to Sinestrago by being a former student of his.
I think this highlights some of the benefits collaborative storytelling and how engaging it can be for the players to see the stuff they create come to life in the world. You can take a look at Sinestrago, he is essentially a re-skinned Beholder. I created a voice for him that is a cross between Foghorn Leghorn and Jesse Jackson; he is pretty amusing to play. I added a fear aura too him that will represent the Yellow Lantern Battery that is located somewhere in the town and drawing power from the populaces fear, even enhancing and creating it, and which the players might want to shut down before a final confrontation. Although that might be in a while as another player decided to have his character join the Yellow Templar Corps….did I mention he is the brother of the new Green Lantern 🙂