Tuesday, April 17, 2012


With the launch of the new Marvel role playing game my group has been debating about what characters we should play.  One classic convention in our games has always involved returning to characters we played when we were younger.  Our gang of friends really dates back to my brother's friends from high school.  He and I had an interest in pen and paper games dating back to the late 70's when my cousin introduced us to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, but our more serious interest in the hobby probably crested while he was in the first few years of high school.  It was then we met the guys who would become the lifelong friends we shared over the next thirty years.

To me it is always fun to develop new characters in any of these systems, but there is something about the nostalgia of developing older campaigns with a new twist.  The Crimebusters were born of their gaming sessions during the lunch break at school using the first Marvel RPG system.  It was d100 based or better known as the FASERIP system.  As far as game design goes it was far from perfect, but it was fun.  It was fast and loose, surrounded with familiar references from the comics, and easy enough to understand that it seemed like a perfect introduction for young players.  The campaign held a number of very important distinctions which have been hard to duplicate, and in my opinion a little more difficult to sustain over the course of our lives.

First off, as the Crimebusters we all played ourselves.  It was easier to envision in high school that as teenagers we were suddenly gifted with super-powers.  It was easy enough to envision that our heroes had discovered these magical amulets that granted them powers while investigating a dig site at the local library.  Each amulet empowered us to adapt to a certain type of animal spirit.  The initial team included Timberwolf, Tigerpaw, Grizzly, Taurus, Amphibion, Screechor, and Kong.  One of the first problems we ran into was the fact that I was a few years younger than the rest of the guys.  I must have still been in elementary school at the time (my brother is four years older than I am).  So when I joined the games at my parents house, I became Sectaur.  We had to write a way for me to discover an amulet.  There were other things which took place, including at one point shifting the Tigerpaw amulet to another friend who started playing much later.  Grizzly and Kong have long since left the canon of adventurers although I still know where one of them lives.

In all though I think the biggest draw for the Crimebusters originally was the fact that people in our lives were members of the stories.  From the teachers and to a less extent parents that made appearances in the games, it helped us come up with interesting situations.  But we are all older now, married with children, day jobs, lives, and careers.  What used to be a weekly session and something which was talked about quite often has become a first Sunday of the month gathering.  I've been struggling with the fact that I don't know what my teenage superhero has been doing for the last thirty years.  I mean seriously- there is no way I want to relive high school (lol- or junior high).  There has to be some way to blend this into the future.  I just can't seem to imagine this Peter Pan like existence of a character like Spiderman. 

I don't even know why I have been struggling with how all the parts fit together.  If the group is interested in pulling out our oldest characters ever, then maybe it is easier for me to just show at the games as bright-eyed and bushy tailed as I used to as a kid- and let things just work out.  There was probably never a huge amount of willing suspension of disbelief when it came down to the Crimebusters of any role playing game.  After all the reason why we play isn't really to write great stories or battle the forces of evil, it is just getting together with friends we've enjoyed over the years.  I just wish I hadn't modeled my character after a comic or toy line which disappeared almost as soon as it was released.  If we ever got syndicated I'd probably be sued for copyright infringement. 

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