Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Planning a New V&V / Mighty Protectors Campaign : What has Gone Before.


For anybody that knows me it comes as no surprise that super-heroic role-playing is my favorite genre to indulge in. It is also the one that causes me the most frustration. To paraphrase Khan Noonian Singh from Star Trek II: 

"It tasks me. It tasks me and I shall have it! I'll chase it 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round perdition's flames before I give it up!."

Superhero role-playing games (rpgs) were the third Genre of role-playing that I was ever exposed to. The first, as it was for many in the hobby, was the fantasy genre through the auspices of Dungeons & Dragons (Holmes edition) and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st edition). early on I played many standalone adventure and one-shots, but I never really engaged in what could be called a "Campaign" until much later under the dungeon-mastering of my friend Francois "Frank" Verpaelst  in his excellent "Thieves World" games. Fantasy is still my second favorite role-playing genre.

The second was post-apocalyptic role-playing through TSR's Gamma World (1st ed). My time spent playing Gamma World under my friend P. Michael Hodge could most certainly be considered a campaign in the classic sense, we had consistent characters that progressed through as series of interconnected situations and adventure. P.Mikey's Gamma World campaign was definitely a precursor to the genre that would later occupy the Lion's share of our early role-playing "careers". I say this because one of the major background features of his campaign was a secret society he created called "the Church of Mar-Vel". A group of cultist that had based their religion and philosophy on an incomplete archive of Marvel comics, and had begun to breed / engineer mutants with the powers and abilities of the gods from the holy books. I'm sure you can guess where this is leading .

An finally during a summer lull in gaming (most of our gaming revolved around school, both high school and C.E.G.E.P, which in Quebec is a bridge between HS and University) a friend called together a group of us he knew to be comic book / superhero aficionados to try an new rpg that he'd gotten his hands on. It turned out to be the boxed set of Villains & Vigilantes 2.0, and when we saw it I seem to remember we were all pretty excited about it.

We rolled up characters and our friend Carl ran us through the Intro module "Crisis at Crusader Citadel". I think most of were hooked at that point, I know that I was, and I'm pretty sure that P.Michael was too. not long after his Gamma world campaign wrapped up and he plunged head long in to V&V. Technically I started my V&V campaign first, but mine didn't shine as brightly or last as long as the campaigns run by PMikey. 

For over 20 years I've had a plethora of characters in P.Michael's campaigns. In order of appearance: from the Champions of Peace (C.O.P.s): Firebird (who was Erik Menard's super heroic Identity), Will-o-wisp, and The Magi (yes I know I accidentally used the plural in his name instead of the singular Mage), from the Pantheon: Midnight (perhaps the character that is most associated with me, Duh), From U.N.I.T.-M: Psi-FireGhoul (a reworking of my original character form Carl's game), and finally Midnight once again. 

Virago II
Since the U.N.I.T-M Campaign wrapped, and before that, I started searching for a replacement for V&V. Over time I think I became personally disenchanted with V&V as a rule set / mechanic. as the search progressed I found that I was judging all the replacements by the standard of Villains & Vigilantes 2.0. and after about 10 years I realized that all of the systems I investigated fell short of V&V in my estimation. Under my suggestion / insistence (but maybe I'm remembering it completely wrong) we ventured into the waters of Mutants & Masterminds 1st edition under PMikey, we even nominally play-tested M&M 2nd ed (our names appear in the play-testing credits) P.Michael seem to really like the system, it scratched an itch for him as a GM  that apparently V&V did not. Eventually the Intoxicating "New Game Smell" of M&M wore off for me sometime after M&M 3rd edition was release to the public, and our character of Virago II was release as an officially vetted PDF (made possible by backing the Kickstarter at an absurd level)  by Green Ronin, and the search started again.

Then Jack Herman & Jeff Dee, the original authors of V&V released Villains & Vigilantes 2.1 a cleaned up and reformatted set of V&V 2 rules, and began their battle to regain the their rights to publish their game. In the end they achieved a complicated compromise victory and began the process of getting Villains & Vigilantes 3.0: The Mighty Protectors Kickstarted and eventually out the door. This chain of events reawakened my interest in V&V and I began to reexamine it.

In the end I've come to the conclusion that It wasn't so much the rules / mechanics that I had become disenchanted with all those years ago, but rather I was beginning to rapidly lose faith in my abilities as a game master; my ability to tell an Interesting and compelling story. It took years to hit rock bottom, but I did hit it, and have been slowly rebuilding it ever since. so now I think I'm finally ready to pick up my GMing hat, dust it off, set it squarely on my huge melon and jump back in to the game. 
So, as I have discovered over the years, V&V really is my game, my only remaining question is whether to choose V&V 2.0 or V&V 3.0: Mighty Protectors. I'm concerned that I will of course unnecessarily over-complicate this decision. I want to go with the new shiny of Mighty Protectors, but part of my heart really wants to return to the simplicity of Villains & Vigilantes 2.x.

I will have to make a decision on this matter very shortly, as I have promised PMikey that I WILL run a Superhero campaign for him to finally play in, and after all the years enjoyment he's brought me as a player over the years (hell a lot of us). I think I owe him that, ... nay, I know I owe him that, and its time I paid up. 

Erik a.k.a Midnight 

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