Sunday, September 25, 2016

To Kill a Superhero

When Superman debuted in June 1938, we were informed that "nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin". While his powers of resistance grew substantially over the next few years, even his initial description put him at the pinnacle of superheroic toughness in that point in time.

So lets say you're a dastardly villain, looking to protect your "legitimate business" or "diplomatic investigations" from some meddling do-gooder. Maybe it's not even Superman, maybe it's the Blue Beetle with his bullet-resistant mesh costume. Maybe it's Wonder Woman or Namor or Captain America with his annoying shield. What are your options?

Well, outside of mad-science death rays or superpowers of your own, they're surprisingly limited. American military research seems to have stagnated pretty hard in the 1930s. A bunch of America's iconic World War 2 weapons were only developed when we entered the war, or maybe a year earlier. Bazookas, Sherman tanks, flamethrowers, dedicated antitank guns... none of those existed in the United States in 1938. So let's see what was around.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Things I Am Learning About The 1930s

One aspect of this project that I am very much enjoying is the research. I've been learning as much as I can about the era, because period detail is a great way to add atmosphere to a game. Additionally, I'm starting to work on some miniature buildings and scenery, and I want them to be reasonably accurate.

Neon signage was common, having been around for decades.

Radios were present in about 80% of households.

Refrigerators either did not have freezers, or only very small ones for ice cube trays.

Parking meters had just been invented in the middle of the decade.

Air-conditioning existed, but window-mounted units did not.

Schlitz was the most popular American beer.

One of my likely players mentioned feeling that he knows less about the 1930s than he does about some fictional worlds he's gamed in. So a bunch of these everyday factoids, and a timeline of 1930s "current events", will eventually get compiled into a little handout to act as a sort of primer for the era.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Raw Materials

The title of this post must naturally be taken with a certain amount of poetic licence. The products I discuss below are the highly finished products of an industrialized civilization that spans the globe, and it is only with a profound (even excessive) sense of narcissism that I designate them as raw materials to my own hobbyist endeavors.

The core of this project is, of course, superheroes. Second-hand heroclix minis run from 0.25 to 2 dollars apiece at basically every gaming store, so I anticipate using them for every NPC that is a preexisting hero, and also for some other NPCs, and perhaps a few might be recolored to represent original player characters too. Most of these will be repainted, or at least touched up or shaded, and all will be liberated from their awful ungainly "clix" bases. 20mm square bases are my preferred for 28mm humans, I need to get some more of them.

Heroes are not much fun without stuff to throw around and hide behind, so I have also started accumulating O-Scale scenery and vehicles. It takes some poking around to find affordable 1930s cars in the scale, but they exist. By the numbers, I think O-scale is supposed to be bigger than 28mm miniatures, but in practice the difference is pretty much negligible. Once I move, I will start looking into buying/building 28mm/O-Scale buildings.

The final ingredient is research. I have a reasonably good basic knowledge of early superhero comics and international politics of the era, but I have no real sense of the more down-to-earth cultural and domestic stuff. I grabbed a few library books that are helping (even if most of them focus more on Europe).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Project Summary

I am planning an RPG campaign. It will be set in the United States in 1938. The player characters, and many of the NPCs, will be costumed heroes. Some may be superhuman, others highly-capable well-equipped "regular" humans.

If you wish to peruse my other blog, you will see that I enjoy collecting, painting and converting miniatures.So while most superhero RPGs do not require the use of minis, I will be using miniatures anyway. And not just for the heroes and villains, but also bystanders, vehicles and buildings.

This blog will include both the physical hobbyist aspects of the project (collecting, converting, painting) and the historical research and adventure writing. Probably there will also be an occasional bit of editorializing. With luck, this blog will eventually include after-action reports from actual play.

Further details, and maybe even some actual content, to follow...