Friday, February 12, 2021

Waxing Nostalgic on Campaigns Past ... and an Apology

The Vanguard City Map

Once upon a time, back before the cesspool that is Facebook was conjured from the pits of hell, there was a message board where some way cool people used to hang out to talk about RPGs and other geeky stuff, it eventually imploded, and like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put the board back together again ... it’s a sad tale for another time.
 

 But before the long slow death of the board there was a time, brief golden age, when creativity and imagination flourished. During that time many in the community gathered around and helped create a shining city where heroes and villains walked the streets. That city was Vanguard City Virginia, 



The Guardsman

It was a place where superhero campaigns could be played out, to be honest it was pretty much designed to be a campaign setting where PMikey could run his Mutant’s and Masterminds 2e campaign.  I was reading though some of the old material that was saved by PMikey before the board finally had to be put out of it misery, so it wouldn’t suffer anymore. The material that we created collectively was good, Really Good; and it’s a damn shame that it will probably never see the light of day again. 

Reading through it though, I discovered something that I’m really not proud of. I was a huge jackass about the whole thing, I had developed a seriously unhealthy and inappropriate sense of ownership over Vanguard. Sure, the initial idea was mine, and by that, I mean I stole the Idea from another message board, but it worked, and people got behind it. But that in and of itself did not confer any real ownership, or control, of the created setting to me specifically.

Now, seeing as PMikey stepped up to run the first campaign in Vanguard City, as I had hoped he would, and given the fact that I had no real Intentions of ever running anything in Vanguard City, he should have been the final arbiter on the the development of the city.  I say this because part of the purpose of making Vanguard City a community project was to take some of the heavy lifting of setting creation off PMikey’s Shoulders, and to give potential players some emotional buy-in to the setting, and perhaps get them to also run adventures in Vanguard city at some point if they desired to do so.

We tried to encourage the contributors to Vanguard City to expand the world beyond the boundaries of the city proper, and that also worked to a limited degree. Work began on another concept that I lifted form another forum, the League. The League were a government sponsored super group with a loose revolving membership. Each State, that was able to, sponsored a super-being from their state for membership. A Couple of our contributors actually started working on their own city called “Iron City”, which was within what we then came to call the Vanguard City Universe (VCU).  All this work was Really Fantastic, and I congratulate the authors and contributors that made all of it possible.

Truth be told I was probably the weakest link amongst the contributors to the VCU, I through a lot of ideas out but never fleshed them out properly unlike the other contributors. While reading through all the old Vanguard City material yesterday, I came across as a huge Jackass, and obstacle crapping on other contributors for their ideas and vision on everything from the chosen system, Mutants & Masterminds 2nd edition, to whether or not to include material found in other publications. I can’t help but think that my behavior was one of the things that slowly strangled creativity and participation in the VCU. Ahh hindsight my old friend, you’re always a day late and a dollar short.

Virago II

So, I’d like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to all the former contributors to the Vanguard City Project, and member of the old Midnight's Lair for being a Raging Asshole at that time. Maybe someday some that project material might see the light of day, but I doubt it …. It’s a real shame though. But seeing as the environment that gave birth to Vanguard City, bulletin/message boards, are no longer in fashion in this era of Facebook, I doubt that something similar could ever replicated, and piecing together the Old material would be horrendous with out some for of threaded message system. I tried re-posting some of them a while ago on the Midnight’s Lair Forum, but it was slow going if I remember it correctly.

I actually went and looked over at them again, and I re-posted a lot more of them than I though. Maybe I should Continue?

P.Mikey's M&M 2ed - Vanguard City Campaign

Also,  reading through all the characters created for the Project made me look at M&M2e again, and it’s not as bad as I remember thinking it was at the time … and boy did I rail against it back then … unreasonably so I think ….  Interesting. I think I’m gonna have to take a long hard look at it again, to see if I can resolve and banish all the hate I had for it.

Anyways thanks for reading this rather long and rambling article.

Erik a.k.a Midnight

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

One Step Closer ... And Meet the Reaper


As my dear friend P. Michael Hodge has often pointed out "Superhero Comic Books are a visual medium". The assertion being that Superhero rpg's need to reflect the source material, so its important to have a very visual presentation in SHRPG Rule Books. I also believe that it is very important to have appealing representations of the characters, and various Npcs, Villains, Heroes in order to help the players with genre verisimilitude / immersion.

 Now doing the various illustrations required, by hand, is a slow laborious process, but the results can be amazing if do say so myself. This is how I have done the illustration traditionally, but it becomes daunting when considering all the other aspects of putting together a shrpg campaign.

As a result I have searched for various methods & programs to assist in doing the illustrations. I've tried changing art styles to a simpler one reminiscent of the DC Animated Universe illustrations (a.k.a Bruce Timm style). That sped things up a bit but was still taking too long considering how many illustrations I would need to do. I've tried Hero Machine but its clunky and doesn’t look that good. Back during his Mutants & Mastermind  2nd edition P.Michael was playing a lot of the City of Heroes MMO, and started using the CoH Character Creation module to create illustrations for his campaign. At the time I didn't really like them very much, but I understood the utility of doing it that way. I'd tried it a couple of times and the results I was getting at the time wasn't very good. So I eventually gave up on it, and keep looking for another solution. sadly I never really never found one, but that may have been exactly what has allowed me to develop the skills and trick that would eventually allow me to use the CoH costume designer, to produce a quality of illustration that I can be satisfied and proud of. 

So, as a result I present a new villain in my Villians & Vigilantes Campaign, The Reaper, or simply Reaper. (Pictured above) The illustration took about 20 minutes start to finish, and I'm quite satisfied with it :)

I'd Love to post the completed character sheet, and write up ... but as River Song was so fond of saying ... SPOLIERS 

Thanks For Reading !!

Erik A.K.A Midnight