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Project Yellow Sun

Posted in Featured, Comics, Powers For Good

At GenCon, I picked up two new superhero RPGs. One of those was the official DC game, the other was a lighter take on superheros called Icons.

The DC game had me really excited, as I’ve always been a bit of a DC fanboy. Then I sat down to read it, and spent the first few pages slogging through huge tables of measurements and instructions on how I should listen to the GM and the game they were presenting for me. Blah.

Icons looked even better. There are several quotes from comics sprinkled through the book, one of which came from one of my favorite team superhero books of all time, the Morrison/Porter era JLA, so it seemed like the authors and I were on the same page. Then the book informs me that I should make random characters until I get one that matches the GM’s secret plans for the game. Blech.

Pretty much the same thing happened to me last year after GenCon, with a game called With Great Power…, and has been happening for years. I keep on feeling like the superhero games that are getting made have nothing to do with the kind of superhero stories I want to tell.

Here’s where my new project comes in. I’m going to read some of my favorite comics, starting with Morrison/Porter JLA and moving on through other great books, focusing on superhero teams. That means I’ll probably hit Morrison’s New X-Men, Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, Captain Britain and MI-13, Waid’s JLA, and Fraction’s X-Men, if I keep going that long.

Once a week I’ll post some new thoughts. I’ll take one or more posts to look at each run, in particular what makes it awesome, and how that awesome might look in a game. I’ll also take a look at some of the games out there and why they don’t quite hit the epic-superhero-adventure-style stories I’m looking for.

By the end of it, I’ll either admit defeat, find a game that actually encourages these types of stories, or set out to write my own superhero system.

I’m calling this thing Project Yellow Sun. Mostly because the weather will be getting crappy up here soon and I’ll need some sun, but also because I hope this whole thing empowers the genre of superhero roleplaying games. And I needed a cool name for the fact that I’m reading comics and thinking about games.

I’m inviting you along for the ride. Read the comics (they’re all good, I promise), read what I think about them, tell me what you think, and help me try to come up with the superhero games that actually delivers something like the comics we love to read. Feel free to suggest more books to read too.

Comics I might read

  • Morrison’s JLA
  • Waid’s JLA
  • Morrison’s X-Men
  • Whedon’s X-Men
  • Fraction’s X-Men
  • Waid’s Fantastic Four
  • Cornell’s Captain Britain and MI-13
  • Parker’s Agents of Atlas
  • Ellis’s Authority

Games I’ll look at

  • DC Adventures
  • Icons
  • With Great Power…
  • Capes
  • Godlike
  • Smallville
  • Darkpages (thanks for the suggestion, Nathan)
  • Wild Talents (thanks for the suggestion, Adam)
  • Theatrix (thanks for the suggestion, Paul)
  • Truth and Justice (thanks for the suggestion, Tim)

Sage LaTorra is a game designer and engineering manager at Google. You may know him from Dungeon World.

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