The status of our Silver City Villains & Vigilantes campaign is somewhat in doubt. The kids and I haven’t played the game in over a year and, with the twins heading off to college in just over three months, it’s not terribly likely that we’ll be able to tie up all the loose plot threads even if we went back to playing regularly.

Our problem is an embarrassment of riches. I’m a lifelong game collector and it seems like a new game catches somebody’s eye practically every week; there’s just not enough time to play everything we’d like to play. Lately we’ve been playing Monster Island, adventures from Cody’s SRE campaign, Steel & Glory (at least before I got sick for three weeks with bronchitis, from which I’m still not completely 100% healthy), not to mention the weekly Heroclix tournaments at the local game shop when time permits, plus a game of Mage Knight once in a blue moon. Sam wanted to run a Star Frontiers RPG campaign, but he has so much homework from his high school advanced placement courses and his early college classes that he barely has time to breathe anymore. Throw in prom, graduation, and all the surrounding events, and I doubt we’ll get anywhere near a RPG before sometime in June.

As a result, I think it’s high time I finish off my Villains and Vigilantes heroes roster in this blog, even though my previous character profiles don’t get nearly as many hits as, say, my popping off about some old 1930’s pulp novel or a 1940’s Pat Patriot comic recap. If I wait too long to do these they’ll never get done; the campaign is essentially dead and I’m sure to become increasingly apathetic about posting its old details to this blog.

Before I launch into a description of what happened in my “game universe” between 1985 and 2008, I’ll give you the mundane real life backstory (part of which was recounted in one of my first posts to this blog) as to why the campaign went “on hold” for the best part of a generation. After playing some 1st Edition V&V around 1980, I bought the 2nd Edition at Origins ’82. I created a few characters so I could “test run” the game before trying to run it for a group of other players. I had so much fun with the game that I continued my solo campaign for about six months or so. I set the game aside, then later came back to it in early 1984. I’d moved to a new town and worked evenings, giving me little chance to get to know anyone. So I amused myself during afternoons and in the wee hours of the AM by playing some solo V&V. By 1985, real life was “in the way” of my campaign again: I was working fifty hours a week for a radio station, and part time as a professional singer/musician on the side. By the following year I’d also added a gig as a columnist for a local underground newspaper/music magazine to my list of professional activities. The solo V&V campaign was set aside and essentially forgotten. I was still occasionally buying RPGs at that time but only as interesting reading material (game mechanics and campaign settings); I was no longer an active roleplaying gamer, not even solo.

During the 1990’s I chucked some polyhedral dice periodically, primarily in a previously-mentioned solo Tekumel campaign; that got put aside in 1996 — and that was it for RPGs until 2008 when my sons expressed an interest in playing. V&V was an obvious choice; I knew the game well and the kids were familiar with the superhero genre from the Bruce Timm DC Comics TV shows, so it seemed like a good starting point to introduce them to RPGs. But I needed a “hook” to make the game more interesting, something more than V&V’s gimmick of creating a character based on oneself.

The “hook” came when I realized that the boys weren’t yet especially good role playing gamers. They had a bad tendency to “leap before looking”, and the Lightning Lama (Cody) damn near got himself killed in the duo’s second gaming session. Cribbing an idea from Geoff Johns’ run on Justice Society of America, I made the obvious choice: since V&V stipulates that characters should be based on oneself, complete with one’s real-life relationships (friends, family, school, employment), it was only natural that I dust off my alter ego Deep Freeze from my old solo campaign and play myself as the twins’ father, thus linking my old campaign to the new one.

So, almost a quarter-century after I quit my solo campaign, Deep Freeze returned. To my consternation, my twin sons inherited metahuman capabilities, and I caught them sneaking out at night to battle crime in Silver City. I know my sons and telling them they “can’t” wouldn’t do any good. After Cody’s near-miss, I decided that the best course of action would be to mentor my sons (and, later, one of their metahuman schoolmates) to help them become better, more effective, superheroes, rather than try to forbid them from using their powers.

However, at (then) 48 years of age, I wasn’t the same old happy-go-lucky daredevil I’d been at 22. I was still bitter over the way things had turned out for the Paladins, plus age had made me naturally irascible. So Deep Freeze isn’t the most patient teacher, but I try to reserve most of my (legendary) verbal ichor for the enemies we fight (and some of my “in character” comments during game sessions are still big-time inside jokes in our group; the boys are thinking of having “Got anything for a cold, jackass?” inscribed on my tombstone when the time comes).

The metahuman history of Silver City between 1986 and the late 1990’s was much the same as in the rest of the nation. The colorful costumed Silver Age-inspired heroes of the 1980’s either retired, quit, or changed their tactics in response to a somewhat darker, more dangerous world. By the mid-1990’s it was nearly impossible to tell the “good guys” and the “bad guys” apart anymore; the hero ranks were filled with anti-heroic vigilantes, while the villain ranks were hip deep in criminals with the proverbial “heart of gold”. The old battle lines between heroes and villains were so blurred as to be essentially meaningless.

That state of affairs began to change in the late 1990’s with the establishment of the Justice Federation. Based in the old Crusader Citadel skyscraper in Calvert, Maryland, the Justice Federation was a small band of heroes who attempted to stand for something more than the mindless violence of their peers and immediate predecessors. Initially viewed as “hokey” by the public at large, the Justice Federation won the people over with their heroic deeds, and inspired other hero groups to band together and establish themselves in other cities.

As of 2008, the Justice Federation were world-famous, not just as the first, but also the foremost modern-day superhero team. Their main problem was that they couldn’t possibly be everywhere at once.

In late 2008, spurred by rumors coming out of Silver City that 1980’s metahuman legend and former Paladin member Deep Freeze had returned, the Justice Federation dispatched Bluestreak to check out the situation. He encountered Deep Freeze, The Wraith, and the Lightning Lama in the midst of a street battle with a pack of drug dealers and a couple of metahuman villains. After helping them clean up the situation, Bluestreak made Deep Freeze an offer: if Deep Freeze would agree to become a reserve member of the Justice Federation, the Federation would provide aid (equipment and an occasional helping hand) to Deep Freeze and his sons in combating Silver City’s growing crime problem.

Deep Freeze agreed. A new member, Nightfang (one of the twins’ school chums and, in real life, the grandson of one of my oldest friends with whom I used to play RPGs in the 1970’s and 1980’s), joined the team shortly thereafter. The kids started clamoring for a name for the group. They wanted to call themselves The New Paladins, but I nixed that idea; Deep Freeze is still bitter about the way things ended up for the old group of that name. Against the boys’ objections, I dubbed the group Junior Justice, a name intended to clearly establish the link between our team and the “big boys” down the road in Calvert. Although the kids initially hated the name, it eventually grew on them after several cool cameo appearances by Doc Falcon, Revenant, and Halcon of the Justice Federation. (And the fact that the JF provided us with a completely cool-ass headquarters certainly helped!)

I’d been holding off posting character profiles of the Justice Federation, Junior Justice, and the “indy” street-level heroes from our campaign, as I didn’t want my players to know too much (surprising them in the game would have been much more fun). Since our campaign appears to be on life support, with time rapidly running out for additional adventures, I think the time has come to go ahead and introduce you to the present-day heroes and heroines of Silver City and Calvert.

We’ll start with the Justice Federation, in an upcoming post to this blog. (It’ll give me time to figure out where I hid the folder containing all the character sheets — heh).

Have fun! — Steve

Copyright 2011, Steven A, Lopez. All rights reserved.