I’m sorry about the relative infrequency of my posts, but I’m running as hard as I can just to stay stationary lately. I never realized that writing a blog would make me so “popular” (lulz), but I’ve been asked to be a “guest blogger” on another site, contribute to two gaming companies’ “house” publications (and I haven’t had time to even reply to any of these folks yet), plus I still need to write an intro and some notes for my Steel & Glory project, and all of that’s in addition to my daily professional writing and editing responsibilities.

Consequently, this blog’s become something of a low priority lately; sorry. Today will be a quick roundup of a handful of items, some of which are updates of prior posts’ subjects.

DC COMICS REBOOT

Does DC Comics know what the hell they’re trying to do? Over three months ago I blogged about the impending cancellation of DC’s “First Wave” titles (First Wave, Doc Savage, and The Spirit), an event which was supposed to happen in May. It’s now June, the latter two books are still being published, and the DC website shows upcoming issues with an August cover date.

Meanwhile, DC announced last week that all of their comics will be renumbered (all comics will be “reset” to issue #1) beginning with the issues cover dated “September”. This has led to rampant speculation as to the future and direction of the DC Universe. The publishers insist that this is not a “reboot”. However, they’ve also said that their mainstream core heroes will be depicted as “younger”, their costumes will be altered, and in some cases their origins and backstories will be changed. Other characters will be “retconned” out of existence. Many of the DC Universe’s major events will be treated as though they never occurred.

Um, guys, where I come from, that constitutes a “reboot”. A huge one.

Honestly, I don’t really care. The only DC books I’m presently reading are Justice Society of America, The Spirit, and Doc Savage – and of these only JSA is considered to be in “mainstream” DC continuity. There’s are persistent hot rumors that Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, and Ted Grant are slated to be retired, that the JSA will be “updated” to be a group which was formed much later than the 1940’s, and that pre-Silver Age version of DC characters will be “retconned away” as if they never were.

If true, it means that the only comics I’ll be reading are Dynamite’s Project Superpowers line and Warlord of Mars, as well as Marvel’s upcoming minis Mystery Men and All-Winners Squad.

That’s why I’m so glad that literally thousands of Golden Age comics are in the public domain and are freely available online. I can stay busy reading “new” (to me at least) comics for years to come and never spend another dime. Most of the stuff I’ve read since returning to comics in 2007 has been deeply disappointing, so if I wind up bailing on everything published after 1985 it’s not like it’ll be a tragic event in my life. Meh.

HEROCLIX

On a related note, it’s been announced the September release of the Superman set will be the last major DC Heroclix release until the second half of 2012. I’ve been looking for a “jumping off” point for a while, and I think this is it. WizKids/NECA has already announced that they plan a major set release bi-monthly throughout next year, and I’ll be damned and go to hell before I’m going to continue to even try to collect and play a game in which you can spend $250 on a case and brick of booster packs and still come up multiple figures shy of a complete set – and I’m especially disinterested in seeing a major new release every two months. The present three times a year is plenty.

Couple that with the fact that the twins are headed off to college in August (hence the end of home game activity) and I think that my days of “collectible” gaming are fast drawing to a close. I might go on with a bit of collecting – try to fill a few holes in my Star Wars Minis collection, snag some Mage Knight or Mechwarrior stuff cheap here and there – but I think I’m close to done with the whole CMG thing.

SUPERHERO ROLEPLAYING GAMES

I wrote about several cheap or free supers RPGs close to a month ago, and it’s quickly become one of my most popular posts. Everybody loves free stuff.

Updating two of the items from that post:

Mystery Men is now out in a “final” PDF form (in quotes because the author is still correcting some minor mistakes from time to time). Although the game isn’t necessarily set during the Golden Age (as one would assume from the title), the author uses actual Golden Age comic superheroes for the example characters in the book.

Lee Walser, creator of Super Crusaders, has resurfaced (I take some credit here, since I prodded around with a stick until I heard him yell “OW!”). He’s presently working on a completely revamped and redesigned Second Edition of the game, which is available for download on his Yahoo group (registration required to join the group and download the file).

After downloading and perusing it, my advice is: don’t bother. Lee took out everything that made Super Crusaders unique and cool; now it’s just another supers RPG (and not an especially good one). In my opinion, he should have stopped tinkering after “the Paladin Edition” (the last free playtest version). The “pay to play” First Edition wasn’t as good as the Paladin Edition (plus if you’re not already a RPGer, the First Edition is so light on procedures that you’ll be left shaking your head in total bewilderment), and the Second Edition is, well, just “meh”. Lee ditched “leveling up”, so the cool and unique “arch enemy” game mechanic (which gave SC a lot of its character) is gone. Now players earn just a chintzy 1-3 power points after a successful adventure (the same as 1st/2nd Edition Champions thirty years ago). Lee also has made the grandiose claim that Super Crusaders is the first and only RPG with a “chase scene” mechanic. That’s complete BS – I have at least a dozen kicking around in my collection, going the whole way back to TSR’s Indiana Jones RPG in the 1980’s.

Worst of all, every damn page is chock-full of completely unnecessary color backgrounds and borders; the only white space is a quarter-inch border around the page edges. It’ll cost a fortune in ink cartridges to print out 95 pages of this kind of layout.

Lee, quit the damn tinkering. Forget everything after the Paladin Edition. Re-edit it to a single-volume format (instead of the “three book” thing or, if you’re going to sell it as a PDF, offer all three books in a single .zip file), ditch the unnecessary use of multi-color chapter headers (they’re garish and ugly), get somebody to clean up the typography (especially because you capitalize words randomly and throw commas around like confetti, not to mention all of the horrible misspellings which festoon the books), and then you’ll have a cool, totally unique supers RPG.

AN INTERVIEW WORTH READING

James Raggi, creator of Lamentations of the Flame Princess (or whatthehell ever the damn thing is called) recently gave a pretty good interview about old-school RPGing. Please do have a look; I especially appreciated his definitions of OSG/OSR (whatthehell ever that damned thing is called) and his comparison/contrast of 1970’s RPGing with the present day version of the hobby.

Have fun! – Steve

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

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