Friday, February 19, 2010

Origin Story! - Superpowered Short Fiction

Welcome to Friday. So far on the blog there has been a lot of talk about gaming, specifically about RPG design. There have been downloadable resources for the Chaos Earth RPG, and an adventure module as well. I'd hate for you to think that I'm just a one trick pony who can only talk about geeky things like D20s and video games and the Internet. I think it's time we moved on to some more mature subject matter.

Let's talk about super heroes.

Before I get too far into this, let me go ahead and tell you that in the Downloads section you can now find a piece of narrative short fiction entitled Origin Story! Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think. Send it to a friend and be sure to tell them where you found it. Enjoy! But hold on for just one second, and let me tell you a bit more about this particular work, and the world in which it exists.

Less is More

I have a lot of projects that I fiddle around with on my own when not working for The Man. For many of these I hold grand hopes for novelization, bestseller lists, and movie deals. For others, I would just like to do some self-publishing for the benefit of people who enjoy reading my work. I'm not sure where this one falls right now.

I have this weird literary quirk that makes me really enjoy the "little guy" stories. I always enjoy stories where someone relatively unimpressive does something extraordinary. I suppose that's not too unusual, as that is a central theme in such minor, obscure works as The Lord of the Rings. Still, I find that too often the achievements of average people who do extraordinary things get overshadowed by the big-hitters. It's easy to cheer for the action badass who is jumping out of a helicopter onto an airplane that is crashing into a spaceship, but what about the relatively minor adventures of a member of his support staff back at headquarters who is hard at work researching psychological profiles on the villain's henchmen and  building training programs that will prepare Agent Testosterone for his big showdown? They rarely get to shine.

This is especially true in comic books. I find Superman to be a little boring. I'd much rather read about the Metropolis P.D. task force fighting hard to track down and defeat some minor villain while Supes is off-world fighting Darkseid, again. Somewhere along the line, an idea struck me. What if the superheroes and their struggle against the supervillains were just the setting, but the real story was about the wars waged by the normal people?

My Sorta-Super World

This isn't totally original, obviously. I'm no expert, but I know that Batman comics have sometimes taken this focus in recent years, giving the Gotham P.D. their own series. Still, I thought it was worth expanding.

The basic idea is that in this world, you have your incredibly powerful, unstoppable heroes and their villain counterparts, but there are very, very few of them. You also have a larger number of powerful, but vulnerable types that can't exactly laugh in the face of anti-aircraft fire, but aren't too concerned when staring down the barrel of a 9mm.

The main focus, however, is on two groups of people. The first of these are ordinary humans living their lives in this world where super beings are a reality. There are also, living right alongside "normal" people, those with only the slightest hint of some level of super ability. These are people like Harold, who we meet in Origin Story! His tale takes place at the very beginning of the emergence of super-powered humans, in the decade or so before things start to get ramped up.

Maybe Some Gaming

I fibbed a little bit. There actually is a small portion of gaming that factors into this discussion. I've also considered that this setting might make for a fun place to game. It would allowed for distinctly tiered levels of play. Characters could be the ultra-powerful god-like beings that spend most of their ruling over nations, commanding vast armies, and generally trying to either dominate the world or stop others from doing so. Or, at the other end of the spectrum the characters could easily be a squad of unpowered humans charged with taking down relatively minor bad guys who, while are no match for the highest level of heroes in the world, are beneath their notice, while simultaneously being as much or more than any normal peace-keepers can handle.

Enjoy the Origin

So, there's a little insight into where this story comes from, and where it might be going. While you're reading, just keep this in mind: Could blogging be a superpower? I'm just asking the question, here.


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