Hello and welcome to a new installment of Finding Inspiration! In the previous installment Stuart talked about how he could implement his own life experiences into a game, and I will be looking at a variety of Comics, Games, Movies and the like to see what can be taken/adapted to the Tabletop. Today I’ll be looking at one of my personal favorite comics, Planetary.
The book follows the adventures of the main agents of the Planetary organisation. A team of self-described ‘’Archaeologists of the Impossible’’ they delve into the ‘’secret history’’ of their world. And what a world it is, combining and mashing together elements and characters from comics, pulp novels, movies and various other mediums (all just legally distinct enough of course), it creates a setting where almost anything can happen. So we’ve got the ground work, so how can it be used in a game?
Of course given the vast amount of variety presented by the book he obvious answer for a system to run such a game would be GURPS. The sheer amount of supplements and books mean you can find just about anything you’d ever need for an RPG.
However I’ve never played a game using GURPS, so let’s avoid that for now. I have however played a game using the FATE system (which you can read about here), and I think it easily provides us with what we’ll need.
This system is great for just about anything. Despite being able to do this, it avoids the pitfalls of being incredibly rules and numbers heavy. Instead of purely numerical skills, you describe your character in short, snappy sentences called aspects. The aspect system is really well done, and can be used to represent just about anything you could want out of a character. One more way it trims the fat is through the use of the Ladder. Dice rolls in FATE use this to determine if the roll was successful or not, depending on its difficulty. Every roll uses this system, which cuts down on time using maths incredibly.
So we’ve got the system, but what about the characters the Players will create? Well they could create just about anything and still fit into the Planetary Universe. Here are some examples of the Heroes that inhabit the comic, so you can get a grasp of what’s possible.
New Recruit to the organisation and the main character of the book, Snow wields the power to freeze things. Might sound a bit simple, but he uses it in some incredibly creative ways.
The muscle of the group, Wagner has Super Strength and Super Durability, so conventional superpowers aren’t entirely out of the question when creating a character.
Able to connect and manipulate directly to ‘information streams’, The Drummer is a one man encyclopaedia. So it’s not just combat abilities a Planetary character would entail, as frequently The Drummer is a crucial part in completing the missions they encounter
Chase, meanwhile, is able to create fields where physics become distorted. The practical application of this is to enact Matrix Bullet Time scenes in comic book form. SO if you see something in a film you like, feel free to take it as inspiration.
Axel ‘Doc’ Brass
Yes, he’s just Doc Savage under a different name. But the Pulp heroes are a large part of the Planetary world, as a group of them served as the precursors to the modern Planetary organisation. So if you see a pulp or comic character you like, its fine to play them (under a legally distinct name of course).
One of the major appeals of the setting is the fact there’s so much you can take from famous pieces of fiction and genre trappings and fit them in easily and efficiently. We just need to look at some of the plots from the book itself and you can find tons of great ideas for one shots or campaigns, Such as;
Dealing with radical Japanese terrorists on an island of dead Kaiju
Investigating Hong Kong Gang members seemingly being killed by an Action Movie Ghost
Cashing down a multiverse hopper, and running into various versions of Batman along the way
Or you could step back to the 1800’s and meet characters such as Dracula and Sherlock Holmes
(Yes, that is Dracula and that does happen in the Book. See why I love it?)
And these are just 4 of the adventures in the book, it presents a wide range of possible ideas to leap off from.
You can clearly see the vast array of possibilities Planetary presents for a Table top RPG. Of course you don’t have to run it specifically in the universe, but there’s such a wide away of stuff in the book that there’s something that can be used in any urban fantasy/modern game.
On a side note, The Cover Up will return, but has had to be put on hold as my hard drive is currently dying. Until then, I’ll leave you with this thought for the day.