Monday, December 3, 2012

General Gamery: Civil War X-men

I WAS just going to talk about the newest game book that holds my name in the credits, but I kinda think I should give a bit of backstory first:

I am very lucky as a freelancer. I have very good friends.

A few years ago at Gencon, I met a game designer that had written the best Dragonlance adventures I had ever read- Cam Banks. Cam worked as a writer for Margaret Weis Productions (I know! Margaret Weis!) and his success in writing for the 3.5 version of Dragonlance helped to catapult him to writing his own novel in the Dragonlance universe, The Sellsword.

At the time, I was shopping around an early draft of Superhuman to try to get the opinions of better, more seasoned game designers than myself. And somehow, Superhuman stayed in the back of Cam's mind. A year or two later, Cam contacted me to work on an unnamed super-hero game for Margaret Weis productions. That game turned out to be the award-winning Smallville Roleplaying Game.

I got to see my name in print by someone other than my own labels, I got to work on a masterfully innovative project, and I got to work with phenomenally talented game designers to work on one of the greatest collaborations of my life. I was awed, and soaked in every word of advice from my fellow designers- even when they didn't realize they were giving it.

While Smallville was earning well-deserved accolades for innovation in roleplaying, Cam and Co. at Margaret Weis Productions were preparing to reveal their most impressive coup. MWP had landed the Marvel I.P. and were going to begin a series of gamebooks that were going to be Event-centric.

In the Q&A after their initial announcement, I asked the question that was nipping at my noggin- was Annihilation one of those events? As a lifelong Nova fan, Annihilation was high on my list of great Marvel Events, and of course Cam answered a bonafide "Yes." I practically assaulted him to beg to be allowed to write a few words in the Annihilation book. Cam just smiled, he'd already planned to have me aboard for that Event. He was well aware of my Nova fixation. I spent the rest of Gencon on cloud 9 (No, not the kid from the Initiative. Get your head out of the gutter!).

Working from the foundation that Smallville and her sister ship, Leverage, had started with updating Cortex into Cortex Plus, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying was a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre of Roleplaying. This was some of the best stuff to come out of a game house, and if the supplements were 25% as good as the Operations Manual, they would number among the best supplements written.

Cam tries to keep the team from an Event book working on the supplements, which is a great writing model. By the time an Event book is done, the writers are already intimately familiar with the major players and themes involved and are truly invested in the story. For example, for Annihilation, I'm lucky enough to see my name in the credits for the War of Kings and Thanos Imperative books that will follow the Annihilation Event book.

But for the Civil War supplements, births and illnesses sidelined some of the talented writers, so Cam sent out the call from within his exisiting freelancers. He needed writers to fill the vacated spots and fast. Of course, I volunteered. One of the places left blank was Peter David's amazing run on X-Factor. I had to be a part of it.

By the time I had begun to adapt the Civil War-era X-Factor books to the mighty Marvel manner of gaming, I was already an old hat at it. Other than my tendency to ramble on... over and over...I understood the structure involved and had the time of my life bringing my little corner of the Event to life.

While in the comics, I didn't enjoy Marvel's Civil War nearly as much as Annihilation, I can't be anything but totally impressed with what MWP has brought to gaming in the Civil War Event book. It allows so much flexability to the event and shows so many sides.. it's just..spectacular.  And Civil War: X-men adds to that experience, especially when seen through mutant colored lenses.

Civil War: X-men is available for preorder in dead tree form from Margaret Weis Productions for 19.99 (with a free pdf) or you can get the pdf from Drive Thru RPG for 12.99.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.