[superhero] My fantasy SHRPG convention

Filed under the heading of "it'll never happen":

I've been fascinated by the concept of having newspapers in SHRPGs way back to my first reading of Superhero 2044 where - apparently - the referee was supposed to produce not one but two different politically opposed papers every week.

I'm also tickled by the concept of "linked battles". My co-designer in the '80s was great at coming up with throwaway ideas. One of his off the cuff statements was that you don't always have to have group battles. Characters can have solo fights with bad guys. You just run the them all at the same time on different sections of the same table as if it WAS one big battle, you just don't allow any interaction between the characters.

I took this further and thought it might be fun to allow limited interaction. So if the hero at point A deactivates the power generator, the robots at point B get deactivated. This was decades before Rogue One and Winter Soldier.

Driven by these (and other) thoughts (wanting to promote the SHRPG hobby etc.) me and a friend came up with a fantasy idea for a convention. A weekend convention. Possibly at an out of season holiday camp. Devoted to SHRPGS - probably a single system. A single setting - possibly an island. All games take place in that setting. Each referee owns a region (city) within the setting. Adventures take place within a single over-arching storyline - possibly an alien invasion.

Friday night - general adventures introducing the characters to the setting and vice versa.

Saturday morning, the players wake up and there's a newspaper with reports on the adventures of the previous evening. (Plus some titbits seeding the coming day's events). First game, characters might stay in the same city or travel to different ones following plotlines, hunting villains etc. Seems like a general game like the night before but hints on the coming plotlines.

Saturday afternoon, in some regions the heroes discover the overarching plot.

Saturday evening - the Apocalypse hits. Eg. The aliens invade. Lots of backs against the wall stuff with survival - and rescuing key figures, saving key tech - being the key element.

Sunday morning the players wake up to a changed world. Again a newspaper. Possibly a resistance publication.

Sunday morning the coordinated fight back. As some brave souls undertake a suicide mission to distract the baddies, others try to take out the power generators, others attack the alien mothership etc. Lots of referees each running their own games but all linked in one big event. Imagine a referee standing up and shouting "the power generator is down!" or a Facebook message going out saying "The Aliens are vulnerable to Sodium Chloride" or a speedster running from region to region distributing the cure to the alien virus.

OK so producing a newspaper overnight was a big ask in the old days, but possible, and now with controlled social media - a dedicated Facebook page where NPCs and player Heroes (not players) can post and interact - things might be easier. But it's all still pie in the sky. Coordinating RPG referees is like herding cats. And spoilers would really spoilt the event.

But I can dream.


The Guvnor
Staff member
Sounds good Simon.
There have been precedents.
The Smart Party did a co-ordinated parallel games at Continuum.
GowBear and Declan have done it with Star Ace.
Graham and I did it with Flashing Blades.
And, essentially, big freedoms require similar scripting and co-ordinated.

So, how about three GMs, one system, one weekend at Longcon?
For some inspiration from a different genre, play (or watch) the D&D multi-table ‘Epic’ or the Pathfinder equivalent (I think they call it a Special) at Expo. 3-4 hours, many tables. In this model the tables do similar things, but there can be interaction between them and roaming extra GMs playing characters which interfere with or help groups’ activities.

You can buy a couple of similar D&D adventures on DM’s Guild: Confrontation and Candlekeep and Vault of the Dracolich both use this kind of multi-table approach to an RPG event.
Over the years I have tried bits of this, of course.

At my first or second Expo - without telling anyone - I ran my SqUK games as an ongoing campaign and produced a newspaper each evening for the following days games.

I gave run the big Alien Invasion (a few times) Superhero thing (with Supernatural elements) both as a home game and - again - as a linked series of scenarios across an early Expo. (I published it as "Squadron: X - available on both DRIVETHRU and Amazon - only got two stars on Amazon though. :( )

And Kevin Rolfe and I ran a linked table thing at Expo one evening. Again without telling the players - though there were strong hints in the two game descriptions - we both ran effectively the same Squadron UK scenario but set in parallel universes. He used pregens where I had character generation so his player-heroes were ahead in time. So when we pulled the switch and swapped out a couple of heroes between tables, they were able to carry hints and clues between worlds. (Great moment where the hero from his table regaled my guys with their adventures and my guys said "we've just been twatting robots.") The story was that the Megavillain in each universe wanted to totally destroy the parallel world because they couldn't stand the idea of there being a duplicate of them. So each had a reality bomb ready to send to the other world to wipe it out. The Heroes in each universe had to co-ordinate, through hero/player swaps, to get the bombs activated at exactly the same time to cancel each other out (or shaft each other - the prisoners dilemma). The players really loved it.

So I've scratched at my itch from time to time. I don't expect to ever actually do it. I don't think we could get enough people interested even if we could get them to agree on a system. Obviously my own aren't popular enough so we'd probably end up with Fate or Savage. I just post these things to get them out of my system.

I certainly don't think we'd get enough interest from the extant LongCon crowd. We'd have drum up a dozen or so interested parties and convince them to come to LongCon. Thanks for the suggestion though.