Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Combining City of Heroes and Necessary Evil - the Content

Well, that's certainly still relevant

So now that I have a framework for how I think I can run this, I need to decide on the meat of each session. Since it's still "Necessary Evil", regardless of setting, I'm going to start with that.

The core plot unfolds in 11 adventures. Originally it was 10, but the explorers edition added an 11th which is good because the original finale was not good and I was planning on changing it anyway. With the reset to Paragon City I plan on changing it even more. For those familiar with the adventure, Star City has a sort of plot of its own tied to its history, and it ties in to the original finale. I'm planning to drop that whole element anyway, rendering that particular plot point meaningless. My players also finished the first 3 plot points back in 2010 when we started this and we're keeping those adventures with a little bit of a retcon to reset them in Paragon City. So I have 7 core plotline adventures. These are pretty much usable as-is with simple changes to names, locations, and some NPC's to reflect the new setting. There's only one other major setting discrepancy and I'll talk about that below.

Iconic characters like ... Fusionette!
Fleshing out the main plot are a bunch of other adventures that form the meat of the campaign. Given my plan I need to build out 5 of these into "main" adventures, and pick out 12 of the remainders as "B plots" for the campaign. That will use most of what is provided but it does leave me some room to skip the entries that don't fit as well.

Finally I have to think about working in the flavor of City of Heroes. I think there should be some kind of touch point to Paragon City in each session. CoH had a lot of landmarks, like statues and islands and buildings and those could play a part. There are a lot of good and evil organizations and those should have a role. There are also specific heroes and villains that show up in the game and those make it feel like home too. My initial thinking is that each session should involve a group, a location, and an individual character in addition to whatever A & B plots are happening. Frostfire was a big adventure run at the lower levels in the game. One session will probably deal with Frostfire, the Outcasts, and the Hollows. If I can find a plot point that would tie into them nicely, so much the better. The Hollows zone was also tied into the Trolls and the Circle of Thorns and might lead into something with those groups in either the prior session or the next session. Officer Wincott was a normal cop in the zone and he might show up too. Laying out a web of these kinds of connections is the real challenge here in my eyes.

Faultline ... err "Overbrook" Dam - infested with Vahzilok
Another example: There is a non-core plot point involving a dam. I like it, so I plan to use it. In the original adventure it's Hoover Dam, so it involves a trip to Vegas and while that's very comic-bookish involving the landmark and all, it felt a little odd in a campaign that is so heavily focused on a single city. Fortunately, Paragon City has its own dam which was the location of a popular task force. Revisiting it during an alien occupation invokes both a familiar location and allows for some ties back to that original task force. The primary enemy there was the Vazhilok, a sort of zombie group. The primary allies were Longbow, a Shield-like organization. It involved a running fight into, through, and on top of the dam itself. This gives me some nice ties back into Paragon City lore and some ideas on how to expand it into the focus of an entire session. There were also some ties to the Clockwork and the Circle of Thorns in those missions so now I have some potential links to other sessions if I want to focus on any of those groups.

Battle atop the dam!
So flavoring and tweaking the preset adventures, then adding in some additional material for additional flavor is he plan. There are also some plot complications to resolve as well. The biggest one is that Atlantis plays a large role in Necessary Evil but there is no Atlantis in City of Heroes. This was a conscious design choice from what I have read and there were no plans to develop Atlantis or an underwater city of any kind. Solutions:

  • Just add in the NE version of Atlantis. I'm still toying with this but it really seems like the easy way out. I'm of two minds on the concept too:
    • Adding in something new that significant to the setting detracts from the effort to make it feel like Paragon City and shouldn't be done. 
    • Think of it as an "expansion" for the original game - new zone, new race, new other character options - all of these things are pretty common elements in an MMO expansion, so why not take advantage of it?
  • Find one entity to replace Atlantis - maybe the lost magical city of Oranbega can serve as a less-watery stand-in? How about the Shadowshard? Maybe Cimerora? Croatoa? I really just need a lost city that's difficult to access and has magical elements to fill in.   
  • Part-out the Atlantean story elements to other areas instead of trying to go for a one-to-one replacement. 

Honestly my initial reaction was the second bullet, but after taking a break for a few days and coming back to it, I'm leaning more towards the first one. Most comic book settings have some kind of Atlantis, so it's not like it's a genre violation. Also, characterizing it as an MMORPG expansion is really starting to appeal to me, especially since I'm using a no-longer-active MMORPG as the setting. I need to make some more notes but it has a lot of potential and requires a lot less ret-conning effort to the adventure.

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