Monday, June 18, 2012

Game Night: DC Adventures--The End of an Era (June 18th, 2012)

This past Tuesday marked the end of my year long DC Adventures campaign.  Given where I am in my life, that's a pretty serious investment.  The game went from PL 10 to PL 12  (after a correction I made after letting half the party go to PL 14 for a while) and we played pretty much every other week for four hours a night, with very few people ever missing the game.

After the wedding, the group met up with the Phantom Stranger, who gave them a chance to live their lives as they would have progressed if they had not been trapped behind one of the Time Trapper's artificial reality barriers set up to generate Hypertime.  After exhaustive discussions about how comic book time travel and alternate realities work  (which is to say pulling stuff out off my rear end and then trying to think of comics that supported my wonky explanations), Fahrenheit, Myrmidon, and Marathon decided to go to their alternate lives.

Thankfully, I had planned ahead so that this last event would still go off, even if some of the party moved on.  In short order, the group had recruited Mongal, Solomon Grundy, and Artemis  (formerly Wonder Woman).  They set off to Paradise Island to save the world from an escaping Chronos.

On the island, they fought a thousand or so demons and shades, using the mass combat rules from the Gamemaster's Guide.  Then they descended into Tartarus and watched Darkseid disintegrate his "dupe" Ares, revealing that the potentially escaping Titans were a ruse to bring out the people that blew up Olympus on him.

At this point, several hundred parademons attacked, again, using the mass combat rules.  The group took them out fairly quickly, and then Paradox got really big and fell on Darkseid.  Then Paradox got juggled a few times, as Paradox was lifted up so everyone could hit Darkseid, then dropped back on Darkseid, then Darkseid blasted Paradox up in the air, and let him slam down again.

Lots of team attacks on Darkseid, especially since the group had a troupe of Amazons with them  (again, using the mass combat rules).  Darkseid failed, and the group even managed to keep Kalibak from pulling his father back home through a Boom Tube.

Thus ended the campaign.  From the beginning I wanted the group to have one major "save the world moment" after the JLA returned, to make sure the party didn't feel as if they suddenly didn't matter now that the JLA was back.

What did I have planned way back when I started?  I wanted the PCs to work for Amanda Waller.  I wanted them to have to round up villains that got out due to a breakout.  I wanted them to have a Swamp Thing/Alec Holland moment and find out something shocking about themselves  (i.e. they had been dead).  I wanted them to travel through time, deal with alternate realities, and learn how people in the DCU think the multiverse works, and then I wanted to make the multiverse work the way it did before the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  I wanted the main villain to be the Time Trapper, because it made more sense than anything.  I wanted them to have to deal with Darkseid, and I wanted them to be the ones to save the JLA, et al.

The only thing I really jettisoned from my original ideas about campaign highlights had to do with finding an alternate reality version of the New Gods, where Darkseid was Good King Uxas and was the good guy and Highfather of New Genesis was Big Daddy, who would be decked out like a Jack Kirby cosmic pimp, with a wide brimmed hat and cane and the whole nine yards.  These guys were suppose to be the New Gods in the Crime Syndicate's alternate reality.  I couldn't quite make it fit organically, so I didn't use it.

Oh, and I was going to have the group fight the Royal Flush Gang, but by the time I had stats for them (I kept putting off making my own), they had appeared in Justice League:  Doom, and I didn't want to look like I was just throwing stuff into the campaign that I just saw the night before.  Given that the fight was more to establish something than actually advance the plot  ("every version of the League ends up fighting these guys"), it wasn't a big sacrifice.

We all had fun, and it was very gratifying and humbling to hear my players talk about enjoying the campaign.  I have been very blessed to have the crew that I have, and they carried me on a lot of nights when my ideas alone would not have been nearly as entertaining as the direction they pursued.

I do know I was way too clumsy in how I hammered home the multiverse and alternate realities in the last two sessions, especially knowing that the group was already a bit burned out on those elements.  As a GM, I really dropped the ball on my tactics for both the Time Trapper and Darkseid, and as a result, both major boss fights seemed less epic than I would have liked them to feel.  My last appearance of the Phantom Stranger was really just suppose to be an excuse to hand out hero points and to give the team a reason to take point in the final mission, but I should have heeded that the Phantom Stranger had already wore out his welcome, and probably telegraphed and framed the choice he gave them much better than I did.

Thank you to all of my players for an excellent campaign.  Thank you to anyone that has indulged me and read this campaign as it has developed.


  1. Well, all I can say is from watching the players reactions they were all having an awesome time. What more could a GM ask for?

  2. I've noticed you often have a habit of questioning your ability to GM a game, and it always baffles me. We've been playing in the DC game for over a year and I've desperately made sure I've been there for every game. I've shown up even when I felt like crap, and the reason why is because you're a great GM, you're a joy to be around, and the games you run are fantastic! I don't mean to suggest the other games that I'm in are bad (they aren't) but every time we finished a session of Earth 52, I couldn't help but wait anxiously for the two weeks until the next one. Of course, you running a Rogue Trader game on the opposite week has helped mitigate that.

    Honestly, you're probably the best GM I've ever played under, and I'm glad that I've been able to. And while I'm definitely sad that the game is over, I thoroughly enjoyed every session from start to finish.

  3. Y'know, I think questioning oneself is something that every GM does. I know that I go through periods in my Buffy game where I am not satisfied with the job that I am doing, though my players have nothing but good things to say about the way I am running the game.


  4. At the risk of sounding less than humble, I don't think I'm a bad GM. I just don't think I'm an exceptional GM, and that I've got room to improve.

    Robin D. Laws wrote something once about learning more from watching how your players react to things than from asking them what they do and do not like about the campaign, and I think he's on to something.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.