While I am actually eyebrows deep into the planning (and running) of my Legend of the Five Rings, 4th Edition campaign, now and then I figure that I ought to surface for air and see where I’m going.
In that regard I’m already thinking of what to run after L5R. It’s a pattern for me, as I’m resigned to the role of being the eternal GM in our group. Sure I’ll play once in a while but I’m most comfortable in the GM’s chair and in running games.
The two games that currently have my attention are M&M 3rd Edition from Green Ronin, and Onyx Path’s upcoming Exalted 3rd edition. Both are technically “mature” rules who have had time to work out the worst of their kinks (hopefully) and should have sufficiently smooth / working rulesets.
I’m looking at the two since I’m currently running a Politics heavy game, and my previous games have all been involving rather fragile characters. People die easily in L5R, Mage and Call of Cthulhu, so being able to run something from a power fantasy perspective is a break from my usual fare.
Not that I don’t like high powered games. I’m a big fan of supers, and the stories you can tell about power and responsibility. I’m all about the tough choices that rest on the shoulders of those who have the capacity to do something about it. In some ways this is one of the things that colors my interest in Mage: the Awakening. The question of power and the ability (or willingness) to exercise such power in a manner that is morally / ethically “correct” and the many, many shades of gray that exist between black and white.
Exalted on the other hand marries the same idea of super-individuals, except takes the setting further. By plastering them on a mythical / sword & sorcery setting, you can paint even sharper contrasts. Issues that are often left untouched by comic books come into play here. Ethics, social inequality, and other heavier questions come into play when talking about “heroes” and their place in a native culture.
Does this mean then that my default setting for games is “Cautionary Tale?” Well, maybe. It comes as a natural progression from the idea of running games with consequences involving people who have faculties high above those of ordinary men.
“Heroes are painful, superheroes are a catastrophe. The mistakes of superheroes involve too many of us in disaster.”
– Frank Herbert
While I try my best to make sure that the games end in a positive note, I don’t think I’ll qualify for the term of “optimist” as a GM anytime soon, much less from my regular players. They know that the actions they take have long reaching consequences, and it is because of their potential legacy that they act with care and deliberation.
And so I’m looking forward to what I run next. It’ll be a different sort of game, but one that has it’s effects writ large. The stakes are higher, and the scope more grand, but ultimately it’ll still go back to the same question of morals, and choices and the consequences that we all have to live with both good, and bad, intended or unintended.