One of the things to consider when running a teen supers game is the idea of making certain that there’s a good mix of conflicts that matter to the protagonists. Given their age, this conflict can come from several sources: friends, family, society and the occasional super-villain.
I’m currently trying to build momentum for my HERO game, and doing so means that I’ll have to consider how to introduce a wide array of conflicts and plot hooks that don’t always involve punching bad guys in the face. Thankfully teen games are full of melodrama and even the most trivial things can be a matter of life and death. I’ve been musing about which issues might be worth exploring and here’s a short list of what I’ve come up with:
- Peer Pressure and Bullying – An ugly topic to be sure, but one that is relevant in any educational institution. While the classes in Claremont Academy are small, there’s enough students around to jockey for dominance. This can take the form of physical and psychological bullying. Embarrassment physical harm, intimidation and other tactics can be an issue I can bring up.
- Sex– Sex is a pretty big deal to teens… and to everyone else. It’s a powerful motivator for teens of both genders and everyone wants to be desired, especially at an age where everyone feels awkward. That said, this is a touchy issue, and I’m still on the fence if I want to bring up the more hot-button issues of date rape and teen pregnancy onto the table just yet.
- School Shootings / Suicides – Another unpleasant issue that can be brought up in the context of play. There aren’t any easy answers to these, but it’s a significant and possibly life-changing event for any person, whether teacher or student.
While this list might seem to be perhaps a little too dark and grim, I think the actions of the Player Characters should serve as a means to uplift the setting towards a brighter future. Teens might idolize adult heroes, but seeing a fellow Teen pull off something amazing galvanizes them to action.
Obviously I’ve only touched on the bigger issues, but there are several smaller hooks that can be used in the game. Not everything has to be depressing, but I don’t think I want to whitewash the setting either.