Thursday, March 07, 2013

MSH Campaign Thoughts: Batman

Ever since I first played TSR's Marvel Superheroes RPG I've wanted to run a world in which my favorite universes were meshed into one. That's one of the reasons I put together the Titanic Book of Characters (found in this post), so I had all the characters I could ever hope to want to use in one place. Now that that is largely finished for the time being (there are still mountains of characters that I could convert or write-up from my day when I tried writing my own comics), my thoughts are turning back to actually building the world. (Don't worry, my SWN hack and campaign are still my primary focus these days.) I'm going about this from the stance that this is my opportunity to build my "Ultimate" style of world. I can ignore events, change characters into how I've always felt they should be, and so forth.

One character in particular that I never felt great about how he was/is used is Batman. I rather like the Batman vision presented in the most recent movies (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises for those of you who have been living in a bunker for the last few years). This vision of Batman is closer to the part of the Batman mythos that I like: a vigilante using his wealth, resources, and training to try and make his city a better place. I've never thought that Batman really has a place alongside the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the other powerhouses of the DCU. He's not a cosmic-level super. He's more like Captain America: a resourceful, peak-condition human who is one of the finest martial artists in the world. I also like the idea from the movies that while Bruce is very intelligent and tech-savvy, he relys on Wayne Enterprises' R&D division to develop his "toys." Sure, he improves the designs, but he doesn't have a full industrial lab and fabrication facility in the Batcave. In my campaign, Gotham is Batman's primary focus. If he can help out in the event of a cosmic emergency, it won't be by flying the Bat-starfighter at the frontlines, but in the streets waging guerilla war against the invaders. If any of Wayne Enterprises' tech can help, sure, he'll lend a hand, but as long as the people of Gotham are protected first and foremost.

One aspect of Batman's time with the Justice League that I do like (at least from the later years, like from the Identity Crisis through Final Crisis), is his distrust of superhumans. In the campaign, Batman's distrust of super-power beings, including mutants like the X-Men, is just as great. He sees their value, after all there's little he can do to save an airplane about to crash, but Superman, Thor, or Wonder Woman could. However, these are beings that are still fallible, and great power tends to corrupt even the most seemingly forthright of people. Plus, the collateral damage of a fight between super-beings often times puts more lives at risk than would be in any fight between two people such as Batman, Night Thrasher, or the like. Batman has tasked Lucius Fox and the R&D division at Wayne Enterprises with studying super-beings to find ways to contain or even neutralize them in the event that even the nigh-incorruptible Superman should decide that he can run the planet better than the various governments and their people. He even distrusts himself. Batman has given kill codes to many of the technological gadgets at his disposal to Lucius Fox and Barbara Gordon in the event that he ceases to act out of the best interest of the people of Gotham.

As far as Batman's history is concerned, I like much of it. I'm going to ignore Knightfall for the most part, but the various Robins are still part of the mythos. Dick is Nightwing, and still the front-runner for taking over the mantle of the bat when that time comes. Jason Todd's death, and yes he's still dead in my world, is something that continues to haunt Bruce to this day. Tim is now the Red Robin and has moved on as well. Damian is the current Robin, and only recently so. Bruce is still coming to grips with being a father, and a father of a kid that knows more ways to kill a person with common household items, than he does about being a normal kid. Talia Head still holds a place in Bruce's heart, even though he knows deep down that the day will come in which that situation will likely come to a bloody end. Catwoman and Batman still have their off-and-on-again romance, though both of them hate to admit that their mutual attraction is beginning to turn into something akin to real love.

These are just some basic ideas of my "ultimate" Batman. Once I get into the actually writing up of the polished background, some of these things may change and the ideas will be more fleshed out.

Sorry for the divergent path from sci-fi today. My wife and I have been watching Dark Knight Rises the last couple nights (with two little kids, it often times takes multiple nights to get through a movie!) and it got me thinking. Just more of that gamer ADD kicking in!

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