The flashpoint of ‘Civil War’ is the incident in Stamford. The blame would be placed squarely on The New Warriors. In ‘Civil War: Issue 1’ they are represented as inexperienced vigilantes, hungry for fame.
As part of my coverage of ‘Civil War’ I read the New Warriors mini-series that preceded this storyline. Written by Zeb Wells and art provided by Skottie Young this is a very entertaining series, combining funny plots with cartoon style art.
The series is about under-dogs trying to make good. Through the course of the mini-series they prove their worth and develop their friendships. It is such a shame the series is tarnished by how they are represented in ‘Civil War’, especially the transformation of Speedball to Penance.
The forthcoming ‘Young Avengers/Runaways’ supplement promises to cover the New Warriors, so that they can be used as player heroes. I hope that it will go some way to redeeming their character.
The New Warriors are a great team, especially for players. Speedball absorbs kinetic energy so is virtually invulnerable, Nova has shown in his own title how powerful he is, Namorita has all the powers of an Atlantian, Night Thrasher is a more charitable Batman with a genius for invention and new characters Microbe and Debrii have unique powers that weren’t given their chance to shine.
For those running a campaign letting players take the roles of the New Warriors before Stamford should help them appreciate that even the best of intentions can go wrong. They may even have an opportunity to avert disaster (although another incident could still cause the Civil War to erupt).
COMING THIS SEASON
The New Warriors reality television show stated aim was to travel to small-town America, the places where the rest of the super-hero community didn’t go. Real Towns, real villains.
This wasn’t an an attempt to become famous. The show was the brain child of Dwayne Taylor aka Night Thrasher. He wanted to help people beyond New York but couldn’t do it alone.
By selling the broadcast rights to a production company he had the finances to take a team on the road. Not only that but the production company would insure everyone in the town during the program. This is a clear indicator that the team weren’t irresponsible at all, they were very concerned about the safety of innocent bystanders.
Unless this policy had changed during the second season when ‘Civil War’ occurs then the production company would probably have gone bankrupt after having to pay out on 600 deaths.
The format of the mini-series would make for a very entertaining campaign. Each week is a new location, exploring small communities and the problems that they face. The team of heroes have to maintain their working relationship while living in tight confines.
The added complication of reality television means that the characters actions will be scrutinised. They may feel added pressure to achieve their potential, become a valued member of the team or just grab the limelight.
The biggest challenge in writing such a campaign is working out what threats would be found in each town. The events of ‘New Avengers: Breakout’ gave a good reason why escape criminals were running around in the first issue and in ‘Civil War’.
Another reason that villains might turn up in a small town is exactly because the majority of heroes don’t protect them. They might be trying to hide out, be looking for easy targets, try to start a new life or visit family.
Throughout the six issues the team find extra requirements placed upon them, whether it be re-filming fights, not harming animals or gaining legal access to the super villains lair. These make good roleplaying challenges, encouraging players to think their way around problems.
Meddling from executives could prompt new members, changes in costume or crazy challenges. Unscrupulous management might even try to engineer confrontations with well-known villains to increase ratings.
The format gives a good reason to set specific aims during an adventure. You can decide that the network wants an episode to focus on a specific PC. They might also want to craft their image, requesting PCs carry out specific actions to appeal to their fan base, whether it be using a signature move, using a catchphrase or showing some more skin.
Reality television superheroes would probably not be popular after the events of Stamford but a game set during the run of the ‘New Warriors’ could have similar tv shows. In real life rival networks often bring out copy-cat shows and C and B list heroes might have been signed up.
Even after the disaster how soon before the format was resurrected? This could lead to protests or criticism from the hero community. For the stars of the show this would be added pressure to show that they are true heroes.
Issue 2 focus on the town of Salina. It was home to a zoo owned by millionaire John Burrow’s, the largest private collection in North America. For years it had been open to the public until John Burrows mysteriously closed it.
When the animals in the zoo started to roam the town, displaying surprising intelligence, the New Warriors came to investigate. They found that Red Ghost’s super-apes, having recently gone their own way, had used their powers to impersonate John Burrows and made the animals smart.
After a brief skirmish the New Warriors were able to come to an agreement with the Super-apes. The zoo was reopened without the need for cages, although some animals preferred the distance provided by enclosures. It turned out that animals liked studying humans as much as the humans enjoyed studying them.
The Super-Apes would eventually return to their villainous ways but presumably the zoo and its host of intelligent animals still exist, making it an extremely popular tourist attraction.
Adventures could centre around the zoo and its self-appointed guardian, Erika Hopson (formerly a liaison for the society for the protection of television animals.) What if someone tried to exploit the animals or they turned to a life of crime? What if their intelligence start to fade?
The Super-Apes were able to repeatedly increase the intelligence of animals so there is no reason they couldn’t in future adventures. If this knowledge got out people might seek out the Super-Apes to make their pets intelligent.
To the outside world Nüponder is one of the safest, cleanest places to live in the US, thanks to investment from a German motor company, Nücar. Rolling green hills, trees on every street, German inspired architecture and robot dustbins cleaning the streets made the place look perfect.
A spate of animal kidnappings led the New Warriors to investigate, especially when it appeared that galactic villain Terrax was responsible. It turned out to be a ruse by androids created by the Mad Thinker, designed to resemble the greatest minds in history.
Resembling such geniuses as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Virginia Woolf and Da Vinci they planned to enslave humanity but knew that superheroes would oppose them. They’d calculated that the New Warriors were the least powerful super-team, worse than the Great Lake Avengers, but once they’d defeated them they’d use the knowledge to defeat a slightly more power team and so on and so on.
The New Warriors were able to defeat them but they were unaware that some, if not all, of the towns population were also robots. The town of Nüponder could pose a threat to humanity once again in the future.
A villain whose powers only work on organics might be surprised that he can’t affect the people in the town. When the PCs come to arrest him they could stumble on the towns secret and have to deal with hordes of robots.
The revelation that the Mad Thinker creates robots of historical figures could be used for an adventure. PCs might encounter a famous figure from the past, initially suspecting time travel only to discover they are robots. What if, like Awesome Andy, one of these robots tried to rebel against their programming and become good?
Once one of the country’s nicest towns things went wrong when John Peabody was elected mayor. It was revealed that he was the blue-skinned villain, The Corruptor. Normally he would have to touch people to infect them with a natural drug his skin released, that brought out the worst in people. Now the whole town were becoming jerks.
The New Warriors discovered that the Corruptor was collecting his sweat to water flowers. These flowers them released a pollen that was responsible for the change in behaviour of the towns people.
Once the cause was discovered the people returned to normal. Further adventures could revisit the town, to see how people are dealing with the consequences of their actions while under the influence of the Corruptor.
This is also a demonstration of how a villains powers can be used in new ways. A creative writer can come up with new uses for their abilities, that can surprise players. It can also give an insight into their character, as this story highlights the Corrupters loneliness, that he only sees the worst in people because of his powers.
Issue 6 ends on a sad note. With the test screenings not doing well the reality television show was put on hiatus. Worse still, thanks to an escape clause in their contract, the debt was placed upon the Taylor Foundation. Sadly this meant that Night Thrasher’s charitable organisation was being liquefied, losing the trademarked name ‘New Warriors’ to the production company.
Adventures could focus on what happens during this period. Night Thrasher is shown throwing away the keys to the team’s van and walking off into the snow. His dream of helping small town America was over.
Would the rest of the team try to save him from depression? Could they find a way to get the New Warriors name back and rebuild the Taylor Foundation? No longer on camera would they enjoy the freedom or want to get back in the public eye?
Obviously something happens for the New Warriors to get a second season, as shown at the start of ‘Civil War’. Did they do something really impressive that reunited the group and got the production company interested in making more shows?
Let us remember them for what they achieved rather than the tragedy they were involved in.