Thursday, June 27, 2019

Atlantaverse: Psychotronic World Building

  When I am doing worldbuilding for fantasy games I may spend too much time on verisimilitude - making the world at least internally consistent. Seaward, Blackstone, the Patchwork Lands - I work to make them sensible, consistent and familiar without being boring. But there are always little things, like the steam-powered war moose construct.

  Now that I am making a Champions setting I am in full-on Psychotronics mode!

  Psychotronic is a slang term used in parts of the movie buff community to describe a certain sort of movie. I've never found a good universal definition of what 'Psychotronic' means that covers all the bases, but here I go with my own idiosyncratic one;

Psychotronic: 1) the blending of genres, typically with low budgets
                       2) Low-budget exploitation films
                       3) Films with very non-traditional manner of storytelling

  Here are some examples [Mild Spoilers]:
    Definition 1) Enter the Dragon. British Intelligence recruits a Shaolin master to infiltrate the island lair of an international criminal who turns out to be (effectively) a cyborg.
    1) Los Momias de Guanajuato. A team of three luchadores must fight an army of mummies.
    2) Shaft. John Shaft has to rescue the daughter of one gang boss from the clutches of a rival gang boss without accidentally triggering a race riot in New York City.
    2) Friday Foster. A fashion photographer discovers a plot by White Supremacists to assassinate a Black politician.
    3) A Clockwork Orange. Told from the viewpoint of a sociopath.
    3) Videodrome. Perhaps the ultimate unreliable narrator film.
    1, 2, and 3) Bubba Ho-Tep. JFK (who the CIA turned into a Black man) and Elvis (who swapped places with an imposter in 1971) defend a retirement community from an evil Egyptian mummy. Maybe. Maybe they have dementia. Maybe all.

  When I read comic books there is some psychotronic stuff going on in anything that isn't a new line, a limited series, or similar. The Phantom Stranger may be an archangel, knows literally everything, and has immeasurable power. Adam Strange is an archaeologist who is repeatedly teleported to an alien planet where he uses a jetpack and ray gun to fight aliens. Neither is in the Justice League. Green Arrow is in the JLA. 

  So the Atlantaverse?
  Totally psychotronic. Right now in the game the superhero Silver Crow (who was a simple crow until an evil wizard's spell malfunctioned and turned him into a man) is trying to track down an evil necromantic cult whose leaders are all retired high school teachers. They may need help from the mole men who hide beneath the city. And who knows when that insane rudo super luchadore is going to return?!

  In the street-level game the vigilantes are trying to figure out why a mysterious figure with no head (and who can seemingly vanish into thin air) is killing people with a flying guillotine. And the Fourth Reich might be recruiting from the local Y, too.

  And if you know the right guy you can get a telegram from Barsoom….

  More to come!


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