Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Aaron Allston's Strike Force

Also: The cover is pretty cool.
On Monday Zak asked me to explain why I like the old Champions supplement Aaron Allston's Strike Force so much.  I haven't been able to find my copy, but I wanted to talk about it before the topic went cold and I forgot about it completely.  So I'll try going over it from memory.

It's been a while since I've made a totally ridiculous and utterly indefensible claim on the ol' Gameblog, so here it is: Aaron Allston was the first RPG blogger.  Dude just didn't have a blog.  When I first read Strike Force it was a breath of fresh air.  Here was a GM with a successful campaign, talking directly to the reader, explaining how he reached that success.  He presents his house rules and villains, like you would expect from any "here buy my campaign" book.  But he also provided all or most of the PCs from the campaign at both their initial 250 point versions and what they looked like with some XP spent.  It was very neat to see what his players were doing with the system.

But the best part of the book is his narrative of the campaign.  He outlines what happened in play, but also shows what is happening behind the scenes.  Allston deals with things like what to do when you have a change in player roster and what happens when campaigns get too big for their own good and you need to split the group.  Most importantly, he covers how he had to learn the hard way that different players want different things from an rpg and that he needs to take that into consideration.  And you know the way people play RPGs in forums by writing back and forth to each other rather than talking out loud?  Allston and his group invented that before they had access to the internet.  They called it "bluebooking" and sometimes whole sessions of the Strike Force campaign were devoted to private conversations done via this method.

In short, at the time Strike Force came out Aaron Allston was the most forward thinking mind in the hobby.  I can count on one hand the number of RPG authors I consider as on-the-ball as him.  Some parts of Strike Force will seem old hat to veteran GMs, some sections will be irrelevant if you don't play Champions/HERO System or another supers game, but if you can find a copy cheap don't pass it up.