THE GREAT ROBOT MENACE OF 1939
The Great Robot Menace of 1939 will be my largest new project of the year, so I thought I should use some screen space to detail what the game is all about and how the idea came to be, hence today’s blog entry. Also, my wife is sick of hearing about it, so I need to tell others!
Each year, I try to develop new events based on games, novels, comics, films or television programs that have anniversary dates approaching, as people tend to get a little more excited about older media in those years. Three of my own favorites from similar genres happen to all have anniversaries in 2019: the Castle Falkenstein role-playing game (25th), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic (20th) and the film, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (15th). So, I thought, what a great opportunity to mashup these three elements into a new game!
Before I could begin work on my new project, some decisions needed to be made on basic plot elements. My first thought was to just drop the League into the Sky Captain story, but I realized that this would severely limit the number of League characters I could introduce, since Sky Captain takes place in 1939 (after all of the events of League volumes 1, 2 and some of 3). And because of the technology used (such as the Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, which first flew in 1938), it would be quite difficult to move the story out of that time. Some of my favorite League characters are long dead in their own timeline, as well, so if I wanted to include them, I would have to either rework League tales or utilize time travel and I really did not want to rework canon League tales. As I started to consider the story possibilities involving time travel, however, I realized that I could change some aspects of canon storylines, chalk them up to the result of changes that were made to the past and then make the premise of the game to undo these changes, so that the canon events could then occur unchanged. So, in other words, if you lose, you’ll have ruined League canon, so don’t lose!
Now, if you know me at all, you know that I love miniatures. There’s just something about the spectacle of a decked-out game table that makes me happy. Castle Falkenstein, however, is traditionally a theater-of-the-mind game, as you may know. I really wanted to use some of the fantastic Victorian-era miniatures that have become available in the last few years, though, so I considered using modern miniatures rules for the end-scenes of each stage, but I wondered if that wouldn’t make the game too disjointed. So, after determining that Falkenstein rules could be used for 30’s-era vehicles, I discarded the idea. I will keep the miniatures, however, and run the end-scenes like any normal Castle Falkenstein game, just with visuals.
As I began to narrow my mini searches, I came across some terrific terrain pieces that fit really well with the genre as well, so then I just needed to assemble all of the pieces that I had into a cohesive, interactive tale…which I’m still working on. I don’t want to give away any secrets about the plot, anyway, but suffice to say, if you are a fan of The League and/or Sky Captain, you will find plenty of references to the original works. And lastly, though I originally planned on an 8-player game, I think that 6 players will be much more manageable in terms of stat tracking, Dramatic Character involvement and time handling, so I’ve made that change.
With that basic story structure in place, I can now finish reading all of my source material before getting into the adventure details. I am mostly finished with the League works and have read some of my source material previously, but I still have some work to do before I’ll feel comfortable meshing the characters from all of these sources together. The full bibliography of the Great Robot project includes:
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol I
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol II
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III: Century
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier
- Doc Savage Archives Vol I
- Doc Savage: Man of Bronze Vol I
- Golden Age of Sandman Archives Vol I
- Green Hornet: Year One
- Green Hornet Omnibus Vol I
- The Shadow: The Last Illusion
- Spicy Mystery Stories (Aug 1937 – Oct 1938)
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Gulliver’s Travels
- The Invisible Man
- King Solomon's Mines
- The Living Shadow
- The Lodger
- The Picture of Dorian Gray
- Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- The Time Machine
- War of the Worlds
I will continue to update the Great Robot Menace project list and documents page on my dndgeek.com site as I find and acquire new elements, as well as post pictures to The Great Robot Menace photo album on Facebook, and the sidebar on this page. And I will inform you about playtesting opportunities for the project on the events page on Facebook, as well as the events page on my website, if interested, so keep an eye out for those. And feel free to post/send me your thoughts and suggestions on the project. I’m always open to new ideas.