Thursday, May 23, 2013

Teen Titans Modern: The TV Show Format in Action

Hey, readers!

Piggybacking on my last post, I thought that it would be nice to explain in a little more detail the nitty gritty details of how you would implement the TV show model in preparing for a campaign. Rather than go through a long, step-by-step tutorial in which I go into too much detail, I'm actually going to show you my notes for the campaign set-up and explain them.

As with everything, this is just the way I did it. By no means is it the only way, or the right way, or a good way. It's just the way that worked for me. I'm typically a notes-light GM, usually foregoing notes altogether and just letting things pour out based off a loose framework in my noggin. So, that's your disclaimer.

Anyway, let's get to it, shall we?

The Basic Framework:

Teen Titans Modern

Tentative Season 1:

24 Episodes:

End Goal for Team: Grow together as a team. Become friends and one fighting unit. Make a decision whether or not to live the superhero lifestyle.

Main Arc: Deathstroke, under the order of Ra's al Ghul, begins a war against the Cult of Blood in Detroit.

Secondary Arc: The Joker and Harley Quinn try to profit from the ensuing chaos, starting a gang of misguided teenagers and playing both sides against each other.

Tertiary Arc: The government has declared war on the Superhero community, apprehending both heroes and villains in order to get them to register to be a government agent, or kill them.

Commentary: What I did first was set a groundwork number of episodes that I wanted to shoot for. This could change, of course, but I determined that you could either go half season (12 episodes or so) to a full season (22 episodes or so). Since Marvel Heroic broke things into acts, I went with a nice even 24 that I could split into three acts with eight episodes each.

The next thing I did was set some goals that I wanted the team to accomplish over the course of the season. If we get to the end and all of those things are true, I know I did my job. Each character has their own goals, but those are listed elsewhere.

Next, I set up the A-story, B-story, and C-story for the season, the basic arc that the campaign will travel through. While these elements are all set up, not all of them will come into play immediately, or even come into play every session, but every episode works to either build on these arcs or work on the goals.

Main Villains: Brother Blood, Deathstroke

Secondary Villains: The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Government

Tertiary Villains: Bane, Riddler, Lex Luthor, Murmur and Onomatopoeia, Suicide Squad, Professor Ivo and Amazo

Main Supporting Cast: Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Firebird (Bette Kane)

Secondary Supporting Cast: , Starfire (“Tori Anders”), Beast Boy (Garfield Logan), Terry Sloane, Raven

Tertiary Supporting Cast: Batman (Bruce Wayne)


Detroit, Michigan

Commentary: What I did here was lay out the basic set-up for NPCs that will be involved in the arcs and the story. This list is here so that I can stat them out, if need be, or so I have a good visual of villains I want to use or potential allies ordered by importance. By ordering them like this, I know which villains and allies I need to emphasize and really flesh out, and which ones don't really need all that much emphasis. I also put the basic setting down here, though that could obviously be expanded.

The Episode List:

Act 1:

Episode 1:
Main Villain: The Government, Suicide Squad
Main Plot: The first meeting of the Titan Initiative is disrupted by an attack by the government's new taskforce, “Vigilante Arrest and Termination Organized Response” 'VATOR'

Episode 2:
Main Villain: Blood Cult, Brother Blood, Deathstroke
Main Plot: The team begins investigating a budding gang-war that seems to be funded by powers unknown with the only clue being the blood scrawled message, "Where is Brother Blood?" Meanwhile, Juan has to work on a school project with a very unusual partner.

Episode 3:
Main Villain: Joker, Harley Quinn
Main Plot: When the Joker publicly challenges the Dark Knight by causing chaos in the Detroit area, the Titans are the first response. Are the Joker's crimes carrying a deeper message? And how does Dullahan's past factor in with the laughing mad-man and his crew?

Episode 4:
Main Villain: Dr. Light
Main Plot: It's Christmas time in Detroit! The Titans deck the halls of the mansion for the upcoming holiday when Johnny realizes he hasn't gotten anything for his new girlfriend. A trip to the mall turns terrible as Dr. Light attacks, amplified by the festive lighting for the season. Johnny's blow to the head sends him on a rather detailed trip through a familiar Christmas favorite.

Episode 5:
Main Villain: The Government
Main Plot: VATOR forces return to the streets of Detroit, taking a more subtle approach. Suspicions arise as their actions seem to follow Green Arrow's own plans for cleaning the streets. How exactly did Oliver Queen clear his own name and get the government out of his city in the first place?

Episode 6:
Main Villain: Professor Ivo, Solomon Grundy
Main Plot: A group of teen heroes are kidnapped by the mysterious Professor Ivo and set on an island. Infected with a disease that is working through their system, they must journey across the wild jungle in order to find the antidote, but they are not alone...

Episode 7:
Main Villain: The Riddler
Main Plot: The entire Detroit underworld competes in the Riddler's insane games for a chance at getting on the fabled “Override” list that promises VATOR immunity. Will the Titans play along to apprehend criminals, or go for the illegal prize themselves?

Episode 8:
Main Villain: Bane
Main Plot: After an encounter with a group of fanatical Neo-Luddites testing an EMP, Ray Kord finds that he can no longer transform into the Blue Beetle.

Episode 9:
Main Villain: Bane, Deathstroke, Brother Blood
Main Plot: ?

Commentary: Here we see the first act already listed out. What I obviously did here was give every episode its own name, determined which villains were involved, and did a basic plot summary. Some plot summaries have an A and B plot, some do not, depending on the needs of the story. I listed these out before the game even began using some of the information above. However, there were changes that I needed to make based on player desires, such as a Christmas episode, and an episode where the team was trapped on an island with Solomon Grundy which stretched the first act to nine episodes instead of eight.

What I try to do here is make some episodes spotlight characters. For example, Episode 4 is centered around Johnny while Episode 8 has to do more with Ray. This way, the players get their own episode to shine, define who they are, and grow.

Just for some particulars on how this relates to the framework, I have decided that the first act will mostly deal with the tertiary plot arc while laying seeds for the main and secondary arcs that will explode into fruition in the final episode of the act. We are currently on episode 7, having taken a long hiatus as Dullahon's player went to England for a semester and we had trouble coordinating times with her. Hopefully in June we will begin again and finish out the season by the end of the summer.

And that's all I gotta say about that! If you guys want more details on how these episodes went down, let me know! I also have milestones I can share and no shortage of datafiles. Hope you enjoyed this look into the TV Show format in action. If you didn't, here's a funny picture.


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