August 13, 2002
Defining Dark

Today I had a conversation with Jeremy where I struggled to define “Dark” as it relates to my “Dark Supers” game. I had explained that Superworld was more like Batman than Superman, so he translated Dark to mean Gotham in atmosphere.

Yes, but no. And it was a good supposition… it just didn’t fit with my exact image. Yet, I found it hard to put to voice exactly what I meant by Dark. I ended up not being able to really put it into words that made me happy, other than “I don’t mean Sweetness & Light”. Which wasn’t really acceptable to me as an answer. But at the time, it was the best I could do.

What do I mean by “Dark”?

The world begins as today does, in this particular case. In most cases, the world is a realistic place, where there are dangers and you don’t get off scot-free just because you are a PC. A place where you probably *shouldn’t* walk in the worst area of town late at night. A place where bad things happen, as well as the good. A place where things might not go right just because you want them to.

A place where life is not fair.

Dark also means I don’t pull punches. These realisms of life will affect the PCs and quite possibly affect them deeply. And in my mind, that’s not a bad thing. It is these things which will drive the PCs to grow and to learn, and give them more motivations to continue onwards and discover more plot and make their world a better place. Perhaps, even, a “Lighter” place.

When I ran Artifacts of Winter, it started off with a bang. Chris arrived in chains, a prisoner, and was set loose by Tessa, a teenager in rags and barefeet. She begged him then to help her ease her mother’s slide into death. So Chris’s first scene in the entire game, once he was free, was singing Marie away... playing music to ease her mind as she died. And then helping Tessa to bury her. And then he and Josh learned more about Tessa's situation (abused by her employer, who they later learned was her father) and resolved to rescue the girl and her brother.

I think it all began with the first Champions campaign I ran, in which Dave's character was brainwashed to believe he was married, and he came out of the scene to discover that he was now the father of twins. Who disappeared into an alternate dimension. He did marry the girl for real, too.

Dark doesn't refer to physicality. Yes, there will be injuries. Ask Josh about the puncture holes in his shoulders during AoW. Or some of the broken ankles. There will be emotional difficulties. The world is dark. But not dingy...

Posted by Deb Atwood at August 13, 2002 09:43 PM | TrackBack
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