I’ve been thinking a lot about endings lately – and not in a negative way. When it comes to role-playing games many campaigns simply don’t have (nor need) an Endgame; they’re set to run for as long as the gamers want to huddle ‘round a table and chuck dice. The heroes might complete an adventure or story arc but then they ride into the sunset and seek further challenges.
That’s fine ‘n’ dandy, for some campaigns.
For others there needs to be a fitting conclusion, a climactic finale which draws the game to a close and it’s time to generate new characters and begin afresh. That happened recently in a sporadic solo campaign I’ve been running for one of my players, and it’s set to happen again over the next few weeks as my mammoth Endday Campaign finally draws toward its own personal (and very literal) Endgame. More on that another time.
For the solo game I generated Redhawk, a hero with the ability to bestow powers on others (as well as himself) along with the Harriers, a cadre of five loyal soldiers. Mark took him up and ran him brilliantly as a tactically minded superhero who expects the best and leads from the front.
Against him I pit the villain Identity. He’s an egomaniac with just two powers: Duplication, and Morph. He can create up to 2,500 duplicates of himself and they’re all different. Oh, and unless you take them all out, he’s still very much alive. Until that point if one Identity “dies” it just goes back into the resource pool. Unkillable? I’ll say.
This game ran from early 2009 and featured more awesome stories than I could possible share in a single blog, let alone a single blogpost. Folks, solo superhero gaming is where it is at. Here’s a few highlights:
- Identity successfully takes over as crime boss in Southside – all of them! At first it’s believed that organized crime has become just a bit more organized, but Redhawk discovers the truth and proceeds to take down each one of Identity’s duplicates in turn. Punisher ain’t got nothing on this guy when he’s obsessed.
- Which led us to Redhawk being arrested for murder. No one else believes his crazy story about morphing duplicates and he’s jailed and bound with a Power Nullifier. Problem is, his psychiatrist has an awfully familiar look on her face……
- Redhawk’s team is called in to assist in a hostage situation in a Bank. Redhawk enters, alone and unpowered. All of the “hostages” are Identity and it’s a total setup – he’s knocked unconscious, bound and gagged. Can the Harriers rescue him? Oh yes!
- Identity hits the streets, bigtime! Over 4,000 rioters are looting Southside and at least half of them are Redhawk’s sworn enemy! Can he and the Harriers tell “innocent” looter from megavillain and restore order? Nope. One of the Harriers (Schultz) is killed in action with three Identities laughing over his smoking corpse.
- Redhawk is called to account by Paragirl One, Upgrade and a host of other heroes for his failure to prevent the Southside Riots. None of them believe his crazy tale about this Identity guy and Redhawk feels like he really is going insane. Cue excuse for a little Hero versus Hero slugfest!
It continued for a while before I ran The Search for Prime arc. So far, Redhawk understood that there was no central controller for Identity. I began to drop hints that’s not quite true; there is a Prime. Take him out, and all the rest will fall. Things once again turned into a bit of a Punisheresque bloodbath as Redhawk and his team followed up leads and squished Identities left, right and centre.
Then Identity offered to meet. One Identity, alone.
All the way through this we’ve only lightly touched on Redhawk’s origin. The more prescient superheroes have called Redhawk a newly born fledgling god with the ability to command and control reality itself. That’s how he can command someone to grow wings, turn invisible or form rock-like armour. Reality literally bends to his will.
Identity, on the other hand, I’ve said nothing about. Heck, he didn’t even have any other name. The irony that a guy called Identity doesn’t have one is not lost, by the way.
What Redhawk has is the power to mould, to shape creation. What he lacks is the ability to create life, to form beings from nothing. That, Identity possesses. They are flipsides of the same coin, two halves of the same godhead. Theirs is the duality of the divine – good and evil, creation and design, order and anarchy. Apart, they are powerful. But should they become one………
This is how it turned out:
They meet in an old abandoned office block on the outskirts of Southside, top floor. The lone Identity is clad plainly – shirt, pants, long coat – and is clearly unarmed.
Redhawk asks, “Are you Prime?”
Identity replies, “No,” and lunges forward, grabbing Redhawk by a wrist, “YOU ARE!”
FADE TO WHITE.