From campaigns past: The County Men
Our long-running superhero campaign has trod a long and twisting path. The whole campaign began in a faux-Marvel Universe where the events of the Secret Wars took place, but the heroes (and villains) never returned, leaving a void that our superheroes came to fill.
Oh, and when I say long-running, I mean long-running. This campaign kicked off while the Secret Wars was still being published back in 1984 so we were gaming events set after a story arc that hadn’t even ended. And it’s still going strong!
Anyhow. One of those long and winding journeys journeys took us back to events at the tail-end of World War II where each nation strove to duplicate US successes with the Super-Soldier serum. Every nation wanted a Captain America – in fact, they needed an battalion of them to replace the countless losses they had faced on the battlefield. If one man could possess the power of ten, whoever had a multitude of them might yet win the war.
In the UK, they succeeded.
The nation’s first Super-Soldier was designated Captain London. Eager to boast of their achievement and prove this was no one-off accident, the government called for one man from each county to step forward and accept the call of the superhero. While the serum worked, it affected each volunteer differently. It was apparently influenced by the hero’s psyche as much as by their physical health.
The result was almost 50 paranormals, from the time-manipulating Captain London himself to the craggy rock-creature Captain Yorkshire. I forget many of the powers we gave these guys, but remember Captain Wales (who could turn into a dragon) and tiny Captain Rutland (our own version of the Mighty Atom). Captain Kent managed to fool the examiners and was actually a woman (unthinkable!) who could control the sea. Captain Norfolk could fly and project force-fields, etc.
Each volunteer was psychologically screened to ensure that they were made of “the right stuff”. Except one.
The first. Captain London.
It was only after his creation that the scientists discovered the link between the superpowers and the psyche. He slipped through the net, with predictable results. He became this mini-campaign’s key villain, and a crazy fractured egomaniac with time-manipulation powers is something not to be sniffed at.
The problem (for the heroes) was that Captain London was also a figurehead, a prominent hero both at the front and at home. To bring him down would be akin to bringing down the establishment itself. Allegory in role-playing? I love it.
I remember running a session every day for almost three weeks during one hot summer holiday. We gamed in the open air, in a field, and it still counts as among the best three weeks of gaming I’ve ever had. The players each ran several different heroes as they were generated (we were using Golden Heroes at the time) and they came against everything from fighter planes to Nazi (and Communist) spies. They fought German Super-Soldiers and the gothic golem creations of an evil industrialist (whose name I’ve long forgotten).
But it was the final battle against Captain London I remember the best. Among the air-raid rubble of the City’s streets they fought. After each hit, Captain London wound back time, reversing the damage then speeding it up to land multiple blows back in return. It was a stalemate of epic proportions.
Until Captain Norfolk threw a force field around him, aiming to suffocate him to unconsciousness.
In return, Captain London stopped time. I figure he would freeze time to prolong his air supply. Previously when he’s done this, everyone freezes and he is able to move as normal (effectively, he’s granted Super-Speed).
Not this time though. Inside the force field bubble, the effect rebounded and he froze himself. The contents of the force-field bubble were trapped in a frozen moment in time, a prison of his own making.
The heroes took the bubble to a secure undisclosed location where the force field bubble was buried. Captain London was reported missing in action, the War ended and time (for everyone else, at least) moved on.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I think it’s “time” to bring Captain London back.