Saturday, November 10, 2007

Superhero Team Names

It's funny how when a new superhero roleplaying game campaign begins, so much attention is paid to the name of the team.

I once sat in a living room during the first night of a campaign, and we never even got to that phase. The gamemaster had set up the common origins of the player-characters as gaining their powers as the result of being saved by the computer of a crashing spaceship. We spent two hours in the scenario trying to persuade the computer (also known as the gamemaster himself) to save us in a way that would also grant us powers. No matter what we did or said, the guy who created the scenario would not let the origin that he created happen. Finally, after two hours, the GM was satisified and I was mad. Talk about a waste of time. That was a game to which I did not return. Like Bill Cosby once said, I told you that story so I could tell you this one.

At least there was roleplaying involved in the scenario I just described. What generally follows the introductory story can be even more painful. When the heroes are finally together and unite to fight crime, they need a name under which to operate. Here's where the fun begins. We have the Justice Society, the Justice League, the Justice Machine, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers (on many coasts), the Defenders, the Teen Titans, the Champions, the New Warriors, the Guardians, the Ultimates, the X-Men, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Honor Guard, the All-Star Squadron, Squadron Supreme, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Outsiders, Alpha Flight, Generation X, the Next Men, the Southern Knights, Gen13, the Doom Patrol, Wild CATS, Excalibur, the Exiles, the Freedom Fighters, Freedom Force, Stormwatch, the Authority, the Eternals, the Liberty Squad, the Liberty Legion, the Protectors, the Inhumans, the Elementals, the Atomic Knights, the Seven Soldiers of Victory, Infinity Inc., the Challengers of the Unknown, X-Force, Force Works, Checkmate, the Manhunters, Strikeforce Morituri, Team 7, the Darkstars, Heroes for Hire, the Thunderbolts, Power Pack, Youngblood, the Tribe, and the Rising Stars. Those are just the published superhero team names I could come up with off the top of my head. There are probably dozens if not a hundred more! I once spent hours with a group just trying to figure out a group name.

So what to call your team? I was lucky when I joined the Aegis campaign because they already had the team name and the infrastructure established. When I started my own campaign, we struggled for a little while, but since the team consisted of the first superbeings in the world, they called themselves the Genesis Foundation. I learned after a few experiences like that to have a team name already in mind when they get started.

In one Champions campaign I ran, the team were recipients of a clockmaker in semi-fictional Crescent City, and they were called Nightwatch. In the last Champions campaign I ran, I knew it was going to be set in Chicago, and I had a common origin story set up for the team. At the climax of the story, the player characters would join hands under a collapsing roof, only to discover that they had created an impenetrable force field that saved them. They would call themselves the Untouchables.

Now I'm thinking ahead to the Mutants & Masterminds campaign we are about to begin. I wonder how long it will take us to come up with a team name? We are going to be based in post-Katrina, post extradimensional invasion New Orleans. Any suggestions?



1 comment:

Martin said...

Jim, my suggestion for the campaign group in post-Katrina, etc. - the Survivors!

Yeah, naming groups in games can be fun. In my golden age game I played in, we ended up with "the Sentinels of Justice". In one campaign I GMed set in Baltimore, the group went with "Rough Justice" as the team consisted of a vampire, a guy with battle-blade weapons and a mute martial artist. In another game I GMed, the group consisted of folks mostly from other worlds/dimensions who arrived on my gameworld Earth and became heroes - they went with "the Outlanders".

Group names can be a challenge but they really need to support the overall campaign.