Thursday, April 26, 2012

Flashback: F.R.E.E.Lancers as a Campaign Frame

One of my favorite 'setting' books / sourcebooks was one that I never used in its native ruleset.

It was the FREELancers sourcebook for the RPG Top Secret / S.I. While I wasn't that taken with all the characters' abilities, I was fascinated by the dynamics of the team -- it reminded me of the X-men and the New Teen Titans with all its potential for drama and camaraderie.

In particular, I liked the corporate structure of the F.R.E.E.Lancers as a security / special operations / paramilitary organization with specialized talents and skills. I particularly liked the rules on compensation, and the character of operations. I took it almost verbatim and stuck it into one of my local Champions campaigns as a local franchise of the global organization.

There's something nice about having ready NPCs that are interesting to bounce the characters off, and having a ready corporate structure (and Titan Teams to help rescue players when they occasionally get really close to dying) that tries to straddle the line between helping people and paying the rent.

I also patterned my campaign after a little known DC comic series known as The Power Company -- another corporation that was essentially metahumans for hire, with the various members treated like 'partners' or associates in a law firm.

It was an interesting mix of personalities as well: an authentic superheroic-leaning field leader who joined primarily so she could pay for the upkeep of her powered armor suit (not everyone is Tony Stark), a very mercenary independent-minded Paul Kirk clone, a really strong guy, a spell-casting celebrity, a stuntman, and a mysterious blue-skinned member, plus Josiah Power -- their boss and owner of the company.

I like how their motivations and priorities rubbed off on one another, and -- in true superteam fashion -- how their backstories and life choices end up affecting everyone else in the team. It's too bad it didn't prosper in the Image era, even with Busiek writing and Grummett / Grawbadger on art duties.

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