Sunday, February 3, 2019

Mining the Titans: S01E01 "Titans"

"Mining the Titans" is a series of blog posts about using elements of the TV show Titans for your superheroic RPG campaigns.

The TV show is definitely a grittier rebooted version of the comic book The New Teen Titans. There are elements familiar to fans of that original comic book: some of the original cast (Robin, Raven, Starfire, and Changeling), the Trigon / Raven conundrum as the primary reason for the team's formation, hints about an older team (Wonder Girl, Hawk & Dove), etc.

Introduction of Characters

It's interesting to see this as a super-heroic team forming with a variety of backgrounds:
  • Dick Grayson (Robin) as the experienced PC, clearly with a long backstory that is referenced and drip-fed throughout the series along with Dick Grayson's subplot of trying to define his identity apart from Bruce Wayne / Batman.
  • Rachel Roth (Raven) as a newly minted PC with a traumatic origin story that also serves as the catalyst for the team getting together.
  • Kory Anders (Starfire) as another new PC, with the "amnesia that will slowly fade" schtick serving as the hook to allow the gradual reveal of her backstory, abilities, and skills slowly reveal themselves.
  • Gar Logan (Beast Boy / Changeling) as, perhaps, an NPC hero turned PC for the purposes of this new campaign.
An interesting choice: giving almost everyone (Gar's character isn't given almost any screentime in this episode) a reason NOT to go to the authorities.
  • Robin's secret ID and vigilante status are self-explanatory.
  • Rachel seems to be the target of several people (one highly motivated 'killer for the greater good', and an apparently very large organization with members in soup kitchens and the police) who want to killer her, or use her for whatever nefarious purposes they may hide in their dark hearts.
  • Kory is hunted by an apparent organized crime group that is also interested in Rachel.
These pressures will force them together as a team, even as their personality clashes and goals might force them apart. These forces would also allow the GM to define and reveal the hostile, neutral, and safe spaces of the world for the individual and the team in a very organic way. In classic reboot style, many references (meta-hints for the players, not the PCs) are generously spread throughout the unfolding of the storyline.

Combat and Use of Powers

The show is more violent than cartoons: Robin's combat scenes aren't about efficiently taking out criminals -- it shows this universe's view of the vigilante using the fear of violence against criminals (short of killing them, we assume). The manifestations of both Raven's and Starfire's powers are lethal to their targets -- again, almost as if Robin's player was an experienced gamer (a more extended combat scene), while the others are beginners (not quite combat, more of an introduction on how their powers can be used in combat).

This can be an approach GMs use as well -- giving all players a chance to strut their stuff, but with the experienced ones getting a bit more challenge in tactics.

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That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.