Over the last few years I’ve run a handful of different games set in the Batman (and often expanding into the larger DC) universe. I’ve enjoyed it because I’m a big Batman fan and I love playing games in an established worlds. Whenever I’ve sat down to tackle these games though I always have a few things I want to address early on. While it’s fun to play in a world we’re already familiar with it can’t be overshadowed by the existing narrative. That means I need to discuss Batman and how the player’s stories aren’t just as important, but are more important, than the iconic characters.
To that end, I’ve had a dozen or so different ideas and approaches. I’ve explored three of these ideas but wanted to flesh out and offer up a few of the other concepts that were left on the cutting room floor. While it’s the unfinished ideas that I want to talk about today I think we should start with the three concepts I’ve executed.
Gotham Nights: Batman is Dead
This premise formed the basis of the Gotham Nights game I ran for around a year; Batman is dead and gone. The idea was that Bane killed him and has been in control of Gotham’s underworld for the past year. I had also killed a most of the Justice League but the Bat Family was still around. The players got to rub shoulders (or butt heads) with everyone from Nightwing to Huntress. It was a good way of keeping a lot of iconic Bat characters around without being caught in the shadow of Batman.
Gotham Days: 50 Years After Batman
Gotham Nights wrapped up shortly after the events of the No Man’s Land series with the players laying down their masks and retiring from the vigilante life, mostly. The next game, Gotham Days was set fifty years after those events. Before you start thinking it was Batman Beyond let me tell you now that it wasn’t futuristic at all. My vision for Gotham was a timeless city, one that is always “modern day” regardless of when it actually is. Setting the game a considerable amount of time into Gotham’s future meant that all the old Bat Family was dead or dying. The city remembered Batman but was ripe for a new group of heroes… and villains.
Gotham Reborn: The Entire Bat Family is Dead
When I sat down to start Gotham Reborn, a revisiting of my two previous outings into Gotham City, I decided to expand the scope of the deathtoll from the start. Batman was dead, but so were Batman, Huntress, Nightwing, Oracle, Red Robin, and anyone else related to Batman. Other characters, like Batwoman and Red Hood, simply never existed in the first place. This totally cleared the playing field for the players. After awhile I started to run into issues with not having iconic heroic characters around and justified Nightwing and Oracle’s survival. In retrospect, I don’t like this setup and prefer the one I used in Gotham Nights far more.
Gotham Asylum: Arkham Staff
One of the prebuilt settings on Storium is a Medical Drama. After playing for a bit the idea of a medical drama set in Gotham City appeared in my brainpan and I thought it might be fun to explore Gotham from the view of more mundane characters. The story was going very well before I had to step away because of other obligations, but I hope my players are still around when I can carve out the hours I need to dedicate to that level of Storium writing.
Gotham Year One: Never a Batman
An idea I toyed with but never fleshed out was to have all the Waynes killed on that fateful night. It’s been five years and Gotham’s become a total shithole. A group of friends get together and pull on masks to start protecting their city, the job the Batman would never fill. There are no costumed vigilantes or villains yet, but all the personas are in place to start appearing. The idea is to explore how different, or similar, the well-known characters of Gotham would be if Batman had never existed.
Gotham Burns: Villains for Gotham Day’s Characters
This was an idea designed to pick up after Gotham Days and features the players playing villains for their former characters. The idea only really works if there was a story taking place in Gotham where the players were Vigilantes already. Of course, it could spin into…
Gotham Burning: Villains for Batman
Expanding the idea of playing villains I toyed with the idea of a game set during the Year One of Batman with the players taking the role of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. It’s basically Gotham Burns but for Batman and possibly the Bat Family.
Gotham Crisis: Gotham Throughout Time
The final chapter of my four series game that started with Gotham Nights, the idea for Gotham Crisis was that characters from the last three games need to come together and stop an event in Gotham’s past to save its future. Basically, the Flash shows up and drags various characters from the previous games through time. I figured that doing a Crisis would be the best way to wrap up the lot of games.
Gotham Point: Set in the Flashpoint Universe
After getting into the Flashpoint comics I fell in love with their Gotham City. The idea of running a game where Thomas Wayne is Batman really appealed to me. Since there wasn’t a lot of Gotham established there was a lot of room to explore and play with in this sandbox.
Gotham County: Batman\Lovecraft
A more recent idea, after seeing True Detective, was to explore a story similar to the one on True Detective but in Gotham City. In the past I’d always tried to avoid magic but the idea of doing something more subtle but malevolent has been really appealing to me. I’m not totally sure how I’d pull this off, but it’s an idea that merits exploration in my mind.