The Stories of Sentinel Comics!
Greetings, friends, family, and fans!
Today, I’m excited to talk to you about Sentinel Comics: the Roleplaying Game, as per usual. However! Today, I’m much more interested in the story of SCRPG than any of the products. I want to talk a bit about the “canon” of Sentinel Comics, but more in terms of how it relates to the players and the GMs of the game. I also want to talk about how we share that canon on our podcast, and then talk a bit about sharing your own stories. And then I have some more videos to share! So, time to get to those brass tacks!
Sentinel Comics “Canon”
So, yes, there is a proper “canon” of Sentinel Comics, created by myself and Sentinels artist Adam Rebottaro and originally established by the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game. However, when playing our games, from the card game to the RPG to other things that we’re working on (insert ominous pause here), the canon of the game is what you’re playing at your table. Feel free to use published materials and the Sentinel Comics wiki for inspiration and direction, but if you want to tweak something or even fly entirely in the face of what we’ve released, go for it. This is your game - your Sentinel Comics canon might not line up with anyone else’s, but it’s yours, and that makes it correct.
I want to share with you an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the SCRPG Core Rulebook. (This section hasn’t gone through final editing yet, so don’t be surprised if this text changes a bit between now and release). Here’s where we get into the essence of playing the game:
In this section, we provide you with the guiding principles upon which Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game was built. Keeping these principles in mind helps you focus the game to its strengths and bring out what it was designed to do: help you and your players create exciting, dramatic, and memorable superheroic stories.
Your Game, Your World
There have been other games set in the world of Sentinel Comics, and other ways to get to know the heroes, villains, and adventures set there. By default, the world of Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game is set after the events of the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game and the OblivAeon event. The world has survived its biggest upheaval yet and many things have changed.
Apply as much or as little of this lore as you like to your game. Everything that happens from this point, forward in time and back into the past, is for you and your group to decide. You don’t have to take canon at face value and you are free to change anything to fit the desires of your play group (including yours) and the themes you’ve chosen.
The world of Sentinel Comics is your playground now, make it what you want!
Silver Age Tone
By default, the feeling of Sentinels Comics lies close to that of Silver Age comics of the 70s and 80s. Silver Age comics are marked by things like:
- Larger than life villains executing harebrained but evil schemes while spouting dialogue that’s dramatic and cheesy at the same time
- Heroes who perform amazing physical feats while delivering the perfect one-liner
- Madcap action where reactors go into meltdown because of dramatic timing rather than physics, where rocket-powered dinosaurs fly out to attack while heroes are already trying to save tourists from an imminent tidal wave, where the giant cargo ships are on a collision course because of course they are.
It comes down to the game’s tone, the emotional space it occupies. While Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game can handle a wide variety of tones, it works best closer to the light-hearted end of the spectrum. Yes, things go wrong and can have dire consequences, the world is also deeply steeped in the heroic tropes of action stories. The heroes’ injuries heal quickly and without long-term consequences. Villains are captured or flee when they are beaten. Heroes like Guise and villains like Baron Blade are over-the-top in the best comic book ways.
Think Like Comic Creators
A useful metaphor to explain the roles of players and the GM is that of a comics book design team. Together, all the people at the table are the writers, artists, and inkers working together to get the next issue out. In that metaphor, the GM is like an editor: part of the team and sharing the responsibility of getting the issue out. The GM is also responsible for pushing the team in the right direction, making creative calls and maintaining the team’s focus on the task.
Sharing the Creative Space
A spirit of cooperation among everyone around the table makes for the most enjoyable games of Sentinel Comics. While the GM is in charge of describing the world and the characters that populate it and the players are responsible for describing what their heroes do in it, this distinction is an intentionally blurry one.
Everyone from player to GM should consult and collaborate with each other frequently for descriptions and scene framing. Whenever the GM or a player is at a loss for finding the right word about what a given gadget does, or what a given action looks like, let others chime in. Work as a team to describe the action and the drama as though they were panels in a comic book.
The same principle applies when the GM frames a scene. While they may have their own notes or use a published issue, they also ask their players questions about the surroundings and what bystanders or other environmental elements are milling around so that everyone can share a detailed image of the setting before diving into the action.
SCRPG GMs ask open-ended questions that require players to come up with details about their surroundings, thoughts, motivations and plans, seeking to foster a feeling of trust and cooperation so that everyone around the table feels excited to contribute.
Some examples of questions and follow-ups GMs can ask include:
- Is there anyone your hero knows among the bystanders in this scene? What are they named? Why are they here? How do you know them?
- How does that twist make your hero feel? How differently will your hero act because of it?
- How cool is your hero with what your teammate just did? What do you wish to tell her right now? How do you plan to react to what happened?
This excerpt from Chapter 1 speaks to both the nature of the Sentinel Comics canon and the collaborative story-telling methods of the game. Players and GMs alike are creators in this context. Just get in there and have fun with it!
The Letters Page
Just yesterday, we released the 100th episode of our Sentinel Comics podcast: The Letters Page! That episode is all about the stories we’ve received of players and GMs going through the SCRPG Starter Kit. So, if you want a feel for the type of stories that are already coming out of this roleplaying game, go have a listen!
Hero Character Sheet and more info on Hero Creation
We’ve talked a bit above but also in last week’s updates about GMs creating scenes, environments, minions, villains, and more, and players making their own heroes to tell their own stories. In response, we’ve gotten a lot of requests for hero character sheets, so we’ve crafted a form-fillable one for download on the Greater Than Game website! Here’s the hero sheet! We’ll have even more downloads as we get closer to the release of the game, but this is at least a start!
Trevor’s fantastic hero creation process video is ready, as well! Check it out!
More Overview Videos
On Monday, I shared the first of the SCRPG Overview videos that Trevor, Adam, and I created. The first one had a couple errors, so we’ve reuploaded it. Here’s that first one, again.
Additionally, we’ve got the second video now! Even more information on the world of Sentinel Comics!
Look forward to the third of these videos in Friday’s update!
Looking to the Future to learn about the Past
Speaking of Friday’s update, two days from now I’ll be here talking about the History of Sentinel Comics book! I’m eager to share more exciting details on that, plus, this Friday will be the one week left in the campaign mark, so that’s also thrilling!
Keep up the heroics!