10 minutes ago
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Livin' on Marvel Time
Gary Gygax said: “You can not have a meaningful campaign if strict time records are not kept.”
I wonder if that applies to superhero games, too? If so, its a bit difficult to find that strict time-keeping in the source material--at least at Marvel and DC. Both companies long ago adopted de facto “sliding timelines,” and have since enshrined them in company policy, more or less.
For the uninitiated, in the Marvel Universe, this means that the current “heroic era" never gets more than about 10-15 (depending on who you ask) years-old. The Fantastic Four originally got their powers in the sixties. In the Lost Generation limited series in 2000, that event seems to have occurred in the late eighties-early nineties; now, it probably happened around 2000.
Now, the number of events between the beginning of the current age and the ever-advancing now keeps increasing, though the distance between those two points remains constant. Eventually, there'll be a major crossover everyday of Peter Parker’s life since he was 16.
It was not always thus. As George Olshevsky’s Marvel indices show, early Marvel, seemed to follow “real time”, more or less. The reason comics abandon it, like most serial media, was presumably to have evergreen brands.
I’ve run a Mutants & Masterminds campaign based on that premise in the past, constructing a timeline from Olshevsky’s work, and my own collection of date references from comics. I could have saved myself some work, had I discovered the The Wastebasket blog and Tony’s chronology work on what he calls The Original Marvel Universe. Though my conclusions sometimes differ from Tony’s, the detail and analysis he puts into the OMU is great.
I suspect if I ever run that campaign or a similar one again, I’ll find the OMU indisplensible.