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Gods & Monsters news and old-school gaming notes.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Villains, Rogues, and (Super) Heroes from 1992

Jerry Stratton, January 30, 2012

As the number of manually-managed areas of my web site dwindle, I am more and more driven to move the remaining pages into my Django CMS. Two pieces of low-hanging fruit were the only two Men & Supermen adventures I’ve ever had more than rough notes for. A Taste of Jasmine and The Snowman are little more than rough notes themselves, but at least they were electronic rough notes, easily imported into Nisus.

Besides putting these into the database where they’re more easily managed, I need to move everything remotely interesting out of Word and into RTF, because once I upgrade to Lion I won’t be able to use Word any more.

The importance of using relatively open formats is underlined by another Men & Supermen supplement I just added to the M&S web site: while looking around for the map originals for A Taste of Jasmine, I discovered an early Word version of the Brand X Rogues Gallery. I’m pretty certain that this Rogues Gallery is not the most recent version. I ran across it in a folder that was specifically labeled as for outdated documents. However, the most recent version is a HyperCard stack. In the late eighties/early nineties I put a lot of supplements for M&S into HyperCard, because it was cool and useful. But it was also a very opaque format, and none of it is accessible now. That’s why all of the M&S starter kit PDFs are available only as PDFs and not source files: the source files are unreadable.

I chose not to upload an HTML version of the Rogues Gallery, because it doesn’t use tables for the character sheets: it uses tabs and even spaces, which means it won’t convert easily to HTML, which ignores tabs and spaces. Well, it is from before 1992. Note that this also means that the character stats may not match the current version of Men & Supermen. If I still understood the current rules I’d check.

But I don’t.

It’s an interesting artifact from the period when I was just beginning to realize that there was a distribution mechanism forming on this “Internet” thing.

It has forty-three characters for Men & Supermen, including some odd choices for names like “Richard Lester” for one of the Jasmine Oil flunkies. I loved Superman II, so I have no idea why I named some low-level villainous flunky after the semi-director.1 There are a lot of Jasmine Oil employees here. Including the aptly-named Arthur Hell, the Sun-Ruler, who lights himself on fire. It’s also obviously missing some characters, as I refer to a villain named “Spiderius” in the Untouchable’s background. The Untouchable’s background was partially inspired by, judging from the quote, the 80’s band David & David, whose album boomtown I had on cassette for a long time until it died.2

The Gallery also includes the villains from The Snowman. Nightshade’s real name rivals Arthur Hell’s: Maximillian Stygus.

And, there’s Oscar Goldman’s3 nephew, a private investigator with the power to make photocopies of what he sees. Probably a more impressive power twenty years ago than it would be now when everyone carries a camera. He probably gets drunk, all alone in the big city, if he’s still alive today.

  1. I was completely unaware of the controversy over Richard Lester replacing Richard Donner on the movie at that time.

  2. I was able to replace it on vinyl in 2001.

  3. I used Oscar Goldman several times in our early games, including putting a giant OSI research facility underneath Barton Hall at Cornell. Frankly, Oscar Goldman and Rudy Wells were both cooler characters than Steve Austin.

  1. <- Judges Guild history book
  2. Media Monday/Photo Friday ->