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Strike Force Designer Diary Two: Ross Watson Speaks!


Jason S.Walters

In 1989, I found myself admiring an RPG I had never seen before. It was what I like to call “the big blue book.” The title splashed across an awesome George Perez cover art said: Champions. It was the 4th edition of the game, and it captured me like few other games ever had. Little did I know that one of the supplements for this game, published one year earlier, would change the way I played RPGs forever.

 

That supplement was called Strike Force, and it was penned by a man I came to know as a friend and a very talented, creative writer: Aaron Allston. Strike Force was not just a setting book, or an enemies book, or a GM’s book. It was all three, and yet it was also something more than the sum of its parts. Strike Force was the first book that ever taught me what it was like to run a long-term RPG campaign, to seize the superhero tropes and themes and make them fit into the experience of a role-playing game. Strike Force was the first time I was taught that different players want different things out of a gaming experience – common knowledge these days, but a revelation back then.

 

Aaron used Strike Force as a way to introduce people to his world, to his style of gaming, to his very immersive approach to cooperative storytelling. Strike Force told me about engaging players into rich scenes that I had never seen before. I was fascinated by the idea that games like Aaron’s long-running campaign were possible, that people were actually playing this way. Long before the internet, Strike Force introduced me to the idea of a gaming community beyond my hometown, where other people were taking the ideas and techniques of roleplaying and applying them in new and exciting ways.

 

From the genesis of his campaign, to the unexpected challenges that Aaron overcame while running Strike Force, all the way to “top 10 ways to RUIN your campaign,” the advice in this book broadened my young mind. It would be years later that I would learn how to apply many of Aaron’s techniques –foremost amongst them, “blue-booking,”—but when I did, I was able to build an RPG campaign that has lasted ten years so far. To me, that’s the ultimate proof of Aaron’s approach: it works.

 

Just a couple of years ago, in 2014, Aaron Allston told me about an update to Strike Force. A new edition that he was working on. I was incredibly excited about the idea of introducing a new generation to this landmark world and the “Strike Force Method” of running superhero RPGs. Tragically, Aaron died that year… but thanks to Jason Walters and High Rock Press, we have an incredible opportunity to finish what Aaron started. I’m honored to be involved in the new version of Aaron Allston’s Strike Force, and I can’t wait to share this amazing book with all of his fans!

 

-Ross Watson



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