Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Strike Force Designer Diary Four: Michael Surbrook, More Than Meets The Eye

Jason S.Walters

Aaron was a very prolific game designer. He produced material for a number of game systems, including Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, GURPS, and Champions. In fact, he produced some of the first supplements for Champions, such as Organization Book 1—The Circle and M.E.T.E. and Organization Book 3—The Blood and Dr McQuark. He also wrote such influential HERO System books as Lands of Mystery, Mythic Greece, and Ninja Hero.


I think what surprised me the most, was to discover that a great deal of what Aaron wrote, be it for Hero Games or Steve Jackson Games, was all part of a greater whole. Just about everything Aaron wrote—that was superhero related—was part of the Strike Force universe.


“Microfilm Madness” (found in an issue of Space Gamer)? An adventure the teenaged superhero group Avant Guard went on (as was the GURPS Supers adventure, School of Hard Knocks).


The Circle? Just the latest incarnation of a long-running mystic superhero group.


M.E.T.E.? An important part of Earth-alien relations (and home to a few PCs).


The Blood? Only one of the most influential factions in Aaron’s universe. They were responsible in whole (or in part) for the origins for a number of PCs, including Phosphene, leader of Strike Force and the PC with the most game session appearances.


Not only did Aaron mine his setting for sourcebooks, he even ran entire campaigns based around ideas he wanted to write or was asked to write. The Pulp-era lost world of Zorandar became Lands of Mystery, before writing Mythic Greece, he created his Age of Heroes campaign (and ran it for 176 episodes!), and not only ran 70 sessions of his Ninja Hero campaign, but made Yooso one of the supervillain teams of Earth-AU and ran Strike Force through the Super-Boxers adventure included in the book.


The material presented in the various sourcebooks, while complete enough, only scratches the surface of what went on. While the members of the Circle were all NPCs, the Circle wasn’t a stagnant group. They grew, evolved, and were even destroyed, eventually reforming into a new version of the Circle. M.E.T.E. evolved as well, growing larger as in game events showed a need for a competent source of alien study. For example, Orrad married Marie Dumont. Oh, and The Mighty Pinchus? He’s a Player Character, one of a number to appear in Aaron’s game development (as noted, Phosphene is another).


And speaking of the Blood, I found it every interesting how much more complex their history is—The Blood and Dr McQuark doesn’t really do them justice. For example, the Affrighter, one of my favorite Blood characters, isn’t what he seems. There are actually two of him. The one who appears in Organization Book 3 (who also appeared in Aaron’s games) and the other one. The real one. And no, I’m not going to explain that, you’ll just have to hope the revised Blood stretch goal is funded!


Oh, and how was the Circle destroyed? Due to the events of the Super Boxers adventure. And speaking of Ninja Hero, supervillain team Yooso also changed over the years. Strike Force managed to “poach” a number of members, and even fought to defend Iron Ronin from the rest of Yooso. Oh, and Kami became a member of Strike Force.


About the only thing Aaron wrote that was Hero System related that didn’t appear in the Strike Force universe was his Age of Heroes game. It was one of the few things he ran that had no connection to the large Strike Force campaign and Earth-AU (Allston Universe).

Sign in to follow this  

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...