It’s one thing to hear a campaign has been run for twenty years; it’s another thing to see it. When I first received the files for Aaron Allston’s Strike Force campaign, I was astounded. I had been given a 600 MB zip file, which eventually unpacked itself into 872 MB and over 5,800 items. And once everything had been unpacked, I started to poke through this extensive collection of files….
And what did I find?
First, many of Aaron’s contributions to the HERO System APA Rogues Gallery. This was of immense importance to me, as many of these articles were about Aaron’s Strike Force setting and the characters he’d created for it.
Second, the collected Chronicles for Aaron’s gaming group. This included not only the Strike Force campaign, but also Aaron’s Zorandar campaign (seen in Lands of Mystery), his martial arts campaign (created for his work on Ninja Hero), his Age of Heroes campaign (created for his Mythic Greece sourcebook), and many more (including campaigns created and run by some of his Strike Force players).
Third, the original 1988 Strike Force manuscript. Also highly useful, as it contained a great deal of material I would need for the 2016 version of Strike Force.
Fourth, Numerous folders and files detailing various elements of the Strike Force universe. This included 72 files Aaron had created for his proposed series of Strike Force supplements, not to mention a directory containing another 103 directories, each of which contained anyone from 1 to 72 character sheets!
Probably the most important find was the collected Chronicles itself. There were two, dated 1999 and 2001, with the first one an incredible 2,659 pages in length, while the second one was a whopping 3,290 pages. And it was my job to read all of this.
Well, not really. Most of that 3,000+ pages was devoted to other campaigns, or house rules, or martial arts notes, or other subjects I didn’t need at this time. What I really wanted to look at was the collected Strike Force play sessions. Aaron was a meticulous note taker, and each session of any game he ran was eventually typed up and saved, allowing me to read what happened in every play session he ran, be it for Strike Force, or Zorandar, or Twilight Falls, or… well… you get the idea. And he ran a lot of sessions. For example, The Empire Club ran for 48 sessions, Zorandar also ran for 48 sessions, Twilight Falls for 122 (or so), and Strike Force ran for at least 260 sessions.
This last item, all 797 pages of it, was pure gold. It covered every play sessions of Strike Force, from their first game (run August 21, 1981) to session 251 (run December 02, 2000). In it I found Strike Force’s first encounters with Overlord; Phosphene’s initial discovery of his Blood relatives (such as the Affrighter); the events leading up to, occurring during, and after World War III; the fight to save Earth-Kaiser; the invasion of the planet Valhalla; encounters with extra-dimensional monsters; and fights with innumerable supervillains.
I thought I could read all of this in a week or so… but I was very, very wrong. I ended up spending around a month reading through the Chronicles, taking extensive notes on Strike Force’s history, as well as noting down what each of the files contained so I could easily reference them later.
And once I was done reading, it was time to write….