Iconic Heroes ~ Part 4

Now that a theme has been chosen, and some of the character design issues have been worked out, I think it is time to consider possible settings. My last few modern games have been set in stylized versions of real cities in various parts of the world (Chicago, San Francisco, and London) or in similar places of my own design…. Everyone needs their own Arkham.

It occurred to me last night as I thought about possible locations, that I have not run a game set in a city in which I was actually living for something like 14 or 15 years. I have planned a few different approaches to a Kindred of the East chronicle, based in and around places I have lived in and traveled to since moving to Korea, but it has yet to escape from the hellish prison of my imagination into the wilderness of actual play. With all that in mind, the city of Seoul, my home for the past 10 years, seems like it might be a good place to base a game of this sort.

What Seoul has to offer:

Seoul is huge, fast-moving, never really sleeps, and has all sorts of temptations for both locals and foreign visitors. For people like expat characters in this game might be, these temptations range from the pursuit of riches and fame via various legal or illegal means, the saving of those in peril – either physical or emotional, or the desire to meddle with the culture, politics, and/or business practices of the nation. If we are to accept the arrogance and manipulative natures of characters like Linderman, and Mrs. Petrelli in the series – in their home country – we must be prepared to accept an even stronger desire to ‘fix things’ from empowered know-it-alls living in a foreign land. I shudder to think on it, but it is fertile ground for all sorts of interesting gaming.

For local denizens suddenly granted strange abilities, there are a host of other avenues to explore as well, primarily based in Korea’s version of Confucian culture. The twin desires to hide and revel in one’s newfound ability would be a tremendous psychological struggle. Certain powers, such as those evidenced by Matt Parkman, Mr. Linderman, Meredith Gordon, and DL Hawkins, could be parlayed into incredible social or religious power, allowing their possessor to rake in riches running a clinic, or simply start a cult (either religious, or based on some other form of philosophy or physical practice). Meredith Gordon could certainly put a new spin on Hot Yoga…

Seoul is also a mere 40km from the DMZ, and only 192km from Pyongyang. While those of us who live here treat the daily threat of death from the blackguard to the North with a certain amount of disdain and a large degree of complacent neglect, this might not be true of someone who woke up one day and discovered that they had  an ability beyond the ken of ordinary folk. Imagine having Claude Rains’ power of invisibility, what might they do to upset or restore the precarious balance between North and South if they chose?

If the characters are expats, other variables like racism, social exclusion or advantage, the threat of deportation and exposure, the grey uncertainty of international law, and vague threats of rogue nations and their notions of what constitutes a threat to their way of life can be added to the mix for an even wider range of stories.

Bringing characters together can also be facilitated, either as locals or as imports by virtue of the additional weight the common bond of having an ability would have in this environment. As the series is rampant with coincidence, and characters being pulled toward the same locations and events before being set loose to act, introductions are easy.

On the surface, Seoul seems like a very good location in which to base this game.


Read the Previous Instalment: Iconic Heroes ~ Part 3

Continue to the Next~  Iconic Heroes ~ Part 5

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