Monday, January 4, 2010

The Art of Brevity

"The Fluttering Horde" is the collective name of the group of butterfly-winged henchmen that serve The Monarch, a criminal mastermind from Adult Swim's The Venture Brothers (a guilty pleasure of mine). Imagine a bunch of out-of-shape, physically awkward minions clad in orange-and-black jumpsuits; then stick a large pair of butterfly wings on their backs, in keeping with the Monarch's lepidopteran theme. (Monarch as in butterfly; get it?) The ranks dwindled after the Monarch did a stint in prison, so when he busted out, the two remaining loyal minions had to beef up the ranks. They decided to put together a commercial.

Their success was limited, but my friend Rich and I were inspired. We didn't "hench up" ourselves, but what we came up with was "The Henchmen Campaign". The idea was a campaign that anyone in our group could run. The players would be temps working for an organization called "The Henching Hand". They would work for supervillains who, for one reason or another (usually because of a high mortality rate), didn't have henchmen of their own. Rich did a brilliant job of actually coming up with the details of the organization. He even produced six-page contracts for all of us to sign; actually, it says THIS INDENTURE WITNESSETH in a 36-point black-letter gothic font on the front page. The provision for "Vacation" is checked out; under "Disability", the contract notes:

In the event that the Employee cannot perform the duties because of illness, incapacity, Death, Dismemberment, Disintegration, Dissolution for a period of more than two (2) weeks, the compensation othyerwise due during said illness or incapacity will be reduced by ninety percent (90%). The Employee's full compensation will be reinstated upon return to work.

As I was saying in my last post, I asked for my gaming group's input on some ideas for an RPG campaign. For a long time I had been putting together notes for a Mazes and Minotaurs-style setting in ancient Greece. One of my other suggestions involved a space opera setting starring Galactic Overlord-cum-Drama Critic Torgon the Eviscerator. Somehow, it didn't gel for me yet; yeah, it was kinda funny to have Torgon's rocket ships going up against heroes on griffin-back, but in my mind the player characters would be the Greek heroes. I posted several lengthy documents about playing characters in ancient Greece on our Yahoogroups site (which we basically use for communication, not playing games) and got to work on preparing to run the campaign. However, something was not working for me, and it bugged me.

I first remember reading books on Greek myth in the third grade, and I've been reading them ever snceI had maps, descriptions of places (drawn from the legendary ICE/Hero Games publication Mythic Greece, I had several other games set in the time period GURPS Greece, New Argonauts, etc.). My friends all love (well, like) (OK, tolerate) the schlocky Hercules movies from the 50s and 60s. I should have been able to put together a huge, epic campaign, based on the dozens of pages of notes and my extensive library.

On the way to our next gaming night, chatting with my friends Rich and Angela brought me around: why not make it a Henchman game? Blammo! Playing Torgon's henchman fighting against Greek heroes on griffin-back is, inexplicably, a lot cooler than the reverse. This way, I can give them rocket packs... which they probably don't know how to use.

Later on, Angela commented, "So I won't be needing all that stuff you've been spamming me with?"

I guess I still need to master the art of brevity.


Swompy said...

Lies, deceits, and half-truths! Except for all of that stuff that was true.

Brelas said...


Chris Creel said...

I have simular contract in the one Encounter Critical adventure I have written. I hope to post the adventure to the EC group in the near future. Likewise, The Venture Brothers are great! We have all their DVDs on our entertainment treasure shelves.