Vulcan Stev's Database

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Gaming in the Universe of… The Watchmen

watchmen_smileyWatchmen as reviewed by the family

I debated long and hard with myself just how I was going to categorize this GitUo article.  I thought about linking back to the Super Hero introduction but Watchmen doesn’t quite fit that category.  Watchmen stands on its own and as such will be treated accordingly.

Watchmen is not a superhero story.  It is in fact a murder mystery set in a universe of costumed adventurers.  I’m not going to reveal the identity of the murderer so as not to spoil the story for those who have not read the novel or seen the movie.  This difficulty in ‘pigeon-holeing’ the story may have kept it out of the mainstream.   Honestly, I think one of the reasons for the massive drop in box office receipts is that the studio tried to market the movie as 2009’s Spider-Man.  Audiences were disappointed that what they got was not what was advertised (but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion entirely).

How would I incorporate The Watchmen into my campaign?  Let’s start with Super Heroes (Necessary Evil, Mutants & Masterminds et all), incorporate the Keene Act into your hero campaign.  Who will honor the law? and who will continue to fight the fight? 

Another option for some one shots would be to play in the actual groups of heroes as very few adventures have been recorded for The Minutemen of the 1940’s.  You could also play The Watchmen pre-Keene Act.  Want your own character? play in the new post-Watchmen Utopia.  Did Ozmandyus really create a Utopia or will he need help to keep it running.

Taking the tropes out for use in your other games, remember Watchmen is at its core a murder mystery.  Start the PCs off with the sudden revelation that one of their former comrades has been murdered and lead them on a wild chase for the clues.  Another thought is that whatever campaign type you’re are running, the PCs suddenly find themselves outlawed.  Do they continue on with the good fight like Rorschach or abide by the law like Nite Owl?  How would your PCs handle a truly horrific event like the murder of the little girl which unhinges Walter Kovacs?

I usually stat out the characters following the article.  However due to the sheer number of characters to stat, Watchmen character stats will be in part 2.

April 20, 2009 - Posted by | Comic Books, Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Other Systems, RPG, Savage Worlds | , , , , ,


  1. I think your ideas kind of miss the point of the Watchmen though: It’s not a super hero movie but rather a critique of the whole super hero comic genre. John Wick has a good youtube video talking about the comic and his hopes for the movie (and then the follow up review reveals his contempt for the movie but that’s another issue) which people might find interesting in understanding what exactly the book was trying to do. The murder mystery (which is no mystery at all in the movie; it’s pretty obvious who the murderer is in the opening scene)is just a means to an end and really isn’t what the book is “about” at all.

    I don’t think the Watchmen universe would be a very interesting one to adventure in because it’s not meant to be open at all – the Keene act is the least of the setting’s problems. Probably the biggest issue is that virtually no one in the book (key here because the movie revved up a lot of them) had any real super-powers, at least the way most games would define them. Thus you don’t need a super-hero game to play characters, nor is one really appropriate, especially if it emphasizes combat. The only exception is Dr. Manhattan. Everyone else is either just hyper-trained or just running around in a funny costume.

    Comment by MJ Harnish | April 20, 2009

  2. […] here: Gaming in the Universe of… The Watchmen « Vulcan Stev’s Database comic-books, connection-ministries, database, gaming, inspiration, ipod, other-systems, […]

    Pingback by Gaming in the Universe of… The Watchmen « Vulcan Stev’s Database | GIT Fourm | April 20, 2009

  3. Watchmen rocks my world. I’m probably revealing far too much about my age when I say I remember getting the original comics as they came out, and raving like a crazed loon that these would redefine the way people looked at comics. 25-ish years on, and that still holds true.

    The Watchmen supplement for DC Heroes is still in my attic someplace. Maybe I ought to dig it out sometime……..

    Comment by greywulf | April 20, 2009

  4. @MJ – Good points all. Most of what you’ve stated was covered in the review of the movie and the subsequent postings in this series. The “GitUo” articles are meant to pull out the tropes for inclusion in whatever campaigns you are running. Not necessarily for gaming in THAT particular universe.

    Thanks for your comments and differences of opinion are always welcome at the DB

    @Greywulf – I’ll admit to picking up the first issue of Watchmen and NOT being impressed with the art. I finally got around to reading the whole thing this January when I picked up the complete book in a graphic novel format. The story was and is amazingly well crafted.

    Comment by Vulcan Stev | April 20, 2009

  5. @Stev It was written in the 1980s, and the artwork is all hand drawn & inked. It’s a far cry from the photoshopped perfection we’re used to now. Back in the day the way it uses colour and manga-style panelling was nothing short of revolutionary. But then, I’m a comic geek who appreciates these things 😀

    Be interesting to see a revised edition of Watchmen with updated artwork, mind……….

    Comment by greywulf | April 20, 2009

  6. @G I was 19 when Watchmen hit the stands at my local comic shop. I was in college and on a budget. I no longer bought EVERYTHING that hit the stands. I thumbed through the first issue and was singularly unimpressed enough to not purchase but then I had a VERY limited budget 😎

    Comment by Vulcan Stev | April 20, 2009

  7. […] one: Tropes from the movie Part two: Doctor Manhattan Part three: The Comedian Part four: Nite […]

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  8. […] one: Tropes from the movie Part two: Doctor Manhattan Part three: The Comedian Part four: Nite Owl Part five: Silk […]

    Pingback by Gaming in the Universe of… The Watchmen Part 6: Ozmandyus « Vulcan Stev’s Database | April 30, 2009

  9. […] one: Tropes from the movie Part two: Doctor Manhattan Part three: The Comedian Part four: Nite Owl Part five: Silk Spectre […]

    Pingback by Gaming in the Universe of… The Watchmen Part 7: Rorshach « Vulcan Stev’s Database | May 1, 2009

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