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Game Idea: Astonishing X-Factor

Do they publish enough X-Men books? Marvel sez NEVER.

So, I’m a big X-Men fan. I’ve also seen two of my friends run X-Men games, but frankly… I’m an even bigger fan. I read X-Men: Black Sun, for crying out loud. I read Chuck “mutants can’t acquire AIDS” Austen’s run. So the amount of nerdy What-If questions runs pretty thick in my mind. However…

… doing another “you’re mutants, and it’s a school!” game seems deeply lame. I suppose no more than “you’ve got a sword and a wizard, there’s a dragon to fight” getting run over and over, but still. There’s a lot to the world of those crazy mutants, given that the comic line just keeps growing and growing. In the interest of being contrary, I thought about having an X-Force game. Most of my players will only remember the bad ol’ Rob Liefeld art, and that gives me free rein to exceed expectations about a paramilitary x-team.

Apologies to those not familiar; but here goes: after the Trial (and Death) of Magneto, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters was revealed as a mutant haven. Instead of fleeing, they confronted this situation head-on. Through the furor, a litany of death threats, and federal investigation, it was allowed to continue on. The X-Men became a public and accepted superhero team, the public face of mutant heroism. X-Factor was founded as a team of investigators that worked in discovering young mutants and dangerous mutant activity, sometimes assisting local law enforcement. And quietly, X-Force was created, an anti-terrorist squad aimed at uncovering threats to mutantkind, with the occasional bit of black book work to earn them the cooperation of the US government. And for the record, this is a world without most other superheroes – some exceptions may be made for aliens or mystics connected with the X-Men, but Tony Stark just runs an arms company, Peter Parker is a college student, but they aren’t superheroes.

As I worked on adventure ideas, a lot them boiled down to investigations and mysteries rather than brawls, and when I realized how many secrets were being kept in this revised setting. Well. Why not make it an X-Factor game instead? Especially these days, now that they’re the hipster too-cool-for-superheroes team of mutants (and well maintained by writer Peter David). It could allow the loose theme players need as long as they’re somewhat sneaky or investigative, though I’d want to maintain some name brand recognition (a few canonish characters).

What mysteries? Mysteries like these!

  • Who is the leader of the Mutant Liberation Front? (It’s not who you think!)
  • How is the Brotherhood getting so many recruits? (It’s not a mind control plot!)
  • Who is responsible for the new sentinel program? (Hint: it’s actually threatening!)

With a lot of backstory to adjust and for characters to uncover, it could be a lot of fun. And some of the biggest mysteries will be inside the school itself…

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