The King is Dead

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The King is Dead: vs. Rippers

I like the way Mina was promoted to leader of the Rippers in Resurrected

Well, I write “versus,” but it’s the same kind of “versus” we’re bound to see in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice: two heroes at cross purposes who really have a lot in common and end up becoming best friends.

(Or something like that.)

I’ve read (and sort-of played) the original Rippers and I was an eager backer of the Rippers Resurrected Kickstarter. I love Rippers! I love Victorian horror and sci-fi. I love Rippers’ cinematic precedents: the Universal Monsters, Hammer Films’ horror classics, even Stephen Sommers’ less-than-perfect Van Helsing. I love RippersAnno Dracula/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-style crossover universe. I would happily write the Japan chapter for Frightful Expeditions.

(Lafacadio Hearn would make an awesome lodge leader.)

The King is Dead certainly exists in a dialogue with Rippers; I chose “cabal” as the name for player character parties for a reason, after all. The basic premises are similar (secret societies battling monsters) yet potently different (Rippers is about protecting civilization from monsters in the shadows, TKiD is about heroes in the shadows destroying a monstrous civilization), they’re both period pieces (though the differences between the bawdy late 18th century and the prim late 19th century are HUGE), and they both posit heroes capable of being as monstrous as their opponents (though rippertech and the Dark Secret Hindrance are very different both mechanically and tonally). Rippers and The King is Dead occupy a similar psychological niche, but their differences outweigh the similarities.

(Admittedly, I suggested a map of an English country house as a reward for Rippers precisely because I wanted one for The King is Dead.)

I’m still working through my copy of Rippers Resurrected, but it looks like all of the differences intended between TKiD and Rippers are still there. TKiD cabals are proactive, setting goals and maneuvering to execute them in a manner more like heist film thieves than the reactive defenders of horror and superhero movies. Rippers factions are still more of a background element than the foregrounded goals and rivalries of the TKiD secret societies. Rippers is still international, sweeping across nations and continents, while The King is Dead is narrower in focus, a more intimate, involved exploration of a nation in revolt. The huge thematic differences between the two settings reveal themselves in dozens of subtle ways.

In other words, you’re still going to want to buy The King is Dead.    


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