Welcome to the Hood: A brief how, what and why?
“Why are you developing Welcome to the Hood? I’ve never heard of it.” –Â everyone.
So its about time I started posting information on my long talked about Welcome to the Hood game and the coming comic. So this will be the first in a series of on going articles discussing the project, likely to be released weekly, probably on Mondays.
For the first post Iâ€™ll give a (not so) brief history (as it turned out) on how I started too develop Welcome to the Hood, especially over something like Bazooka Jules which is far better known a property and one people keep asking to see again.
As anyone who knows me knows, I have been working on my own ideas for years. I have a lot that have never seen the light of day, or have only seen a handful of appearances, the most well known, I would think, are Bazooka Jules, XII Oâ€™clock Man, Steve Huge and Welcome to the Hood. Of these I would think Bazooka Jules is the most well known with Welcome to the Hood being the least known. Yet for how little anyone knows about Welcome to the Hood, the idea itself is one of my older onesâ€¦ likely not as old as XII Oâ€™clock Man, but certainly as old as Jules and a lot older than Steve Huge.
Welcome to the Hood first came to me way back when I was in to hip hop and fascinated by the entire culture. The idea was simple, what if LA gang members were the only people with super powers, what would this mean? The idea was a slightly childish and likely a very stereotyped one, especially at that time as it came from an adolescent combination of my love of hip hop and its media portrayed culture in the 80s to early 90s, and something Iâ€™d read years previously. What I’d read had to do with the US government supposedly attempting to develop various chemicals to control â€śundesirable populationsâ€ť which they could filter in to targeted neighbourhoods through liquor and grocery stores etc. In my head, this quickly turned in to a case of “what if that experiment was true, but had had the complete opposite effect, giving those affected in these undesirable areas amazing powersâ€ť
At the time the idea was crude and ill conceived, I’m pretty sure it was actually a way for me to give groups like NWA andÂ Cypress HillÂ super powers.. But it stayed with me none the less, as the basic premiss of the idea was appealing; in an attempt to pacify people you consider a threat, you inadvertently make them far more powerful and a much larger threat. So I went back to it time and time again, changing little bits here and there, adapting it and growing the world both in scope and scale. Then Com.X came and I threw myself in to developingÂ Jules and the like, but still I chipped away at The Hood, as it was known then, from time to time and so it grew.
Fast forward to more recent years, through the Com.X days, on to my time at Wildstorm, all the while the idea was slowly being refined. Then I moved to Thailand, and 3-4 years back I joined a RPG and board game group here and started playing games again. It had been years since Iâ€™d played any tabletop games and I instantly fell back in love with the hobby. As a person who enjoys writing and telling stories, naturally it wasn’t long before I wanted to GM. I put a few ideas out to the group giving some options of what I could possibly run, Welcome to the Hood being one of them, and the base idea struck a chord with a number of the players. So, I put a lot more detailed work in to the setting, at that time developing the world for a pre existing game system, Wild Talents to be exact.
The basics were already vastly different from the original idea, the history now went back to early WWII though the game was set modern day. The core idea behind how people got powers was the same and I tried to develop a world for players to experiment in, including a huge number of villains and threats, as well as larger story arcs including the governments involvement. I mapped out all of the now quarantined LA, which stretched from Ventura all the way down to San Clemente and out as far as Palm Springs, Hesperia and Palmdale, giving them a huge fleshed out area to play including a vastly different landscape, with a huge variety of landmarks and a genuine threat why as not to leave. The game seemed to be universally enjoyed, but the setting, while far larger than my original ideas, was still unrefined, and as is the case with an RPG and an unrefined setting, we ran in to problems pretty quickly which only multiplied. So I put the game on hold while I tried to sort it outâ€¦ this took a lot more work than I thought, the setting had some huge holes and so the game went on hiatus indefinitely.
Then work got busy, I had personal troubles and so the setting and idea went back to being something I chipped away at, rather than something I was actively developing. Lets jump forward to about another two years ago, some of my troubles passed, and work eased up and I decided Iâ€™d like a crack at a game again. This time though Iâ€™d developed yet another new idea. I had discovered both Steam Punk and H.P Lovecraft in this time and as is often the case for me and new interests, my new idea was a child of those, Lights Last Hope had been born.
A futuristic Steam Punk setting where mankind, exiled from earth, was fighting a loosing battle against cosmic horrors in the depths of space. Their only hope were small shock teams that could jump through time by inhabiting the bodies of their ancestors and attempt to either change the outcome of a variety of historical mythos encounters, or gain an understanding of those creatures or events that had been lost through time.
And so I set to work, but now I had also developed an urge to create my own rule set (something all GMs apparently do at one time or another) that could service the setting, mainly as I couldnâ€™t quite find anything right for what I wanted. Apparently there aren’t many time travelling steam punk Cthulhu games on the market… odd. I wanted something where travelling to the past was lethal and terrifying, yet in the future you could go toe to toe with Cthulhu. So the game started with my basic rules and ideas, play testing would refine it along the way, and to a degree it did. It was going well, I had a system in place for body swapping, time travel, how that travel affected time, the lethality of facing Cthulhu in the past, and immensely powerful weapons for fighting Cthulhu and his minions in the future. Sanity was developed for the past, yet had ways to defend against it in the future, using all sorts of gene technology and cloningâ€¦ This was a setting I loved and it was coming together.
Again, the setting was liked by those who played, with people enjoying the first adventure that saw them go through training then having them jump back in time to return to the Mountains of Madness, but this time in the year 2018 on a polar research station plagued with problems. But, as is always the case with play testing, holes were found, and then bigger holes were found and so it was back to the drawing board. Then work picked up again and so the game went on holdâ€¦ but this time players asked what had happened to Welcome to the Hood.
So I decided to put both ideas out to a few people who hadnâ€™t played in either game, nor heard of my ideas and see what they thought. Welcome to the Hood was no longer as â€śstereotypicalâ€ť as it once was, with a far larger scope added to the setting. It also incorporated some of my new interests, like Lovecraft, I’d researched my subject matter a little better and weaving a far deeper, less obvious back story than â€śevil government conspiraciesâ€ť and â€śgang members with powersâ€ť. From the people I spoke to, while all liked Lights Last Hope, Welcome to the Hood seemed to be the preferred idea due to its originality, I also got some pointers on how to avoid certain stereotype pitfalls in a story like the one I was developing (Thank you Tara and Len).
I was going back to Welcome to the Hood and this time I would finish the setting properly, regardless of how long it took. There was a discussion between myself and two other friends who were developing games, WuffyÂ and Bond, as well as with Chris,Â the owner of Battlefield Bangkok,Â the ThailandÂ game store,Â of whether this should be a setting for an existing rule set or should I develop my own system. Developing my own rule set would be a huge undertaking, but no rule set I found could do really do what I wanted it to do for the setting, not without some heavy duty hacks. At that point you may as well develop your own rule set.
So I would develop a rule system to go with the setting, incorporating elements from some of the games I loved (which I will talk about in a later post), but mostly developing mechanics that the new setting needed to function as a game. Horror, lethal combat and super powers in a quarantined LA.
And so I got to work, the idea got a major overhaul with huge chunks taken out and the rest completely redeveloped. I wanted to release my own game, I wanted to release my own comic, and this was going to be it. But, developing games, worlds and stories in those worlds, and then doing the artwork for them is a lot of workâ€¦ as in its a full time job. But I already had a full time job drawing comics, and so again, while I was working hard on the game and the setting it was still going slowly. People who knew about it were asking where it was, would it be finished (especially given my track record) I started to wonder if I could actually finish it, especially given I still had regular work to do.
Mid 2013, some of the paid work I was doing was coming to the end all at the same time, this meant I would be paid for a handful of jobs at the same time, in turn meaning I would have an amount of cash I do not usually have in one hit.
So this was it, make or break, do I really want to release a creator owned book and a game of my own? or is it just something I wouldnâ€™t mind doing? I decided I really wanted to give it a go, if it didnâ€™t work I would throw myself back in to the career and actually try to push that to levels I had not before. But I had to try something of my own first, I needed to know. So when all that work came to an end, I decided I wouldnâ€™t take on any more work, at least for a period of time that I thought would allow me the chance to give this project a real push, keeping me afloat while I did. If nothing else, I would have a solid core that would be far easier to build on if I did need to go back to the regular work.
So I havenâ€™t taken on anymore work, and now I am really pushing hard to release both the game and the comic for Welcome to the Hood. Some people think I am nuts, and I totally understand that, but I do have to give this a shot.
So I am, and I’m close. The game is close to beta, with play testing starting in a couple of weeks. I’ll be discussing mechanics, what I think makes them unique and how they relate to the setting in later posts. The comic is coming together, thats a little slower, but it is getting there and I will be releasing pages before the end of March. Developing a comic and a game are both full time work and I am again trying to do the two things at once… again.Â This again I will talk about in greater detail in later posts.
There are coming Kickstarter and Patreon campaigns, again, to be talked about in later posts. But that allow people to be directly involved with what I am doing.
Why Welcome to the Hood over anything else like Bazooka Jules, XII Oâ€™clack Man, Steve Huge, or any of my other ideas? You guessed it, Iâ€™ll save that for another post, but it ties in to â€śwhy a game at all?â€ť among other things.
As I mention above, in coming posts Iâ€™ll discuss the plans for the game, the idea itself, how I’ll release it, how you can be involved, as well as my plans for the future. These include the other ideas I know people want to see like Bazooka Jules (a Mutants and Masterminds setting now called Tales from Caliber Bay, with accompanying mini comics), XII Oâ€™clock Man, Steve Huge (A potential board game) and Lights Last Hope (possible table top minis game and RPG). These have not been forgotten, nor have some of the other ideas that people wonâ€™t have heard of, Marshall, Ex-IsleÂ and The League (a Pathfinder setting) for instance.
But thats all to come, if things go well with Welcome to the Hood I do have rather large plans as you can probably tell, which will be explained. But for now, I am just trying to get Welcome to the Hood finished and out, and like I say, thats a lot closer than people might think.
Ok, this has gone on way to long so Iâ€™ll shut up nowâ€¦ so until next timeâ€¦ Iâ€™ll keep working on these rules, as they wonâ€™t finish themselves.
To the right is a selection of the main team from the comic series, and what will be the PreGens for the play test. Top to bottom:
Abrams. The Black Flame. Breeden Lynch. Wiggy Styles. Dodge Ball.
Next post: What is Welcome to the Hood?
I’ll be discussing the actual setting itself, what its about, the world and some of the characters etc. Plus what that means for both the game and the comic.
Until next time true believers.[/column] [column size=one_third position=last ]