And by “Ultimate” I mean in the style of Marvel’s Ultimate line of comics and other comics reimaginings. I’m a huge fan of these, as they allow modern authors to syncretize the coolest elements of years of continuity and use them essentially as a mythology for making new stories. It also allows them to create more elegant causes for elements that were previously one-offs; for example, in the Ultimate Spider-Man series, most of the previously unrelated villains now tend to get their powers from a small stable of locations (based on whether they’re tech or biologically powered). They’re effectively taking a huge setting down to individual building blocks and making a new structure.

In an RPG, this is an awesome way to have a lot of starting player investment in the setting while still leaving the GM room to innovate and create surprises. And you could very easily create your own rebooted RPG continuity for any of the many existing supers universes. But what if you want that player buy-in but don’t want to have any reliance on commercial settings?

The idea is pretty simple:

  1. Get Microscope.
  2. Get your group together.
  3. Play several sessions of Microscope to establish a comics history.
  4. Have one of the players become the GM.
  5. Let the GM break the history down and make a “reboot” of that setting.
  6. Set up the PCs as “rebooted” versions of each player’s favorite hero from the history.
  7. Play as a standard Supers game in your system of choice.

Theoretically, the Microscope history can be based on a completely in-setting time scale, or treat it as the history of publication. That is, your timeline might run from “Superpowers discovered” to “Event causes alternate timeline” or “First comic published by new publisher” to “Line rebooted due to editorial decision.” An in-setting timeline probably has more internal sense, but could result in characters aging and dying. A publication timeline allows you to do all the crazy things with compressed time and retcons that will really make your setting feel like a comics history.

By the end of it, you should have a bunch of player investment in various aspects of the setting such that when it comes up in the reboot, they’ll be impressed by the reimagining and have useful expectations about how to interact with the element.