An Origins Story for West Pacific Supers

Every superhero has an origin story and so does West Pacific Supers!

It all began when I was bitten by a radioactive armadillo…wait a second, that’s not right. No, it all started on a distant alien world beneath an orange star…okay that sounds silly. Actually, I found a magic sword stuck in a rock and that allowed me to unite Maryland…okay maybe I should just tell the truth. It’s not as exciting but it makes a lot more sense.

It all started in the mid 1990s when M and I were in college. We were avid roleplayers and one of our favorite genres at the time was superheroes. However, after a few fun campaigns the luster started to come off the superhero genre. One couldn’t help getting tired of the cliched tropes of the superhero franchises. I realized that what was needed was an approach that made things more grounded while also opening up greater roleplaying opportunities. The solution came to me when I realized that sports franchises were the perfect model for superheroes.

Superheroes and professional athletes are very similar. They are renowned for the physical feats they perform and rewarded for their successes. They are revered despite personality faults as long as they keep winning, but when they start losing or make an egregious mistake the public and media turn on them viciously. Once I had this connection then everything started falling into place.

Thus was born the Super League and the professional superhero teams that protect the major cities of the United States. There wasn’t as heavy of a commercial or publicity aspect to these teams initially but after a few campaigns these aspects became more important simply due to logic. The expenses of superhero teams in equipment, training, healthcare, insurance, and legal expenses would simply be astronomical. Relying upon government funding was a recipe for disaster so the idea of teams marketing themselves and building brands to finance their operations became a necessity. At this point more concepts started to fall into place. Super teens were organized into teams under the oversight of professional teams; they serve as a minor league to produce the next generation of superheroes. The Super Draft became the means for those super teens to join professional teams, in fact, it was the only way for anyone under 25 to join a professional team. The National Superheroes Guild emerged as a union and advocacy group for superheroes. The President’s Team became the elite superhero team of the nation, with supers chosen not only for ability but also the appeal to important demographics. The superazzi became the name of the paparazzi that stalked professional superheroes. Every campaign added in new concepts or in some cases led to concepts being dropped or minimized. This was due to the reactions of those playing in the campaigns, who I credit with really shaping the heart of West Pacific Supers, and my own studies and efforts to better articulate this universe.

A good example of this was the Department of Mutant Affairs which morphed into the Department of Super Affair and became fully fleshed out as I studied administrative and constitutional law in law school. The SUPER Act which organized the Super League and really laid the legal groundwork for the whole superhero society went from a vague concept to something far more concrete and defined. How the law interacted with magic, vigilantes, super technology, alien immigration, and so on were articulated by logical extrapolations from existing law and how it would change to handle a very divergent set of facts from our reality. Very little of this is in the novels because it’s rather boring stuff but it’s all part of the background that gives our books a sense of depth.

For the last decade  I have been consistently running West Pacific Supers roleplaying campaigns, mostly via play-by-post on our forums or with M at home. Of all the roleplaying campaigns I’ve run over the years these have always been the most popular. A few years ago, M took the play-by-post transcripts of two West Pacific Supers duet campaigns we had run together and got them printed up as books as a Christmas gift for me. What struck me was how well the narrative and writing held up. Thousands of posts thrown together quickly in spare minutes during the day and connected by plots that rambled here and there somehow made a cohesive, and entertaining, story. It also helped us see what exactly was working with West Pacific Supers. This all provided the springboard for the decision for us to write West Pacific Supers: Rising Tide.

When we decided to write West Pacific Supers: Rising Tide it was obvious we’d need to change things to make it work as fiction as opposed to a roleplaying campaign. We smoothed down the edges, tightened up how the world worked, and developed characters that would bring the most to the table without being too distracting to the reader. We finished the first draft of Rising Tide in about 40 days and it clocked in around 90,000 words. We then spent a year improving it. We excised a major character and cut out a whole story arc dealing with the Department of Super Affairs. We added in more romance and focused on the relationships of the superheroes. We streamlined our evil plots and tried to better execute some concepts. All of this was done while trying to keep the book as fast paced as possible with witty dialogue, dynamic actions scenes, and solid characters. In the end we produced a 140,000 word novel that is pretty damn good.

This was M's vision for the cover of Rising Tide. It includes many of the locations in West Pacific described in the novel.

This was M’s vision for the cover of Rising Tide. It includes many of the locations in West Pacific described in the novel.

We tried to find an agent to help us get it published and instead just collected a pile of rejection letters. It was at this point that we decided to self-publish Rising Tide. This led to the formation of Blue Moon Aurora, LLC. There are a lot of little things involved with self-publishing but the fact you have complete control over the process has been very rewarding. A good example of this is the cover. M had a very clear concept for the cover and did a free hand drawing that we gave the artist we hired (Eric J. Carter) to bring to life. We had a simple cover design developed and there you go – ready to be published. Recently I got the urge to redesign the cover to give all the books of the West Pacific Supers series a more unified appearance.

The is Eric J. Carter's cover art and the title layout by Andy Kerr. It has the crisp look we wanted.

The is Eric J. Carter’s cover art and the title layout by Andy Kerr. It has the crisp look we wanted.

We’re very proud of West Pacific Supers and intend to produce at least two more novels and down the road produce a roleplaying game based on West Pacific Supers. It will be different from the novels, because they are different mediums. However, given that it was roleplaying that inspired these novels we feel it is necessary to honor its origins.

– K

The current cover which gives us our new and unified look to the West Pacific Supers series.

The current cover which gives us our new and unified look to the West Pacific Supers series.

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