Hi, My name is Mike Conway, and I’m the founder of Darkstar Eclectic Media.
One boring summer day, my best friend Erik and I were trying to figure out what to do with our time. The action figures lay unused all over the floor, and one board game after the other was suggested. I just didn’t like the idea of any of them. Finally, Erik suggested Dungeons & Dragons. I loved the cartoon, so I thought I’d try it. Life hasn’t been the same since.
My first character, an elf, died at 1st level in a chlorine blast of green dragony doom. I was upset, but then I got handed another character sheet.
It’s weird, but tabletop role-playing games gave me permission to make my own characters and tell my own stories, either by myself or with friends. Before that, I was stuck with what I saw on TV or in books. No more!
Over the years, I played many games in many genres, and made many friends along the way. I even dated a gamer girl for over 8 years, and I’m still friends with her.
Two problems loomed in my experience, however. One was that too many game designers liked to design the same worlds as others. Another problem was that game systems were either too complex (sometimes with contradictory rules) or too simple. I prefer to have some rules to guide me but not try and cover everything. Just give me a way to build a good character and provide a good dramatic mechanic.
Discovering Steffan O’Sullivan’s Fudge rules was exactly what I needed. Not only were (and still are) the rules customizable, and the mechanic simple but effective, but Steffan was willing to let others play in his sandbox and publish their own Fudge games.
My favorite fantasy series is Oz, written in the early 20th century by a visionary named L. Frank Baum. He wanted to create the first American fairy tale, and wound up, due the constant feedback of his fans, creating a fully-realized and complex fairy tale world.
Fudge was easily the best system to use with Oz. Given the sheer amount of character options available (metal men, talking animals, giants, powerful magic users, robots and simple humans are only the beginning), an RPG rules set had to be both simple yet all-encompassing. Fudge has allowed me to do just that.
My other love has been superheroes. I always dreamed of being able to battle the forces of evil with the Justice League, swinging alongside Spider-Man, having powers that made me a mythic force to be reckoned with. As a kid, I created Super C as well as the start of my own supers universe. As an adult, I developed it more and fleshed it out.
Both in the world of comic books and in role-playing games, there are a great deal of worlds to play around in. Marvel and DC have even had official RPG’s based off of their worlds. Companies like Hero Games, Guardiand of Order and Green Ronin have created even more worlds for their games, and more are coming out all the time!
Now, one thing I’ve noticed is that games often inspire people to tell stories, especially based off of the role-playing sessions with their friends. The problem comes for when people want to publish their stories. This little thing called copyright law is very prohibitive in that. Whether your characters are in The Avengers or the Freedom League, if you want to tell stories of your characters, you have to change things to make it your own; sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
I hated that. Face it, it’s work to make your own universe, and most people simply don’t have the time to do it. Yet, no one is really allowing others to play in their sandbox. For many games, you can use their rules, either free or charge, but low and behold if you use the setting!
“Enough is enough!” said I. Utilizing the magic of open licenses, I decided to not only release my own Supers world, the Darkstar Supers Universe, but I also opened it up for everybody to use. Like DC and Marvel, there is a multiverse, so you can make each setting truly your own. You can either use all of it, or just sections of it in your own world.
The Darkstar Universe, from the Gauntlet Alliance to Justice Factor to the rebellion of Princess Swan, is open for your use, whether you use it at your game table or write and publish your own comics, books or even make your own shows and movies. The work is done for you.
Lastly, I’ve watched television and movies and even books shirk good storytelling in order to prove a point, teach a lesson or advance some other agenda. If it’s written for kids, you can mostly forget quality! Somehow, children don’t warrant quality storytelling. Just give them action and pretty colors and try to hammer a lesson into them.
I decided that role-playing games and fantasy in general needed a new direction to move in, and I created Darkstar Eclectic Media to do just that. To this end, I decided that no matter what we do, be it RPG’s, video games, novels, webseries, comic books, or whatever, the story would take center stage. In the end, no matter what, “The Story Matters.”
Explore the site, see what you like, and talk back. We’re all in this story-telling thing together. Let’s have fun, and let’s share our stories.