So I spent the weekend in New York, and came back with another patch of roleplaying ideas. Last time I went I had some ideas about generating cities using random tables, and I gave a bit more thought to that idea. (Mostly about pregenerating businesses to drop in as necessary.) And I thought some more about hacking together a system to run a cyberpunk campaign. (Perhaps using Basic Roleplaying as a base?) But mostly I got this strange idea about running a superhero game set in Washington D.C., in the early 70s.
Setting a game in the 70s was an idea I'd had while surfing Wikipedia. Specifically, those pages where it lists all the events of importance from a particular year. This struck me as a great way to generate background and color for a historical game, and such a time period would have a number of advantages along those lines, even if I was making some tweaks in the timeline. The 70s in particular appeal to me as a decade because it's outside my personal experience but not remotely distant, the culture is distinctive and recognizable, and the mood contrasts with the current era's in interesting ways.
But I wasn't really sure what kind of game I would really want to run in a the 70s, until I remembered my long-standing interest in running a superheroes game. I put it off for a while because my group didn't seem into it and I wasn't sure what system I'd use, but now I've got enough superhero-obsessed players that I could wrangle the rest into it, and I've done enough research to decide that Mutants & Masterminds would be worth taking for a spin. Washington D.C. is the obvious choice for a home base, seeing as it's close by and I know it fairly well, and particularly the early 70s were an interesting time to be in the city. It also has some persistent institutional dysfunctions that would make it very attractive to crusader-types; this would be right around the dawn of (limited) home rule, and a natural time and place for such personalities to get involved.
After talking with my brother for a while, we decided that brand new superheroes with a street-level focus would be the way to go, and that works very well with both the city and the time period. The players would be one of the first real supergroups to start working together, and they'd take on the various gangs in charge of different parts of the city, all the while dealing with other territorial supers, a suspicious but embattled federal government, and the city government itself. There'd be politics and international goings on happening in the background, but the majority of the action would be based on fighting over control of turf and maybe solving a few of the city's problems along the way.