Legion 2995 Sourcebook – Shall We Play A Game?
With this week seeing the debut of a new Legion of Super-Heroes series, it seemed appropriate to look at the old Legion Sourcebook 2995. This was part of the Mayfair Games DC Heroes Role-Playing Game. It updated the stats of the Legion of Super-Heroes to match the adventures being published at the time. This was the “Five Years Later” Legion, that has mixed reactions from Legion fans. This came out around the time of the end of the “Terra Mosaic” story that culminated in Earth’s liberation from the Dominators.
First, because this just might be the beginning of a regular series of articles about old role-playing games, and maybe other types of games, let’s include the header.
Now the Legion 2995 Sourcebook consisted of significant contribution from Tom & Mary Bierbaum, part of the writing team for the Legion series at the time. This makes it significant for Legion fans that never played the game. A lot of super-hero role-playing games didn’t have quite this level of involvement from the creative team. There were a few, which I may get into at another time.
The first big inclusion is an official timeline for the Legion, with dates and years included. The appeal of the Legion is that it doesn’t need to adhere to a sliding scale for DC Continuity. It’s set roughly a thousand years in the future. What the creative team realized, especially after being forced to sever all ties with the Superman continuity, was that there was no reason to set it that rigidly with the present DC Universe.
I need to explain. This was after Crisis on Infinite Earths re-wrote DC’s history, especially the history of Superman. In the new continuity, Superman never was Superboy. Writer Paul Levitz solved the problem with putting the Legion’s Superboy in a pocket universe created by the Time Trapper. The story that revealed this even crossed over with John Byrne’s Superman and formed the basis of a new Supergirl.
By the launch of the Five Years Later series, the Superman office became very protective of their titular character. Keith Giffen and the Bierbaums were told in no uncertain terms that they couldn’t use any Superman-related characters or properties in Legion of Super-Heroes. This was solved by a major retcon in the fifth issue that made subtle changes to the Legion’s history. It also switched the Time Trapper with Glorith, a previously minor character. The problems between this Legion creative team and the Superman offices could be an article in and of itself. Let’s save it for another time.
Let’s get back to the timeline. It breaks down the Legion’s history based on the established one-year terms of Legion leaders. Of course, for two years after Invisible Kid is leader, the Legion has half-year terms. Superboy is named only as a mysterious new hero admitted in 2987 and dies against the Time Trapper. Any mention of Mon-El in the old history is replaced by his new identity of Valor. Supergirl is replaced with Laurel Gand.
We also learn what happened after the Magic Wars that ended Paul Levitz’s run on the Legion. There is a collapse of UP economies. There is a stretch of resignations as Earth secedes from the United Planets. Secretly, Earthgov is taken over by the Dominators. A major catastrophe called “Black Dawn” prompts multiple Legionnaires to resign and the new Legionnaires admitted to bolster the ranks include many former Legion rejects. The Legion disbands and the stage is set for the Legion to reform in late 2994. By June of the following year, the Earth has been liberated, destroyed and a second group of youthful versions of the Legionnaires is formed.
The Character Stats
Probably the best part of the Character stats in the next section is that all Legionnaires are included, so players could plan out adventures as the Legion in any period. If the Silver Age Legion is more your speed, the stats for SW6 Legionnaires are included. in a separate section. If that’s not enough, there’s also stats for a number of ships, including two Legion Cruisers. There’s stats for some equipment, including some Dominion and Khund blasters. Of course, there’s the Legion-issued Telepathic Earplugs and Transuits. If you want to see the stats for the old rocket-shaped Legion Clubhouse, just look on page 85.
There’s stats for quite a few Legion villains, both dead and alive. There are also stats for the supporting cast, including some former villains. For fans of the Five Years Later Legion, there is also some information to flesh out subplots that were part of the stories. The controversial transition of Shvaughn Erin into Sean Erin is shown from Element Lad’s perspective. Universo’s motivations for mounting a resistance to Earthgov are elaborated upon. We also see that his son Rond Vidar made efforts to reconcile with his father.
There’s a collection of articles that detail the universe as it exists in 2995. We get stats for Dominators and Khunds. We get a list of prominent U.P. worlds that reveal interesting tidbits about some worlds. Xanthu has become a leading member of the United Planets. We also see that while Imsk may have won its war with Braal, the costs of the war and subsequent occupation are taking their toll on Imsk’s economy.
Finally, we get an index at the back to make finding someone or something easier for players and/or fans.
The Legion 2995 Sourcebook lives up to its name and doesn’t have any adventures for players. This gives an impression that Mayfair saw this primarily for those well-versed in the game and capable of creating their own adventures. As I said, enough information is given to allow someone to create an adventure from any point in Legion history.
I should also point out that, like with most things related to the Five Years Later Legion, writer Tom Bierbaum has been adding his thoughts on the Legion 2995 Sourcebook in his blog, It’s Okay, I’m A Senator. There are multiple entries, and it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of Bierbaums recollections of comics he worked on and projects like this Sourcebook.
Overall, for any Legion fan, this is a must have for any collection. Unfortunately, getting a copy may prove a little steep. As I write this, on Amazon it’s only available from third party sellers, starting at $62.35 for used copies. One new copy is listed at over $500. No copies are currently listed on eBay. However, if you have a copy and are setting up a gaming group for the Legion, drop me a line.