Stephen King might play in a band with other authors, but George R.R. Martin lays all the geek out on the table by playing RPGs with other authors. Martin and a handful of other authors were playing a superhero RPG in the late eighties called Superworld, with Martin acting as game master. As these things are wont to do in the hands of the overly creative, the game turned into an epic exercise in gaming and universe creation. Hundreds of NPCs and PCs were lovingly crafted, an alternate history of the twentieth century gradually hammered out, gallons of Mountain Dew guzzled.
Since these relatively unknown authors were expending mountainous quantities of creative time on the game, they lit upon the idea that occurs to every gaming group eventually: what if we write stories based on what we’ve done here? This rarely goes anywhere because most gamers are not professional writers and the world simply doesn’t want any stories about your dual-wielding drow anti-hero who totally isn’t like Drizzt Do’urden at all.
The resultant stories ended up being the Wild Cards franchise, a dark and realistic take on super heroes that was published as a collection of short stories. The premise is that an alien virus is released that kills most people, horribly mutates most who survive (called Jokers) and blesses a mere one percent with super powers (dubbed Aces). It’s science fiction as much as it is strictly the super hero genre, but it draws heavily on the conventions and mythologies of super heroes. It’s a brilliant idea because by casting it in an anthology format, it allowed many authors to take on aspects of the source material, with 21 volumes of stories to date. Real time passes in these stories, with hundreds of characters spanning many decades of history.
In any case, SyFy has bought up the rights to the series. That’s SyFy Films, the theatrical arm of the company, so this is proposed to be a feature film released to theaters, though the company is leaving open the possibility of adapting the work into a television series in the future. Melinda Snodgrass, one of the original players and authors of the game is writing the script.