Sunday, August 17, 2014

Card Stack Supers

I raised the idea in A&E of doing a supers themed game for my Card Stack system and there was considerable interest, with the idea that A&Ers might be able to help with ideas. This blog post is the place for them to do that. 

The idea behind the card stack games, for those who just came in, is that the key elements of character creation are written on cards keyed to certain game elements – in d20 fantasy those are Classes (holding a couple of class levels), Races and Gifts (since I limit the classes to the 4 key ones these let you customize your PC with things like Turning ability and a Warhorse to make a Paladin out of 3 fighter cards). Each player (or as many as possible) starts with a card stack in front of them from which they select a single card, then hand the stack to the player on their right. Once everyone has one card from each stack they will have all the elements they need to build a character. I aim to have 6 stacks of 12 cards each since I have to accommodate groups of 6 or more players and it works best if as many people as possible have a card stack, and there have to be more cards than there are players so everyone has legitimate choices even in the last pile. I’ve done this a few times to general approval.

This time, however, I’m moving away from d20 fantasy and into Super-Heroes. The idea here is to use this to build a Justice League/Avengers style game where the majority of the heroes have adventures outside the team as well as with the team. This means that most have an extensive supporting cast and rogues gallery that don’t show up in team play often but are meaningful when they do. The 6 card stacks are:
1)       Identity/Emotional Hooks: what problems arise in the hero’s life due to their social connections, and what advantages do they get from it?
2)       Rogues Gallery: What types of villains does your hero face in their own title?
3)       Secret ID Skills: What skills does your hero fall back on that usually are separate from super-heroing?
4)       Powers: There are three stacks of powers – each stack should have about 1/4th of their contents be device/item based (rather than one stack of all devices, which would mean everyone has a device, rather than everyone having 3 choices to pick devices or not) and 1/4th be things that could be equated as super-skills.
Once everyone is done they then rank their powers cards in order of potency – most, moderate and least – to give a sense of how the character is balanced. They can also opt to make their Secret ID skills, which are normally on part with their Least powerful ability, more powerful if they really want to have a super-skills character.

What follows are some ideas for each stack, and where I really need help is with the 36 Power Cards. My idea is that each will list a broad power with a handful of suggestions on how it can be used (power facets) that the player can quickly pick 2-6 from (or stack, taking the same facet multiple times) to make the power their own and keep things from feeling too rigid. I worry that this might be too complex, which does away with the idea that this is a high speed campaign creation tool. We’ll see.

Identity/Emotional Hooks:
1)       Professional: Your hero works in some sort of office job where she’s expected to be on site and on time for regular events. This can be a respected professional (surgeon or tenured professor) needs some flexibility for heroics, but it forces awkward situations with the boss; her supporting cast are her co-workers.
2)       Business Owner: Your hero owns her own business, which gives her flexibility but responsibility in terms of keeping the money coming in and meeting payroll. Her supporting cast are her employees and clients.
3)       Scraping By: Your hero has a family situation that leaves her on the edge of solvency (but she won’t, or can’t, take money for her heroics). She works a number of small jobs (say, freelance photographer and grad student) that barely make ends meet but give her enough flexibility for heroing. Her supporting cast are primarily her family, but possibly also old friends and would-be lovers.

Rogues Gallery:
1)       Totemic: Your rogues have an animal theme, some just the names, some with devices that mimic animal abilities, and some with real animal powers.
2)       Energy Obsessives: Your rogues are obsessed with specific energies – heat, cold, sound, centrifugal force, etc. – that they use to perform robberies that then fuel their obsessive power sets.
3)       Theme Villains: Your rogues are obsessed with certain animals or forms of entertainment – cats, jokes, riddles, etc. – that determine the targets & tactics of their crimes.

Secret ID Skills:
1)       Journalist: You hero works on getting the news out as a reporter, photographer, blogger, what have you and as such she is skilled at investigation and has news contacts.
2)       Philanthropist: Your hero’s heroism doesn’t end when she takes her mask off, and as such she is connected with charities and knowledgeable about causes.
3)       Scientist: Your hero is a skilled scientist working to solve mysteries, be they major issues of the day, forensic work for the police or how to profit with new inventions.

1)       Odd Physiognomy: Parts of your body aren’t normal. Place facets in Wings, Tail, Spikey Bits, Extra Flexibility, Chameleon Skin, or something of your choice.
2)       Temperature Powers: You can manipulate temperature. Place facets in heat, cold, flame aura, ice armor, flight, sliding, enervating attack, or something of your choice.
3)       Weapons Platform: you have a tool – be it an armor suit, a utility belt, quiver of super-arrows, etc., that gives you access to various attacks and defenses. Place facets in armor, flight, energy attack, melee attack, strength, esoteric defenses, or something of your own design.
4)       Super-Strength: Pretty self-explanatory. Place facets in Strength, jumping, armor, swimming, tunneling, or something of your choice.

5)       Martial Arts Mastery: You are nigh-inhumanly skilled at some forms of combat. Place facets in unarmed, bows, guns, medieval weapons, or something of your choice. 

In the comments please add any ideas to ny of the stacks that you think might be useful. Thanks!