Thursday, February 28, 2013

Musings: Idiosyncratic Routine

I think I'll standardize these musings on Thursdays, so the blog will update MWThF. My greatest weapon is my predictability.

Anyway, this weeks musings is on personal campaigns. What's most idiosyncratic campaign you've ever been in? 

By that I don't necessarily mean 'weird', though it could be. I also don't mean how any campaign has to have come from a particular GM and a particular group of players. I mean a campaign whose premises you think could only have originated from that particular GM. Ideally the campaign would also reveal something about them to the players. 

For me this is pretty clearly David Twiddy's Pendragon campaign. You can read the whole thing here but the idea, in brief, was that in the time after Merlin's disappearance from Camelot Arthur became obsessed with finding reliable methods of divining the will of God. A learned rabbi entered the court with a plan to head to the lands beyond the horizon where he might secure the Urim & Thummim so that they might be returned to Camelot and serve that purpose. Our knights were tasked as his defenders in this, and we were being opposed by a group of Freemason Knights (commanded by the Knight of the Black and White Eagle). Our voyage west did not bring us to the Americas but to an island chain whose layout and the passages between them mirrored the kabbalah tree of life, so that as we traveled from island to island we were actually approaching the realms of the supernals and the very edge of creation. At the end of our quest, while we were denied the physical objects we sought, we had achieved Galahad-like purity and were able to literally dance on the rim of the world. 

It was a really fun campaign, but I just cannot conceive of anyone other than Dave developing the ideas behind it or being brave/mad enough to carry it off. I still remember his being vaguely disappointed when both Tom and I grasped immediately what the island chain was and what it symbolized based on dropping a single name, but I hope (at least) that was his only moment of disappointment in an outstanding, idiosyncratic performance.

That's mine. What was yours?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 12

12: The Moriarty of Mars arc part 4-5

11. the Evil Eight

Having stymied the imprisonment and death threats from the Red Queen the Centurions now face the whole of her super-human army in a battle royale!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Distant Inheritance 15

We had the second meeting of a Distant Inheritance last weekend where, as planned, we covered the material I had listed as Sessions 2 and 3. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 11

11: The Moriarty of Mars arc, part 2-3

9: The Faceless Hero

A new member with impressive powers joins, but who is he, really?

Friday, February 22, 2013

The old days, the all or nothing days

I'm hoping to run sessions 2 and 3 of A Distant Inheritance tomorrow, but due to weather two of the players might not be able to make it. In which case I'll start up the campaign I'm writing for April, a classic old school dungeon crawl.

I'll be taking my GMing lead from Marv. (NSFW link under the cut)

Heroes of the United Worlds 10

10: The Moriarty Of Mars arc, part 1

7: Stalg 3013

The PCs are captured and tossed into a prison camp designed to counter their powers. They’ll have identify the traitor amongst the prisoners and deduce the secret of Stalag 3013!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Musings: First Campaigns

I'm going to start using some of the 'off' days for the regular campaign to do some musing and ask some questions about gaming of the blogs regular readers. (Yes, I know you're out there - I can see your blog hits....) To keep with the blog theme these are going to be focused on tabletop role playing campaigns.

First up, what was your first role playing campaign world, and was it GM created our an 'out of the box' campaign?

Of course there's room for interpretation: if you started gaming with Vampire: The Masquerade can one consider the entire World of Darkness to be an 'out of the box' campaign or do you limit that designation to the Chicago (or Milwaukee) by Night locations? I leave that up to you.

In my case I got the red box D&D Basic set in 1981 and much of my early gaming was iterations of In Search of the Unknown and Keep on the Borderlands, but at there tender age there wasn't anything like a campaign world for a while. I didn't have a lot of the modules and while I eventually got the World of Greyhawk setting book it was well after I'd developed my own setting. That was the Shankill Isles, a bunch of island city states where each island conveniently held a dungeon, slaver base or marauding monsters for my players to smite. It wasn't terribly well developed at first, but it was all mine.

When I got my second RPG - Villains & Vigilantes - I likewise developed my own 'world' for it, one where a group of super-powered Jr. High School students could become a world respected super team fighting a Chess-themed evil organization that had a base on Pluto.

In retrospect I really admire Dee & Herman in that they explicitly tell you to not use the Crisis at Crusader Citadel module for your 'real' characters, nor should you ape any existing comics and your stories are going to diverge rapidly from the source material. better to start fresh with your own stuff, using their examples only as examples. Likewise the Basic D&D rules give you some tools, and the B1 and B2 modules give you examples of sites, but you're otherwise left on your own for fleshing out your own setting.

That's something I've obviously taken to heart, given the purposes of this blog.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 9

9: The Gaia Hypothesis and the Traitor Centurion

5 The Gaia Hypothesis

A mission on Earth introduces the Centurions to Gaia Girl, but is she friend or foe? 

5.1Crops? Dusted!

At the Centurion’s base it’s time for elections – after the events of the Centurion’s Destroyed Emo Girl is more than ready to step down as leader and put someone else in the hot seat. This is a chance for any PCs who want to be leader to step forward and put their hat in the ring. Blackbird steps forward to claim the role as well. (This is the B plot for the issue – Blackbird wants to ‘win’, but he won’t break the code.)

This is when the Earth government sends a request for help. Emo Girl decides to send a team of all of the leadership applicants (plus any other PCs who for players who have PCs interested in being leader) on this mission as a qualifying test. Earth needs help investigating a series of massive crop failures that threaten the system’s food supply. The authorities have received a notice from a group calling itself the Three Earths that is demanding massive payment… or else. Some farmcorps have already paid up

5.2The Good Earth

The PCs + Blackbird take a shuttle to Earth, where they are able to do some research into the crop failures. Conditions on the recovered/terraformed earth are of course favorable, and any scientifically minded PC can determine that there is no sign of tampering in the crops themselves. The plants are just withering up as the land turns to dust and the topsoil blows away. This last part has diminished since unseasonable hard rains of started, which don’t help the crops but are at least preventing erosion. Blackbird proposes to infiltrate the local criminal element to track down the Three Earths that way.

If the PCs come up with any reasonable method for tracking the responsible party it will work, leading them to the next likely spot, a megafarm in Ohio. Blackbird’s connections will reveal much the same thing. They can stake out the site and there they will witness the crops suddenly writhe and collapse as the earth desiccates. There are any number of witnesses/suspects but two will point up in the sky at a sudden, inexplicable thunderhead containing a young girl. The rain starts to hammer down and the PCs will have their first encounter with Gaia Girl, who will do her best to escape if confronted, relying on the surprise of her strength.

5.3Reap the Whirlwind

Assuming Gaia Girl has escaped the PCs will have to go through some effort to find her. Anyone who got close to her will have seen her face and can use that in the earth police logbooks. Further scientific research will show that the problems first started not in the first notified attempt but in an inexplicable potato super-abundance, collapse and hurricane three punch in Ireland four months back. Underworld investigation will turn up an organization that is making a killing on crop futures and funneling chunks of extortion money.

All of this leads the PCs to a girl being sheltered by that organization – Siobhan Han – in a run-down part of the east coast megaoplis. This lets the PCs track Gaia Girl to her home base and confront her again, and likely prepared enough that she can’t escape. During the conflict the area suffers a sudden earthquake, forcing the combatants to shift to rescue mode. Gaia Girl does so as well, at the risk to her life rescuing people from a collapsing building. If possible one of the PCs should be given an opportunity to save her after she has saved others. It’s clear from her behavior that she’s not the villain.

5.4 Whispering to the Wind

Getting a chance to talk to Gaia Girl the PCs learn her story – the exposure to a strange mutagen on the farm in Ireland giving her powers – and that there are two other teens who were affected. She has been trying to stop them, with the help of MMH Inc – the black market group found by the PCs that she thinks are philanthropists. And the description of the two teens matches the ‘witnesses’ who fingered her back in Ohio. And the MMH offices are not far away!

The MMH offices have their friendly, hophat wearing rabbit logo as a marble statue out front. It’s obviously seen some damage from the quake but if the PCs get there in short order they can find the Terra Twins vacating their secret HQ with some bulky men carrying some of their ill-gotten gains. The PCs have a chance to attack them, but might be surprised by the breadth of their super-powers. Both use their powers effectively – Chen animates the rabbit statue and there is no shortage of plants for Yen. When things look bad Yen will generate enormous clouds of choking pollen – treat as a one use Chemical Powers attack as Devitalization (3d10 power damage) and temporary blindness. If that doesn’t work Chen will summon a dust cloud to cover their actions as darkness. If THAT doesn’t work the MMH building blows up! In any event Chen crafts a collapsing escape tunnel.

5.5 Don’t Cry For Me, Terra Firma

Assuming the Terra Twins escape (and if they don’t well, the PCs win) they will have left behind one of their boxes of loot. Much of the rest has already been laundered through MMH Inc, which has rapidly ceased to exist as an entity (and the building blows up before the PCs can investigate it). What the twins left behind is a box of wafer rubies – currency that is only used in the rough and tumble hinterlands of Neptune where e-currency hasn’t made an appearance. This should give the PCs an idea where the Twins intend to hide out until the coast clears.

Sure enough any checking of the world flight records reveals a flight plan for a private shuttle leaving from a nearby spacefield. The PCs will get them in time to either confront them on the ground or force their ship down before it leaves the atmosphere and confront the Twins. The Twins may crash the shuttle and fake their deaths, or be captured depending on what the PCs do. Gaia Girl will turn down any offer of membership since she can’t leave Earth. Any PC who performed especially well is voted the new leader (or Blackbird, if no PC wants it, otherwise he’s deputy leader).

6 The Traitor Centurion

“Star” Zynski and his Ground Pounders are shattering Europa, and it looks like one of the Centurions is helping him!

6.1 Membership Drive

The Centurions are having their second open call for members. Again this is a chance to introduce new PCs (remember the goal for everyone to have 3 PCs – a 21stC heavy hitter, a 3 power hero and a 1 power weaker hero). Also attempting to join are Ablative Boy (another Venusian, who is rejected for not having a unique power per the bylaws), Adonis Lad (a youth who can make any woman love him – he demonstrates this by making the normally reticent Emo-Girl kiss him, but it’s too limited and intrusive a power) and Kid Destructro (who claims to be able to make things explode but actually is using a remote control to detonate pre-planned charges – he’s actually a reporter looking for an exclusive).

Once back inside the clubhouse with their new members the team leader has to explain the current mission: the Ice cities of Europa are being attacked by a small mercenary army that is eluding the Jupiter Defense Forces with high speed entries and extractions. Can the Centurions help? Team assignment is left up to the new leader (and should include one NPC) after everyone sees footage of the events and has a chance to come up with a plan. (The B Plot for this issue is one of the female PCs or if there are none, Miss Chrysalis, being enamored of Adonis Lad and wondering if he’s free for a date.) 

6.2 I don’t know but I’ve been told

The PCs arrive at wherever city they intend to defend – Demon Boy will have calculated the most likely target is a distant outpost – and get a chance to set up. (These are human cities on the surface made of carved ice, not the underwater coral cities of the native Europans). Unfortunately for them once they set up Zynski and his troops arrive perfectly prepared for their plan – he knows where they’re hiding, has weapons designed to exploit their vulnerabilities, and generally kicks them around with his superior tactical skills and high tech gear. Once he starts damaging the outpost the PCs might have to go into ‘save the civilians’ mode, but even if they don’t Zynski will have a pre-arrange escape plan.

Getting back to the base on Ganymede the PCs will have to figure out what happened. There was clearly an information leak somewhere. Demon Boy will scan the place for transmitters or bugs and find none (as can any other PC with appropriate powers). Suspicion will fall on the new members, obviously, as they don’t have been around long enough to be fully trusted but the team leader should break it up. More likely it’s some external thing, and Demon Boy rigs up a shield and they can plan their next action. Someone miht go question the faux Destructo Lad, who did want to spy on them. (During this the B Plot PC will be distracted with Adonis longing).

6.3 Time for round two

The PCs can calculate the next action to take (with whatever PCs they want to send) to protect another outpost on Europa –Demon Boy has figured that Zynski is trying to close off access to the underwater cities, taking out all the carved entrances. Again, it doesn’t matter what their plan is, Zynski is ready for it, with whatever ridiculous weaponry is needed to defeat the heroes. Maybe a giant robot is called for. Whatever they had planned, he nixes it.

That’s two times he’s spied on them through top security – there must be a spy. Eventually Emo Girl will question everyone and end up fingering the most powerful PC present as being guilty of (. The PC can protest, but everyone knows how accurate Emo Girls powers are – unless she’s the spy! Let the acrimony continue for a little bit before deputy leader Blackbird (or the PC leader) breaks it up – Zynski is going to strike again, after all. Blackbird argues that the fingered PC not be involved in the planning based on Emo Girl’s accusation, but he won’t stress it. (In the B plot the PC has an increasing distraction that she is not yet compelled to act on.)

6.4 Third Time’s the Charm?

There are only two ice doors left, and if Zynski is running true to form he’ll be at the smaller one. Unless the PCs isolated Emo Girl or made a different plan without her knowing it this assault will go much like the others – he is precisely prepared for their plan, and even has ambushes of his own set up. If this is a classic LSH style we would have a totally different team with each attack, so now Zynski and his forces have defeated the entire team.

Acrimony should be running high at the clubhouse, with such an obvious spy in their midst and there is only one ice door left – if that is destroyed the Europans will be cut off for years. During this the B plot heroine will be compelled to seek out Adonis Lad, only to find that he is not only not superhumanly beguiling but that he has no recollection of applying for the Centurions. And the only person Adonis Lad touched was…. At this point fingering Emo Girl should be obvious.

6.5 Ground Well Pounded

The PCs might handle Emo-Girl’s possession through stealth, confrontation or some other method. Sssixl will try to jump from Emo Girl to the closest most powerful PC and then turn that power against the team. If that PC is restrained it will try again (it has power enough for two successful mind controls, having recovered what it needed to control Emo Girl and Adonis Lad). Once they have done so they are free to plan things against Syznski as they wish  - and perhaps even have Emo-Girl send a false plan along as a trap (her mind is strong enough to remember what she had done).

This should make the final encounter with Zynski – perhaps with the whole team – much easier. Without advance planning he just isn’t as much of a threat. Of course there’s still the lingering question of why Sssixl wanted to isolate Europa (answer – because the Europans as water breathers are immune to their mind control and thus an impediment to their plans). 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 8

8: The Tests of the Super Heroes and the Centurions Destroyed

3: the Tests of the Super-Heroes

This adventure requires that one of more of the PCs has created 31stC heroes to join the team.  It is also a trek around the cooler spots of 31stC Jupiter

3.1 Recruitment Drive

The 21stC PCs who are in play arrive in the future to find the Centurions are having a recruiting drive. There are any of the new PCs here plus three more NPCs hoping for spots - Quill Queen, Karma Kid and Stinkbug Boy. When they are rejected Karma Kid is distraught, Stinkbug Boy says it was worth a shot and Quill Queen promises to improve her skills and try again. The new Pcs will also have to display what they can do, giving them a chance to show off before they are invited to join and the team meeting starts. It starts, as always with a recitation of the code: Centurions must (in order) save people where they can, protect people from immediate future threats when apparent, protect irreplaceable objects and then protect other property. It is never legitimate to risk lives now to hopefully protect others later.

At the team meeting Emo Girl lays out their current problem – the threats being made by a mysterious blackmailer called C. Tsrif Ytnewt around the Jovian satellites. This figure has a sealed dossier across the system and is threatening several spots on Jumper. The PC heroes plus Demon Boy are being sent to defend his next threatened target.

3.2 Inside Europa

The first target is in Europa, the one place in the solar system with non-human intelligent life – Emo Girl is travelling with them. The Europans look like crosses between dolphins and sea turtles (or more precisely, like Hykrians) and have an underwater society. The PCs life support suts let them survive down her, and their flight bracelets let them move. Ytnewt is threatening to steal some valuable art (giant pearls in sculpted platinum frames) unless his demands are met.

While the PCs are guarding the pearls they see several huge coral reef buildings start to collapse. The radio starts discussing a freak earthquake! Those buildings are priceless examples of early European sculpture and are priceless relics! That do they do? Hopefully the PCs rush over and stop the buildings from collapsing – stolen goods can be recovered, destroyed relics can’t. Still, when they get back the sculptures are gone! Anyone who stayed behind has to face Ytnewt, who is super fact and all but unstoppable (see below) and who will stun them from behind.

3.3 Outside Io

The second target is a science station on Io, a world renowned for its intense volcanic activity.  The cites make extensive use of geothermal energy to power themselves, and the world is a major tourist center. The science station is head by Yel Herms, who has just received the working model of a geo-boring vehicle that can reach a planets core. It is, of course, being threatened by Ytnewt. Can the PCs (and Miss Chrysalis) protect it?

Why they are doing so they see an eruption taking place down below on the planet. There’s a radio call that this is an unexpected eruption and there are tourists in jeopardy. Miss Chrysalis is on the far side of the station and doesn’t see this – do the Pcs move to assist? They ought to!  There are twenty four men in danger from the eruption, and any quick thinking action by the PCs will save them, but, as you would expect, the gen-borer is gone when they get back. Anyone staying behind again has to face the invulnerable, surviving in space, Ytnewt.

3.4 Callisto Crash-landing

The PCs are told they have one last chance to stop Ytnewt from his thefts: he’s threatening to steal the entire squapple crop from Callisto (these are apples engineered to be cubes to save shipping space). Blackbird is with them, his bodies all standing guard. PCs with sensitive noses will detect a faint whiff of sulfur on him, which he’ll describe as a new cologne to catch Ioan girls.

While the PCs are standing guard they see a Venusian clipper foundering in the atmosphere – it’s clearly coming in hot and out of control. Blackbird is scattered throughout the mega- orchard and doesn’t immediately respond. Do the PCs move to help? They ought to! Inside the ship is a Vensuian pilot, armored up, who needs help putting the ship down, cooling it off, or just being rescued. While the Pcs are doing this they see a streak hitting the squapple crop, pulling all the squapples into its wake. Anyone staying behind is brushed aside by Ytnewt’s speed

3.4 The Final Decision

The Pcs return in failure to the clubhouse, where they are quizzed by Demon Boy on how they handled their missions. The GM should give them a few minutes to talk, make excuses or defenses  – and perhaps reveal what they’ve guessed – when the door slams open and Ytnewt appears! Before anyone can act he rips of his lead lines mask and reveals… a 21stC Hero! (Whichever one isn’t a PC today.)

The other Centurions then let the PCs in on the trick: they were testing the PCs to see how well they adhered to the code to make sure they were ready for full membership. The 21stC hero playing Ytnewt had come forward last week and been tested then, Blackbird was all of the tourists in trouble on Io, Miss Chrysalis was the pilot on Callisto, there were no ‘frozen hydrogen’ sculptures and the ‘archaic structures’ were actually scheduled for demolition – everyone had just been playing along with the tests.  Assuming the PCs past (and I hope so) everyone has a cheer and there’s a formal club initiation.

4. The Centurions Destroyed!

In which the Centurions face the thefts of Magno Boy… and are destroyed by cosmic forces!
(Any PCs)

4.1 Magno Boy Strikes

The Centurions are having their group meeting, with any 21stC PCs in attendance, discussing their current case of tracking down the items stolen by Jether Tel – where the team needs to sring into immediate action when Blackbird’s investigations pay off. That’s when an alarm goes off telling them that some unknown threat is performing a theft from the science academy. Knowing they need to be ready to follow Blackbird’s signal Emo-Girl assigns the PCs and Kid Chanticleer to the case.

Media reports them their foe is calling himself Magno Boy and is targeting some experiments in superconductivity. When they arrive they find Magno-Boy is prepared for them, having encased himself in a sphere of metal armor and created a half-dozen skeletal metal monsters that are threatening the scientists.

4.2 Polarity Reversal

As the fight begins each metal monster moves on Magno Boy’s turn, attacking as HT for 1d6 damage; his sphere is SR 15 material and must be breached to reach him. During the fight Kid Chanticleer and any PCs other than those who joined at the start of the last adventure are attacked with an Emotion Control – Anger attack at level 8 (Kid Chanticleer is automatically hit). This anger is directed at their teammates rather than Magno Boy, and any PCs so affected have to turn on their teammates rather than fight the villain, coming up with any excuse for their ire.

As this becomes noticible Magno Boy quips from inside his sphere that the heroes are suffering from a polarity reversal! He snags the superconducting materials he’s looking for and escapes through a side door, his actions obscured by his sphere. (this is a villain must escape’ moment, but the combination of him being obscured, having an escape route and the PCs bickering helps mitigate that).

4.3 Feeling Bipolar

When the Centurions limp back to the base in failure Emo Girl is bound by the club charter to bring any who were affected by the emotion control up on charges for attacking their teammates. Those PCs (and KC) should defend themselves on whatever slight pretext they found to start the attack since none of them are conscious of the emotion control. Emo Girl is forced to expel them from the team for their behavior. (Players can swap out to secondary PCs if their first choice was expelled.)

Just after the expelled heroes have left (and Demon Boy is starting to investigate Magno Boy’s powers) there is word that he is striking again, this time at a facility that works with super-cooling materials. Emo Girl sends out the _new_ PC group plus Demon Boy to deal with the threat. Magno Boy has the same tactics as last time, and this time the heroes (same restrictions as last time, but shift the dice to avoid any players who are on their last PC) are struck by a sense of helplessness and find reasons to not engage. Demon Boy is left sputtering, unable to comprehend Magno Boy’s powers. Again Magno Boy gives them the slip via a similar method as last encounter.

4.4 The End of the Centurions

Again limping home in failure Demon Boy as deputy leader immediately turns himself (and any other Pcs hit by the emotion effect) in for failure to uphold the Centurion charter. They folded under pressure, and no evidence shows otherwise. Emo Girl is bound by the charter to expel them as well. The centurions are collapsing! After this turn of events Emo Girl locks herself in her room, unwilling to come out, perceiving herself as a failure. Miss Chrysalis tries to talk her out but can’t, and ends up doing the same thing out of her own perceived failure. Indeed, all of the PCs are attacked by a sense of deep depression, and have to make a d20 save against Charisma to act at all. 

The communicator board starts beeping – it’s Blackbird, announcing that he’s giving up on the case since he’s a failure.  Whoever answers the call will see the messages light flashing: there are 23 messages from Karma Kid wherein he insists that there must have been an error in his admission, then anger at the group, followed by a single call that borders on the suicidal. If the PCs haven’t figured out what’s going on by now this should give them the final clue.

4.5 Balance Restored

The PCs should have the sense to race to karma Kids side while they still have the chance to act, as the emotional damage his rejection caused is being revisited on them. Once they confront him with this (and perhaps offer him reserve member status). With that issue resolved the Centurions return to normal, ejected members are called back and any scientific/detective types (or hyperspense people) can work with Demon Boy on locating Magno Boy’s final target – the Fusion PowerStation.

When they arrive Magno Boy has already silently taken over the PowerStation, cutting communications and locking everyone in while he magnetically assembles the device to boost his power. The heroes can choose how they want to attack (with the PCs of their choice – let them pick their NPC final member) and likely make short work of Magno Boy now that they’re at peak potential. Depending on how the fight goes Magno Boy can either be quickly captured or have a chance to turn on his half-finished/damaged device and disappear in a cloud of energy, changing this to a civilian rescue situation.  The GM can bring him back either way, but in the latter equation he returns as the fearsome Superconductor Man.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 7

7: Welcome to the 31st Century and the Menace of the Monster

1. Welcome to the31st century

This is the introductory game, so let’s get to it!

1.1. The Exposition of Emo Girl:

Our initial 21st C PCs appear in the lab of Demon Boy, where he and Emo Girl are patiently waiting the arrival of the greatest heroes of the 21st century. They are more than a little surprised by the arrival of our PCs but Emo girl confirms their confusion and honesty. The Pcs do something unexpected, like fly, and Demon Boy spouts his reduced entropy theory and postulates enormous power

The two Centurions explain to the team that Ganymede is under attack by a space pirate named Jether Tel. The Centurions have been trying to capture him but lack the raw power or speed. Miss Chrysalis, Blackbird and Kid Chanticleer went to handle three different points of defense, not believing Demon Boy’s plan would work. If the PCs can help at these three points then Emo Girl is sure it would reunite the team, and Demon Boy speculates it would draw Tel into a decisive conflict. Are the PCs willing?

1.2 The Crisis of Kid Chanticleer

The most powerful of the Centurions had taken off to the naval air yards, certain that Tel’s next move would be to destroy the Jovain Space Force. And he’s right – Tel has launched dozens of drones at the site. Kid Chanticleer is stymied early on when the first few he explodes are filled with Tel’s sleeping gas, which covers the area. Each time Kid Chanticleer inhales to launch his sonic blasts he gets more and even his superhuman endurance can be overcome!

This is when PC group 1 arrives, advised by Demon Boy’s floating assistant, ADA. ADA is able to answer any of the 21st century PC’s questions about the era and the threats. There are 24 drone bombs on the way down to the airfield. Eight of those are sleep gas bombs that will incapacitate the pilots and crews, while the remainder are high explosives that will destroy the ships (and the incapacitated crews). Eight will reach the ground each round. An intelligence Feat (reduced to a I d20 with an appropriate power) will let the PC identify which are the gas bombs – 6 in the first, two in the second. The PCs have three initiative rolls to figure out how to stop the bombs. Kid Chanticleer can take out 3 more before collapsing from the gas, or 8 more if the PCs find a way to clear the gas. Each done has 8 HP and counts as a 1st level character for targeting.

1.3 The Menacing of Miss Chrysalis

Miss Chrysalis is at the Grand Museum, sure that Tel is going steal Ganymede’s treasures. And she’s right – one of Tel’s pirate clippers dove through the atmosphere, spraying the confusion-gas. His goons are leaping down in jumpbelts to collect the artwork. Miss Chrysalis’ cocoon protects her from the gas and she engages the raiders until the clipper starts firing a particle beam towards panicked innocents. Chrysalis interposes herself but that pins her down and as she struggles to keep her armor intact and she l;oses track of who’s who in the throng of people

This is when PC group 2 arrives with Emo Girl. Using Demon Boy’s new flight bracelet she starts pointing out the guilty parties to be pummeled. The ship has 25 HP to disable and a Power Blast device currently trained on Miss Chrysalis in beam mode; if it flees it flies at Mach 1 away from the scene. There are a dozen space pirates here who require an Intelligence feat to ID unless Emo Girl points them out. As the PCs are cleaning them up Emo Girl is careful to let one get away (even getting in a PCs way if they move after him) as she placed a tracer on that one to lead back to Tel’s base.

1.4 The Burning of Blackbird

Blackbird is guarding the Fusion PowerStation, sure that Tel will disable it to expand his reign of terror – and he’s right! Unfortunately for Blackbird the pirate’s plan was a clipper dropping a score of small flying bombs that announce that they’re bombs. This creates a dozen small crises that Blackbird has to confront, rescuing trapped scientists, calming tourists, disabling bombs and so on. During all this he can see, but not stop, the Clipper’s audacious use of a tractor beam to steal the entire central fusion generator! As fires break out everywhere Blackbird does his best but has to watch helplessly as the clipper prepares its escape.

This is when PC group 3 arrives with Demon Boy in a flight bracelet. Demon Boy directs at least one of the PCs to remove the fusion units before they erupt while he contains the damage. Those parts weight enough to force a Strength feat for the 21st century PC to fly them into space in time. The clipper has 25 HP to disable and a Gravity Control device that can increase or decrease target gravity by x10 for 2 rounds. There are 10 flying bombs; Blackbird can handle 5 of those.

1.5 The Declaration of Demon Boy

With one, possibly two of Tel’s clippers out of commission Emo Girl figures Tel is either going to run or fight. With a sample of the sleep gas and confusion gasses Tel has been using Demon Boy develops an antidote and doses the other centurions. Using the tracer Emo Girl planted they are able to locate the escaped pirate, at Tel’s ship, behind its cloaking device. The heroes can get in the area but not pinpoint it– the uses of either PC powers of a Demon Boy device to locate stolen fusion core are needed.

Tel has another two clippers (one power blaster, one gravity weapon) as well as his own major vessel, so the PCs will have to split up to capture all of them at once. Once they do so (and it shouldn’t be too hard) Demon Boy urges all of the centurions to stay together as a team, to recruit more members and become a force for good across the whole system. Are any other willing to sign on to this declaration?

As with the first rhetorical, the answer better be Yes.

2 The Mystery of “the Monster”

The Centurions face an almost unbeatable threat from beyond… Who is, what is…The Monster!
If any players have pre-made 31stC PC they can select one of those instead of their 21stC PCs

2.1 Lab Accident or Ill Omen?

Shortly after any 21stC heroes arrive in the lab, where Demon Boy shows off his new experiment with  hyperspace teleportation.  At the meeting Emo Girl runs through the minutes from last meeting (recent activity included saving a luxury space ship, uncovered a smuggling conspiracy and rescued people from an earthquake on Titan). With members of the 21stC team present Demon Boy brings up some old business of requests for the Centurions to push together 100 small asteroids to form a viable planetoid.

Suddenly there is an explosion from the lab. Much of demon boy’s equipment, including the new Hyperspace teleporter, is destroyed and a hole has been blown in the wall to the outside. Investigation (I% unless relevant background or power) reveals that this wasn’t an explosion – something appeared here, wrecked the lab and then knocked a hole in the wall! It’s clearly something powerful, and the 21stC heroes, plus any other PCs, and Kid Chanticleer are sent to find it.

2.2 Search for the Mystery Monster

The PCs are able to find an impact crater from where the mystery monster fell to the street, and with backgrounds or powers to trail it some distance; in any event their attention will be drawn to a collapsing building. The hunt for the Monster will have to be postponed to rescue people and/or repair the building. Kid Chanticleer will use is powers to yell to everyone in the building to stay calm, 21stC PCs must stabilize the building and the GM will have to make up tasks for any new PCs. Inside the building they will see that the monster tore a hole through the foundations into the subway system. It could be anywhere now.

Questioning the witnesses reveals that the Monster was floppily humanoid and grey (actually wearing a padded cloth used in Demon Boy’s experiments); no one got a good look. Barring extraordinary powers there isn’t a good way to track it from here. News reports state there was a tube accident where a super-sonic subway train slammed into a shape on the tracks. The train was damaged but the shape was unharmed. Shortly after that thing tunneled into a clothing store and stole clothes.

2.3 The Monster Takes Shape

A day later the Monster – now a human in regular clothes – starts raging in Capital City. Police state that no one can understand it, but it is causing enormous damage. The same PCs are sent. Once there any of the 21stC heroes can understand the figure– he’s yelling in 20thC American English! They understand 31stC language due to hypno-tapes but whoever this is doesn’t have that advantage.

The PCs will still have to calm him down (assume he will fight at least one full round of combat) but he will identify himself as Jimmy Lawrence, from Wisconsin, circa 1934. Able to talk to someone he quickly explains his confusion and apologizes for the outburst. (Without Emo Girl there the PCs can’t definitively tell he’s lying). One note: he is lower Entropy than the 21stC PCs; his presence reduces their powers.

2.4 The Monster Strikes!

Presumably the PCs take Jimmy back to their HQ – no prison could possibly hold him – and question him. It would be easier if they expose him to the language hypno-tapes and Jimmy will readily agree. Demon Boy will realize that this must be from the trailing end of the time generator. There will likely be some conversation with Jimmy about how he’s just a fellow down on his luck in the depression and now he’s Buck Rogers, but in Short order Emo Girl tags him as lying.

She tries to be subtle but “Jimmy” is quick on the uptake and – realizing that he’s stronger than anyone there and  that the lab is the only thing that can send him back – picks a fight. With another 80 years of entropy he’s even tougher than the 21stC heroes, plus meander and higher level. After tossing them around (and being tossed around in return) he trashes the rest of the lab and flies off – but not before taunting them with his real name: he’s not Jimmy Lawrence…he’s JOHN DILLENGER!

2.5 Who Can Face…The Monster

Once outside Dillinger flies over the city and with a booming voice declares himself the new ruler of ‘the world’. Anyone who doesn’t immediately do what he asks will suffer grievous consequences. Unless the Centurions warn them off the Ganymede defense force attacks and is easily rebuffed with super-breath – indeed, he is now using all the powers of the 21stC heroes 9whereas they only have one each).  The Centurions know if they can just wait the time effect will wear off but Dillinger can cause incalculable damage before then. Engaging him in Central City, Ganymede would result in devastation. Can they lure him away? Contain him? What’s the plan?

Demon Boy managed to save the time ray device with a repulsion screen. He could jury rig some extremely low entropy material that would weaken Dillenger, but someone would have to get close enough to him to slap it on him. Only a 21stC hero is likely to get that close, but they’re holding the entropy version of uranium. If they do this they may never be able to return to the 31stC. Sacrifice!

Barring another solution, after the week is up Dillenger returns back through time, minutes after our 21stC PCs – which might make him think he was about to win. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 6

 6: Starting Characters in modified DC Heroes

Short post today, but here are the characters in DCH.

The centurions
Miss Chrysalis aka Kir-Rin Skudera
Dex: 4 Str: 6 Body: 6
Int: 3 Will: 4 Mind: 4
Infl: 4 Aura: 4 Spirit: 4

* Invulnerability 6: Increases body to 10 to resist damage. Grows 1 point per round when activated.
* Mass Increase 3: Increases Mass, Str and Body by AP active. Linked - has 1 AP active per 2 Aps of Invulnerability
* Acid Resistance 3: Increases resistance to corrosives. Linked – active whenever Invulnerability grown.
* Weapon Limb 3: Increases HTH dam. by active AP. Linked - has 1 AP active per 2 Aps of Invulnerability
* Charisma 6: replaces Influence and Aura when trying to communicate with people
* Advantage – Beautiful: gains +2 action and effect in social combat when used.

Demon Boy aka Dax El-en
Dex: 3 Str: 3 Body: 4
Int: 14 Will: 15 Mind: 15
Infl: 3 Aura: 8 Spirit: 5

* Energy Attack 12: Limit – Device, 14 reliability
* Deflection 6: Increases Dex for dodging only. Limit – Device, 14 reliability
* Sense Weakness 18: rolls against target Body; add Result to damage for next attack. Limit – Device, 14 reliability
* Scientist 16: replaces Int and Will for Science related rolls.
* Advantage: Connections with Jupiter Science Institute
* Disadvantage: members of his race are disliked across system, causing social problems.

Emo Girl aka Grayson Hayley
Dex: 4 Str: 3 Body: 3
Int: 5 Will: 5 Mind: 6
Infl: 4* Aura: 4* Spirit: 4
* Empathy 18: Rolls made against target Infl/Spirit to detect emotion; the result of that roll can be added to her Infl and Aura on social tests for the remainder of the scene. Advantage – can be done to detect emotional state of writer/intended deception in written materials. Limitation – limited to line of sight or hearing.
* Detective 7: Replaces Int and Will for detective work.
* Advantage: Connections with current management of BSL Megabusiness
* Disadvantage: Enemy with deposed faction of BSL Megabusiness.

Blackbird aka Brennan Garreth
Dex: 5 Str: 4 Body: 4
Int: 3 Will: 3 Mind: 4
Infl: 4 Aura: 3 Spirit: 4
* Duplication 23: Each active AP gives 1 extra body. Track each body separately.
* Crime 4: substitutes for relevant stats when appropriate
* Advantage – Well Travelled: good for knowing trivia, having casual connections, etc.

Kid Chanticleer aka Dalton MacLeod
Dex: 4 Str: 5 Body: 8
Int: 4 Will: 3 Mind: 4
Infl: 4 Aura: 4 Spirit: 4
* Sonic Attack 18: Does damage, can be fired as beam, cone or radius centered on him.
* Artist (Musician) 6: replaces Influence and Aura when making music

Monday, February 11, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 5

5: Starting Characters in V&V

Here are the starting characters for the setting (in addition to the 21st century low entropy PCs, who are detailed earlier.)
The Centurions
Miss Chrysalis aka Kir-Rin Skudera
High-Gravity Dancer and winner of the Teen Miss Venus competition Kir-Rin was on a cultural/ambassadorial tour in lead up to the Miss Solar System competition when she used her Venusian power to grow a protective exoskeleton to foil an assassination attempt. Deciding that she could find better ways to represent her world she became Miss Chrysalis and joined the Centurions. Her costume is a green body suit of loose weave through which she can grow or shed her body armor.

S: 20  E: 18  A: 12  I: 10 C: 13 Level 3
Background: Sports and Entertainment
1)  Amor A: 130 ADR, x1 weight multiple per 33 ADR grown.  Has a 0 to be hit by corrosive attacks while armored. Heals at 5x normal healing rate
2) Regeneration: Armor heals per turn with 1 action.
3) Natural Weaponry: Gains +1 to hit and +2 on damage per 33 points of armor intact, up to +3/+6
4) Heightened Strength (Skill): adds +9 to Strength AND Endurance.
5) Special Requirement: has to ‘grow’ armor from scratch via regeneration when not using it.

Demon Boy aka Dax El-en
This generation’s most brilliant researcher from much despised Deimos, Dax is the first Deimon to take his research off world, accepting a commission with the Jupiter Science Institute at age 13. His hope is to improve the impression of his people across the system, both as a scientist and as a member of the Centurions. Like all of Martian descent he has red skin and black hair. He favors slate grey clothes.

S: 10 E: 12 A: 11 I: 40 C:11 Level 3
Background: Science and Engineering
1) Heightened Intelligence B +27
2) Vibratory Powers Device: 25 charges, Strength 25. Belt provides a repulsion field for Vibration defense, 8 rounds per charge. Pistol is a molecular vibration attack at 24” range for 2d8 damage. Molecular scanner points out weaknesses in object, letting him either make or point out to someone where to make a special attack for Str x3% chance to shatter the object (with his pistol he has a 72%)
3) Prejudice: citizens of Deimos are dislikes amongst the system. All Charisma modifiers are at -4

Emo Girl aka Grayson Hayley
A child of overpopulated Thetys she shares her peoples extraordinary sensitivity to emotion. Trained at an early age in textual analysis to be a contract advisor to a BSL megabusiness Grayson rebelled when she pieced together an internal coup and assassination attempt of the business leader. Her powers let her locate people nearby who could help in the incident that formed the Centurions. Demon Boy has since bought out her contract and she is the emotional core of the team as Emo Girl. Her costume is a dark blue fedora and trench coat with a domino mask. She is being romantically hunted by the son of the Ganymede police commissioner.

S: 10 E: 9 A: 11 I: 15 C: 13 Level 3
Background: Business and Law Enforcement
1) Heightened Senses – Empathy: she can automatically detect emotions of people she can see, hear or read the writings of; deliberate attempts to deceive her by trained professionals force a d20 Int save; on a failure she sees they’re blocking her but can’t tell their true feelings. This gives her a +4 on reaction rolls and a one level difficulty reduction on Charisma saves when her power is relevant.

Blackbird aka Brennan Garreth
Brennan Garreth is a child of an Umbriel man and his Terran wife, who needed fertility treatments to conceive given the genetic differences. All residents of Umbriel are capable of quadruplet duplication, but Brennan is actually sextuplets! Blessed with four and twenty bodies he decided to spend a year shiphiking/stowing away and seeing all the system, and as such some of him were on Ganymede when Emo Girl needed help. Now all of him is dedicated to the Centurions.

S: 12 E: 11 A: 15 I: 9 C: 10 Level 3
Background: Game Designer/Bum and Crime
1) Self Duplication: Blackbird can create up to 24 bodies. Each creation appears or disappears at 5’ distance, so this is a crude short range teleportation. Each extra body that joins in an attack adds +1 to hit/+2 damage (up to four bodies , +3/+6) to the single attack roll. Four bodies working in concert reduce the save difficulty of an action by one level. Each group of 4 bodies active reduces his initiative interval as follows: 4 bodies = 15, 8 bodies = 12, 12 bodies = 10, 16 bodies = 7, 20 bodies = 5, 24 bodies = 2. (Once he’s past 4 bodies they really have to act in concert for this to be manageable). Track HP and Power for each quartet at 4x each (though rolling with attacks and dodging are at ¼ this pool).

Kid Chanticleer aka Dalton MacLeod
Young Dalton MacLeod was trapped in a science experiment into hyperspace/aetheric vibrations that went madly awry. Through some twist of fate he did not die, but instead gained the ability to draw hyper-spatial vibrations into his larynx, letting him unleash shouts of incalculable power. As Kid Chanticleer he dons a Lucha Libre mask and serves justice as a founding member of the Centurions.

S: 12  E: 36  A: 12  I: 10 C: 12 Level 3
Background: Commercial Art and Finance
1)  Sonic Powers: 1d20 damage, 72” range, 36% shatter chance. Can use 20” of movement as an active defense to ‘blast’ incoming attacks out of the air.
2) Heightened Endurance B: +27
3) Vulnerability: unusually affected by hyperspace vibrations, taking double damage from such attacks or suffering 1d6 damage per turn in their presence.

Other Characters

Friday, February 8, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 4

4: Design the Game Mechanics - DC Heroes RPG

This post covers how I’d take the innovative late 1980’s DC Heroes RPG using the Mayfair Exponential Game System (MEGS) and modify it for this setting (a Legion of Super-Heroes pastiche).

For those who didn’t buy it when it came out in the 1980’s, the DC Heroes role playing game is a great example of how limitations spark innovation. Game designer Greg Gordon had to build a game engine that would handle Robin and a pre-Crisis Superman at the same time. I don’t know that anyone in the mid 80’s was writing the sort of narrative, story focused games that people would use to handle this now, so Gordon was bound by tradition to develop a mechanic that put those two on the same scale.

So he did: each ‘point’ on the chart was worth twice as much as the one before it. Robin, with 3 Strength, could lift somewhere between 200 and 400 lbs. Superman, with 50 Strength, could lift up to 28 trillion tons. They would now fit on one big, 50 point chart!

But that’s not the cool part. The cool part is that he then applied this to everything else on one master table. Each point of distance was twice as much as the one before it. Ditto for time. And they all interacted. Want to know how far the silver age Superman can throw Mount Everest (weight 30)? He can throw it 50-30 = 20 points of distance, or close to 2000 miles. How fast can he fly? Add his 20 points of flight to the fact that 10 points of time is 1 hour and bang, he can fly 30 points of distance in an hour – four times light speed. It’s a remarkably versatile use of the initial solution, and it works.

OK, I don’t think it works terribly well – there are still deformations to the system based on the scale – but it was good enough for people use it the game. Fortunately Mayfair got another bite at the apple when the 2nd edition came out post crisis and everyone got weaker. The system now only needed to accommodate a 25 Strength at the top of the scale, not a 50, and everything got a little easier.

The system has a few other cool bits: physical stats are mirrored mentally and spiritually, so in addition to the usual Dexterity, Strength and Body there’s also Intelligence, Will and Mind and Influence, Aura and Spirit. The same logic applies to all three. When you try to persuade someone you’re using your Influence to hit them and your Aura to wear down their Spirit, just as if you were punching them with Dexterity and using Strength to wear down Body. It’s logical once you wrap your brain around it.

It’s nice in session design as well. Assume the Pcs are investigating a mystery. It’s a test of Intelligence and Willpower against the difficulty of the puzzle to gather clues. It’s a test of Influence and Aura against people’s Influence and Spirit to question witnesses or suspects. Finally it’s a test of Dexterity and Strength against Dexterity and Body to punch the bad guy into submission. Very logical.

It also opens up intriguing possibilities: a high Influence, low Aura character is one everyone likes but has a hard time ‘closing the deal’, or it will take people a long time to buy in. Hiss interaction attacks will ‘hit’ but unless he rolls really well his low Aura overcome the target’s Spirit. The converse of a low Influence, high Aura character is one who seldom speaks meaningfully their successful arguments end the discussion – their high Aura has so much oomph that it immediately batters down the opposing Spirit.

More interesting are the mental options: a high Intelligence, low Willpower character is one who quickly identifies problems but lacks the mental strength to put push to the solution. Your average Green Lantern, on the other hand, can miss a problem for a while (average Intelligence) but when they identify it they solve it instantly with their massive Will seeing through to the solution. That sounds like a lot of classic Green Lantern plots, doesn’t it?

The final plus was the subplot management system; the previous Marvel Super Heroes had Karma awards for fulfilling obligations, but this was the first explicit narrative design nod in a Supers game.

All that love aside there were some real problems with the engine: the hero point economy was a mess, with way to many times and places for spends for way too much effect, so if the other guy spent you had to spend to cancel him out, meaning the points were functionally lost. Advantages actually cost a percent of your total points, making them impractical for high point heroes. The powers and skills list was spotty, full of odd name choices (Invulnerability makes you hard to kill, not hard to hurt) specific rules that were then often waived for the hero best known for the power, weird duplications (Heat Vision is distinct from Flame Projection) and strange absences (professional skills). As for the Gadgetry and Device rules, they were an industry joke of a train wreck.

That said, can I salvage it for United Worlds in my remaining 825 words? I sure hope so.

First, change the weight curve so it starts at 12.5 and not 50 lbs. Now normal humans have a Strength of 3 (lift up to 100 lbs without an extra effort roll) or 4 (200 lbs without a roll) and a maximum of 6 (800 without a roll). With viable scores from 2 to 6 we have a 5 point range for ‘human’ adventurers, the minimum I like to see.

Second, standardize that scale for all attributes: 2 is a weak adult/strong child level to 6 for normal human maximum, perhaps 7 with highly trained in natural gifts. Yes, characters like Batman have higher scores than those, but I don’t need to model them for this setting. The Legion isn’t full of master detective martial artists; it’s full of above average teenagers with singular powers. Putting the “if it’s past this it’s a power, you must explain it” cap on hinders the “a couple points here, a couple points there” stat creep in point systems.

Third, clarify the cost methodology. The existing structure matches how I work my way through games: the Active Points are the powers potency, determining how much of an effect it has in play. The Factor Cost is the versatility, measuring how often and in how many different ways the power will be useful. The Base Cost is the scarcity, a mechanic to keep some powers rare (or balances cost between limited powers vs. broader ones, which I care for less as a design feature), and only applies to skills and powers. Base Cost only applies to powers and skills – you can’t put a scarcity premium on attributes! I know the Mayfair guys had a method for assigning those costs, but I don’t know what it is.

Here’s what it looks like: Dex, Int and Infl are Factor 7, all other stats are factor 6. Defensive Powers are baseline Factor 5, offensive powers are factor 3, movement powers are factor 2, and sensory powers are factor 1 to 3.  Everything works around that framework, and some powers have Base Costs to make them less viable at low levels (i.e. getting any Skin Armor costs 50 points base, or 1/10th a low power hero’s points, so it’s less attractive to them then an hero built on 1500 points)

I’m changing that up a little bit. The stat costs are fine, but Defensive Powers are Factor cost 1-5 (baseline 4) based on how many of the Body/Mind/Spirit stats functions they cover. Likewise offensive powers will cost 1-5 points based on how much they mimic Strength/Will/Aura’s combat functions. Running is factor 2, and other Movement powers are Factored based on that. These Factors can be shifted up or down if any particular hero’s power has specific advantages or detriments.

I am now scrapping the given powers and skills list and develop ‘core powers and skills’ that define the 21st century PCs and founding Centurions. I will then let the players define any power that isn’t on there when they want to buy it. That gives the players a lot of control over the setting, especially with the ability to set Base Costs to drive up scarcity in certain areas.

Fourth, change the structure for Advantages and Disadvantages so that they are player defined (modeled on a set of examples from the21st century PCs and Centurions), have no effect on the costs of other skills or powers and cost 10 points to record on the sheet (yes, you pay for your disadvantages). In play they are either paid for or rewarded when used. One of slight utility costs/grants 5 hero points per incident; moderate is 12; high is 25. Being hunted or taking damage near Kryptonite doesn’t get you points to buy more powers at character creation, but does reward you when the hunter or green rocks show up. Having area knowledge or connections doesn’t cost you anything until you bring it into play. That is a very 21st century mechanic, but one that makes sense.

Finally, change the Action and Resistance tables so that Points 1-13 each have their own columns and rows (rather than doubling up) and set the rest of the table to max out at 25 points so we keep the focus on the lower power levels where most of the action will take place. Hero Points use should be limited to no more than 5 on any action, and any HP past 15 have to be banked at the end of a session to be saved for character improvement. Those disadvantages look much better now as a way to bump up Hero Points in play, don’t they?

The other members of the Centurions will follow tomorrow, but the basic rules for the 21st century PCs are as follows:

Add 14 to Strength and 7 to Dex
Add the powers
* Invulnerability 7 (which increases damage reduction)
* Flight 14
* Sealed Systems 14
And one of the following sets (or something similar)

Set A – the vision powers
*Telescopic Vision 14
*Microscopic Vision 14
* X-Ray Vision 14
* “Entropy Vision” 7, which is an eyebeam with a disintegration special effect.

Set B – super breath
* Super Breath 14
* Cold Generation 7
* Sonic Attack 7

Set C – the Pet
Add the player’s favorite pet as a time traveler with them, giving them the same core low entropy powers as the others and +3 Intelligence.

Set D – the Enhancer
* Invulnerability Field 10: adds to the resistance of any one/thing the PC is holding
* Extra Lift 4: add another 4 Strength for lifting purposes only.

That gives us four subtly different flavors of Superboy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 3

3: Design the Game Mechanics: Villains & Vigilantes

This post covers how I’d take the classic Villains & Vigilantes system and modify it for this setting.

The setting’s three needs are
a) the engine handle characters who have a single ‘super power’ well, meaning that it’s designed to handle heroes who have basically human stats other than their ‘power’.
b) the engine handle characters who have incredibly strong powers well, since the powers tend to be ‘conceptual’ rather than mechanical, i.e. someone who is invulnerable can’t be physically hurt, and someone with flame powers can generate the approximate heat of a star.
c) the engine handles characters of wildly varying power level being on the same team – Invisible Kid bust be able to work with Superboy.

Villains & Vigilantes - now back in press by its creators Jeff Dee and Jack Herman through Monkey House Games - does A and C very well. In fact, in 25 years of gaming V&V does A and C better than any other system I've seen. V&V has the added bonus that initial characters are based on the players, which is (not accidentally) part of this setting. So I just have to modify V&V to handle the middle part – incredibly strong powers – and we’re good to go.

V&V works on a few core principles:
1. Initial characters are based on the players.
2. Powers are (usually) randomly determined and then modified to work them into a coherent whole.
3. Powers are often governed by your attributes (for ex flight speed is a factor of Strength & Endurance).
4. Strength is bound by real world physics (carrying capacity is based on multiples of your weight).
5. Combat rolls are against tables that weigh attack and defense types, modified by attributes & powers.
6. A failed hit due to a defense means the attack ‘hit’ but did no damage.
7. Non-combat dice rolls against the attribute on d20, d% or (rarely) three times the attribute on d%.
8. Outside of combat dice rolls are binary in their outcome and either succeed or fail;
9. Non-combat skills are broad ‘backgrounds’ which GMs weigh when determining difficulty;
10 Character levels cover primarily combat and/physical training and (infrequently) power levels.

Got all that? It’s a very 1st generation RPG, with the combat table, attacks that miss due to defenses do no damage, and levels as combat skill baring more than a little resemblance to AD&D’s armor vs. weapons table, armor classes and level driven changes to hit. I love the flexibility of powers, the inspiration from the tables and the general retro feel of the system.

The idea that defenses negate damage rather than reduce it means all combat isn’t HP attrition, where someone with low HP and a strong defense can last in a fight but be taken down by a lucky shot or if taken unawares. Hit Points are fairly static and don’t automatically increase with levels. A few other combat mechanics help people with athletic but not superhuman stats hold their own in fights, so you can get by without heightened stats. It’s a game that emphasizes the ‘human’ part of super human, which is what we need for heroes with a single power.

V&V as designed produces heroes who are of the Marvel team-level. It does great X-Men, but isn’t a natural for Justice League. This isn’t a huge problem for four reasons.

First is that most of the rules for carrying capacities are arbitrary. I can modify those.

Second is that we can ascribe new ‘high end’ uses of powers as being outside the normal combat framework. Unleashing a ‘high power’ blast might take your entire round, while a ‘full power’ blast might not be possible in normal combat since it requires too much concentration and build up. This is consistent with the LSH canon, since the high end power uses are often only in space combat against enemy warships.

Third, the V&V rules already have a reliable set of ‘absolutes’ in the form of the defense table. If I state that the only modifier applied after the table is Experience modification then a decent number of defenses become near absolutes – only more experienced opponents have a chance of getting in a ‘lucky shot’ through a defense like Non-Corporeality or Adaptation.  Since most characters have a single ‘power’ these defensive absolutes shouldn’t over-power them.

Finally, I can simply state de-facto that any Power, Device, Item or Magic/Psionic derived ability has maximal or near maximal effect. No need for die rolls. If you really want a die roll replace the 3d10 with 1d4+26 for heightened stats. Skills are still rolled, but the player should have a lot of flexibility for secondary effects to make the Skill really potent without it becoming Super-Human (Miss Chrysalis, for example, is an avid weightlifter and endurance runner. Her single Heightened Strength A gives her a +9 Strength and +9 Endurance).

That said, I think the only modifications I’ll need (other than the default maximal power and 'all modifiers save experience before table) are as follows:

1: All Initial PCs have the same power set (Mutant Power of Low Entropy Body Giving +9 Strength and +18 Endurance, Heightened Strength B +27, Invulnerability 27 pts, Flight, Life Support Body Power, Special Requirement that powers only work in 31st century entropy levels) with one additional player defined physical power.

3. Later PCs have 1d4+2, not 1d6+2, power rolls; Devices and Items should be rare and secondary, all PCs must have a primary ‘super-power’. All rolled Powers, Items and Devices are set at maximum or near maximum rather than rolling; Heightened attributes via skills should give appx 15 points worth of benefit, with 2/3rds going to one attribute and 1/3rd going to another to keep the hero essentially ‘human’ in scope.

4. Similar to Inventing % being Intelligence x3, characters have Feat  % (Strength x3), a Resistance % (Endurance x3), Acrobatics % (Agility x3) and Influence % (Charisma x3) as a ‘mid-range’ saving throw. GMs use these for truly complex tests against Backgrounds, while moderate tests are done at d20. Outside their Backgrounds moderate tests are done at the x3 numbers and complex tests are done on d% vs. the attribute.

5. Like Inventing Points, characters have Level-increased Points for Charisma (Contact Points, used to create one use or long term contacts in play), Endurance (Resistance Points, used in place of the % save vs. Power Score to avoid death in the current rules) and Evasion Points (Spent to eliminate one single source of damage, a ‘get the hell out of the way’ roll). All of these points require an appropriate save and are single use.

6. In lieu of all other actions in combat characters can make a Feat % to add another Strength Multiple to their carrying capacity. Our Superboy Analogue PC with a 50 Strength would go from lifting appx 60 times their weight to appx 300 times, or 7 tons to 34. Basic goes from 2d10 to 5d10. This costs 5 Power Points. This takes all actions and goes on Initiative 1 at the end of the round.

7. Outside of combat characters can make a D% save vs. Strength to add two more Strength multiples to their carrying capacity. Our Superboy analogue is now lifting 7,500 times his weight, or 800 tons. Basic HTH, which would only be allowed against huge, relatively slow moving bodies, would be 9d10. This costs 10 power points. This is isn’t truly Superboy class, but I think it is good enough.

8. Rules 6 and 7 apply to powers as well, with Endurance subbing for Strength for physical powers and Charisma for mental ones. Damages are Increased based on the original powers damage:
D8 normal normally becomes d8 when ‘pushed’ and d12 with ‘extreme effort’
D10 normal normally becomes d12 when ‘pushed’ and 2d10 with ‘extreme effort’
D12 normal normally becomes 2d8 when ‘pushed’ and 5d10 with ‘extreme effort’
2d8 normal normally becomes 3d10 when ‘pushed’ and 6d10 with ‘extreme effort’
D20 normal normally becomes 4d10 when ‘pushed’ and 8d10 with ‘extreme effort’

So we have a Lightning Powers hero who normally does 2d8 damage at PR 4. If he waits until the very end of the round he can spend 9 PR to make a 3d10 attack. Outside of combat he can cut loose with a massive 6d10 lightning bolt for PR 14. At that level he can reliably obliterate 6 cubic feet of granite and displace another 60 cubic feet of it with a single shot, and probably make three shots before he has to rest. That sounds about right to what we see in some of the Legion stories and doesn’t have a huge impact on combat.

9. Rather than changing weight for body transformation powers, each level of the Growth table
a) increases your carrying capacity by the weight factor
b) divides any incoming damage by the height factor, so if you’re at x1.5 height a 9 damage energy blast would do 6 damage; If you’re at 6 times height is does 1.5 rounded down to 1, and
C) your height modifier is added to your Initiative Interval  so at 1x height you act every 15 phases, at 1.5 it’s every 16, and at 7 times height it’s every 22 phases.
Other weight increasing powers can benchmark against the growth chart. The character becomes strong, hard to hurt and slow without recalculating everything.

10. Charisma is no longer a measure of how Good or Evil you are, it’s just how charismatic you are and the ‘same side’ bonuses apply to all.

11. Replace the existing experience point award formula with the following (awarded to each participating PC, not divided):
Resolve easy threat/emergency: 100
Resolve challenging threat/emergency: 250
Resolve threat/emergency equal to PCs power: 500
Resolve threat/emergency that appears greater than PCs’ power: 750
Resolve threat/emergency that appears well beyond the PCs’ power: 1000
Start Personal subplot: 50
Advance Personal Subplot: 100
Resolve Personal Subplot: 250
It is my intent that a player playing the same character each session will reach 4th level after session 9.

There, that ought to do it. It’s probably more modification than what I need, but I like the idea of extending Inventing Percentage/Points to the other stats for impressive feats for this campaign.

Now that we’re done with the rules mods, a couple of other game things: all centurions get a flight belt that lets them fly at 40 mph on a planet or 400 mph in space and a special uniform that allows them to survive in space for 1 day (but provides no defense types). These are both inventions of Demon Boy and give the team extra versatility and me and GM relief from worrying about travel speeds or outer space.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 2

2: Design the campaign setting based on beats and themes

As discussed last time LSH plots are highly structured and rely a lot on mysteries.

Adventures have five parts: act 1 is stage setting/ introduction to the problem, acts 2-4 parts of gathering clues, failed attempts to solve the problem (which provide clues in themselves) or resolving sub problems. Finally the solution is found in act 5 and we have a quick denouement. The middle acts can be in sequence or happening concurrently with the large team split into smaller units. Defeated villains (when there are villains) are dragged off to the hoosegow and not seen again for some time.

If the middle acts provide clues the preferred method is to describe the clue in an oblique way. Then give the PCs, if necessary) rolls to see if they spot that it as significant to the mystery. 1960’s comics were big on “Brainaic 5 Spotted the Clue…DID YOU?” editorial boxes and this is the equivalent – a way to challenge the player and the character simultaneously (though if they don’t get it by act 5 you should allow rolls to piece it together).

LSH problems have absolutes– the villains have kryptonite, heightened senses that reveal invisible or shrunk people, gasses that force shape shifters back to normal form etc. – in them that force a specific correct answer. I don’t want to mimic, but adventure design should include lists of pre-designed defenses to block avenues that I want blocked, but if the players come up with something outside that they should be rewarded. Punching people is seldom a solution. If it were, the 21st c PCs would resolve the problem immediately.

Phase 2 adventures are identical but with an emotional B plot: the villain has a backstory with a hero, there’s tension between two PCs, or NPC issues unconnected with the A plot. The B plot melodramatic, a chance to look at our heroes’ psyches; it comes to a partial resolution at the session’s end. The other Phase 2 change is that villains escape or suffer mystery deaths.

In phase 3 we shake things up by braiding the plots. The core structure is unchanged but instead of the adventure being Plot 1 scene 1, P1S2, P1S3, P1S4 then P1S5 we have the session being P1S1, P1S2, P2S1, P1S3, P2S2. Still five parts, two plots moving. Next adventure is P3S1, P1S4, P2S3, P3S2, P1S5. We end the session with the conclusion of Plot 1, but plots 2 and 3 are in motion. Plot 4 will fill in the space emptied by Plot 1. In the fifth session this concludes with P4S4, P5S3, P4S5, P5S5 and then P5 S5 – this is a session with two plot conclusions and therefore a big wrap up. This might look complicated but you’re only ever maintaining 3 plots at once, and in a structured format.

For added spice there should continue to be a B plot bit of character melodrama in each session during phase 3. In fact, one of the plot/problems (I recommend either 2 or 3) could/should be an ongoing B plot that rises to sudden prominence. Maybe two of the heroes get engaged and married over the sessions, or tow start dating and then have a big break up, or one is facing disease or death could be involved in hunting for a cure. Neither one of those is villains or world shattering threats but they’re the sort of thread that works well for braided superhero stories.

Scenarios are designed by mixing one of the themes
1. Strength of character
2. Brains over Brawn
3. Personal shouldering of sacrifice
4. Loyalty to the team

Note that there isn’t a straight up ‘be willing to fight a really tough foe’ theme because that can be strength of character (I have to keep trying!) shouldering of sacrifice (I have to protect the team/those civilians!) or loyalty to the team (if I fail I will have let the others down!). Each carried a slightly different flavor in play that should influence the scenario design.

With the following tropes
1. Deception within team
2. Expulsion from the team
3. Threat from within team
4. Mystery of unknown superhuman
5. Facing people with your powers
6. Heroes imprisoned
7. Raider/Pirate invasion fleet
8. Giant/powerful monster attack
9. New, unique potentially returning villain
10-12: d8 roll twice on this chart, combine.

By heavens that looks like an adventure creation chart! And it is! Feel free to use it or not as you see fit. It’s what I’m using to design the scenarios that I’m working up below.

The United Worlds universe is as follows: in the mid-21st century humanity had several technological breakthroughs and took to space. They conquered short range hyperspace, mastered gravity and perfected terraforming, letting them make every hunk of rock larger than 1000 km diameter in the solar system into a habitable body with 1G, plus building a couple of Earth-Sized cities floating in the clouds of the gas giants. That’s Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres,3 world sized cities on  Jupiter, 3 on Saturn, 2 on each on Uranus  & Nepture, Pluto, Eris, Haumea and Makemake, plus 16 moons = 35 human ‘worlds’.  (The Centurions HQ is on Ganymede since Jupiter and its moons are the 31st century’s social center.)

At some time in the 25th century hyperspace inexplicably collapsed. That stopped space travel, silenced the ansible network and froze all of the zero point energy generators that made the United Worlds viable. All major planets were able to scramble to archaic fusion power but the damage was catastrophic. It was 400 years before things had recovered enough for to re-open commerce. Things have improved, but humanity is nowhere near its pre-crash peak. In hyperspace only the ansible network is operational. (Note: light speed communication delays are a pain; keep the instant communication network!)

During those 400 years the populations of many worlds either had strange mutations occur or engaged in bio-engineering to survive, so that several worlds have shared powers. A few examples:

Everyone on Venus is able to quickly grow or shed durable body armor to survive in the planet’s still-acidic atmosphere. This makes them a little bit stronger and a lot tougher than Earthlings, and they act as workmen in dangerous environments across the United Worlds. One Venusian, Miss Chrysalis, is a founding Centurion, trying to use her power to protect others, not just herself.

Deimos, a moon of mars, was a scientific research community that happened to have several fusion power plants running when the hyperspace crash hit. They were able to continue on as the worlds around them collapsed. These days the children of Deimos are scientifically brilliant but disliked as moral pariahs on other worlds. One of their most brilliant youths is a founding Centurion as Demon Boy.

This should give you an idea. Of course there are also scientific formula and radiation accidents to give people powers as well, and inexplicable pre-crash items to be used by villains. One point: world is magic-free, even if the pre-crash tech is tech to the point of magic. While the LSH has magic, I want to stay SF.

Given that I’m limiting this to the solar system, there’s no FTL travel and I have any number of worlds where people have ‘alien’ powers I hope it’s clear that I don’t intend to have much by way of ‘aliens’. But that doesn’t mean I won’t have any!  In fact I have four alien species

First are the Europans, the native race of Jupiter’s watery moon. They look like a cross between sea turtles and dolphins, only discovered the outside world when humans bore though the surface ice and need life support and mobility enhancers to survive outside of water. They are a specific shout out to Tellus, one of my favorite Legionaries.

Next are the SSSixl, a gaseous race from outside the galaxy. Their ship crash landing into Uranus is what caused the hyperspace collapse, not that anyone knows that. They are able to insinuate themselves into organics to control them, and can adopt their shape and color to appear to be human (though they are still gasses). They are the go-to race for chaos-generating aliens.

Third up are the Frail Ones. These are actually time travelers from the 41st century who are barely extant in our time due to entropy levels. Still, they can hire agents, bootstrap technology via willing scientists, plot, scheme, and so on. The Frail Ones view the Centurions as a threat to their future. If the Centurions reach the 41st century they’ll be insanely powerful, but facing a system wide technology as magic threat.

Finally we have the space dragons. Giant freakin’ space dragons. They’re not terribly bright and their migratory patterns take them through the solar system once every 2500 years. While here they will disrupt space lanes. And on planets and consume things and otherwise make big dumb, invulnerable nuisances of themselves.

People familiar with the LSH will recognize at least some of these as being reskinned LSH threats, but they’re the sort we need to make the setting feel right.

Technology is high, certainly, but I also need to emphasize that thematically it is no match for smartly wielded super-powers. Raiders and pirates are carrying ray guns that won’t hurt Miss Chrysalis, and they have to be in their space pirate ships to stand a chance against the 21st century PCs. Heroes can still be overwhelmed if attacked en mass or by surprise of course, but the point is that there isn’t a way to mass produce super power equivalent devices, especially not of the 21st century PC levels. Any villain relying on a device (other than a pre-crash hypertech item) can expect it to be broken or run out of charges after it challenges the heroes for a little while.

So how do we build a system to do that? Well, actually we’re gonna do it twice!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 1

The second campaign is a Legion of Super-Heroes pastiche containing a large team with heroes of varying power levels dealing with science-fiction style problems

1: analyze the source material for theme and beats

For those not familiar, the LSH started as a club of super-powered teenagers in the 30th century who take as their inspiration Superman and use their access to time travel technology to recruit the teenage Superboy (and later Supergirl). Superboy then repeatedly travels to the 30th century for adventures with his chums. The 30th century has plenty of threats in form of alien armies, pirates, evil geniuses and the like and it also has planet-wide populations with single powers. Cosmic Boy has magnetic powers because everyone on Brall has magnetic powers. That means there are a lot of people with powers: it turns out that when everyone is super, some people are HEROES.

The LSH first appeared in 1958. For many years it was a plot gimmick in Superboy or Supergirl stories until it got a regular gig in 1962. It continued an unbroken and well maintained continuity until 1989 when a new creative team took the book nowhere I wish to follow.

I find the LSH fascinating evidencef the transitions in comics. The original adventures are very 1950’s: high on whimsy, with a fusillade of ideas but stiff plots, centering on a problem that isn’t resolved until the 3rd or 4th attempt. To their credit these stories, outside the usual DC continuity, could have things change: heroes died, left the team, fell in love (or just necked). Even if they must remain best friends to keep it the DC style the relationships here were a foundation for the series.

Villains were a problem. In the first 30+ appearances there are only 3 named, returning villains (three Legion of Supervillains members) two of whom share powers with the founders! Otherwise it’s a cavalcade of shape-shifting/telepathic aliens to impersonate/mind control Legion members so the team can fight itself, play tricks on itself or accuse one another. In the 30th through 60th appearances we do see three more big villains but usually the style required that everything be wrapped up every issue. The team just couldn’t get a rogue’s gallery going.

This doesn’t indicate a lack of creativity, as the Legion gained new members and had Legion rejects who either turned into Substitute Heroes, became that issue’s villain or vanished to be picked up in later years. The vibe was super powered people are plentiful but few are menaces. Threats were large groups such as pirates, raiders or spies, or as non-human alien races trying neutralize the LSH. It was a world of technological peace under threat from aliens and raiders.

Then came the Jim Shooter era: the 14 year old comic book wunderkind wrote LSH during high school, left for a while and came back for more, churning out brilliant ideas: villains tumbled onto the page and Marvel style silver age plotting and melodrama took over the book. The alien threats became fleshed out – Khunds and Dominators and the Dark Circle rather than generic raiders, aliens and spies. Villains escaped and returned, plotted and planned. The romances and relationships became more real.

There’s a long period for which I don’t have issues, as I entered LSH fandom in the Paul Levitz era. Levitz freely admitted that he was bad at making up villains, but he had 22 years of LSH history and he mined it like crazy. He found new ways to use old threats and kept relationships center stage. Levitz braided his plots, so that a subplot appearing in issue #1 is completely resolved in a climactic fashion in issue 35 – during that arc a “masked mystery Legionnaire” plot starts in issue 14 and resolves in issue 27, and during _those_ fourteen issues there are seven other major threats or plotlines, two of which tie back to the 35 issue subplot. Levitz wasn’t ‘writing for the trades’, he was writing for the long haul.

Structurally the LSH is ‘just’ a club but it’s a highly with a variety of by-laws to force people out. Some of these are obvious super-hero stuff – Legionaries can’t kill anyone – but others are there to enforce the exclusivity – each member must have one unique power (waived for the Kryptonians), powers can’t rely on devices, powers must be reliable and under control. Finally there are the rules that are clearly plot devices (Legionnaires can’t be married, they can’t level false accusations against team members and a myriad of others) that fuel plots where someone is kicked out of the club for reasons noble or nefarious.

Power wise members of the LSH fall into three tiers: the big guns (Superboy, Supergirl, Mon-el, Ultra Boy) with the Flight / Invulnerability / Strength / Speed / Vision powers paradigm, people with single powers that are potent or versatile (Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Sun Boy, etc.) who make up the core of the team and people with powers that aren’t immediately powerful (Triplicate Girl, Bouncing Boy, Matter-Eater-Lad, Shrinking Violet, etc.) but who always show heroism and prove their worth. “Strength of character is more important than strength of power” is a big theme.

Other repeated themes use of deception rather than force, the personal shouldering of sacrifice (especially to save loved ones) and loyalty to the team.  The book also had regular tropes:  Deception within team, Expulsion from the team, Threat from within team, Mystery of unknown superhuman, Facing people with your powers, Heroes imprisoned Raider/Pirate invasion fleet,  Giant/powerful monster attack and finally New or returning villain.

These get mixed and matched to for a variety of plots. The LSH’s first appearance is a combination of deception and strength of character as Superboy is tested to see if he can join the club founded in his honor – he fails only to learn that the LSH rigged the tests and the real test was of his character. (The LSH does this so often you might think they’re jerks, but I guess it’s acceptable in the 30th century.)  There’s a surprising number of methods for internal threats: deceptions on other enemies, tricks to test new members, Red Kryptonite affected members, people suffering from amnesia/hypnosis or a villain joining the club to force it to disband. If a hero learns teammates are in future danger it is expected they will try to take that fate themself or to trick teammates into avoiding the threat (possibly via expulsion).

Later periods have new themes. Specifically, the LSH becomes a power unto itself in the United Planets. As such there’s a strong ‘responsibility of power’, a moderate ‘returning threats’ and a small ‘goals and leadership conflicts’ (leaders are sometimes glued to the monitor board playing logistics and worrying about the troops in the field). The shift to interwoven plotting means that we also have personal subplot arising and resolving constantly through this period.

In order to catch the right vibe here’s what I have in mind:

The first round of PCs are 21st century people pulled through time into the 31st century. While they are ordinary in the present they are super human in the future since their bodies have 1000 years less entropy. (Yes, this is ludicrous.) All gain the classic Strength, Invulnerability, High-Speed Flight combination plus a unique power.  The PCs are much surprised by this turn of events.

Members future teen-age super-hero organization, the Centurions, developed this time ray to snag the great heroes of the 21st century to help hold back a pirate fleet. The PCs are fortunately now powerful enough to fulfill the role. Once they finish the time ray wears off and they’re back in the 21st century until the next time the wavelength returns them to the future. These PCs fill the LSH’s Big Guns roles.

The erratic time ray also means that some 21stC PCs can be in the future while others remain behind. The players can create secondary PCs as Weak or Core level Centurions. I’ll create 5 Core-Weak NPCs as the Centurion’s founders, players can make up one Core and Weak centurion each so each player has 3 PCs. In the early episodic phases I’ll give an adventure teaser and let players choose which Pcs are on the mission; I’ll include one of my Founder NPCs to have a GM mouthpiece to explain backstory. As the campaign goes on it switches to an interwoven style with 2-3 plots running at once – players can decide on the fly which of their PCs are in which plots.

I am hoping that many of the player-PCs will phase out in favor of the more differentiated future heroes. Having the similar initial heroes lets the older players guide the younger ones on genre rules and the like and then for the people who like rolling up new PCs to enjoy that aspect while people who like sticking with a single hero can do that as well, though this might lead to a loss of spotlight time in the interwoven campaign as they don’t have Pcs to join some plots.

I’m looking at three distinct phases to an 10 session campaign.

Phase 1: three sessions of two short adventures each. The threats in these adventures are ‘human’ raiders or pirates or thieves, reversed or trick playing team members or alien shape shifters/mind controllers. These episodes all have to include at least one of the 21st century player-PCs and can be spaced far apart time wise to get the feel that the solar system is seldom in crisis.

Phase 2: the Solar System is suddenly always in crisis. This is one-two sessions of super villains either lone, in groups or teamed up with established raiders. Again these are long sessions so I intend to do two ‘plots’ per post, though some of them will be two-parters.  These episodes don’t have to have any 21st century PCs – the 31st century group is established enough to handle things on their own.

Phase 3: five sessions that are two to three plots each, but designed so that two different strands of threats converge into one big endgame in the 10th session. Again there need not be any of the 21st century heroes there, but the team will likely need the firepower at the end.

What to expect for the next month: I’m not designing a set of game mechanics for this one. There are multiple super hero games on the market with their own strengths and weaknesses. I’ll be using lightly modified version of V&V for this myself, and will work out how modifications to DC Heroes RPG/Mayfair Exponential Game System. Next post  is working out the genre rules for mysteries, rotating casts, variable power levels and other things, then two posts of mechanics options and then go on to 10 posts of adventures. There will be some weeks with bonus posts outside the regular MWF structure.

Feel free to stick around.