Friday, May 24, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 12

12: Game Mechanics Changes - V&V

After all that hoo-ha it’s time to do some game mechanics! As I stated at the beginning I’d likely use Villains & Vigilantes. V&V has an awful lot going for it, but for our purposes it’s big selling point is that powers are clearly separated from the rest of the character – if your hero is super strong it’s because you have the power of Super-Strength, which integrates seamlessly into your attributes but stands on its own. That makes Frequency easier to integrate as a concept. Plus, the really iconic super heroes can boil down to a handful of key abilities, which V&V does without getting bogged down into a lot of in the weeds rules.

It’s not perfect, however – that same ‘view from 500 feet’ ethos that works for the powers makes it hard to model the supporting cast PCs. Sure, someone can have a range of above average stats and hold their own in a fight, but as written it doesn’t model skills that don’t reach to the super-human level (doubly so when it’s an out of combat skill). Backgrounds are loosely defined, which can be a blessing or a curse. I discussed some rules mods back in the Heroes of the United Worlds posts and I’ll be reusing some of them here.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. In lieu of all other actions in combat characters can make a Feat % to add another Strength Multiple to their carrying capacity. This costs 5 Power Points, takes all actions and goes on Initiative 1 at the end of the round. This gets heroes into the movie levels of super human strength without going nuts.

4. Rules 3 applies 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’
D10 normal normally becomes d12 when ‘pushed’
D12 normal normally becomes 2d8 when ‘pushed’
2d8 normal normally becomes 3d10 when ‘pushed’
D20 normal normally becomes 4d10 when ‘pushed’

5. 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.

6. 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.

Now on to the “new” rules

7. Increase the basic HTH chance to 8 – people are just better able to hit. However, you should also place the modifiers for weapons AFTER defenses, making weapons less useful against defense types. This privileges super-types who have defenses as their ability to punch mooks is unhindered but the mooks don’t have that advantage.

8. A character has 2 Backgrounds that count at the ‘broad’ level or 1 at professional and 2 at ’focused’, or 4 at ‘focused’. The difference is in the background’s Penumbra (thanks to Chad Underkoffler for that term) – Broad level is assumed to include a wide array of skills, experience and contacts – a DOCTOR is assumed to have experience with all fields of medicine, instrumentation, contacts in specialized fields and anything else a doctor might do. Focused backgrounds are smaller in their penumbra, with at most one or two contacts and little experience outside the area noted on the sheet – such Doctor would have a specialization in, say, anesthesiology or ophthalmology, in which they may be very skilled (based off their intelligence) but lack the polymath level of their DOCTOR compatriot. All of this links to rules mod #1.

9. Supporting Cast members have a power roll of 1 (so 3 rolls, 1 power or 2 powers + weakness) and those powers should be either on the skills table or designed in such a way as to be extreme skills or other things that aren’t exactly powers. Feel free to get a little wacky with some of these – Nurse Betty has the power of Summon Bondage Incident, after all, so fidelity to the genre rules is much more important than reality. Secondary heroes roll up as normal.

10. For the main heroes go as broad as you want with the powers once they’re rolled – don’t focus on the rulebook except as a starting point. The main heroes probably still have a limited number of Powers as concepts but they are able to be very versatile with those powers. If their heroes have a background of any sort of experience they should be level 4 when they first appear; assume 2 levels of improvement between movies.

That’s all we need to do really to get V&V to work for this. I’ll again stress that it’s just a wonderful system for iconic heroes. The later rules will make more sense with the example heroes next week.

That’s all for today – I’ve been told by reliable sources that my blog posts run too long (Me? Wordy? Never?!?!) and it’s late, so I’m going to cut this one short.

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