Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rogues Gallery

I've been having fun killing time making Bad Guys for the upcoming to be released currently non-existent game.
Some names: Scarlet, The Herald, Nightfall, LEGION, Cardinal, Impact.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


So... planning the various orgin events I was thinking about nemeses... villains that have their origins linked to the heroes in some way.
This can be overdone. As is a recent trend in super hero movies of late.
But I think a nemesis, if done correctly can be valuable. Properly done, the nemesis can:
1. Provide a recurring villain for the hero, the first suspect.
2. Work in the background if needed, doing inexplicable things which only later make sense (and so can provide a deeper element to the world)
3. Have a built in motive that doesn't involve self-aggrandizing (although they certainly can be that as well).
4. Be a sort of 'rock' for the character to cling to when doubting their role. For example: Batman may see the crime on the streets growing, a villain escape or be released from custody on a technicality. But when the Joker shows up and has some sinister plot, it is difficult for the Batman to just shrug his shoulders. He is part of the reason the Joker is out there doing his evil. And so he can't just leave it alone. (Substitute Superman and Lex Luther, X-men and Magneto, Spiderman and the Various Goblin(s), etc..)

In a group game, one might think a singular nemesis for all of them (like Magneto, or Dr. Doom) could be the way to go. But, there is a value to an individual nemesis which seems more important. A group of individual nemesi(nemesises?) could on occasion team up, but they should probably be special to the character most of the time. I think.

So problem. If everyone in the group has a special nemesis, it seems a little lame. Unless there are lots of solo adventures, the point of a nemesis might be lost in the rotation.

Possible Solutions.
Different kinds of nemesis.
1. The revenger - the hero is somehow responsible, in the villain's eye, for some serious loss (injury, spouse, humiliation, bankruptcy etc.) This could also be an NPC hero.
2. The former partner or teammate. The reformed villain might have old allies show up as enemies of the group. They might be especially nasty to the traitor, or try to lure him back.
3. Parent/Sibling/Child/Creator - Similar to the above case. Ambivalence is a good source.
4. Rival - Scientific, Economic, Acrobatic, etc.. The hero and the villain share some apptitude, the villain cannot allow the hero to be better than her. So she does what she can to humiliate the hero and prove him second best.
5. The 'Ex' - always a volatile combination super powers and the love/hate relationship. This can also work with 'Unrequited love', 'Super Fan' a la The Incredibles, or Ex-friends after an affair or the like.

Should these be introduced at the origin, or can they be worked into the game later. That is a tough question. If they are integral to the character becoming the hero, they might need to be brought in early.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mental Grapple

I may float this idea over at the Atomic Think Tank.
But I have a minor tweak for Mental Grapples. I was thinking, that, in general, the Mentalist has a pretty strong advantage over typical (low will save) opponents in this contest (and since it doesn't require a To Hit roll) it will usually work. So my minor 'fix' create something like Escape Artist for Mental Grapples.
I would think that Bluff seems the likely candidate. But as I think about it there are numerous possibilities.
So here is the plan:
Mental Grapple check apply your Will Save bonus, Wisdom Bonus, Mental Power or Bluff check to escape as per Escape Artist. If you have the Startle Feat, you can use your Intimidate skill instead of your Bluff Skill.
With the use of a Hero Point you can use and Interaction Skill as a substitute for your Mental Grapple check.

This will probably not have a huge impact on the game. But will make it possible for the sly, subtle, or fierce characters to have a slightly better chance at escaping the mental grapple.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Story Arcs

So here is my thought. Each character in the new game should have a story arc. Since we are starting pre-super-powers part of the arc will be gaining powers, coping with them, developing them, developing a super heroic identity, mastering the powers.
Okay so far so good.
But then what? Presumably there are new and different arcs.
How far in advance do these things need to be prepared? I am used to running PCs pretty much as a though they were live agents, and not worry too much about any arcs. But for this game I think there should be something that happens to each, that precipitates the stages of the arc.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

What do I need to know?

I am making plans for the new game. And was thinking about backgrounds for super heros before they are super heros.
We can get the job, name, etc..
But what information is really important to developing into a hero?

What will make this person become a hero?
What gaping whole in your personality canonly be filled by becoming a hero?

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Responding to concerns about Evasion.

I was going to say that Evasion is necessary for light Toughness/high Defense characters. Since Area ignores Defense, Area wipes these characters out otherwise.

None of the red flags listed in the Power Gaming posts were meant as out right bans of the power or feat. Instead they are just that, I will pay particular attention to them.
I agree that PL trade off characters with low Toughness scores need some kind of trick to survive area effect attacks. I will probably be hesitant to allow Evasion 2 as a purchased Feat, but happy to allow people to heroic effort it.
The other red flags are, again, alerts to the player and GM.

Comments enabled

Sorry about that.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mystery Character Generation

Normals - PL5 any number of points (no powers/no super human abilities).

And then, there is the problem.
In theory, I am building the Super Powers for the characters Post Event. No problem. I can do that.... but...

The Devil is in the Details.
I could "finish" the job, of the players by (a) deciding the new traits and (b) working out the details. This would be relatively easy. But, it isn't exactly what I want to do.

How can I give the players some measure of control over character generation, and still keep the genre of the discovering their powers?
One Thought
(1) Start them with some minor traits (super senses, feats, super movement, etc..) "They know something is different"
(2) At some point in the story under stress a power manifests itself. "A bolt of lightning lances from your hands to the gas pump igniting into a conflagration." "You've got Blast" or whatever. And then let them play with it using Hero Points and Extra Effort. I give the PC the power write up after the session...
(3) Giving them the option to make any such use a permanent part of the character.
(4) Repeat for a while.
(5) Once they've gotten 75% or so of the character completed this way. Let them assign the remaining points. Do a sort of Training Montage with them either training solo, in the group, or under the tutelage of some instructer.

Power Gaming (redux)

Active Power Cost Cap.
In addition to the PL cap, I think I will be using a rule of thumb active power cost cap which will be the cost of the power +extras+power feats. This cap will be some number probably PLx2.

This will make players make some interesting choices regarding their characters' powers.

Power or Flexibility?
The ubiquitous Alternate Power Feat would be less common I think if people would have to sacrifice ranks of maximum power for the various power feats.

Ex. PL 10
1. Exemplar
Blast 10 (Light) (20pp)

2. Flexor
Blast 8 - Light (PF - Accurate) (17pp)
AP - Dazzle (1)
AP - Blast (Extra Area) (1)
AP - Strike (Extra Aura)(1)

I think most players would rather have Exemplar and Power Stunt the other effects.

I may allow the APC to rise with XP before the PL cap to allow for some flexibility as they gain experience.

Mystery Powers

One benefit of mystery powers, is that all powers will match my ideas of genre and fairness without question.

One difficulty would be making the obvious ones, (the ones that they would easily discover) equally interesting and useful.

Mystery Characters - In Between Time

Another issue with Mystery Powers, is the "in between time." In a typical game between the actual sessions, there is the "in between time" that is assumed to pass, without actually role playing it.
Now, in a game of this sort, I would expect people to say that they are 'testing their powers' trying new things etc.. virtually every moment that they are not engaged in adventures.
So, how long can 'mystery powers' be kept mysteries?

Possible solutions.
1. Let people use 'off-line' communication to do practice and give them feedback. This would reward postings to a game blog, or listserv with tangible improvements (or revelation) of their abilities.
People who want mystery can keep it, by not doing anything, or posting other activities apart from practice.

2. Run the games 'back-to-back' in game-time, so there is no down-time without the GM being there. They can practice, but you can interupt the practice with adventures.

3. Give them one or two powers, and lots of experience points, so they can 'build' their character up from near scratch. However, make them submit their new characters and apply a 'line-item-veto' to any powers you don't want them to have yet.
This looks too much like normal character generation to me...

Mystery Characters

Running a poll over at ENworld about making mystery characters. PCs would build "normals" either talented or not, and then I would "give" them super powers, which they would need to discover along the way. As they begin to get a better idea of their powers, they would have the option to influence the build though the use of Hero Points and Experience Points.
I like the idea, in theory.
But here is the thing. People really like to make their own characters. And a system like M&M makes it fun to design your own character. Wouldn't this campaign idea take away from that?
Is there anyway to preserve the "Mystery", "discovery","Development" phases of this idea, and still leave teh players mostly in charge of their characters.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

M&M Campaign

Toying with the idea of an M&M Campaign

1. PCs are among the first supers in the world. Maybe lower power level, fighting other new supers, or maybe lots of unpowered people.
2. Running a Freedom City game.

Both have advantages and disadavantages..

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Power Gaming

Some feats and powers are potentially game unbalancing or just too good for the cost.
PCs will need to justify them: conceptually and by game balance, before I allow them.
Game balance will need to show why they are 'needed' to keep the character competitive, rather than why they are good to have.

Evasion 1 - Cheap and easy way to make a character semi-invulnerable to area attacks.
Evasion 2 - Ditto, only totally invulnerable.
Improved Grapple - Two attacks per round! (Not for characters with powerful melee attacks)
Power Extra - Aura - Two attacks per round! (Not for characters with powerful melee attacks)
Power Extra - Linked (In general I will add the save modifier together for PL purposes)
Save Drains - I am considering making these more costly or require more time.
ESP - I may make Mental Grapple more difficult.