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The Ultimate Geekdom

Started by DaveA, November 10, 2006, 02:44:28 PM

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Hello, all.

Last night I began teaching a friend the rules for Capes.  We didn't get far enough to provide any serious insights into the game.  What did make the attempt interesting (I think) is the environment in which we were playing:  The City of Heroes MMOG.

My thoughts were these:  Capes offers what CoH lacks (open-ended narration) and there /may/ be people interested in that.  I know I am...and I know there are others.  But how well does CoH accomodate Capes and will others stand still long enough to try Capes?

First, the character set-up:  I made it easy on him by using his CoH character's powers as the basis for his character sheet, and then just got him talking about his character.  I made the ability lists for him based on that conversation, sent them to him via ingame email for him to prune and prioritize.  Very quick and painless...and he was very excited that it gave him an opportunity to think about his character's attitudes and not just his powers.  He does that anyway (one reason I tapped him), but he was really into the idea of doing it for a reason other than his own satisfaction.  We skipped Drives and Exemplars because I didn't want to overtax him with too much info.  I sent him the character I planned to play (which took me about two minutes to create, based on one of my own CoH characters).

After that, we started playing.  I started the first scene playing a villain robbing a bank, and he had his hero fly in.  We free narrated the basics (the police force shattered by my villain's advent, the hero flying in, my villain ordering his robotic minions to delay the hero...) and then I took my action by declaring a Conflict:  Goal - Doc Apoc steals the money!

He then asked, "So I assume my action is to try to stop you?"

So, I explained his Action options to him in more detail at that point...which meant explaining powered and non-powered abilities, debt, and conflicts.  He took it all in, then said, "So, I could declare my own Action:  Super Soldier puts Doc Apoc in jail..."

At that point I thought, "Oh crap, if he does that I'll have to decide whether I want the money and go to jail...or to get away free and broke."  I was excited to see this dynamic of Capes in actions...and proud of my friend for picking up on it so quickly!

Unfortunately, he had to call it a night at that point (it was about 3AM), so we never actually resolved the actions.  We were at it for 2 or 3 hours, but I could see where once he was more familiar things would just fly.  Although we never rolled dice, we could have...there's a die rolling function in CoH that has the characters actually roll a 6-sided die.  ;)

Observations / Concerns:
1)  The atmosphere is tough to beat.  Players see each other in costume...some of them hovering, some of them radiating cosmic power, some of them with the robotic minions standing around, etc.  Also, it's a ready made player base of superhero gamers with time to play something.

2)  CoH has social tools that cover many of the basic needs associated with Capes.  Unfortunately, there's no easy method of keeping track of the many rapid changes in stakes and dice in multiple conflicts.  In game email might work...but it'll be cumbersome.

3)  Although its nice to borrow the CoH environment, it's also a distraction.  People pay a monthly fee to play, and the game offers animated opponents and stock story lines for players to go be superheroic with special effects.  There's also hundreds of other players running around engaged in their own weirdness.  Is playing Capes really how they want to spend their 2 U.S. cents per minute with these other options available?

4)  CoH, like most traditional RPG setups, offers a level-based power hierarchy.  Capes doesn't...which may dissuade people from playing.  One thing I'm considering is a House Rule that increases total Drive scores based on CoH level.  A range from 1 at the lowest levels to 10 at the highest.  Not sure how unwise this would be, given my limited experience with Capes...although it seems like it would provide a reward for players to play the CoH game, rather than asking players to fight that impulse.

So, there you go.  My first experience and an experiment with an unusual online venue.  More on this if/when I give it another shot.  If anyone has any questions, comments, or suggestions I'm all ears!


I'm actually wondering if a flash-based chat room or chat client might be ideal for online Capes play.  It would need a random number generator for a die, minimum - but could include many tracking features to speed up play.  Including Conflicts, Depts, Drives and Story Tokens.

Matthew Glover


I am, though it's on hiatus for a bit - my life is just a bit chaotic right now, with the company I'm working for closing down. Incidentally, if anyone knows of a company looking for a good Java programmer, shoot me a PM, please.
Current Verson of Capes IRC Bot, CapesVTT:
Get it


Yeah, that would be a cool alternative.

Unfortunately, most of the people I know who are interested in this sort of thing (and lots more I don't know who may be interested) spend a good portion of their online time in CoX.  Convincing them to gives Capes will be challenge enough if I can incorporate CoX.  Asking them to drop out of the game to play sets that hurdle a little higher...and loses the atmospheric advantages of playing in CoX.

Again, though, an interesting alternative.  Thanks for mentioning it!

Last night started setting up an environment in CoX to play:  A poker table and a few chairs in a dark storage room.  This is a private space in the virtual reality that I can control access to, which eliminates some of the concerns about distractions.  Not all of them, but some.

Still not sure what happens if I set total Drive scores on a scale of 1 to 10.  Seems like it'll mean that low-end characters need to be /very/ conservative with their powers and with Staking, and high-end characters can be a bit more prolific.  Which /is/ the dynamic I want.  Any thoughts?


Possibly you could allow the addition of traits - mostly non-powered traits.  It expands the descriptive usefullness of the character when being involved in a conflict.

Guidelines on recommended traits would be good too - social traits, combat traits, movement and things.  Good for making up new archetypes and letting people know how to make a viable character.

As to online gaming - the crowd to appeal to for this is the PBeM folk and those interested in Interactive Fiction.  Possibly MUDders as well - a server running an LPMUD or similar could be easily modified to handle the system.


A note on online gaming- I've started working on a phpBB message board for Capes gaming.  It includes die rolling, but I need to work on templates for message (ie a poster puts up a new conflict and the message body gives a standard format).  I'll start a separate thread when it is usable to game on.