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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 82 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Agon] AGONY Supervillain Mod  (Read 1858 times)
Remi Treuer
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« on: March 04, 2008, 07:17:18 PM »

I've run Agon as an opening game for the past two Camp Nerdly's, and I'd like to do it a third time. However, variety is the spice of life, and I'd like to try my hand at modifying the game a little.

The basic idea is that instead of playing boastful Hellenic-era Greek heroes competing for renown and immortality in song, the players will all play power-mad, boastful supervillains competing to rule the world. I think the basic mechanics will work right out of the box with some name changes, but I'd like the game to have some form of superpowers.

My mind immediately went to the Antagonist-only Powers section, which covers most of the classic supervillain powers (teleportation, speed, special attacks and defense, etc). My question right now is if it would be a bad idea to give the characters 2-6 points of Powers from the Strife list instead of a Heroic Trait. Would this break the game, or unbalance it horribly? My guts say, "No", especially if I come to the table with a couple of packages of set Powers the players can choose from. It seems like this would be a good way to give each Supervillain a nice differentiated power set for that little bit of added flair without giving a confusingly broad array of options.

Any answers or additional thoughts welcome.
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Ben Robbins
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2008, 09:59:01 PM »

I would stay away from Powers and use Heroic Traits (redefined as things like speedster, brick, mentalist, etc) and descriptors on common Abilities to differentiate characters.

I've had Agon conversion on the brain recently so I've been thinking about this thing a lot.

Agon is about all the heroes being able to do the same thing so they can compete in the process. It works as Greek heroes because basically they're all supposed to excel at a common set of virtues. Compare that to something like a classic D&D party where division of labor is the buzz word -- if the thief is the one that picks locks, there basically is no grounds for competition.

So back to the supervillain example, say you have an Ability called Movement. For one villain that's flying, for another that teleportation -- it's just description, it doesn't change what you can do with it. The point is that if you have a simple contest of Movement, everyone can compete even if some start off better than others. And of course if your "comrade" has too much of an edge, you use some other ability as a creative ability, just like normal (I can't outrun the missile, but I can TK it instead).

I do like the competitive supervillain idea and I think it should work with Agon, so long as you focus on similarities between characters not differences (or rather functional similarities disguised by cosmetic differences, like in the fly/teleport example).
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
John Harper
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2008, 09:35:02 AM »

I was all set to agree with you, Remi, but then Ben comes along and ruins everything. Smiley

Hmmm. Ben makes very good points. But I think that giving the supervillains some of the NPC powers is a cool idea. Ah... how about this?

You let them activate NPC powers by spending divine favor = to strife cost. They can describe the special effect of the power based on what sort of super ability they have. That way, the level playing field is maintained (everyone has access to the same powers, mechanically) and they have to be smart about how they spend DF and which powers they use.
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Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
Remi Treuer
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2008, 10:43:30 AM »

Ben,
What you've described is essentially the heart of the renaming scheme that I've been tinkering with. So, yeah, Might will be Super Strength, Aim will be Death Ray, etc, etc, etc. It won't be 1-to-1 all the way, but it won't be a super-different spread of abilities.

John,
I'd like to avoid Powers just being another thing ONLY Divine Favor does. I think that would lead to system mastery issues, as a person who really knew the Powers section would have a big advantage out of the gate over someone who didn't.

Also, I don't really like the Heroic Traits and I'm looking for a reason to dump them. Adding +1 here, or +2 there is always a headache, especially for stuff that's not used super-often. I'd much rather have an easy-to-understand 'Power' that must be consciously used.

However, Ben's right to say that introducing niche protection into Agon runs against the grain. What if each character has a Power 'freebie' that doesn't cost Divine Favor to use, but can access any of the other character's powers for a Divine Favor cost equal to Strife?

So if Dr. Gorn has 'Fireball Hands', he can use that whenever, but if he really likes the Son of Doom's First Strike, he can pay two DF and power up for an extended combat. However, he can't use Poison if no character at the table has it.
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Ben Robbins
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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2008, 07:52:52 PM »

Ben,
What you've described is essentially the heart of the renaming scheme that I've been tinkering with. So, yeah, Might will be Super Strength, Aim will be Death Ray, etc, etc, etc. It won't be 1-to-1 all the way, but it won't be a super-different spread of abilities.

That seems to cross-link type of action with the weapon, which will limits things a bit.

Say instead you rename sword => scrapping and spear => brawling -- the terms are just placeholders meaning good at fighting really close up and good at fighting slightly more broadly, like swooping in and punching someone Superman style or hitting them with a telephone pole. Aim stays aim and works for any ranged attack, shield => defend (which could be dodging, invulnerability, whatever -- for simplicity we'll mix them all together rather then deal with armor).

Determining your weapon aka attack power is a moot point in Agon but probably much more important for supers. You could let the villains raise the dice of their chosen attack to highlight their powers and make some attackers better than others:

- Weapon-X clone uses sword (2d6) for his claws so he can be super-offensive, and he raises the dice to d8/d8.
- McSpeedster uses javelin for his zip-and-punch, but instead of raising the javelin dice his pumps up Defend so he'll be hard to hit (because you can't use Aim to block).
- Mighty Man has spear (d8/d6) for his super punch but raises it to d12/d6 -- kablam! Now he can really whomp someone and if he blocks instead he's really hard to hurt.

Non-combat abilities like Might could also represent powers the hero has rather than direct abilities. So Dr Mentat might be a weakling, but if he has massive TK powers he could still have a d12 Might, because he can lift cars just like Superguy. If you wanted to be clear you could mark it as d12 (d4) on his character sheet to distinguish between power and bodily abilities. The sorcerer has d10 (d6) Orate if he uses his charm magic, etc. Doesn't make a real mathematical difference, but it would highlight when the character was using powers. Or it could force players to describe actions in a way to get their dice -- do you want to resort to mind control to get that d10 Orate? If your Scary Shadow power let's you intimidate people for d10 Orate you could obviously only use it if you were trying to be scary. Invisible Tyrant can get d12 Cunning if he uses his invisibility, not for lying to people.

You could also write a brief list of "what the powers do" at the bottom of the character sheet, noting where the dice raises come from: Scary Shadow can cloud men's minds giving him d10 Cunning, etc.

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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
Ben Robbins
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2008, 12:55:19 PM »

If your Scary Shadow power let's you intimidate people for d10 Orate you could obviously only use it if you were trying to be scary. Invisible Tyrant can get d12 Cunning if he uses his invisibility, not for lying to people.

If it was a fairly limiting (say usable in only about half the cases where the ability would normally be used) you could even give 2 raises for the price of one.

Am I getting carried away now? It's all your fault Remi!
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Ben Robbins
Lame Mage Productions / Beast of Kolkoris free Agon adventure
Ars Ludi / game theory blog
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