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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 144 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Superheroes  (Read 3706 times)
Jared A. Sorensen
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« on: December 09, 2001, 07:10:00 PM »

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joshua neff
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2001, 10:05:00 PM »

Actually, going with the freeform, I just had an idea. Every superhero game I've ever seen falls into the gamist/simulationist pit of "balance" & "accuracy", where all of your abilities are quantified & qualified, & therefore solidified--which makes it difficult to emulate the freewheeling weirdness & surprise of the best superhero comics.

So, what if you had an RPG in which each character has a Power trait, which is what you roll whenever you use your special powers. But your powers are just a list & can be anything, from "super-analytical mind" to "flight" to "superstrength" to "has everysuper power you haven't thought of". When you create your character, you just list what superpowers s/he has, & whenever you use them, you roll your Power trait. And if you want to do something super that isn't among your listed powers, you can roll, but with a negative modifier. Maybe with "experience points", you could eventually add a power to the list (like the Invisible Woman developing the power to make force fields).
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2001, 06:00:00 AM »

That's kinda what I was thinking.

What I was thinking was that each time you use your power, you get a check. When you amass as many checks as points you have in your power, you get a new power (related to your existing one) or you can raise your power score by one point.

Or you can just develop a totally new power at your whatever the starting score is (this is the score that would be modified by issues).
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
mahoux
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2001, 07:05:00 AM »

One more post! One more post!

I have never playeda superhero game (my friend Sean had me make up a couple of Aberrant characters but he never ran a game with me in it) but this seems like a fun concept.

I like the issues idea.  I don't know if I missed it but does this game necessarily need a GM on beyond someone playing the NPCs.  It could be played with all the players taking a crack at working the story.

Josh wrote:
"So, what if you had an RPG in which each character has a Power trait, which is what you roll whenever you use your special powers. But your powers are just a list & can be anything, from "super-analytical mind" to "flight" to "superstrength" to "has everysuper power you haven't thought of". When you create your character, you just list what superpowers s/he has, & whenever you use them, you roll your Power trait. And if you want to do something super that isn't among your listed powers, you can roll, but with a negative modifier. Maybe with "experience points", you could eventually add a power to the list (like the Invisible Woman developing the power to make force fields)."

This is a very simple and cool idea for power use and ability.  One problem with superhero games is the use of power and how much you can do and blah, blah, blah.

On the 'has every super power you haven't thought of', wasn't there a character like this who lost the power when another comic book character gained it?  This could be another great device - a hero going to use the power of ice breath and finding out he has lost it.
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Taking the & out of AD&D

http://home.earthlink.net/~knahoux/KOTR_2.html">Knights of the Road, Knights of the Rail has hit the rails!
erithromycin
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2001, 08:01:00 AM »

There's a comic where the hero gets a different power every time he wakes up. He also resurrects after death, so there are issues where his powers are useless, so he tops himself hoping for a better thing to use. Huge chances for angst. I do like it though.

Might want to add something to reflect gaining sidekicks and stuff. Not sure if that's positive or negative though. Actually, ignoring the powers for a bit, depending on how comicy you wanted to make it, possible things that could cost you points include two-page spreads [big splash panel fights], better dialogue, hologram first editions [this is a joke], and the like.

drew
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my name is drew

"I wouldn't be satisfied with a roleplaying  session if I wasn't turned into a turkey or something" - A
sdemory
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2001, 08:26:00 AM »

I love superheroes, and superhero gaming, with a passion matched only by my frustration at not being able to pull and keep people in a superhero game. In my experience, players tend to play it too safe and close... alternately, you've got a party of six moody borderline-psychotic loner vigilantes, which works well for player interaction and dynamics. When you've got people fighting over who gets to break the goon's knees, you know it's time to play something else. So it goes.
    The Issues mechanic's got a certain elegance to it- of COURSE Batman's got big power; he's got big Issues. Doctor Strange has interdimensional, twisting reality, mystic Issues while The Question's issues are much less notable and, hence, he's some guy with no face and a good right hook.  
    What I really like is that it provides a feel for what the players want to do with the superhero genre. I'm tempted to use the Issues list as a pre-game survey when I successfully pull together a superhero game (when the planets are all in alignment, rivers run backwards and pigs fly.)
A note: I hope this doesn't bump Insecterotic on your game list; that one's got some definite resonance as I read the Mojoworld stuff in my misspent youth as well.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2001, 08:46:00 AM »

Hi Jared,

For RPG stuff, check out the Variable Power Pool, which first appeared in a supplement to Champions 3rd edition. It was developed very powerfully in a later supplement called (I think) Mystic Masters, one of the finest products ever from Hero Games.

Also, didn't Clinton's Panels address many of the "issues" issues that you're talking about for superheroes?

Best,
Ron
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2001, 11:52:00 AM »

Clinton's supers game is the best thing ever. No way can I top that. This is just a different take on it (I can't resist trying, after all).

But man, Panels. Damn.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2001, 11:58:00 AM »

Plus, Panels isn't finished.

-Clinton, the great un-finisher of projects
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Clinton R. Nixon
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sdemory
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« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2001, 12:27:00 PM »

 This Message was edited by: sdemory on 2001-12-10 15:32 ]
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Damocles
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« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2001, 01:43:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-12-09 22:10, Jared A. Sorensen wrote:

Anyway, as a reward for accepting certain issues as "okay," the player is given more points to spend on his or her character.


The problem I see here is: How will this work out in practice if one player accepts a lot of issues and another only a few? The weaker character won't be equipped to plausibly deal with problems that pose a challenge to the stronger one. Maybe the issue points should be linked to...I dunno...meta-game influence? Or you could rank the issues by preference instead of chosing them?

I guess I don't really see how this would be an improvement over just asking players which issues they would like to/feel comfortable about exploring with their character.

Quote

And making this the longest rambling post ever (okay, not quite...but if I had some more parantheticals, who knows?), does anyone have any ideas about dismissing some of the more common (and boring) ways to deal with super powers?

IE: The Big List o' Powers (Marvel), build your own horribly customized powers method (Champions, DC Heroes), power "packages" that are fixed (Brave New World) or added onto through XP (D&D, Vampire -- both superhero games, more or less)...

I'm not sure that free form (like an OTE-inspired method) is the answer. Or maybe one of the above is suitable. I dunno.

Go!



Ah, now this is a good question. I like what I've heard about Godlike so far: A list of powers plus a freeformish system for adding new ones.

Personally I think the core issue here is that people get a sense of wonder out of their powers. I really dislike it when you have a team of heroes where _everyone_ can fly. I mean it really takes some work make the power of flight seem boring and mundane. Almost as bad as generic energy beams. What you need to do, I think, is to emphasize the reality of everything. If you shoot a flame-blast and miss something should start burning somewhere. Plus, the powers should affect your whole identity. What does it _feel_ like to have a flexible body? Squeezing through a keyhole: is that painful, uncomfortable, does it tickle? And so on.

What I would do in practice is to make a big deal out of learning to master the powers because that's where stuff like that really comes to the front. Superstrength is just more interesting if it means you have to be careful about it. (A good example is Squadron Supreme's Hyperion who pretty much just couldn't hit normal people without at least hospitalizing them) The other idea that comes to mind is to link the powers to some kind of personality mechanic.

That's all kind of vague I guess. Oh well.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2001, 06:23:00 PM »

Bing! Taking a page from Orkworld (et al), group character generation!

Characters are created from a pool of points. Taking upon extra issues raises the point total.

...bzzzzt! Brain frizzle! Okay, wow. Cool. That is pretty much like how Trouble works in Orkworld. Okay, yes...team creation, definitely (thanks, John!).

I'm going to work on this some more.

The setting will (most likely) be one that I came up with around the same time that I started working on Schism -- It's called Hourglass. In this setting, humans can be modified to gain super powers, but at the cost of their life. I think I talked about this somewhere before. Feel free to zing questions and ideas my way.

(Immediate thought: perhaps it's a bit too dark for this game? I think I may scrap that and go with more of a Doom Patrol-ish game about superhero teams. The system seems to be steering in that direction anyway. Need to chew on this some more)

Oh, and did anyone catch "Walking with Prehistoric Beasts" Sunday night? Kick ass! A Megatherium (giant ground sloth) rocked a Smilodon (sabre-toothed cat). It was cool.

Oh, and I baked cookies!
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
sdemory
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2001, 08:02:00 PM »

Three cheers for group character generation! Three cheers for baking!
    Seriously, I like the group character thing quite a lot, as I expect it would create a team dynamic by virtue of its very nature. Very nice.
    Don't know about the super 'til you die thing. It's a bit Strikeforce: Morituri. Nonetheless, it's got a certain thing to it.
    And keep baking. It makes everything better.
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joshua neff
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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2001, 09:20:00 AM »

Well, I would prefer the Team game to the Death game, especially with a Doom Patrol flavor (original or Grant Morrison only! Have you seen the new series? So far, there's absolutely nothing to distinguish it from any other half-assed superhero book. Bleah.) I like the idea of Team Points & building from there. Like in the JLA--Superman & Wonder Woman use more points than Batman or Plastic Man, but the team balances out.
I like Sean's idea of Archtypes, but it seems like it could get kind of iffy. What would Rebis' Archtype be? Or Crazy Jane's? I feel like the answer is somewhere in the orbits of Over the Edge & Hero Wars/Panels. Or something.
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
sdemory
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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2001, 11:16:00 AM »

    Both Rebis and Crazy Jane would probably count as Channelers of Arcane Power in their own ways, if we stuck with my quarter-assed template system, with Jane having more points than Rebis (as is shown by the range of her power.) Some sort of control mechanic might be needed, though; I'm always prone to adding rules, though, so take that with a grain of salt.
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