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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Our bi-weekly DC Heroes game  (Read 1811 times)
wyrdlyng
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« on: October 22, 2002, 06:24:53 AM »

A few weeks back our group needed to shift from D&D to a new game as my wife, our GM for the campaign, was getting bombarded with schoolwork. So I volunteered and threw out some suggestions. The group wanted to get away from Fantasy and bit at my Superheroes ideas.

The game uses the old DC Heroes system (which I love) and is set in the DC Universe. The main change to the setting is that Superman stays dead after being killed by Doomsday. The heroes are a new group set in the modernized Metropolis. The basic premise is relatively new, powerful heroes trying to make a name for themselves in the shadow of the world's greatest hero.

The group consists of the following:

1. Nomad: A Dragonball Z inspired brawler (superstrength and martial arts) on the run from the being who enslaved his race.

2. Blink: A highschool student with teleportation, a pocket dimension, and that is mutating into a form resembling the X-Men's Nightcrawler. He's chosen to have some troubles from his family come back to haunt him (so I will make sure that they will).

3. Amp: Earth's electrical elemental (though she doesn't know it yet) who was transformed into a ball of lightning and can control electricity.

4. Mastermind: A wealthy industrialist who's given himself minor telekinetic powers through self-experimentation (his Dark Secret) and that created a helmet to boost these powers even further as well as to protect his mind.

5. Inferno: A secretary at a University with complete control over Fire.


The first session was simply to let them get used to the system and their abilities by having them take out some power-armored bank robbers. They easily defeated the robbers and found a camera-device which was recording the battle. A botched attempt to reactivate the device resulted in Mastermind being hospitalized.

Observations from the first session:

1. The group is very powerful but it's almost as if most of them haven't realized it yet. While one character, Nomad, is straight-forward strong the rest have very "loose" powers (flame Control, electrical control, telekinesis, etc.) but didn't do much with them.

Amp's player, my wife, definitely did and she used her electrical control powers well. She took out her attacker by interfacing and taking over the power armor and captured the camera by simply turning off the power. Inferno, despite the great versatility of her abilities, did little more than try and fry her opponent even after it was shown that his armor was resistant to her flame.

2. Blink's player has horrible luck which will lash out against him at least once a session. In this case his opponent kept rolling extremely well and almost KO'ed the hero. On the positive side he used very creative tactics and dropped an armored car on his opponent.

3. Mastermind's player needs some coaching on the use of his abilities. He has several powers and can shift points around between them. This combined with severable variable gadgets (similar to all those "Bat-" gadgets from the old Batman TV series) grant him an amazing level of versatility. The problem stems from the fact that the player is very indecisive and tends to freeze when forced to make a choice.


The second session had an alien bounty hunter coming after Nomad and blowing up his apartment. Nomad and the bounty hunter were similarly matched and they fought through most of the session before Amp got tired of it and short-circuited the bounty hunter's brain. Inferno dealt with her soap opera-esque love life and arrived to the battle late. Mastermind blew off a meeting to deal with a hostile take-over of his company and arrived on the scene late. Blink was on the scene of the battle between Nomad and the bounty hunter but was in his Secret ID and (with the player's usual bad luck) got knocked out as part of the collateral damage.

Blink and Mastermind later ran afoul of another alien looking for Nomad. Mastermind's unusually hostile demeanor and use of Telekinesis triggered a fight with the alien. In a case of horribly underestimating their opponent both Blink and Mastermind were KO'ed. Mastermind ended up with some broken ribs. The alien turned out to be Nomad's romantic interest.

Observations from the second session:

1. Blink's bad luck continues. He got clobbered from a falling villain in one instance and then got dragged into the fight between Mastermind and the second alien.

2. Simple bangs work well in Superhero games. Most of the ones that I'm using come from their players' subplots. Just throw them out and the players take it from there.

3. Give the player's some slack and they'll hang themselves. Both Mastermind and Inferno furthered their subplots nicely through their roleplay and decisions. Though I, and most of the group, don't really understand why Mastermind's player had him pick a fight against the alien.

4. Some player's still need some coaching on uses for their powers. This is mostly Inferno and Mastermind. Inferno has a Flash power to blind enemies but never uses it preferring to deep-fry them instead and then growing frustrated when they don't cook well. Mastermind's player need to learn to a) stop spreading himself too thin and b) use his gadgets to help him.

5. Some of the group still doesn't quite get how powerful they really are. Amp tried to illustrate this when she went to the Antarctic and helped a scientific group heal much of the damage to the Ozone layer with her electrical powers. I hope to help show them further next time we meet.


Overall observations:

1. True power in a Superhero game comes not from raw power levels but from versatility and fine control. Especially since most Superhero settings work on "Comicbook physics" (meaning that if it sounds good it can work).

I'll use Amp as an example again. She is a ball of lightning and can generate and control electricity. That's her core concept. She's expanded that into controlling electrical devices, telepathy with humans, a "mental" attack by messing with a person's electrical impulses and sensing people by their electrical fields. She's working on molecular transformation by altering the charges on subatomic particles and transporting herself over electrical lines.

2. Give the players what they want. Nomad's player likes to brawl. I threw a very physical opponent to test his limits. Inferno's player likes more roleplaying so I'm giving more time to her personal life. Amp's player likes exploring her powers and developing her character so I give her chances to use her power creatively and also allow her to slowly transform her character into a true elemental. Blink and Mastermind's players haven't really figured out what they want yet.

3. Simple, flexible, "loose" rules work best for superheroes. Not something I newly learned but it gets reinforced each time we play. Tight and strict rules transform superhero campaigns into "guys with neat powers" rather than "legendary heroes".
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Alex Hunter
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