Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thursday Night Gaming--The Breakout Rolls On

Last Thursday my Google+ gaming group played another session of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, using the Breakout Event as our jumping off point  (I've tweaked a few things here and there to taste, and to react to the players).  You can see the video of the event here:

Highlights

A squadron of SHIELD jets attempted to intercept the quinjet on it's way to the Savage Land.  They weren't going to fire unless fired upon, but they were attempting to cause emotional stress to force the heroes to comply.



Doctor Strange created an detection dampening mystic cloud to help Iron Man lose the jets.  Iron Man used his flying ability to give a complication of "outmaneuvered" to one of the mob dice of the jets, and created a second effect dice as an asset for Banner "Faith in Tony's Flying."



The whole team resisted the emotional stress from the fighters, which means Hulk didn't make a sudden appearance.  Deadpool teleported out, and came back with a giant rocket launcher, which the rest of the group was glad when it missed.  Wolverine got on the com and intimidated a few of the pilots for emotional stress, and Banner got to use his distinction and Tech Master specialty to activate some of the quinjet's countermeasures to complicate out more dice.

The group got away from the jets, Tony did a barrel roll to know off Deadpool  (hey, he can teleport), and they landed at the abandoned SHIELD base Electro told them about.

I was especially happy that we could run a chase that felt like fun, that the players could come up with some good ideas to take out those fighter jet mob dice, and I really liked the "Faith in Tony's Flying" asset to keep Banner from turning green.

Deadpool teleports back on board the quinjet, and then is the first one off because he has to pee and needs to find a bathroom.  I spent the Doom Pool die to have the T-Rex lurking nearby to go first, and it chomped Wade pretty hard.  Deadpool wriggles away, runs back to the jet, and throw Banner at the T-Rex, and rolls against him to cause emotional stress.



Banner, understandably, takes emotional stress and turns into Hulk.  Hulk then grabs Deadpool and slaps the T-Rex hard with Mister Wilson, causing physical stress and retaining a second effect die to give physical stress to Deadpool, which made perfect sense to me.

Wolverine runs up the T-Rex's back, sinks his claws in, and then Doctor Strange casts a spell on the T-Rex to increase it's mating drive and instill in it a desire to find a nice female Tyrannosaur and settle down, complicating out his final large scale threat die.

Now, the Doom Pool started out with 2d6 at the beginning of this act.  I had spent Doom Pool dice in both scenes to keep it down to keep the Rampaging Hulk from coming out  (if Banner takes emotional trauma or the Doom Pool reacheds 2d12 with Hulk around, he goes completely berserk and takes on everyone around him).  Oddly, this was one of those nights that the 1s seemed to be flowing rather freely, sometimes multiple times in a single action.

Oh, and it kept growing despite Deadpool's "Breaking the 4th Wall" SFX, which converts his d6 dice going into the Doom Pool into d4s.

In the SHIELD base, the group found a bit of armor that turned out to be a remnant of the Asgardian doomsday machine the Destroyer.  Then they ran into a SHIELD team that orders them to stand down, consisting of the Yelena Belova Black Widow  (Natasha's replacement, who also ended up working for SHIELD), USAgent, and a mob of SHIELD Mandroids  (which I modified from the Plot Points sight stats for them).

So the fight happened, the Mandroids get taken out by Hulk, some physical stress got passed around on both sides . . . and the Doom Pool hit 2d12.  I tried not to do it.  I even spent some Doom Pool dice to let Black Widow counter attack and to help USAgent, but when multiple people roll 2 or 3 ones on their actions . . . man it's hard not to take that Doom Pool up.



Out comes the Rampaging Hulk.  Rampaging Hulk did an area attack drop the whole SHIELD base on the whole group of people, no matter what side they were on.  Black Widow and USAgent were down, Deadpool was at a d12 physical stress, and Wolverine went to a whopping d8 physical trauma after all was said and done.

Doctor Strange started trying to sooth the Hulk's Doom Pool dice to complicate them out.  Deadpool decided that if he sang the Hulk a lull-a-bye that it would have the same soothing effect as Strange's spell, and I let it work.  Heck, even though it's gear based, in a desperate situation, I let Deadpool have his Weapon trait to consider his mouth dangerous  (yeah, I know, way out there call, but the Deadpool was working hard to come up with something).

The good news?  Deadpool complicated a dice out of Hulk's Doom Pool total.  The bad news?  He rolled enough 1s to add another d12 and a d6 to the Doom Pool in doing so.



Iron Man was starting to lead Hulk away into the jungle when the group decided that they wanted to try and call Captain America, since Cap's player had spent the XP to be able to resolve a scene by calling in a Helicarrier.  I allowed them to do so as long as they could get ahold of Cap, and Iron Man shouldn't have a problem with his communication gear getting a hold of Cap.



Cap calls in his favor, and Dum Dum Dugan's Helicarrier happens to be in the area as well as Director Hill's, and he sends in a squad to heavily sedate the Hulk, aided by Hawkeye with some high tech arrows  (since the Hulk's player was planning on swapping out to Hawkeye until the Doom Pool was low enough to allow for a more tractable Hulk).



All in all, it was a very fun night, but I did end up asking Cam Banks about the Rampaging Hulk situation, to whit Cam came up with a very good idea that I think I'll implement the next time Hulk shows up.  Instead of automatically dumping all of the 1s into the Doom Pool from both the Hulk and the rest of the group, allow the players to spend a plot point and pay it to Hulk to activate his 1s like they would a Watcher character.  Sounds like a great plan.

Still loving the game, and the event, and looking forward to the next session.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Yes, I Bought a DVD to Get a Comic

I picked up the Avengers DVD/Blu Ray set that had the Avengers:  Season One comic with it.  We do not yet have a Blu Ray player yet, because, well, I'm stubborn, and I know as soon as I buy one, the giant push to have downloaded copies as primary media will happen.

Forget my little foibles.  This is about comics.



Anyway, I read through the comic.  For anyone that isn't familiar with them, the Season One comics are a set of comics that Marvel is putting out whose purpose is to retell the origins of their big players.  The crux is that there isn't a big cosmic event that rewrote those histories, it's more a matter of retelling the origins and subtracting out any element that is tied to a specific time.



In practice, while the "big notes" of the two Season One comics I read up to this point where unchanged  (Fantastic Four and Spider-Man), the new, extra details that they add to kind of change the tone of the origin  (and in the case of the Fantastic Four, removing the historical space race and changing it to the race to be the first private space flight into space really shifts how the origin feels).



Ben Grimm's more "thugish" past, Johnny's modeling, Reed's personal assistant and pre-existing business interests, and Spider-Man's agent all kind of shift the stories a little bit, and given that the actual origins don't take that long to retell, the Season One's almost feel like they are more "about" the new elements that have been inserted, rather than the origin itself.

Avengers:  Season One isn't actually like that.  Written by comics veteran Peter David  (one of the reasons I wanted the comic in the first place), it doesn't retell the origin of the team.  Or rather, the main story is not set at the time of their origin, and it is told, or recapped quickly, in a few flashbacks with even fewer details than the other Season One books.

Part of the issue is likely because Season One focuses on the four movie friendly Avengers Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America.  In order to get Cap into the action  (and while acknowledging that he's not a founding Avenger but was found soon after) the story actually takes place a short time after Cap has been revived and joined the team.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot more than the other Season One stories I read.  It reads much more like a "lost chapter" than a "let's retell this the way it would have to happen if all of this went on in the 90s instead of the 60s."  It makes the story feel much stronger on it's own, because it can get to the business of telling a good story, but it doesn't elucidate a new reader much about the origins of the Avengers except that the comic book founders are Iron Man, Giant Man, Wasp, Thor, and Hulk, and that they got together because Loki's plot against Thor blew up in his face.

While I don't really want to see the Avengers origin revised, I have to admit, the original was kind of thin, and it would have been nice to see if there might have been more details that could have been added besides Loki using a few illusions to get the founders to throw punches at each other before Thor remembered that his brother can use illusions.

In a way, that is what this story is, except that it has to take place later in the timeline to take Cap into account.



On it's own, it's a fun "lost chapter" to read, and as far as the art goes, the artists do a great job of adding a few modern touches to Cap, Iron Man, and Thor, without giving them costumes that are unrecognizable to long term readers.  It's worth the read, but if you want it to go in depth into the Avenger's founding, well . . . Loki did it.

I don't regret the purchase.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wednesday/Friday Milestones

Hey, I'm a bit late, but that seems to be the case whenever I have my Marvel game on Thursday.  I certainly don't regret that one bit.  However, without further delay, let's dive into the comics that I happened to peruse this week through the wonderful lens of Milestones . . .

We'll start with Amazing Spider-Man #694, continuing Pete's issues with his sidekick/albatross Alpha. This set of milestones should work fairly well with any reckless and inexperienced hero that pairs up with a more experienced hero.



Can't Stand This Kid

1 XP When you express concern that you less experienced ally might be more of a danger than an asset to the hero community.

3 XP When you use your action to restrain your less experienced ally, or when you use your action to fix the damage that your ally has caused.

10 XP When you decide that you less experienced ally needs to retire from the hero game, and you find some means of leveraging that retirement, or when your words finally sink into you less experienced ally and they become a skilled and careful new hero.


Our next set of Milestones are inspired by the unfolding story in Captain Marvel #4.  It should work out for an acknowledged powerhouse type character that is paired with a more skill based partner, or a character that is the only high powered character in a skill heavy group.



Doesn't Matter Who Thought of it . . . It Worked

1 XP When you perform a support action for a less powerful ally.

3 XP When your less powerful ally successfully performs an action with a resource you provided for them.

10 XP When your ally comes up with a dangerous plan to defeat a serious threat that they plan to complete, and you perform that dangerous action before they can do so to save them from potential serious harm.


For the next stop on our tour, we'll visit Captain America and Black Widow #637, and find Cap a bit confused by who this Black Widow he ran into at the end of the last issue really is.  This set of Milestones should work for a storyline that has a plot or subplot that deals with "mirror universes," shapeshifters, or mind control.


If You Wanted a Face to Face it Might Have Been Less Painful to Look in a Mirror

1 XP When you express concerns that an ally of yours is acting in a manner that is strange.

3 XP When you feel compelled to act against an ally because they are acting severely out of character.

10 XP When you find out that your ally is an impostor, and you subvert their plans, or when you find out that your ally is under the influence of a third party and you free them of that influence.


Gambit's adventures in Gambit #3 are our inspiration for this next set of milestones.  This set of milestones should be something a player works with the Watcher to set up.  A persistent complication, as noted in the milestone, is something that doesn't automatically go away or even step down in a transition scene, it can only be acted against to step it down.

This works very well with devices that won't come off, curses, diseases, possessions . . . all sorts of pleasant potentially long term issues that aren't just an injury.

No, it's not directly related to the Milestones, but doesn't this picture just scream Gambit?


But All I Really Walked Away With Was . . . Complications

1 XP When you perform a reckless action and you receive a complication because of that action, and the Watcher makes that Complication persistent by spending a die from the Doom Pool.

3 XP The first time in a scene when the complication that you received is stepped up.

10 XP When you go to great lengths to remove a complication that your received due to your reckless behavior, and you end up in a more dangerous situation when you attempt to remove that Complication.


And we'll wind up our tour with some Milestones inspired by the action in Secret Avengers #31.  This set of Milestones should work for any ongoing conspiracy that has been running through the event.


Cthulhu Type Nullification Demons at an Airport

1 XP When you come across a situation that makes you believe that a greater conspiracy might be at work.

3 XP When you spend a plot point during a transition scene to help you investigate the conspiracy that you have stumbled across.

10 XP When you finally confront the masters of the conspiracy that you have been tracking down, and their plans stand revealed, and you either defeat those masterminds or turn against all you have known up to this point to join them.





One of Logan's Playmates

I'm not sure why, but I got Omega Red lodged in my brain, so I stared to work up a datafile for him for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.  This is definitely not a minor character "background villain" version of the character, but a rather vicious threat to the heroes.

May still tweak a few things, especially if I end up with some feedback on him.

Omega Red  (Arkady Rossovich)


Affiliations

Solo     d10
Buddy  d6
Team   d8

Distinctions

Russian Super Assassin
Cold Blooded Killer
Vampiric Survivor


Power Sets


Russian Super Soldier Training

d8  Enhanced Reflexes     d8 Enhanced Durability

SFX  Focus  If a pool includes a Russian Super Solder Training power, you may replace two dice of equal size with one die +1 step larger.


Limit Killer instinct When attempting to inflict physical stress and failing, step up emotional stress to add a d6 to the Doom Pool.


Death Field Generation

d10 Carbonadium Tentacles     d10  Death Spores     d12  Godlike Stamina     d8 Enhanced Strength

SFX  Multipower  Use two or more Death Field Generation powers in a single dice pool at -1 step for each additional power.

SFX  Death Field Conduit  Step up or double a Death Field Generation die against a single target. Remove the highest rolling die and add 3 dice for your total.

SFX Lifedrain When dealing physical stress with a dice pool using Carbonadium Tentacles, spend a die from the Doom Pool to recover physical stress or step back physical trauma. Cannot be used with Area Attack.

SFX Overcharged When dealing physical stress with a dice pool using Carbonadium Tentacles, spend a die from the Doom Pool to step up a Death Field Generation power for the rest of the scene. Cannot be used with Area Attack.

SFX Area Attack  Add a d6 and keep an additional effect die for each additional target.

SFX Grapple  Add a d6 and step up your effect die by +1 when inflicting a grappled complication.

Limit Mutant  Add a die to the dice pool when affected by mutant-spe-cific Milestones and tech.

Limit Low Energy Reserves Shut down a Death Field Generation power add a die to the Doom Pool. Spend a die from the Doom Pool to recover power.


Specialties

d8 Combat Master     d10 Covert Master     d8 Crime Master     d10 Menace Master


Feel free to let me know how Arkady here turned out, and especially if you happen to use him!








Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday, Milestoney Wednesday . . .

You know how much work this little endeavor is likely to become next month when Marvel Now launches?  When I have to sell an organ so I can sample a whole bunch of relaunched titles?  Ah well, what's a kidney when it comes to comic book goodness?

The first inspiration for this weeks milestones comes from Daredevil #18.  It is taken from the current dynamic between Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson.  I like to call this one:



I Know You Said Not To Call For a While.

1 XP  When you are in a situation and you realize that a friend outside of the hero community, one that you may not be on good terms with, might be able to help you.

3 XP  When you ask your old acquaintance to help you in some manner, and you then perform a favor for them to pay them back for their assistance.

10 XP  When either your favor or the favor you do for your friend leads to major trouble, and when you resolve the situation, you either fully renew your friendship, or you consider all of your debts to one another paid and you go your separate ways.



The next set of milestones is inspired by Spider-Men #5, and the exchange between young (Ultimate) Spider-Man Miles Morales and older (Amazing) Spider-Man Peter Parker.  Let's call it:




Don't Let Anyone Clone You

1 XP  The first time you are in a buddy or team affiliation with a younger hero that hasn't had some of the exotic adventures that your career has offered you, and you begin to share your experiences with them.

3 XP  When you provide a resource or perform a support action for your less experienced ally after they have encountered some of the the strangeness that has been a benchmark of your career, and is beyond anything they have encountered before.

10 XP  When your less experienced ally defeats a foe beyond their previous experience after you have provided them with a resource or performed a support action in the same scene.


And finally, we'll visit Spidey's old friend Flash Thompson, currently acting as the secret Avenger known as Agent Venom.  This one is inspired by the events of Venom #25.

Let's call it:



Being a Super Hero Blows

1 XP  When current events make you recount the path that led to you adopting an unlikely career as a super hero, and wonder if it's really who you are.

3 XP  When you emotionally stress out an opponent with a Menace specialty using your reputation as a "dark" hero, or when you give an order to a former villainous or monstrous opponent and they follow that order.

10 XP  When you defeat a major threat either because you emotionally stressed out one or more of their minions with your fearsome reputation, or you defeat that major threat while you have a former minion of theirs in either team or buddy affiliation with you.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Possible House Rules, Just Because (Marvel Heroic Roleplaying)

I really do love the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game, so when I do something like this, it's much more of a "let take things out to their logical conclusion/play off of some of the designer commentary" sort of thing.

So I want to make sure this doesn't come across as a "the game plays fine as long as you throw in these house rules" kind of post.  It's more of a "would these work within the current framework without changing the feel of the game?" kind of thing.

Mob Clarification and House Rules




Mobs have a number of dice in their team affiliation and represent a group of foes that take their action as one.  They are generally handy for representing a large number of foes that would be unwieldy for the Watcher to run separately.

It has been clarified that you work on each die of the Mob one die at a time, but it has also been clarified that you could, theoretically "complicate out" an entire mob using a complication.  While some mobs may represent common mooks, others should still be a serious threat that just happens to represent a whole bunch of bad guys  (for example, it may not be a bad narrative for Spider-Man to complicate out a mob of gangsters, but complicating out an entire battle group of sentinels seems like it would be anti-climatic).

So here is my proposed clarification and adjunct house rule.

When dealing with a mob, you work on one die at a time.  If you inflict the same type of stress or the same named complication on the die, it increases that stress or complication until it removes the current die.  So if you have a mob with multiple d6 team dice, if you apply d6 physical stress, and another hero applies d6 physical stress, that die is removed.

If the die steps beyond what is needed to remove the die, you can create another effect die from the stepped up die and apply it to the next die.  For example, if  a mob has d6 team dice, stepping up the stress you apply to a d10 would allow you to apply a d6 to the next die "in line."

If you have area attack, you gain one additional die and effect die for each dice past the first in the mob's team affiliation, but unlike a single adversary, multiple effects of the same type can be applied to the same dice.

For example, if you are fighting a single foe, and retain a second effect die, you cannot apply the same effect more than once to that opponent.  You would have to apply two different forms of stress, or apply a complication to the foe.  This isn't true of a mob.  You can continue to apply the same effect, step it up, and retain extra effect dice to spill over to the other dice in the affiliation of the mob.

Complications work just like they would with a single character, as pertains to a single die.  For example, if you apply a complication to a d6 team die, and it steps up to d8, that die is complicated out and the complication is no longer applied to the mob.  If you step it up to a d10 or higher, the die would create another effect die that you could apply to the next die in the team affiliation.

Hopefully that all makes sense.

Large Scale Threats




So, it's been mentioned that large scale threats at one time did not allow area attacks to be utilized against it, but the current version of the rules do allow it.  Large scale threats really do seem to be major bad guys, so anything that makes them easier to take down seems to be a bad thing.

That having been said, it does seem like an area attack would hit more surface area and mean that your hero was less likely to miss the big guy.  So what to do?

I have not played around with this at all yet, but my initial though is to do something like this:

Area attacks affect a large scale threat, but they worked differently than they do with multiple targets.  Instead of adding an extra d6 and an extra effect die for each die past the first and retaining an extra effect die, instead you can add an extra die to your total for each die of large scale threat.

This means that you are much more likely to successfully attack, and to step up your effect dice, but are less likely to take out more than a couple of dice at one time.

I'm not 100% sure how this will behave, so I'd be interested in putting it through the ringer a few times.

Specialties




I've got a few thoughts on specialties.

Rookie Specialties for Heroes

For 5 XP a hero can purchase a Rookie Specialty in any Specialty that appears in the rules.  This shows a rudimentary amount of training without a lot of practical application of that specialty.

This is much cheaper than other specialties for a number of reasons.

1.  The d6 cannot be split into multiple smaller die as Expert and Master Specialties can.

2.  A Rookie level specialty cannot be used to create a resource by spending a plot point.

This is just a means by which the character brushes up on a skill a bit and can performs reasonably well at mundane tasks in that field.

"Winging It"

A character that lacks a specialty in a given area can attempt to "wing it" and add a d4 to their dice pool if they have no other specialty die that they can apply to that die pool.  Essentially, they might guess about how something works, remember a totally rocking martial arts move from a movie, etc. and get lucky, or they may make things worse with their lack of knowledge  (i.e. growing the Doom Pool or allowing their enemy to stunt off of their bone headed action).

Lending a Hand

Normally a character creates a resource for themselves when they spend a plot point and create one based on one of their specialties.  In this case, if the character creates the resource, and another hero pays him a plot point, the resource can be used by the next character.

The net effect is a cost of 1 plot point, but by making the character with the specialty play for it, it insures that they have a plot point to call in a favor with, and by making the player receiving the resource pay a plot point, it means they are in a position to take advantage of the resource.

In essence, you can't lend a hand if you don't have a plot point and you ally must have a plot point to take advantage of your help.

As always, you can only add in one resource to your die pool without spending a plot point, so it doesn't do much good to lend a hand to someone that already has a resource of the same magnitude as your resource if they cover the same territory.

Feedback




I'm hoping to hear back from some of my regular players on these, and if they would add to the play experience or just make it more complicated.  I'm also curious to hear from anyone that's already playing, or at least perusing the Marvel Heroic rules.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thursday Night Gaming--Breakout Session Four

For anyone that wants to see the game first hand, the video is up here at You Tube:


I implemented a few of the things I wanted to try between session.  Getting an idea of what goal the players wanted to move towards before the session started definitely helped to jump straight into the action and cut down on deliberation during game time.

Still have a few technical hiccups, but those were of the getting disconnected nature, and not really something I can do much to alleviate without some technical assistance from my lovely IT department/wife, if anything can be done about it at all.

Highlights of the evening included the following:



Wolverine found out his nebulous informant was Deadpool, and I allowed Deadpool as an unlockable character, which was done.  I'll see the seeds of that decision next session . . . ;)



Following the breakout at the Raft and the rather serious damage to Ed Gross' house, the team had a press conference that went . . . poorly.  Despite the fact that Cap and Iron Man both made impressive speeches, the Thing muttered on and on about insurance, and Cap and Thing ended up taking the mood of the crowd very badly  (with Cap taking emotional trauma from the event and wondering if he should have reformed the Avengers at all).



Wolverine skipped the press conference and drank beer while watching it on TV in the Avengers Tower.

The whole team flew to Paris to pick up Electro, who was primed for a fight, until Cap and Wolverine intimidated him into surrendering before there was any collateral damage, and Electro spilled the beans about Brainchild and Lykos being taken to some SHIELD base in the Savage Land.



The crew dropped off Electro, but before they could head to the Savage Land, they caught wind of Living Laser, Griffon, and Grey Gargoyle finding out about a top secret prisoner transfer, and attempting a breakout of Baron Zemo.



At the scene, Laser had a hard time injuring the Thing, and barely did anything to Iron Man, Wolverine squared off against the Griffon, and the rising bestial nature in Griffon seemed to cause a similar bestial  response in Wolverine, and the fight ended with Wolverine killing the escaped villain, and Iron Man took Grey Gargoyle out with a few well placed sonic booms.

Cap rounded up all of the SHIELD agents and got them out of danger, but failed to rally them to start firing back at Zemo and Laser, and Zemo fired at a prison transport to cause an explosion that would catch Living Laser in the blast and cause the sacrificed villain to flare brightly enough to cover Zemo's escape.



That leaves Iron Man with Wolverine and the newly recruited Bruce Banner to head up to the Savage Land  (potentially with Iron Fist and Doctor Strange joining them), and (off panel) Captain America taking Spider-Man and Thor to track down Zemo.

The Doom Pool



I had a huge Doom Pool going into this act.  I had 4d12 in the Doom Pool, to be exact.  I wanted to have the Press Conference scene for a few reasons.  One was a chance to burn some Doom Pool, and another was the chance to have an "action scene" that wasn't about fighting.

There was a d10 Public Perception complication in the scene which Cap and Iron Man got rid of, but that still left a lot of pointed questions from the journalists when the Doom Pool acted on it's "turn," with an "area attack" against the player's emotions.

I liked it, and I hope the player's did as well.  It seems very "Marvel" to have Cap and Thing wondering if this Avengers thing is a good idea because of a press conference and to be distracted by that for the rest of the act.  It also made for some interesting roleplaying when the players were trying to decide what to say, what not to say, and if they should even be at the press conference at all.

Storytelling By Selection

I have seen a lot of people, at first blush, view Marvel Heroic as very "railroady" with it's Event based structures.  It is true that the story kind of moves a certain direction, and as with a lot of supers stories, a lot of the story is heroes reacting to events that happen, instead of driving them.

However, what I think Marvel does very well is to give players the option of altering the story in ways traditional RPGs do not.

First, and most obvious, combat is much more varied due to the narrative structure of how it works.  Even if you know you are going into a scene a certain way, I'm betting no other group has Spider-Man string up Armadillo like a pinata for Wolverine to jump on, or has Thor throw the Wrecker his crowbar so they can fight on even terms.  The details of the fight are as much the story in this game as anything.

Second, I didn't realize until I started running an event into a few acts what things like Troupe Play and Unlockables can add to a story.  The Avengers line up can grow with the same number of characters, because the players switch to a new character without having the other character leave the team.  However, if they do want them to leave the team, they can do so and provide a great chance to roleplay.



If the team recruits someone, that can be a story element in and of itself.  Talking Banner into staying with the Avengers or having Deadpool just happen to show up and "help" are player controlled elements of the story that certainly shape the narrative and the tone.

And we won't even go into the discussion of whether or not Cap should have called in his Champion Level Clearance boon and just dropped a helicarrier full of SHIELD agents into a scene to end the scene positively for the heroes.



Really enjoying the game, and looking forward to my Thursday nights running this Event.  Now I just have to come up with a good follow up for it, once we wrap things up.

The Inspiration Was on Wednesday, At Least (Milestones Assemble!)

Yes, I read my comics this Wednesday, but hoo boy does time get away from you when the time machine is in the shop.

So, without further ado, let's look at what the comics caused to sprout in my brain, shall we?

First up, let's look at Avengers Assemble #7.  There were cosmic events!  There were mass battles!  Explosion!  But what inspired me?  Black Widow and Rocket Raccoon both perform support actions that save various heavy hitters that get waylaid in the big fight.



Nice Save

1 XP  When you point out to a teammate the perilous situation another teammate is in, or you nag your teammates about an action they should or shouldn't have taken.

3 XP  When you perform a recovery action on an ally to get them back into the fight.

10 XP  When an ally that you brought back into the fight with your recovery action is the one to end a serious threat in a way that only that ally could end the threat.



The next milestone is inspired by the relationship between Xavier and Scott as explored in Avengers versus X-Men #11, as well as Captain America's acknowledgement of Xavier's expertise in the situation that is unfolding in that issue.



I Put You On This Path

1 XP  When you fail in a task, and you mention that your chosen mentor or seasoned ally would not have made the mistake that you just made, or when you successfully complete an action and you credit the advice that your chosen mentor or seasoned ally has given you in the past.

3 XP  When you create a resource by consulting with your chosen mentor or a seasoned ally.

10 XP  When you reach a critical juncture and realize that no matter how good the advice of the past has been, you must do things your own way, or when you realize that all of your attempts to follow your mentor or ally's path have led to ruin, and you vow to never follow their example or advice ever again.


The next set of milestones is inspired by the team up between Spider-Man and Deadpool in Avenging Spider-Man #12.  There is only one line from this issue that could possibly used for this set of milestones, so without further preamble:



Now Let's Roll Some Twelve-Siders and Crack Some Skulls

1 XP  When your allies express a desire to not have you as an ally, but you express a desire to team up with them.

3 XP  When all of your allies agree that your tactics and methods are wrong, but you criticize their actions instead.

10 XP  When you reveal that your team up had an ulterior motive that is detrimental to your allies, and you either abandon them to the situation you got them into, or they forgive you  (for the moment) and work with you to fix the problem.


This next set of milestones is based on the team up that wasn't, namely Captain America and Black Widow #636.

The World is So Much Bigger Than We Comprehend



1 XP  When you enter a situation that you have more knowledge of than you allies.

3 XP  When you create an asset for an ally by giving up a small amount of information, or by acting against a foe or a situation that is more dangerous than you allies realize.

10 XP  When you eliminate a major threat without your allies learning everything that you know about that threat, or when you let your allies in on everything you know about the threat before you take that threat out.


Finally, this last set of milestones is based on the events of Scarlet Spider #9.



This is Not What I Signed Up For

1 XP  When you begin a scene in team affiliation with a group of heroes that are all members of a formal team, but you are not.

3 XP  When you go into solo affiliation in order to draw a threat away from your temporary allies.

10 XP  When your temporary allies ask you to join their team, and you either vehemently object to joining or reluctantly decide to give it a try.




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

And Now My Failure Is Complete . . .

I thought my deliberating about whether or not to buy the Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG was over when I saw that the beta was sold out on Fantasy Flight's website.  Then I found out that the FLGS was just now getting the shipment of books that they had ordered.



I would like to say that I deliberated, but my panic over the thought that I wouldn't get a shot at looking at these rules took over, and I zipped over to the FLGS and picked up my copy before it was sold out.

I still think that it's a massive mistake for Lucasfilm not to allow for PDFs of their RPG books.  I still think in this day and age PDF support is really important.  However, I've had this stupid Star Wars addiction since I was three years old.  Keeping me away from Star Wars is like keeping me away from Batman or Spider-Man.

I'm weak.

Haven't looked at the book too much, thus far, except to not that it is yet another really beautiful book for "only" being a Beta.  I also noticed that hyperspace travel seems to match the movies and the Clone Wars animated series much more than the "old standard" that was established by the WEG d6 Star Wars RPG.



Also, there is a talent called Utinni!



Man I wish there was a PDF of this.  Still, I had to buy this to justify buying the Star Wars dice app.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Winter War Initiative


At the upcoming Winter War 2013  (if you are in Central Illinois, you should totally swing by . . . don't nod your head like that, I mean it) I am planning on running some slots of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.  I know that I wanted some nice, thematic props, but I'm still slowly assembling my gear.

When running my games on Google+ I have been flipping over the cards that I have the hero and villain stats printed on whenever that character takes their turn, but that means whenever I need to look at the stats, I have to pick up the card and flip it back over.  In the Operations Manual, there is an illustration of a "coin" that flips back and forth when someone takes their turn.



I decided to try and find a suitable "Marvel" coin to use for this purpose.  I looked on online party stores, and found some small Spider-Man "flying discs" that I thought about ordering, but I really wanted something less likely to get winged at me when I spent a d12 from the Doom Pool.




Lo and behold, when I made a trip in person to the local party outlet store, I found a set of Avengers erasers that have a picture on one side and that are blank on the other.  These are perfect for "initiative coins," so I grabbed them.  I may go back and pick up so more, and get the Spidey ones as well.  For some reason I like the symbols better than the pictures, so the more I get, the more I can customize what I use.



Back before I started using my tablet for my Watcher rolls, and using the Dice Tray Pro app, I wanted to have a nice thematic item to hold my Doom Pool.  I ended up getting a plastic Avengers cup  (after fruitlessly scouring the internet for a plastic cup with Doctor Doom on it . . . sigh).  At the party store, I found something slightly better than the cup.



Now, if I ever need that to hold the Doom Pool, there would have to be a lot of 1s flying around the table.  Still, good to know you have the capacity.



Finally, when I run at Winter War, I'm planning on having player's dice all laid out and ready for them. Not every gamer brings 5d8 and 3d12 to a convention, and while I'm all for boosting the FLGS dice sales, just to be on the safe side, I was planning on bringing a dice caddy with color coded dice, which will just be slid to whomever is going next.



I have yet to order it, because I was trying to find something similar "in person," but I found a rather nice five compartment tray online that I'm rather smitten with.

I've got a few months, but the next step is to print out all of the hero datafiles that I want to make available on cardstock, put them in plastic sleeves, and get some dry erase markers for the table so that the players can write the stress, trauma, and complications right on the character sheet's cover.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's So Not Wednesday It's Sunday! 99 Cent Milestones!

Friday Comixology had a 99 cent sale on some issues of X-Men.  Now, I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of the whole Utopia, Cyclops moving everyone to their own sovereign nation storyline.  However, I noticed that some of the books covered in this sale were by Christopher Yost, and honestly, I'll give Yost a shot based on past work.

The story arc in question was X-Men:  First to Last, which has to do with Eternals, stuff from the founding years of the team, blowing up humans real good, who should be the acknowledged leader of mutantkind, etc.

But it led me to this particular set of Milestones, which I have to say, work strangely well with a number of characters in the X-Men franchise.  Or even a few Marvel characters outside of the X offices.


No More Secrets

1 XP  When you find yourself in an action scene and you suddenly declare that there is something familiar about this situation.

3 XP  When you create a resource or asset based on your access of memories that were originally blocked off from your conscious mind.

10 XP  When you use a resource or asset that you created based on blocked memories to defeat a powerful enemy from your past.


Do I Lose My Bloggeristic Credentials If I Didn't Finish? (Quantum RPG)

My side project for the last few weeks has been to read through the Quantum RPG beta rules and get an impression of them.  For anyone that isn't in the know, the Quantum RPG is a "science fantasy" RPG that has been the project of Josh Frost, former Pathfinder Society chief, as well as a major contributor to other RPG products, such as Pathfinder campaign setting books and sourcebooks for the Song of Ice and Fire RPG.



The setting is in the far future on an artificial world that set off from Earth a long, long time ago.  There was a Catastrophe Most Foul, and then the inhabitants forgot most of what they knew about their advanced science, and now you have several species of creatures living on an artificial world, using technological items they don't quite understand and drawing power from the central Prime power source to do "magic" seeming things.



The setting itself is a little hard to peg down.  It's kind of a mash up of Gamma World style post apocalypse (but not as grim, and with better grasp of technology), Warhammer 40K  (again, not as grim, but with that whole, "we can use technology, and repair it, but not recreate it" vibe), and Pathfinder/D&D  (the character archetypes are very much geared towards having some niche things that only that archetype does well, and there are definitely classes that are essentially "science druid" sort of analogies).  Add to all of that a kind of steam punk-ish coat.

The Good

The races and archetypes seem like they would be fun to play.  On top of that, I like the idea that the martial classes don't so much have "powers," but they do have their own fatigue meter, not unlike the "magic meter" for the casting classes, to pull off more powerful stunts.



The vibe actually very reminiscent of some of the better, earlier "science fantasy" RPGs for video game platforms, and I mean that as a compliment.  Some of the earlier examples of these games were great, imaginative games.

The book itself is beautifully laid out, and looks better than a lot of finished RPGs.  On top of that, the artwork is gorgeous.

The Bad

Right off the bat, the book takes an almost scholarly, scolding tone.  Immediately we get what almost feels like a shot at any RPG that has ever had sexy artwork in it, and are told that we will have none of that here, thank you very much.



I get it, but it was heavy handed.  It almost makes is sound like the Quantum RPG is the first RPG that will be concerned about not objectifying women.  It also struck me as a little odd that we get hammered with just how equal men and women are in the Quantum setting, and then have an archetype that is drawn primarily from among the ranks of female orphans.



That scholarly scolding tone doesn't go away once you move on from gender issues either.  There are a few races that have certain personality traits, but once those traits are introduced, we are immediately told not to play those traits as one dimensional, because that is the wrong way to have fun with this game.



The whole section on emergent complexity can come across as a bit preachy as well, as does the game's version of rule zero, which has the much more lecture hall friendly title "The Rules Incline Us, They Don't Bind Us."

Josh, however, is a talented writer, and I've enjoyed his Pathfinder and SOIAF material, so I didn't want to let the tone of some of the sections get in my way of reading the material and finding out if I would like to play Quantum.

Diving into the rules . . . well, how can I sum up the rules?  If you take the concept of Pathfinder/D&D with it's classes and races and change that to archetypes and races, and then meld that concept onto a percentile resolution system like the old Warhammer Fantasy/Current Warhammer 40K RPGs, but then rework the percentages into columns and turn them backwards, so that good is a high roll instead of a low roll, then you add in multiple damage tracks, so that before your character hits "zero," they might have four or five conditions tacked onto them, and on top of that, your "magic meter" or "fatigue" to limit your stunts or "spells" isn't just a meter, it's also a damage track that also might give you four or five conditions before you hit zero . . . well, that about sums it up, I think.



On top of that, there is a whole section talking about how the combat system should be played like chess, and you choose a stance and hide it from the Guide, and he does the same with monsters, with the implication being that combat should be transparent, but have so many options that it can be mastered by savvy players.

So if you are a Guide that wants to tell a story, and it includes combat, and you are too busy with juggling story and campaign and the needs of four or five players to get something out of the session to learn the fiddly bits of the game and how X maneuver should be used with Y action to produce Z effect in order to challenge your players . . . you will probably end up throwing overpowered stuff at your players and hoping for the best.



So you basically have all of the complexity of d20 merged with the complexity of 40k RPGs.  And you should be playing chess as well.

I still had the section of the rulebooks detailing "equations," the setting's equivalent to spells, to go by the time I wrote this, but nothing in the rest of the book would indicate to me that reading through the "spells" would make the rest of the game look less complicated.

There seemed to be some real personality to the setting itself, but some of that gets filed down with all of the scholarly "don't play it this way" commentary, so that it feels like it's almost interesting, except that everyone at the table must be willing to be combat chessmasters that create deeply nuanced characters, or else you're doing it wrong.

I don't want to be overly hard on Josh Frost.  The game looks beautiful, and there seems like there is a lot to like between the covers, but the initial complexity of the offering makes it unlikely that I would spend the time to drill down to the good stuff and come up with any potential solutions to make the finished product any better.