Sunday, July 29, 2012

On the Radar: Christmas in July Sale at RPGNow


July's coming to a close, but you still have a chance to pick up some items during RPGNow / DriveThruRPG's biggest sale of the year: Christmas in July!

Here are a few things I'd recommend considering picking up:
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics is one of the recently-released Old School retro-clones that has garnered quite a number of good reviews. Very tempting. Price is down to $18.74 (from $24.99).
  • Runequest 6th Edition is also on sale; it would make a fine addition to your RPG collection. I did a detailed armchair review on RQ6 earlier this year -- you can see what I think about it there. Price is down to $18.75 (from $25.00).
  • Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is also in the running. I also recommend this game, though as I mentioned in my review, it is more of a narrative game rather than a traditional RPG. The rule system supports more of a 'narrative engine' rather than a 'physics engine' for superheroics. Price is down to $7.49 (from $9.99).
  • To go with that, you may wish to pick up the currently out Marvel Heroic Roleplaying event: Civil War. This should give you everything you need to play in this polarizing, universe-changing event. Please note that the link leads to the 'Essentials Edition' of the product. Essential Editions are like a sourcebook for the Marvel RPG; Premium Editions bundle the rules into the Event Book as well. Price for the Essentials Edition is $13.49 (from $17.99).
  • Last for my five recommendations is the Yggdrasill RPG Core Rulebook -- an RPG for adventuring in Scandia as one of the brave, fate-driven Men and Women of the North. I'm still working on my armchair review of this, but in short -- it's excellent! Price is down to $18.74 (from $24.99).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dark Corners of Mystara: Dragon Kingdoms


Dragons are very much alive and active in Mystara, though not necessarily visible to the lesser mortal races. In an article by Bruce Heard on the Vaults of Pandius titled "Who's who among dragons", there's a list of the kingdoms, and some of the movers and shakers that caught my eye:
  • Almaruddya: The ruler is Marudi, a 14-HD blue dragon. His lair is located at the southernmost end of a rocky desert strip, near the centre of the Emirates of Ylaruam. Marudi's territory covers a 40- mile radius, including the oasis of Hedjazi, his main watering point. Marudi's invisible lair is a typical Alasyian palace with a large throne room, except that it is guarded by lesser djinn. Marudi is a mischievous creature who enjoys fooling others, especially his foes. He is a master at illusions. When he sees a worthy victim for his pranks, he may cause his palace to appear as a small oasis. Marudi is likely to assume the shape of a desert prince or a rich merchant. His pranks, as annoying as they may be, are most often inoffensive except to true enemies. Marudi tends to underestimate his foes to the point of being outright cocky. Aside from his jovial habits, Marudi is a rather peaceful creature. The youngest among the Known World's huge dragons, he is 98 years old and particularly skilful as a thief among humans and dragons.
  • Amburyr: The ruler is Ambur, a 17-HD red dragon. Amburyr covers the Altan Tepes Mountains within Rockhome and the Dwarfgate Mountains separating Darokin from Ethengar. Ambur's lair is located in the ruins of Jhyrrad, 50 miles northwest of the City of Stahl. It occupies a large, dwarven-made hall under the city. The city is crawling with his followers, especially hobgoblins. Ambur is a young, successful dragon, merely 152 years old. Impulsive and bloodthirsty, he seeks to destroy whatever stands in his way. He uses fear and raw power to rule. Ambur has been relying on a greater talisman of elemental travel to surprise his foe s. Ambur will save this item until he is ready to attain Immortality. Ambur became a direct rival of Amanth after he mated with her. He also is an ally of Jargnir (see later) against Druuwor, whose mountain territory he covets.
  • Argosyl: The ruler is Argos, a 14-HD green dragon. Argosyl occupies the Dymrak Forest in Karameikos, on both sides of the Rugalov River. Argos' lair lies 48 miles north of Rugalov Village, in a cave under a small hill on the east side of the river. The dragon must immerse himself completely in the Lake of Lost Dreams in order to reach the entrance. The forest is guarded by several tribes of wolf-riding goblins that have submitted to his rule. Argos is 148 years old. Very quiet, he always prefers stealth and trickery to violence. Argos' sphere of influence has spread steadily to the north, seeking to rally further humanoid tribes. Argos' worst enemy is Attura (see later), with whom he once attempted to mate. He was almost bound to her as a result but narrowly escaped. Argos fears Attura and has been seeking an alliance with Marudi in case of all-out aggression. Argos' flaw lies in his inability to make quick decisions. He hesitates and worries far too long for his own good. Other dragons taunt Argos by calling him Argos the Worrier.
  • Khanistan: The ruler is Khanistar, a 17-HD blue dragon. Her lair is located on the World Mountain, at the centre of the Land of the Black Sand in eastern Ethengar. Khanistan stretches 80 mikes from there in all directions. Khanistar's lair lies deep inside a tall mountain that is dotted with sinister towers. The towers, built by magic over the centuries, are covered with stone barbs and talons. Minor dragons and other lesser minions occupy these towers, remaining constantly on the watch. Khanistar is a long, coiling, serpent-like wurm, Oriental in style, with large globular eyes and light blue scales. She has no wings but is skilful enough a spell-caster to overcome that limitation. She spent most of her 180 years of life seeking magic. She built an impressive library of rare and ancient spells, including a few abominations dating from Nithia. Khanistar relies heavily on magic manipulation for reaching her goals. Khanistar is famous among dragons for using pocket dragons as spies or messengers. These are specially bred strains with blue scales, She mated once and so far has remained neutral with other dragons. Her weakness lies in her excessive attraction to magic. She may agree to suspicious deals just to acquire an old spell or lost artifact that she's been seeking for so long.

I'm tempted to find a home for the DCC module Vault of the Dragon Kings somewhere in Mystara. While it should be placed in some out of the way location, it might be fun to place it in some surprisingly central location, like the Altan Tepes mountains, amidst impassable ranges and unscalable mountains.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Comic Book Physics: Superspeed and the speed of light

One of the joys and pains of playing superhero RPGs is dealing with physics, chemistry, and science in general. Superpowers tend to violate so many laws of physics; incorporating them into gameplay tends to make you realize exactly where your lack of knowledge begins and ends.

A post from the "What If?" blog (not related to the Marvel Comics series by the same name) by that dude behind xkcd answering the question "What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?" shows us the kind of game-stopping answer we'd likely get to similar questions about superpowers.



Thank goodness for the Speed Force and the 'frictionless aura' of the DC Universe speedsters who do tend to approach the speed of light.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Inspiration: Diwanis of the Enchanted Garden

Here are some pics from a new Philippine Fantaserye titled Enchanted Garden. Don't know too much about it, aside from the fact that they've signed up some of the sexiest women in Philippine Showbiz (and one of the funniest -- I love Ruffa Mae Quinto's comedy work). Pictured below are the Diwani (a play on diwata, commonly translated as being a faery or nymph, but closer in local myth to being a local goddess of nature).

Here they are while I figure out what the show's about.


Diwani Alvera played by Alice Dixon


Diwani Valerianna portrayed by Ruffa Gutierrez


Diwani Quassia portrayed by Ruffa Mae Quinto

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Game Names: An Intro

They say Tolkien started the Lord of the Rings with the languages and the names of things. And though I didn't know it at the time, it did have an effect on how I weighed other fantasy novels -- the quality of naming, I mean. There was something dark about the word nazgul, and eerie how it tied into the rhyme for the ring (ash nazg = one ring). It gave weight and consistency to place names like Mordor and Barad Dur.

Of course, when gaming, we can't all invent a language or a culture and then figure out the naming of our characters and thing. And sometimes, in a wahoo-type of game you're going to run into characters like Bob the Barbarian and artifacts like The Big Black Book of Evil Sh*t.

But well-named characters tend to stick in our minds, especially when their names roll off the tongue or add to our concept or understanding of the characters by living up to or living down to their names or evoke some sense of character even before walking into a room. Morgan Ironwolf may have had a pic to help her out, but Black Dougal and Gutboy Barrelhouse gave you an instant hook in your imagination without that aid.

In the future I hope to tackle names of well-known people, places, and things in RPG settings. I won't just talk about how they made me feel, but also how some associations and connotations of the names might give GMs (and Players) ideas for further game development.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Earth 641: Maltusians, Kree, Oans, and other blue races

The Goal

An ill-advised attempt to connect the prominent blue-skinned races in the Marvel & DC Universes.

Maltusians -- The Progenitor Race in Universe 641

There progenitor race of the Kree & the Oans had an empire that was ruled from its intergalactic capital of Maltus. However, both have their own records and history about a member of their race (unnamed by the Kree, Krona for the Oans) who dared to delve into things beyond their remit -- resulting in a race-wide punishment. Whether it was motivated by a desire to see the beginnings of the universe (Krona) or to use a reality-warping crystal to control all the universe is unknown and irrelevant; the truth is lost in the distant past. It could have been both or something far darker.

The Maltusians were either cursed or traumatized by the effects of that exploration and experimentation. Rumors and accepted history vary, but they say it resulted in: a) splintering the universe into a multiverse; b) unleashing evil into the universe; c) creating the anti-matter / negative universe. It was a watershed event -- this ill-advised attempt at understanding or controlling the universe resulted in a splintering and scattering of the race.

Through processes unknown to other races, the progenitor race modified itself or was cursed -- the more conquest-driven members of the race became the Kree (blue and pink-skinned), the guilt-ridden scientists and philosophers obsessed with control became the Oans (blue-skinned) and the Controllers (violet-skinned), and the Zamarons (blue-skinned females). The more pacifistic, withdrawn members became the Watchers (pink-skinned). There may be more of their race -- hidden enclaves, lost tribes, exiled luminaries -- scattered or hidden across the stars in unknown locations. What is known, as that their awesome knowledge base splintered, fragmented, turned in on itself, and mutated in strange ways across the millennia.

The Kree

Originally a faction obsessed with righting the wrong that they had unleased, they became a very militaristic organization -- some say the first attempt at an intergalactic constabulary -- that eventually lost sight of their goals. It is rumored that they had their higher technologies stripped from them by the other remnant races of the Maltusians and became a barbaric race haunted by memories of their once bright past. It is also rumored that the 'genetic dead-end' for their race was compounded by a further punishment from the Maltusians, somehow locked into their genetic code.

Perhaps this is why they were banished to a world where they were forced to live in harmony with the Cotati. Perhaps this is why they strove so hard against the same Cotati to win a chance at higher technologies from the Skrull. Perhaps this is why they ultimately slaughtered the Cotati and that Skrull faction for the advanced technology being offered as a prize.

Their empire has grown and shrunk across the years due to wars, most often with the Skrulls, but sometimes with the avian-descended Shi'ar.

The Oans (Guardians, Controllers, Watchers, etc.)

A continuously fragmenting and splintering race due to ideals, philosophies, and strategies, the Maltusians who settled on Oa -- now calling themselves the Guardians -- retained their great abilities and technologies. Still driven by a desire to right wrongs, and undeterred by the first intergalactic police force people by their own race (which they stubbornly refer to as the Hallas), they tried several other strategies: the Manhunters, the Green Lantern Corps, the New Guardians. Offshoots like the Controllers created the Darkstars and the terrible Sun-eaters.

They seem hostile to the concept of emotion and passion (and sometimes compassion), which has -- more often than not -- caused many intergalactic races and empires to be wary of their attempts to help the universe through their paramilitary organizations and weapons.

In recent years, their control over a preferred source of reality-bending energy known as "The Glow" has erupted into a so-called 'War of Light', involving their Green Lantern Corps.

Shades of Blue

Surely not all blue races are of Maltusian descent. However, some humanoid races of note may have same claim to that genetic lineage:
  • Talokians -- a race of humanoids of varying shades of blue that have produced wielders of Starlight and wielders of Shadow. The former is a race obsessed with conquest, the latter is more xenophobic and isolationist.
  • Centaurians -- blue mystics with crests on their heads, able to control metal with sound; is this a lost tribe of warrior-philosophers?
  • Atlanteans -- are the blue-skinned members of this race part of a breeding experiment with Kree DNA in the earliest days of the human race?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Armchair Reviews: Asuang -- Shapechanging Horrors

This is an 18-page sourcebook for D&D 4e that deals with a fair number of well-known and lesser known Filipino monsters. Being an absolute 4E noob, I cannot comment on the ruleset realization of the creatures. However, on other matters...

Asuang: Shapechanging Horrors is a good sourcebook if you want to introduce a change-of-pace set of monsters into your campaign, especially if your players are intimately familiar with the Monster Manual and the 'acceptable variants'.

The asuang are akin to vampires (viscera-sucking rather than blood-sucking), werewolves (monsters by night, human-looking by day), and doppelgangers (not human, no matter what you might think), but have a mythology and logic and flavor of their own that can be quite dangerous if players assume they're dealing with the more common monsters.

I think that the statement early on really brings out the strength of these creatures:
Rather, people fear the asuangs because when the sun rises, an asuang can wear the face of a perfectly normal person: a merchant, priest, friend or neighbor... When a loved one is revealed as an asuang, it means that at one point, he or she was consumed painfully and replaced by the monster.

Of course, even that rule isn't closely followed by all of them. And that variety (within certain thematic similarities) makes them truly horrible foes.

I like the format, organization, and informational density of the sourcebook. It starts off by establishing the asuang in broad strokes, touching on what people think about them, what they think about themselves, and suggestions about how they might fit into a DM's preferred setting. I particularly like the rumor that "asuangs are otherworldly reflections found in the world: busaos and sigbins are reflections or lycanthropes; manananggals are distortions of shapechanging vampires".

Each monster has the following informational elements, in addition to the various monster stat blocks for a given asuang and its variants:
  • monster name, general description, and behavior
  • monster tactics -- how they monster fights when acting alone, as a mob, or as part of a mixed group
  • monster mythos -- what lorekeepers believe about the creature, its beliefs, its origins, its motivations and its occasional variants

Some of my favorite bits in the book:
  • the Balbal -- a version of the Mananaggal (an asuang that, at night, separates from her lower half and sprouts bat wing before going off to hunt viscera from humans) that has lost its lower half and has gone even more feral and vicious;
  • the Tianak -- the undead creature created from infants and the unborn; a terrible creature to inflict on the more noble members of the party because of its tendency to appear as a child in need as a trap;
  • the Tiktik -- the evil elemental demon spirit that the pre-Mananaggals must join with in a ritual to become fully asuang.

I heartily recommend picking up this sourcebook to spice up the encounters of a complacent, know-it-all adventuring party.

Armchair Reviews: Eldritch Skies

I already posted my review for Eldritch Skies on RPGNow / DriveThruRPG, and I really wanted to give it a 5-star rating. Unfortunately, my preferences in terms of organization, structure, information architecture, and layout really came out and I had to downgrade by one star.

Here's the review as it appears:

First the negative: this book is not really laid out (or organized) to my tastes. It's done in a competent manner, but there are certain slips that, in my opinion should be addressed to make the book stronger and easier not only to read, but also to use a as a reference book. In general, I do agree with the ordering of the material, but I feel strongly about trimming the 'game fiction for flavor', a more refined layout from the two column approach, and a more detailed table of contents.

Next, the positive: this is, surprisingly, a different take on the Lovecraftian mythology. It goes purist in that it ignores a lot of the post-Lovecraft additions to the Mythos, but allows for both the pessimistic and optimistic Lovecraftian play. And it takes the characters into space, allows characters to play with sorcery, forces characters to deal with the various races on Earth and beyond, and exposes characters to Hyperspatial radiation.

The games you play here could easily echo a Twilight Zone episode or Bradbury's Mars tales, your games can inject a sense of exploring the unknown, pushing the limits, and taking mankind beyond its cradle into a dangerous universe that could easily kill him or, strangely enough, king him. Not all endings need to result in the deaths of the protagonists -- some might survive, or even thrive as Randolph Carter did in the Dreamlands.

The juxtaposition of the open secret of hyperdimensional travel with the strange dangers of the mythos-filled universe is interesting for me. The actions of world governments and individuals in the timeline feel plausible and interesting to me, and the opportunities for a different type of space adventure / horror / exploration campaign are very appealing.

I also like (though I've not playtested) the unfolding of the cinematic Unisystem ruleset to allow for fast play. The character templates give a broad spectrum of recognizable archetypes, the character creation rules and gear give enough twists to optimize and ready your character for adventure.

I would like to add several things however:

This is a densely detailed, finely crafted setting. It provides standard kits for different types of military and scientific teams. It details a wide variety of realms and worlds that humanity has gone to or can go to. It provides a ready kit of well-known (and lesser known) creatures and dangers to threaten the PCs with. And it manages to maintain a Science Fiction feel despite the presence of the Lovecraftian elements. You don't get that overwhelming 'small band of heroes against a government conspiracy' feel that you do in Delta Green (which I love); in Eldritch Skies you get a 'humanity with all its strengths and foibles against the sea of unknowable terror and wonder that is the universe' vibe.

There's potential here to celebrate exploration of the universe, to celebrate the human spirit that seeks to push farther and delve further into cosmic mysteries than it has any right to, to celebrate cooperation and conflict and courage. There's also potential to expose all the ugly sides of the human condition -- greed, pride, and a lust for personal power at the cost of other peoples' lives and loves.

It reminds me of the potential of shows like the early season(s) of X-files and Earth: Final Conflict, and of (as mentioned above) the Twilight Zone episodes about space exploration and the Bradbury Mars Chronicles -- a wonderfully dark merging of science and weirdness that somehow avoids becoming science fantasy (which it technically is) and somehow avoids being merely horror in space.

If this is your kind of thing, give Eldritch Skies a shot.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On The Radar: A Godlike Yggdrasil Shadowrun

Three books are out now that you may want to take a look at.

First, a fantasy RPG where you can play Norse heroes adventuring in a world defined by Norse history and myth. That's Yggdrasil, released by Cubicle 7 Entertainment.

As heroes in search of adventure, glory and immortality, you will take part in great battles which will lead you from the snowy plains of Jutland to the halls of kings. Perhaps your characters will become heroes recognised by Odin the Formidable himself in his feasting-hall in Valhalla, as he awaits the time of Ragnarök, the final battle against the giants and their kin, which marks the end of the time of legends and of the Gods themselves.

Mercenary or hirdmen, berserkr or noble, prophetess or sorcerer, Fate will guide you through frozen fjords, deep seas, and monster-haunted forests. Skalds will sing of your exploits for centuries to come!


Second, a revised version of the 'gritty',WWII era metahuman RPG Godlike.

GODLIKE features an intensively researched alternate history, the depth of setting and character for which award-winning author Dennis Detwiller (Delta Green) is famous, an innovative rules set by Greg Stolze (Unknown Armies), and a complete "D20" rules conversion by Mike Mearls.

This new edition of GODLIKE includes corrections and revisions throughout the book based directly on the feedback of gamers over the years since GODLIKE first appeared.

It also includes a new appendix with further rules options adapted from GODLIKE sourcebooks and campaign books by Dennis Detwiller, Allan Goodall and Shane Ivey: squad combat rules, bombardments, minefields, the One-Roll Patrol generator, new powers and more.

Third, Shadowrun 2050. This sourcebook allows people to play with Shadowrun Fourth Edition rules but set in the original starting timeline of the game (the timeline has been advanced throughout the rules edition releases).

Chrome eyes. Computers called "decks." Big hair, big cyberlimbs and bigger guns. It's Shadowrun in the year it all started. Take a step back to Shadowrun's roots with Shadowrun 2050, a book that combines Fourth Edition rules — the smoothest, most accessible rule set Shadowrun has ever had - with the setting that first made the Sixth World a legend.

Shadowrun 2050 has everything players and gamemasters need to dive into the grimy beauty that kicked off one of the greatest roleplaying settings of all time. With information on how to adapt Fourth Edition Matrix, gear, and magic rules for the 2050 setting, as well as in-universe information about the powers of the world, what shadowrunners will be up to, and who they'll be running into, Shadowrun 2050 puts a new twist on the classic setting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fixing the TOC of Eldritch Skies

It's frustrating to review something with a very unhelpful table of contents. And that's where I am with Eldritch Skies.

No, I don't read RPGs in sequence. I normally select the chapters based on my own preferred pattern of reading, honed by many years of not reading and learning RPGs. Plus, I occasionally need to refer back to the book and seldom have the exact location of a rule memorized.

Being confronted by a Table of Contents that says (for the most part) "Chapter 1, p. 20" and "Chapter 5, p. 162" isn't very helpful.

For those of you following along at home (assuming they haven't revised this in the meantime), here's a more helpful TOC:
  • VECTORS, p. 6 (Introductory Short Fiction)
  • INTRODUCTION, P. 11
  • CHAPTER 1, P. 20 -- The Eldritch Past & The Mythos Present
  • CHAPTER 2, P. 50 -- Civilians and Operatives
  • CHAPTER 3, P. 98 -- Rules & Gear
  • CHAPTER 4, P. 142 -- Arcane Secrets
  • CHAPTER 5, P. 162 -- The Realms of the Mythos
  • CHAPTER 6, P. 198 -- Eldritch Threats & Alien Wonders
  • CHAPTER 7, P. 242 -- Storytelling Advice
  • APPENDIX, P. 258
  • SERENDIPITY, P.268 (Ending Short Fiction)

And yes, I feel that there should be expanded listings on that Table of Content page (even if it's a smaller font). Furthermore, I think that the page numbers should not be off by 1 either (leading you to the last page of the prior chapter).

I'm still slogging through, because it really has a nice feel -- and may be worth merging with all the other Cthulhu stuff I have for Trail of Cthulhu and maybe even with another Unisystem game that deals with alien conspiracies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Armchair Reviews: Backlog for July 2012

I need to read and review two RPGs:

  • Eldritch Skies -- an intriguing take on space travel + Cthulhu Mythos
  • Yggdrasil - Norse fantasy adventuring

I need to read and review one more RPG and one sourcebook by Filipinos:

  • Asuang - Shapechanging Horrors for 4E
  • Gods of Gondwane - an RPG with an intriguing premise reminiscent of... well you'll just have to see the review.

Get crackin', man!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Enigmundia: Cantrips of the Faithful (RQ6)

In Enigmundia, the faithful followers of the Pio Familia (Holy Family) and the powerful Tres Hermanas (Three Sisters) faction in particular, were taught rote prayers that would aid them in their daily lives. While ostensibly calling on the power of the Tres Hermanas, they only seem to work easily (+25 to +05% to skill roll depending of the size and holiness of the relics that consecrate the locations) within a certain distance of a city or town or shrine consecrated to them.

Beyond that, it becomes more difficult to call upon these effects (standard roll), and in wilder areas less frequented by mortals, they do so at a penalty (-5% to -25%).

In RQ6 terms, this is a reskinned Folk Magic skill with the following prayers (spells) associated with the Pio Familia. The format: prayer name (RQ6 Folk Magic spell) -- other spell notes.
  • Prayer to the Watchers of the Threshold (Alarm) - a plea to the Watchers -- messengers of the Pio Familia set over a house or home -- to aid mortals who must guard doorways or homes.
  • Prayer against the Evil Eye (Avert) - a call to the power of the Tres Hermanas to banish curses.
  • Prayer for Peace (Calm) - an appeal to the Tres Hermanas for the triumph of reason over rage.
  • Prayer for a Watcher's Aid (Coordination, Might, or Mobility) - a plea to the Watchers to guide one's hand or enhance one's skill.
  • Prayer for a Watcher's Strength (Might) - a plea to the Watchers to lend a portion of their strength to mere mortals.
  • Prayer for a Watcher's Wings (Mobility) - a plea to the Watchers to lend a portion of their fleetness to mere mortals.
  • Prayer for Protection from Harm (Protection) - a plea to the Tres Hermanas to cloak the target in the safety of their robes.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Earth-641: Superman Timelines

I've found two alternate timelines online that combine the DC & Marvel universe, and I'm reading through both of them to get a feel for what is involved in this effort, and how I can get away with the least amount of work.

Here's an edited version that I've found on the HERO message boards (by Shaft) with the elements covering Superman's part in the universe:
  • 1912 - Brainiac realises that Galactus will destroy Krypton- he begins collecting the planet's accumulated knowledge to ensure its (his) survival.
  • 1914 - Galactus destroys Krypton. Kal-El is sent to Earth in a rocket ship. Brainiac escapes the exploding planet with the collected data.
  • 1920 - Kal-El found by Martha and Johnathan Kent
  • 1929 - Every once in a while, Superboy is spotted in Smallville, KS.
  • 1938 - Superman makes his first appearance in Metropolis.
  • 1942 The Invaders and the All-Star Squadron are formed by the numerous superheroes that join the war effort.
  • 1946 - Superman reveals his identity to Lois Lane. They marry, but are unable to have children.
  • 1953 - The JSA's actions in the Korean War help bring about an armistice.
  • 1960 - The Silver Age heroes shy away from joining the JSA, which is perceived as an war veterans superclub. As the JSA members start retiring, Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl II and Aquaman team up to fend off an alien invasion and decide to stick together as the Justice League. Aquaman declines the invitation, and Batman opts to only work part time (though he provdies funding) but the rest of the team stick together. Some of the JSAers who are still fit for battle come aboard too.
  • 1963 - An assassination on President Kennedy by Doomsday is foiled by Superman, but the world is shocked as Doomsday beats the Man of Steel to death on live television after a battle that rages halfway across the US. Despite Superman's return a few months later, decades later people still remember where they were when they heard that Superman was dead.
  • 1972 - Lois Lane dies. With his parents dead many years earlier, Superman retires his Clark Kent identity and works as Superman full time - beginning the disconnect he will start to feel with mere mortals.
  • 1996 - Magog kills the Joker after he wipes out the staff of the Daily Planet. Superman brings in Magog for murder, but Magog is acquitted. Superman goes into seclusion.
  • 2001 - Magog leads a team of super powered vigilantes to bring in the Absorbing Man, who uses Parasite's powers to augment his own and mimic the traits of a nuclear reactor before setting his sights on Captain Atom. He loses control of his power and explodes in a nuclear blaze, destroying a large part of Kansas. Outrage results in the passing of a superhuman registration act. Steve Rogers is arrested when he refuses to bring in heroes that choose not to register. His imprisonment is viewed as unlawful and inspires a large number of heroes to stay underground. These underground heroes, the "Outsiders", are led by the Batman (who immerses himself into the role full time after his identity becomes exposed) & Luke Cage. The Justice League struggles as many of their members side with Batman. The Avengers are less torn since they've always been government agents since day one. Wonder Woman pulls Superman out of retirement to rally the pro-registration side, which Superman leads, with a heavy heart.
  • 2001 - A Superhuman prison is built in Kansas to contain the villains and unregistered vigilantes. Batman gets a team into the facility where Steve Rogers is being held to rescue him, but Rogers chooses to stay in prison and fight the system from within.
  • 2001 - As the nation is distracted by the Superhuman Civil War, 15 jets are hijacked for use as weapons by suicide bombers working with supervillains, including three military planes carrying nuclear weapons. 12 of them are stopped (the nukes are stopped by Superman who ends up comatose after the ordeal).
  • 2001 - In the aftermath, the heroes realize that they still have to band together. Officially, registration remains, but failure to register is a misdemeanor until compounded with a violent crime, so the pursuit of unregistered heroes is low on the priority scale. Steve Rogers is released from prison, but quickly realizes that he can be more effective on the political stage than as a costumed crimefighter.
  • 2002 - Wonder Woman gives birth to Superman's child.
  • 2004 - Red Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Changeling and Nightwing II are the mentors to the third generation of Titans: Superboy II, Wondergirl II, Impulse, and Nightstar (Dick Grayson & Starfire's daughter).
Initial reactions to this are:
  • the strong influence of the now-classic Elseworlds-or-is-it storyline Kingdom Come. It was much like the Civil War storyline that later came out in Marvel, except for the fact that humans became another side in the war between two sides of the superhuman world;
  • the questions raised about Krypton and the many other alien races out there in the DC and Marvel Universes -- the Kree inclusion is an interesting one;
  • the impact that having Superman (and the other heroes) would have on historical events is significant, and successes or failures in stopping things like assassinations and wars and terrorist attacks would likewise impact the character itself.
  • interactions between Superman and Captain America, as the classic flag-waving characters of either universe, would be particularly fiery during the Superhuman Civil War.

The next timeline comes from www.writeups.org, with a slightly different take on things:

1918

    The planet Krypton explodes, killing most of the inhabitants. Scientist Jor-El manages to save his infant son Kal-El by sending him in a rocket to Earth. Two cities, protected by atmospheric domes, survive: Argo City, a peaceful scientific colony; and Kree-Lar, a military outpost. The two clash over the division of resources, and a long civil war begins.

1938

    Kal-El, a.k.a. Superman I, makes his public debut.

1940

    The Kree discover Kal-El's presence on Earth, and send a scout ship to capture him. But a malfunction in the ship causes it to explode in Earth's upper atmosphere. Two escape pods survive the destruction and land at different locations. A mortally wounded Mar-Vell lands near Fawcett City and staggers into an abandoned subway tunnel. There he meets the ancient Egyptian wizard, Shazam, who saves Mar-Vell's life by placing him in stasis in the other-dimensional Negative Zone. Shazam then gives a pair of mystical bracelets to a young orphan named Billy Batson. The bracelets allow Billy to trade places with Mar-Vell for a few hours at a time. Americanizing his name to Captain Marvel I, the Kree warrior becomes a powerful force for good on his adopted planet. Yon-Rogg, meanwhile, lands in Germany, where he forges an alliance with Adolph Hitler and takes on the new name of Captain Nazi.

1941

    In the wake of Pearl Harbor, the Justice Society attempts to invade Japan. Unfortunately, a young prodigy named Victor Von Doom uses a mind-control device to prevent the most powerful members from entering the Axis territories.

1942

    With the JSA unable to enter the war effort, British Prime Minister Winston Chruchill suggests forming a second team to fight in Europe. Captain America I, Bucky I, Human Torch I, Toro, and Sub-Mariner answer the call as The Invaders. Later in the war they are joined by such stalwarts as Black Condor, Doll Man, the Human Bomb, the Ray, and Phantom Lady.

1945

    Superman I and Lois Lane are wed, and their son Superboy is born nine months later.

1951

    In response to accusations from Senator Joseph McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee, the Justice Society disbands. The chief witness against them is Captain America III, a man recruited by the government to assume the role.

1958

    Superboy travels to the 30th century to join the Legion of Super-Heroes. Though he spends several years there, he returns only a few moments after he left. Now an adult, he adopts the name Superman II.

1959

    The Kree attack and destroy Argo City. The only survivor is Kara Zor-El, who escapes to Earth and meets her cousins, Superman I and Superman II. Inspired by them, she takes on the identity of Supergirl. Superman I arranges for Kara to be adopted by his friends Fred and Mary Danvers, and she becomes "big sister" to their young daughter Carol.

1960
    Superman II, Batman II, Flash II, Wonder Woman I, Green Lantern II, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter gather together to form The Justice League of America.

1963

    While suffering from amnesia, Superman II meets and falls in love with Sally Selwyn. When his memory returns, he reveals his true identity to her, and the two are wed. Before long, they have a son, Clark Kent III.

1966

    Galactus makes his first attempt to consume the Earth. He is thwarted by the Fantastic Four and his own rebellious herald, the Silver Surfer, who is exiled to Earth as a result.

1971

    Darkseid, evil lord of Apokalips, takes an active interest in Earth. His schemes are opposed by the heroes of New Genesis: Mr. Miracle, the New Gods, and the Forever People, as well as Jimmy Olsen Jr. and his allies The Teen Brigade.

1973

    Against their fathers' wishes, grade-schoolers Clark Kent III and Bruce Grayson take on the identities of Superman Jr. and Batman Jr., respectively.

1976

    Superman II's daughter Kara, a.k.a. Power Girl, makes her superhero debut.

1985

    A mysterious being called The Monitor from Beyond gathers the villains of Earth into a massive army to conquer the universe. In return, he grantsthem increased power and renewed youth. Earth's heroes attack and eventually defeat this army, and many of the older heroes sacrifice their lives in order to destroy The Monitor.

Initial reactions to this are the much more generational approach to the Super-Family. There is a stronger presence of the tension between the Kree & Kryptonians; there's also a mention of Galactus, who is never identified as a possible cause for the destruction of Krypton either (an idea I've heard before, and I think actually saw in a comic book once).

After reviewing this, my approach would consist of the following guidelines:
  1. review the published cross-overs to see what they have to say about things;
  2. review the alternate timelines and Earths to see what they have to say about things;
  3. follow the generational approach as a primary philosophy -- to give the Supermen and Superwomen of the different eras a chance to shine and to retire (or go out in a blaze of glory);
  4. establish their role in key comics events like the Kingdom Come / Civil War saga, the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the coming of Galactus, the Kree-Skrull War, and so on.
  5. establish the ongoing role in the current gaming universe: perhaps one where the Super-Family isn't quite so dominant that they can swoop in to save the day when the PCs are in a jam.
  6. Figure out what effect natural friends and rivals might have on the history. Case in point: Kingdom Come / Civil War -- what would Batman or Captain America or Shazam or Captain Mar-vell or Wonder Woman do?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dark Corners of Mystara: The Veiled Sisterhood

In one of my older posts, I talked about campaign premises and how they could be used to set up a campaign.

With that as an anchor, I'd like to see if I can tackle the Triskaidekaturions campaign premise that I mentioned there and apply it to a Mystara campaign. This campaign chronicles the adventures of a team or organization that is charged with gathering artifacts together for some unknown purpose -- or perhaps for a purpose other than what they've been told.

To quote myself:
There are powerful NPCs who both help and hinder the PCs (many which are doomed to die, retire, fall from grace and in general be replaced by one or more of the PCs). There is potential for  betrayals and power struggles, and some pretty nasty rival organizations and lone wolf operatives as well.

Initial adventures wouldn't be earth-shattering artifacts, certainly. The low-level characters are little better than goons aiding a lieutenant or sub-lieutenant in:
  • finding clues or individuals who know where certain things are located;
  • finding low-level artifacts;
  • investigating rumors of unusual activity similar to things spoken of in ancient texts;
  • exploring areas with potential artifact treasure;
  • and so on.
But what is this organization?And why are they doing this?

Enter the Veiled Sisterhood -- a league of 13 women who have, for their own reasons, united under a common cause and fund expeditions, explorations, and investigations of the dark corners of Mystara to unearth, appropriate, and hide powerful artifacts. They have build a web of agents and patrons who approach any number of capable individuals or adventuring parties to further their own agendas.

Next steps:
  • reviewing both Mystara and other D&D modules to see which things can be used for this campaign with a little backstory tweaking;
  • reviewing the Gazetteers for places to locate these modules (if they haven't already been placed somewhere in Mystara);
  • writing up my ideas on this blog.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

World Wanderings -- An Itinerary

Part of my interest in gaming is exploring worlds, and perhaps reshaping them or adding something to their history. As part of my efforts to focus my gaming writings (aside from reviews and news), I'm going to try to focus on specific settings tied to an RPG system or genre.

Fortunately, I already started on the 'kitchen sink setting' series to get me started, and I plan on continuing it (though the HERO Universe setting certainly made me question my sanity). My approach here is to tie the settings more closely to a system or genre that I'm interested in and explore it from there. Unlike the 'kitchen sink setting' series, I hope to hop back and forth between these settings for a while.

Current World Wandering Itinerary:

Mystara - no surprise here. I've been writing about this for a while now. This time, though, I hope to come up with a series that allows me to go through the setting in more depth -- but I haven't found the right hook or angle yet. Perhaps by a travelogue, or sticking various D&D modules and mini-settings from all editions into it will be my approach.

Enigmundia - originally inspired both by Mystara and the shared fictional universe of Hinirang, I hope to further define it beyond history by using RuneQuest 6 -- character templates, types of magic, and so on. At the same time, I hope to gain inspiration not only from the older versions of RuneQuest and the Gloranthan setting, but also from Cthulhu Invictus -- perhaps the sword and sandal elements will mesh nicely in my version of the Hollow World in Enigmundia.

Earth 641 - a new entrant, this is essentially a brainstorming exercise for the super-hero genre. I hope to flesh out some of my ideas for a combined DC / Marvel Universe (perhaps an outgrowth of the JLA/Avengers series in 2003) from the Cosmic Egg born from the brief union of the two universes. I'll be throwing in some stuff from other source material too, of course -- even RPGs. It'll be defined largely using Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, as well as through short essays and timelines on this setting

I'll do some experimentation in the PBEM that I'm running, but I do enjoy playing with super-hero mythology.

Fading Suns - In the absence of the revised version of Fading Suns, I'm picking through various storytelling systems like FATE as well as some interesting systems like True20 and Unisystem might provide a welcome alternative. The thing is, I want something to deal with the psychic abilities, theurgy, and the big SF stuff -- which means I either go narrative, or start crunching the numbers with something like HERO. We'll see.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Enigmundia: Pagan Spells of Mercury -- 1st Level

Past posts in this series will be refined and reformatted; for now, I'll tackle the last two pagan spells from the pagan god Mercury.

Now, Mercury is a slippery fellow. He is worshiped by messengers, travelers, traders, thieves, mages, and other lesser known groups and cults. He has dealings with many gods as their Messenger, and is rumored to communicate with mortals either directly or through their dreams (courtesy of Somnus and Morpheus). Perhaps his strong showing in the pagan spells, and his invocation in many spells to other pagan gods, shows just how important he is now in the waning influence of this fading pantheon.

Floating Disc (1)

It allows the caster to transport items on an invisible disc of force. Movement is said to be accompanied by the faint flutter of wings; an echo, perhaps, of the wings that adorn Mercury in his many depictions across ruins and hidden cults.

Ventriloquism (1)

The messenger of the gods lends the ability to send messages through the air in one of his most trivial of applications of power. However, it is one of his favored spells -- possibly due to the great deal of mischief that has been, and will be done, with this spell.

And that wraps up the 1st level spells of Labyrinth Lord. I'll try to clean all the past entries up and make them more consistent soon. Also, I think I'll shift the actual spells into my Mystara interpretation in the coming months, as Enigmundia seems to be RuneQuest-bound in my mind. However, I do enjoy the research of these 'pagan gods', so the essence of the cults and their ties to spells will remain in Enigmundia.



Saturday, July 7, 2012

Armchair Reviews: RuneQuest 6th Edition

Click the image for more reviews on RPGNow!
This is the 6th Edition of RuneQuest, and it is something special -- a real thing of value. It's one of the few RPG books that have come out this year that I think should be enshrined as an example of good RPG writing.

This book will turn you into an expert on the game of RuneQuest, and I don't say that lightly. It talks not only about the system, but also about the history of RuneQuest -- its prior editions, its importance in the early industry, and its many twists and turns. But that's only a few pages. The bulk of this 456 page book is constructed with solid gaming goodness -- a complete Fantasy RPG to realize your favorite setting.

ON THE WRITING

The meat of the book (the rules, character creation, magic, and so on) is written with succinctness and systematic clarity. For example, the section on Characteristics and Attributes follows the following pattern in its paragraphs:

-- differentiation of Characteristics (basic stats) and Attributes (figured Stats)
-- name of Characteristic / Attribute
-- short explanation of what the Characteristic / Attribute represents
    -- general rationale for the stat
    -- what characters with high values in this stat are like (roleplaying-wise and mechanics-wise)
    -- what characters with low values in this stat are like (roleplaying-wise and mechanics-wise)
    -- what happens when the value is reduced to zero

This approach is emblematic of the writing style of the game: in only 5 short pages, you're presented the rules for Characteristics & Attributes, the general game design rationale for them, their implication in terms of story and mechanics -- which includes tables for the calculated values of Attributes and the formulas for the basic skills whose starting values come from these Characteristics and Attributes!

Added to these pages is a nice one-page excerpt of the character sheet with various callouts that display tables explaining how the information for each field is to be calculated or filled in.

Added to that is Anathaym's saga -- an example of a character (and, later on in the book, her adventuring party) and how the rules in game system shape her life.

It seems that the writing, organization, and layout of the game was really done with an eye to reducing page-flipping back and forth between sections (though there are really useful sidebars that identify other pages with related rules, an organized and surprisingly detailed 1 page Table of Contents in the front, and a lovely 9 page Index in the back to help you if you can't find something).

THE CONTENTS

RuneQuest is one of the earliest skill-based systems -- it's built around a character concept and random or limited resources to build that character concept. You can have a cantrip-casting warrior, a sword-swinging spirit talker, a martial artist wizard, and so on if you build it properly. This edition is no different, and in fact both streamlines and expands the options for character.

Chapter 1 breaks down the basics of Character Creation, tackling Characteristics, Attributes, and Basic Skills

Chapter 2 talks about Culture and Community, identifies different generic  fantasy cultures lists the Standard Skills, Professional Skills, Combat Styles, and Cultural Passions associated with each. It also has a table for unique background experiences in a character's life, a table for generating Allies and Enemies, and an explanation of what Passions are (an optional rule that gives bonuses and penalties to the characer based on their drives, their loves and hates, etc.).

Chapter 3 tackles Careers and Development, hitting you first with 70 example (!) professions and their related skills, with a nice table showing how they're grouped by cultural background. It then talks about the impact of Age, gives a broad view of Equipment and Magic (which have their own chapters) for finishing off your character.

Chapter 4 talks, again in a very organized and succinct fashion about the nitty-gritty of Skills in terms of the types of skills, the different types of skill rolls in the game including reattempted skill rolls, augmenting skills, and opposed skill rolls.

Chapter 5 goes through not just Equipment, but Economics as well. It covers not just things that adventurers might buy, but also income and social class, bargaining and bartering, food, clothing, and accommodations, vehicles, and siege weapons.

Chapter 6 is the Game Mechanics section and, for me, shows that the game philosophy for RuneQuest is broader than mere combat (which gets its own Chapter, thank you very much), because it tackles a lot of things here beyond the typical character improvement rules, suggesting rulings for things like Asphyxiation, Blood Loss, and Falling, tackling the use of game resources like Luck Points, and a very important discussion of Action, Time, and Movement.

Chapter 7 is about Combat, is grouped into headings and sub-headings tackling the various combat topics, including: Components of Combat, Combat Styles, Weapon Size and Reach, combat ranges, hit locations, and special effects.

Chapter 8 talks about Magic in general, which you should not skim through lightly. It talks about what magic is, how they're tied to runes, and sets the basis for understanding the various magical traditions available in RuneQuest 6, such as: Folk Magic (Chapter 9), Animism (Chapter 10), Mysticism (Chapter 11), Sorcery (Chapter 12), and Theism (Chapter 13). Each of these establishes these various magical traditions, describes the 'spells' of each, and explains the various additional rules that really differentiate them from one another in terms of philosophy and game mechanics and game options.

Chapter 14 tackles the Cults and Brotherhoods that explain the organizations and movements that can provide formalized instruction in the the magical disciplines tackled in other chapters. It really gives you a lot to create your own factions, old dinosaurs, movers and shakers, and up-and-comers in your own setting -- and what these mean for your players and their characters.

Chaper 15 tackles Creatures and Spirits in terms of story and mechanics. There are rules here designing your own creatures, and rules on being able to have Player Character Creatures as well.

Chapter 16 is focused on the GM and Games Mastery, including the "Petersen Rules of Good Gaming"  (from Sandy Petersen, of course) and lots of advice on running games, sticky situations for GMs, and different styles of play using the system.

Finally, we have a collection of Game Aids, including the character sheets, a series of tables for non-human hit locations, and a combat tracking sheet.

THE TECHNOLOGY

Just one last thing here: I purchased the PDF and was so intrigued by the system and the writing that I began to highlight and annotate my PDF using the default Acrobat Reader. I was surprised when I was asked to save the file -- and it asked me if I wanted to save it under another file name. When I did so, it began saving a lighter version of the file (optimzed for web browsing it said) that weighed in at around 40 MB, much reduced from the 104 MB filesize. I get to have a pristine version of my PDF & a highlighted / annotated version! Sorry, geek moment.

Also, the hyperlinking is very useful in the PDF, and makes the whole thing easier to navigate through and read.

OVERALL RECOMMENDATION


I heartily recommend this book for Fantasy RPG enthusiasts looking for a detailed, but customizable system to help your create and realize your own setting! I'm almost sold on using this for my own Enigmundia project, with all my Mystara work firmly in the realm of D&D goodness.




Friday, July 6, 2012

Marvel PBEM: Character -- Mach 3

Just usin' the art from Agents of T.H.U.N.D.E.R.!
Here's another character sheet for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, specifically the PBEM I'm running. It was randomly rolled up, and I collaborated with the player to come up with the rationale.

MACH 3 is a speedster, who also has control over sound, via his special suit. The creator of the Mark III Zoom Suit / Boom Suit joined the world of super-heroics for unknown reasons, but has rapidly become a popular figure in the super-heroic realm.

He can move really fast, and can also generate vibrational effects and sonic booms.

MACH 3

Affiliations: Solo [ d10 ] Buddy [ d8 ] Team [ d6 ]

Distinctions (Use at d4 for 1 PP or Use at d8):
  • I Feel The Need For Speed
  • Push The Envelope
  • Think Fast

POWER SETS

Mark III - Zoom Suit / Boom Suit:
Superhuman Speed [d10], Enhanced Durability [d8], Sound Control [d8]
  • SFX - Area Attack: add a d6 and keep an additional effect die for each additional target.
  • SFX - Boost: Shutdown your highest rated MARK III ZOOM SUIT / BOOM SUIT power to step up another MARK III ZOOM SUIT / BOOM SUIT power by +1. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.
  • SFX - Burst: Step up or double a SOUND CONTROL die against a single target. Remove the highest rolling die and add 3 dice for your total.
  • SFX - Unleashed: Step up or double any MARK III ZOOM SUIT / BOOM SUIT power for one action. If the action fails, add a die to doom pool equal to the normal rating of your power die.
  • SFX - Counter Attack: On a reaction against a PHYSICAL STRESS attack action, inflict PHYSICAL STRESS with your effect die at no PP cost or spend a PP to step it up by +1.
  • SFX - Afflict: add a d6 and step up your effect die by +1 when inflicting DEAFENED complication on a target.
Limit - Exhausted: Shutdown any MARK III ZOOM SUIT / BOOM SUIT power to gain 1 PP. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.

Limit - Gear: Shutdown MARK III ZOOM SUIT / BOOM SUIT and gain 1 PP. Take
an action vs. doom pool to recover.
SPECIALTIES

Combat Expert [ d8 ], Covert Expert [ d8 ], Science Expert [ d8 ], Tech Master [ d10 ]

Marvel PBEM: Character -- O.M.A.C.

Hard-pressed to come up with a rationale for O.M.A.C. in the Marvel setting, I still have to clear the backstory with the player. However, here's my first pass at the One Man Army Corps.

O.M.A.C. (Buddy Blank)

Affiliations: Solo [ d10 ] Buddy [ d8 ] Team [ d6 ]

Distinctions (Use at d4 for 1 PP or Use at d8):
  • One Man Army Corps
  • OMAC Must Live So That Man May Live
  • Eye In The Sky
POWER SETS

Molecular Engineered Powers: Superhuman Reflexes [ d10 ], Superhuman Strength [ d10 ], Superhuman Stamina [ d8 ], Superhuman Durability [ d8 ], Superhuman Senses [ d10 ]
  • SFX -- Area Attack: Add a d6 and keep an additional effect die for each additional target
  • SFX -- Remade by Brother Eye: Before you make an action including a MOLECULAR ENGINEERED POWERS power, you may move your physical stress die to the doom pool and step up the MOLECULAR ENGINEERED POWERS power by +1 for this action.
  • SFX -- Focus: Replace two dice of equal size with one die +1 step larger
  • SFX -- Big Brother is Watching: Spend 1 PP or use an effect die to create a WATCHED complication for a target. You may track that target anywhere until the complication is removed or SUPERHUMAN SENSES is shut down
  • Limit -- Blanked: Shut down any MOLECULAR ENGINEERED POWERS power to gain 1 PP and revert to Buddy Blank. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.
SPECIALTIES

Combat Master [ d10 ], Menace Master [ d10 ], Science Master [ d8 ], Menace Master[ d8 ]

BUDDY BLANK

Affiliations: Solo [ d6 ] Buddy [ d8 ] Team [ d10 ]

Distinctions (Use at d4 for 1 PP or Use at d8):
  • Just Another Face
  • Voice of the Common Man
  • That's Not Fair!
SPECIALTIES

None

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On the Radar: RuneQuest 6E is out


Okay, just to let you all know... RuneQuest 6th Edition is out!

You may want to pick it up to see what new material is out in this massive tome. To find out what modifications to the ruleset have been made!

Marvel PBEM: Character -- MegaVolt

Okay, it seems that I'll get some practice in various stages of new character creation for the PBEM game I'm running for a small group of people online. But before we get to that, let me post the character sheet already done by someone whose had as much time as I have already reading and playing the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game: pointyman2000!

His character, MegaVolt, is essentially the son of two very well-known characters in the Philippines: Steve Armstrong and Jamie Robinson, from the English-translated version of an old Japanese Anime called Voltes V. Here's the sheet:

"Ultra-electronmagnetic beam! Hey, what's this sword for?"
John Armstrong, aka Megavolt

Solo D10, Buddy D8, Team D6

Distinctions:
Multi-Millionaire
Brilliant Scientist
Uphold the Honor of The Armstrong Family

Power Sets:
Megavolt Armor
Ultra-Electromagnetic Beam (Attack Power) D10
Elemental Control (Electricity) D8
Force Field D10
Subsonic Flight D8
  • SFX: Boost - Shutdown your highest rated MEGAVOLT ARMOR power to step up another MEGAVOLT ARMOR power by +1. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene
  • SFX: Counterattack - On a reaction against a Physical Stress attack action, inflict Physical Stress with your effect die at no PP cost or spent a PP to step it up by 1
  • Limit: Exhausted - Shutdown any MEGAVOLT ARMOR power to gain 1 PP. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.
Specialties:
Combat Expert D8
Medical Expert D8
Science Master D10
Tech Master D10

Milestones

Workplace Ethics:
1XP when you reveal a new stunt associated with your Medical, Science or Tech Specialties
3XP When you engage in a confrontation with another hero regarding your use of your Specialties and your action or reaction total makes you the victor
10XP when you use a questionable Medical, Science or Tech asset or resource to support a team member or you refrain from supporting a team member with your Specialties at a critical moment.

Independent:
1XP when you stand up to another hero
3XP when you prove one of your decisions was the best for your team
10XP when you stress out the last foe in an Action Scene, or another character acknowledges your assistance was essential in saving the day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Inspiration: Hunt for Dragons -- Part II

In my hunt for inspiration, I never stray far from the religious or mythical aspect of creatures -- especially now that I'm looking at dragons specifically.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, St. Michael is often appealed to for aid "against the wickedness and snares of the Devil". And aside from being referred to as a serpent, Satan (who, in my campaign, would not be a devil, but The Devil) is also referred to as 'the dragon'.

According to the Book of Revelations 12:7-9 it is stated that:
"...there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven."

Note the definite article 'the'. Much like 'The Devil', 'The Dragon' seems to be another term used to reference 'The Adversary'.

In any case, I think it's a great reason to have images, like the one below, be plastered on the walls of the temples of Enigmundia -- at least those temples consecrated to the Pio Famila.

A mosaic in the Basilica di San Marco.
Photo taken by Carolina Victory (from her Flickr album).
Interestingly enough, I've read a line in Malachi Martin's Hostage to the Devil (his infamous book on five successful exorcisms and one failed exorcism) referring to St. Michael as a dragon too. I'd have to dig out the book again, but it allegedly quoted the demon possessing a victim referring to St. Michael (who was being invoked in the exorcism) as "that dragon".

This seems to imply that the term dragon is (a) generally used in a derogatory manner; or (b) all angels, archangels, thrones, powers, principalities, etc. have a form in the material realm as a dragon -- but is a form associated with unstoppable wrath and terrible power.

For a game setting, I'd choose the both options!

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