Posts Tagged ‘Superhero’

Under the Microscope

Posted: October 17, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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We’ve played a couple more sessions of Ben Robbins’ excellent Microscope RPG, once with LL, HG and MA and again, last night, with just LL and MA. Neither resulted in a complete history yet (and how could a history ever be complete?) but we hope to continue both games at some point. I’ll be sure to post the results here when they’re more fleshed out.

The Sunday before last I didn’t feel much like running Skull & Shackles so LL and I broke out Microscope and introduced it to HG. He seemed a bit skeptical at first but quickly got into the flow of the game. LL suggested examining a history centering around super-powered humans and their effect on the world. The superhero genre is something with which LL is quite familiar. HG is less submerged in it…and I’m just now beginning to gain an appreciation. We hoped it would make for an interesting experiment.

We started with the concept that an alien invasion of Earth, shortly following the devastation of WWII, resulted in the emergence of powers – the effect of a tailored virus that wiped out much of humanity but resulted in the manifestation of amazing powers for a small fraction of the survivors. This start point was suggested, I believe, by HG. The end point, we decided, would be “all humans are super-powered”. We didn’t specify how that happens, but we classified it as “light” so I guess the supers didn’t kill off all of the normals. One of our “no” palette items was “no campiness”. We probably should have made that “minimal campiness” because LL, as is her wont, has already slipped in a little under the table… 🙂

We added “first-pass” history items and then LL and HG took turns playing the “lens”. Some of the key elements that emerged:

  • In the rubble of post-war, post-invasion Europe several survivors with powers banded together and managed to destroy an alien ship and capture another. They went on to lead the human resistance against the invading aliens, driving them back. This group eventually became known as “The First Five”.
  • Later, the First Five Foundation was established. It apparently sought to control the creation of new super-powered humans and secretly hoarded various alien technologies for its own use.
  • At some point, distrust of supers overcame the gratitude felt by ordinaries and their governments for the liberation of Earth from the alien invaders. Governments sought to control and harness supers. This movement solidified after the assassination of the chairman of a UN-equivalent organization. The chairman was making a plea for the governments of the Earth to better control its supers.

We’ll learn a lot more about the events on this parallel Earth when we play another session.

LL and I started up a new game last night, with the hopes of creating a setting we might be able to explore later with our group using a full RPG system. We chose to do a sci-fi history where humans expand from Earth, meet aliens, and then (somehow) end up alone in the galaxy. In our palette we chose to include psionics, cheap power, and megastructures and exclude limitless FTL travel and communications, humans in alien suits, universal translators, and ancient “precursor” aliens. Here’s some of what we know about the history from our session:

  • Humans expanded beyond the Earth to found colonies on other worlds. We don’t know if they used FTL or not but do know that, at some point, they discovered “jump points’ and how to use them to travel much more quickly than before. This resulted in the Consolidation Wars, which brought many of the colonies together under one united banner.
    • Travelling via jump points caused psionic abilities to appear in certain humans. The mechanism for this is, as yet, unspecified. Many of these people were initially taken for study and experimentation, a legacy that will likely cause problems later on.
    • During the Consolidation Wars, a border colony called Neu Essen was psionically destroyed by a crewman aboard one of the warships laying siege to the colony. She was distraught because her lover, another crewman, had been killed during the battle with the colony and lashed out subconsciously. This was an unprecedented display of psionic power. The “echoes” of her psionic outburst were “heard” by psionics at a great distance.
  • As humans explored the jump point “network” they encountered an alien species, who also travelled via jump points. Communication proved impossible and a war ensued. Later, a psionic crewman aboard a human warship found he could speak with the aliens telepathically. At some point psionic communications enabled the negotiation of a treaty and the end of the war.
    • Later discussions with humanity’s new alien friends revealed that their psions had heard the Neu Essen outburst but hadn’t understood what had happened at the time. This is, no doubt, something we’ll get back to.

So. There you have it. It’s definitely a work in progress, having only gotten through one focus in our short session. It seems promising, though…and it has certainly gone in directions neither LL nor I expected when we started. That’s the beauty of Microscope, I guess!

Labor Day gaming-camping

Posted: September 3, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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Our group just spent the five days leading up to Labor Day in the woods of Oregon, high up on the north fork of the Willamette River. It was gaming-camping at its best, though we certainly would have liked more gaming. We played some Pathfinder and Marvel in various spots around the river, drank some homebrew (and Captain Morgan’s), and spent some time with some non-gaming friends.

In Skull & Shackles (Pathfinder), we followed the next few days aboard the Wormwood as Keeya, Killian, Shieraa’ll, and Valana began to build up a power base aboard the ship and Master Scourge worked to undermine the reputation of the newcomers with Captain Harrigan and the rest of the crew. In Marvel, we revisited Captain America’s mission to a Hydra stronghold. HG joined the game as the imprisoned Spider Woman and together she and Cap faced down the Red Ghost and his “uplifted” monkeys. Expect recaps of these games from LL (Marvel) and MA (Pathfinder) soon.

We took some pics at a few of our gaming locations. Mobile gaming is fun.

That’s our gaming mascot, Kira. She joined us for all of the games.

HG also took an artistic pic of our bottle bodycount. No, we didn’t drink *all* of these. We had some help.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying musings

Posted: July 23, 2012 by archivest in Gaming
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I feel that Marvel Heroic Roleplaying has really nailed it for comic book games. It has bridged a gap in gaming I have been trying to name for many years. Super-powered characters vs. comic book characters.

Simulationist games like GURPS and HERO/Champions are perfect for building the proverbial “You will believe a man can fly.” That is great for super-powered characters. Sometimes I want a character with powers that doesnt wear spandex. (BTW, we are huge GURPS fans) But those systems don’t have the reach to simulate superhero action in the comic book.

I put the blame on comic books themselves. They are inconsistent, erratic, and contradictory. The stats of a hero depends on the artist and writer.
MHRPG has successfully found a way to make it all work together. As a player, you are a writer for your character. By building your dice pool, you are deciding the power level of your character.

I was at first a little intimidated by the new concepts and dice pools. But I’m getting a better grasp of how it all works as we play. MA is patient with my thick-headedness when it comes to learning new games. (-;

I highly recommend MHRPG if you want to play a comic book superhero game. My superhero game resume includes: V&V, Golden Heroes, Champions, Superworld, DC Heroes, MSH, M&M 1-2ed, GURPS, and MHRPG. I have been reading comic books since the mid 70s. Knowledge (Comic Books) – 17.

Captain America: Solo Adventure

Posted: July 23, 2012 by archivest in Gaming
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I traded places with MA for our Monday night game. I’m now the Watcher [GM] for our Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game and MA is playing Captain America.

Sidenote: MA has played a very Captain America-like Paladin in our Pathfinder games. This is a good transition character for him. MA has very little experience with the superhero genre in any form. The event I am running can be found here and, although it is intended for different characters, it takes little modification to make it work for a solo Captain America. Elegant system, very flexible.

Nick Fury/S.H.I.E.L.D. has called Cap into action for a covert mission. Hydra has rebuilt an old Nazi stronghold and is using it for some nefarious purpose.  His mission is to find a missing double-agent scientist, figure out what Hydra is doing there, and take appropriate action.

Cap is air-dropped by a cloaked drone over the castle base in the German Alps. A normal human couldn’t survive the long trip strapped to the underbelly of a drone. That is one of the reasons he was picked. Cap parachutes over the castle and takes out two hydra patrol guards upon landing without issue. Hearing the Hydra guards speak German and the enviroment itself is a flashback for Captain America. His WWII memories flood back to him and it steels his resolve. When Nick Fury said he was perfect for this mission, he wasn’t kidding.

Cap is equipped with some high tech gadgets that have come in handy dealing with high tech security. MA and I have had a lot of fun playing up Cap’s lack of experience with modern technology. He takes out as many guards without killing them as possible. He uses a Hydra banner flag creatively to quietly take out the guards and get into the castle itself.

We didn’t get too far into the adventure. We stopped after Cap captured a couple of terrified scientists.The German Hydra agents’ fear of Captain America is palpable.

I may have played out dealing with the guards too much. But I wanted to give a feel for the setting. I knew the guards would be no Challenge for Cap.

One aspect about Cap I think MM is playing very well: Balancing hero and soldier. There have been some Hydra deaths, but not brutal or unnecessary. Cap is a soldier and has little tolerance for Nazis or their successors. This is very tricky for most players. Most people go into Punisher mode and suddenly my Superhero game turns into a bloodbath. MA is also playing up Captain America’s intimidation factor. He is a one man army clad in a red white and blue Kevlar/chainmail. And that shield….can you imagine getting *thunked* by that thing?

Nice balance MA. (-:

I have been playing up the German Hydra agents inherent uneasy feeling about Captain America. He is a living reminder of WWII, their Nazi roots, and past defeats.

Annoying Sidenote: I have been trying to speak in a German accent when Cap interacts with the Germans. All (so far) of the Hydra agents are German since we are in Germany. Unfortunately my attempt at a German accent slides into a Russian accent fairly quickly. I know a smattering of Russian in real life and it just takes over.

Make mine Marvel!

Posted: July 17, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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LL and I get together on Monday evenings to try random RPG systems, play non-RPGs, drink a couple of homebrews, and just hang out. Last night we played around some more with Margaret Weis Productions’ Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. It’s an interesting system that lends itself nicely to storytelling and seems to overcome some of the problems of playing superheroes using the more ‘simulationist’ systems. We’re going to keep experimenting with it and see if we can introduce it to the group at some point.

Spider-Man, MJ, and Luke Cage got together for the November 30th tree-lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center in New York. MJ bought some Cole Haans and then headed toward the Movado store to have a look at the new models. The Mayor arrived and made his way to the podium by the tree, pressing the flesh as he went. To everyone’s surprise, the tree suddenly burst into flame and guns appeared in windows around the plaza. Spidey and MJ disappeared behind a tree to help him get changed while Luke grabbed a nearby Smokers’ Outpost and chucked it at the nearest gunman…the guy’s dentist is going to love Luke!

Then a new threat: the Santa several feet from our heroes pushed a boy off of his lap and stood up, seeming to morph into another form while reaching into his bag. He ordered the Mayor and his men to lay down their weapons and surrender. Spidey, now in costume, made a quick move and shot sticky strands to grab the bag and rip it away as it changed and twisted with a life of its own. This drew the new foe’s attention and enraged him. The unnamed villain, undeterred by the loss of his bag, reached into a pocket for an impossibly large hammer to squish the bug that was now bugging him, as the sidewalk beneath Spidey’s feet went a bit soft and he began to sink into the concrete. His spider reflexes enabled to twist under the weapon, however, and he managed to send it back to strike the Christmas freak square in the face…ouch!

After a little soliloquy we learn that the fake Santa is called Magnifique, a sorcerer and clearly Mad as a Hatter. He really needed to be stopped before he could cause any more chaos. Luke, himself a master of intimidation, realized Magnifique was using a lot of illusions to add to the confusion and decided to help out his buddy and put this fool out of the action once and for all. He rushed forward to grab the slab of concrete under Magnifique and uproot it, sending the creep tumbling backward. While it put him off balance he landed gently on an airbag that quickly grew from the cracked concrete behind him and he bounded back ready for action.

By now the crowd was going crazy, helped by the random gunshots raining down on the plaza and a few additional thugs who had now appeared in the plaza. The gunmen in the windows responded to Magnifique’s orders to “Take them down!” and took some shots at our favorite Wall-Crawler, who was all too happy to shoot out a swingline to dodge the bullets while leading their aim up and away from the crowd. Luke, meanwhile, ripped a string of lights off of a nearby tree and used it like a snare to take down three of the thugs in the crowd who had gotten too close to each other for their own good (he also got a couple of civilians…too bad).

After one last ineffectual attack by Magnifique, Spidey shut him down for good by wrapping up his head in a stream of webs and Luke delivered a knockout punch that left him seeing stars. Their boss down for the count, the rest of the gunmen took off to save their own skins. Magnifique is, no doubt, off to serve some time at the Raft! I wonder what tomorrow’s editorial by JJJ in the Daily Bugle will make of the chaos caused by the Web Head Menace and his thuggish friend? I expect he’ll call for renewed support of the SHRA.

Next Monday, LL is going to run something for me. I’ll play either Captain America (I’m a Pally at heart) or Iron Man.

NB: Magnifique was a villain of my own creation, loosely based on (don’t laugh) Felix the Cat. I’m not really a comic book guy but LL has been pushing me that direction and I’m growing more interested. She sent me home last night with some ‘homework’: TPBs of the first 24 issues of The Avengers and a couple large volumes of The Defenders. I got through issues #1 and #2 last night and, though they’re pretty *bad* I can see where a lot of the stuff I do like from the new Avengers movie has its origins. I think I can stomach iron suits with solar-powered flight if it gets me to modern-day Iron Man.

NB2: There was no zombie game on Sunday. I was away camping and LL and the group decided that our last session wrapped it up nicely. We’re going to pick up with Call of Cthulhu character generation next Sunday…though I’m going to dangle Dark Heresy out there just in case somebody wants a sci-fi alternative.