Saturday, June 11, 2011

Marvel Super Heroes RPG

While I had wanted to write up a few more posts on my Labyrinth Lord game and potentially a session summary or two I haven't had the time and in the meantime my players and I have switched gears to another game.  After watching X-men First Class and (surprisingly) enjoying it, I felt some inspiration to run a super powered game.  TSR's Marvel Super Heroes RPG had always been a favorite of mine, I recall seeing it on my father's bookshelf for the first time while I was still a wee lad and wondering what that tiny box contained.  Of course my father strictly followed the ages 10 and up (or was it 12?) warning and I wasn't able to look at it until I was older.  When I was finally able to I was charmed by the simplicity of the system.  Abilities that were numerical but most importantly were on a power scale.  Random generation of your number and sort of powers.  I had a heck of a time rolling percentiles all day to see what kind of weird creatures the dice gods would bestow upon me.

My players found the system interesting and were even good sports about random generation.  One wanted to do entirely random and the rest decided "Hey, why not?".  All attributes, powers and talents were determined randomly.  I gave them one free reroll if they got something that they seriously disliked or didn't fit with what they had rolled so far, and each of them got to pick their origin.  With some interesting rolls and some player ingenuity here's what they came up with.

Dolphin Lad
Altered Human
Fighting: Incredible
Agility: Incredible
Strength: Excellent
Endurance: Incredible
Reason: Amazing
Intuition: Excellent
Psyche: Typical

Popularity: Good
Resources: Poor

Water Manipulation:  Amazing (Limitation: Close proximity (Touch))
Sound Generation: Amazing
Resistance: Cold

Biology (Marine)
Martial Arts D

None =(

Weakness: Fire

Dolphin Lad is a graduate student who was studying the effects of radioactive contamination on marine fish life.  His professor became obsessed with rapid mutations after reading the papers of renowned geneticists.  His obsession led him down dark roads as Dolphin Lad would soon discover.  Students in the research program began 'dropping out' suddenly and rapidly.  His suspicions were put to the test when his college sweetheart 'dropped out' without a word.  He confronted his professor only to find her in an experiment involving splicing the DNA of a dolphin with a human.  He leapt in the way of the beam knocking her out of the way and having his body spliced with that of a dolphin.


I'm not too big on Mutant's getting an extra power since when I think Mutants I think of anything relating to the X-men which typically means a single super powerful superpower.  i.e. Optic Blasts, Telepathy, Weather Control, Titanium/Osmiun skin, Teleportation.  While many mutants do have a few auxiliery 'powers' such as prehensile tails, they typically have one power that trumps all others.  To that end I swapped out the +1 power with +1 CS of any power, and it gains free experience each issue.

(I should note that the next two characters rolled absurdly well, consistently)

Mutant (Morlock)
Fighting: Incredible
Agility: Amazing
Strength: Excellent
Endurance: Incredible
Reason: Poor
Intuition: Incredible
Psyche: Poor

Resources: Poor
Popularity: Zero

Animal Transformation Others (With a bite he turns others into jurassic creatures)
Corrosive Spit: Monstrous
Blending: Amazing
Body Alteration: Prehensile Tail

Urban Survival
Other Morlocks

Chamelon was abandoned as a child when it's scales and reptilian tail and eyes first appeared.  Chamelon was rescued by the morlocks and lived in the sewers ever since, embracing a peaceful existance and making do with what was available.  This wouldn't last forever as Chameleon would be pulled to the surface when it's friends started mysteriously disappearing near the abandoned subway station.


Rocco the Rockem Sockem Robot
Fighting: Amazing
Agility: Remarkable
Strength: Remarkable
Endurance: Monstrous
Reason: Good
Intuition: Excellent
Psyche: Typical

Resources: Poor
Popularity: Zero

Extra Arms (And Attacks)
Absorption (Electricity) Excellent
Light Manipulation: Remarkable, (Laser Blast - Remarkable, inorganic only)
Density Manipulation: Incredible

Weakness: Water

Martial Arts B (Boxing)

Sparky the Mechanic
Stuart Radcliffe - Scientist/Trainer/Creator

(The player greatly dislikes the upcoming Real Steel movie so we jokingly came up with a backstory that mirrors it as closely as possible)
Rocco was rescued from the garbage pile by Stuart and his son Jack.  Together, they started training for the Robot fighting league.  A popular sport after the super hero arena was shutdown.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Serpent Sovereigns

I've been kicking around an idea for a Labyrinth Lord game since March and I was finally able to run a test-run last month.  My players like it enough that we're continuing to play it to this day.  Here's the gist of it.

In ages long past a war of magic finally culminated in a catastrophe that tore the continent apart, wiped clean every mage on it and sunk the southern kingdom into the murky abyss.  The remaining kingdoms agreed to an armistice after witnessing the devastation they had caused.   The people seeing the folly of man took it a step further.  They overthrew their leaders and installed another, one that was no man.  Legends depicted Dragons as the early protectors of mankind, the watchful elder that took pains to protect them but allow them room to grow.  The people put a Serpent on the throne.  Unfortunately, like in all things, absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The benevolent dragons of the past eventually became the hated all-powerful despots of today.

The player characters are members of a rebel organization known as Dragon Slayers.  Their ultimate goal is to depose the Tyrant Lizards and bring the power back to the people.  They are currently lacking any and all resources to do so and like any group of ne'er-do-wells they have many conflicting viewpoints on how to go about their business and what to do once the deed has been done.

Gameplay will be a mix of old school dungeon crawling as the PC's descend into the depths of ancient undisturbed ruins to retrieve magical scrolls that will give them the firepower they need as well as a healthy dash of shadowrunning as they make their way into bigger cities.  Their goal is to avoid drawing attention until they are finally ready to make their move. 

Along the way the PC's will try and recruit talented blacksmiths, sages and alchemist as well as courting wealthy merchants for funds to advance their operations.  They shall seek material resources to improve the paltry weapons and armor they being with.  They seek allies to increase their ranks and their skill sets.  Most importantly they must carry the will of the people with them .  There's no point in a coup if everyone is satisfied with the status quo. 

Following the events of the war of magic all magic-users were vaporized so there is no magic-user class. Instead the widespread mage fallout over the land has granted anybody with the knack to cast spells.  There is however, the unfortunate fact that magic has been banned in every kingdom.  So while anyone can cast magic they can also get themselves into heaps of trouble for doing so.

Starting classes are Fighter, Thief, and Cleric with other classes becoming available as the PC's strike bargains and form alliances with neighboring barbarian tribes, monastic orders, rebellious elves, enlightened dwarves and recluse rangers and druids.  Clerics come in two varieties:  priests that worship the forgotten old gods that most of the population forsook after the war of magic devastated the country and shrike cultists that believe in a prophecy that the Pain Lord will one day return traveling through time to destroy everyone and everything (How nice!).

I've given all the classes an ability at level 1 that either grows with them in level or greatly bolsters their effectiveness in a team setting.  They are as follows:

Starting HD: 2d6.
Gain a specialization at level one (expect a weapon specialization post later).
Also gain the Master of Battle ability.  The fighter can attack a number of hit dice equal to his level.
 So a 5th level fighter can attack a 3HD and 2HD creature with one attack, or two 2HD creatures and 1HD creature, or five 1HD creatures, etc.  Basically a simpler and more broader take on the <1HD ability Fighters gained in AD&D.
Optional:  Naked Warrior Challenge:  An idea I loved then adapted from Aeons & Augauries.
Any Fighter going into battle unarmored with not more than a helmet and loin cloth (and shield if they like) receives double combat experience.  They may also attempt to woo the opposite sex as an immediate reaction.

Stunt - Anytime the Thief viscerally describes some crazed stunt they'd like to perform such as swinging across chandeliers, using a silver platter as an impromptu shield, riding an enraged stag by the horns, or jumping out windows in their best Bruce Cambell impression they receive a stunt bonus to the die roll equal to 1 + half their level.  This bonus can be applied to just about any roll involving a d20 (attacks, saves, skill/ability checks) as well as for damage rolls and reaction rolls.
(Since my players are complete neophytes to old school roleplaying I created this ability with the intention of teaching them to describe their actions rather than "I attack, 14, hit?" or "The priestess asks you to chase the fleeing fiend into the portal he ripped open in the town square.  Do you accept?   Player: Diplomacy, 17, give us money."  The incentive seems to be working decently so far.)

Priest of the Old Gods 
Blessings - At the end of combat allies can roll 2d6 and take the higher roll when regaining hit points.
The priest can also spontaneously turn any memorized spell in a cure spell of the appropriate level.
(Normally I use the old Judge's Guild optional rule of regaining a d3 of HP at the end of an encounter but I had planned on it being the classes Hit Die rather than a simple d3.  Since I've decided to avoid variable damage and hit dice for a change they instead regain a d6.)

Shrike Cultist
The Cultist forgoes the use of weapons and instead uses the spines they crafted into their armor to better resemble their imaginary Deity.  It is treated as an unarmed strike that gets progressively better as their armor improves.  Additionally anyone attacking a Shrike Cultist in full Painlord gear takes retributive damage from their spiky armor equal to (10-AC).  The Shrike Cultist must reverse any and all reversible spells but can spontaneously turn any memorized spell into a harm or slow spell of the appropriate level.

Entropic Adjustment: - When rolling initiative enemy groups must roll twice and take the lower result.  Note: I use group initiative and have it rolled at the start of each round.  So far this has been the player's most cherished ability.

That's all for now.  Expect later posts dealing with weapons and armor, specializations, spells, new classes, heroic bloodlines, and session summaries.