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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Marvel '78 Part 2: Playing in an Open World



For this post to make sense, I highly suggest you go back and reread my article on campaign frames for Marvel games, found here, and of course my first post on Marvel '78 from yesterday. Go ahead, I'll wait. Back? Okay, let's get started.


Super-Hero Character Creation

The following system tweaks the assumptions of the Marvel Super-Heroes game, reigning in the wide-open character creation system (where you can end up as the Hulk or as Mockingbird) to design characters that are more in line with those found in the Marvel Knights line, i.e. Daredevil, Punisher, Shangi-Chi, Black Widow, and their ilk.It is highly advised that players refer to the Marvel Super-Heroes Advanced Players' Book and the Ultimate Powers Book, which you can find here and here

Step 1: Origin

Roll on the following table (and related subtable) to determine how the character came to possess their powers:

01-40 Martial Artist
          01-20 Learned in lost city (usually found in Tibet)
          21-40 Trained under ancient master
          41-60 Ninja
          61-100 Born badass
41-80 High Technology
          01-30 Genius
          31-50 Cyborg
          51-70 Armor
          71-100 Gear
81-90 Mystic
          01-40 Champion of the Gods
          41-80 Artifact
          81-100 Wizard
91-100 Innate Powers
          01-40 Accident
          41-80 Experiment
                    01-30 Performed by Government
                    31-60 Performed by Criminals
                    61-80 Performed by Independent Genius
                    81-90 Performed by Self
                    91-100 Performed by Corporation
          81-100 Born This Way
                    01-70 Mutant
                    71-89 Demigod



Martial Artist

Learned in a Lost City: Choose one Weapon Skill (except Guns), Fighting Skill, and Mystic / Mental Skill, character also gains one contact in their lost city. The character may also choose their Career as Dojo Master or roll as normal.
Trained under Ancient Master: Choose 3 Talents from Weapon Skills (except Guns) and Fighting Skills, character also gains their ancient master as a contact. The character may also choose their Career as Dojo Master or roll as normal.
Ninja: Character gains the following skills: Oriental Weapons, Acrobatics, Tumbling, and Stealth (+1 CS to all sneaking attempts). The character may also gain their ninja clan as a contact or, alternately, be alienated from their clan and choose one more Talent from Weapon Skills (except Guns), Fighting Skills, or Mystic / Mental Skills. The character may also choose their Career as Dojo Master or roll as normal.
Born Badass: Choose 4 Talents from Weapon Skills and Fighting Skills.


High Technology

Genius: Gain Enhanced Reason (see New Powers in the next post) as a bonus power and choose three Scientific Skills. They may choose their Career as Scientist / Tech Start-Up or roll as normal.
Cyborg: +2 CS Endurance and the character may optionally take any of the following powers: Enhanced Strength, Lie Detector, Radarsense, Body Armor, Natural Weapon, Infravision, and Computer Link. Choose one Talent except for Mystic / Mental Skills.
Armor: Character starts with the power Body Armor and rolls his Primary Abilities on Table 3 of the Advanced Players' Book and modify their Fighting, Agility, Strength, and Endurance using Table 6 of the Advanced Players' Book (both tables are on p. 6); the modified Primary Abilities are those while wearing the armor; all powers are also included in the armor. Choose one Talent from any category except for Mystic / Mental Skills.
Gear: All powers are derived from a variety of different gadgets the player has on them; choose one Talent from any category except for Mystic / Mental Skills.




Mystic

Champion of the Gods: You have been chosen by one of the old gods to be their representative on Earth and all of your powers were granted to you by them. The character gains the god as a contact and gain +1 CS to all Primary Abilities. However, unlike normal contacts, the god does not expect socialization; they expect service and worship. The chances of reciprocity when asking the god for a favor are increased to 50% and will involve some sort of quest they are obligated to perform at the pain of losing their powers. Further, every time the character performs an act that defies the will of the god there is a cumulative +10% chance that the god will revoke their powers until penance is paid (another quest). The character may also start his career as a Priest or roll as normal. Choose two Mental / Mystic Skills.
Artifact: The player has discovered an artifact of mystical power from which they gain their powers. If they searched for such an artifact, they gain the Talent Occult Lore and can take the Career Occultist (or roll as normal); if they stumbled upon it, they choose one Talent (except for Mental / Mystic Skills). Alternately, the character can opt for the artifact to be of alien origin; if so, gain a member of that race as a Contact.
Wizard: The character is a spellcaster and all their powers emanate from their dealings with extradimensional beings. Wizards roll Primary Abilities on Table 2 of the Advanced Players' Book (p. 6) but add +1 CS to Reason and +2 CS to Psyche, they also add the Talent Occult Lore and three Contacts which are extradimensional entities that they call upon for their spells; otherwise the character has no powers. Entreating such an entity requires a green Psyche FEAT for common powers, a yellow Psyche FEAT for exceptional powers, and a red Popularity FEAT for intervention. Calling upon exceptional powers is considered a favor and requires socialization (i.e. worship) while intervention is a major favor and is handled in the same manner as a Champion of the Gods (see above); likewise, each entity has taboos similar to the aforementioned Champion. Wizards may enter into the service of additional entities, but must spend the normal Karma cost for buying a Contact, roll a red Psyche FEAT and a red Popularity FEAT, and engage in a quest of the entity's choosing before being able to access their spells. The character may choose his career as an Occultist or roll as normal.




Innate Powers

Accident: Some sort of funky accident has given you super-powers. Gain 1 additional power and choose one Talent.
Experiment Performed by Government: Gain the government agency as a Contact. The character may choose the Career Super-Spy or roll as normal. Choose one Talent.
Experiment Performed by Criminals: Gain a Criminal Contact and the Talent Crime (along with one additional Talent) but criminal organization is an Enemy; 10% chance per week that they come after you or one of your Contacts. Alternately, the character can take the Career Deep Cover.
Experiment Performed by Individual Genius: Choose one Talent. Either gain the genius as a Contact or, if the genius has died, roll for an additional Talent.
Experiment Performed by Self: Gain the power Enhanced Reason (see New Powers in the next post) as a bonus power and choose three Scientific Skills. The character may choose the Career Scientist / Tech Start-Up or roll as normal.
Experiment Performed by Corporation: Either gain the corporation as a Contact and start as an employee or gain them as an Enemy (as Experiment Performed by Criminals, above) and one additional power. Choose one Talents.
Mutant: Your powers come from some genetic quirk; gain one additional power but Popularity starts at 0. Choose one Talent.
Demigod: All Primary Abilities are +1 CS and gain divine parent as Contact, but character gains an Enemy (as Experiment Performed by Criminals, above); this is a rival of the character's divine parent. Choose one Talent.



Step 2: Career

Roll on the following table to determine what the character does for a living:


01-10: Crime Reporter / Photographer
11-20: Medic
21-30: Athlete / Performer
31-40: Private Detective / Beat Cop
41-50: State's Attorney / Social Worker
51-60: Vigilante
61-70: Super-Spy / Deep Cover
71-80: Playboy
81-90: Student
91-100: Homeless

Crime Reporter / Photographer: The character gains the Talents Journalism and Detective / Espionage. Resources are Good if they've scooped a major story in the last month or Poor otherwise.
Medic: Character gains the Talents Medicine and First Aid but the chances for a Random Encounter are increased to 30% while at work. Resources are Typical.
Athlete / Performer: If a professional athlete, the character may choose one of the following Talents: Wrestling, Tumbling, or Acrobatics and may increase on Primary Ability by +1 CS (which corresponds to their career). If a performer, the character gains the Talent Performer and may choose one of the following: Acrobatics, Tumbling, Animal Trainer, or Pilot. If the character chooses Pilot, they may choose to be a stuntman, where their powers are based out of their vehicle (motorbike, skateboard, truck, etc.) and all powers gain +1 CS. Due to the variable nature of being a performer, Resources start at Typical but are rolled on Table 6 of the Advanced Players' Book (p. 6) each month.
Private Detective / Beat Cop: Both private detectives and beat cops start with the Talents Detective / Espionage, Criminology and Law Enforcement and can buy a personal hook into a conspiracy for 1/2 the normal cost (see New Rules in Marvel '78 Part 3). Beat cops have Typical Resources, while private detectives have Good Resources if they closed a case in the last month or Poor Resources otherwise. Finally, Beat Cops have a +20% chance of a Random Encounter if at work.
State's Attorney / Social Worker: Both state's attorneys and social workers have the Law Talent, while social workers also gain the Talent Psychiatry. State's attorneys start with Good Resources while social workers start with Poor Resources.
Vigilante: Vigilantes, unlike other super-heroes, do not keep a normal job - they are super-heroes full-time, and often unhinged ones, taking the law into their own hands. Vigilantes do not earn Resources like other characters, but instead much steal from the criminals that they pursue. Because of their anti-social tendencies Vigilantes cannot start with any Contacts, but can earn them over the course of the game. Vigilantes start at -10 Popularity and are wanted by the law. Finally, vigilantes have their own unique code that they operate by, suffering from smaller Karma losses for crimes in the pursuit of "justice" (see New Rules in Marvel '78 Part 3).
Super-Spy / Deep Cover: Super-Spies work for SHIELD and start with the Talents Detective / Espionage and one Fighting Skill of their choice. They gain their handler at SHIELD as a Contact, but major favors will require a mission to pay off or they will lose their jobs. Super-spies have Good Resources. Characters in deep cover, however, are infiltrators into a criminal conspiracy, either a gang (like the Maggia or Kingpin's organization) or a terrorist organization (such as HYDRA or AIM). They gain alents in Detective / Espionage and Criminology, have Excellent Resources, Popularity starts at 0, and Contacts both in the criminal organization they serve and the agency they're spying for. While in deep cover, the character only suffers from 1/2 Karma loss when acting to preserve his cover (not including the murder of an innocent person). Both super-spies and characters in deep cover can buy into a conspiracy for 1/2 cost (see New Rules in Marvel '78 Part 3)
Playboy: A playboy is a socialite who enjoys a life of ease, gaining Remarkable Resources simply for being alive. They still must "work", representing the time spent attending dinners, gallery shows, etc.
Student: Student characters are young, being either in high school or college, and gain the Student Talent (reducing the cost of all talents gained by 1/2). Students have Feeble Resources. 
Homeless: The hero has hit the skids and is living in an alley or similar situation. Homeless characters gain one Street Contact and have Shift Zero Resources. As they must regularly supplement their meager income with petty thievery, they suffer no Karma losses for such if it is to sustain themselves. If working in a borough while another character is patrolling, there is a 25% chance that they will be currently engaged in such an act.
Dojo Master: The dojo master Career is only available to characters with martial arts Origins (except for Born Badass). Dojo masters earn Typical Resources and gain their advanced students as a Contact which they can call upon (as a Major Favor) when they need a lot of back-up muscle.
Tech Start-Up / Scientist: Available only to characters with scientist backgrounds, players who qualify can choose to be either the head of a small tech start-up or as an employee of a larger company. Characters who run a tech start-up have Typical Resources (as most of their capital is tied up in their business) but, if a successful commercial invention is discovered (see New Player Rules in the next post), they may purchase a Resource upgrade at 1/4th the normal cost. Scientists start at Excellent Resources and gain their company as a Contact.
Priest / Occultist: The priest Career is only available to those with the champion of the gods Origin, while occultists can come from character with the Origins wizard and artifact. Both earn Typical Resources and can buy into a conspiracy for 1/2 cost (see New Rules in Marvel '78 Part 3).



Step 3: Primary Abilities

Roll FASERIP (see the Advanced Players' Book p. 6) on the following table (unless directed to do otherwise by your Origin):


01-05 Pr
06-34 Ty
35-64 Gd
65-94 Ex
95-100 Rm

Step 4: Secondary Abilities

Determine Health, Karma, and Popularity as normal. Resources are determined by the character's Career.

Step 5: Powers

Roll on the following table to determine the number of powers that the character starts with: 01-20 2 Powers: add +2 CS to one Power of the player's choosing.
21-80 3 Powers
81-00 4 Powers: one power must take a Limitation with no additional benefit (see Advanced Players' Book p. 9-10).

The number of Powers cannot be increased by reducing Resources.

After rolling for the number of Powers, roll on the following tables based on your Origin to determine what powers you have:





Table A (Martial Arts Origins)

01-04 Animal Communication and Control (single animal only, Advanced Player's Book, p. 83)
05-08 Berserker (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 29)
09-12 Danger Sense (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 70)
13-18 Enhanced Agility (see New Powers in the next post)
19-23 Enhanced Endurance (see New Powers in the next post)
24-29 Enhanced Fighting (see New Powers in the next post)
30-33 Enhanced Intuition (see New Powers in the next post)
34-37 Enhanced Psyche (see New Powers in the next post)
38-41 Enhanced Senses (Advanced Player's Book, p. 71)
42-45 Enhanced Strength (see New Powers in the next post)
46-49 Imitation (Advanced Player's Book, p. 79)
50-53 Iron Will (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 72)
54-57 Lie Detector (see New Powers in the next post)
58-60 Lightning Speed (Advanced Player's Book, p. 73)
61-66 Martial Arts Supremacy (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 29)
67-69 Mental Invisibility (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 74)
70-74 Overload (see New Powers in the next post)
75-79 Recovery (Advanced Player's Book, p. 87)
80-82 Regeneration (Advanced Player's Book, p. 87)
83-87 Stealth (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 82)
88-91 Total Memory (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 79)
92-95 Tracking Ability (Advanced Player's Book p. 72)
96-00 Ultimate Skill (weapon skills only, Advanced Player's Book, p. 81)

Table B (Genius, Armor)

01-04 Body Armor (Advanced Player's Book, p. 87; max rank is Gd, if higher rank rolled shift additional ranks to another power (not exceeding Rm)
05-07 Computer Links (Advanced Player's Book, p. 72)
08-10 Danger Sense (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 70)
11-13 Energy Melee Weapon (see New Powers in the next post)
14-16 Enhanced Reason (see New Powers in the next post)
17-19 Enhanced Senses (Advanced Player's Book, p. 71)
20-23 Ensnaring Missile (Advanced Player's Book, p. 80)
24-27 Explosive Missile (see New Powers in the next post)
28-30 Extra Limbs (Advanced Player's Book, p. 86; wings grant the 'Gliding' power)
31-33 Gliding (Advanced Player's Book, p. 72)
34-36 Imitation (Advanced Player's Book, p. 79)
37-39 Infravision (Advanced Player's Book, p 71)
40-43 Kinetic Bolt (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 28; think 'repulsor rays', not telekinesis)
44-46 Lie Detector (see New Powers in the next post)
47-49 Life Support (Advanced Player's Book, p. 87)
50-52 Lightning Speed (Advanced Player's Book, p. 73)
53-55 Lung Adaptability (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 81)
56-58 Natural Weapon (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 30)
59-61 Overload (see New Powers in the next post)
62-64 Projectile Missile (Advanced Player's Book, p. 80)
65-68 Radarsense (Ultimate Powers Book, p.20)
69-72 Slashing Missile (Advanced Player's Book, p. 81)
73-74 Stealth (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 82)
75-79 Stunning Missile (Advanced Player's Book, p. 81; often a 'stun gas')
80-82 Swinging Line (see New Powers in the next post)
83-85 Telescopic Vision (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 21)
86-88 Total Memory (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 79)
89-91 Tracer (see New Powers in the next post)
92-94 Tracking Ability (Advanced Player's Book p. 72)
95-97 Wall-Crawling (Advanced Player's Book, p. 73)
98-00 Weapon Creation (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 30)





Table C (Cyborg, Gear)

01-03 Body Armor (Advanced Player's Book, p. 87; max rank is Gd, if higher rank rolled shift additional ranks to another power (not exceeding Rm)
04-06 Computer Links (Advanced Player's Book, p. 72)
07-09 Danger Sense (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 70)
10-12 Energy Melee Weapon (see New Powers in the next post)
13-15 Enhanced Agility (see New Powers in the next post)
16-18 Enhanced Endurance (see New Powers in the next post)
19-21 Enhanced Fighting (see New Powers in the next post)
22-24 Enhanced Intuition (see New Powers in the next post)
25-27 Enhanced Psyche (see New Powers in the next post)
28-30 Enhanced Senses (Advanced Player's Book, p. 71)
31-33 Enhanced Strength (see New Powers in the next post)
34-36 Ensnaring Missile (Advanced Player's Book, p. 80)
37-39 Explosive Missile (see New Powers in the next post)
40-42 Extra Limbs (Advanced Player's Book, p. 86; wings grant the 'Gliding' power)
43-45 Gliding (Advanced Player's Book, p. 72)
46-48 Imitation (Advanced Player's Book, p. 79)
49-51 Infravision (Advanced Player's Book, p 71)
52-53 Kinetic Bolt (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 28; think 'repulsor rays', not telekinesis)
54-56 Lie Detector (see New Powers in the next post)
57-58 Life Support (Advanced Player's Book, p. 87)
59-61 Lightning Speed (Advanced Player's Book, p. 73)
62-64 Lung Adaptability (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 81)
65-67 Natural Weapon (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 30)
68-70 Projectile Missile (Advanced Player's Book, p. 80)
71-73 Radarsense (Ultimate Powers Book, p.20)
74-76 Slashing Missile (Advanced Player's Book, p. 81)
77-79 Stealth (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 82)
80-82 Stunning Missile (Advanced Player's Book, p. 81; often a 'stun gas')
83-85 Swinging Line (see New Powers in the next post)
86-88 Telescopic Vision (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 21)
89-91 Tracer (see New Powers in the next post)
92-94 Tracking Ability (Advanced Player's Book p. 72)
95-97 Wall-Crawling (Advanced Player's Book, p. 73)
98-00 Weapon Creation (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 30)


Table E (Champion of the Gods, Artifact, Accident, all Experiments, Demigod)

01-03 Animal Transformation - Self (Advanced Player's Book, p. 79)
04-07 Alter Ego (Advanced Player's Book, p. 80)
08-10 Armor Skin (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 80)
11-13 Berserker (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 29)
14-16 Emotion Detection (Advanced Player's Book, p. 72)
17-19 Energy Generation (Advanced Player's Guide, p. 81)
20-23 Enhanced Agility (see New Powers in the next post)
24-27 Enhanced Endurance (see New Powers in the next post)
28-31 Enhanced Fighting (see New Powers in the next post)
32-34 Enhanced Intuition (see New Powers in the next post)
35-36 Enhanced Psyche (see New Powers in the next post)
37-40 Enhanced Strength see New Powers in the next post
41-43 Ensnaring Missile (Advanced Player's Book, p. 80)
44-46 Extra Limbs (Advanced Player's Book, p. 86; wings grant the 'Gliding' power)
47-49 Fire Generation (Advanced Player's Guide, p. 80)
50-52 Gliding (Advanced Player's Book, p. 72)
53-55 Imitation (Advanced Player's Book, p. 79)
56-59 Judgement (see New Powers in the next post)
60-62 Kinetic Bolt (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 28; think 'repulsor rays', not telekinesis)
63-65 Leaping (Advanced Player's Book, p. 73)
66-68 Lightning Speed (Advanced Player's Book, p. 73)
69-71 Natural Weapon (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 30)
72-75 Probability Manipulation (Advanced Player's Book, p. 76; counts as two powers)
76-79 Precognition (Advanced Player's Guide, p. 85; Precog Option only)
80-83 Recovery (Advanced Player's Book, p. 87)
84-87 Regeneration (Advanced Player's Book, p. 87)
88-91 Self-Duplication (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 92; counts as two powers)
92-94 Stealth (Ultimate Powers Book, p. 82)
95-97 Swinging Line (see New Powers in the next post)
98-00 Wall-Crawling (Advanced Player's Book, p. 73)

To determine the Rank of each Power, roll on the table in Step 3 (Primary Abilities) above.


Step 6: Talents

If your character has less than three Talents earned from their career, roll as per the Advanced Player's Book (p. 10) for one additional Talent.

Step 7: Contacts

If you have fewer than three Contacts, roll for one more now on the table below. In an upcoming post (coming soon-ish) players will choose specific characters for their Contacts which fall into one of the following broad categories:

01-07 Medicine
08-14 Law
15-23 Law Enforcement
24-31 Science
32-36 Business
37-45 Journalism
46-54 Crime
55-59 Retired Heroes
60-64 Occult / Esoteric
65-74 Mercenaries, Martial Artists and Private Detectives
75-83 Street
84-88 Politics
89-92 Fandom
93-00 Espionage

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fantasy Games Part 1: Marvel '78


Although I've been taking a bit of a break to recharge my batteries, Krül remains the game that I'm dedicated to running. Despite that, I suffer from gamer ADD like anyone else and like to fantasize about other games that I'd like to run. In an attempt to excise this demon, I thought I'd go ahead and post about some of those ideas here.

The first game is one that I've discussed before on this blog, MSHRPG. I grew up on Marvel comics and still hold a lot of love for those stories that I read back when. Moreover, I think the system (with some tweaking) still holds up tremendously today.




Back in the '90s I was a big fan of MUSHes, MUXes, and various other text-based online rpgs. If you're not familiar with the concept, what made these places so enticing was that they shared a large decentralized playerbase and a "staff" of administrators and judges. This allowed for many plots to develop simultaneously, with tons of crossover. In short, they were a total blast, like FLAILSNAILS except keeping to a more coherent theme and the various DMs working together to run a world.

I'd love to see a game like this married to the modern convenience of G+, and especially for MSHRPG. In my fantasy game, the basic setup would be a marriage of the campaign frame I talked about previously along with a modified version of the super-villain rules I posted here. The premise of the game would be Marvel '78, set in New York during my favorite period of its history, the era of The Warriors, CBGBs, urban decay, the birth of salsa and hip-hop, Taxi Driver and Welcome to Fear City.  



The game would be set in "year one", the first year when superheroes would first hit the scene. This would be done for the convenience of both the players who aren't as familiar with Marvel comics as I am, and for the judges who wouldn't have to be restricted by comics continuity. Players would start out as street-level characters, a mix of heroes and villains unfamiliar with each other, pursuing their own ends but inevitably meeting up, developing partnerships, rivalries, and everything in-between. Alongside these players would be numerous NPC villains handled by the judges.

Logistically, Marvel '78 would be handled by having players fill out a Google form weekly which would state what they have in mind for the following week and their schedule availability. As events occurred over the course of the week, players would coordinate with judges to play these events out with one or more people involved. As players developed relationships of their own stories would emerge completely outside of the plots of the judges and could handle such encounters by themselves.





Next time I'll talk about what I think it would take to run such a game.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tim Kirk: Art Appreciation Post

One of my favorite paperback artists of the '70s is Tim Kirk, perhaps best known for his work with DAW and his brilliant Lord of the Rings paintings. After leaving the world of fandom, Kirk went on to become an Imagineer at Disney and board member of the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle. Without any further introduction, here are some of my favorite images by this underappreciated artist:

From Tim Kirk's masters thesis









I know that I've bought more than one not very good paperback thanks to Tim's art. Thanks for all the inspiration, Tim!
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