Showing posts from February, 2016

Developing a Superhero Campaign: Finalizing System Considerations

After a lot of discussion and examination we've come down to our final candidates for a superhero game system - and also we're narrowing in on elements of the campaign and the setting.

Our two final candidates are Supers! and some form of Fate.

I've talked about Supers! before. In its favor is a very straightforward game engine. When you want to do something you determine what stat it is you want to use and you roll a bunch of six sided dice, based upon that stat. That stat could be some skill, a superpower, your ability to resist something, etc. It encourages some creative narration, especially in that you typically can only use an ability to defend once per round. See below for an idea of a Supers! set of character sheets, as excerpted from the game:
As one can see, the game is emphasizing simplicity when it comes to stats.

There's a number of different Fate games. I'm considering three of them. They are:

Daring SuperheroesFate Core with Venture CityFate Accelerat…

Developing a Superhero Campaign: Evaluating Systems Part II

I received a number of useful comments from my previous post as I consider systems for a possible superhero game.

With that in mind, I've eliminated several games and have a few more to consider.


Hero System/Champions: I'd love to try this out but I sense this is creating more work than I want at this case - only about half the players in the group have any experience with the Hero System coupled with a need to run the game on a virtual tabletop.Mutants & Masterminds: Certainly lighter than Champions, but truthfully I'm trying to keep things a bit on the lighter side.Wild Talents: One of my favorite games, running it on a virtual tabletop is a bit more complicated than I'd prefer, with everyone needing to roll simultaneously and ordering everything accordingly. Still in the running is Daring Comics. I'm still in the process of digesting the game but I've been liking it so far. I do need to consider if I want to run such a strongly narrative game,…

Developing a Superhero Campaign: Evaluating Systems

I'm continuing thoughts on a possible superhero campaign, this time focusing on system.

I'm going to be thinking about systems with a few criteria. They are: My thoughts on the systemHow well a fit it is for my groupAny possible hiccups running the game with Roll20The availability of the game My group consists of people who have all played a decent number of systems and genres. Some are pretty knowledgeable on rules and gaming history while others are more of the "here's what I want to do, tell me what to roll" style. We've dabbled in Fate-style games in the past - I like them quite a bit but I'm not 100% certain we're a great fit for such a strongly narrative style of play (though as I've said before, when Dresden Files Accelerated comes out we are most definitely taking it for a spin). We've made use of Roll20 for our gaming, with players concentrated in Massachusetts but with a number located further south. The character sheet tools for Edg…

Developing a Superhero Campaign: Inspirations For Superhero Gaming

I've been giving some more thought to a potential supers game. It still might not come to anything, but it's a fun exercise.

Currently, I'm engaging in a bit of a catch-up on Arrow and The Flash. I've also seen the bulk of the first two seasons of Agents of SHIELD, but I'll admit to having lost interest. I'm also caught up on Daredevil and Jessica Jones. I mention all of these as of late I've found superhero television shows offer good inspiration on how to build a superhero game. Why not comic books? For me at least, I've found that comic books of late have been far to centered around "events", with dramatic shake-ups of the status quo, massive crossovers, and stories in one book being dependent on those on another.

On the other hand, television shows, even when part of a larger universe, are nevertheless largely self-contained. Arrow and The Flash will occasionally have characters from one show appear on the other and they even do the occasi…

RPG Review: Star Wars - Edge of the Empire

Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh... everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you? - Han Solo, Star Wars IV: A New Hope
In my somehow close to 35 years of gaming there's certain types of games I've played a lot of. There's D&D of course, as well as related games such as Dungeon Crawl Classics and ACKS. Over the past several years I've played a ton of Call of Cthulhu. Though it's been a long time since I played it, in the 80's, 90's and early 00's I played a ton of Star Trek, mainly by FASA and Last Unicorn Games, though with some Decipher as well (my group was among the playtesters for the Decipher Star Trek). And a ton of Star Wars.

I've played pretty much every incarnation of Star Wars. I played the West End Games version of Star Wars since it came out until well after it went out of print and even did a one-shot of it last year. It's one of my all-time favorit…

Comics Review: New Frontier

Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier is a somewhat unusual concept. It bridges DC Comics' Golden Age and Silver Age. It makes the assumption that characters first became active the year their first appearance was published - for example, Superman began his career in 1938 and Batman in 1939. The comic takes us from 1945 to 1960. It does not suppose parallel Earths - there is no Earth-1 or Earth-2. The Batman of 1960 has been active for over twenty years (as a 40-something year old myself, I wish him luck).

New Frontier begins very dark, with superheroes becoming distrusted - the Justice Society disbands in the face of the paranoia at the start of the Cold War. Some heroes try to continue operating in this environment and we see the grim end of one of them. The only three who continue operating are Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Superman and Wonder Woman work for the government, enforcing US foreign policy, while Batman is rogue.

However, things slowly improve. The Martian Manhunter…

At the Dawn of an Age of Wonders - Some Thoughts on a Superhero Campaign

I received some discussion, both within and outside my gaming group when I mentioned my desire to at some point dive into Hero System and Traveller. I've a few further thoughts on those two settings and I figured I'd explore them a little bit more. The earliest I see a new game would be the late-March/early-April time frame, fitting in with my grad school schedule.

Given I'm currently doing a science fiction game I figured I'd mull over some thoughts about superhero campaigns. It may just be a thought exercise but what GM doesn't like such exercises...

I've grown to think that what one sees in superhero television shows of late make for a good model to emulate. I've been working my way through Arrow and The Flash of late (I'm about a year behind...) and have also seen the Netflix Daredevil and Jessica Jones series and I've found I really like the feel of such shows. In these settings the heroes are not unique but they are extremely special. In a fa…

Gaming White Whales: Campaigns I Really Want to Run Someday

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him. I'll chase him round the Moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition's flames before I give him up!  - Star Trek II Channeling Moby Dick
I've been gaming since the early 1980's so I've run and played in a lot of games. But there's a few games I've never really gotten the chance to run or play in much more than a few standalone games here and there.

I've mentioned Traveller a few times in this blog. I remember seeing those little black books at my gaming store in the 1980's but never got into it. Over the years I've picked up a number of the books for it and have a pretty complete digital collection of the original game. It does have a few challenges. The first of which is having a bit of trouble selling it - it does have a reputation of being "the game where you can die in character creation". There's also the challenge of the Imperium, a massive setting which …

Thin vs. Doorstopper RPGs

Currently I'm GM-ing a Star Wars Edge of the Empire campaign. It's rulebook clocks in at 448 pages. The first RPG I owned was the D&D Basic Set which was 64 pages long. Now admittedly it only covered three levels but with another 64 pages in the Expert Set you get up to 14 levels. TSR published a number of RPGs that ranged in the 32 to 64 page length - off the top of my head I can think of Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Gangbusters, Marvel Superheroes, Metamorphosis Alpha, D&D Basic/Expert, Top Secret. Sometimes there was a brief 16 page book which would have very basic rules with it or be full of tables. And sometimes there would be a second set that would supplement the first - for example Star Frontiers had Knight Hawks and D&D had Basic and Expert.

From today's perspective, those were some pretty light games. Though at the time it didn't seem like that. I especially played a ton of Marvel Superheroes and Star Frontiers back in middle school.

What's b…

Could Cruz have said "Allahu Ackbar"? Acceptable Expressions of Religious Faith in the United States

"Let me first of all say, to god be the glory."
- From Ted Cruz's victory speech in Iowa

"I’m a Christian first, American second, conservative third and Republican fourth. I’ll tell ya, there are a whole lot of people in this country that feel exactly the same way."
- Ted Cruz while campaigning for Iowa

I keep on reflecting on the fact that not only was what Cruz said acceptable but was said with the expectation that it would garner him votes. And he's almost certainly right.

I want to be clear that I don't think an American should have to hide his or her faith. Or lack of faith. But I'm picturing if would have been acceptable for a Muslim candidate to have said "Allahu Ackbar" under similar circumstances. Would it have been ok to have said "all glory to Satan"? We know the answer. The mere suggestion that then-Senator Obama was a Muslim was something that had to be refuted. I think former Secretary of State Colin Powell had the …