Showing posts with label rpg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rpg. Show all posts

Monday, 4 April 2016

Envoys of S.A.V.E.

S.A.V.E. - The Societas Albae Viae Eternitata (Eternal Society of the White Way) - were the secret organisation which the characters in the wonderful 1980s role-playing game 'Chill' worked for. Chill was a game of supernatural monster-hunting, with the characters being people from all walks of life united in their desire to seek out and destroy evil supernatural beasties. It was an early game to use a task resolution system which gave degrees of success instead of just 'suceed/fail' or 'hit/miss', and it had creatures with class; many of the monsters could only be thwarted, destroyed or dispelled in very specific ways, and often a mission was about researching those methods after, of course, discovering the nature of your adversary. There's a nice short overview of the game HERE.

I had a great deal of fun with Chill, both as a player and as a GM. As a player I was part of groups which confronted a shape-changing monster from the mythology of Ancient Egypt, zombies in the Louisiana swamps, French werewolves and a descendent of Baron Frankenstein. As a GM I can remember pitting the players against a vampire (of course), a vengeful Saxon ghost in an Essex village, a vampiric plant and a Djinn brought to London from India by an ex-soldier on a mission of vengeance.

SAVE (I'll drop the full-stops) was founded in 1844, which gave scope for setting games in a number of historical periods. Because of my love of Sherlock Holmes, we ended up setting all of our games in the Victorian era. Let's face it, as an era for gaming it has class. And, because the action sometimes demanded it, we used figures. Which explains why I have a few small boxes with various Victorian horror figures in them, none of which have seen the light of day for decades.

Until the other day ...

Having put together my Japanese goblin warband for Battlesworn, it came to me that SAVE would make a wonderfully different opponent for them, and I had the figures ready to hand.

So here they are. This is a a portion of my collection; I can swap other characters in and out as needed. Indeed I am only a couple of policemen away from being able to put together a Scotland Yard force led by Sherlock Holmes. But for a basic game they would do.

The figures are all from Citadel's Gothic Horror range, with a few head-swaps and conversions to make them look less 1920s and more 1880s.

Every warband in Battlesworn need four Fighters, and here they are - hired muscle. They look pretty dubious, but regardless of background SAVE envoys are devoted to the cause of opposing Evil.

As well as hired muscle there are two hired guns - Shooters.

The remaining slots are taken up by characters. Firstly, here's the Reverend Philips. Actually I can't recall if he was actually called the Reverend Philips, but I remember a player running a vicar as a character, and this was the figure. I just made up a suitable name. The original was killed by a vampire.

The Reverend Philips is a Healer/Warmage. In Chill every character has a low-level psychic/magical ability. I didn't try to represent this for every character in my warband, but it seemed to suit the good Reverend. I know I could run him as a Priest from 'Knights and Knaves', but at this stage I didn't want to complicate my life with too many classes from the supplement, especially as the Priest has a bit of a shopping list of abilities.

Baron Adler never appeared as a player character. As The Baron he did appear as the villain in a steampunk/Victorian superhero game I ran solo using the Mythic GM Emulator (the results of which are buried deep in the archives of, but he was never a SAVE envoy. However I love the figure, and wanted to use him.

Baron Adler is a master swordsman, so is classed as a Brute/Chaos Warrior. The latter classification (taken from 'Knights and Knaves') may seem a bit odd, but it does give him the ability to be unpredictable in a fight, which suits him well. I did consider making him a Brute/Leader. You may agree.

And finally ... Josephine Carfax. I couldn't put together a warband without her, as she was my first, and favourite, Chill character. A respectable lady of independent means to all who knew her, she had a secret life as a burglar, specialising in unique or very rare objects. She had an uncanny ability to size up the value and provenance of antiques and curiosities; think Lovejoy in a frock, with a great big dollop of A.J.Raffles and you have her. In addition she was an expert shot with a pistol. She was a great character to play, although I recall she got into a certain amount of trouble with SAVE for using the missions to feather her own nest with 'liberated' valuables.

Miss Carfax is a Sniper/Rogue. The original figure was a lot more 1920s. I lengthened her skirt (of course, and made her a hat, thus adding a much-needed level of modesty and respectability.

In the next post you will see this gallant band of heroes in action against the sinister Yokai!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Jenny Everywhere

By AgentCoop
August 13th is Jenny Everywhere Day.


To quote the ever-reliable Wikipedia:

Jenny Everywhere aka "The Shifter" is an open-source, public domain character, originally created by Canadian comic book artist Steven Wintle.

Jenny Everywhere was specifically created when her creators could not find any other truly open source, public domain characters. She is described both as existing in every reality and being able to shift between realities. This gives the character the ability to be inserted into the continuity of any existing or new work, such as various comics or webcomics. The concept may be extended to other media as well.

She is described thus:

She has short, dark hair. She usually wears aviation goggles on top of her head and a scarf around her neck. Otherwise, she dresses in comfortable clothes. She is average size and has a good body image. She has loads of confidence and charisma. She appears to be Asian or Native American. She has a ready smile.

By Steven Wintle
The Original
She's been around since 2002, and has a small, but determined, web-presence. Whilst her lack of specific context is a strength, allowing her to appear in any media and setting, it is also a weakness, as there is not enough core material to really latch onto and give her a strong presence.

Still, I thought that for Jenny Everywhere Day 2015 I'd give her a set of Supercrew statistics, suitable for her inclusion in a world of superheroes.

On the Public Domain Super Heroes Wikia her abilities are described as follows:

Jenny Everywhere exists in all dimensions at once. She has the accumulated wisdom of all her other selves, and she can potentially shape or change dimensional properties. Since she exists everywhere at the same time, she may find herself in any situation, be it riding dinosaurs in the Wild West or arm wrestling Richard Nixon on the moon. For the Shifter, any adventure is possible.

Jenny prefers to get out of dangerous situations without the use of her (undefined) powers. She thrives on the thrill and always plays fair, even if it brings her close to death. The goggles and scarf were her mother's, who was a famous pilot before she disappeared.


Jenny Everywhere aka 'The Shifter

1 - Collective Wisdom
2 - Quick-Witted Adventurer
3 - Shifting

Reroll (Quick-Witted Adventurer) - Outwit
Change Roll to '5' (Wisdom) - Infinite experience
Effect 2 (Quick-Witted Adventurer) - Always finds a way

Despite this Jenny Everywhere being designed for a superhero setting, I have still erred on the side of her being a talented 'normal' - her powers are secondary to her skills and experience. The Wisdom ability represents the fact that she is in touch, mostly subconsciously, with all other instances of Jenny Everywhere in time and space. Thus she can draw on a near infinite reserve of knowledge and experience. Her main ability - Quick-Witted Adventurer - can be run in any way that's suitable for  your setting. She can solve problems and defeat foes with fast-talking, quick-shooting or simple fisticuffs at whatever level of skill and ability you think suits her best. Finally her Shifting ability is the one she uses least and, you'll notice, has no tricks. If you want to run her as a full-on superhero then giver her teleportation, dimensional-shifting or even time-travel abilities. Otherwise restrict her to short-duration. limited effect actions relating to her strange relationship with time and space. That's the beauty of Supercrew; how you define a power is purely for the narrative, and has no mechanical effect on the game. Just define Jenny's capabilities in your game and world and keep them consistent, and away you go.

She has an arch-enemy: Jenny Nowhere. I'll leave you to look her up.

Here's a few more interpretations of Jenny from this thread.

By Valente

By ESCgoat

By Paul Sizer

The creators of the character insist that any work involving her must include the following text:

"The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition: This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, that others might use this property as they wish. All rights reversed."
By mthemordant

Sunday, 26 July 2015


We went to see 'Ant-Man' last weekend, and all enjoyed it. It was nice to see a minor Marvel character on the big-screen and in a film which felt like one of the old 'Marvel Premiere' comics rather than the more mainstream titles. The problem with the 'Iron Man' or 'Avengers' films is that they are based on titles which have long continuous runs with many stories, but in a film you can really only get one, Hence you lose one of, to me, the important aspects of the comics themselves. It's like only seeing the special double-sized 100th or 200th or whatever issue of the comic, rather than getting the whole continuity.

Anyway, whilst not a perfect film it did capture the essence of a smaller-scale (no pun intended) character without their own comic, and even the fact that the hero had a history before the film started.

Inevitable I decided that a Supercrew write-up was in order. It has some minor spoilers, but I'm assuming that anyone interested has probably been to see the film now.

Ant-Man (Scott Lang)

1 - Ant Control
2 - Shrinking
3 - The Pym Particles

Reroll (Pym Particles) - Go sub-atomic
Change roll to '5' (Ant Control) - Fly, Anthony!
Effect 2 (Shrinking) - Rapid size-changes

The Ant-Control covers all of the things he can do with individual ants or swarms. The Anthony trick covers their use as transport (in Supercrew a trick can only be used to get the bonus once per game, but can always be used as part of a narration - so Ant-Man can always fly on the back of Anthony, but only gets a bonus for it once). Shrinking is the main ability, with the trick being rapid changes in size - growing into a punch or jumping through a keyhole and landing at full-size. Finally the Pym Particles ability represents the extra gadgets Ant-Man has in the film, which are used in emergencies, plus his own skills as an engineer being used to modify the suit and push its capabilities.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Captain America For 'Supercrew'

Since it's the Fourth of July, where the inhabitants of one particular country celebrate an act of treason against their monarch by shooting fireworks into the air rather than guns at each other, I thought that I would post an appropriate Supercrew character write up.

Captain America

1 - Absolute peak of human physical ability
2 - Vibranium shield
3 - Inspirational leadership

Reroll (Inpirational leadership) - Patriotism
Change roll to '5' (Vibranium shield) - Throw shield
Effect 2 (Vibranium shield) - Defend others

Monday, 29 June 2015


Several years ago I built a steampunk robot out of Lego. I do that kind of thing sometimes. Since I have been pondering the superhero roleplaying game 'Supercrew' over the past couple of days I thought that it would be an interesting exercise to write him up.

To be honest I haven't thought of a fully fleshed-out background for him (it seems to be a 'him'). The Supercrew games I ran a few years ago were set in an idealised, comic-book Victorian London, this this construct would fit right in there, as a member of The Impossible Club (the organisation which drew the characters together). I see him as a kind of Victorian version of Data from Star Trek; of unknown origin, discovered, reconstrcted and reactivated. An intelligent self-aware mechanical device trying to live in the world of humans and maybe become more like them.

He was originally designated the Steam-Powered Ambulatory Difference-Engine, but 'Babbage' seems a good name for everyday use.

I envisage him as a vast store of knowledge encased in robust humanoid mechanical frame. Powered by a small but efficient steam-engine he also generates and uses electrostatic energy to run his cognitive functions (because the term 'electrostatic cognition' is one I feel has to be used from time to time).

Here he is in Supercrew terms

Steam-powered Ambulatory Difference-Engine

1 - Repository of Knowledge
2 - Robust Mechanical Body
3 - Steam-Power

[ ] Reroll - Efficient Indexing (Repository of Knowledge)
[ ] Effect 2 – Steam Jets! (Steam-Power)
[ ] Change One Die To 5 – Built to Last (Robust Mechanical Body)
[ ] Anecdote Bonus

Hero Points: 0

Toughness: 3

The Repository of Knowledge ability represents Babbage's ability to access data on just about anything he has read (which is a lot). The Robust Mechanical Body means that he is resistant to damage, but it can be assumed that he's pretty strong as well. Steam-Power is the least-used ability, and I would see it as using the body's power-source in creative ways. 

Now all I have to do is encourage my daughter to run a game. Or break out the Mythic GM Emulator and do my own.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

A Good Upbringing

Those who follow this blog, or who know me of old, will know that my family do participate in gaming activities. My wife has been playing games with me pretty much since we met, and my children from as soon as they were old enough - they both played in HOTT tournaments before they were ten years old for example.

I have run a couple of RPGs for the family over the years, but recently my daughter and her friends have been playing them online, via Skype. This week she did me proud, though, by running her very first face-to-face session as a GM. She ran a game of the rules-lite superhero game 'Supercrew' and apparently it went very well - I spoke to one of her friends afterwards, and she'd really enjoyed the game. Apparently her heroes ended up fighting baddies who'd invaded the Sydney Opera House, and turned it into a rampaging mechanical crab-monster. It all sounded utterly daft, but great fun, and she had obviously picked up basic GM tricks such as not being afraid to change her plans in order to make the game more awesome for the players.

I'm very proud of her, And it's nice to know that there's someone else in the house able to run a game; I much prefer being a player, but up until now no-one else has ever wanted to run the games.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Time Warp

Catherine and I went away for a few days last weekend, what with it being our wedding anniversary and everything. We headed down the coast, and had a night in a B&B at Milton, followed by a couple of days camping in the Meroo National Park. This is because I know how to show a girl a good time.

Anyway, we spent a lot of Thursday afternoon poking around the small township of Milton. One shop sold toys, theatrical costumes and fishing gear (really), and tucked away on a shelf were these:

Look at the date on those issues of 'Different Worlds':

If I thought those things were undiscovered treasure, worth a fortune if touted on eBay, I'd nip back down to Milton and snap them up. Then spend the money on a rather nice retro frock I saw in another shop there, the expense of which I couldn't quite justify ...

In other news, I tried some proper basing on one stand of my Swedes. Specifically that of Charles XII himself. Came out pretty well, I thought:

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How Hard Can It Be?

I had a little play with RPGsolo today, and ran a simple Supercrew scene through it. It worked very well, and I have only a few minor quibbles with it, mostly do do with incorporating various bits of trackable information via the tool.

One thing I use when running Supercrew is the system of Villain Points developed by a member of These allow you to set a challenge, be it a gang of thugs, a super-villain, and earthquake or simply finding a place to park, at a particular level scaled to the number of players. A GM can decide on the difficulty of the challenge, and put together the opposition then and there. It's very easy to do this on the fly.

When playing solo it can be obvious when a challenge arrives. The difficulty comes in getting the 'automated' GM to set an appropriate level. This is the system I use.

Using RPGSolo The game is run by means of a series of Yes/No questions - basically the questions a player or players would ask a live GM. The answers can be as follows:

Yes, And ... - This means the answer is yes, and there's some bonus as well ('Yes, there is a door, and it's unlocked!')
Yes - Exactly what it says.
Yes, But ... - This is an affirmative answer, but there is a negative rider of some kind.
No, But ... - The opposite of the above; the answer is No, but it's qualified in a way that is slightly positive to  the players.
No - No means No.
No, And ... - This is bad - the answer's No, and there's more. Usually not good.

The probability of getting a 'Yes' answer is given a likelihood, and this will weight the responses accordingly. The probabilities range as follows:

Sure Thing
Very Likely
Somewhat Likely
Somewhat Unlikely
Very Unlikely
Almost Impossible

When determining the difficulty of a challenge I ask the question 'Is the Challenge Easy?'. Always. What varies is the likelihood that it will be easy. I will start of by assuming that it's Likely or Somewhat Likely that the first challenge will be easy, because you don't want things to get too tricky straight off. The system takes over from there. This is how I read the results:

Yes, And ... - The challenge is Easy, and there is no change in probability.
Yes - The challenge is Easy, but the likelihood that the next one will be goes down one level.
Yes, But ... - The challenge is Easy, but the likelihood that the next one will be goes down two levels.
No, But ... - The challenge is Standard, but the likelihood of the next one being Easy goes up one level.
No - The challenge is Standard. There is no change in the likelihood that the next one will be Easy.
No, And ... - The challenge is Hard, but the likelihood of the next one being Easy goes up one level.

It looks complex, but isn't. Here's an example:

Our Hero encounters a challenge. I ask 'Is it Easy?' and decide that it's Likely. I get 'Yes, But' as the answer. So the challenge is, indeed, Easy. Buy the likelihood that the next one will be Easy goes from Likely to 50/50.

The next time our Hero encounters a challenge I ask 'Is it Easy?'. It's now 50/50, and I get 'No'. This means that the challenge is Standard, and the likelihood that the next one will be Easy stays at 50/50.

A third challenge arises. Again I ask 'Is it Easy?', and this time I get 'No, But'. So again it's a Standard challenge, but the likelihood of the next one being Easy improves from 50/50 to Somewhat Likely.

So basically the more Easy challenges you get, the more chance there is of getting one that's Standard or Hard.

Needles to say I haven't fully tested this yet, but it's worked out OK so far.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Playing With Yourself

I like role-playing games, but lack the time, energy and (it has to be said) the imagination to come up with interesting plots. I also lack the players - my family will play sometimes, but I'm not sure that we're always looking for the same thing in a game. And I prefer to play rather than run the game - as do they.

So I love tools that will act the role of a GM - providing me with prompts to drive the adventure and the adventure itself, whilst leaving me free to play the character. And, whilst it's not new, I got hold of another one today:

RPG Solo

Like any tool, there is almost certainly a knack to using it effectively, but it's more in creatively interpreting small things and building them into a developing plotline and the setting you have chosen for the game, rather than having to have large amounts of plot and characters worked out before hand.

What's nice about this tool is that it has an attached forum to discuss ideas and changes, ask questions and, of course, post example adventures.

A mobile-friendly version is promised. It's things like that make me keen to get an iPad.

Update: In case anyone is wondering how a solo RPG works, or what the point of playing one is*, then there's an excellent post (with some example mechanisms that are no in the tool I linked to) at Tiny Solitary Soldiers.

*Even if you plan to run a game with players, one use is that it gives you a chance to try out the game first, before inflicting it on others.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Mythic GME Flash

I think this has been around for a while, but I only came across it yesterday ...

I sometimes like to dabble in solo role-playing. To run the games I use a useful booklet called the Mythic GM Emulator, which allows you to generate a story and incidents by asking a series of yes/No questions and interpreting the results within certain guidelines. Using you can generate a full session with a fairly involved story with virtually no preparation. It suits light role-plying games in which it's easy to generate characters and threats on the fly - Risus or Supercrew for example.

Anyway, what I hadn't realised, until yesterday, is that there's a Flash version of the emulator available online

You can get it HERE.

Although it's possible to get the gist of how it works from the page alone, it's really helpful to have the original booklet, with its guidelines on how to run a game and phrase questions.

But it's a useful tool that I shall use the next time I feel the need to run a game.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

HiLo Heroes - Tesseract

I'm still reading through HiLo Heroes and pondering whether I will give it a try this weekend. If nothing else it's inspiring me to consider tinkering with Supercrew again; I'm fickle like that.

Here's a full character writeup, with stats for both games. It was a character I used in a PBEM game of 'Supercrew' on a couple of years ago. She was originally a Champions character, but her stats for that game are lost.

Centennial City was the US city in which the campaign was set.

(Jocasta Thorington)

Background and History
Jocasta Thorington is an 27 year-old English freelance journalist who came to Centennial City on holiday and never left. She met a girl, and fell in love. The usual story.

Her speciality – some would say obsession – is with the paranormal. Odd happenings, ghosts, UFOs and the unexplained draw her like a moth to a flame. With her partner, Roslyn Legler, she now runs ‘The Centennial Investigator’, a magazine devoted to the paranormal. It pays the bills, but not much more than that.Jocasta and Roslyn investigated things together, until the fateful day when a ghost story led them to an abandoned hotel which was the site of meeting between two local drug-lords. There was a hail of bullets. In her panic Jocasta found herself seeing the word in a new way – one with more dimensions. She avoided injury merely by becoming, well, flat. Then, grabbing hold of Roslyn she added an extra dimension, and simply stepped out of the room they were in and onto the street outside without passing through the intervening space. She was shaken, but unhurt. Roslyn wasn’t so lucky. She’d been hit and was badly wounded. She lived, but would never walk again.

Jocasta tracked down the people who had shot the person she cared about most in the world. Pushed to it, she couldn’t find it in herself to seriously hurt them, but her abilities enabled her to subdue them and turn them over to the authorities. She slipped away before any questions were asked; somehow she felt that it was best if Jocasta Thorington, with her questionable residencey status, wasn’t associated with these weird powers. But the weird powers could be used to make the world a better place. And thus Tesseract was born. So far her activities have been minor-league; drug-pushers, muggers and so forth. But she’s gaining confidence with her abilities each time she uses them.

Secret Identity
Jocasta Thorington, enthusiastic freelance journalist and co-editor of ‘The Centennial Investigator’. As Jocasta she spends the day ferreting out stories about the unusual, and then writing about them (she does the leg-work now, whilst her partner Roslyn does the research and back-room stuff). As Tesseract she goes looking for ways of making her local area a better place to live, whilst learning new ways to use her abilities. She finds being Tesseract is good fun. Her main weapon against crime is her abilities, but she knows enough basic self-defence to avoid serious trouble; after all a girl in her line of work needs to know how to look after herself.

Roslyn Legler, 28, born and raised in Centennial City. Also a journalist, now confined to a wheelchair. Jocasta’s partner in both a business and personal sense. A bit of a computer whiz.

Jocasta has probably overstayed her welcome on whatever visa she had used to get into the States, so her legal status is questionable. Her activities as Tesseract could draw more attention to her than she might like.

Her activities against the criminal fraternity have been low-key, so far, but she may be starting to attract the wrong kind of attention from those further up the scale.

Tesseract’s powers revolve around her ability to play around with dimensions. Effectively she can make herself or things around her four- or two-dimensional for short periods of time. The practical upshot of this is that she can teleport herself, or other people, dodge things (by ceasing to exists in the one of the three normal dimensions) and even make small jumps in time. An added side-effect of her powers is the ability to perceive alternative time lines, both past and future, but this is somewhat uncontrolled. None of the effects persist; she can become two-dimensional for just long enough to doge a bullet or pass under a door, for example. The real, three-dimensional world always pulls her back. Her ‘Space/Time Warp’ ability allows her to twist the way things around her work for short periods of time – she can change the direction of gravity, speed up or slow time in localised areas – that kind of thing.

Supercrew Stats

Space/Time Warp 3
Dimension Control 2
Precognition/Retrocognition 1

[ ] Reroll - Time Shift (Space/Time Warp)
[ ] Effect 2 – Focus (Precognition/Retrocognition)
[ ] Change One Die To 5 – Appear Out Of Nowhere (Dimension Control)
[ ] Anecdote Bonus

Hero Points: 0

Toughness: 3

HiLo Heroes Stats

Professional Career: Journalist (Cautious - LOW)
Hobby Career: Vigilante (Bold - HIGH)
Charge: Roslyn Legler (Girlfriend and Business Partner)
Training: Precognition (To Hit +1)

Build:  [X] Quick  [  ] Powerful
Mentality:  [X] Logical  [  ] Intuitive
Temperament:  [X] Bold  [  ] Cautious

Action Dice and Powers:
Move Die:  [X] High (Q)  [  ] Low (P)  [  ] Weak
    Movement Powers: Teleport +1
To Hit Die:  [X] High (B) [  ] Low (C)  [  ] Weak
    Targeting Powers:
Evade Die:  [  ] High (C)  [X] Low (B)  [  ] Weak
    Evasion Powers: Phasing +1
Damage Die (add +1):  [  ] High (P)  [X] Low (Q)  [X] Weak
    Mundane Attack Powers:
    Fantastic Attack Powers:
Block Mundane Die:  [  ] High (L)  [X] Low (I)  [  ] Weak
Block Fantastic Die:  [X] High (I)  [  ] Low (L)  [  ] Weak
    Barrier Powers:

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

HiLo Heroes

I always like to keep an eye open for interesting role-playing games that are not only very light on rules but that are either very cheap or (even better) free. I'm looking at things on the Risus scale of things basically. The thing is that I don't play RPGs that much and often end up doing them solo as well, so I want something that requires minimal teaching and minimal effort but which still delivers a result. 200 pages of rules and character design that takes hours to complete won't do it for me.

I have a particular love of superhero role-playing games. Back in my past I used to play 'Villains and Vigilantes' and 'Champions', although with hindsight I think that the role-playing always tended to be a bit secondary and really they were big fight sequences - they were just miniatures games with some background character. But I've moved on. We played the original 'Villans and Vigilantes', and had to house-rule it to death to get it to work. 'Champions' was fun up to a point, but very detailed - certainly too detailed for the kind of game experience I want now.

A few years ago I came across a quirky little superhero game called 'Supercrew'. It was presented in the form of a comic, which alone was enough to sell it to me, but in fact the rules were rather clever and elegant, and very simple. It gave a great, fun, game. It has two failings to my mind. Firstly it doesn't have a system for resolving tasks outside of the characters' abilities - it just assumes that you free role-play them which is not really my kind of thing. Secondly the combat system is probably weighted a little too far towards attacks being much better than defences, especially in fights between unequal number so characters. Unless designed carefully, for example, a single allegedly powerful master-villain can be quite easily taken down by a group of  three or four heroes. Every so often I ponder ways of fixing these issues, and whilst doing it I look for other games to see how they have covered them.

And that's how I came across 'HiLo Heroes'. It's been around for a couple of years, it seems, but hasn't attracted a huge amount of attention; a search doesn't turn up a lot of material for it by player, or anything in the way of game reports. It instantly scored with me because it was a free download. I like free. The mechanisms are simple too; most rolls are opposed - you roll 2D6 and your opponent or the GM does the same. You compare the scores of one of each pair of D6. This is the HiLo feature; some of your abilities will use the lower of the two dice, some the higher. Rolls may be modified for skills, powers and a few game circumstances. And that's pretty much it. The mechanisms are simple, with most power effects being abstracted into the rolls and brought out in the narrative - a feature I like in 'Supercrew'. Unlike 'Supercrew' the system does include a character's background in the stats, and the design of a character allows the players and GM to assess how they can perform tasks outside of combat.

It's not the best written set of rules - I've been through them a couple of times and some of it's still not quite clear, and I think some bits have been glossed over - the use of the square grid to regulate movement for example. These are not show-stoppers, though. I think this is a superhero game I can work with, even if it just leads me back to 'Supercrew' with a few ideas or inspirations.

So let's create a character for 'HiLo Heroes'. And what better one to start with than - Kaptain Kobold! Anyone who has followed my Flickr stream will have seen the intermittent adventures of my Lego alter-ego - you can see them HERE if you haven't. As superheroes go The Kaptain is pretty standard; he can fly, and is strong enough to knock out a dragon with a single blow. Here he is for 'HiLo Heroes':


Secret ID: It's A Secret
Professional Career: IT Geek (Logical - Block Mundane - HIGH)
Hobby Career: Photographer (Intuitive - Block Fantastic - LOW)
Charge: The lovely Mrs Kobold

LIFE: 10
Training: Witty Quips (Attack +1)

Build: Quick
Mentality: Logical
Temperament: Cautious

Move Die: HIGH, Flight +1
Attack Die: LOW
Evade Die: HIGH
Damage Die: LOW, Superstrength +1 (Mundane), Hero +1
Block Mundane Die: HIGH, Weak -1
Block Fantastic Die: LOW

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Pocket Danger Patrol!

From time to time I don't just play miniatures or board games - I fiddle with role-playing games as well. Lacking a regular group, or a regular desire to play, I tend to go for short, simple games which I can either play with my family or run solo.

A few years ago I downloaded and played a neat sci-fi adventure game called 'Danger Patrol'. This is set in a retro future, and is inspired by various pulp sci-fi settings, such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, as well as the style of such things as the Indiana Jones moves. It's about Danger! Daring! Capitalisation! And Exclamation Marks!

It was great fun.

It's been in playtest form for years now, but I was thrilled the other day to discover that there was a new version of it available - Pocket Danger Patrol! All the fun of the original, but distilled onto two sides of A4.

The full Danger Patrol rules have a brief outline of the setting, which is deliberately open-ended. The players are member of the Danger Patrol, heroic and/or super-powered crimefighters who protect Rocket City from a variety of evil menaces and strange threats. It is set mainly within the solar system; Earth has been destroyed in atomic war, but humans fled to other planets. The two main colonies are the utopia of Rocket City on Mars, and the militaristic dictatorship of the Crimson Republic in Jupiter's red spot. All of the other planets are probably inhabited, either by human colonies or non-human natives.

Anyway, I thought that it would be fun to try out the pocket version of Danger Patrol. Much of the game is developed during play, which makes it an excellent role-playing game if you don't have a lot of preparation time. But it also makes it a good solo game as well; whilst you lack the range of creativity that several players offer, you can use simple die-roll mechanisms to generate information and setting details as the game goes along.

I decided to run two characters. Titanium Steel is a Robot Detective (all characters are defined by a style - Robot, in this case - and a role - Detective). I imagine him as a shiny metal man in a trench-coat and hat; a metal Bogart. To accompany him I created Sss'Kkk, an Alien Warrior; a blue lizardman from the swamps of Venus. Characters assign points to eight characteristics in order to define their specialities, then pick descriptors for four Bonus Dice, which are associated with their role and style. So the characters look like this:

Titanium Steel (Robot Detective)
Daring - 2, Heart - 1, Power - 2, Weird - 0, Action - 1, Cunning - 2, Battle - 1 Science - 1
Bonus Dice: Robot sensors, Overload!, Data Banks, "I Planned For This!"

Sss'Kkk (Alien Warrior)
Daring - 2, Heart - 0, Power - 2, Weird - 1, Action - 2, Battle - 2, Cunning - 1 Science - 0
Bonus Dice: Extra Life, Venusian Mind Link, Crystal Sword, Fearless

Danger Patrol is split up into scenes in which the characters deal with a number of Threats. A game starts with a short teaser in which a set of Threats are introduced. This is then interrupted by the 'Previously On ..' segment, in which the players get to narrate a short sequence, elements of which can be incorporated into the story-line at a later date. You then go back to the scene, and the Action begins. Players attack Threats by assembling a dice pool based on their attributes, bonuses and by narrating extra danger. They may also get Threat Dice, representing damage or other circumstances beyond their control. The dice have different sides - the games uses D4s, D6s, D8s and D10s - but regardless of the sides a score of 4 or more is a hit on a threat, whilst anything else is a miss and, except in the case of the bonus dice, generates danger and complications for the character. This means that there is both advantage and disadvantage to assembling a big handful of dice.

Danger Patrol Pocket includes a Threat-O-Matic, which allows you to generate random threats on the fly. I used this, plus some tables from the Mythic GM Emulator or of my own creation, to create my initial threats.

And so:

Twenty miles outside of Rocket City, in the Martian hills, sits the President's private retreat. Tonight this modest mansion is the scene of a secret conference between the President and the Neptunian Ambassador, in which the two official hope to settle the trade dispute that has nearly brought war to the solar system.

But suddenly, in a flash of energy, the discussions are disrupted. A giant mechanical floating head appears - Craniax, the mad psychic overlord of the dark side of the Moon. And with him are hordes of blaster-wielding Neuro-Soldiers - mutants from the smoking atomic wastes of Earth, converted to helpless slave-warriors by Craniax's mind-control helmets.

They attack the conference, cutting down bodyguards and delegates - the Neptunian Ambassador's life is in danger!

Speeding towards the mansion, a hovercar. And in it, two member of - Danger Patrol! Will they save the day?

Previously On Danger Patrol ...

Titanium Steel stands in front of a blackboard covered in writing. "Of course" he cries, "The robberies were just a diversion to divert security away from the Mansion!"

Sss'Kkk pushes doggedly on through a sandstorm ...

The Threats were as follows:

Craniax, Two Squads of Neuro-Soldiers, Save The Neptunian Ambassador, The Mysterious Fleeing Figure. The latter two Threats had a countdown - after three rounds they would cease to exist, and push the characters closer to failure as, respectively, the Neptunian Ambassador was assassinated and the mysterious figure got away. To make things harder the Fleeing Figure was a protected Threat; it couldn't be attacked until at least two of the Craniax/Neuro-Trooper Threats had been defeated. All Threats have a strength (which makes it more dangerous to attack them with certain attributes) and a weakness (which allows certain attributes to score extra hits). This affects how characters may choose to approach them.

On with the action:

Our heroes intercept frantic radio messages as they hurtle into the grounds of the mansion. The Ambassador, and diplomatic relations with Neptune, is in danger. Sss'Kkk fires up his Danger Patrol rocket pack and hurtles out of the car. Fearlessly dodging blaster fire he hurtles past the Neuro-Soldiers and grabs the Ambassador. Shielding him from fire with his own body he carries him to the safety of an armoured hovercar. Meanwhile Titanium Steel readies a rapidly assembled psi-jammer; his investigations had given him forewarning of who and what he might be facing tonight, and he'd come prepared. He has wired it directly into his own power-cells to boost it, and when it activates the entire first wave of Neuro-Soldiers go down. Unfortunately it also causes a wild, unstable, chain reaction in his power cells.

With barely a thought Sss'Kkk hurtles back into the mansion, drawing his sword to confront Craniax himself. Through a hail of blaster bolts he charges, reaching out with his Venusian mind-link in an attempt to distract the evil overlord. Craniax fights back with all his will, but the lizardman is too determined. Cowardly to his rotten core, Craniax teleports to safety before Sss'Kkk's sword descends. But his presence is planted in the Venusian's mind ...

On the assumption that Sss'Kkk can deal with the last of the Neuro-soldiers, Titanium Steel guns the engine of the hovercar and sets of in pursuit of a shadowy figure that was leaving the mansion as they arrived. the figure is fleeing into the night in their own hovercar, firing behind them to throw off the pursuit. Into the steep hills and deep canyons of Mars the two vehicles go, both navigated by quick, cunning minds. As the chase hots up a fierce Martian storm adds to the danger ...

By this stage there were only two Threats left in play. The others had been defeated quickly by judicious use of attributes keyed against the Threats' weaknesses. However both heroes not only had Threat dice against them, but had Complications, which are extra, mini-Threats generated during play - Titanium Steel had a Martian Storm to deal with, whilst Sss'Kkk had 'Craniax Is In My Mind!'.

Fighting the residual mental influence of Craniax, Sss'Kkk moves to attack the last squad of Neuro-Soldiers.  Taking blaster hit after blaster hit, shrugged off by his Venusian constitution, he cuts his way through the mindless drones. But the lunar overlord's influence has weakened him, and he is overwhelmed, joining the drones as a controlled soldier.

If a character takes too many hits in one turn they are taken out of the fight. In this case I assuemed that Sss'Kkk became a mindless slave of Craniax, so I added his complication to the Neuro-Soldier Threat to represent the extra strength he gave it.

Titanium Steel pursues the other hovercar into the storm, and takes a risk. Drawing his ray pistol he slows and, with great concentration fires a single shot at his quarry. It's a risk, but it pays off; the other hovercar flips over and crashes. Its occupant is thrown out, unconscious. Titanium Steel pauses only long enough to handcuff them, before leaping back into his own car and speeding back to the mansion. As he does so he attempts to repair his damaged systems, with only limited success.

There was enough time on the clock for Titanium Steel to take a rest, which recovers bonus dice. He also spent a round trying to remove his short circuit complication, but failed.

Titanium Steel arrives back at the mansion, and uses the psi-jammer to drop the last of the Neuro-Soldiers. But the strain on his own systems is too much, and he falls, disabled. By he time he recovered, and returned to the crashed hovercar the mysterious occupant had escaped into the night. Craniax's hold on Sss'Kkk was broken by the jammer, and he recovers to fight again.

So that was the end of that scene. The heroes defeated the threats, but their own defeat means that they may start the next scene with additional complications in play. Before them they will narrate some kind of interlude; full Danger Patrol has a special Interlude scene structure for this, but the Pocket version doesn't, so I am making a mechanism up on the fly.

Who was the mysterious figure? What was Craniax up to?

Find out by tuning in ... one day .... for the next episode of :

Danger Patrol!

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