Go Go Power Ferrets!

A friend recently mentioned kinda offhandedly that he didn’t know of a decent rpg based on Super Sentai/Power Rangers or the like. That got me thinking about how you might tackle the group controlled giant robot.

The first thing I think of about giant robot shows is their particular pacing. They start the battle on foot, scuffle a bit, then jump into their individual mechs. The battle continues with the heroes being more or less successful depending on the threat and the show, then they combine into their super robot. They fight for a bit longer before they summon their signature super weapon and waste the baddie with a single swing.

This works great for a tv show, but not so much for a rpg because you run into the same issue that everyone has had watching Voltron. Why not go straight to the sword and waste the bad guy? (Admit it. You know you’ve had this same thought.)

I’ve got two rough ideas on how to deal with this, dependent on the type of system used. In a system that has some sort of currency exchange (like FATE or Cortex Plus) the group could “buy” the transformation into the super robot. It would need to be a group cost, not an individual cost (ie the group pays 15 points, not each team member pays 4) to avoid one member not holding up the group. The same method could then be used to activate the sword for the death blow.

In a system without some sort of currency, the group members could charge up by taking some sort of supplemental action. Count successes as the scene progresses and when the target number is reached the group changes into the super robot. Rinse and repeat for the sword.

Okay, so your group of brightly spandex clad and mech driving heroes have successfully joined to form their super robot. So now what? Well, now they have to pilot the damn thing. But how to do so?

One way would be to assign every member a job (weapons, piloting, defense, etc) and proceed from there. This set up has the advantage of everyone having something to do and it not slowing down play, but it doesn’t really feel correct to me. I’ve always gotten the vibe that the team was controlling the robot jointly, not splitting into individual tasks.

Another method would be to have a list of actions with corresponding difficulties that the team rolls for jointly, and leave any individual powers (like shields, flight, etc) under the direct control of that team member. Everyone would still have an active role to play and it would be more genre appropriate. The downside is that it wouldn’t be as quick and could possibly be a bit confusing. I unfortunately don’t really have a fix for those problems at the moment.

Well, that’s about it so far. I know it’s a little light on specifics, but without a definite system  it’s hard not to be.

So questions? Comments? Horrible, hate filled rants? Send them to me!

(Well… maybe not that last one.)

Posted in Random Musings | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Just write something dammit!

Earlier this evening I read an awesome blog post by Ryan Macklin about why he blogs, and why other people should stick with it. He lists four reasons (Makes you smarter, makes you faster, gives you material, and starts your brain engine) that he sees as the most important. As usual, he manages to drill into the heart of something fairly complicated in a really short space. Of course this is because he writes and blogs frequently, so he has lots of practice.

Me? I stare blankly at my screen, mentally flogging myself until eventually my brain vomits something up just to make the pain stop. Most of the time I look at what I finally managed to force out and think “My god, that’s really terrible,” and promptly tear it apart and rewrite it.

And ya know what? That second attempt is nearly always a lot faster, and usually for one or more of the reasons why Macklin calls out in his post. I’ve already got a starting point, I know (at least partially) what I want to say, and I got my mental gears moving.

Note I said faster, not easier, because I’ve yet to find writing one of these posts easy to write. Even this post which is a pretty straight forward “This guy wrote this thing that made me thing these things!” post has taken me more than an hour and has had to be dragged kicking and screaming from my brain meats.

Macklin also listed a fifth reason why people typically start blogging, which is to become internet/nerd famous. While you can build up an audience, but it does not happen over night (something I can very personally attest to), so you should be prepared for a long slow build as you find your voice and audience. This last bit of his post really struck a cord for me, especially since a few days ago I’d had a conversation with him and a few other folks on Twitter in which he’d given me this exact advice.

Turns out the conversation at least partially prompted his blog post, which made me stop and reexamine the hows and whys of my own blogging, and what has been stopping me from blogging more. I won’t get into the specifics (which are largely individual to me and most likely of no concern to anyone) but I do have a better handle on why I’ve been doing this. A big part of that was admitting to myself that at least part of the reason was that I do want some sort of validation. I don’t think that’s unusual or a bad thing, but I also can’t let it be the only reason or even the biggest reason I blog.

I apologize if this post has been slightly rambley or disjointed, but I said all that to say this: From now on I’m going to try to write more often and more for myself. Yes, I still hope I get feedback and possibly even grow an audience, but I’m going to try to not let myself be concerned about those. I’m going to try to not get hung up on something being perfect or clever. I’m not going to ask myself if something is important enough that people will read it, but rather if something is important enough to me to write.

Basically I’m going to “Just write something, dammit!”

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Princess Azula

With out further a due, here is her royal scariness, Princess Azula.

Azula

Affiliations:

Solo d10    Buddy d6    Team d8

Distinctions: 

Daddy’s little psychopath.

Deadly beauty.

My wish is your command.

Powersets:

Fire Bender Prodigy

Fire Bending d12    Enhanced Durability d8

Enhanced Stamina d8   Enhanced Strength d8

Superhuman Reflexes d10

SFX: Area Attack. Target multiple opponents. For every additional target, add d6 to your pool and keep +1 effect die.

SFX: Berserk. Add a die from the doom pool to one or more attack actions. Step up the doom pool die by +1 for each action; return it to the doom pool when you’re done.

SFX: Lightning Strike. Step up or double a Fire Bender Prodigy die against a single target. Remove the highest rolling die and add 3 dice for your total.

SFX: Multipower. Use two or more Fire Bender Prodigy powers in a single dice pool at -1 step for each additional power.

Limit: Unhindged. Change any Fire Bender Prodigy power into a complication and add or step up a die in the doom pool. Activate an opportunity or remove the complication to recover the power.

Specialties:

Acrobatic Expert d8    Combat Master d10    Menace Master d10    Psych Expert d8

She’s a power house, her fire bending skills matched only by her complete lack of compassion, or sanity. Her dice pools will routinely have 2 or more d10s and a d12, making her more than a match for the Avatar. The inclusion of the Multipower SFX might be taking it too far, but she was an absolute terror in Last Airbender.

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Ty Lee and Equalist Chi Blockers

For my second Marvel Avatar attempt I thought I’d tackle Ty Lee and chi blocking. Working out exactly how the chi blocking would shut down bending and traits in general gave me a lot of trouble. I’m not entirely happy with what I came up with, but it’s certainly a decent place to start.

Ty Lee

Affiliations:

Solo d6    Buddy d8    Team d10

Distinctions: 

Head in the clouds.

Fearsome Friend.

Circus Acrobat.

Powersets:

Chi Blocking

Chi Strikes d10    Enhanced Durability d8

Enhanced Reflexes d8    Enhanced Stamina d8

SFX: Blocked Chakras. Target any of your opponent’s Traits. If successful, shut the power down if your effect die is equal or greater. Step the power back by one if smaller. Targets can recover the power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.

SFX: Paralyzed Chakras. Add a d6 and step up your effect die by +1 when inflicting a chi blocking complication on a target.

Limit: Exhausted. Shutdown any Chi Blocking power to add 1 d6 to the Doom Pool. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.

Specialties:

Acrobatic Master d10    Covert Expert d8    Combat Expert d8

Equalist Chi Blocker

Affiliations:

Solo d4    Buddy d6    Team d8

Distinctions: 

Fanatical follower of Amon.

Faceless Menace.

Powersets:

Chi Blocking

Chi Strikes d10    Enhanced Reflexes d8    Enhanced Stamina d8

SFX: Blocked Chakras. Target any of your opponent’s Traits. If successful, shut the power down if your effect die is equal or greater. Step the power back by one if smaller. Targets can recover the power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.

SFX: Paralyzed Chakras. Add a d6 and step up your effect die by +1 when inflicting a chi blocking complication on a target.

Limit: Exhausted. Shutdown any Chi Blocking power to add 1 d6 to the Doom Pool. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.

Specialties:

Acrobatics Expert d8    Cover Expert d8    Combat Expert d8    Menace Expert d8

Mob of Equalist Ninjas

Affiliation

Team 3d8 or 5d8

Distinctions

Faceless Threat.

Unquestioning Loyalty.

Powersets:

Ninja Traits

Ninja Training d8    Coordinated Attacks d8

SFX: Area Attack. Target multiple opponents. For every additional target, add d6 and keep +1 effect die.

Limit: Mob Cohesion. Defeat Team dice (with d10 stress) to reduce mob.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome and wanted.

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Marvel Avatars

The following are my first attempts at expressing Aang and Korra, from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra respectively, with the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying iteration of Cortex+. They’re far from perfect, and I’m not satisfied with various elements for one reason or another, but I’m pretty happy with the results as a whole.

Avatar Korra

Affiliations:

Solo d10  Buddy d8  Team d6

Distinctions: 

I’m the Avatar! You better deal with it!

I’ll make my own way.

I’m totally serene. No really, I am!

Powersets:

Power of the Avatar

Elemental Control d10    Enhanced Strength d8    Enhanced Reflexes d8

Enhanced Durability d8    Enhanced Stamina d8

SFX: Area Attack. Target multiple opponents. For every additional target, add d6 to your pool and keep +1 effect die.

SFX: Versatile. Split Elemental Control into 2d at –1 step, or 3d at –2 steps.

SFX:  Multipower. Use two or more Power of the Avatar powers in a single dice pool at -1 step for each additional power.

SFX: Healing. Add Elemental Control to your dice pool when helping others recover stress. Spend 1 PP to recover your own or another’s physical stress or step back your own or another’s physical trama by –1.

SFX: Elemental Contructs. Add a d6 and step up your effect die by +1 when using Elemental Control to create assets.

Limit: Exhausted. Shutdown any Power of the Avatar power to gain 1 PP. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.

Naga the Polar Bear Dog

Enhanced Stamina d8    Superhuman Strength d10    Enhanced Speed d8

Superhuman Durability d10    Enhanced Reflexes d8

SFX: Area Attack. Target multiple opponents. For every additional target, add d6 to your pool and keep +1 effect die.

SFX: To the Rescue. If Korra is stressed out, spend 1 PP to have Naga remove her
from the Scene.

Limit: Unexplainable Absence. Earn 1 PP if you have Naga the Polar Bear Dog shutdown for the remainder of the Scene.

Specialties:

Combat Expert d8    Acrobatic Expert d8    Pro-Bending Expert d8

Milestones:

Legacy of the Avatar

1 XP when you first admit you are the Avatar.

3 XP when being the Avatar forces you into an uncomfortable situation or gets you in over your head.

10 XP when you fully accept your role and responsibilities as the Avatar.

The Equalists’ Revolution

1 XP the first time you contradict the Equalists’ rhetoric.

3 XP when you defeat an Equalist for or plot, or demonstrate how Bender’s and non-Benders can coexist.

10 XP when you discover Amon’s true identity and goals.

Avatar Aang

Affiliations:

Solo d10  Buddy d6  Team d8

Distinctions:

Weight of the World.

Irrepressible scamp.

Smile at world and the world smiles back.

Powersets:

Power of the Avatar

Elemental Control d10    Superhuman Reflexes d10    Enhanced Durability d8

Enhanced Stamina d8    Flight d6

SFX: Area Attack. Target multiple opponents. For every additional target, add d6 to your pool and keep +1 effect die.

SFX: Versatile. Split Elemental Control into 2d at –1 step, or 3d at –2 steps.

SFX:  Multipower. Use two or more Power of the Avatar powers in a single dice pool at -1 step for each additional power.

SFX: Whirlwind. Add a d6 and step up your effect die by +1 when inflicting an Air Element complication on a target.

SFX: Avatar Form. Step up or double any Power of the Avatar power for one action. If the action fails, add a die to doom pool equal to the normal rating of your power die.

Limit: Exhausted. Shutdown any Power of the Avatar power to gain 1 PP. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.

Kite Staff

Flight d8     Weapon d8

SFX: Area Attack. Target multiple opponents. For every additional target, add d6 to your pool and keep +1 effect die.

Limit: Gear. Shutdown Kite Staff and gain 1 PP. Take an action vs. the doom pool to recover gear.

Specialties:

Combat Expert d8    Mystic Expert d8    Acrobatic Master d10

Milestones:

Legacy of the Avatar

1 XP when you first admit you are the Avatar.

3 XP when being the Avatar forces you into an uncomfortable situation or gets you in over your head.

10 XP when you fully accept your role and responsibilities as the Avatar.

The Fire Lord’s War

1 XP when you first aid someone against the Fire Nation.

3 XP when you put yourself directly in harm’s way in order to protect your allies or bystanders.

10 XP when you strike a major blow against the Fire Nation.

I toyed around with a second method of expressing the Power of the Avatar powerset that would have each element as a separate Power Trait instead of just Elemental Control.

So the Avatar’s powersets would look like this:

Power of the Avatar (Aang)

Air Bending d10    Earth Bending d8    Water Bending d8    Superhuman Reflexes d10

Enhanced Durability d8    Enhanced Stamina d8    Flight d6

Power of the Avatar (Korra)

Earth Bending d8    Water Bending d10    Fire Bending d8    Enhanced Strength d8

Enhanced Reflexes d8    Enhanced Durability d8    Enhanced Stamina d8

I like the elements being split up, but 7 power traits seems a but much. It does make the two Avatars’ powersets more distinct though and makes the Versatile and Multipower SFXs much more potent.

I’m going to keep toying around with these two, and probably work up a few of the other characters, but for now I”d love to know what other people think about the write ups.

Posted in Avatar, Datafiles, MarvelRPG | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Permanent Essence and Exalted Power Levels, v2

In my second pass at sorting out the power levels and such I’ve opened up the levels quite a bit, and changed the terminology to something that seems to work better. I’m still unsure about using Second Breath as the name for the newly exalted tier. It’s more evocative than Newly Exalted, but I’m afraid it’s not as clear.

I like the levels being tied to age/experience much better than using the various Exalted power tiers from the stock game, which broke down really quickly once I thought about implementation. Refresh still functions as Permanent Essence and a cap on what kind of powers and effects a character has access to.

I spread the levels apart a fair amount in an effort to emulate how White Wolf’s mechanics scale exponentially and how things get more than slightly crazy at high levels. I’ve never played a FATE game with such a high refresh level, so the levels may expand or contract as I test building characters.

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Permanent Essence and Exalted Power Levels

Permanent Essence is Exalted is roughly equal to the role the Refresh level plays in The Dresden Files RPG, which is to say a really rough gauge of the character’s power level. The concept can’t be translated directly, but should work well enough.

For the various Exalted (or campaign) power levels I’m borrowing heavily from Strands of Fate. I looked at how Dresden divides up the starting power levels, but Dresden characters don’t tend to be dripping with various powers like they are in Exalted. They way Strands structures the power levels, scaling from normal dude all the way up to Superman, works much better for Exalted.

Balancing refresh, starting skill points and Charm Points between the various power levels is proving to be the toughest challenge. Below is a really quick and dirty first attempt. I’m sure there’s problems in it, but until I’ve got some of the Charms/powers worked up I don’t have any real way of testing the various numbers.

The names for the levels are just working names and will probably get changed before I’m done. At the very least they won’t be 1:1 connections to the various Exalt types. Using terms that connect more to the age of the Exalt might be less confusing/ misleading. Thinking something along the lines of Heroic Mortal -> Second Breath -> Experienced Exalt -> Veteran Exalt -> Elder Exalt. Still needs some work, but that seems like the better way to title the power levels.

I’m also kicking around the idea of dropping the number of Charm Points a bit for each level and allowing players to “cash in” refresh for Charm Points on a 1:2 point exchange. This would reign in some of “over the top” nature and make Fate Points more scarce. I’m not sure how much I want to do either of those things, but I don’t want players to get their full Refresh every session either, because I’m afraid doing so would take some of the teeth out of the Great Curse and make taking advantage of the Sponsor mechanics less of a temptation.

Further noodling is required.

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