Author Topic: Supers - some basic rules including powers  (Read 7081 times)

Chris Goodwin

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Supers - some basic rules including powers
« on: August 31, 2012, 10:43:09 PM »
I've only got the barest hint of one incomplete playbook (the brick) but the basic framework is out there, in a Google document here.  The folder with all the stuff I've got so far is here.

It's rough and incomplete, but any feedback and questions are very much appreciated!

Chris Goodwin

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2012, 02:37:46 AM »
Some of my new MC moves:

  • Threaten their loved ones.
  • Inflict collateral damage.
  • Trigger a weakness.
  • Mess with their secrets.
  • Take away their powers.
  • Threaten innocents.

I know that these are mostly restatements of the ones we already know, or at least specific instances of general cases, but I'm going to hang onto them. 

Some AW MC moves that are practically straight out of superhero literature:

  • Separate them.
  • Capture someone.
  • Put someone in a spot.
  • Announce off-screen badness.
  • Announce future badness. 
  • Take away their stuff.
  • Activate their stuff’s downside.

Note: In the supers genre, it’s impossible to overuse announce future badness. Every superpowered battle has future badness built in all over the place!

James Mullen

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 02:14:23 PM »
Good stuff there; I totally agree with the list of new MC moves, they are a perfect fit for a supers game. I've made some similar choices myself in a supers hack I've been working on, where some of those options are alm  ost word-for-word the choices the players have to make on some 7-9 results! :-D Still a very early draft stage and I've gone for a dual-playbook format, where players pick one playbook for their origin and one for their style, which reflects what powers they have. I like the way you've used tags to enable players to create their own powers though.


Hey I Can Chan

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 04:10:05 PM »
I'm quite a few pages in on my superhero hack and even done some playtesting. Here's what I did:

I went with a people-with-powers idea, rather than powers-define-people idea; the playbooks represent archetypes found in comics not insofar as powers but in roles. For example, the Survivor is the only one of his kind, the rest of whom were wiped out by something. The Savage doesn't get along in society for whatever reason--he's the Hulk but he's also Wolverine. And so on. But what powers they have isn't what they bring to the table; in the game I'm building, you're not a flying brick (which, as a longtime comic reader and superhero gamer, I find boring) but the Last Son of Krypton (which is interesting).

I went with a combination of big powers and little powers. Big powers are dealt randomly (I'm using a deck of about 100 powers) and the player picks a few from what he's dealt and uses his little powers--which are all choices--to tighten his power concept.

There's been some resistance from longtime role-players to the idea of even slightly randomly generating super powers--vague memories of playing AD&D with crap stats and such--, but not as much as I anticipated, especially once I point out that very, very few superheroes actually sat down and chose their superpowers. Most of the time heroes play the hands their dealt.

Jeremy

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 04:59:57 PM »
I'm not sure you're doing yourself any favors by using the standard AW basic moves, particularly the violence moves (sieze by force & go aggro).  They don't fit any of the supers sub-genres or tones that I'm aware of. 

I can definitely see the relationship between power stunts in the source material and moves in AW. But could you come at it from a different angle, though?  Like, make the core moves represent the types of conflicts/actions that supers in your game take.  Make their powers have tags & descriptors (similar to what you have now), with their own stat bonuses.  When you describe using your powers to make a move, you roll +that power's stat bonus.

So I might have:
  • Control Wind +1 (LOS, area, forceful, imprecise)
  • Blast of Lightning +0 (LOS, 4 harm, messy, stun, limit:outdoors, limit:couldy)
  • Control Weather+2 (LOS, area, slow)

(You'd probably need some basic stats, too, like Cool or Hot to handle moves that weren't done with powers.)

If I maneuver by summoning winds to lift me to the top of the building, I'd roll +1 (for Control Winds) and on a 7-9 the "imprecise" tag could be really problematic.  If I then race against time to summon storm clouds (since Control Weather is slow), I'd roll +2.  While they get here, I could defend (myself or others) by hurling blasts of wind around (rolling +1).  Once the storm clouds arrive, I can assault the poor schmucks on the ground by unleashing a lightning bolt (rolling +0 but seriously messing them up on a hit).  (In case it's not obvious, the italics are ideas for basic moves... just ideas, though.)

The "power stunts" would then evolve naturally out of play, as players wracked their brains with how to apply their powers to trigger the moves they want to make.

To prevent power-spamming, you could use a carrot instead of a stick: you mark XP the first time each session you use a power to make a particular basic move. Make sure everyone's got 2+ powers and you'll see some serious creativity, I think.

Bigger picture question: What's the tone of the supers game you want out of this?  Like, sanitary Code-era stuff with little blood and no real consequences for the enormous violence that supers can dish out?  Grittier Ultimates-style, where Bruce Banner Hulks out in Manhattan and hundreds of people die? 

Finally, how is doing it with the AW engine better/more appropriate than, say, Marvel Heroic? Or Capes? Or With Great Power?


Chris Goodwin

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2012, 08:48:14 PM »
Good stuff there; I totally agree with the list of new MC moves, they are a perfect fit for a supers game. I've made some similar choices myself in a supers hack I've been working on, where some of those options are alm  ost word-for-word the choices the players have to make on some 7-9 results! :-D Still a very early draft stage and I've gone for a dual-playbook format, where players pick one playbook for their origin and one for their style, which reflects what powers they have. I like the way you've used tags to enable players to create their own powers though.

Thank you!  Using the tags for powers was the first thing that occurred to me when I first saw them.



I went with a people-with-powers idea, rather than powers-define-people idea; the playbooks represent archetypes found in comics not insofar as powers but in roles. For example, the Survivor is the only one of his kind, the rest of whom were wiped out by something. The Savage doesn't get along in society for whatever reason--he's the Hulk but he's also Wolverine. And so on. But what powers they have isn't what they bring to the table; in the game I'm building, you're not a flying brick (which, as a longtime comic reader and superhero gamer, I find boring) but the Last Son of Krypton (which is interesting).

Yeah, and most of the people-with-powers sources -- Wild Cards, NBC's Heroes, maybe the 4400 -- I think are closer to AW's tone.  I'm going a little more four-color, I think.  



I'm not sure you're doing yourself any favors by using the standard AW basic moves, particularly the violence moves (sieze by force & go aggro).  They don't fit any of the supers sub-genres or tones that I'm aware of.  

I may change the names -- go aggro especially, which, it seems to me from my reading of the text is almost the equivalent of a Champions presence attack.

Quote
I can definitely see the relationship between power stunts in the source material and moves in AW. But could you come at it from a different angle, though?  Like, make the core moves represent the types of conflicts/actions that supers in your game take.  Make their powers have tags & descriptors (similar to what you have now), with their own stat bonuses.  When you describe using your powers to make a move, you roll +that power's stat bonus.

...

If I maneuver by summoning winds to lift me to the top of the building, I'd roll +1 (for Control Winds) and on a 7-9 the "imprecise" tag could be really problematic.  If I then race against time to summon storm clouds (since Control Weather is slow), I'd roll +2.  While they get here, I could defend (myself or others) by hurling blasts of wind around (rolling +1).  Once the storm clouds arrive, I can assault the poor schmucks on the ground by unleashing a lightning bolt (rolling +0 but seriously messing them up on a hit).  (In case it's not obvious, the italics are ideas for basic moves... just ideas, though.)

The "power stunts" would then evolve naturally out of play, as players wracked their brains with how to apply their powers to trigger the moves they want to make.

I thought of that, and a post of yours triggered an idea for freeform stats/traits which I think triggered the tags-as-powers thing.  I'm not sure I want to go that direction, though.

Quote
To prevent power-spamming, you could use a carrot instead of a stick: you mark XP the first time each session you use a power to make a particular basic move. Make sure everyone's got 2+ powers and you'll see some serious creativity, I think.

I've got something like this in mind.  I'm still poking away at the exact implementation.

Quote
Bigger picture question: What's the tone of the supers game you want out of this?  Like, sanitary Code-era stuff with little blood and no real consequences for the enormous violence that supers can dish out?  Grittier Ultimates-style, where Bruce Banner Hulks out in Manhattan and hundreds of people die?  

I'm thinking somewhere between mid-80's Marvel (mainly X-Men, Avengers, FF) and Astro City.  Four color, not afraid to go a little darker and drop a few F-bombs.

Quote
Finally, how is doing it with the AW engine better/more appropriate than, say, Marvel Heroic? Or Capes? Or With Great Power?

If it ends up not working at all, which I don't think will be the case, I'll have learned something in the process.  :)  And I massively love the AW engine.

« Last Edit: September 02, 2012, 01:23:46 AM by Chris Goodwin »

James Mullen

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2012, 10:48:54 AM »
Out of interest, this is what I've produced so far: it's only about 50% there, but it's been an interesting experiment for me. As you'll see, I've dropped all the stats and replaced them with power, a resource that rises and falls through play and will also serve to replace experience when I'm done. The Origin and Style playbooks will be designed to be properly paired together, so that when you put one of each side by side, they also give you the name of your superhero!

Just Heroes

Chris Goodwin

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2012, 11:12:44 PM »
Out of interest, this is what I've produced so far: it's only about 50% there, but it's been an interesting experiment for me. As you'll see, I've dropped all the stats and replaced them with power, a resource that rises and falls through play and will also serve to replace experience when I'm done. The Origin and Style playbooks will be designed to be properly paired together, so that when you put one of each side by side, they also give you the name of your superhero!

James, I completely love what you've got, to the point where I'm afraid I'm going to unintentionally steal some of it, and I don't want to do that. 

James Mullen

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2012, 06:59:31 AM »
Don't think of it as stealing, think of it as "drawing inspiration from a common source" ;-)

There aren't an infinite number of ways to hack AW for a supers game, so there's an inevitable amount of overlap between all the hacks in development: for example, both my hack and Chan's have a 'last of their species' archetype as one of the basic character picks and I already mentioned how some of my 'hard choices' reflected your new MC moves.

If you feel sufficiently guilty about getting inspiration from my hack, I'm happy with just a credit in your finished game. If you want to collaborate on something, I'd be happy to try that too.

Chris Goodwin

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2012, 12:00:15 AM »
James, thank you. 

Jeremy, I may steal draw inspiration from you too.  :)



In other news, I'm thinking that archetype as playbook may be one of the cows I need to slaughter. 


JasonT

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2012, 04:11:25 PM »
Rally looking forward to seeing all of these. So many neat ideas floating around. And Chan: Is that in-playtest version circulating online at all? I dig the random power assignment concept.

Hey I Can Chan

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2012, 09:06:13 PM »
Quote
And Chan: Is that in-playtest version circulating online at all? I dig the random power assignment concept.

No, I've a few week's worth of work before I'm ready to smack it on the ass and send it into the world, but thanks for the interest.

The random power generation thing is actually pretty easy if you want to swipe it though. Just put powers in card sleeves and deal 'em. I mean, there's more to it than that, but the idea's pretty basic. I used cards for several reasons the game itself'll make clear, though.

The writing has to be pretty tight to fit on the cards, so the game's powers look like this:

Control Electricity
  • Control Electricity: When you want electricity to obey you, select the followup move, pick A, and Empower. On a miss, it doesn’t, can’t, or misunderstands. On a hit+, it does and make the followup move. If improved, take +1 forward. List A: Issue the command ? silently to some electricity in the area ? verbally to all electricity in the area.
  • Attack: Keep 1 better weapon; it takes the electricity tag. If improved, repeat.

James Mullen

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2012, 02:28:13 PM »
I've updated my Just Heroes rough draft, which involved a couple of insignificant rules tweaks and completing a full roster of playbooks, so now there 8 origins and 8 styles to mix and match, with all their moves and other bits as complete as I can manage for now. :-)

Chris Goodwin

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2012, 04:05:38 PM »
Jeremy, I'm still thinking about your nonspecific moves idea and am going to try it on for size.

Chris Goodwin

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Re: Supers - some basic rules including powers
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2012, 06:53:52 PM »
I've changed my stats, and added one: drive, which is that invisible quality that forces you to put on a costume and go out to get beaten on.  It's also roughly your hit points and your willpower stat.  You gain +1 drive when you've rolled all of your basic stats (other than drive) during the session, and you can substitute your drive for any of the basic stats when rolling a move (not counting as a roll against a basic stat).