The Bad Ol’ Good Ol’ Days

I was delighted yesterday to read Fat Goblin Games announcement of renewed support for Castle Falkenstein, a long-time favorite of mine. I still fondly recall purchasing it at GenCon and sitting, ensconced, in one of the side halls of the convention center pouring through its contents, losing myself in its graceful, romantic, and magical setting.

As anyone who knows me will attest, I’m an absolute sucker for Victorian-era alternate history RPGs and generally love my historical roleplaying, but one thing I’ve increasingly grappled with is reconciling the romance of a bygone era with its often harsh realities, particularly with regard to things like gender and sexual equality, colonialism, racism, and the even harsher human brutalities of our shared history. If you’re rolling your eyes at this point about my “spoiling” your enjoyment of a good fictional romp through Steampunk Victorian London, medieval Europe, or the Roman Empire or whatnot, feel free to click the “close” or “back” button and move on. Otherwise, consider with me:

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ICONS Scale Adjectives

Toying around with adjectives for the ICONS 1–10 ability scale:

  1. Weak
  2. Poor
  3. Average
  4. Fair
  5. Good
  6. Great
  7. Fantastic
  8. Incredible
  9. Amazing
  10. Supreme

The mid-range (2–7) matches Fate Core for the most part (although ICONS knocks out the “Mediocre” level, having just two below Average). Overall, I like the contrast between the “normal” (3–6) and “super” (7–10) adjectives.

Re: Animated • Justice League “Paradise Lost” – Part 1

jl10This blog takes a look at episodes from the Justice League animated series from a tabletop roleplaying game perspective, both in terms of game design and game play.

Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the episode in the post. If, for some reason, you’re interested in the show and this blog and have not seen the show, go and do that first. The blog will make much more sense, and you won’t have your enjoyment of the show spoiled. You Have Been Warned.

“Paradise Lost” – Part 1

A hurricane strikes “Beach City” (the news report has Snapper Carr reporting from “Beach City Pier”). This preamble is the classic “heroes vs. disaster” scenario, which tends to get limited treatment in superhero RPGs compared to combat.

Diana’s monologue on her way back to Paradise Island is classic and any player who came up with Wonder Woman saying these things to prepare for a confrontation with her mother should get some type of award!

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Re: Animated • Justice League “Injustice for All” – Part 2

jl09This blog takes a look at episodes from the Justice League animated series from a tabletop roleplaying game perspective, both in terms of game design and game play.

Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the episode in the post. If, for some reason, you’re interested in the show and this blog and have not seen the show, go and do that first. The blog will make much more sense, and you won’t have your enjoyment of the show spoiled. You Have Been Warned.

“Injustice for All” — Part 2

So now that Luthor’s Injustice Gang has caught Batman, what are they going to do with him? Note that Batman is intimidating to most of the villains in the room while chained up and not even trying! That’s some “passive” intimidation score!

A “stasis field” prevents J’onn’s telepathy from locating Batman, the same technology used to restrain J’onn in Secret Origins. Nice consistency in the application of plot devices.

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Re: Animated • Justice League “Injustice for All” – Part 1

jl08This blog takes a look at episodes from the Justice League animated series from a tabletop roleplaying game perspective, both in terms of game design and game play.

Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the episode in the post. If, for some reason, you’re interested in the show and this blog and have not seen the show, go and do that first. The blog will make much more sense, and you won’t have your enjoyment of the show spoiled. You Have Been Warned.

“Injustice for All” — Part 1

“Injustice for All” is one of my favorite Justice League episodes (along with Season 2’s “Secret Society”) because it has team vs. team dynamics, snappy dialog, and a lot going on, along with a more classic Silver Age Lex Luthor. Plus a terrific use of Batman and his abilities, which we’ll look more at in Part 2.

Thanks to Martian Manhunter impersonating Superman, the League finally gets the goods on Lex Luthor. Luthor hops into a high-tech flier, firing blasts to cover his action, then uses a missile to bring down the roof, all before Batman, Green Lantern, or Martian Manhunter can move to stop him. Given the eagerness of most players to act, this looks like some type of fiat on the part of the GM, creating a complication for the heroes.

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Re: Animated • Justice League “The Enemy Below” – Part 2

jl07This blog takes a look at episodes from the Justice League animated series from a tabletop roleplaying game perspective, both in terms of game design and game play.

Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the episode in the post. If, for some reason, you’re interested in the show and this blog and have not seen the show, go and do that first. The blog will make much more sense, and you won’t have your enjoyment of the show spoiled. You Have Been Warned.

“The Enemy Below” – Part 2

Going after the missing Aquaman and following up on evidence that someone in Atlantis is behind a plot to assassinate him, the League falls victim to Atlantean perimeter defenses and is captured. Atlantean synaptic headbands leave them largely powerless and in the clutches of Orm, who intends to execute them as he leads an attack on the surface world.

So, Aqauman is largely a joke in fan circles, thanks to versions like the Super-Friends, but Justice League offers us quit possibly the most badass Aquaman ever: Orm chains Aquaman to a rock and pins his infant son there by his swaddling blanket before blasting the rock and sending it sliding into a volcanic trench. Aquaman is able to break one of the chains by sheer effort, but cannot break free of the other. So he severs his own hand in order to save his son! (This, by the way, is far cooler than the comic book version, where Aquaman’s hand gets eaten by piranha.)

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Re: Animated • Justice League “In Blackest Night” – Part 2

jl05This blog takes a look at episodes from the Justice League animated series from a tabletop roleplaying game perspective, both in terms of game design and game play.

Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the episode in the post. If, for some reason, you’re interested in the show and this blog and have not seen the show, go and do that first. The blog will make much more sense, and you won’t have your enjoyment of the show spoiled. You Have Been Warned.

“In Blackest Night” — Part 2

While Superman and J’onn investigate the truth of the allegations against Green Lantern, Flash and Hawkgirl keep an eye on the trial proceedings. Flash impulsively offers to defend John against the charges, not realizing that the alien system of jurisprudence makes advocates subject to the same penalty!

Arkis’ power ring aura is enough to protect him from Hawkgirl’s mace. So why do Green Lanterns throw up protective bubbles, if their rings provide an automatic force field? Is there an additional protective benefit? A “layered” defense of some sort? The bubble might represent a kind of primarily defensive action, sacrificing an attack for improved defense (as is the case in many game systems).

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