Re: Animated • Avengers “459”

avengers15Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the Avengers 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.

“459”

The aliens invade in the episode of Avengers that introduces us to the Kree and their ancient foes, the Skrulls, as well as Captain Marvel and a future member of the Avengers. It’s also a nice spotlight on Ant-Man, Wasp, and their budding relationship. Continue reading

Re: Animated • Avengers “Masters of Evil”

avengers14Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the Avengers 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.

“Masters of Evil”

So I’m going to stop mentioning “this was a good episode” because they’re all pretty good. This episode we get to see some real team vs. team action, however, even more so than in Gamma World (with the U-Foes and the Leader’s other gamma baddies). Continue reading

Re: Animated • Avengers “Gamma World” – Part 1

avengers12Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the Avengers 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.

“Gamma World” – Part 1

Apart from being named for one of my favorite RPGs of all time, “Gamma World” is a fun episode that finally rounds out the Avengers’ roster with the return of the Hulk and the addition of Hawkeye to the team. Continue reading

Re: Animated • Avengers “Panther’s Quest”

avengers11Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the Avengers 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.

“Panther’s Quest”

Okay, I admit, I wasn’t a big Black Panther fan when I first started reading Avengers and Fantastic Four as a kid. Recent interpretations of the characters have done a lot to make him more interesting, and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes does a nice job of taking different elements of the Black Panther mythos and combining them for the series. Continue reading

Re: Animated • Avengers “Everything Is Wonderful”

avengers10“That… is a very big head…”

(Yeah, I probably should have put a pic of Wonder Man at the top of this entry, since the episode is basically about him, but I just love the Thor and Wasp vs. MODOC scene, and it’s my blog. So there.)

Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the Avengers 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.

“Everything Is Wonderful”

The animated Avengers are starting to gel as a team, pairing off in some interesting combinations to give us a look at their dynamics and revealing more about the characters. Continue reading

Re: Animated • Avengers “Living Legend”

avengers9Sorry this Avengers post is a bit late: June activities have been keeping me busy, then I decided to wait and post this one on my birthday. Just be glad I didn’t decide to wait until the release of Captain America: The First Avenger in theaters…

Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the Avengers 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.

“Living Legend”

Although he’s not technically a founding member of the team, I (like a lot of Avengers fans) think of Captain America as one of the “core” members, so this episode is kind of a big deal, and handled really well, in my humble opinion. Continue reading

Re: Animated • Avengers “Some Assembly Required”

avengers8Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the Avengers 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.

“Some Assembly Required”

Now we’re into the “regular” series episodes, although this one has a fair amount of setup, since it has to establish key elements like the Avengers’ new headquarters, vehicles, gadgets, etc. as well as the team dynamic.

Although the Hulk is more of a regular ongoing character in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, this episode is also an homage to issue #2 of the Avengers comic where the Hulk, a member of the team for all of one issue, quits (and in that instance, never comes back). Continue reading

Re: Animated • Avengers “The Breakout” – Part 2

avengers7Obligatory Spoiler Warning: I will be discussing the events of the Avengers 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 Breakout” – Part 2

The conclusion of the intro two-parter, with the Avengers versus Graviton! Continue reading

Quantified Traits in RPG Play

A great many RPGs define character traits in a fair amount of detail. Just by looking at the character sheet (or with the game stats and a little work), you can determine a character’s capabilities: how much weight can he lift, how fast can he run, how far (and accurately) he can throw, perhaps even other things like IQ, various levels of knowledge, and so forth.

The question is: how much of this raw data provided by character design is actually needed in game play? That is, when do you need to know exactly how far a character can jump? The obvious rejoiner is, “Well, when the character needs to jump over or across something!” But does that challenge require you to know the character’s exact jumping distance, or just how relatively difficult the jump should be? Likewise, is it really a matter of knowing if a superhuman can lift 23 tons versus 26 tons or just knowing she can lift “a bus” but not, say, “a jumbo jet” (at least, not at all easily in the second case)?

After all, the vast majority of challenges in RPG play fall in the relative narrow spectrum beyond the character’s “routine” capabilities (things not even worth making into challenges) but not beyond the character’s “impossible” capabilities. So much so that the capabilities themselves are almost window dressing. Yes, a game system can tell you, for example, that a character can fly at exactly 1,200 MPH, but beyond the fact that the character flies faster than the speed of sound, does it matter much?

It often seems to me like quantified details in an RPG context often just bog things down in needless detail when all you really need to know is a simple plot-point, such as “the character can fly” or “the heroes have access to a jump-capable ship.” The process of defining all that detail is often a kind of game experience unto itself. I recall the lovingly-detailed Champions and GURPS NPCs with full character sheets—Knowledge Skills, Hobby Skills, Quirks, and all—where the vast majority of their game traits never came into play (well, the Quirks, sometimes).

At what point do detailed traits become a detriment to RPG play? Or do they ever?

Hobbies Within Games

Seems to me there are two primary appeals to hyper-detailed character design systems, wherein lots and lots of traits are spelled out with as many options as possible:

First, they appeal to the “hobbyist” character designer, that is, they make character “modeling” or design as much a hobby activity as building other sorts of models (model trains, ships in bottles, etc.) and sharing them with fellow hobbyists. Character design itself becomes a kind of stand-alone or sub-hobby. Note, I think this is different from set-ups where character design is treated as a sub-game, such as Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century wherein creating characters can be a fun shared social experience.

Second, they provide a kind of almost “vicarious” game play: reading in detail about what a cool trait can do is almost as good as seeing it in action. Multiply that by lots and lots of cool traits, many more than you’d ever see in action in a typical RPG session or even campaign, and you’ve got a fun experience unto itself, just imagining all that cool stuff in play. This can help to spark the imagination, leading readers to figure out what they really want to see in play, and feeding back into the modeling aspects of character design (”That sounds really cool, I wonder how it works? I’ll have to design a character with that and try it out.”)

The interesting thing about these aspects is they also make the system appealing as a purely intellectual exercise. That is, you don’t even have to play the game to enjoy it! For some a significant portion of the fun may be in the “gearhead” aspects of design, creation, and study of all the various aspects of those sub-systems. This may support the continuation of hobbyist communities for certain games even when active game-play seems relatively limited.