Champion fundraiser for Rainbow Railroad

ChampionCoverSometimes, I wish I had the power to help, to answer the call of “save me!” in a real and tangible way. Still, I try to do what I can with what I do have, which includes publishing and imagination.

The ongoing pogrom against LGBTQ people, particularly queer men, in Chechnya has filled me with deep sadness and anger, as has the tepid response of the American government. As much as I would like to be the hero who can swoop in and save people—my people—in desperate need, the best I can do for now is to imagine that hero, breathe life into him, and ask for fellow gamers and superhero fans to donate in order to get to know him better.

So, I give you…The Champion! Chosen by the Aristos Eremenos, bearer of the Four Golden Gifts, protector of the people. All profits from the sales of this short pay-what-you-want PDF will be donated to the Rainbow Railroad, a nonprofit dedicated to doing the real heroic work: Getting people in danger out of harm’s way and to somewhere they can be safe. With persecution of LGBTQ people on the rise around the world, not just in Chechnya, their life-saving work is more important than ever. Whether or not you include the Champion in your heroic universe, please consider offering them your support. Be a hero, because the world needs more. Thank you.

‘Tis the Season … for Heroes!

MnMCoC_200It’s the time of year to remind folks who might not be aware of it that the free Mutants & Masterminds adventure Crisis on Christmas is available for download from Green Ronin Publishing, along with Hero Lab files for the main antagonist and her minions.

Earth’s mysterious Master Mage needs help from your heroes to defeat a threat that has captured the North Pole and wants to erase the idea of the Christmas holiday itself from the world! Just a bit of holiday cheer from Green Ronin to you this season! (There’s also a version for the second edition of M&M for folks who prefer it.)

Re: Animated • Young Justice “Schooled”

yj5

This blog takes a look at episodes from the Young Justice 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.

“Schooled”

A traffic accident in Metropolis! A school bus teeters on the edge of a bridge. This looks like a job for Superman … and Superboy, for that matter, as the young hero leaps to the rescue. Although he reaches out to Superman, Superboy finds that the Man of Steel is still uncomfortable with his clone’s existence, something of concern to Batman.

Continue reading

Marvelous Initiative

So there’s this new superhero RPG on the block called Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. You may have heard of it, created by the licensing mavens at Margaret Weis Productions, led by Cam “Mr. Fantastic” Banks, using the oh-so-hackable Cortex+ (that’s “Cortex-Plus”) system.

Amongst its various game systems twists and turns, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (MHR for short) features a novel new initiative system: in essence, one of the players gets to go first, based on consensus and description of what’s happening in the scene. The Watcher (that’s the Game Master in MHR) can spend some Doom Pool dice (a GM resource) to have a non-player character go first.

The interesting part is whomever goes first decides who goes next, with the caveat that every character in the scene has to get one turn before the next turn starts, and whoever goes last in the turn gets to decide who goes first in the next turn. So, you can definitely play things so all your friends (and fellow heroes) go first, then all of the GM’s bad guys, but if the bad guys go last, the GM can choose one of them to go first on the next turn and give them all of their actions before the heroes get to go at all. Plus the GM can still spend Doom Pool dice to interrupt the action order any time. So some degree of back-and-forth seems sensible.

One nice thing about this approach to initiative and turn-taking is that it’s eminently easy to borrow to use in other games! So, a few thoughts on Marvel-style initiative in…

Mutants & Masterminds

The standard M&M initiative system is cyclical: at the start of a conflict, roll an initiative check (d20 + initiative modifier) for each character (or group of minions) involved in the conflict. Characters then act in order from highest to lowest each round before starting back at the top of the order. Certain actions, like delaying, may change a character’s place in the initiative order but, otherwise, it’s fairly static.

Applying the MHR approach to initiative essentially removes the need for advantages like Improved Initiative and Seize Initiative, except possibly as fire-breaks against the GM using a complication (the M&M equivalent of spending Doom Pool dice) to interrupt the initiative order or allow the villains to go first. This might cost the GM an additional hero point (awarded to the player of the character with the appropriate advantage).

The MHR approach likely means actions in M&M conflicts would vary more, as each player (and the GM) chooses who goes next in the action order, rather than staying with the same order from round to round. This can be good for variety, difficult if the GM has character sheets or stats arranged in a particular order to keep track of them during the conflict.

Icons

Icons has an even simpler initiative system: the heroes go, then the villain(s), and back and forth until the conflict is over.

The MHR approach mixes things up a bit more, allowing for villain actions to be potentially interspersed amongst the heroes’ actions, depending on who is chosen to go after the initial player. All of the “action” (in terms of die rolling) falls to the players, since villain actions are framed more in terms of the heroes reacting to what the villains do: the players roll counter-actions rather than the GM rolling villain actions.

Much like spending Doom Dice in MHR, the Icons GM would award Determination to the players in order to interrupt the action order or to have a villain go first as a challenge in the scene.

Whether you’re looking to play Marvel Heroic Roleplaying or just rifle through its pages for clever ideas you can lift for your own game (or hack its game system into something suitable for, say, Dungeons & Dragons…) check out the latest member of the superheroic RPG team; there’s a lot of power there!

Emerald City Knights: Chapter Three

Warning! The following may contain spoilers for Chapter 3 of the Emerald City Knights Heroes Journey. Those intending to play in the adventure should avoid reading it if they want to avoid any foreknowledge of the adventure’s contents.

This past Sunday, I ran Chapter 3 of the Emerald City Knights adventure series for my gaming group using the Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition rules.

Continue reading

Emerald City Knights: Chapter Two

Warning! The following may contain spoilers for Chapter 2 of the Emerald City Knights Heroes Journey. Those intending to play in the adventure should avoid reading it if they want to avoid any foreknowledge of the adventure’s contents.

This past Sunday, I ran the next chapter of the Emerald City Knights adventure series for my gaming group using the Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition rules. Continue reading

Emerald City Knights: Chapter One

This blog entry has been waiting for the release of Chapter One of the Emerald City Knights adventure series, since I was able to run it before it saw general release. I’ll likewise limit any other adventure logs to post after the adventure goes on sale so as not to taunt unnecessarily…

Spoiler Warning! The following may contain spoilers for Chapter One of the Emerald City Knights Heroes Journey. Those intending to play in the adventure should avoid reading it if they want to avoid any advance knowledge of the adventure’s contents. Continue reading