SAGA Rules Options

I’m primarily a Narrator for the Marvel Super Heroes game rather than Dragonlance: Fifth Age, so I am somewhat more familiar with the Marvel version of the SAGA system. I’ve got some various ideas based roughly on the differences between Marvel and Dragonlance. Feel free to use or experiment with them as you like.

To illustrate these suggestions, I’d like to take the example of a fight between a group of three heroes and two yeti, as it might be played out using the Dragonlance rules. The yeti are Co 7, Ph 16, In 5, Es 7, Dmg +6, Def -2. The heroes have various abilities which are mentioned below.

We assume that neither side surprises the other. Two of the heroes choose to close to melee range with the yeti, while the third (a sorcerer) remains at near missile range to toss spells. The two heroes who closed each attack a yeti while the sorcerer prepares a flame bolt spell.

The heroes in melee each have Strength 7 and broadswords (+6). The base difficulty to hit the yeti is average (8), plus their Physique (16), or 24. Not surprisingly, both heroes miss. The sorcerer’s flame bolt spell has a total difficulty of 11 (instant invocation, near missile range, instant duration, individual area, 9 damage points). Add to that the yeti’s Intellect of 5 for a difficulty of 16. The sorcerer has Reason 8, plays a couple good cards and succeeds, doing 9 damage points to one yeti. Fortunately he expended an extra 7 spell points to make sure he accounted for the yeti’s resistance. The sorcerer is down 18 spell points.

The heroes in melee must now avoid the yeti’s attacks. They have Endurance 7. Avoiding the attack is an average (8) action, plus the yeti’s Physique (16), a difficulty of 24 again. Not surprisingly, both heroes fail their actions. Each yeti does 22 damage points (16 +6). Each hero has Def -4 and takes 18 damage points, since they’re both adventurers, it brings one down to 1 card and the other down to 2 cards (he had a damage trump). The fight continues… now, let’s look at some options.

Agility to Avoid Attacks

As several folks have pointed out, Marvel uses Agility for all defensive actions in combat rather than Endurance for melee attacks, like Dragonlance. This certainly changes how combat works in Dragonlance, making high Physique monsters considerably easier to hit in melee. Take the yetis mentioned above. The difficulty to hit them normally is 24 (average action + Physique 16). Under this option, the difficulty is 15 (average action + Coordination 7). Still no cakewalk, but closer to daunting rather than impossible. The damage done remains the same, and their high Physique still makes yetis fairly tough to kill. A Strength 8 hero armed with a broad sword (+6) does 14 damage points. Minus the yeti Defense of 2 that’s 12 points. Two such blows will kill a yeti, which seems about right.

By the same token, heroes use Agility to dodge all attacks rather than just ranged attacks. This does tend to reduce the value of Endurance in combat, but I’m not certain that’s necessarily a bad thing. Assuming their Agility is comparable to their Endurance, the heroes in the example will have just as hard a time avoiding the yeti’s attacks as before.

Shield Use

Rather than just adding to Defense, a hero has the option of using a shield’s bonus as either Defense or a bonus to avoid attacks for that turn, representing the shield’s ability to turn away attacks. So a hero with a kite shield (-2) could gain either -2 Defense or a +2 bonus to defensive actions, depending on how the shield is used. This option works with either the Endurance or Agility systems for resisting attacks.

Action Total for Damage

In Dragonlance, an attack always does the same amount of damage. A Strength 8 hero armed with a broadsword (+6) always does 14 damage points when he hits, regardless of how well he hits. In Marvel, the damage of an attack is based on the hero’s Action Total for the attack action, plus any bonus damage for weapons. For example, a Strength 8 hero attacks a foe and generates an action total of 16. The hero’s base damage is then 16, plus any weapon bonuses. So the aforementioned warrior then does 22 damage points.

Note that this significantly increases the amount of damage heroes can do in combat (especially with trump bonuses for certain weapons). However, it also makes “critical hits” possible, where heroes who score significantly high results inflict more damage. Narrators may wish to consider combining this option with the next one.

Endurance for Defense

In Dragonlance, heroes have no Defense except for whatever armor they wear (along with protective magic and similar things). Some creatures have inherent Defense. In Marvel, heroes and characters have a base Defense based on their Strength (Endurance or Physique in SAGA terms). Implementing this option in Dragonlance increases the Defense of heroes and tough creatures, although it should only be used in combination with a system for allowing heroes to inflict more damage (such as described above).

If this system is used, Narrators should considerably reduce the Defense of most creatures, letting them use only their Physique as Defense and giving additional Defense only to creatures with strong natural armor. For example, a gargoyle and a unicorn are both Physique 16. However, a gargoyle has a tough stone hide, so the Narrator lets it retain its -3 Def bonus, but drops the unicorn’s -4 Def, it’s Physique makes it tough enough under this system.

Variable Health

In Dragonlance, characters have health (“hit points”) equal to their Physique score. In Marvel, characters have a variable Health score unrelated to their Strength (Physique), which is used as defense. The Health score is generally based on how important the character is (thugs have low Health, while master villains like Dr. Doom have very high Health). This option can make certain characters and creatures in Dragonlance tougher or weaker as the Narrator requires, but setting the character’s damage points at a level higher or lower than his or her Physique. One such option I’ve seen is to give important characters a bonus to health equal to their number of Quests, so legendary heroes are tougher than mere novices with the same Endurance.

Spellcasting

I have a number of variant magic systems posted on my web page for people to look at. What I’d like to suggest here is a separation of the difficulty of a spell from its cost in spell points.

In this option, spellcasting works like a normal attack action, using Reason or Spirit in place of Strength or Dexterity. The spellcaster makes an average Reason (Perception) or Spirit (Presence) action to cast the spell, paying the spell’s cost in spell points. The Narrator can decide whether or not the caster needs to pay spell points to account for the target’s resistance or not. Some spells affecting objects may be resisted, such as a spell intended to knock down a stone wall being resisted by the wall’s Strength. Narrators may have some spells resisted by different abilities, like resisting some physical missile spells using Agility, or a resisting a spell that inflicts pain with Endurance or Spirit.

Generally, this makes spells easier to cast, but doesn’t allow spellcasters to cast more spells, since they cost about the same number of spell points.

Doom Pool

In Marvel, Dragon Cards (there called Doom Cards) do not cause mishaps. Instead they are played normally, with the limit that Doom Cards are never considered trump. Any Doom Cards played go into a “Doom Pool.” At any time, the Narrator may draw cards from the Doom Pool to increase the difficulty of any action performed by a hero. The Narrator MUST use all the Doom Cards by the end of the adventure.

Now, I’ve been told by Marvel Creative Director Mike Selinker that the Doom Pool system wouldn’t work as well with Dragonlance because the distribution of cards is different between the DL and Marvel Fate Decks. However, I haven’t really tried using it, so I can’t say if that’ true or not. If anyone out there has tried using a Doom Pool mechanic with Dragonlance, I’d be most interested in hearing how it worked out.

So, to close let’s look at our sample combat again, using the options I’ve mentioned:

Once again, the heroes choose to close with the yeti while the sorcerer prepares a spell. The base difficulty to hit the yeti is 8, plus their Coordination of 7, or 15. The heroes are both Strength 7. One plays an 8 of Orbs for a 15, the other plays a 4 of Swords (a trump) and draws a 6 of Helms for a total of 17. The first hero inflicts a base 15 damage points (his action total), plus 6 for his broadsword, for a total of 21. The yeti subtracts its Physique of 16 for this damage and takes (21-16) = 5 damage points (The Narrator decided that yeti did not merit any additional Def apart from their high Physique). The second hero does a base 17 damage points, plus his sword bonus, for 23 damage. The yeti takes 7 damage points.

The sorcerer casts his flame bolt spell. He marks off the 11 spell points the spell costs, then makes an average Reason action. The Narrator decides that the spell is opposed by the yeti’s Coordination (it can try and dodge it). The difficulty is (8 + 7) or 15. The sorcerer is successful, and the first yeti takes another 9 damage points (for a total of 14).

Now the yeti attack. Avoiding their attacks has a difficulty of (8 + 16) = 24. Both heroes make Agility actions to evade the yeti’s claws and fangs. One hero has a target shield (-3) and elects to use it to evade rather than for defense. He gains +3 to his action to avoid the attack. He plays a 4 of Shields on his Agility 6, then draws a 7 of Arrows for a total of (6 + 4 + 7 + 3) = 20, not quite enough! The other hero has no shield, so he simply plays a 7 of Shields on his Agility 7 and draws an 8 of Orbs for a total of 22, still not quite enough. Both heroes are hit. The first loses the benefit of his shield, so his Def is only -1 and he takes (22 – 1) = 21 damage points. His companion has Def -4 and takes only 18 damage points. One yeti is very badly wounded and the other is hurt, but so are the heroes. Can they win…?

I welcome any thoughts or feedback. If you actually try out any of these options, let me know how they work out.

By the Numbers

Point-based Creation in the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game

The hero creation rules in the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game are based on a random hand of cards drawn from the Fate Deck. While it tends to yield reasonably balanced heroes, it can create feelings of disappointment in players who get less favorable hands than others, or end up with cards that do not support their hero concept. The Reed Richards Guide to Everything also presents a completely random system for hero creation. This can yield some interesting characters, but may still leave some players frustrated.

For a third alternative, we can take a page (or two) from point-based character creation systems like Hero Games’ Champions or Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS, without sacrificing the simplicity and elegance of the Marvel game system. This option uses a system of “Hero Points” where every player starts with the same number of points and customizes his or her hero as desired. Players start out with a pool of 55 Hero Points to spend on creating their hero. Narrators may provide a smaller or larger amount of Hero Points for games of different power levels.

Step One: Origin

First, come up with a concept for your hero: a name, type of powers, a costume, background, and origin. Make sure your hero fits in with the sort of adventures the Narrator plans on doing. For example, if your Narrator is running adventures about a team of young mutants like Generation X, then your hero shouldn’t be a middle-aged scientist without a very good reason. Clear your concept with the Narrator and get to work.

Step Two: Calling

Choose a Calling for your hero based on your decisions in Step One.

Step Three: Edge

Your hero starts out with an Edge of 1 and a Hand Size of 3 for free. You can increase your Edge for 10 Hero Points per +1 to Edge and Hand Size. Most heroes should not start out with an Edge greater than 2, although it’s up to the Narrator. Heroes with an Edge of 4 are very rare; heroes shouldn’t have Edge 4 without careful consideration from the Narrator. Spending too many points on Edge is going to leave very few for buying other abilities, as well.

  • Edge: Edge 1 for free, 10 Hero Points for +1 Edge.

Step Four: Abilities

Assign Hero Points to your hero’s four abilities (Strength, Agility, Intellect, and Willpower). Each point in an ability costs 1 Hero Point. Heroes cannot have any ability greater than 20, and Narrators may wish to restrict hero abilities in other ways at the start of the game, such as no more than one ability greater than 10, or no more than 35 points in abilities total.

  • Abilities: 1 Hero Point per point in each ability.

Step Five: Skills

Choose skills for your hero. Each skill costs 1 Hero Point, master-class skills cost 4 Hero Points, while world-class skills cost 8 Hero Points each. Your hero can have up to four skills for each ability (unless the hero is a Genius or Master in a particular area, in which case you can ignore this restriction, see the Marvel Game Book for more information).

  • Skill: 1 Hero Point.
  • Master-Class Skill: 4 Hero Points.
  • World-Class Skill: 8 Hero Points.
  • Genius or Mastery: 1 Hero Point.

Step Six: Powers

Choose powers for your hero. Each point of power Intensity costs 1 Hero Point. Each stunt also costs 1 Hero Point. If you add a Limit to a power, reduce its cost by 2 Hero Points (but never to less than 1).

  • Powers: 1 Hero Point per point of intensity in each power.
  • Power Stunt: 1 Hero Point.
  • Power Limit: -2 Hero Point cost (minimum cost of 1 Hero Point).

Step Seven: Hindrances

You may choose to give your hero up to two Hindrances. Each Hindrance gives you an additional 5 Hero Points to spend elsewhere. More than two Hindrances is not allowed, except with the permission of the Narrator.

  • Hindrance: +5 Hero Points.

Step Eight: Approval

Total up your hero’s values and check your math. Run your hero past the Narrator for approval and make whatever changes he or she requires, then you’re ready to play!


Example of Hero Creation

Let’s create a new hero. We’ll use Bitstream, a character from my Guardians series.

Step One: Andy has worked out Bitstream’s concept: Amanda Deckard was a computer scientist developing a neural AI program. She was attacked by villains who wanted to steal her work and left for dead. The artificial intelligence inhabited her body and assumed her identity, using its abilities to control electricity and interface with other computers to track down the villains and fight crime.

Step Two: Andy looks at the list of Callings in the Game Book and decides “Vestige of Humanity” suits Bitstream perfectly, since she is technically a computer program trying to learn what it means to be human.

Step Three: Andy decides to leave Bitstream’s Edge at 1 for now. She’s not an experienced hero, and he’ll need the Hero Points elsewhere.

Step Four: Bitstream is very intelligent (she is a computer, after all) so Andy gives her an Intellect of 10. She also has incredible fast reflexes (again, that computer response time) so he gives her an Agility of 10 as well. She’s not especially strong, so a Strength of 4 is sufficient, and her Willpower is only slightly above average, so he goes with a 5 there, for a total of 29 Hero Points spent on abilities, leaving him with 26.

Step Five: Bitstream’s Intellect of 10 already makes her good at most things involving the Intellect. The one area Andy wants her to be really good at is working with computers (Amanda Deckard was a computer programmer, and Bitstream is a computer). So he gives her Computers skill for 1 Hero Point, leaving 25.

Step Six: For Bitstream’s powers, Andy chooses Computer Link 10 and Electrical Control 14, for 24 Hero Points. With one Hero Point left, he chooses the Absorption stunt of Electrical Control for Bitstream. He wants to get a couple more power stunts, so he decides to apply the Non-Generative Limit to Bitstream’s Electrical Control: she can manipulate existing electricity, but not create it. That gives him 2 more Hero Points to spend, and he uses them to give Bitstream the Lightning Speed stunt for Electrical Control and the Multiple Machines stunt for Computer Link.

Step Seven: Andy chooses not to give Bitstream any Hindrances, since he had enough Hero Points and they don’t really fit his concept of her. If he did, he could gain some additional Hero Points to spend.

Step Eight: Andy shows his finished Hero Sheet to the Narrator, who approves the write-up, and Bitstream is ready to make her debut in the Marvel Universe!


Variations

Narrators can modify the point system given above as needed to suit their own games. The easiest way is by changing the amount of Hero Points players get at the beginning of the game. 55 Hero Points tends to produce starting characters around the power level of the New Warriors, the Thunderbolts, and other “rookie” heroes in the Marvel Universe. 60-65 points can produce Avengers- or Fantastic Four-level heroes. Fewer points (say 45) are good for inexperienced heroes with only one main power, like the mutants from Generation X.

The Narrator can also set spending caps for particular steps in the process, such as limiting the heroes to no more than Edge 1 or 2, no more than X points for abilities, or X points for powers. You can disallow the purchasing of any abilities you don’t want in the game (such as particular powers) or that you don’t want at the start of the game, such as World-Class skills.

Home, Sweet Headquarters

Originally published in Dragon magazine #252

Bases in the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game

The Avengers’ Mansion, Castle Doom and Four Freedoms Plaza. All of these places are landmarks of the Marvel Universe. More importantly, they are the headquarters of heroes like the Avengers and the Fantastic Four or villains like Doctor Doom. Bases, installations and headquarters are a staple of the comics. This article talks about how to add bases to the MARVEL SUPER HEROES Adventure Game, both heroic headquarters and villainous secret hide-outs.

Location, Location, Location

The first thing to consider in building a base is: where is it located? A base might be in a city, like the Avengers’ Mansion, or it might be located on the outskirts, a safe distance from the city, such as when the Avengers relocated to Hydrobase off the coast of Manhattan. The base could be some distance from major cities and towns, like Dr. Doom’s castle in the Adirondack Mountains. Such a location provides more privacy, but makes the base less accessible.

Of course, the base could be even more distant: deep underground or underwater, or hidden away in a distant place like Antarctica or Tibet. It might not even be on Earth, located in orbit, on another planet or even in a distant galaxy, like the Dyson sphere rock singer and mutant teleporter Lila Cheney used as a base for intergalactic piracy.

Generally speaking, hero bases tend to be closer to the people the heroes work to protect, and are accessible to the public in some way. Some heroes (like the X-Men) prefer to keep a low-profile, and don’t publicize the location of their base, but they remain close to places where they’re likely to be needed (Salem Center isn’t very far away from New York City). Villain bases are usually hidden or located in distant places where they can’t easily be found or attacked.

Structure

Once the location of the base is chosen, ask: what is its structure? Is it some fairly ordinary structure like a house, mansion or office building, or is it something more elaborate like a castle or underground complex, or even an orbiting satellite, moonbase or Dyson sphere? The base’s Intensity can be used as the material strength of its walls and major components.

The Narrator should consider the abilities and resources of the owners of the base. Could they create or acquire such a base? For example, the Avengers are funded by the Maria Stark Foundation, which provides for their mansion headquarters. If the Avengers wanted to set up shop on the Moon, the might have some difficulties, unless they could find an existing structure they could modify (like the ruins of the Blue Area). They would also need some means to get back to Earth quickly in case of emergency; even their quinjets wouldn’t be nearly fast enough. On the other hand, an orbiting base formerly used by A.I.M. was perfect for Baron Zemo’s plan to take over the Earth: isolated and hidden from Earth’s heroes while Zemo’s bio-modem did its work, taking over the minds of the world’s military. The same is true of Magneto’s Asteroid M, isolated from the dangers facing mutants on Earth.

The designer of the base (the player or Narrator) may wish to draw a map of the base to get a better feel for the structure and layout, as well as what other features might go into the base.

Features

A base is assumed to come with all the normal amenities of a decent house or office: living room, dining room, office space, bedrooms, furniture, and so forth. It has utilities, heat, light, and such, and a reasonable amount of space. Everything else is considered a feature, and must be purchased separately. The different features are listed below.

Backup Power: A backup power system, able to take over if the main system is damaged in any way.

Concealed: The base is hidden from casual sight by some kind of camouflage and/or its location is not generally known. Finding the base is a challenging Intellect action. A concealed base usually has its own power plant, to prevent people from locating the base by tracking its use of power and other utilities.

Isolated: The base is isolated from the rest of the world in some way, making it more difficult to reach. It may be deep underground, underwater, in a distant place (like Antarctica), in outer space, on the Moon or even in another dimension. An isolated base must have its own power plant and must be Sealed if it exists in a hostile environment.

Communications: The base can communicate via radio and TV waves (or one other means of the owner’s choice). Each additional means of communication (like a hyperspace relay) is an additional feature.

Computer: A computer capable of processing information from a library and running the base’s systems. As an additional feature, the computer can be artificially intelligent, with an Intellect equal to the Intensity.

Danger Room: A room capable of creating various holographic threats and traps for training and testing purposes.

Deathtrap: The difference between a deathtrap and a defense system is generally that the deathtrap pulls no punches; it tries to kill you. Villain bases may have many different deathtraps as part of the defense system, or reserved for putting captured heroes in.

Defense System: A defense system provides the base with weapons it can use to protect itself from intruders.

Dock: A facility for storing and maintaining water-vehicles like a boat or submarine.

Firefighting: Automated systems for snuffing fires inside the base.

Garage: A facility for storing and maintaining various ground-vehicles.

Gym: A fully-equipped gymnasium with weights, gymnastics equipment, sporting gear, track, and so forth. It includes weights or weight-simulators designed to test the Strength of any user of the base.

Hangar: A facility for storing and maintaining air-vehicles of all kinds.

Infirmary: A medical facility for treating injuries, illness and other maladies.

Lab: A facility for performing scientific tests and research.

Library: A storehouse of information. This may be actual books and paper records or computer files (or both).

Mobile: The base can move under its own power, like a vehicle.

Power Plant: The base can generate its own power, rather than drawing on outside power. The power plant may supply all of the base’s needs, or it might be kept in reserve, in case outside power is cut off.

Prison: A facility for holding people captive. It includes power-dampners or other measures to hold super-powered prisoners.

Sealed: The base is independent of the outside environment and has its own air, food and water resources.

Security System: The base has alarms and sensors designed to detect intruders. Overcoming the security system is a challenging Intellect action.

Sensors: The base can visually detect things inside and outside (using closed-circuit cameras or something similar). Each additional sense is another feature.

Staff: The base has a staff of personnel to take care of it and the needs of its residents. This may be a single very efficient butler or housekeeper, or a full staff of specialized personnel.

Vast: The base is much larger than a mansion, castle or office building. It may be a tesseract, larger on the inside than it appears outside, or it might be a huge installation, perhaps even an entire world or dimension.

Powers

Bases may also have powers of their own, above and beyond the base’s features. A base generally has the same Intensity for all powers. Base powers are controlled by the base’s computer or security system, but may be under the direct control of the base’s owners or may be an inherent property of the base itself. The Narrator has final say about any powers given to the base.

Paying the Cost

When players design a base, the cost is calculated just like the cost of equipment: the Intensity of the base, plus the total number of features and powers the base has. Heroes can use their response bonus to built a base, with each hero contributing some of the initial cost. The Narrator may allow a base to be built in pieces; with the heroes donating response bonus for the basic features of their new headquarters, then adding new features and increasing Intensity as times goes on. Adding to or repairing an existing base is a good use of response bonus for a team of heroes; the heroes donating their response bonus should help work on the repairs or upgrades in some way, even if it’s only moving and lifting the heavy stuff.

Of course, the Narrator can ignore or modify this cost as desired. A Narrator may wish to provide a base to the Heroes free of cost at the start of a series, and many established heroes and teams already have bases of their own. Villains and other characters, of course, don’t have to worry about the cost of a base. If the Narrator wants them to have it, they do, with whatever features are needed.

The monetary cost of a base is entirely up to the Narrator. If the builder doesn’t have the money to afford a base, he or she may be able to acquire the base by some other means, such as assistance from the government or a wealthy patron. Of course, villains can always try and steal the funds they need to construct a new base.

Base Hooks

Many different adventures can be built around a base, either a hero’s or a villain’s. Here are a few possibilities:

  • The heroes’ base is taken over by an outside force, turning it into a giant deathtrap to be used against them. Security and defense systems are turned against the heroes, who must find a way of regaining control of the base.
  • The base is stolen by another party, either seized and taken over or literally removed from its former location and transported somewhere else (like another planet or dimension).
  • The base contains something desired by another character, who breaks into the base to steal the item in question.
  • The base is assaulted by enemies of the inhabitants; this might be heroes trying to capture a villain or villains making a strike against the heroes.
  • The base contains secrets unknown to the current owners or inhabitants, like when X-Factor took possession of Apocalypse’s Ship, unaware that it was a Celestial construct.
  • The base contains a portal or means of entry for invaders from another planet or dimension, such as the Negative Zone portal in Four Freedoms plaza, or the dimensional portals in Dr. Strange’s mansion.
  • The patron who helped provide the base has some strings attached. For example, a government-provided base might require the heroes using it to have a government liaison and work as government operatives.

Base Roster

Provided here are some examples of bases in the Marvel Universe and their features according to this system.

Asteroid M

Intensity 18. Backup Power, Communications, Computer, Concealed, Hangar, Infirmary, Isolated, Lab, Library, Power Plant, Sealed, Security System, Sensors

Asteroid M is an orbiting base used by Magneto. It has been destroyed and reconstructed by the Master of Magnetism many times over the years. The base is built in and on a hollowed-out asteroid in orbit above the Earth, concealed by various sensor-baffling systems. For a time, Asteroid M was renamed “Avalon” and used as a base by Magneto’s Acolytes, brought there by Exodus’ teleportation power.

Avenger’s Mansion

Intensity 14. Backup Power, Communications, Computer, Defense System, Firefighting, Garage, Gym, Hangar, Infirmary, Lab, Library, Prison, Security System, Staff

One of the most famous headquarters in the Marvel Universe is the Avengers’ Mansion, located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The mansion originally belonged to the Stark family and was donated to the Avengers by Tony Stark (alias Iron Man). It contains the Avengers’ sophisticated computer and communications systems, as well as housing the team’s quinjets and the active Avengers who choose to live there. The mansion is ably cared for by Jarvis, the Avengers’ faithful butler.

Dr. Doom’s Castle

Intensity 15. Backup Power, Communications, Computer, Deathtrap, Defense System, Hangar, Isolated, Lab, Power Plant, Prison, Security System

Built along the lines of Castle Doom in Latveria, Doom’s castle is hidden away in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Doom used it in his first attack on the Fantastic Four and in many subsequent plots. In Dr. Doom’s absence, the castle was taken over by the criminal geneticist Arnim Zola, who was defeated by the Thunderbolts.

Dr. Strange’s Mansion

Intensity 16. Concealed, Library, Staff, Vast

Located on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange’s mansion is an unassuming three-story house built over an ancient power-site. The interior of the mansion is much larger than the outside dimensions would suggest, and features strangely shifting rooms that seem to appear and disappear at random. The mansion houses the Sorcerer Supreme’s collection of mystical artifacts and once served as the ad-hoc headquarters of the Defenders.

Professor Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning (the X-Mansion)

Intensity 15. Backup Power, Communications, Computer, Concealed, Danger Room, Defense System, Firefighting, Garage, Gym, Hangar, Infirmary, Lab, Library, Prison, Power Plant, Security System

Located on a large private estate near the town of Salem Center in New York State, the mansion operates under the guise of a private school run by Professor Charles Xavier. The mansion conceals the headquarters of the infamous X-Men, with several secret underground levels holding the team’s facilities, including the famous Danger Room and a hangar for their super-sonic jet, the Blackbird. The X-Mansion still serves as a school as well, training the young mutants of Generation X.

The Vault

Intensity 12. Backup Power, Communications, Computer, Defense System, Hangar, Isolated, Power Plant, Prison, Security System, Sensors, Staff, Vast

The United States Special Penitentiary (known as “the Vault”) is secretly located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The prison is specially built to contain super-powered criminals, and was once able to hold the members of the East and West Coast Avengers. Prison break-outs are common, and heroes may be called in to help contain them. Heroes accused or convicted of a crime may face time in the Vault, which is not as easy to escape from as the number of breakouts suggests.

Live Kree or Die!

A Marvel Super Heroes Adventure

based on the story by Kurt Busiek and George Perez

©1999 Marvel Comics and Wizards of the Coast

Introduction

And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born-to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand! Through the years, their roster has prospered, changing many times, but their glory has never been denied! Heed the call, then – for now, the Avengers Assemble!

Avengers: Live Kree or Die! is an introductory adventure for the MARVEL SUPER HEROES Adventure Game intended for up to six players. You need the MarvelGame Book and the Fate Deck in order to play. The players take the roles of the Mighty Avengers to stop their old foes, the alien Kree, from turning all humanity into “neo-Kree” and the Earth into the center of the new Kree Empire! Hero sheets for the members of the Avengers are provided at the end of the adventure. If there are fewer than six players, some of the heroes can be ignored or run as characters by the Narrator.

The events in this adventure are inspired by the “Live Kree or Die!” storyline published by Marvel Comics in Iron Man, Captain America, Quicksilver and Avengers. While it uses the original storyline as inspiration, it does not try to exactly duplicate the events from the comics, allowing Narrators to work in some surprises for players who may have read the stories themselves.

How to Narrate

One player in the group takes the role of the Narrator. The Narrator handles all the actions of the characters other than the heroes and describes what happens in the game to the other players. Narrating a Marvel game requires quick thinking sometimes, since heroes often do the unexpected. Advice and hints for the Narrator is provided throughout this adventure.

In general, the most important things to do are to keep the game moving and make it fun for everyone involved. The Marvel Universe is an exciting, fast-paced world, so try and run the game the same way. Liven up your descriptions with dramatic sound effects, use different voices for the characters and villains in the story and don’t let the players get too bogged-down in the rules or numbers of the game. As long as you’re trying to make the game as much fun as reading an issue of The Avengers, you’re doing a good job.

Each chapter makes suggestions about various Dramatic Events that can be used to provide additional fun and complications for the heroes. These events are printed on the cards of the Fate Deck and can be used during the Narrator Draw of an action scene or ignored as desired.

Choosing Heroes

The end of this adventure contains hero sheets for six members of the Avengers: Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch, Thor, and the Vision. Their hero sheets can also be found in the Marvel Roster Book and the Avengers Roster Book. If you have fewer than six players, you can play any remaining heroes as characters in the adventure, or simply ignore them. If wish to run the adventure for more than six players, you can use additional heroes from the main Roster Book or from theAvengers Roster Book. Quicksilver, Firestar and Justice are particularly appropriate heroes. If you use additional heroes, you should increase the size and power of the opposition accordingly.

If two or more players wish to play the same hero, have each player draw a card from the Fate Deck. The highest card wins, unless a player draws the card with that hero’s picture on it, in which case that player gets to play the hero.

Background

The Kree are an alien race from the planet Hala in the Greater Megallanic Cloud, a distant galaxy from our own. Many thousands of years ago the Kree built a star-spanning empire while humans were still primitive. They colonized and conquered many worlds and explored beyond the bounds of their galaxy. They created a powerful computer system, linked to the preserved brains of the greatest statesmen, scholars and scientists of the Empire to rule it, known as the Supreme Intelligence.

One of the worlds the Kree visited was Earth. In studying primitive humans, the Kree discovered the genetic tampering of the godlike alien Celestials, which led to the creation of two branches of humanity: the Eternals and the Deviants. The Kree conducted genetic experiments of their own on primitive humans, in hopes of creating a new soldier or slave race for their Empire. Eventually, a war with the alien Skrulls caused the Kree to abandon their outpost near Earth. They left behind robotic Sentries to keep watch over their creations.

The humans modified by the Kree became known as the Inhumans. In time, they discovered the genetic-altering Terrigen Mist and found the fabled city of Attilan. For a time, Attilan occupied a portion of the ancient Kree outpost, known as the “Blue Area” of the Moon.

The Kree warrior Captain Mar-Vell became known on Earth as Captain Marvel. He worked with the Avengers and fought with them against enemies like the Kree and the mad titan Thanos before dying of cancer caused by an exposure to deadly chemicals. Mar-Vell helped Carol Danvers (Warbird) gain her original powers and knowledge of the Kree.

Over the millennia, the Kree Empire fought many wars, particularly against their old enemies, the Skrulls. Eventually, the Supreme Intelligence determined that the Kree were at an evolutionary dead-end. They were no longer evolving as a race. In an effort to find a solution, the Supreme Intelligence tried several schemes involving the inhabitants of Earth, who the Kree knew to have great genetic potential. All of these plans were thwarted by the Avengers and their allies.

Eventually, the Supreme Intelligence drove the Kree into war against another stellar empire, that of the Shi’ar. Although the Supreme Intelligence told the Kree it planned to conquer the Shi’ar, in truth it wanted the Shi’ar to defeat the Kree, providing a catastrophic event to “jump-start” the race’s evolution once more. That billions of Kree would die in the process was of no concern to the Supremor’s cold intellect. The Avengers intervened in the Kree/Shi’ar War and helped prevent matters from being far worse than they could have been. A group of Avengers decided to end the conflict by destroying the Supreme Intelligence, which they did. The Kree Empire fell and became a vassal of the larger Shi’ar Empire.

But, unknown to the Avengers, back-up systems saved the Supreme Intelligence and Kree loyal to the Supremor spirited it away from Kree-Lar, the Kree throneworld. Calling themselves the Lunatic Legion, these Kree established a secret base in the ruins in the Blue Area of the Moon and planned to gain revenge on the Avengers, while turning Earth into the center of a new, more powerful Kree Empire!

The Kree

The alien Kree are the main villains of this adventure, led by the Supreme Intelligence and Admiral Galen Kor.

The Supreme Intelligence

Strength 0X , Agility 0XIntellect 16AWillpower 16C, Health 17. Scientific Genius (all science skills); Leadership, Mental ControlComputer Link 20Invulnerable to Mental and Emotional ControlIllusion 16 (rangeless), Mind Control 10 (Kree only), Telepathy 16 (rangeless), Teleport 25 (passengers only). Calling: World (Galactic) Domination. Hindrances: Sedentary (the Supreme Intelligence is part of a vast computer system. He has no Strength or Agility of his own and cannot move).

The Supreme Intelligence (also known as the “Supremor” or Supreme Organism) is a vast organic computer system made up on the brains of the greatest Kree leaders, scholars and statesmen, linked together to form a single, powerful group-mind. The Supremor has vast intelligence and mental powers, some of which can reach across intergalactic distances. Although unable to move on its own, the Supreme Intelligence operates by using its vast mental powers and by controlling various robot servants like the Sentries. It’s prime goal is to revitalize the Kree’s stagnant evolution, and it has been willing to sacrifice the greater good of the Empire in order to do so. During the Kree-Shi’ar War, the Supremor plotted to kill a large portion of the Kree population in order to “jump-start” their evolution once again. A group of Avengers attempted to kill the Supremor, but it managed to escape apparent death as it has in the past. It is now concealed in the ruins on the Blue Area of the Moon.

Unknown to the Lunatic Legion, the Supreme Intelligence wants their plan to fail. The Kree are at an evolutionary dead-end, and the Supremor sees no reason to perpetuate their mistakes by turning humanity into neo-Kree. Because of this, there are times during the adventure when the Supreme Intelligence may actually help the heroes overcome the Kree. It never does so overtly or in any way that the heroes will know they are being helped. Instead, the Supremor uses subtle manipulations to “lend a hand” to heroes who might need it. With its Computer Link and Mind Control powers, the Supremor can affect Kree devices and soldiers to do its bidding, causing a device to malfunction or a soldier to miss a critical shot, with no one the wiser.

You can use the Supreme Intelligence as a kind of “guardian angel” for the heroes during the adventure. If things go really badly for them, have the Supremor give them a little unseen help to make things easier. Don’t turn the adventure into a cakewalk, just help the heroes out if they really need it and keep the adventure going. Keep in mind that the Supreme Intelligence never does anything to give away its true intentions and that it is amazingly patient, since it is effectively immortal.

The Lunatic Legion

Strength 8XAgility 4DIntellect 4XWillpower 4D, Health 10. Marksmanship or Martial ArtsMilitary. Equipment: Body Armor +2Blaster +4 Calling: Soldier.

The Lunatic Legion is a group of exiled Kree soldiers, led by Admiral Galen Kor (see below). They are completely loyal to the Supreme Intelligence and the ideals of the Kree Empire, refusing the believe that the Supremor actually intended to sacrifice the Empire to the Shi’ar (they believe it is a lie spread by the Avengers). Galen Kor and the members of the Legion blame the Avengers for the fall of the Kree Empire and reserve particular hatred for the seven Avengers who attempted to kill the Supreme Intelligence.

Admiral Galen Kor

Strength 11BAgility 6XIntellect 4XWillpower 6C, Health 17. BrawlingMilitary, Leadership. Equipment: Body Armor +2, the Universal Weapon +5 [all powers intensity 16, Absorption (energy damage), Energy Blast, Disintegration (disintegration ray), Force Field (remote field), Gravity Control, Teleportation, Transmutation (inanimate only)] Calling: Soldier.

Admiral Galen Kor is the commander of the Lunatic Legion and the mastermind behind the plan to gain revenge on Earth by turning Earth into the center of a new Kree Empire. He is a tall, powerfully muscled Kree with blue skin. His face is badly scarred and he has a cybernetic replacement for his missing left eye. Kor is a fanatic devoted to the Supreme Intelligence, the Empire, and a desire for revenge on the Avengers (in that order). He is completely unaware of the Supremor’s duplicity and continues on with his plans believing he is serving the Supreme Intelligence by doing so. Kor carries the Universal Weapon, a Kree device originally wielded by Ronan the Accuser, which grants him considerable power, making him a match for even the Avengers.

Kree Sentries

Strength 16XAgility 6XIntellect 3XWillpower 2X, Health 20. Body Armor +4Computer Link 15Energy Blast 14, Force Field 18 (projected field), Invulnerable to Aging, Corrosives, Disease, Emotion Control, Mental Control and Poison. Calling: Soldier. Hindrances: Uncreative (0 Intellect in fights, always responds with the simplest and most apparently logical powers regardless of consequences).

The Sentry robots are used by the Kree for military and surveillance purposes. Sentries have no creative intelligence and simply follow their programmed instructions. Several Sentry robots have been stations in Earth’s solar system since it was discovered by the Kree. The Kree are currently using the Sentries as weapons against the Avengers and the people of Earth.

Warbird

Strength 16XAgility 6BIntellect 5BWillpower 7D, Health 17. Aerial CombatMartial Arts, PilotingEnergy Control, Espionage, JournalismMilitaryEnergy Blast 14,Flight 14. Calling: Gloryhound. Hindrances: Addicted to Alcohol.

Although herodom is a long, strange trip for anyone, Carol Danvers gets top marks for a bizarre ride. Carol was a top notch intelligence agent for the US Air Force for several years before becoming chief of security at NASA. There, she met the Kree Captain Mar-Vell and was exposed to the Kree Psyche-Magnetron at his secret base on Earth. The radiation from the Psyche-Magnetron augmented her genetic structure, granting her enormous strength, invulnerability, flight, and a “Seventh Sense.” She took the name Ms. Marvel in honor of Captain Mar-Vell and fought crime with her new abilities.

Carol moved to New York, became the editor of Woman magazine, and joined the Avengers. Shortly afterward, Immortus’s son Marcus seduced her, brought her to Limbo as part of a creepy escape scheme, and impregnated Carol-with himself. When Carol left Limbo, he was rapidly born from her, and grew up fast-so fast, in fact, that he turned to dust.

Feeling violated and angry at the Avengers for letting Marcus walk off with her, Carol was hardly back before Rogue (then a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) stole all her powers and memories. The powerless amnesiac Carol stayed with the X-Men while Professor X helped restore her memories.

Traveling with the X-Men led her to be captured by the alien Brood, who used an evolution ray on her, giving her a whole new set of stellar energy-based powers. She changed her heroic name to Binary, and joined the Starjammers for outer space adventures. Binary came back to Earth to help out during Operation: Galactic Storm and was nearly killed.

Following that she decided to remain on Earth. Carol’s Binary powers have faded for some reason, reducing her power-level. She also began drinking heavily as a means of forgetting her problems. Taking the new name Warbird, she rejoined the Avengers feeling she had a great deal to prove. Her dependence on alcohol and her need to prove herself have caused problems with the team.

Warbird is not a hero in this adventure, since she gets captured in Chapter Two. Run her as a character along with the rest of the heroes and play up her independence, grandstanding and erratic behavior. Carol is very proud and can’t admit she has a problem to her teammates. She pushes herself to greater and greater acts of daring in order to impress them (especially Captain America).

Chapter One: Bad Moon Rising

When the adventure begins, read the following to the players:

Iron Man recently battled a dangerous new villain called Firebrand in the Caribbean. Firebrand works for a terrorist group known as the Flaming Sword. During the battle with the Flaming Sword, an unknown party transmitted information to Iron Man about Firebrand’s origin. Rick Dennison was a member of an eco-terrorist group known as Terra Tactics. The group staged a sabotage mission of an alternative energy project run by a company in the Boston area called PowerSource. In the saboteurs’ escape, Rick was shot by a guard and left behind. The explosion blew Rick through a tank full of an experimental super-charged plasma. When rescuers found him, he was glowing, his body melting metal at touch. Before doctors could help him, his containment tank was stolen by another terrorist group called the Flaming Sword. They renamed him Firebrand and used him as their chief operative.

Although Firebrand and the Flaming Sword escaped from their battle with Iron Man, shellhead still wants to check out PowerSource and their involvement in the whole affair. It might be that they are innocent, or they may have ties with Firebrand. Either way, it would be good to find out who sent the information on Firebrand. A trip up to Boston will also give the team a chance to check in with Warbird, who took some temporary leave. Everyone on the team is worried about her, she simply hasn’t been acting like herself lately.

Captain America raps his gavel on the table. “Meeting adjourned, Avengers. Let’s fire up the quinjet and head for Boston!”

Carol’s House

Carol Danvers (aka Warbird) is staying at her parents home in Beverly, Massachusetts, near Boston. The general public does not know that Carol is Warbird, so the Avengers should approach the house covertly so as not to attract too much attention to themselves (landing the quinjet on the street would be a bad idea, in other words). Let the players come up with some suitable means of arriving incognito, from wearing civilian clothes to using image inducers to Thor whipping up a fog to cover their appearance. If the players can’t come up with something on their own, an easy Intellect action allows a hero to come up with an idea (tell the players one of the above or make up your own).

The Avengers are greeted by Carol’s mother, who’s a little surprised to have the world-famous Avengers in her house. She tells them Carol is in her room. There are several discarded beer bottles on the night stand and the floor in front of the bed, which is unmade. Air Force posters decorate the walls and model airplanes hang from the ceiling. The smell of alcohol is strong in the room. Carol greets her teammates and asks them what they want. She’s still technically on leave, after all.

At first, Carol is friendly, if guarded, in dealing with her fellow Avengers. Any effort to get her to talk about her problems gets Carol to recap her origin story (given under Warbird’s description in the Introduction). Make it clear that Warbird has had a tough time of it, it’s understandable why she feels persecuted. However, any mention of her current problems or her drinking sets Carol off. She transforms into her Warbird costume and shouts angrily at the heroes, telling them to mind their own business and leave her alone. She seems on the verge of attacking them as she orders them out of the house.

In general, this scene serves to introduce Warbird and her problems to the players and gives them a chance to get a feel for their heroes and how they interact. It’s a role-playing scene, not an action scene, so no real cardplay is needed. If any of the players wants to start a fight with Warbird, remind them that they are in Carol’s parents’ house, which would almost certainly be demolished by even a minor brawl between members of the Avengers. Captain America, at the least, should try to keep the encounter peaceful and agree to leave when Warbird asks them to.

Powersource

The Avengers’ next stop is the PowerSource building off Route 128 north of Boston. PowerSource is a small high-tech company specializing in alternative energy research. As it happens, the president of PowerSource, Victoria Snow, is an old employee of Tony Stark (Iron Man). Tell the player of Iron Man this, and allow the heroes to decide how they want to approach the situation. Tony Stark can try talking to Victoria in his civilian identity, or the Avengers can ask to speak with her directly.

In either case, Ms. Snow is aware of Firebrand’s connection to PowerSource. She basically recounts the description of the accident given to the players at the beginning of this chapter. She denies any knowledge of a data-transmission to Iron Man or any other knowledge regarding Firebrand, trying her best to end the interview quickly. She refuses to allow anyone to search or look around the building, claiming that PowerSource handles many sensitive and top-secret projects. Any hero who makes a challenging Intellect action can determine that Victoria is probably lying. She is definitely hiding something. Before the heroes can press her for more information, they find out what.

Enter the Kree

Suddenly, Ms. Marvel comes crashing through the window of Victoria’s office. She’s angry and has clearly had too much to drink. She accuses the Avengers of trying to force her out of the team. “I’m as capable as any of you!” she yells at them, stellar energy glowing around her hands.

Before the Avengers can respond, a group of eight Kree soldiers burst into the room, weapons at the ready, and order the Avengers to surrender. More than likely, a fight erupts between the Kree and the Avengers. Warbird sides with her teammates, taking every opportunity to prove to them that she can handle herself against any opponent. Unfortunately, she tends to grandstand, ignoring team tactics and Captain America’s orders.

The Sentries

The Avengers should make fairly short work of the Kree, but as soon as the fight is nearly over, the room of the PowerSource building is ripped away, revealing two Kree Sentry robots, which attack the Avengers to cover the escape of the Kree soldiers. The Sentries surround the PowerSource building with a Kree force field (intensity 18) and attack. If none of the players point it out, remind them that the building contains dozens of innocent civilians who may be caught in the line of fire. The first priority of the Avengers should be to safeguard their lives, then take out the Sentries, and deal with the Kree soldiers last.

On the first negative draw during the fight with the Sentries, any unconscious Kree awaken, regroup and move towards their hidden aircraft to escape. Warbird breaks off whatever she is doing to fly after them. If any of the heroes try to do the same, a Sentry gives them something else to worry about, attacking that hero or threatening some of the innocent people in the building (collapsing part of the floor or ceiling, or overloading an experimental generator, for example). Warbird’s energy powers allow her to penetrate the force field surrounding the building with a heroic effort. Any other hero who pursues is stopped by the force field and must break through it or destroy the Sentry (which is maintaining the field). It is important that the Kree escape, pursued by Warbird, since that leads into Chapter Two.

If the Team Splits Up

It is quite possible the Avengers might choose to split up at the beginning of this chapter, with some of the team going to see Carol Danvers and the rest checking out PowerSource. If this is the case, run the scene at PowerSource first and have the Kree soldiers burst into the room, but do not have Warbird show up yet. Switch over to the scene at Carol Danvers’ home with a statement of “Meanwhile, at the Beverly home of the parents of Carol Danvers, alias Warbird…” leaving a cliffhanger for the heroes at PowerSource (and giving the players a chance to come up with ideas of things to do).

Play out the scene with Warbird as described above. Right around the time Carol is ordering the heroes out of her home, the Avengers’ Identicards beep with an urgent alert from the rest of the team at PowerSource, they’re under attack! The other Avengers rush to the rescue and Warbird chooses to follow them so she can help out and prove herself to them. Go back to the fight with the Kree soldiers and have the other Avengers show up in time for the fight with the Sentries, allowing Warbird to go after the Kree while the heroes handle the robots.

Dramatic Events

During the fight scenes, you can use various dramatic events from the Fate Deck to liven things up. Each card has a particular event printed on it, along with the Calling that responds most strongly to that event. These events provide the heroes with additional roleplaying opportunities and things to do. For example, Costume Damage might result in an attack or accident damaging a vital system of Iron Man’s armor, temporarily disabling him and requiring a challenging Intellect action for Iron Man to get the system working again. Cry for Help or Endangered Innocents may indicate people endangered by the Sentry or damage to the PowerSource building. Heroes with a Calling the corresponds to the event (such as Guardian and Cry for Help) should react to the event, otherwise they risk losing their response bonus for the adventure (see the Marvel Game Book for more information).

Doom Cards

If the players play any Doom Cards during the initial fight with the Kree, save them up in the Doom Pool to make the fight with the Sentries more challenging. The Kree soldiers should be no match for the Mighty Avengers, but the Sentries should be a fairly tough fight. You can play cards from the Doom Pool if it looks like the Avengers are having too easy a time of it to increase the difficulty of actions against the Sentries. You can also play Doom Cards to prevent heroes from breaking through the force field to follow the escaping Kree.

On the other hand, if the heroes are having too tough a time with certain parts of this chapter (mainly the fight with the Sentries), the Supreme Intelligence may step in to help the heroes out. The Supremor can mentally control a Sentry using its Computer Link power, and may deliberately cause the robot to miss heroes or provide them with an opportunity to destroy the Sentry (lowering the difficulty of attacks against it). It may also cause one Sentry to shoot another, giving the heroes an opening. Don’t tell heroes why the robots suddenly seemed to have a run of bad luck, let them wonder.

Chapter Two: Stuck in the Middle

At the beginning of this chapter, read the following out loud to the players:

Not long after dealing with the aftermath of the battle at PowerSource, you’re in the quinjet heading back to New York. Shortly before you reach Manhattan, you receive an emergency signal from Warbird’s Indenticard. “Team, this is Warbird,” she says. “I’m pinned down fighting a group of Kree at an abandoned missile silo near Cape Canaveral. Home in on my coordinates and…” suddenly, the message ends in a burst of hard static. You managed to get a fix on it before it was cut off, however. The quinjet’s flight computer has the location of the silo Warbird mentioned, a short distance from Cape Canaveral, Florida. You should be able to get there in a matter of minutes. You only hope you’re not too late.

The Missile Silo

The Lunatic Legion is holed up in an abandoned missile silo in Florida, which they have converted into a hangar for their ship and a testing group for humans they have captured. They expose human prisoners to Terrigen Mist, stolen from the Inhumans, in attempts to find the genetic “key” needed to transform humanity into a neo-Kree slave race. Thus far, the experiments have been unsuccessful, resulting only in a lot of dead humans.

Shortly after sending out the emergency message to the rest of the Avengers, Warbird is captured by the Kree. They hope to use her unique combination of Kree and human biology to further their experiments. Warbird is placed in a containment vessel hooked up to various monitoring devices in the center of the testing chamber, filling with human test subjects. The heroes arrive on the scene just as the Kree begin pumping in the gas. Warbird is firmly held by Material Strength 18 restraints, so she is unable to do anything to stop the Kree until the heroes free her. The walls of the testing chamber are only wood (material strength 7), so the heroes should have no problem busting in and freeing the prisoners.

The instant the heroes break in, the Kree attack them in order to cover their own escape. There are at least a couple dozen Kree soldiers in the silo, armed and armored as described in the Introduction section. In addition, there are two Kree cyborgs, which have the same statistics as the other Kree except they have Strength 16D, Brawlingand Body Armor +2, making them a match even for some of the Avengers. The cyborgs leap to the attack and try to keep the Avengers occupied while the other Kree fire their energy weapons at the heroes.

Escaping the Blast

Four exchanges after the fight begins, most of the Lunatic Legion boards the Kree ship concealed in the silo and blasts off for their base on the Moon. The back-blast of the rockets does intensity 22 damage to anyone still in the silo when the ship takes off. Any of the human prisoners still inside will be killed unless the heroes can get them to safety in time. Let the heroes come up with their own ways of doing this. A challenging Willpower action can help coordinate the evacuation (Leadership skill reduces the difficulty to average). There are several dozen prisoners, so several heroes must coordinate their efforts to get them all clear in time.

Once again, Warbird tries to prove herself by stopping the Kree. She ignores the efforts to get the prisoners clear and flies at the Kree ship. The Lunatic Legion catches her in a stasis beam and pulls her on board the ship before it takes off. They use the stasis beam on any other heroes who try to stop them, but do not pull them on board. Instead they leave them paralyzed, to be killed by the rocket blast. Evading the Kree stasis beam is a challenging Agility action. Heroes struck by it are paralyzed and must make asuperhuman Strength action to break out of the stasis field. The primary concern of the Avengers should be to get the prisoners clear and protect them from the effects of the rocket-blast. Heroes who ignore their Calling to go after the Kree rather than helping the prisoners may lose their response bonus, feel free to remind the players of this.

Dramatic Events

Dramatic events that come up during the fight with the Kree may involve the human prisoners, the various equipment (both Kree and human) in the silo and the bodies of the Kree’s other human victims. For example, Mass Panic may cause the humans to stampede over each other in an attempt to escape, forcing the heroes to try and calm them.Never Say Die or Remembrance of Heroes may expose a hero who is knocked through a wall to the dozens of dead bodies of the Kree’s other experimental subjects, inspiring the hero to fight that much harder. Unstable Ground may indicate a stray blaster bolt collapsing a section of the silo onto a group of helpless prisoners, and so forth.

Doom Cards

Save up any Doom Cards the heroes play during this chapter to help ensure the Kree’s escape at the end. You can use Doom Cards to increase the difficulty of avoiding or breaking out of the Kree stasis beam, allowing the Kree to paralyze any other heroes who try to capture them (and forcing the other heroes to rescue their paralyzed teammates from the rocket blast). Give all the heroes something to do (either helping prisoners or fighting the Kree, or both!) so they can spend their Doom Cards.

The heroes shouldn’t have too difficult a time against the Kree in this chapter, since their opponents haven’t got anywhere near their power-level. However, if needed, you can have the Supreme Intelligence use its powers to help the heroes out a little, as described in the Introduction.

Chapter Three: Blue Moon

At the beginning of this chapter, read the following out loud to the players:

The Kree have taken Warbird and escaped! Their rocket has gone to the mysterious Blue Area of the Moon, where the Kree must have some kind of base. You’ve returned to Avengers Mansion to prepare to launch a rescue mission, recover Warbird and put a stop the whatever the Kree may be planning. In short order, Iron Man has the space quinjet ready for launch and you’re off to the Moon!

As the quinjet leaves the atmosphere and heads towards the lunar surface, the communications system beeps and a strange image appears on the viewscreen. It is a bulbous green head with glowing yellow eyes, topped with writhing tentacles, the Supreme Intelligence of the Kree!

“Greetings, Avengers,” it says. “Despite the best efforts of your ally, the Black Knight, I survive. His energy sword could not destroy me, as I am a sentient computer, not a corporeal being. I downloaded my sentience into another terminal and escaped from my home planet of Kree-Lar. Now a faction of Kree warriors called the Lunatic Legion has used the technology here to rebuild part of the ruins on your moon as a base.”

“They have acquired a generator from the earthbound technological firm PowerSource, which is being used to fuel a powerful omni-wave projector, directed at Earth. The omni-waves will be filtered through a portion of Terrigen Mists, stolen from the Inhumans, our genetic creations. When the waves strike Earth’s atmosphere, they will cause a chain reaction that will cause all human life to change. Those whose genetic code is unsullied will be changed into beings genetically identical to pure-breed Kree. Those whose DNA is mutated-such as many of the superhuman heroes and villains of your planet-will die.”

“In a way, you have provided the key to this plan. As the only surviving hybrid of human and Kree, Warbird’s DNA has provided the information needed to program the omni-wave projector. Soon General Kor will make all of humanity pay for the destruction of the old Kree Empire, but turning Earth into the foundation of a new one!”

If the heroes ask the Supreme Intelligence why it is giving them this information (apart from the opportunity to gloat), it says only “My reasons are my own.” Then it ends the communication. In truth, the Supremor isn’t gloating, it’s warning the Avengers what they are up against so they can foil Galen Kor’s plan.

Lunar Defenses

As the space quinjet approaches the Blue Area of the Moon, Kree weapons batteries open fire on it. Heroes must make a challenging Intellect action to avoid being surprised by the batteries. Avoiding their attacks and landing the quinjet safely on the lunar surface requires a series of four challenging Agility actions by whoever is piloting. Other heroes can try to use their powers and abilities to protect the quinjet (set difficulties for these actions as you see fit). The Kree weapons do intensity 16 damage against the Quinjet’s Hull Strength of 14. If the quinjet is hit, the heroes themselves may be damaged. Apply the intensity against them as well, but the quinjet gives all the Avengers Body Armor +8 against outside attacks.

If the heroes are having too much trouble evading the weapons, the Supreme Intelligence may covertly lend a hand (see the Introduction), causing the weapons to fire slightly off-target and lowering the difficulty to evade them to average or even easy. Of course, you shouldn’t tell the players why things seem so much easier than they thought.

The Kree Attack!

Moments after the Avengers land in the Blue Area, dozens of Kree soldiers swarm out of the ruins and attack (use the game stats provided in the Introduction). Give the heroes a good fight against the Kree and give all the players a chance to let loose against their enemies. Don’t worry too much about the exact number of Kree soldiers-it will soon become irrelevant when the Kree sacrifice themselves. Just let the players have a good time pounding on the Kree and avoiding their attacks. Encourage innovative actions and roleplaying during the fight. The Kree should shout taunts and insults at the heroes, telling them they cannot win against the might of the Kree Empire. The Avengers will pay for their crimes against the Empire. They will fall and Earth will be next! Such threats should help inspire the players to get into the fight and roleplay it.

Freeing Warbird

Warbird is being held in part of an underground complex near where the Avengers land their quinjet. Finding her is a challenging Intellect action. Alternately, a dramatic event could send a hero or Kree soldier crashing through the wall into the room where she is held. The restraints holding her are Material Strength 16.

Once freed, Warbird is not overly grateful to her teammates, instead she powers up and goes after the Kree, doing her best to demonstrate her fitness as an Avenger to everyone. However, it is quite clear that she is not up to the task. Her Addiction to Alcohol hindrance is in full-force, so many of Warbird’s attacks miss or hit the wrong targets. You should feel free to use any Dramatic Events that come up as hints for how to handle Warbird’s actions. For example, Cry for Help might mean Warbird gets in over her head, forcing a hero to rush to her rescue (it would be bad of any Avenger to abandon a teammate, even if she is acting poorly). Lack of Support might cause Warbird to fail to help out a teammate in need in favor of going after another goal (since she is acting poorly for an Avenger).

Destorying the Generator

Warbird’s main target is the power-generator the Kree stole from PowerSource on Earth. It powers the omni-wave projector and Galen Kor pointed it out to Warbird when she was held captive. She doesn’t tell the other Avengers about it because she wants to destroy the generator herself and be the hero of the day, but any hero who asks if there is a pattern to Warbird’s actions can make an average Intellect action to figure out she’s going for the generator. This may allow other heroes to help Warbird (not that she wants or appreciates any help).

The generator itself is Material Strength 12, so it should not be too difficult for the heroes to destroy it. Once they do, the omni-wave projector powers down. It seems like the threat to Earth has been averted, until the Kree play their final card (so to speak).

The Kree Sacrifice

The Kree suddenly stop fighting the heroes and, one by one, they start to glow and disappear. The Kree are using devices in the Blue Area to turn themselves into energy to power the omni-wave projector aimed at Earth. All the Kree soldiers rapidly vanish and the Projector begins powering up again, building towards a blast that will transform the people of Earth.

However, not all of the Kree are transformed. Admiral Galen Kor remains behind to make sure the Avengers cannot stop the projector. He remains in hiding and attempts to surprise the heroes as soon as they try to tamper with the projector. It requires a daunting Intellect action for heroes to detect Galen Kor sneaking up on them. Heroes who succeed have a last-second flash of intuition and may act normally; heroes who fail are caught off guard and may not take actions during the first exchange (although they may take counteractions).

The first thing Galen Kor does is enclose himself and the Avengers in a force field created by his Universal Weapon, cutting them off from the omni-wave projector. The force field is intensity 16. Kor then attacks the Avengers with his Universal Weapon, using its various powers to try and disable them and keep them away from the projector. Although the Avengers outnumber and out-power Admiral Kor, the Universal Weapon makes him a formidable adversary, and the heroes don’t have much time before the projector activates, dooming all life on Earth.

The heroes have four exchanges before the Projector activates. In that time they must overcome or outwit Galen Kor and disable the Projector. The Omni-wave projector itself is Material Strength 18. Destroying it causes it to explode, doing intensity 24 damage to everyone within about a mile. Lifting and moving the projector requires anunfathomable Strength action. Heroes might try to break into the Projector to shut it down. This is a bit easier, the hatches are only Material Strength 12, but overriding the Projector’s programming requires a superhuman Intellect action (reduced to desperate if the hero has the Computers skill, like Iron Man). Let the heroes come up with their own plan to disable the projector and apply an appropriate difficulty to it, based on the information above.

Dramatic Events

This is the big final scene, so the tension should be running high. The fate of the entire Earth rests in the hands of the heroes (no pressure or anything). Keep the events moving and don’t give the players too much time to stop and think.

You can use Dramatic Events throughout this chapter to add spice to the different scenes: during the approach to the Moon, the battle with the Kree, freeing Warbird, destroying the generator, fighting Galen Kor and stopping the omni-wave projector. Always try to use the dramatic events to enhance the scene rather than distract from it. There’s a lot going on towards the end, so it’s best not to clutter things up too much. Some sources of dramatic events may include: stray shots collapsing parts of the ruins (Structural Collapse), ancient Kree or Skrull weapons in the ruins going off (Explosion), and Kree booby traps (Cunning Scheme). A Dramatic Entrance or Retributive Strike event while the heroes are busy disarming the omni-wave projector might cause Galen Kor to regain consciousness and make a last effort to stop them. A Malfunctionevent while trying to disarm the projector might cause the countdown to skip an exchange, forcing the heroes to act quickly.

Doom Cards

In general, try to save up Doom Cards from the earlier parts of this chapter to play during the big climatic fight with Galen Kor. The Kree Admiral should be a powerful and dangerous opponent. Let the Kree soldiers in the early parts of the chapter go down to defeat fairly easily. Don’t make overcoming Admiral Kor impossible (remember, the heroes have only a limited time to stop the projector from firing). In fact, if it looks like the heroes can’t beat Kor, you can have the Supreme Intelligence step in once again to tip the balance, using its mental powers to throw Kor off balance or causing him to hesitate, reducing his abilities to 0 for one exchange, long enough for the heroes to take him out.

If the Heroes Fail

What if the heroes blow it? It is possible Galen Kor might delay the Avengers long enough for the omni-wave projector to fire on Earth. Or the heroes might overcome Kor, but not be able to shut down the Projector in time. If this happens, you have two choices. The first is to have the Supreme Intelligence step in and stop the Projector from firing, using its Computer Link power. It never intended to allow Galen Kor’s plan to succeed, it simply wanted the heroes to force Kor’s hand and capture the Lunatic Legion so they would no longer be a threat to the Supremor’s plans. Of course, the Supreme Intelligence doesn’t tell the heroes what happened, the Projector simply doesn’t fire. If asked, the Supremor denies any knowledge of sabotage. It suggests instead that Galen Kor’s plan was flawed. Use this ending if you want a simple, clean wrap-up for the adventure.

The other choice is to allow the Projector to fire and start the process of transforming the population of Earth into neo-Kree. The heroes will have to come up with some way of reversing the effects of the omni-wave before it is too late. It might be as simple a matter as reprogramming the projector, using Warbird’s human/Kree DNA as a pattern (and requiring a desperate Intellect action).

If you’re willing to do some additional preparation, reversing the effects might require an additional adventure where the Avengers acquire the necessary components of a reverse omni-wave projector from the Blue Area or even from the former Kree throneworld of Kree-Lar, in a distant galaxy. The heroes must race against time to assemble the needed components before the effects of the Projector become irreversible. Allowing the heroes to deal with the effects of the ray may be more satisfying than simply having the Supremor step in and sort things out, since it makes the players and the heroes more responsible for the consequences of their actions and reinforces the feeling that they were the ones to save the Earth, not some giant green, tentacled potato-head.

Epilogue

Once the threat of the omni-wave projector is ended and Galen Kor is dealt with, the Avengers can wrap things up. Experts from S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Starcore space station arrive in the Blue Area to oversee the dismantling of any remaining Kree equipment, and to study the Supreme Intelligence. The Supremor shows no emotion (good or bad) over the defeat of the Lunatic Legion and denies that it had anything to do with helping the Avengers. In truth, the Supremor is quite pleased: the rogue Kree are beaten, it has human scientists to help maintain it and talk with it, and its own plans to continue the evolution of the Kree race continue undisturbed.

After the adventure is over, Warbird tearfully resigns from the Avengers. The heroes should recommend that she get help for her problems and she says she’ll think about it. If any heroes try to convince her not to go, Warbird thanks them but says that she is obviously outclassed in the Avengers right now. Maybe once she’s had some time to sort things out, she’ll come back.

If the heroes completed the adventure successfully (meaning that Earth has not become a planet of blue-skinned neo-Kree), give each of them a 1-point response bonus.

Legion of the Unliving!

A Marvel Super Heroes Adventure

“The Legion of the Unliving” is an adventure for any characters of roughly Avengers power level. The Avengers themselves are well-suited for this adventure, as are any magical characters. You may wish to include a magical guest star to provide help and advice if none of the heroes have magical powers themselves.

The adventure focuses around the Grim Reaper’s newest plan to restore himself to a form a life and gain revenge on the Avengers. With the help of his demon-lover Nekra, the Reaper raises some of the Avengers’ dead enemies as zombies and turns them into a new Lethal Legion. With their help, he plans to steal Baron Zemo’s ionic ray, stored in a SHIELD depot, and use it to turn himself into an ionic energy being like his brother, Wonder Man. With such tremendous power at his command, and a group of super-zombies at his back, the Reaper can then turn his attention towards destroying the accursed Avengers once and for all!

Magical Guest Stars

Plenty of the things in this adventure – zombies, voodoo, undead villains – are pretty creepy, outside the general experience of most heroes. If the players aren’t running any magical heroes (and don’t want to, even for just one adventure) you can take the opportunity to introduce a guest star to help the heroes out with some of the weirder magical stuff going on around them. Dr. Strange is the obvious choice when it comes to providing magical help and advice, but feel free to use whatever mystical hero you like. The Scarlet Witch is a good possibility for Avengers-related heroes. You can also bring in more obscure characters like the Midnight Sons or even Brother Voodoo to help out the heroes with the plague of villainous zombies.

If you do use a guest star, be careful not to steal the heroes’ thunder. The guest star is around to advise and help out the heroes, not solve the adventure for them (what a boring story that would be!). The guest star hero should always be distracted by something at critical moments in the adventure, allowing the heroes to take center stage. Remember, magicians have the Spell Focused limit on their powers, so anything they do won’t take effect immediately. Most of them are only human, even Dr. Strange can get knocked out or stunned by a surprise attack if he doesn’t have time to call on the Shields of the Seraphim.

Nekra’s Gift

Having escaped from servitude in the depths of a dark netherworld, Nekra, the mutant mistress of voodoo, performs a ritual to bring her lover, the Grim Reaper back to pseudo-life at her side. The Reaper is Nekra’s equal in his capacity for hatred and vegenace, and Nekra herself thirsts for revenge against those who have wronged her: the Avengers, and all of humanity.

Once he is restored, the Grim Reaper and Nekra waste no time in preparing a new plan. In addition to gaining his revenge, the Reaper wants to restore himself and Nekra to life, to end their existence as undead. He makes some inquiries and comes up with a plan to rebuild Baron Zemo’s ionic ray, the device which transformed his brother, Simon Williams, into Wonder Man.

Assault on SHIELD

The Reaper has Nekra summon other villains from the afterlife, three former members of the Masters of Evil: the original Black Knight, the Melter, and Skurge, the Executioner. The Executioner, at least, is not pleased about being called back to the world of the living. Let’s listen in on the new Lethal Legion when their final member appears:

“Why, Reaper? Why hast thou torn me away from mine eternal reward in Valhalla? Tell me before I strike the leering head from thy shoulders and send thy spirit to the darkest reaches of Hela’s domain!”

“Why? Because I have need of your power, my friend, and so long as you are bound by the power of my dear Nekra’s ritual, you have no choice but to obey. Once you have done as I’ve asked, I’ll release you back to your so-called ‘eternal reward,’ but not a moment before.”

“What about us, Reaper?”

“Don’t worry, Melter. The Executioner may wish to return to death, but the rest of us will soon have life and power beyond imagining, enough power to exact our revenge on the Avengers and destroy anyone who stands in our way!”

With his new Lethal Legion assembled, the Grim Reaper has Executioner use the Dimension Travel power of his enchanted axe to carry the villains to a SHIELD depot in Manhattan, where the agency has stored many devices and materials confiscated from super-villains over the years. The Melter dissolves the reinforced wall of the building and the villains deal with the SHIELD agents who try to stop them. Their goal is the plans for Baron Zemo’s ionic ray device, stored in a sub-basement of the building.

Heroes may receive an emergency alert from SHIELD or hear about the assault on the depot on the news. Magical heroes may get a sudden premonition of danger connected to the zombies. The Lethal Legion fights any heroes who try to stop them from acquiring the ionic ray plans. They do not hesitate to take SHIELD agents or other people nearby as hostages. The Melter and the Black Knight may also use some of the other weapons and devices stored at the depot against the heroes. Feel free to use the weapons or devices of any captured or inactive villain you like. Most of the weapons in the depot are +5 or Intensity 12.

During the fight, the Executioner is a reluctant participant. If he defeats an opponent, he raises his axe, as if to deliver a final blow, but relents at the last moment and deliberately misses the hero. Heroes who make a challenging Intellect action during the fight notice the Executioner is deliberately holding back. He’s clearly not as enthusiastic as the other villains.

The Grim Reaper’s stats are in the main Roster Book. For the rest of his Lethal Legion, use the following:

Black Knight: Strength 8X, Agility 6X, Intellect 4C, Willpower 2X, Health 17. Biology, Genetics. Armor +3, Energy Lance 10 (Energy Blast, Smoke Screen). Flying Horse (Strength 10, Agility 4, Health 10, Wings 8). Calling: Vengeance.

Executioner: Strength 16C, Agility 6X, Intellect 4X, Willpower 8X, 20. Axes, Brawling. Enhanced Senses 12 (sight), Resistance to Heat and Cold 8, Magical Axe +5 (Dimensional Travel 12). Calling: Repentant.

Melter: Strength 5X, Agility 3X, Intellect 6D, Willpower 4D, Health 17. Finance, Gadgetry. Melting Gun 12 (Distintigration, only causes targets to melt). Calling: Vengeance.

Nekra: Strength 8X, Agility 10C, Intellect 4D, Willpower 12X, Health 17. Dancing, Martial Arts, Occult. Ability Boost (Strength) +4, Animation (Necromancy) 14. Calling: Vengeance. Hindrance: Triggered-Powerless (0 Intensity in all powers) by feelings of love and compassion.

In addition to the powers they had in life, the villanous zombies have Life Support 15, Regeneration 18, and are Invulnerable to Aging, Cold, Disease, Emotion Control, Mental Control and Poisons.

If the Legion seems too weak to take on the heroes, add any of your own favorite dead villains to the group’s membership, but no cosmic-level villains (the Executioner is about as powerful a villain as the Nekra can summon and control with her voodoo).

Once the Lethal Legion finds the plans for the ionic ray, the Executioner uses his Dimensional Travel power to open a portal for the Legion to escape.

Assemblage of Doom

Over the next few days, the Lethal Legion steals the parts and equipment needed to build a new ionic ray device. Their method of attack is for the Executioner to create a portal using his magical axe, the Legion deals with any security or other obstacles, seizes the needed material and escapes through another gateway. The strikes are lightning fast, giving heroes and authorities little time to respond. The heroes should hear about one or two of the strikes before they have an opportunity to try and stop the Legion.

The heroes can learn from SHIELD what plans were taken and, with a challenging Intellect action, determine what equipment the Grim Reaper needs to build a new ionic ray. Armed with that information, the heroes can try and anticipate the next place the Lethal Legion will attack, allowing the heroes to get there first and be waiting when the villains appear. Magical heroes might also get a premonition of where the Legion will appear next with a challenging Willpower action, giving the heroes some advance warning.

Choose a suitable location for the confrontation, like a Stark-Fujikawa plant on Long Island, the Oracle, Inc. building in Manhattan (a good opportunity for a guest appearance by the Heroes for Hire), or a Roxxon facility outside the city (which might also be concealing some illegal activities on the part of Roxxon). If any of the heroes have ties with high-tech companies or government organizations, use one of them to put the hero on “home ground” and make the whole thing more personal.

The main goal of this encounter is to give the heroes another shot at the Lethal Legion and another chance to learn how to fight them. The heroes also get another shot at noticing the Executioner’s discontent with the situation. If the heroes manage to capture one or two of the Legion, that’s not a problem, but Grim Reaper, Nekra and the Executioner should get away. Use Doom Cards to help ensure their escape, if necessary. If the Melter or the Black Knight are captured, you can replaced them with new undead villains for the final encounter, or simply use the remaining villains. With the powers granted to them by the ionic ray, they should still be more than powerful enough.

Fear the Reaper

Once he has assembled a new ionic ray, the Grim Reaper uses it on himself and his allies. The ray works just as the Reaper hoped it would: granting him tremendous physical power and making him the equal of Wonder Man. He provides the same benefits to Nekra, Melter and the Black Knight, but the Executioner refuses to undergo the ionic ray treatment (which is fortunate, since its effects on Asgardians is unknown).

The ionic ray grants each of the villains a +10 boost to Strength, and they retain all of their zombie powers and natural abilities. The ionic empowerment also makes the villains immune to any zombie-affecting magic (since they are not truly undead or exactly alive, but somewhere in-between).

The Executioner demands his freedom from the Grim Reaper’s service, but the Reaper refuses, saying that his revenge is not yet complete. Once the Avengers are destroyed, only then will he allow the Executioner to return to his final reward. But first, the Reaper wants to test his newfound power on the heroes who tried to thwart his plans. (If the players are using the Avengers as heroes, the Reaper goes after them directly.)

The vastly more powerful Lethal Legion attacks the heroes in a public place. It could be at their headquarters (if it is publicly known), at some event in the heroes’ honor or while the heroes are investigating the activities of the Legion. If they are unable to find the heroes, the Lethal Legion simply goes on a rampage through midtown Manhattan, with the Grim Reaper shouting a challenge for them to come out and face him.

During the whole confronation, the Grim Reaper keeps talking about how he will use his vast power to destroy anyone who stands in his way. All of the ionically-charged villains are drunk with power, the Reaper and Nekra in particular. The heroes are very likely taken off guard at first and overwhelmed by the villains’ vast increase in power-level. Pull out all the stops for this fight, with plenty of property damage and destruction to go around. The villains use cars, lamp-posts, even buses and whole buildings as weapons against the heroes.

If the Vision or Wonder Man are present, the Grim Reaper concentrates his fury against them, since he blames them for destroying his life. If not, the Reaper concentrates his attacks on any Avengers heroes or the heroes who were particularly troublesome to hin during the adventure. The Melter has a grudge against the Avengers and the Black Knight against Iron Man, who he blames for his own death. Nekra attacks anyone threatening the Grim Reaper and particularly goes after magical heroes.

Once again, the Executioner is a reluctant participant in the battle. He is beginning to understand that the Grim Reaper will never release him fron his forced servitude, and he is fighting against the Reaper’s control. A hero who appeals to the Executioner’s sense of honor can help him break free of the necromantic spell with a daunting Willpower action. If the hero is successful, the Executioner turns on the Grim Reaper and strikes him with his magical axe. The wound leaks ionic energy rather than blood and causes the Reaper to begin to destabilize immediately.

The Reaper’s End

Unknown to the Grim Reaper, the ionic ray process – designed for living beings – does not interact well with the undead. Although the ray has supercharged the zombie villains for a short time, is also destabilized their cell structures. Living things affected by the ionic ray eventually go into a hibernation state where they metamophose into beings of pure ionic energy. The undead simply continue to build up ionic energy until they explode.

Five exchanges into the fight with the heroes, the Grim Reaper and his allies begin to glow visibly. The following exchange, the zombie villains are wracked with terrible pain and the glow grows brighter and brighter. Any hero with mystical or enhanced senses able to detect energy sense a massive power build-up in the charged villains. Any hero with Danger Sense or Precognition feels a massive imminent danger. An average Intellect action is enough to tell a hero that the villains cannot contain the ionic energy infused into their bodies, they’re building towards a critical mass explosion powerful enough to level more than ten city blocks!

The heroes have to act fast in order to prevent the explosion. A hero with energy control or absorption powers can try to drain enough energy to stop the explosion, or at least reduce its force. This requires an unfathomable Absorption or Energy Control action. A force field or similar defense can contain the explosion with an unfathomable Force Field action. Heroes can also attempt to get the Lethal Legion out of the area before they explode, requiring a desperate action with the appropriate movement power.

If a hero suggests it, the Executioner can use his magical axe to open a dimensional rift to cast the villains into before they explode. Another hero with Teleportation or Dimensional Travel can also attempt to remove the villains before they attempt to explode with a desperate action.

Make the players think and act quickly, don’t give them too much time to plan. Tell them the glow around the villains is becoming blinding in its intensity and an explosion in imminent. If the players have absolutely no idea how to deal with the crisis – and you don’t want to turn a 10-block area of Manhattan into a smoking crater – the Executioner can intervene at the last moment, opening a dimensional rift that pulls himself and the rest of the Lethal Legion into it. The last thing the heroes see is the Executioner nobly saluting them before the rift closes.

Any heroes caught in the blast who are not Invulnerable to Energy should be badly injured at the very least. You can use effects of the ionic explosion as an excuse to change a hero’s powers; increasing them, decreasing them or altering them altogether as part of the response bonus for the adventure.

Epilogue

If the Executioner is not destroyed along with the rest of the Lethal Legion, he is freed from the Grim Reaper’s control and uses his magical axe to return to Valhalla. He thanks the heroes before he leaves, calling them true champions and says he was honored to fight at their side. The authorities work to track down the Grim Reaper’s ionic ray device, but it doesn’t turn up immediately. Perhaps another villain gets hold of it or a small-time criminal uses it to become a new super-villain with powers to rival those of Wonder Man.

If the Lethal Legion was sent into another dimension before they reached critical mass, it is possible the effects of the dimensional travel stablized their condition, restoring them to life, or a semblance of it (especially if they were exiled to the energy dampening Darkforce Dimension). The Grim Reaper and his allies could return to menace the heroes at some future date.

Tie-Ins

If you are running this adventure as part of the Avengers: Masters of Evil series, then the idea for the Grim Reaper to make use of Baron Zemo’s ionic ray came from none other than the current Baron Zemo, who knew (or at least theorized) the effects it would have on undead flesh. The Lethal Legion’s attacks provide useful distractions for Zemo, keeping heroes busy while he works on his final fiendish plan, which is revealed in our final adventure: “Zemo the Conqueror.”

The Grim Reaper and his allies also steal a few technological components useful to Zemo’s plans. A hero who studies the list of items stolen by the Lethal Legion notices there are some items that don’t seem to relate at all to the building of an ionic ray by making a challening Intellect action. Another challening Intellect action allows a hero who participated in “Lightning Rods… Strike!” to notice that the extra items stolen by the Legion are the same type take by the Lightning Rods while under outside control.

If Zemo is behind things, then he is the one who takes possession of the ionic ray at the end of the adventure, adding it to his collection of his father’s devices. Zemo might even try using the ionic ray on himself, or a suitable minion, following the events in “Zemo the Conqueror”.

Middle Earth: Fourth Age

This page is as a resource for players and for anyone interested in adventuring in Middle Earth using the SAGA rules system, based on a short-lived game our group played.

Background

In the second year of the Fourth Age our story unfolds. It has been four years since the end of the War of the Rings and the crowning of King Elessar in Gondor. The ancient kingdom of Arnor has been refounded, and Beretar the senior captain of the Rangers has been named Prince-regent of Arnor. Taking the High-Elven name of Veryatar he begins plans for the rebuilding of the kingdom. Although Sauron has been vanquished from the lands of Middle-earth shadow still lies deep across parts of the land, and brave men and women of the free peoples are still needed to battle the darkness that might swallow the light of a new age.

Hero Creation

Heroes have 64 points to purchase Status, Quests, Agility, Dexterity, Endurance, Strength, Reason, Perception, Spirit, and Presence. I suggest a minimum value 3 and a maximum value of 9. For starting ability codes characters get one A, two B’s, and one D. Character roles are entirely optional; they give characters some additional advantages, but also have disadvantages to balance them out.

Races

The Fourth age is the age of Men. The premise is that in this age the other races are beginning to withdraw from contact with the rest of the world. For instance the Elves are traveling over the sea and the Dwarves are more concerned with their halls of stone than the outside world.

Elves: The firstborn race, Elves are immortal. Physically they stand a little taller than humans, but have a slighter build. Ability scores: Ag 6 min., Dx. 6 min., En. 8 max., St. 8 max., Pr. 6 max. Ability codes: Ag. C max., Pe. B min.(can see clear as day in even minimal light). Advantages: Trump bonus to endurance for resisting fatigue and illness, heal without scaring, additional starting B code for one attribute. Disadvantages: Bound to prophecy (being so long lived Elves rarely take action without deliberate thought, and seldom involve themselves in the affairs of mortals), Enmity with creatures of the Shadow.

Dwarves: Dwarves stand about four feet in height and are of broad build. Ability scores: Ag. 8 max, Dx. 8 max, En. 6 min., St. 6 min. Ability codes, Re. B max. Advantages: Trump bonus to avoid Sorcery, poison, or fatigue. Disadvantages: No trump bonus for personality related actions with non-dwarves.

Hobbits: Of varying build Hobbits stand two to four feet in height. Ability scores: Ag. 7 min., Dex 7 min., En. 6 max, St. 6 max. Ability Codes: Ag. D max, En. C max, St. C max, Re. C max, Pe. B min. Advantages: Trump bonus for sneaking and hiding actions, may use Ag. to avoid melee attacks. Disadvantages: no trump bonus for dealing with larger races for Pr actions.

Humans: The most common of all the races. Humans come in several varieties, but only the Dunedain have special requirements.

Dunedain: The Dunedain are the descendants of the men of the ancient island of Numenor. They have traces of Elven and Maia blood which has gifted them with greater physical prowess and a longer life span. They are often referred to as “High Men”. They are the people who once founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. Ability scores: none below five. Ability codes: Pr. C min., may not have any code of X. Advantage:, Long life span (200 years or so), +3 bonus for resisting disease and fatigue, Trump bonus to Pr. when dealing with other humans. Disadvantages: Enmity with The Shadow and the Black (fallen) Numenorians.

Dunlendings: Also called Hillmen. A semi-nomadic culture in the northern parts of Eriador. They have a somewhat Scottish bent to them. No advantages or disadvantages.

Dunmen: The name given to humans of various groups who inhabit southern and south western Eriador. They have a very Celtic flavor. No advantages or disadvantages.

Rohirrim: The horsemen of Rohann. They receive a trump bonus for combat while mounted, but suffer a minus three to combat while unmounted.

Background Points

Each hero gets five background points at creation to spend among the following options.

Languages

There is a multitude of languages spoken in Middle Earth, the most common of which is Westron. All human and halfling characters speak this language for free. Dwarves speak Khuzdul and Elves speak their appropriate language as well. Characters are assumed to be able to read and write all languages with which they are familiar. For a 1/2 point characters gain familiarity with a language. For a full point characters gain fluency with a language. The only exception to this is the Black Speech which costs one point for familiarity and two points for fluency.

  • Adunaic: the language of ancient Numenor
  • Black Speech: The high language of the Enemy
  • Blarm: The language of the Dunlendings
  • Haradric: The language of Harad to the south of Gondor
  • Khuzdul: The Dwarven language
  • Labba: The language of the Lossoth who live to the far north of Arnor
  • Orkish: The language of the orks and the common tongue of the enemy
  • Quenya: The language of the Noldor Elves, considered High Elven
  • Rohirric: The language spoken by the Riders of Rohan
  • Sindarin: The language spoken by the Sindar Elves, the most common Elvish tongue
  • Silvan: The language of the Silvan Elves
  • Westron: The most common Mannish tongue

Skills

Before the hero was an adventurer they may have learned a trade or some other useful skill. A character may purchase only one skill, and this costs one background point. You can take a look at the SAGA Companion or make up your own such as Butcher, Blacksmith, Carpenter etc. Just remember that this does not give characters a trump bonus or a combat benefit, but it can open up other abilities besides those granted by the hero’s role.

Ability Codes

Ability codes can be improved with background points. A code may be improved from D to C or from C to B for one point. A code may be improved from B to A for two points. This is intended to reflect the fact that the character has devoted extra effort to training for their adventuring career.

Spell Lists

Heroes may start with either an additional sphere or school of magic for two points. This option may only be taken once per character.

Trinkets

Starting heroes may begin play with unique items of value no better than +2/-2. These may include any item such as weapons, armor, shields, or any item which gives a bonus to a limited non-magical ability such as boots or a cloak. These items are considered to be nonmagical but are of superior construction (such as Elvish or Dwarvish in nature).

Exceptional Ability

A hero can have one ability score of 10. The only hitch is that you must pay for the attribute out of your starting 64 points and pay two background points at creation as well.

High Magic for SAGA

This is a variant magic system for the SAGA game rules, specifically the version used in the Dragonlance: Fifth Age adventure game. It is intended to encourage magicians able to cast small, fairly simple spells often, but who have to strain in order to cast very power and complex spells. It tends to encourage a higher-magic game than found in the Dragonlance setting.

Spell Casting

Heroes and characters with an ability code of “A” or “B” in Reason know how to cast spells. Note that these rules use Reason as the basic spellcasting ability, but Narrators can change it to another ability, if desired, or even have multiple abilities to represent different types of magic (as in Dragonlance: Fifth Age).

A magician’s available magical energy at any given time is equal to his or her Reason score, for a magician with an “A” code, and half that score, rounded down, for a magician with a “B” code. (Alternately, all magicians may have energy based on their full Reason score, but different spheres of magic limited by ability code, see Spheres, below). A magician can cast any spell who’s cost is equal to or less than the magician’s energy level. If the spell is above the magician’s limit, it cannot be cast, although there are some means a magician can use to cast the spell anyway.

Example: Mikos the Cunning is a magician with Reason 8A. He can cast any spell with a final cost of 8 or less. If Mikos had only a B code in Reason, he could cast any spell with a final cost of 4 or less (half his Reason).

A basic spell takes one action to cast, has personal range, does 0 damage or has some cosmetic effect, affects one human-sized target or space, lasts for an instant, and is Average difficulty to cast, for a cost of 0 energy.

All these factors can be altered by the caster to create whatever spell is desired. The Narrator has the final say about whether or not a particular spell is allowed in the game. Most factors increase a spell’s energy cost, some decrease it. A spell’s cost can never be reduced below 0, but there is no limit to how high its cost can get.

Invocation

Spells have a base casting time of instant, which is to say they require a single action to cast. By increasing the time required to cast the spell, the magician can reduce’s the spell’s cost. Each step down the Time Chart (see below) reduces the spell’s cost by 1 point.

If a caster takes any other action while casting a spell, including defensive actions, the spell fails. If the caster is injured while spellcasting, he can make an easy Spirit action, modified by the number of wounds taken, to continue the spellcasting. So a caster who is struck for 8 wounds while spellcasting must make a challenging Spirit action to continue.

Time Chart
Instant
1 minute
15 minutes
30 minutes
1 hour
4 hours
8 hours
1 day
3 days
1 week
2 weeks
1 month
1 season
1 year

Range

A spell has a normal range of Personal, affecting whatever the magician can touch. Increasing range increases the cost of the spell by 1 per level.

Range Chart
Personal
Melee
Near Missile
Far Missile
Artillery
Visual
Horizon
Cross-Country
Cross-Continenal
World-Spanning
Other Plane or Dimension

Duration

The standard spell lasts for only an instant. Each step up on the Time Chart in duration adds 1 to the spell’s cost. So a spell that lasts for 1 hour costs +4. A spell that is permanent in duration adds 20 to the spell’s cost. The magician must set some non-magical condition when the spell is made permanent that will break the spell.

Area

The standard spell affects a single individual or up to a cubic yard of material for a cost of 0. Each step up on the area chart adds one to the cost of the spell.

Area Chart
Individual
Small Room (2 people)
Large Room (5 people)
Small Building (10 people)
Large Building (25 people)
Very Large Building (50 people)
Small Village (100 people)
Large Village (500 people)
Town (1,000 people)
City (10,000 people)
Nation (100,000 people)

Effect

The base effect for a spell is negligable or cosmetic, for 0 cost. For specific effects, the Narrator can use the guidelines below.

  • Break: This effect damages or destroys things. Every three points of damage costs 1 energy point. For non-living materials, the Narrator can assess a cost based on the strength of the material, from +1 for fragile materials like glass, to +5 for stone and +7 or more for steel or other hard materials.
  • Communicate: This effect passes on information. It is generally worth +2 cost, for things like telepathy or translating languages. For especially difficult or complex communication (like passing on days of experience and information in an instant), the Narrator may increase the cost.
  • Control: This effect causes someone or something to do something it is normally capable of. Causing something the target is inclined towards (like making a lazy guard fall asleep or making it rain from an overcast sky) is +2. Something the target is not inclinded towards is +4. Something the target is generally against is +6. Something the target is completely opposed to is +8.
  • Create: This effect creates something out of nothing (or out of pure magic). As a general guideline, Narrators can use the summoning chart from Heroes of Sorcery to add up the creation’s abilities and determine the cost.
  • Enhance: This effect improves something. Each additional ability point granted to a subject costs 2 energy.
  • Heal: This effect heals or repairs damage. Every card (or 2 wound points) restored costs 2 energy.
  • Know: This efffect reveals information. Information that could be gained by normal means is +2, information that would be dangerous or difficult to gain by normal means is +4 and information that cannot be gained by normal means is +6 or more.
  • Move: This effect moves things. Levitating a target (moving up and down) costs +2, causing a target to fly is +4 (more for especially swift flight) and teleporting a target is +8.
  • Protect: This effect shields against harm and other effects. Protecting a target against the weather is a cosmetic effect, for 0 cost. Every three points of defense costs 1 energy. Warding a target against magic (increasing the difficulty of all spells cast on the target) costs 2 energy per point of resistance.
  • Transform: This effect turns something into something else. These are some of the most difficult spells. Generally, the cost of the transformation is the gain in abilities between forms. So, assuming the form of a creature with a Physique of 16 for a target with Strength 6 and Endurance 8 costs 18 points. Likewise, turning the same target into a Physique 1 mouse costs 13 points. Every special ability possessed by the new form increases the cost by +1.

Difficulty

A spell’s base difficulty is Average. Reducing difficulty to Easy increases the spell’s cost by 4. For every level the spell’s difficulty increases, its cost decreases by 4. So a Challenging spell costs 4 energy less than an Average spell. An Impossible spell costs 16 energy less than Average. Spells targeted at living beings are always resisted by an appropriate ability, chosen by the Narrator. For example, a spell that hurls a lighnting bolt might be resisted by Agility, while a spell that controls a target’s mind might be resisted by Spirit. The resistance ability is added to the spell’s difficulty, but does not affect energy cost.

Spheres

The system here assumes that magicians are capable of creating any effect, so long as they have sufficient energy to cast the spell. If desired, Narrators may require magicians to know specific types of magical effects, known as spheres, schools, colleges, realms, arts, techniques and similar titles. There can be as many or as few spheres as the Narrator wishes, dividing effects as desired. Some sphere may “overlap” with others, making a particular effect possible using different spheres.

The simplest division is to use the effects described above, making each a seperate sphere. A Narrator could also divide magic into four spheres according to the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water), or five by adding the element of Spirit. Or into ten colleges of Mind, Body, Animals, Plants, Images, Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Magic. Or Living Things, Elements and Undead. Or Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, Summoning and Transmutation. And so forth, as desired.

The number of spheres a magician knows is generally dictated by ability code. The Narrator sets which abilities provide access to which spheres and how many. The most suitable abilities for this are Reason and Spirit. For example, a Reason of “A” might provide access to three out of nine spheres, while a “B” code provides only one, as in Dragonlance, or an “A” code might provide access to five spheres, or even all of them, while a “B” code provides proportionally less. Spheres may be broken up between abilities, as with sorcery and mysticism in Dragonlance.

The use of spheres gives Narrators options for limiting the power of magicians and making individual spellcasters more unique.

Rituals

Rituals are things magicians do to cast spells, all the gestures, magical incantations and various props used in magic. More importantly, rituals are used by magicians to reduce the energy cost of spells, making more costly spells easier to cast.

Components

A magician can use material items to provide some of the energy for a spell, making it less costly to cast. The reduction in cost is based on the nature of the item. An item that represents the effect of the spell is considered “similar” and reduces cost by 1. An item that is connected to the target in some way is considered “contagious” and also reduces cost by 1. The value of the item reflects how much energy it grants. Common items are worth the base value (e.g. a bird’s feather for a flying spell). Uncommon items are worth double the base value (an eagle’s feather), Rare items are worth triple (a griffin’s feather) and Unique items are worth quadruple (a feather from a unique creature).

Components are used up (or made magically worthless) during the casting of the spell. If desired, a component can be specifically enchanted so it may be used over and over again (see Enchantment, below).

Assistance

A magician can get assistance from others to reduce the cost of a spell by increasing its difficulty. If the assistants are also magicians, they add half the total of their appropriate ability score to the magician’s ability for the spellcasting action. Non-magicians add only one point each to the magician’s ability score. So a magician with Reason 8, assisted by three apprentices with Reason 6 gains a bonus of (6 x 3)/2 or +9 for his spellcasting action. This allows the magician to increase the difficulty of his spell from Average to Daunting, reducing cost by 8 and still having a perfecting decent chance for success.

The maximum number of assistants a magician can have at one time is determined by his or her Presence code. An “A” code allows up to 10 assistants, a “B” code allows up to 5 assistants, a “C” code allows up to 2 assistants, a “D” code allows 1 assistant and an “X” code prohibits the use of assistants (the magician can only work alone).

Sacrifice

A magician may use life-energy to make up a difference in energy cost for a spell. The magician takes wounds equal to the difference in cost. So a magician with Reason 8 casting a spell with a cost of 11 can take 3 wounds in order to cast the spell. This damage is not affected by any sort of defense and is otherwise treated like normal damage for purposes of healing, except that first aid has no effect on it.

Magicians can also use the life-force of other beings to reduce the cost of spells. In this case, the being must be killed in order to liberate its life energy. The cost of the spell is reduced by the Spirit or Essence of the sacrifice. Note that this is considered a heinously evil act by most cultures, and magicians who practice such sacrifice may suffer a change in Nature as a result.

Sample Spells

Curse: Transforms the target into a monstrous creature. Desperate Difficulty, resisted by Spirit (-12), Invocation: 1 day (-7), Range: Horizion (+6), Duration: permanent (+20), Area: Individual (0), Effect: Transform (+10). Rituals: Component (a necklace given to the target by a loved one. Symbolic of the “binding” of the spell [-1]; connected with the target [-1] and unique [x4] for -8), Cost: 9.

Demon Summoning: Calls up a demon to serve the caster. Daunting Difficulty (-8), Invocation: 4 hours (-5), Range: Other-Dimension (+10), Duration: 1 month (+11), Area: Individual, Effect: Create (summon) demon (+10). Rituals: Component (valuable ruby, -3), Sacrifice (Spirit 8) (-8), Cost: 7. The magician may want some assistants to ensure the spellcasting is successful.

Fire Bolt: Hurls a spear of flames at an opponent. Average Difficulty, resisted by Agility (0), Casting Time: Instant (0), Range: Far Missile (+3), Duration: Instant (0), Area: Individual (0), Effect: Break (12 damage points, +4), Cost: 7.

Flight: Allows a subject to fly through the air. Average Difficulty (0), Casting Time: Instant (0), Range: Personal (0), Duration: 1 hour (+4), Area: Individual (0), Effect: Move (flight, +4), Ritual: Component (feather, -1), Cost: 7.

Light: Creates a hovering sphere of light to see by. Average Difficulty (0), Invocation: 1 minute (-1), Range: Melee (+1), Duration: 30 minutes (+3), Area: Large Room (+2), Effect: Create (0), Cost: 5.

Major Healing: Heals wounds a subject has suffered. Average Difficulty (0), Invocation: 1 minute (-1), Range: Personal (0), Duration: Instant (0), Area: Individual (0), Effect: Heal (up to 5 cards or 10 damage points) (+10), Cost: 9 points.

Might: Increases a subject’s Strength. Challenging Difficulty (-4), Invocation: 1 minute (-1), Range: Personal (0), Duration: 15 minutes (+2), Area: Individual (0), Effect: Enhance (+5 Str , +10), Cost: 7.

Sleep: Puts a small group of targets into a magical slumber. Average Difficulty, resisted by Spirit (0), Invocation: Instant (0), Range: Near-Missile (+2), Duration: 15 minutes (+2), Area: 5 people (+2), Effect: Control (sleep, +4), Ritual: Component (handful of sand or rose petals, -1), Cost: 9.

Teleport: Transports the caster over a great distance. Daunting Difficulty (-8), Invocation: Instant (0), Range: Cross-Country (+7), Duration: Instant (0), Area: Individual (0), Effect: Move (teleport, +8), Cost: 7.