Saturday, May 31, 2008


Deadpool (Speedfreak 15): HD 15d8+90; HP 180; Init +7; Spd 30 ft; Defense 34, flatfooted 25 (+7 Dex, +2 Cha, +15 Class); BAB +11; Atk +16 melee (2d6+5, unarmed), or +18 ranged (2d6+3, MAC 10); SQ Need for Speed; AL none; SV Fort +13, Ref +16, Will +8, Rec +11; Rep +7; Str 20, Dex 25, Con 22, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 14.
Background: Military
Occupation: Special Operator: Perks 2+3 power stunts (Burst Fire, Called Shot, Blinking, Port Storm, Psi-Screen)
Hobby: Unarmed
Skills: Acrobatics 16 (+23), Firearms 14 (+21), Perception 4 (+3), Power Control 18 (+24), Stealth 18 (+25), Unarmed 14 (+19), Weapons 4 (+9)
Feats: Regeneration, Superhuman Strength, Superhuman Dexterity, Superhuman Constitution, Teleportation, Mind Shield, Combat Martial Arts, Banter, Defensive Roll, Elusive Target, Power Level x8
Access/Contacts/Followers: 7 points favors
Wealth: 13
Possessions: 2 Ingram Mac-10, 2 Katana
Character Disadvantages: Insane (DSR 5)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sweet Christmas! Luke Cage

Luke Cage (Tank 15): HD 18d12+144; HP 288; Init +2; Spd 30 ft; Defense 23, flatfooted 23 (+2 Dex, +11 Class); BAB +11; Atk +18 melee (2d8+7, unarmed), or +13 ranged (by weapon); SQ Resilience; AL Jessica Jones, Danny Rand, New Avengers; SV Fort +17, Ref +9, Will +4, Rec +17; Rep +7; Str 24, Dex 14, Con 26, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 13.
Background: Criminal
Occupation: Vigilante: Perks 2+2 power stunts (Power Punch, Inspire Ferocity)
Hobby: Leadership
Skills: Influence 4 (+5/+20), Leadership 18 (+19), Perception 18 (+17), Power Control 12 (+20), Streetwise 18 (+17), Unarmed 18 (+25)
Feats: Armor, Diesel 1, Diesel 2, Diesel 3, Intimidating Presence, Power Level x10, Superhuman Constitution, Superhuman Strength, Teamwork (New Avengers)
Access/Contacts/Followers: 7 points favors
Wealth: 13
Possessions: VariesCharacter Disadvantages: Dependent (DSR 5): Jessica Jones

Comics Culture

Something I've been noticing lately is the extent to which comics are infiltrating the "mainstream".

I put mainstream in quotes because, of course, the cool kids always knew comics were mainstream, but let's not hold it against the late arrivers on the bandwagon shall we?

Here's a few examples of what I mean:

1. That's so Raven: This is a saturday morning live-action kids show that my neice watches, about a girl who can see the future. Of course, she uses this power to help her friends avoid fights with their boyfriends, but I foresee a future where she stops Martin Sheen from becoming president and plunging the world into war with a high-powered rifle.

2. Hannah Montanna: This is an example of just how far into the culture comics have come. This is a really crappy kids show about a really crappy pop star, with a twist: She has a secret identity.

She has a sidekick too. And all the kids torment her at school, even though they idolize the pop star that they don't know she is.

It's basically spider-man without the super-powers.

3. Dexter: Dexter is a police forensics expert by day, serial killing vigilante by night. And the twist is, he only kills people who deserve it, namely murderers who beat the rap.

He's one white-skull-emblazoned t-shirt from being the Punisher.

When I first saw Buffy a few years ago, I was literally amazed that what I was watching was basically spider-man. She had the great power, the great responsibility, the sidekicks, the DNPCs, and the witty banter in the midst of ass-kicking.

Now when I see a show taking the tropes of the comics and using them in other media right under the noses of people who'd never DREAM of reading a comic, I don't even blink.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

YAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Ok- what else can I put here for Banshee anyway?

Banshee (Speedfreak 15): HD 15d8+30; HP 120; Init +4; Spd 30 ft (Fly 200 ft); Defense 29, flatfooted 25 (+4 Dex, +15 Class); BAB +11; Atk +11 melee (2d8+0, unarmed), or +15 ranged (10d4+0, sonic blast); SQ Need for speed; AL Moira MacTaggert, X-men; SV Fort +9, Ref +13, Will +6, Rec +7; Rep +11; Str 10, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 8.
Background: Military
Occupation: Hero Academy Graduate: Perks 2+3 power stunts (Earsplitter, Professional Reputation, Resist Sonic Attacks, Sonic Immunity, Vibration Wave)
Hobby: Perception 4
Skills: Athletics 8 (+8), Crime 18 (+19), Firearms 14 (+18), Perception 4 (+5), Power Control 18 (+20), Stealth 18 (+22), Streetwise 8 (+9), Unarmed 18 (+18)
Feats: Attack Focus (Control Sound), Combat Martial Arts, Control Sound, Defensive Attack, Esprit de Corps (X-Men), Flight, Power Immunity (control sound- this also applies to the powers of Black Tom), Power Level x10, Teamwork (X-men)
Access/Contacts/Followers: Top Secret Access, 9 points favors
Wealth: 13
Possessions: Varies
Character Disadvantages: Dependent (DSR 3): Moira MacTaggert

You will believe a man can fly

Superman (Powerhouse 20): HD 20d10+220; HP 360; Init +9; Spd 30 ft (280 ft. flight); Defense 34, flatfooted 25 (+9 Dex, +15 Class); BAB +20; Atk +28 melee (2d12+8, unarmed), or +20 ranged (14d4+0, energy blast); SQ Melee Master; AL People of Earth, Lois Lane, Justice League; SV Fort +23, Ref +15, Will +7, Rec +20; Rep +18; Str 27, Dex 28, Con 32, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Blue Collar
Occupation: Reporter: Perks 2+4 power stunts (Autofire Blast, Darkvision, Enhanced Hearing, Professional Reputation x2, X-Ray Vision)
Hobby: Streetwise
Skills: Athletics 23 (+31), Leadership 12 (+12), Perception 23 (+52), Power Control 23 (+34), Streetwise 4 (+5), Unarmed 23 (+31)
Feats: Armor, Blast (Energy), Enhanced Senses, Flight, Force Field, Life Support, Power Level x14, Superhuman Constitution, Superhuman Dexterity, Superhuman Strength
Access/Contacts/Followers: Complete Access, 13 points favors
Wealth: 16
Possessions: Varies.
Character Disadvantages: Allergic Reaction: Kryptonite (DSR 5), Unique Disability: Kryptonite (reduces power level to 0).

In actuality, I'd probably make Superman higher level than this, but I decided to see just how "super" he could be at level 20. Turns out pretty freaking super.

Tony Stark: a cool exec with a heart of steel

Iron Man (Star 10/Brainiac 10): HD 20d8+60; HP 180; Init +2; Spd 30 ft; Defense 34, flatfooted 24 (+8 Int, +2 Dex, +14 Class); BAB +12; Atk +12/+17 melee (2d6+0/+5, unarmed), or +14 ranged (11d4+0, energy blast); SQ Friends in high places; AL SHIELD, the Avengers, Stark Industries employees and clients; SV Fort +9, Ref +12, Will +13, Rec +9; Rep +19; Str 10 (21), Dex 14, Con 16, Int 26, Wis 8, Cha 14.
Background: Dilettante
Occupation: Hero Academy Graduate: Perks 4+4 power stunts (Area Effect Blast: 1 hex, Electrical Engineering, Gadgeteer, Gadget Guru, Government Sponsored Team, Mechanical Engineering, Professional Reputation, Tech Wizard)
Hobby: Unarmed 4
Skills: Academics (economics) 16 (+24), Academics (metallurgy) 16 (+24), Academics (physical sciences) 13 (+21), Acrobatics 13 (+15), Chemistry 16 (+24), Computers 16 (+24), Engineering 16 (+24), Firearms 23 (+25), Influence 18 (+20/+24 w/ women), Leadership 23 (+25), Legal 23 (+31), Perception 23 (+22), Power Control 23 (+26), Read/Write Language (French, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish), Speak Language (French, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish), Unarmed 12 (+12/+17), Vehicles 16 (+18), Weapons 12 (+12/+17)
Feats: Attractive, Blast- Energy (Worn Device PL +1), Endorsement Deal, Exploit Weakness, Flight (Worn Device PL +1), Force Field (Worn Device PL +1), Gadgetry, Life Support (Worn Device PL +1), Power Level x10, Smart Defense, Superhuman Intelligence, Superhuman Strength (Worn Device PL +1), Teamwork (Avengers), Voice of Command
Access/Contacts/Followers: Complete Access, Followers: 3x 3rd level (SHIELD personal bodyguard), Skill Contact: James Rhodes (Vehicles 22 ranks)
Wealth: 42
Possessions: Varies by situation.
Character Disadvantages: Enemy- Skrulls (DSR 5)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Supers20: taking requests

So we are nearing the point where I will be able to show Supers20 through NPCs.

Does anyone have any classic marvel characters they'd like to see to get a feel for how the system will look?

That 70's Book

This is sort of spurred by Mike's question below about my favorite issue of the Avengers.

Though I am a huge fan of older comics, devouring as much Lee/Kirby as I can get my hands on, when I talk about comics, in general, you can probably count on the fact that what I'm thinking of in my head and my heart are the years 1979-1981.

These are the years when comics really exploded on my life and twisted me forever in some really great ways.

For those not in the know, this period featured:

The Hellfire Club/Dark Phoenix saga in the X-men.

The debut of Kitty Pryde, maybe the single best comic character introduced in all of the 1980's.

David Micheline's run on Iron Man, featuring "Demon in a Bottle". But this whole run is the best Iron Man era BY FAR, where Iron Man had a real James Bond feel and James Rhodes, along with a ton of alternate armors were introduced.

David Micheline's run on the Avengers, especially the #181 issue drawn by John Byrne in which Henry Gyrich turns into the best grade-A asshole in comics since J Jonah Jameson, limiting their membership and even FORCING them to include Falcon as a "token".

The debut of the New Mutants pretty much ends this "golden time" for me, around 1983.

Maybe comics really changed, maybe I was getting a little too old (15 in 1983) to really be wowed by comics.


So as I work on Supers20, I've been working my through a complete run of Iron Man and a complete run of the Avengers.

The other day, it occurred to me that I think of this reading as "research".

Man, what a phoney-baloney job I have.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

RPGObjects Podcast #5

Head on over to the official site where we talk about Iron Man, Supers20, the new RPGObjects website, Modern20, a Darwin's World novel, and more!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sample Power: Blast

Blast (one energy type)
You can release a damaging attack at range
Duration: Instantaneous
Range: 20 ft. times your power level
Effect: You inflict 1d4 points per power level on your target. Characters struck by this power may save for one-half damage. If you attack a target with your blast multiple times, only roll one saving throw and apply the results against all attacks that round.

There are three types of damage that can be inflicted by a blast: energy, physical or psychic. You must choose one type of damage when this power is selected.

In addition to deciding what sorts of defenses will protect against your blast, the energy type you select determines the saving throw used to resist the aura’s damage as follows: energy (Reflex), physical (Fortitude) or psychic (Will).

Blast attacks are not fine-tuned enough to effect a specific part of the body, meaning you cannot make called shots and do not have to roll for hit location when making a blast attack.
Accurate: Your blast power is fine-tuned enough to make called shots against specific hit locations (though you still do not roll a random hit location- you can just attack a specific part of a target if you desire). This functions as the Called Shot perk found in the Modern20 core rules, except the Power Control skill is used in place of the Firearms skill.
Area Effect: Your blast power can cover a wide area and affects all characters in a single square if you desire (you may still attack a specific target if you desire).

If you take this stunt a second time your blast can affect all characters in 10-foot radius (friend and foe) or you can attack a specific character.

You may take this stunt as many times as desired, adding 10 feet to the radius affected each time.
Autofire: You may attack with your blast 5 times per round regardless of your level. This functions as the Burst Fire perk found in the Modern20 core rules, except the Power Control skill is used in place of the Firearms skill.
Power Specific Limitations
Scattershot (PL +1 or higher): You must have Area Effect stunt to take this limitation. You cannot choose to attack a single target with your blast, only an area. If you take the Area Effect stunt once (meaning your blast affects an entire square) the power level of your blast is increased by +1. This bonus increases for each additional time you take the Area Effect stunt (meaning the wider area your blast affects the greater the limitation bonus).

This should give folks an idea where we're heading design wise.

To be clear, power level is determined by your Power Level feats. How many times you take this feat determines your overall power level.

So if you had taken the Power Level feat three times, the power level of all your powers would be 3.

Individual powers might have a higher power level through limitations.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Modern Dispatch 119

All right, so Modern Dispatch 119, Modern Supplement #1 is out!

This is a selection of alternate rules for Modern20 covering such topics as hit locations and eliminating class skills, along with a new perk, some new FX skills and 4 new occupations.

Pick up this handy Modern20 edition here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Supers vs. "normals": Does it matter?

So I've talked a bit about this before, but it came up again with my players last night as we talked about our first Supers20 characters:

I am not doing anything to balance supers against normals in Supers20.

Ok, maybe nothing is a strong word. Supers will be spending all the same resources as normals, for different things.

There are no power points added into the mix in Supers20.

Your powers are, well, powered, by the Power Level feat.

The powers themselves? Feats.

You also will find ranks in the Power Control skill (posted earlier) handy, and power stunts are now perks.

To illustrate this with a comics example, Superman is spending all his feats, a good chunk of his skill points, and all his perks on his powers.

Batman is a very high level Modern20 character, already a pretty frightening and cinematic type, who might have a few "invisible" powers, such as Superhuman Dexterity, as well as some tech-based abilities, but basically, he's a modern20 character.

And the game gives him no special merit badge-style bennie for eschewing the flashy shit like Time Control or Flight or Energy Blast.

When my players got that "he's gone over the deep end again" look they give each other, my first question made them think I was REALLY nuts:

Does it matter?

Batman couldn't take Superman in the comics (he couldn't, FUCK YOU Frank Miller, your little kryptonite-powered battlesuit was the dumbest fucking story ever).

And he couldn't take him in Modern20.

People LOVE Batman in the comics.

Why do they need "power parity" in Modern20? Will not being able to have a 50% chance to beat up a fellow player matter?

In my mind, it shouldn't.

The skills guy (like Batman), should be just as valuable to a group in different ways. We're playing the Justice League, not a solo book.

And again, I'm not sure it's a problem anyway.

If you were to make a 300 point skill-based character in Hero, he would not be able to take out a 300 point min-maxed power blaster.

Of course, I also removed some of the artificial limitations Blood and Vigilance imposed on normals. They had artificial caps on ability scores supers didn't.

In short, Supers20 handles the question of origin and balance the same way Hero does. Your origin is pure backstory, totally in the hands of the GM and player. Your powers are your business. Anything goes within the rules.

By contrast, Blood and Vigilance took a more Marvel Superheroes approach, with origin affecting your character like race in D&D.

So for right now, I'm tentatively ok with leaving things as they are.

Powers might be flashy, but they're a choice, a niche.

Skills are also a niche.

Supers20: a little taste

Power Control
This skill represents training in the use of your superhuman abilities. This training is not necessarily formal. Patrolling the streets and teaching thugs about justice will do.

This skill appears on no class skill list. It is only available to those who select the Power Level feat (see new feats below).

Push: In times of stress, you can call on reserves of energy to push your powers to greater heights. On a skill check of 15 or higher, your powers operate at a higher power level for one minute. If this skill check fails, you are fatigued until you have 1 hour of rest.

Pushing affects all your powers, causing them to operate as if you had more Power Level feats than you actually do. The bonus to your power level is determined by your ranks in the Power Control skill, as shown in the table below.

Alternately, you can push your power level by double the amount on the table below, for a single round.

At the end of this time (10 rounds or 1 round) you are fatigued until you have 1 hour of rest (no combat, movement at greater than one-half speed, investigating or other taxing activities can be undertaken during this time).

If you are fatigued, you may still use this skill to push your powers, but the skill check DC is 20. Failing this skill check causes you to become exhausted. If you successfully use this skill to push your powers, you are exhausted when the duration ends (either 10 rounds or 1 round).

You cannot use this skill use if you are exhausted.

Stunt (requires perk): Skilled power users can get more out of their powers than unskilled users. Most of the power feats below have stunts listed in their descriptions. Each time a character selects this perk, he can select one stunt for a power feat he possesses.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

D.N.A. The RPGDesign quick and dirty review

The Skinny: If you like puzzle games, you should check out DNA for a new take on a classic genre.

The Spice: DNA has three modes, an action mode which is timed, throws all sorts of nasty obstacles your way and even has something of a story to bring it altogether. If you want a twitchy, fast reflexes tetris-like puzzle experience, this is for you.

Puzzle mode has you attempting to remove all the pieces from the board and is a strategy game more than anything.

Eternal mode is extremely mellow and just lets you play (this is the mode that has sucked so much of my time since discovering this game).

Taste Check: DNA has something for every puzzle fan. If you like Bejeweled, Zuma or Tetris you should definitely give it a look.

Chuck's Score: 8/10

Chuck's Reasons: Eternal mode is a great way to pass some time while listening to a podcast. Alternately, with the music on, it's a trippy mellow experience while I try to figure out what hit locations a half suit of armor should protect.

Find out more: Including a free demo, at the game's official site.

Almost Done

So the Hit Location dispatch issue has turned into a Modern20 miscellany issue, though still with more information on hit location than anything else.

It has a new perk, rules for grappling and hit location, cover and hit location and armor and hit location, along with the two new skills that have appeared in other products.

My idea is that every so often (maybe every year?) these rules miscellanies will get folded into Modern20 proper.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Titan Quest: The RPGDesign quick and dirty review

The Skinny: If you are in the mood of a Diablo clone set in the ancient world, this game is for you.

The Spice: If fighting medusa on the steps of the Acropolis, exploring the Great Pyramid of Giza for lost relics, or fighting giant preying Mantis in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon sounds fun to you, this is definitely the game for you.

Taste Check: If you've ever used the words "dungeon ecology" in a sentence and were serious about it, this might not be the game for you.

Chuck's Score: 9/10

Chuck's Reasons: I love Diablo.

I almost had a romantic feeling toward this game when I realized I was going to get to fight the minotaur in the labyrinth of King Minos.

I think "dungeon ecology" is the single most stupid fucking concept any evil perverted scumbag ever introduced into the gaming vocabulary.

Platforms: PC

Availability: Amazon, Gamestop (physical), Direct2Drive and Steam (digital- both highly recommended)

Rules Light

I've noticed a trend among folks when they first look at Modern20: there's confusion in the majority of people I've shown the game to for comment because they expect the game to be "rules light".

This is especially true once they see that skills have been somewhat simplified. I say somewhat, because I'm not really sure they have been. The total number of skills is less, but skills are much more dense, and skills do more things, especially in combat, than they do in traditional d20.

Ah yes, combat. This is when it truly dawns on everyone that Modern20 is not in fact rules light. Usually folks assume this is a mistake on my part, and my friends have helpfully suggested that I need to rework the game at times, since I clearly want the game to be rules light and it's clearly not.

Here's the thing: Modern20 was never ever ever ever intended, at any point, to be rules light.

I fucking hate rules light games. I like classes. I like hit points. I like character creation to border on a mini-game. I like taking a session for the players to make their characters.

But the questions that nag me about this are: A) why does everyone assume I wanted to make a rules light game and B) is rules light what people want?

My answer to A) is that most variant d20 systems aspire to be what d20 is most definitely not, and that's rules light. You could certainly make the case that one of the most popular d20 variants, True 20, is rules light in many ways.

My answer to B) is no. The most popular d20 variants on the market are some of the densest: Star Wars, d20 Modern, M&M and Spycraft 2.0 are very, very dense games.

And I don't think this is an accident. I happen to think most people like dense rules sets. I think it's something deep in the dark heart of gamers that makes them likes games.

We like to master things. I know how the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X works, know how to use it to make awesome characters, and that makes me feel superior.

I know, I just violated the code. We're not supposed to admit this shit.

And by the way, though it kind of has a rep for being rules light, because it has only three classes and no HP, True 20 isn't rules light either. How many feats are in that book? And action points? And Virtues and Vices? There is lots and lots of crunch there.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Marvel Digital Comics Blows Up

So I'm a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics, I've advocated it in the past.

Since its launch, they've rocked steady, adding 5 comics a day, monday through friday, like clockwork.

Until this week, when they added 500 comics in one day.


What's Next (various news bits)

Just because I've been somewhat quiet here (though I have continued the RPGObjects podcast) doesn't mean plans haven't been being laid.

Now that things are moving again on the RPGO front, here's some various small news bits:

1. Next up from me, relatively quickly, will be a Modern20 issue of the Modern Dispatch. Hit locations have really changed the way my home group games, and new wrinkles to modern20 combat have been in use here at Chez Rice for awhile now.

In particular, grappling and cover have been changed much more dramatically by the addition of hit locations to the game.

This dispatch will bring these rules to the rest of you. Now, instead of a grapple assuming that you've grabbed your target around the middle, a grab to the leg will have a different effect than a grab to the arm.

Also, instead of "partial cover: +4 defense", this upcoming article will let you know what hit locations are protected by cover. So kneeling behind the door of a car will protect some locations, while leaning around a corner to squeeze off a shot will protect different locations.

2. Up after that will be Supers20 and the official supers setting for Modern20: Dark Future.

These three projects should take up about the next 60 days or so (hopefully less- but that's the time I've budgeted).

After that, it's either space opera, or mechs.


Michael Stackpole: printed books are dying

After months of silence, Michael Stackpole has released a new Secrets podcast, in which he announces that publishing as we know it is going away.

Printed books will never go away entirely, but I concur with his opinion that things like Amazon's kindle are going to radically change the publishing industry, which it turns out, isn't run much like an industry at all.

Sounds fairly similar to RPGs actually.

Deadline: Dead

All right, the deadline has been slain.

Providing the crunch for a 175 page book, that is non-d20 which means you're writing most of that crunch from ground zero.

Turns out that's hard to do in 60 days.

Who knew?

Still, it was a great opportunity that I will be talking about more here in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, a lot of things went by the boards, such as updates to the Hellstrom Voyage, blogging, and any semblance of a life.

But, now that the beast is slain, expect things to return to a semblance of what we call normality around here.

Assuming anyone still reads this thing ;)

Night Ride Part 1

Night Ride Part 1 “Look, Pa, it’s my turn. Also, Nana is having one of her spells again and she has no idea who I am when she gets this w...