Sunday, June 29, 2008

Living! Legends! Line-ups!

That's right true believers! I am writing Living Legends: Heroes and Villains of WWII as we speak!

You poor, poor people have not yet seen Supers20 but I am writing the second (!) supplement for it as we speak, currently 18 pages and counting of WWII super-powered goodness.

I've felt a little guilty at having all this awesome to myself, so I've already given you two of the heroes from this book on the sly: Minuteman, an American hero and Excalibur, a British hero.

And now, in my continuing drive to share the wealth, I present to you the complete line-ups of the WWII superhero teams, Britain's Crown Guard and America's Vigilance Force.

Crown Guard

Big Ben

London lawyer originally deemed unfit for military service. Mutant powers of growth manifested in a collapsing bomb shelter, saving himself and the civilians trapped with him.


One of two sons of the WWI hero Excalibur. Early in the war the twins fought side by side as Sword and Stone, with Sword wielding their father's magic sword, the legendary Excalibur, while his brother Stone wore the Armor of the Templars and the Amulet of St. George.

The two brothers fought valiantly to save Winston Churchill from Kampfgruppe Eugenik on the eve of the Battle of Britain, a battle they one at the cost of Stone's life. Now one brother continues on, wielding all three holy relics as Excalibur.


A man with no past. The world's greatest spy. Is he a mutant? No one knows. All they know is that he can get anywhere and, despite being a below average physical specimen, emerge unharmed from the heaviest firefight.

Serves as the Crown Guard's point man and tactical advisor.


An artificially intelligent machine created by the mysterious Dr. Sorenson, Ironclad is self-aware, 12 feet tall and has had the laws of robotics suspended by his creator for the duration of the conflict.


When James O'Sullivan's fighter was shot down during the Battle of Britain, his mutant powers manifested. As Repulse, he has complete control over magnetism allowing him to shred enemy tanks with a thought.


The son of WWI hero Nautilus, Swordfish is superhumanly strong and can move at superhuman speeds on land, in the air and in the water. His specialty is disabling enemy shipping with his bare hands, allowing much needed war supplies from the Arsenal of Democracy to reach Britain unmolested.

Vigilance Force

Captain Miracle

Discovered at a carnival sideshow, this mutant is the smartest man on Earth. In addition to a powerful sonic cannon, he has constructed the Night Flyer, the world's first jet aircraft, capable of carrying the entire Vigilance Force anywhere in the world at an estimated 800 mph!


President Roosevelt's National Crime Czar has gone from busting stills in Chicago during Prohibition to searching out the most powerful men and women of Vigilance Force! After recruiting, organizing and training the team, Deuce will remain in America to guard the homefront from saboteurs and seek out new heroes as they emerge.

Freight Train

Superhuman speed and strength combine into a powerful package. Banned from football when his mutant ability to run at 70 mph and lift 6 tons emerge, Freight Train now plays for the greatest team of all: America.


Where did she come from? Details aren't forthcoming, all we know is that this brainy beauty shoots down enemy aircraft from the back of a flying insect! Just don't call her a Queen Bee!


Another recent addition to the team, Sgt. Max Morley brings the fighting spirit of the Marine Corps to Vigilance Force! I bet the rest of the Marines wish they were bulletproof, and fireproof. That's right Uncle Adolf, bullets bounce off the skin of this marine!


In every war since the Revolutionary War a mysterious hero named the Minuteman has emerged. But this knight has a suit of shining armor to go with the legendary speed of past Minutemen.

Old Glory

Master of fire, this teenage sensation is a Fourth of July fireworks display ready to light up the skies over Tokyo, then Paris and then Berlin!


You have to see him to believe him! Talon, the boy raised by wolves who travels with his very own pack! Watch out you German "wolf packs" because ours are bigger and meaner than anything you ever imagined.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dont mess with Ex

Excalibur a.k.a. Sir Richard Lathon (Powerhouse 10): HD 10d10+30; HP 100; Init +1; Spd 35 ft; Defense 18, flatfooted 17 (+1 Dex, +7 Class); BAB +10; Atk +17 melee (1d8+12 armor piercing, Excalibur), or +11 ranged (1d8+5, compound bow); SQ Melee Master, 7 DR vs. physical, 14 DR vs. psychic, +3 Will saves, +3 saves vs. magic; AL Her Majesty, Code of Chivalry; SV Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +8, Rec +8; Rep +9; Str 14, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Background: Religion
Occupation: Superagent: Perks 2+2 power stunts (Professional Reputation, Flurry; Psi Screen, Resist Magic)
Hobby: Outdoorsman
Skills: Athletics 13 (+15), Legal 4 (+4), Outdoorsman 4 (+6), Perception 4 (+6), Power Control 13 (+16), Unarmed 13 (+15), Weapons 13 (+15)
Feats: Armor (PL +1 worn device, personal, Templar’s Armor), Armor Piercing (Excalibur), Attack Focus (Sword), Attack Specialization (Sword), Greater Attack Specialization (Sword), Mind Shield (PL +1 worn device, personal, Amulet of St. George), Power Level x6, Unique Weapon (Excalibur): +3 attack and damage rolls; weapon cannot be wielded by anyone else until subject’s death, at which time weapon will disappear until a suitable hero appears during a time of need for Great Britain
Access/Contacts/Followers: Complete Access, Supply Contact (Crown Guard): 23 wealth
Wealth: 12
Possessions: Templar’s Armor, Amulet of St. George, Excalibur
Character Disadvantages: Code: Code of Chivalry- scrupulously honest and brave, will defend those weaker than himself (DSR 5)
Background: Report to Her Majesty by Sir Nigel Fischer
Sir Lathon has been thoroughly tested and evaluated following the death of his brother in battle defending the Prime Minister. He seems genuinely content with the honorable manner of his brother’s death and determined to carry on his mission in defense of the Crown until his death. He removed the crusade-era armor and a simple, brass necklace from his brother’s body then requested the rest be cremated.
Quote: “Face me you cur!”

Friday, June 27, 2008

That power that lets you make that dude with the bow

Unique Weapon
You have an amazing weapon.
Duration: Permanent
Range: You
Effect: You have a standard weapon that gains a bonus equal to one-half your power level. This bonus may be spent on the following things:
· Grant a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls (maximum +5).
· Imbue the weapon with +1d6 cold, electricity, fire, radiation or sonic damage.
· Inflict +1d6 additional damage on a called shot or precision strike (this represents an especially sharp edged weapon or a vicious, bone-breaking blunt weapon).
· Inflict damage to an entire square. If this taken a second time the weapon inflicts damage in a 10’ radius. Each additional time this is taken the weapon’s damage extends another 10 feet.
· Inflict no damage, inflict Blindness or Deafness on a successful attack, unless a Fortitude saving throw succeeds (DC equal to 15+ your power level).
· Ricochet (as described under the Blast power above).
For example, a hero at Power Level 10 would have a total bonus of +5. He could have his unique weapon gain a +5 bonus to hit and damage, inflict +5d6 electricity damage on a successful attack, or have a +2 bonus to hit and damage and inflict +3d6 electrical damage on a successful attack.


Variable Weapon: You can change the properties of your weapon from round to round. This could represent a weapon that can change according to your mental command, or an archer with a blinding variety of specialty arrows, and so forth.

Note: This power does not require the Device limitation as the weapon could be one you can recall to your hand with a thought, or one which is impossible for anyone else to duplicate or use (such as an immovable hammer, or blade of psychic energy generated from your body).

The Minuteman of WWII

Minuteman a.k.a. Samuel Mason (Powerhouse 10): HD 10d10+30; HP 100; Init +1; Spd 35 ft, Fly 180 ft; Defense 18, flatfooted 17 (+1 Dex, +7 Class); BAB +10; Atk +19 melee (2d6+7 NL, unarmed), or +11 ranged (Control Time); SQ Melee Master; AL United States, Brotherhood of the Hourglass; SV Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +4, Rec +8; Rep +5; Str 24, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Dilettante
Occupation: Superagent Perks: 2 (Professional Salary x2)
Hobby: Outdoorsman
Skills: Athletics 13 (+20), Legal 13 (+13), Outdoorsman 4 (+5), Perception 4 (+5), Unarmed 13 (+20), Vehicles 13 (+14)
Feats: Armor (PL +2, worn device, personal, Minuteman Mk I Battlesuit), Attack Focus (Unarmed): +2 attack rolls, Control Time (PL +2, worn device, personal, Minuteman Mk I Battlesuit), Flight (PL +2, worn device, personal, Minuteman Mk I Battlesuit), Power Level x7, Superhuman Strength (PL +2, worn device, personal, Minuteman Mk I Battlesuit), Teamwork (Vigilance Force): +4 skill checks
Access/Contacts/Followers: Complete Access (member of an elite secret society with contacts at all levels of government)
Wealth: 30
Possessions: Minuteman armor
Character Disadvantages: Code: Protect the United States from all threats foreign and domestic (DSR 5), Nemesis: The Chronicler (DSR 3)
Background: From the private journal of Samuel Mason
For generations my family has protected this Republic. For every war, one of us has stepped forward to accept the mantle of the Minuteman, using the enchanted clockwork mechanism that allowed us to speed up or slow down time. Ezekiel Mason served as a special agent for General Washington during the Revolutionary War, and Janine Mason served as a scout for the North during the Civil War.

And now, as this nation faces perhaps its greatest test, I have been called to prove myself worthy of this great legacy and have been entrusted with not only the enchanted timepiece. But desperate times call for desperate measures and my brothers feel that even our weapon through the ages will not be enough. Instead of the handheld timepiece we have used in the past, the clockwork mechanism has been built into the chest plate of a might suit of armor, brought back by my order from the far future.

May it prove sufficient to protect this great Republic.

Quote: “I am the Minuteman. I fight for freedom.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Other industries that need iteration and improvement

I've been thinking, there's a lot of other industries that could benefit from Forge-style communities.

Novels for instance.

Why are there all these kinds of novels? Why I went to the bookstore the other day, and there were romance novels, historical fiction, non-fiction, "for dummies", graphic novels, fantasy, sci-fi.

Gah! It's maddening! If novelists would put their work online for FREE, a community would spring up, and they could ITERATE, coming up with a genre and format that would work better for everyone involved.

Save us Mike Mearls! You're our only hope!

Sort of a follow-up

Something I hear a lot in comparing the Linux community to the OGL community is that Linux people release their programs for free, everyone works on them and they get better.

If RPG people weren't so eager to make a buck (singular), their stuff could get improved too.

We're stifling innovation all microsoft style with our $2.50 PDFs!

Except here's the thing: it's my belief that the fact that PDF sales continue to climb, at a time when RPG sales fall generally, proves this isn't the case.

If PDFs weren't worth buying, NO ONE WOULD BUY THEM.

Yes, Virigina, there really is a thing called capitalism, and it really does work.

As for why there isn't more iteration, more "improvement", the answer is simple: while RPGs might not be art, there's enough art there that not everyone can agree on what's an improvement.

Is an improvement the most grim and gritty combat system around, where a single solid hit means grisly death or disfigurment?

Is it light and breezy rules focused on role-playing?

Is it classless, point-based and diceless?

Is it classes and levels and talent trees?

If only Ron Edwards or Mike Mearls could start a site where we could learn from them they could answer these questions!

Where's Che Geuverra when we need him?!?!?

So there's this thread at CM, which is linked from a thread at ENW (major meta-alert!)

Anyway, we have a few claims being made in this thread that interest me a lot, for reasons which should be apparent.

And Mike Mearls jumps right in with both feet, to tell us what we REALLY need is his old RPG Wiki idea, combined with a Forge-like site, where the Ron Edwards of mainstream RPGs could emerge and all us wannabe designers could sit at his feet, gaze up and learn from the master.

Others chime in about what a bad open source community the OGL is, compared to Linux (which is obviously perfect in every way) because we "gasp" charge for our products.

As one poster put it, we lock our innovations behind a dollar sign.

Say it so! Ah've got the vapuhs!

And since this is my damn blog, we conclude with my thoughts:

But we already have that, and it's called the PDF community.

It's funny, despite being dominated by "companies not fans", even though most of those companies are a single person who makes a few hundred bucks PER YEAR off his PDF "company" (sounds more like a fan with a tip jar to me), and despite their stuff being "locked behind a dollar sign", the number, quality and overall design chops of PDFs have grown tremendously.

I say this as someone who released a seriously janky PDF, with no previous writing experience back in the day, who saw that PDF at one time listed with the top 50 PDF sales ALL TIME on the site.

Today that PDF, to put it mildly, would not do well on the site.

So somehow, fans seem to be improving their design skills and releasing better product, to the point where they can stand toe to toe with design houses led by Chris Pramas, Monte Cook and Phil Reed.

And again, I speak from personal experience: RPGObjects was started by three guys with no previous experience in the industry, and we're a top ten vendor on RPGNow today, in the same league as Green Ronin and Malhavoc Press and Ronin Arts (before they left the site).

And somehow, we and lots of others, did this without a Forge site where we could learn at the feet of Ron Edwards, Mike Mearls or anyone else.

Maybe, just maybe, such a site isn't required to learn design skills.

Maybe this crazy thing called capitalism works.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Something terrible shambles out of the darkness...

Elder God (Powerhouse 15/Star 15): HD 15d10+180 plus 15d8+180; HP 555; Init +0; Spd 40 ft; Defense 32, flatfooted 32 (+0 Dex, +22 Class); BAB +26; Atk +38 melee (2d8+32, claws), or +26 ranged (by weapon or power); SQ Melee Master, 20 DR physical, 20 DR energy, 40 DR psychic; AL none; SV Fort +26, Ref +12, Will +15, Rec +24; Rep +26; Str 34, Dex 10, Con 34, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 36.
Background: Religion
Occupation: Mastermind: Perks 2+4 power stunts (Professional Reputation, Power Punch;
Hobby: Magic
Skills: Athletics 18 (+30), Influence 22 (+35), Leadership 23 (+36), Magic 22 (+35), Perception 22 (+23), Power Control 23 (+35), Unarmed 18 (+30), Weapons 18 (+30), 23 unspent
Feats: Absorption, Armor, Claws, Followers, Magic, Mind Shield, Superhuman Charisma, Superhuman Constitution, Superhuman Strength, Power Level x20, 4 unspent
Access/Contacts/Followers: Complete Access, 21 unspent (plus 20 more for followers only)
Wealth: 20
Possessions: VariesCharacter Disadvantages: Varies

One customizable elder god.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Savant

The Savant (Brainiac 20): HD 20d8; HP 120; Init -1; Spd 30 ft; Defense 37, flatfooted 37 (-1 Dex, +13 Int, +15 Class); BAB +15; Atk +13 melee (by weapon -2), or +14 ranged (16d4+0, energy bolt); SQ Thinker, 8 DR physical and energy; AL Medusa, Old Glory; SV Fort +6, Ref +8, Will +15, Rec +6; Rep +11; Str 6, Dex 8, Con 10, Int 36, Wis 16, Cha 16.
Background: Criminal
Occupation: Superagent: Perks 3+4 power stunts (Cracking, Identity Theft, Electronics; Energy Bolt, Flight, Force Field, Super Followers)
Hobby: Firearms
Skills: Academics (Genetics) 23 (+36), Academics (Cybernetics/Robotics) 23 (+36), Chemistry 23 (+36), Computers 23 (+66), Crime 23 (+36), Engineering 23 (+36), Firearms 4 (+3), Leadership 23 (+26), Legal 23 (+36), Perception 23 (+26), Power Control 23 (+23), Read/Write Language (Ancient Greek, English, German, Japanese, Russian), Speak Language (Ancient Greek, English, German, Japanese, Russian), Streetwise 23 (+26), Vehicles 23 (+22)
Feats: Career Advancement, Computer Link, Control Energy (PL +1, worn device, personal, Hoverchair), Followers, Gadgetry, Master Plan, Power Level x15, Smart Defense, Superhuman Intelligence
Access/Contacts/Followers: Supply Contact (Medusa): 31 wealth, illegal equipment, Followers: Ophelia and Laertes, 4th level cybernetically modified Dobermans
Wealth: 16
Possessions: Varies
Character Disadvantages: Age: 71+ (DSR 3), Obsession: live forever (DSR 5)
Background: The following manuscript was found in a fireproof cylinder in the office of Gen. Fred Williamson, U.S.H.E.R. Director of Research and Development in the aftermath of a fire that consumed all research notes and materials at U.S.H.E.R.’s main headquarters underneath Liberty Tower.

It just isn’t fair. I’ve done so much for you, for all of you, sacrificed, oh god have I sacrificed. How many friends did we watch die Chris? How many times were we reactivated for “emergency situations”, thrown into harm’s way again and again?

And we did it all willingly for them, always willing to take one more chance for life, liberty, the American Dream. And I asked for one thing. Just one. Crazy they said. Trials on human subjects? Thousands of casualties? Short-sighted fools! I was talking about immortality! Not just for me, but for everyone! They claimed it would never work. How many of my inventions did they think would work Chris?

How many times did they call on me to solve the unsolvable? I missed VE Day working with them on that damn bomb. Well, no more playing the good soldier for me Chris. They owe me. I’m collecting. I never had any family, you know, just the Orphanage, and then The Brigade. You have always been the little brother I never had Chris, and I will always love you. And so, I’m going to ask you for just one favor: don’t come after me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Star BAB issue

So my players and I had a long, long chat about my reasons for upping the Star's BAB and I thought I'd share my reasoning here:

1. No one took the class. I pay attention to this kind of thing, and tend to think player choices over the long term can provide clues to balance.

2. Even when players DID take the Star class, it was usually for a specific reason and usually short term. None of the other classes saw this pattern. Players were more willing to take the class and stay in it long term.

3. When players wanted a high Reputation they tried to get it by other means, such as perks.

So why did the Star wind up being the only class with a low BAB to begin with?

In playtests, the Star was quite possibly THE most powerful class. But in actual play, seemed less powerful. As I pondered this, it occured to me that the Star was nerfed repeatedly during the "round robin" phase of the playtest.

Everytime I do a book, we do a round robin phase, to balance the classes against each other. The Star really dominated that phase of the playtest, because of wealth and followers.

These two factors are both much more pronounced in a one on one setting (like the round robin playtests) than in a group setting.

For example, an 8th level Star with Professional Reputation (total Rep of +12) can have a 6th level follower. But let's assume he wants other things, like some access, but considers a follower a core part of his character and devotes two-thirds of his RP to a single follower.

Spending 8 points on a follower gives him a 4th level henchman.

In the round robin, where it's 8th level PC against 8th PC, having a 4th level flunky is a HUGE advantage.

In an actual PLAY session, with four 8th level PCs, a 4th level Henchman is an afterthought.

In the final analysis, there just wasn't enough justification for that low BAB in the other things the Star got.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Accidental Survivors want to believe

So I actually haven't been posting about this every episode, which is an oversight on my part, especially since I'm a regular now.

Anyway, new episode up, all about conspiracy theories!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Old Glory

Old Glory (Speedfreak 20): HD 20d8+60; HP 180; Init +10; Spd 30 ft, Fly 300 ft; Defense 40, flatfooted 30 (+10 Dex, +20 Class); BAB +15; Atk +14 melee (2d12-1 NL, martial arts), or +14 melee (17d4, fire aura), or +25 ranged (17d4+0, fire blast); SQ Need for speed, +15 saves vs. heat and fire, 30 DR vs. heat and fire, 4 DR physical (not vs. piercing); AL United States, Mutant Rights, U.S.H.E.R.; SV Fort +12, Ref +22, Will +7, Rec +9; Rep +20; Str 8, Dex 30, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 16.
Background: Military
Occupation: Superagent: Perks 4+4 power stunts (Group Cohesion, Inspire Courage, Professional Reputation x2; Fire Bolt, Immunity to Fire, Resist Fire, Quench Fire)
Hobby: Legal
Skills: Acrobatics 23 (+33), Influence 4 (+7), Legal 4 (+4), Perception 4 (+5), Leadership 23 (+26), Power Control 23 (+26), Unarmed 23 (+22), Vehicles 4 (+14)
Feats: Aura, energy (PL +2 limited energy type, fire), Career Advancement x2, Control Fire, Cross Training (Leadership), Evasion, Flight, Power Level x15, Superhuman Dexterity
Access/Contacts/Followers: Complete Access, Skill Contact (Lobbying Firm of McCoy-Munroe): 23 ranks Influence, Skill Contact (Tentacles Tomlinson): 23 ranks Streetwise, Supply Contact (U.S.H.E.R.): 48 wealth
Wealth: 16
Possessions: Concealable Vest (immune to fire)
Character Disadvantages: Code: Protect the innocent and helpless (DSR 5), Code: Defend mutant rights (DSR 5)
Background: Interview with Christian Thomason, a.k.a. Old Glory, done for Newstime special Man of the Century Issue asked how he got his famous name.

“I was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1925. One of the first mutants on record, so they tell me. I was inducted into the US Army- Air Corps on January 17th 1938, 3 days after my 13th birthday, and was sent to the Tuskeegee Superhuman Testing and Training Range, we called it the “STT”.

The Germans had their Eugenics Brigade already of course, and they were having a grand old
time high-stepping around Europe. Britain only had The Sword and the Stone at that time, and they had managed to send the Jerries scurrying home with their tails between their legs after the Battle of Britain, but no one else in Europe had anything like those Eugenics scientists, and they turned the tide of battle after battle, Hitler always yammering on about his “Master Race”.
But our intelligence boys told us the Germans didn’t make these “Ubermenschen”, they were just finding them, training them, and using their science to juice em up. So, the Army started rounding up anyone with unusual abilities. Hell we were all happy to join, and were aching to get in on the action. We knew the score.”

“I was the first, but it wasn’t long before I was joined by others. Over the course of that year I was joined by Raymont “Freight Train” Jefferson, they drafted him after his performance in the state football finals, kid broke 11 tackles, and 3 legs, on his way to the end zone for the winning touchdown.

Turns out Raymont could pick up cars as well as tacklers. One of those kids he busted up never did walk right again, damn shame, but Raymont did right by him, sent him part of his check every month till the day he died in that... well that’s a different story I guess. I always loved to watch Ray run though”.

“Then there was Fred Wilson, who army intelligence had picked up at a local circus, he had this act see, he’d let folks drive over radios with a car, then have those radios up and running again in 30 seconds or less. Called himself “Captain Miracle”, and I guess the Army liked it, cause they used that for his code name too. And me? Well I was given my code name by FDR himself.
It was December 8th 1939, and with everything else he had going, the President wanted to come down and have a look at us, make sure we were REALLY ready to stand up to the likes of Donnerschlag and Götterdämmerung. I was doing combat flying exercises, and I saw him first. Me and the boys had worked out a signal for him bein’ there, so we wouldn’t be cutting
up when he got there. We didn’t want him thinking we weren’t ready, we wanted to get in there and start pulling America’s weight.”

“So anyway, I saw him and snatched up the flag off the top of the PX and buzzed the boys on the ground with it, but I guess I wasn’t fast enough. Roosevelt saw me, and said to his wife, “Well if Old Glory’s flying with us I guess we’ll be all right after all”.

Old Glory. I liked that just fine. Those army boys had been wanting to call me the “Human Flamethrower” or some such nonsense. But Old Glory... well... let’s just say no one argued with Roosevelt. Except maybe Mrs. Roosevelt.”

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stars should have a medium BAB

This is going in the next revision of the game. Those of you reading this can start playing that way right now if you wish.

That is all.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

An exerpt from the Superagents campaign model

Atlas Battalion

Formed during the cold war to counteract the threat of the Soviet Shturmovik agency, the Atlas Battalion is U.S.H.E.R.’s heaviest combat unit, wearing the Atlas MK IV exoskeleton, which enables the wearer to lift up to 2 tons as well as make tremendous leaps. Wearing full body armor, trained in a variety of deadly hand-to-hand disciplines and carrying lethal weaponry, this unit is called upon to face the worst threats. With the fall of the Soviet Union, battlesuit and exoskeleton technology has been sold to many 3rd world countries and the Shturmovik have begun hiring themselves out as mercenaries, making this unit’s services more valuable than ever.

Typical Atlas Agent (Powerhouse 5): HD 5d10+10; HP 40; Init +1; Spd 30 ft (20 ft in armor), Leap 80 ft; Defense 14, flatfooted 13 (+1 Dex, +3 Class); BAB +5; Atk +12 melee (1d8+5, unarmed), or +6 ranged (2d8+4, hand stunner); SQ Melee Master, 9 DR physical (not vs. piercing); AL U.S.H.E.R.; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +2, Rec +5; Rep +7; Str 20, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8.
Background: Military
Occupation: Superagent: Perks 3 (Agency Rank, Power Punch, Professional Reputation)
Hobby: Legal
Skills: Athletics 8 (+5), Engineering 4 (+4), Firearms 8 (+9), Legal 4 (+4), Outdoorsman 4 (+5), Perception 4 (+5), Unarmed 8 (+13), Weapons 8 (+13)
Feats: Attack Focus (unarmed): +2 attack rolls, Career Advancement, Combat Martial Arts, Power Level x2, Superhuman Strength (PL +2 worn device, personal, Atlas exoskeleton), Superleap (PL +2 worn device, personal, Atlas exoskeleton), Teamwork (U.S.H.E.R.): +4 skill checks
Access/Contacts/Followers: Secret Access, Supply Contact (U.S.H.E.R.): 24 wealth
Wealth: 8
Possessions: Hand Stunner, Forced Entry Unit
Character Disadvantages: Varies

Elite Atlas Agent (Powerhouse 8): HD 8d10+16; HP 64; Init +1; Spd 30 ft (20 ft in armor), Leap 100 ft; Defense 17, flatfooted 16 (+1 Dex, +6 Class); BAB +8; Atk +16 melee (1d10+8, unarmed), or +9 ranged (2d8+4, disintegrator rifle); SQ Melee Master, 9 DR physical (not vs. piercing); AL U.S.H.E.R.; SV Fort +8, Ref +3, Will +3, Rec +6; Rep +10; Str 22, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8.
Background: Military
Occupation: Superagent: Perks 4 (Agency Rank, Power Punch, Precision Strike, Professional Reputation)
Hobby: Legal
Skills: Athletics 11 (+9), Engineering 4 (+4), Firearms 11 (+12), Legal 4 (+4), Outdoorsman 4 (+5), Perception 4 (+5), Unarmed 11 (+17), Weapons 11 (+17)
Feats: Attack Focus (unarmed): +2 attack rolls, Attack Specialization (unarmed), Career Advancement x2, Combat Martial Arts, Power Level x3, Superhuman Strength (PL +2 worn device, personal, Atlas exoskeleton), Superleap (PL +2 worn device, personal, Atlas exoskeleton), Teamwork (U.S.H.E.R.): +4 skill checks
Access/Contacts/Followers: Top Secret Access, Supply Contact (U.S.H.E.R.): 33 wealth
Wealth: 9
Possessions: Disintegrator Rifle, Forced Entry Unit, Jet Cycle
Character Disadvantages: Varies

Monday, June 09, 2008

Supers20: a skill hero

So here's a character who relies completely on his skills and devices. I think this is a competitive character, even without a single Superhuman ability score power.

The Veteran (Powerhouse 15): HD 15d10+45; HP 150; Init +0; Spd 30 ft (Leap 240 feet); Defense 21, flatfooted 21 (+0 Dex, +11 Class); BAB +15; Atk +18 melee (17d4+0, energy sword), or +15 ranged (2d8+4, disintegrator rifle); SQ Melee Master, 12 DR physical; AL Scion; SV Fort +12, Ref +5, Will +5, Rec +10; Rep +12; Str 14, Dex 10, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 13.
Background: Military
Occupation: Military Officer: Perks 3+3 power stunts (Military Rank, Professional Reputation, Weapons Flurry; Environmental Seal, Heat Resistant Armor, Cold Resistant Armor)
Hobby: Engineering
Skills: Engineering 4 (+5), Firearms 18 (+18), Leadership 18 (+19), Outdoorsman 4 (+4), Perception 4 (+28), Power Control 18 (+21), Unarmed 18 (+20), Vehicles 4 (+4), Weapons 18 (+20)
Feats: Armed Defense (30 defense with move action), Armor (PL +2 worn device, personal- armored vac suit), Attack Focus (Sword), Career Advancement, Damage Touch: energy (PL +5 carried device, simple, governed by Weapons skill- energy sword; lethal only), Enhanced Senses (PL +2 worn device, personal- armored vac suit), Power Level x10, Superleap (PL +2 worn device, personal- armored vac suit), Teamwork (Host): +3 attack rolls
Access/Contacts/Followers: Supply Contact: 41 wealth, military equipment (The Armorer)
Wealth: 13
Possessions: Disintegrator Rifle, Jet Cycle, Orbital Craft
Character Disadvantages: Code: Loyal to Scion (DSR 5)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Fine, make it weird

From a lecture I'm listening to on the late middle ages: "At one point the Hundred Years War was going so bad for France that the country was fighting for its very survival and had to place itself in the hands of a crossdressing peasant girl who heard voices in her head".

Well sheesh, it sounds weird when you put it like that.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Generic NPC customization example

This is for my home game tonight. Let's time it and see how long we take. First, here's the generic psychic:

Elite Psychic (Empath 12): HD 12d8+36; HP 108; Init +1; Spd 30 ft; Defense 26, flatfooted 19 (+1 Dex, +6 Wis, +9 Class); BAB +9; Atk +8 melee (1d4-1, unarmed), or +15 ranged (8d4+0, psychic blast); SQ Resolute; AL none; SV Fort +14, Ref +9, Will +14, Rec +12; Rep +6; Str 8, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 23, Cha 14.
Background: Criminal
Occupation: Soldier: Perks 2+2 power stunt (Precision Strike, 1 perk unspent, 2 power stunt unspent)
Hobby: Unarmed
Skills: Crime 4 (+4), Legal 15 (+15), Outdoorsman 15 (+21), Perception 15 (+21), Power Control 15 (+18), Stealth 4 (+5), Streetwise 15 (+21), Unarmed 4 (+3), Vehicles 4 (+5), 15 unspent
Feats: Blast (psychic), Mind Over Body, Poise, Psychic Strike, Superhuman Wisdom, Power Level x8, 2 unspent
Access/Contacts/Followers: Varies (6 points)
Wealth: 11
Possessions: None
Character Disadvantages: Varies

Now, let's do two variations to throw at the PCs.

Character concept #1: Psychic Assassin

Night Terror (Empath 12): HD 12d8+36; HP 108; Init +1; Spd 30 ft (Teleport 80 ft); Defense 26, flatfooted 19 (+1 Dex, +6 Wis, +9 Class); BAB +9; Atk +8 melee (1d4-1, unarmed), or +15 ranged (8d4+0, psychic blast); SQ Resolute; AL none; SV Fort +14, Ref +9, Will +14, Rec +12; Rep +6; Str 8, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 23, Cha 14.
Background: Criminal
Occupation: Soldier: Perks 2+2 power stunt (Precision Strike, Transporter, Blinking, Security Systems)
Hobby: Unarmed
Skills: Crime 4 (+4), Legal 15 (+15), Outdoorsman 15 (+21), Perception 15 (+21), Power Control 15 (+18), Stealth 4 (+5), Streetwise 15 (+21), Unarmed 4 (+3), Vehicles 4 (+5), Stealth 15 (+16)
Feats: Blast (psychic), Mind Over Body, Poise, Psychic Strike, Superhuman Wisdom, Power Level x8, Cross Training (stealth), Teleport
Access/Contacts/Followers: Varies (6 points)
Wealth: 11
Possessions: None
Character Disadvantages: Varies

Cross training and spending the unspent skill points turns her into a stealthy character, while teleportation means almost no building can keep her out.

Spent her unspent perk on Security Systems for defusing alarms and sabotaging cameras.

Power stunts spent on Transporter (increased carrying capacity while teleporting to take equipment along) and Blinking (defense bonus).

Total time: 11 minutes

Character Concept #2: Sorcerer Apprentice

Desert Dervish (Empath 12): HD 12d8+36; HP 108; Init +1; Spd 30 ft (Fly 200 feet); Defense 26, flatfooted 19 (+1 Dex, +6 Wis, +9 Class); BAB +9; Atk +8 melee (1d4-1, unarmed), or +15 ranged (10d4+0, psychic blast); SQ Resolute; AL none; SV Fort +14, Ref +9, Will +14, Rec +12; Rep +6; Str 8, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 23, Cha 14.
Background: Criminal
Occupation: Soldier: Perks 2+2 power stunt (Precision Strike, Stealth- Desert, Cone Blast, Line Blast)
Hobby: Unarmed
Skills: Crime 4 (+4), Legal 15 (+15), Outdoorsman 15 (+21), Perception 15 (+21), Power Control 15 (+18), Stealth 4 (+5), Streetwise 15 (+21), Unarmed 4 (+3), Vehicles 4 (+5), Magic 15 (+17)
Feats: Blast (psychic) (Worn Device +2- Amulet of the Dervish), Mind Over Body, Poise, Psychic Strike, Superhuman Wisdom, Power Level x8, Flight (Worn Device +2- Amulet of the Dervish), Magic (Worn Device +2- Amulet of the Dervish)
Access/Contacts/Followers: Varies (6 points)
Wealth: 11
Possessions: None
Character Disadvantages: Varies

Spent his unspent perk on Stealth- Desert from Outdoorsman, since we have an arabian motif going on here.

Spent power stunts on two different types of area effect for the psychic blast, Cone and Line, meaning he'll have options to snag multiple PCs from round to round.

Spent the unspent powers on Flight and Magic for mobility and versatility, then got a little fancy and put the blast through the same device, upping its power level and damage by 2 dice.

If the PCs encounter these two in the desert, they might be on them before they even know they're there.

Total Time: 11 minutes, well it seems I'm consistent.

Not bad. Two very different mid-level NPCs in less than 30 minutes.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Soldiers and Spellfighters for Modern20 revealed!

Just wanted to direct everyone's attention to Mike Lafferty's new Soldiers and Spellfighters for Modern20, the expansion of his Wizards and Wiseguys supplement for d20 Modern, this vastly expanded and upgraded setting focuses on the Great War (WW I) and is a full-blown Modern20 setting of magic and modern mayhem!

Check out the official post, as well as some awesome Rick Hershey art here!

A generic energy projector

Elite Energy Projector (Speedfreak 12): HD 12d8+36; HP 108; Init +7; Spd 35 ft (Fly 160 ft); Defense 29, flatfooted 22 (+7 Dex, +12 Class); BAB +9; Atk +8 melee (by weapon), or +17 ranged (8d4+0, energy blast); SQ Need for speed, 4 DR physical and energy; AL none; SV Fort +9, Ref +15, Will +5, Rec +7; Rep +6; Str 8, Dex 24, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 12.
Background: Criminal
Occupation: Soldier: Perks 2+2 power stunt (Tumble, Area Blast 10 feet, 1 power stunt unspent)
Hobby: Firearms
Skills: Acrobatics 15 (+22), Athletics 15 (+14), Crime 4 (+4), Firearms 4 (+11), Perception 4 (+5), Power Control 15 (+18), Streetwise 15 (+16), Vehicles 4 (+11)
Feats: Attack Focus (blast), Blast (energy), Flight, Force Field, Superhuman Dexterity, Power Level x8, 2 Unspent
Access/Contacts/Followers: Varies (6 points)
Wealth: 11
Possessions: NoneCharacter Disadvantages: Varies

So here's an example of one thing we're doing in Supers20.

Modern20 ended with a presentation of generic NPCs to make the GMs life easier. Given that supers is, if anything, harder to run, we're doing that again, this time with a twist.

Some people didn't like how specific the Modern20 NPCs were. They weren't really generic, they each had a strong niche.

In Supers20, we're addressing that concern by leaving some of the NPCs feats unspent. In a supers context, this has a dramatic effect on the character.

Imagine the character above, if you spent his two feats on Earth Control and Fire Control.

Now imagine the same character with Telekinesis and Magic.

Voila! With the addition of a couple of feats, you have a vastly different character in just a few minutes.

It's my hope that this will take some of the burden off the GM and allow him to throw together simple scenarios quickly.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Another Sample NPC: Wraith

This one from the "Freshman Class" campaign model, here's the owner/operator of the Doleman Academy for the Gifted, Saul Doleman aka Wraith.

Saul “Wraith” Doleman (Star 15): HD 15d8+15; HP 95; Init +2; Spd 30 ft (Fly 100 ft); Defense 23, flatfooted 21 (+2 Dex, +11 Class); BAB +7; Atk +6 melee (1d6-1, sap), or +9 ranged (1d4+0, Taser); SQ Friends in high places; AL Mutant High Students, U.S.H.E.R.; SV Fort +6, Ref +9, Will +9, Rec +6; Rep +19; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 27.
Background: Criminal
Occupation: Hero Academy Graduate: Perks 4+3 power stunts (Ghost in the Machine, Inside Out, Lighter than Air, Professional Reputation, Security Systems, Spirit, Urban Stealth)
Hobby: Unarmed
Skills: Acrobatics 18 (+20), Crime 18 (+20), Influence 18 (+26), Leadership 18 (+26), Legal 18 (+20), Perception 18 (+18), Power Control 18 (+19), Read/Write Language (French, German, Italian, Japanese), Speak Language (French, German, Italian, Japanese), Stealth 4 (+6), Streetwise 18 (+18), Unarmed 4 (+3)
Feats: Desolidification, Endorsement Deal, Fascinate, Mind Control, Power Level x10, Redirect, Superhuman Charisma, Teamwork (Mutant High students), Teamwork (U.S.H.E.R.)
Access/Contacts/Followers: Top Secret Access, Supply Contact: Wealth 41- can provide military equipment (U.S.H.E.R.), 5 points favors
Wealth: 32
Possessions: Sap, Taser

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Giant Bomb adds two new members

Well I suspected something like this might be going on but now it's official. Giant Bomb has added Brad Shoemaker and Vinny Caravella, both former gamespot employees, to its staff.

Way to go and congrats to those guys!

Check out the podcast announcement here.

Mike Lafferty supersleuths Supers20 power levels!

Since Mike basically guessed this one, it seems like a good thing to spill for today.

The Supers20 Power levels (which are guidelines not rules set in stone) are:

Gritty (Beginning Level 1, Beginning Max Power Level 1, Max Power Level 5)

Street Level (Beginning Level 5, Beginning Max Power Level 5, Max Power Level 10)

Four Color (Beginning Level 10, Beginning Max Power Level 10, Max Power Level 20)

Cosmic (Beginning Level 15, Beginning Max Power Level 15, Max Power Level 20)

I'm still wrestling with the idea of going beyond level 20 for Cosmic campaigns. It makes sense, which isn't to be confused with me wanting to deal with it.

Still, I probably will in the end, since I tend to think of Superman as being at least about level 25.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Scientists discover the secret to Geddy Lee's Bass sound!

Not a hoax! Not a dream! Straight from (work warning- music plays when the site loads) Geddy and a team of scientists have released this dramatic discovery to the world.

By request: Power Level and power

Mike asked about the Power Level feat folks have been seeing in the NPC write-ups.

Ask and you shall receive!

Actually, since the Power Level feat doesn't make a lot of sense on its own, I'm including a power as well.

First, here's a power.

Control Sound
You can mute or intensify sound.
Duration: Instantaneous
Range: 20 ft. times your power level
Effect: By letting loose a sonic scream you inflict 2d4 points + 1d4 points of sonic, non-lethal damage times your power level.

The target of this attack may make a Fortitude saving throw to reduce the damage by one-half (DC 15+ your power level).

The target of this attack must also make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 15+ your power level) or be deafened for 1-4 rounds.

Although you can use this power with multi-attack, you cannot attack the same target with this power more than once per round.

Cloak of Silence: You gain a bonus to Stealth checks equal to twice your power level. The duration of this stunt is 1 round times your power level and the range is you.
Earsplitter: Your sonic attacks can inflict lethal damage.
Resist Sonic Attacks: You gain a bonus to saving throws against sonic attacks equal to your power level. The duration of any successful deafening attack is reduced by one-half. The duration of this stunt is permanent and the range is you.
Sonic Immunity (requires Resist Sonic Attacks): You gain Damage Reduction against sonic attacks equal to twice your power level. The duration of this stunt is permanent and the range is you.
Vibration Wave: You inflict 1d6 points of damage times your power level to any inanimate object (including robots and vehicles but excluding cybernetic characters).

Now here's the Power Level feat.

Power Level
The strength of your powers is determined by the number of times you have taken this feat.
Effect: The effects of this feat vary depending on the individual powers you have selected. See the power descriptions below for the effects of this feat.

One effect of this feat that does not vary between individuals is that it grants access to the Power Control skill, which is added to your permanent class skill list upon selecting this feat.

Special: You may select this feat more than once. Its effects stack.

So in effect, the Power Level feat takes the place of the power points. The number of times you have selected Power Level acts as the power level for all your powers. If you want a power at higher than this baseline level, you can apply limitations to it, such as the Device limitation on all of Iron Man's powers except his Superhuman Intelligence.

For another example, you can also look at the Blast power that I posted earlier.

Using the aforementioned Iron Man sample NPC as an example, he has selected the Power Level feat 10 times. This means his power level, for purposes of the Blast power, is a base of 10 (+1 for the Device limitation), meaning he inflicts 11d4 damage.

His power level feats also power all of his other powers as well. So his Superhuman Intelligence power grants him +10 Intelligence for a power level of 10, his Flight operates at power level 11 (because it has the Device limitation) and so forth.

This one little feat is really the lynchpin of the entire design. It removes power points, and it removes the need for a PC's origin to function like a race or as a balancing factor. Since there isn't any extra layer of complexity added (the power points), the super PC is using the same resources as all other PCs, he's just using them differently.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Countdown Killer

The Countdown Killer (Speedfreak 5): HD 5d8+10; HP 40; Init +4; Spd 30 ft; Defense 19, flatfooted 19 (+4 Dex, +5 Class); BAB +3; Atk +5 melee (1d8+5, claws), or +7 ranged (2d4+4, Beretta 92F); SQ Melee Master; AL none; SV Fort +5, Ref +8, Will +2, Rec +3; Rep +2; Str 14, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Background: Criminal
Occupation: Thug: Perks
Hobby: Weapons
Skills: Acrobatics 8 (+12), Athletics 8 (+10), Crime 4 (+4), Perception 4 (+5), Power Control 8 (+10), Stealth 8 (+12), Unarmed 8 (+10), Weapons 4 (+6)
Feats: Ability Enhancement (Strength), Armor, Claws, Improved Duration (Ability Enhancement-Strength), Power Level x3, Superhuman Dexterity
Access/Contacts/Followers: Supply Contact Wealth 12 (a former fence of Squint’s who will provide what little he can out of fear for his life)
Wealth: 4
Possessions: Beretta 92F, 4 clips ammunition
Character Disadvantages: Obsession: kill once every 13 days (DSR 5)

Those of you who have Blood and Vigilance might recognize the Countdown Killer from the campaign models in that book. Here he is as a gritty, super-powered criminal designed as a terrifying challenge for a party of 1st to 2nd level supers.

Night Ride Part 1

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