Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This Ain't No Fooling Around -- An RPL Fool In Classic Marvel Super-Heroes

If you haven't heard of Red & Pleasant Land by +Zak Smith at this point, I will be a bit surprised. Then I will point you towards the interview that I did with Zak for Bleeding Cool.

A Red & Pleasant Land is an adventure/campaign/setting supplement for pretty much any edition of D&D ever. It is a rich and intriguing setting (a more in depth review will come along later) that treads new ground in gaming and moves thoughts about what you can do in a game setting at right angles to what is ordinary and accepted. The link at the top of this paragraph takes you to RPGNow and the PDF of the book.

Our group is listed among the playtesters for the book, so we saw a very early version of some of the material. We had fun with it and the strangeness of the world.

But, what if you aren't playing a D&D game? What if you still want to use this material with your game, when that game is (for example) the Classic Marvel Super-Heroes game that TSR published back in the 80s? Well, in that case you do what gamers always do...make some stuff up.

We're not going to jump immediately into the world of RPL. That would be silly, and besides then the players would be expecting what would happen. And a GM has to mix thing up when their players are cheating bastards who read the game books in advance in order to game a benefit during play.

In the book, there is a new character class called The Alice (the illustration for the class from the book and linked above used Connie, a member of Zak's home group). In the book they also call it The Alistair or The Fool, for those who would prefer non-gendered or male-gendered versions. The class itself remains the same. For our Marvel game, I'm coming up with a new Origin called The Fool. If you've never played the classic Marvel game there is a link above to a website that hosts a lot of material for it, including the long out of print rules. Origins in the game are sort of like archetypes, and they help guide the character creation rules of the game.

Converting between two games that have substantially different mechanical approaches, not to mention very different rules systems, can be tricky. Really, the best thing to do is to go for the intent of the original in the new system. Trying to make an exact conversion will lead to madness.

Much like with all super-heroes, The Fool doesn't seek out adventure as much as the universe throws it at them. Some call them "weirdness magnets," because strange things happen when they are around, things that the so-called "normal" super-heroes never have to deal with. Where other heroes deal with bank robbers and world conquerors, The Fool finds themselves dealing with parasite realities and hungry realities. Some say that there is a Doom that follows The Fool where they Patrol.

Those who embody The Fool get a +1CS bonus to their Intuition and Psyche, because of their stubbornness and fierce independence. They know what is going on around them, and are watching carefully what is unfolding around them, even if it doesn't look like they are watching.

The Fool is often the chosen of fate, and as such can often draw its attention in stressful situations. During these times, make a Psyche FEAT roll, the result of which determines how they get to roll on the Exasperation table on pg. 31 of Red & Pleasant Land. On a White FEAT, the GM rolls a d4 on the Exasperation table. On a Green FEAT, the GM rolls a d6 on the Exasperation table. On a Yellow FEAT, the GM rolls a d8 on the Exasperation table. On a Red FEAT, the GM rolls a d12.

The results of the Exasperation table in the book are fairly generic, so converting them to the Marvel game's rules should be fairly easy. I'm not going to quote the table, or convert it here...mostly because I want you to get the book or PDF for yourself. Honestly, it is worth your money. I plan on just doing conversions on the fly.

In the book, this ability is used once per game hour, but I think for the Marvel game I will make it into a once per session ability instead.

Fate's Champion
The Fool is chosen by Fate to lead the life of strangeness and adventure that they lead. Because of this relationship to the Cosmic Forces of Destiny, twice per game session you can take an advantage with rolls made. To take advantage you roll twice for the die roll attempted and take the higher of the two results. However because Fate is stepping in more directly, you cannot spend Karma on these rolls. Likewise, once per session you can cause someone acting against the character to take a disadvantage on a roll. This means that (typically) the GM will roll twice and take the lower of the two rolls as the result. Like with taking an advantage, Karma cannot be spent on this roll.

Rather than the standard powers in the Marvel game, use the D100 Level Up Table from Red & Pleasant Land instead. Change ability score increases to ability increases of the relevant equivalent ability in the Marvel game. Dexterity increases can be either Fighting or Agility increases, with the approval of the GM. If you should need a rank for the power, use the standard random rank tables. If you're playing the Advanced version of the game, The Fool rolls on the same table as Altered Humans.

Starting characters get two rolls on this table and can purchase further rolls for 500 Karma. That seems a reasonable number for now, but once we get to use this Origin in actual play we will see how that shakes out and change it appropriately. One of the things that I have always liked about the Classic Marvel game is that when you use your character's Karma you have to weigh present benefits against future advances. That is a very super-hero-y sort of thing in my mind.

Those are the basics for creating a Fool in a Marvel Super-Heroes game. There will probably be more to come once we start with play. Any questions or comments can be asked on G+ or Twitter.