Showing posts with label Red & Pleasant Land. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Red & Pleasant Land. Show all posts

Monday, January 05, 2015

Here Comes The Twister -- Detail In Setting Up Your New Campaign

There is a fine line to walk when starting up a new campaign. You want to give the players the idea of the world to come, without overloading on the details in such a way that you don't take all of the potential fun out of the game. Much like with players who come up with overly detailed backstories for their characters that have more awesomenss than the combination of five action movies, putting too much detail into your campaign world before you play can kill the world just as dead.

With the new year, our group is starting a new game. This is all my fault, I didn't really have fun with the last game. At the heart of things, I am probably a bad gamer because I really don't like playing D&D. So, that means that we needed something that would be as much fun for me as the GM as it was for the players (hopefully). This means that we going to stretch back to a different kind of old school for our next game: classic Marvel Super-Heroes (the original TSR game).

We aren't playing in any version of the Marvel Universe, however. All new, all original, all fun. I am taking a page from +Ross Payton's excellent Fate-based Base Raiders RPG and wiping the slate clean on the setting. You know those big events that plague comics? The last time one of those things happened in our world almost all of the heroes and villains disappeared. Poof. I also like the idea of hidden bases of the disappeared heroes and villains being left behind as a spark for new generations of heroes and villains. A super-hero dungeon crawl RPG. Who would have thought? Even if you don't use Fate in your games, there is plenty of good stuff to find in Payton's game. It sparked the basic ideas for our game in my head, so it should be able to give you plenty of good ideas too. It is good to look beyond the same old when looking for inspirations.

The other inspiration would be +Zak Smith's A Red & Pleasant Land. Yes, the D&D supplement/setting. If you haven't heard about this yet, well...I don't know what to tell you. I've already talked about this a little bit in my previous post converting Smith's Alice class from that book into a new Marvel Super-Heroes origin called The Fool. I know that +solange simondsen, one of the players in our group, is already excited about the opportunity to play Alice as a super-hero. So many other fictional characters have become super-heroes or villains, so it is probably Alice's turn.

Unintentionally, both of these posts about our upcoming campaign have referenced Talking Heads songs in their titles. Hopefully I will remember that for future posts.

Now, you're probably wondering why I would be referencing tornadoes in the name of a post about a game set in a alternate version of Wonderland. As I have said over on G+, as much as I have been a fan of Carrol's Alice stories, I was always a much bigger fan of L. Frank Baum's Oz stuff. So, because of that I want to bring an Oz into our world. Much like Smith's Voivodja is a twisted version of Wonderland, our Oz will be twisted like taffy in a cyclone.

Where Voivodja is in the thrall of vampires, Oz finds itself under the domination of the witches. Whether you're a good witch or a bad one, ultimately the seductive pull of dark magic get to you and warp you in chaotic ways. No matter how much you think that you are using magic, it will ultimately use you instead. There are great shadows that reach across the worlds, a conflict that grinds everything beneath its heel.

These worlds were once much more innocent, even in their evils, but now the lights are a little less bright, and the shadows seem to be even heavier.

If you've never seen Susperia you should be ashamed of yourself. Luckily, someone has solved that on YouTube for you.

From the Susperia Wikipedia page:
Suspiria (Latin for "sighs") is a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento, co-written by Argento and Daria Nicolodi, and co-produced by Claudio and Salvatore Argento. The film stars Jessica Harper as an American ballet student who transfers to a prestigious dance academy in Germany. Later, she would realize that the academy is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural amidst a series of murders. The film also features Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosè, Alida Valli, Udo Kier, and Joan Bennett in her final film role. 

I like the classic Italian horror movies of the 70s because of the psychedelic, hallucinatory way in which they were made. I think that the tone of Satanic witchcraft would fit well into the outlines of the world that I am envisioning.

I really wanted to embed a link to Jess Franco's psychedelic vampire movie, Vampyros Lesbos, because I want to use that to inform my take on the vampires in our campaign. Based (very loosely) on the Bram Stoker short story "Dracula's Guest," this movie does for vampires what Suspiria does for witches. However, the one thing that sets Vampyros Lesbos apart really is the incredible soundtrack.


It should probably go without saying that neither or these videos are work safe.

None of this is sounding like your standard super-hero game, is it? That's intentional. Magic and the supernatural have been part of comic book super-heroes since the beginning. In fact, historically, the first costumed hero was Siegel and Shuster's Doctor Occult (breaking from trenchcoat to ritual garb just a couple of months before Superman would debut). With the heroes and villains gone, this means that older, darker menaces are rising up again. The old safeguards have deteriorated with the disappearance of all the heroes and the veils between the dimensions have thinned. The tornadoes which once abducted children from Earth have been popping up again and the vampires from Voivodja have been slowly sliding into our world, with their intrigues and wars.



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.

Bonuses
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.

Exasperation
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.

Powers
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.