Thursday, April 30, 2015

Earth's Mightiest Heroes Villains: The Grey Gargoyle


Despite (or perhaps) how scanty the information in the show is, I find that I like this guy.

The Grey Gargoyle

I'd love to see him put into a Suicide Squad-like setting, because there are glimpses of a finicky, snarky character there. Throw Chemistro and Living Laser in, call them the Jobbers of Evil, and give them an apartment in New Jersey.  Wackiness ensues.

If it were a commercial for a TV show:

 DUVAL and WOMAN in bed; both are obviously nude but DUVAL wears glove on right hand

Let's talk.

This is an American obsession, isn't it?


Yes. We just-- Don't you know that men always want to go to sleep now?

For me.
(pause. Duval gets ready to go to sleep)
Why do you always wear that glove?

Reminds me not to get stoned.

Kinky. I love getting stoned.

KITCHEN OR HALL; We see WOMAN as statue in bedroom; DUVAL is in stone form.

(to CARR)
She asked for it.

TITLE CARD: The Jobbers of Evil


Can three supervillains share an apartment...

I'm tired of planning for Iron Man. Three weeks now. Let's do Hawkeye.

...without driving each other crazy?

(laying down cards)


(at closed door)
Real money this time! That gold stuff changed back!

LANDLORD as statue propped in corner
Time to go to work.

This network.

Pizza on table, PIZZA GUY as statue propped in corner

 Star Trek? Again?

I can petrify you for the duration of the show.

 Yeah, hit me.

This fall.


 Why is the Griffin in our parking garage?

The Jobbers of Evil

Earth's Mightiest Heroes Villains: The Enchantress


And  here's an attempt at Amora. Even though Amora gets a relatively lot of screen time (for a villain), I found it quite difficult to boil her down to three qualities. Still, I gave it a shot.

She might be considered under-powered for all that she's the second-best in the Nine Realms, but I stuck to my guns and gave her only an 8 in Magic, and a 7 against Asgardians. Given how powerful magic can be in a magic-rich environment, that scales reasonably well. The Norn Queen would have an 8 or maybe a 9 in magic. Surtur...probably a 10, or GM's dispensation to do whatever the hell he wanted.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ideas for Initiative, ICONS Style

Just had an idea for layout that might make for a useful character/combat summary sheet for ICONS. Won't be as pretty as some, but it just might work.... (For pretty, you go to Daniel Solis...)

Earth's Mightiest Heroes Villains: The Executioner


Here's a stab at the Executioner (ahem). He's interesting in that, although he's clearly a Strong Fighting Guy, half the stuff he does with the axe is never seen again. So I declared them stunts.

Clearly he's a foe who exists to (a) give the heroes a hard time and (b) generate Determination Points for them.

(Which is okay; there ought to be someone like that.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Show some initiative (M&M Style)


And here is a PDF form I put together that is useful for combat.

The big thing it has that I haven't before is that the button at the bottom will sort by initiative (that's bonus+1d20). If you don't put anything in the d20 box, it generates a number between 1 and 20 and adds it automatically.

It was very useful for teaching myself certain parts of JavaScript. :)

Ambushed by (the Masters of) Evil!


So I took some of my Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes builds out for a spin. As usual, I might well have gotten something wrong, and I think I had the Coordination on Hulk and Abomination too high...but other than that, it went fairly well.

Page 1

Hawkeye, Wasp, and Hulk are out for pizza to discuss the latest thing Hank has done. They order their usual (personal pizzas for Hawkeye and Wasp, ten pizzas for Hulk) and are deep in conversation when Abomination walks out with the pizzas.  He shoves them in Hulk’s face, along with a side helping of fist. The others appear during this panel.

Abomination hits, because he rolled a 6. Hulk was surprised, so the difficulty is 0, and he might stun the Hulk. That’s Strength versus Strength; Abomination gets 9+6 (15) versus Hulk’s 10+6. No stun. I wish my dice rolled like this during a game…

Living Laser and Whirlwind appear, causing much collateral damage that Tony will have to pay for. Living Laser is in energy form in order to travel fast.

Page 2

Roll initiative. Combat order is going to be Abomination, Wasp, Hulk, Hawkeye, Laser, and then Whirlwind.

Abomination follows by grabbing the table and whacking the Hulk with it. He shreds the table, but his ulterior motive was to clear some space for fighting.

Abomination rolls 2, but his Prowess is 6 and his Martial Arts are on Prowess, to be a 9. Hulk rolls a 2 so this hits, but there’s no slam or stun, just damage 9. Hulk is down by 2 stamina now. The regeneration will kick in.

Wasp shrinks and hits the Abomination with her stings. Even if she gets both shots, it’s not going to affect him, so he ignores her.
Hulk roars (of course) and tries to smash Abomination. 

Hulk rolls a 4, Abomination rolls a 2, so Hulk hits but it’s not a great hit. He deals out 10 damage, but there’s no slam or stun.

Hawkeye whips out his bow. As the one with the most common sense, he sees that the other two can be trouble, and should be eliminated, so he acrobatically leaps to wherever his friends won’t be affected by the blast and fires a burst arrow, hoping that Parks isn’t in light form.

Parks is insubstantial, so we’ll ignore him until he’s solid. Whirlwind is not, so the two burst shots hit him and combine, for damage 7. They hit with a massive success and a major success, so let’s roll stun and slam. Hawkeye gets 11 for the stun; Whirlwind gets 5. Hawkeye gets 9 for the slam, Whirlwind gets 10.  It’s a massive success for the stun, so Whirlwind drops unconscious. One down, two to go.

Living Laser is not a guy with finesse, so he decides to unleash his shooting damage on Hawkeye. Hawkeye’s tough to hit, though.
Living Laser rolls a 6, Hawkeye a 5, so it’s 11 to 11…except Hawkeye’s also being acrobatic. That makes it a 12. The shot just misses him. 

The shot misses, and Hawkeye quips, “I can’t believe Iron Man said you were trouble. You can’t hit the broad side of a—“ And he stops as he faces Crimson Dynamo, who opens fire.

Crimson Dynamo rolls a 2, Hawkeye’s still acrobatic as all get out and rolls a 5, so it’s 6 versus 12. Total miss. Hawkeye gets a Determination Point because I had to bring in Crimson Dynamo.

Page 3

Abomination follows up with another shot to the Hulk, trying to slam him outdoors and fight there.

Abomination rolls a 6 for 13, Hulk rolls a 4 for 10. That’s a major success…will there be a slam? No; it’s 13 to 13.  No effect, but Hulk takes 1 stamina

Wasp is going to fire at the Abomination’s eyes to distract the Abomination.

This is a maneuver (Coordination versus Coordination, I think) that the Hulk can use. She uses her Aerial Combat specialty and gets +3 for being shrunk; and rolls a 2, he rolls a 1, so it’s a major success: she creates one advantage, and she activates it. Hulk can use it now.

Hulk takes advantage of the momentary distraction and rushes the Abomination, surging out of his position to charge into the Abomination.  Hulk uses the advantage to get +2 to his effort. He rolls a 6 and Abomination rolls a 2, and +1 damage for the rush…so that’s 3 stamina, and a Prowess vs. Prowess roll for the rush. He rolls a 6, Abomination rolls a 6; he doesn’t do anything successful on the Strength vs. Strength roll that follows it.

Hawkeye grabs an arrow and decides to try to shoot through the faceplate, hoping that he’ll be able to knock out Anton once the plate is gone. It’s a called shot, so +2 to the difficulty. He rolls a 1, Crimson Dynamo rolls a 5, so it’s 10 versus 9…a moderate success. He does half damage with the arrow (3) against resistance to damage 4. The arrow bounces off harmlessly. “Uh, guys? I know you’re busy with the other big green thing…but I’ve got a big red thing here.”

Living Laser has picked a target: Hawkeye. He fires again at the acrobatic archer. The Living Laser rolls a 2, Hawkeye rolls a 4 for 7 vs 11. The Living Laser's shot missed, but gave Hawkeye an idea.

Crimson Dynamo says, “You are practice for the day I destroy Tony Stark!” and opens fire on Hawkeye.

Crimson Dynamo rolls a 2, Hawkeye rolls a 1, so its 7 versus 8. Once again, the Dynamo misses, but the diner looks quite ruined by this point. 

Abomination has one target: the Hulk. And he’s hitting him repeatedly. He’s going to stunt Fast Attack so he can combine the attacks. Both attacks succeed, but only marginally so they do no damage that gets through the Hulk’s resistance.

Wasp knows she can’t hurt anyone here: Parks is insubstantial and the other two are tough. But maybe she can overload the Crimson Dynamo’s senses by shooting directly at the antenna array…

Called shot, and she’s going to try to make it with Fast Attack, combining the attacks so they do extra damage. She’s also going to spend a determination point to activate her own Founding Avenger quality to push the damage. If she hits once, that’s 5 damage, and his resistance provides only 4 against a called shot; if she hits twice, that’s 6 damage. She rolls 2 and a 5, plus her 3 for being shrunk, plus her 1 for Aerial combat…that’s an effort of 11 and 14. Crimson Dynamo rolls a 1 and a 3, for opposing values of 5 and 7. In both cases, a massive success, so he takes 2 stamina and gets the “All Shots Are Called Shots” quality, which is active. No one needs to spend a point to activate it; it just is.

Her stinger blasts land true, and the Crimson Dynamo starts moving more slowly, less able to weave and duck.

Hulk has a hate-on for the Abomination, so he tries a second time to hit.

He rolls a 4, Abomination rolls a 1, and Abomination’s specialties are all on attack, so it’s 10 to 7, or a major success. He does his full damage, but he also spends a determination point to activate his “Hulk is the strongest one there is” quality and increase the effort on his Slam. He rolls a 2, so it’s 14 versus Abomination’s 12.

The Hulk’s mighty blow from above knocks the Abomination prone.

Hawkeye decides he’s going to maneuver so that when Living Laser fires at him, the blast will hit the Crimson Dynamo. 

This sounds like a Coordination+Athletics (7) versus Intellect (5) test. Both parties roll a 4, so it succeeds. The Living Laser’s attack was good enough to hit the Crimson Dynamo but not Hawkeye, so Crimson Dynamo takes the damage, 4 more stamina.

“I’m sorry,” says Hawkeye, “you can hit the broad side of a barn. Crimson Dynamo is Russian for barn, right?”

Crimson Dynamo can’t send a request to Living Laser…his comms are shorted out. So he decides to rip up a section of counter to use as a burst attack against Hawkeye. He rips out the counter and bats at the bowman.

Crimson Dynamo rolls a 4, Hawkeye rolls a 1, for 9 vs. 6, or a Major success. The Slam test is 11 versus 8. Hawkeye goes from full stamina to 2 in one shot.

The chunk of counter hits the tumbling archer and knocks him to the ground…and knocks him almost unconscious.

Page 4

Abomination smiles. “They taught us how to fight from the ground.” He starts by grabbing the Hulk.

He rolls 3 for 7+3 versus the Hulk’s 1, or 10 vs 7. The Hulk is hampered by the move, and is at -2 while held.

Wasp sees the waitress who was hiding under the now-absent counter and flies over to get her to safety. “Run! I’ll cover your exit!” She interposes herself between the waitress and, well, everyone else.

Wasp gets a determination point for that.

Hulk struggles mightily against the Abomination’s grip.

It’s wrestling, Strength versus Strength to try to escape. They each roll a 5, so no effect.

The Living Laser realizes that he can use the waitress instead of hitting the Wasp directly. So he’s going to fly around her very quickly (he’s light, after all), turn solid, and threaten the waitress.

His prowess is only 4, but it’s a surprise to the waitress, so she’s difficulty 0 to catch. He rolls a 4, she’s difficulty 0…massive success.

“All we want is all of you. Come quietly or she gets a laser lobotomy. Hulk can’t get here in time to save her. I am, after all,  as fast as light.”

Wasp says, “Hulk…I think we have to…”

What next?

So not bad. Wasp turns out to be more difficult to hit than I thought. Having to roll again and again for Slam or Stun is a bit of a pain, and I'd like to see a mechanism for deliberately slamming things...but overall, very pleased.

Some ICONS tricks, part 1


These are some tricks I've developed or been told about ICONS Assembled character creation. I have this as part 1 because I'm sure that others will occur.

Do you need that life support? The rules for exposure indicate a Strength check against Difficulty 0. If the character's Strength is over 5, they're never going to fail the exposure check. There are cases where the life support is necessary, but for things like the Hulk wandering in the Arctic, it's not really needed.

Do you need that leaping? When I was putting together a 45 point Spider-Man, I had Leaping 2...but according to the rules, a character with strength 7 or higher can jump to Extended Range (you need to yell). An early info page on Spider-Man claimed he could jump across the street or up a three-storey building. That sounds like Extended Range to me.

Do you want that gadget to be a limitation? By default, devices are just devices. Yes, they can be taken away, but it's assumed that the character has more, or will get them back, and they're not a limit in game terms. Steve Kenson pointed out that the Source Limit works well to represent the kind of unique gadget without which the powers don't work.

Is that really Alternate Form? Doing conversions for characters from Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, I ran across three characters who were said to be made of energy (Wonder Man, Living Laser, and Zzaxx). In the first and third cases, they seem to interact quite well with the world, mostly through punching. Alternate Form: Energy explicitly denies that. Instead, I went with Qualities that said they were made of energy. That meant that players could come up with all those funky energy-related schemes but the characters could still punch and be punched.

Autofire Fast Attack... Something I've come up with. If a character has Fast Attack, let them combine attacks with themselves. This means that, say, Wasp with her stingers of 4 can fire twice at someone, and (assuming they both hit) combine them for a +1 damage, doing 5 damage. I'd probably put the implicit limit that it can't beat Resistance to Damage if the special effect doesn't allow it (armor might have a weak spot the attacks are focusing on, but a force field probably not).

Beware the Rhino! Another possibility I've come up with but not yet tested. Suppose a character has the Specialty: Power (Strength) Expert. He applies one of the specialties to the to-hit roll, increasing the chance of a massive success. If he gets to test for a slam attack, he then applies the other specialty to the roll for the slam attack, increasing the likelihood that the target will be slammed. This is to represent those characters who are very good at hitting people and knocking them out of the way.

Its force is so terrible I can use it only once! If a character has some overpowered weapon that has limited uses, rather than buying it full strength and putting a limitation on it, go the other way: the power is a stunt of some other power, using the +1 damage to push. The character has to have an advantage for this to work, usually gained by taking a trouble like "Other armor systems fail!" Iron Man's UniBeam is, I think, a fine example of this. It works only a limited number of times, and does extra damage.


Just a quick note to say hi.

I'll be putting RPG stuff here, originally focusing on ICONS because that's what I'm breathing right now, but with others possible. (Hey, with the invention of a transparent aluminum, I suddenly want to run a dungeon crawl where the "dungeon" appears to be one huge room with all the contents of rooms visible...but the walls are invisible. And the spell on the walls is such that after a day, anything on the walls (such as paint to mark the way) becomes invisible. You'd never surprise the players with the contents of a room, but imagine them circling and circling around some treasure that they just couldn't get to...)

I'm John McMullen. I read, I write, I play tabletop RPGs. I have a wife and two children, and then two dogs.

Hope to see you around.