Sunday, January 14, 2018

Spark vs. Dark...groping towards pre-gens

SYSTEM: ICONS

Not that anyone asked, but here are the pre-gens I have already written for the Dark vs. Spark Bruce County adventure. They'll get adjusted by playtests, of course, but this is what I'm starting with. The qualities and backgrounds are not yet written...this is mostly power sets and names.

In general, players are free to change one of the Qualities to make the character fit better for them.

4H


Someone who has taken the Head-Heart-Hands-Health motto in a totally different direction, Foraitch has one ability that is quite different: a touch can transfer everything the target knows. That information might not be immediately available—it takes time to go through someone's entire life. Okay, balancing realism and game mechanics, let's say it usually takes an hour. Anything that hasn't assimilated when the next person is copied into Foraitch's head, well, that's gone.
Foraitch
PROCRDSTRINTAWRWILSTAMINADeterm.
345445102
Specialties Leadership Expert (+2)
Knack Spark
Powers
Power Mimicry
  Extra: Mental powers, Limit: extra only,
  Limit: takes time to process afterward (buy back Determination)
6
Regeneration8
Telekinesis3
  Extra: Flight3
Qualities
"Head, Hands, Heart, Health is my motto"
Loves animals
Quality 3?

Game Mechanics: I figure that though the memory transfer is instant, ferreting out the information can take time: When Foraitch is trying (that is, not fighting), a minutes per point of Intellect of the target. Without trying, it takes twenty minutes per point of Intellect.

If there is a particular piece of information (like the combination to a lock), start with 1 in the first "assimilation period" (ten minutes or thirty), and increase by 1 for each time period after that, up to power level. Test that number against the target's Intellect. The GM can modify this based on whether the information would be easily accessible: people just know their names and birthdays, but there might be slower recall about the events on a specific date. Or spend a Determination point and counteract the limit.)

Lilypad


A blatant ripoff of Jason Tondro's fabulous Frog Girl, but I liked the name-power match.

Lily is a student at Georgian College, studying law enforcement. Her parents own a Chinese restaurant, but they are Serbian, with a name granted to them on immigration. She is husky and tall, with acne outbreaks that sometimes go away with the switch from Lilypad. (The name started when she started saying her own real name and then had to fix it.)

Lilypad (Lily Patrick)
PROCRDSTRINTAWRWILSTAMINADeterm.
457464111
Specialties Investigation, Law
Knack Spark
Powers
Aquatic6
 Extra: Invisibility; Limit: half effect if not motionless6
Aura (small spines)4
Wall-Crawling2
Super-Senses (360-degree vision)1
Qualities
The curse of the were-frog
Social media maven
Quality 3

Menagerie


A bullied kid who escaped by dealing with farm animals and learning about animals as much as possible.

Menagerie can turn into animals, even imaginary ones. And as the fight continues, certain powers start to appear, which might turn Menagerie into a different animal.

Menagerie
PROCRDSTRINTAWRWILSTAMINADeterm.
55336491
Specialties Science (Veterinary), Medicine
Knack Spark
Powers
Transformation (animals)6
  Extra: Imaginary ones, too6
Adaptation5
Nemesis: Limit: Preparation5
Qualities
Quality 1
Quality 2
Quality 3

Snowbelt


He's a farmer. Got a sizeable herd of dairy cattle, and a decent milk quota. And superheroing gets in the way, but darn it, someone's got to do it. And it makes getting lane clear in the wintertime so much easier. The Science and Technologies make up the farming trade, which is broad: he can fix a tractor, tell you what the good weather is for planting, help a cow with a breech birth, and so on.

Snowbelt
PROCRDSTRINTAWRWILSTAMINADeterm.
34434592
Specialties Science, Technology
Knack Spark
Powers
Cold Control6
  Extra: Ice slide for movement6
  Extra: Ice armor (force field)6
  Extra: Telekinesis (Limit: snow/ice only; buys back Determination)6
Life support (cold)1
Qualities
Quality 1
Quality 2
Quality 3

Speedway


The wild kid, in the middle of his or her family. Races cars at the Sauble Speedway in the summer and is a mechanic the rest of the time. A DUI conviction in the past (maybe it's still current: maybe Speedway doesn't have a driver's license right now).

Speedway
PROCRDSTRINTAWRWILSTAMINADeterm.
45344581
Specialties Driving, Technology
Knack Spark
Powers
Superspeed6
  Extra: Defending6
  Extra: Surface Movement6
Dazzle (sound)5
Qualities
Quality One
The simple pleasures: getting hammered and going fast
A dare? Well, then, I gotta.

Think Tank


Think Tank puts his or her mind in the suit and is essentially animating it...and essentially there, so though there's a certain Astral Projection quality to the power. He can animate other suits, but the fact is, fully articulated copies of people don't come around all the time. He or she has been building this one for a while, but it could be any articulated thing. This one has microphones and cameras and all such to see what's going on and act on it.

Think Tank
PROCRDSTRINTAWRWILSTAMINADeterm.
34344691
Specialties Technology
Knack Spark
Powers
Telepathy6
  Extra: Rangeless6
  Extra: Telekinesis6
  Limit: Feedback
Damage Reduction (limited to material of the suit, but normally)6
Super-senses (telelocation)1
Qualities
Animating the suit!
Quality Two
Quality Three

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dark vs. Spark as a genre...character creation

SYSTEM: ICONS

I've been thinking about the adventure I've written for the Dark vs Spark world (All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault by James Alan Gardner). I felt like the standard ICONS origins weren't quite right, because all of the heroes we see are Transformed (though birthright heroes are mentioned as a possibility).

So you could do point-buy, because you ignore the effects of the origins. That might be what I do.

Besides Transformed, I can imagine possible Trained, Artificial, and Birthright origins. Gimmick is essentially relegated to "a Spark created this artifact." Unearthly *might* be possible. I'd rather relegate those two to "if you have a character concept that uses one of these, talk to the GM, but for random character creation they aren't common enough to roll." (I could be talked out of that.)

This is what I came up with in three minutes of thinking...

Most origins grant you the knack "Spark," which gives you the effects of the Halo from the book, and lets you defend against the effects of the Dark. If you get Spark, it doesn't cost you a Determination point—it's part of the book (or the genre, if you will).

Roll for origin, but the choices are seriously limited. *Any* roll but doubles is Transformed. (As in the standard rules, and you get the knack "Spark.")

For doubles:
1,1 or 2,2 or 3,3Birthright. You get the knack Spark and the standard benefits.
4,4 or 5,5Trained. Even though you're not a Spark, you've decided to fight crime. Unlike the other origins, you don't get "Spark" but you get +4 Specialties instead of +2. As in the standard rules, you can still trade in a power for two more Specialties.
6,6Artificial (your essence has/can move into an object). You get "Spark" and the standard benefits.

Because the book makes a big deal of your one-line character description defining your powers, well, that sounds like a Quality to me. So define your character with a Quality and you can change one (1) power or add +2 to a power to fit the "Spark elevator pitch." (Maximum is still 10, of course.)

Does that seem too restrictive or is it enforcing the book?

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Library Golems

SYSTEM: ICONS

I haven't used these, but they were inspired by a set of tweets that Mary Anne Mohanraj posted on her Facebook feed:



But it's not out of place for a superhero game to have a mystic library, and for that library to have mystic protectors... Hence these "book golems".

Book Golems

The book golems are spirits that roam the library. Treat them as ghosts, or astral projection without bodies: they can fly on the astral plane, pass through things (and there are very few rooms in the library protected against ghosts...because they would not be able to let these guardians in...but the library as a whole is protected), and have a great deal of trouble affecting things on the physical plane. They are not clever, but they do have a certain awareness. (In ICONS, they exist as the Servant power.) Vistors to the library are given protective tokens that identify them. Employees of the library are their own tokens: there is nothing to steal, and the attunement takes some time, but it can be revoked from a distance.

The library is decorated with headless statues of stone or bronze. The statues have books lying at their feet, which are never cleaned up—which seems odd, when the rest of the library is meticulously (even magically) tidied and organized. Here's why.

When the golem needs to take form on the earthly plane, it animates a statue, and places a book on its neck. From then on, the statue has the abilities described in the book (represented as variable abilities in the Servant description). Until that book is removed (a +2 difficulty to the task), the statue cannot change books. The book can be burned off, of course, but they are fire retardant; the statue can be immobilized, or the spirit can leave the statue, either by being exorcised by a puissant-enough magician or because its job is done. If the body is destroyed, the spirit is free to animate something else.

The books around the statues tend to be biographies of famous fighters, rogues, wizards, and so on.

If there is no statue around, the book golem can build itself a body entirely of books. It is not as tough as a body of stone or bronze, and more prone to flying apart if there is a sudden impact, but it has happened. The sight of an inukshuk of books stomping towards you does tends to give thieves pause.

There are ways to get around them. The book golems are not nearly as fierce on the astral plane, so they can be fought or imprisoned on the astral plane. It is possible that someone could switch the book before it is placed on their head so they have the abilities and skills of a renowned pacifist. There are a limited number of these spirits, so one could, in theory, turn off the protection for all the librarians and trust that the book golems will be busy with them instead of your operative.


Book Golem (Spirit form)
PrwCrdStrIntAwrWilSta
335-549
Powers
Incredible (7) Astral Projection, no body
Incredible (7) Servant, Extra: Variable Limit: Abilities depend on book
Qualities
  • Ghost
  • Protect the library!

Book Golem (Statue form)
PrwCrdStrIntAwrWilSta
557-5-14
Powers
Incredible (7) Alternate Form: Stone (Damage Reduction 7, Strength 7)
Weak (1) Super-Speed
Fair (4) Magic: Any other abilities
Qualities
  • Ghost
  • Protect the library!
  • Book is only Damage Reduction 3 versus fire

Book Golem (Books form)
PrwCrdStrIntAwrWilSta
533-5-14
Powers
Average (3) Alternate Form: Books(Damage Reduction 7, Strength 3, Slashing from paper cuts 3, Stretching 3)
Weak (2) Super-Speed
Fair (4) Magic: Any other abilities
Qualities
  • Ghost
  • Protect the library!
  • A moderate result on a slam or stun makes the body fly apart

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Drop-In delayed, dammit

SYSTEM: ICONS

I dunno if it's food poisoning or what, but since about 1:00 this afternoon I have had a fever and have been unable to sit at a computer for any extended time, and that might be too many details for comfort. I re-scheduled my late afternoon appointment and I'm just dealing.

I apologize, folks. This was totally not the plan.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Reminder: ICONS Drop-In tomorrow

SYSTEM: ICONS

Yup, gonna try the old ICONS Drop-In again tomorrow at 7:30 pm. Yes, that's a twist: It starts a half-hour later. Though I'm in the city, I have a 5:30 appointment, and I want to make sure that I'm back and y'all are not left cooling your heels. Pictures on roll20.net, sound on Hangouts.

We dealt with K-OSprey last time, and the incidental threat of Hermetico, and discovered the truth about Mr. Geist!

Ah: there's the setup. This week, the mystical realm holds sway as we deal with the curse that holds Mr. Geist on this plane of existence, and the kidnappings of a number of students who were interested in Potential Expansion Training.

Pre-gens will be available (as always) but if you contact me sometime today, I can look over your character or we can build a character together.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Action scenes

SYSTEM: Any

The heart of comic books and comic book games are action sequences. While the players have a reason to be invested (they don’t want to lose the fight), a lot of fight scenes are boring. I ran across this recently: John Rogers on action scenes in movies. (This isn’t actually the one I was looking for, but I think this one is more generally useful.

To sum up: Don't write action sequences. Write suspense sequences that require action to resolve.

Yes, there will be a Drop-In tonight!

SYSTEM: ICONS

I know, it's late to promote anything, but there will be an ICONS Drop-In tonight at 7:00 EST on Roll20 for pictures and Google Hangouts for voice. I'll find the Roll20 link and edit it into here, for them as want to play for the first time and has a Roll20 account (and it's free, so why not?). (That link: https://app.roll20.net/join/2294285/pkU_rg )

We'll wrap up the K-OSprey story, but it's certainly at a point where anyone can join.

The story so far:

K-OSprey, Strange City's most notorious and lethal criminal (our Joker) killed the only child of billionaire Joshua Darcy. Earlier today, Darcy offered a ten million dollar reward for the person who K-OSprey and provides him with the body or incontrovertible truth. (He figures his lawyers can keep him out of jail.)

The heroes have deposited K-OSprey in what they hope is a safe place, and now they're dealing with at least one of the people who wants that ten million dollar reward...and Mr. Darcy has yet to be dealt with.

Known about K-OSprey:
  • Possibly multiple personalities, at least serious mood swings from criminally comedic to dadaistically lethal
  • Prefers to be called "it"
  • An apparently infinite number of winged harnesses, many with slightly different abilities
  • A gadgeteer of some repute
  • Not common knowledge: The players know that he can't actually be killed at the present time: Heaven won't take him and Hell doesn't want him, so he's effectively Immortality 10