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Everything posted by seneschal

  1. And yet those detestable, infectious, intolerant, conservative Christians were so dastardly as to express their concerns peacefully and legally. ("It's a trap!"). They utterly failed to smash game shop and bookstore windows and dump their inventory in the street. They proved completely useless at torching those shops and the businesses around them. They absolutely neglected to physically and verbally assault the merchants and their youthful customers, or to follow them home, or to shout and curse on their doorsteps, or to threaten their loved ones, or to attempt to ruin their careers. Oh, such perfidy! Oh, the humanity! Then, to make it worse, they suddenly forgot all about tabletop role-playing and briefly went after video games instead. "Devil May Cry," indeed!
  2. Well, I really didn't intend to start a "dump on Christians" thread. I mentioned the phenomenon merely because it influenced what games I purchased, not whether I role-played at all. Hollywood and the news media, definitely a secular non-evangelical bunch, whipped up public fears for fun and profit. The newsmen and TV execs were just as ignorant of tabletop miniatures war gaming culture (from which role-playing sprang) as any pastor. Apparently no adult, believer or atheist, could be bothered to actually pick up and read a rulebook or sit in on a game session to see what it was actually all about. Also, keep in mind the information available to concerned parents at the time. This was the pre-internet era. The big three networks controlled the news and Walter Cronkite's pronouncements were the way it was. There was no alternative media, no easy way to fact check claims. So when 60 Minutes, news magazines, and local newspapers ran scare stories, folks tended to believe them. Add to that paperback books condemning role-playing appearing at the grocery store check-out aisle, "expert" special speakers traveling church to church, and CBS airing "Mazes and Monsters" during prime time, well, what were people supposed to think? The controversy certainly didn't hurt TSR's sales.
  3. In recent decades I've tried to game with my wife and kids but they never got into it. Most successful tactical war game: Firefly Games' "Monster Island." Giant cryptids vs. the National Guard and each other, using toys as miniatures. My wife used a rubber Halloween spider, backed up with a leftover can of Silly String. Most successful role-playing game: Dark City Games' "Legends of the Ancient World," a brief free-to-download retroclone of "The Fantasy Trip." My dungeon crawl freaked them out, and they managed to evade the monsters until they were running out the front door.
  4. As I read through the various discussions here I get the impression that my role-playing experience may not have been the same as other enthusiasts. Call of Cthulhu, Pendragon and RuneQuest seem to be founded on massive, multi-chapter, pre-written campaigns. But my friends and I never played that way, for several reasons. No Spells For You! --- Fantasy role-playing was considered eeeeeeeevil In the 1970s and '80s. To avoid parental wrath we played (primarily) Classic Traveller, Champions, and Toon -- all safely non-magical. While there were published adventures and campaigns for each of these games (even Toon!), they tended to lend themselves to episodic play. Toon is based on 8-minute cartoons, Champions always devolved into a big brawl instead of focusing on detective work, and Traveller is deadly enough that I had my players roll up three or four spare characters apiece -- just in case. Who needs Grimtooth's Traps when you can perish simply for forgetting to zip up the fly on your spacesuit? Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin-Eater! -- GM duties always seemed to fall to me but my players either had more disposable income or more sympathetic relatives than I did. Did they purchase all the supplemental material for a given rules set? Would they read the sample adventures in the backs of the core rulebooks? Would they take advantage of their forbidden knowledge during play? What do you think? I had to come up with my own material, shamelessly stealing characters, locations and bits from comics, movies, and scenarios for totally unrelated games. How were my players to know that a particular starship or villain base was actually the layout for a local mall, museum, or school? A big, scary monster from one game is a big, scary alien for another. What's the difference between Kimo the sumo ninja, Barmoth the Terror of Pluto, and Dastard Duckly? I dunno. They're all voiced by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. You can figure out the game mechanics later. Huh? We Were Supposed To Play TODAY? -- Getting a group of three to six people together on a consistent basis is difficult, especially as those individuals age out of high school and college, get jobs and spouses and kids, move out of state, etc. The most sprawling "campaign" I managed ran 3-5 play sessions (honestly can't remember) and ultimately even one-shots became impossible. Given the skittishness of my associates, attempting a phonebook-sized epic with props and handouts would have been daunting even in high school. How did you guys manage it?
  5. Oh, I dunno. The Eloi and Morlocks had a long successful run descending the evolutionary ladder. Just avoid Aunt Fang's casserole at the annual family picnic. You never know who might be in it. (BTW, have you seen Cousin Ennis, recently?)
  6. Hmmm, don't have info on the book but "Black Label" usually means they charge you more, regardless of what the product is.
  7. You don't need a rune quest. You need a referee quest.
  8. The PCs could become Internal Champions, Fantastic Voyage style, with a strict time limit to complete their investigation/mission and get out
  9. Reading more reprints from 1940. Superman, defender of the weak and oppressed, can be quite the bully, using intimidation to get what he wants. He plays pretty rough even with the people he's trying to help. In one instance he tosses an honest union boss out a window to get him away from gangsters, assuming he can rush outside and catch the guy before he hits the ground. Good thing the union leader didn't have heart problems! He nerve pinches people into unconsciousness to keep them out of his way, even women, decades before Gene Roddenberry invented Vulcans. While he turns bad guys over to the police (sometimes) he is willing to disobey or rough up the cops if they attempt to thwart him. He routinely confronts or even threatens public officials. Superman is also willing to endanger or even kill criminals, especially ones who have attempted to kill him (even though he is invulnerable). It seems a "you reap what you sow" thing since The Man of Tomorrow can't claim his actions were in self defense. He leaves goons he has interrogated in precarious situations, casually destroys public roadways to catch crooks (and leaves the road that way for the next innocent traveler to crash into -- he's busy!), and causes master villains to perish in their own deathtraps. Sure, Superman isn't as lethal as pulp heroes such as The Spider or even rival superheroes such as Archie Comics' The Comet. But he's much more ruthless than the wise, fatherly character I read or watched on television in the 1960s. His attitude resembles that of The Eradicator of The Reign of the Supermen saga from the 1990s. Given that most of his opponents are ordinary people, his hard-nosed outlook and lack of accountability to anyone are kind of scary if you think about it too hard. In his world might does make right, and there isn't anyone -- good or evil -- who can restrain him. During these adventures Superman gradually expands his power set. He's been "faster than a streamline train" but now he's zipping in at the last moment to block bullets and knives with his body. He's still leaping and clinging to the sides of buildings rather than flying (at least in the comics -- he does fly on radio and in theatrical cartoons). Superman had keen senses but now he's exhibiting X-ray vision and super hearing for the first time, out of the blue and without any attempted explanation.
  10. Ahhhhhhh, but which Beauty and which Beast? Do you want 17th century drama, all-singing/all-dancing anime, urban '80s romance, or CW super soldiers? (The Winchester Bro.s scenario sounds like a friend's Heroes Unlimited game where the PCs were a SWAT team trying to get the drop on a group of super villains.)
  11. If you're going the low-magic route, you could decree that magic is only for NPCs and usually the bad guys. That way your players don't have to mess with it and your villains can simply do what they do without you having to delve into the mechanics too much. You might provide an occasional magic item (ring, sword, lamp, etc.) but those things are rare enough to be the focus of a particular adventure.
  12. The "Berlin '61" monograph is set in divided Cold War Germany if you want something with a military/real-world espionage feel. Plenty of political conspiracies as well as the supernatural ones. https://www.chaosium.com/berlin-61-pdf/
  13. I'd like to do Dan Garret, the original Blue Beetle, but the more I learn about him the tougher the job becomes. He was created by Fox Features Syndicate but Holyoke, who published these other characters, got ahold of him for a while when Fox used its best-selling title as collateral for a failed business deal. Holyoke published some of the Beetle's best stories but there never was any consistency in the writing and illustration. Garret was a rookie policeman who acted as an armored vigilante in his spare time. The impenetrable costume and the Blue Beetle's assorted gadgets were invented by Dr. Franz, a pharmacist/good-guy mad scientist whose drug store was on Garret's patrol beat. When Dan was shot up by gangsters while on duty, Franz used an experimental vitamin formula to save his life. The stuff not only healed Garret, it gave him super powers. And there begins the trouble. The Blue Beetle's abilities shifted around as often as his gloves changed from red to yellow. The 1940 radio serial indicated that the drug had permanently boosted Garret's strength, stamina and dexterity, but not outrageously so. In this version he was like The Phantom or Captain America, tough but not able to burst through walls like Superman. And he needed a car to get around. Holyoke's comics, however, indicated that the Blue Beetle needed a new vitamin dose every time he hit the streets. And he could leap away and bounce up tenement walls like Spider-Man (who wasn't around yet). In Fox's books the Beetle occasionally was as strong as The Man of Tomorrow and could fly or swim at tremendous speeds, depending on the needs of the tale at hand. Even Dr. Franz changed. Sometimes he was there, sometimes he wasn't. In one issue, he'd be a gaunt bearded fellow with a shock of unruly white hair. In the next he'd be plump with a cherubic shaven face and the white hair short and slicked back. Only his glasses and white coat ( indicating "scientist") stayed the same.
  14. Miss Victory Captain Fearless Comics, 1941 - Captain Aero Comics 1946 Does she or doesn't she? No, we're not talking about whether Miss Victory colors her gorgeous blonde tresses but whether the patriotic pugilist possesses actual super powers. While she appears to have "leveled up" late in her career, for most of her adventures it is hard to tell. Super strength? She routinely trashes six to eight beefy male goons at once, without the aid of a kid sidekick. She leaps to the top of 8-foot-tall walls. But she doesn't break down steel doors and hoist cars overhead. (She says "ouch" when she breaks down wooden doors). Invulnerability? She's so agile and acrobatic that no one can lay a glove on her, and bullets directed her way always miss. Flight? Well, late in the game she suddenly got her pilot's license but usually she drives her personal roadster to crime scenes. Joan Wayne, stenographer at the U.S. Department of Commerce, uses her office position to keep tabs on Nazi spies and saboteurs attempting to steal secrets and influence legislation in Washington, D.C. She's on a name basis with high-level bureaucrats and humble clerical staffers, able to gather clues and rumors from both without generating suspicion. Used to their comings and goings, Wayne can spot people who seem out of place pretty quickly. Miss Victory doesn't have an origin story, although it was suggested long after her adventures commenced that the F.B.I. may have planted her in the office pool. She is an Ohio girl who has snagged a well-paying government job, since she can afford a car and nice clothes. She seems like a regular person, having friends and a social life that have nothing to do with crime-fighting, being willing to take time off for actual vacations that aren't a cover for "the mission." It's not her fault that she runs into spies wherever she goes. Despite her good looks Wayne doesn't date or have a boyfriend, although she does flip her hair and flirt shamelessly with the cops or M.P.s who run to the scene where she's just clobbered a passel of thugs. Then she flees. She's an independent young woman having a good time. Miss Victory isn't an angry, angsty hero. She hands foreign spies alive to the authorities to be interrogated. She's less forgiving with American traitors. On her initial outing she tossed a collaborator out a high-rise office window and bragged about it later to his German handlers. On the whole, though, she's not particularly bloodthirsty. At the office Wayne wears wire-rim glasses and appropriate dresses. Off duty she sometimes loses the glasses and dresses up a bit. As Miss Victory she literally lets down her hair. She wears a blue long-sleeved blouse with white collar, a thin white belt and white Zorro-style mask, red gloves and wrestling boots, red shorts (which grew progressively shorter), and a cape. Victory apparently has more than one hero costume. Her cape can be red, blue or double-sided. Her top is usually plain but sometimes has a large white "V" that emphasizes her curves. In her first appearance it had a large white star but Captain America must have complained. STR 45 CON 12 SIZ 14 INT 13 POW 14 DEX 18 APP16 Move: 10 Hit Points: 13 (26 CON+SIZ) Damage Bonus: +3d6 Armor: 15 AP (kinetic, heat, sound) Attacks: Brawl 58%, 1d3+db; Grapple 58%, 1d3+db Skills: Bargain 42%, Climb 70%, Dodge 69%. Drive 53%, Etiquette 42%, Jump 58%, Knowledge (Accounting) 42%, Knowledge (Law) 42%, Knowledge (Stenography) 50%, Language (English) 65%, Listen 58%, Persuade 42%, Pilot (Airplane) 38%, Research 58%, Spot 58%, Status 48%, Technical Skill (Typing) 37% Powers -- Super Characteristic: +36 STR (36), +1 APP (1), +3 DEX (9) Armor: 15 AP (kinetic, heat, sound), (45) Leap, +1 meter vertical, +2 meters horizontal (1) Failings: None Notes: Miss Victory had 92 power points based on her unmodified characteristics and 630 skill points (including +130 INTx10).
  15. Part of the reason I haven't posted more write-ups is that, in game mechanics terms, many of the early mystery men are similar if not identical -- detectives with a gat and a hard fist. Take away the jumpsuit, cape or domino mask and they could easily swap places with Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. Some had a technological gimmick, an unusual origin story, or a unique (but not superhuman) talent that set them apart from the crowd. But they tended to be very much cut from the same cloth. The differences are in the story telling and presentation, something the numbers on a character sheet don't always reflect.
  16. Not related to BRP rules, but we've seen this scene in innumerable horror, mystery and jungle adventure films. Our intrepid heroes (the PCs) are caught in quicksand, helpless to evade the crocodile/giant snake/bog monster/spectral hound that is pursuing them. The adventurers sloshed right into the stuff and became trapped. The hungry monster moonwalks/does the Batusi across the mire as if its a sidewalk. What's the deal?
  17. It isn't one monster frozen in the hold. It's seven of them. Or rather, it is the would-be boy band "The Universals" seeking to promote their bubblegum glam-rock revival. Unfortunately, business has been as dead as Dracula's tomb. Now he's scheming to use the tour to cover an interplanetary crime wave, using the group's knowledge of disguise, sonics and special effects to cover their tracks. And of course The Universals will carefully plant clues to implicate the PCs if authorities catch on to their activities. The musicians could be just desperate thieves. Or maybe that is a cover for a convoluted espionage operation..
  18. One fun thing I've seen done for other games is to give your free ship some quirks to make it memorable. These can be pleasant, annoying, helpful or humorous -- as long as they don't significantly affect the vessel's overall performance but do help advance the GM's adventure. For instance, the crew quarters were recently upgraded and are particularly luxurious. Some of these luxuries may be embarrassing, or not yet programmed, or illegal on some worlds. Or the alarm clock always goes off 20 minutes after a PC has drifted off to sleep -- no matter what his duty schedule is. The engines are particularly fast but require lots of maintenance. Or they always develop a technical problem when the PCs encounter a derelict starship or apparently abandoned space station. The food processor delivers wonderful gourmet meals. Or it always gets a particular PC's order wrong. Or that gourmet menu was programmed by nonhuman aliens. The possibilities are endless.
  19. If They provide you with a ship and cargo, They can tell you where to go and what to do with it. Maybe They have means of keeping tabs on you to make sure you do as you are told. What happens if you slip up, or don't follow the plan due to circumstances beyond your control? What happens if They slip up, and you see something you weren't supposed to, or wind up someplace you weren't supposed to be, or get loaded with another carrier's cargo?
  20. For a smaller universe setting, check out vintage Buck Rogers strips. Action is limited to the Sol system -- but every large planetary body is inhabited by somebody, usually several somebodies, so there are plenty of potential foes and allies to encounter, lots of weird critters and exotic habitats, even ancient generation ships that got lost en route to someplace.
  21. In addition to Star Trek, check out the movies "Things to Come" (1936), "The Time Machine" (1960), "Planet of the Apes (1968) and "Logan's Run" (1976)," all presenting post-scarcity societies where "life keeps getting lovelier and lovelier." You never need to worry about where your next meal or your clothes are coming from, living space is free, no difficult decisions to make. Life is just one big party for the self-actualized. Oh, what about those dark tunnels or those brawny fellows in sable spandex? We don't talk about them. Look over here! Oooh, shiny?
  22. Mr. Fuzzytail still gets 1AP even though he's been downsized? You're more generous than my old boss. 😉 He can scan, but can he FAX afterwards?
  23. The Deacon Cat-Man Comics No. 1, 1941 We never learn the Deacon's real identity. All we know is that he was a mouthy young thug with dreams of becoming a big-time mob boss -- until he balked at committing murder and found himself hunted by his former companions. Wounded, he took refuge in abandoned Marshland Church and attempted to disguise himself by replacing his blood-stained clothing with the dusty vestments he found there. The ruse failed. However, his foes were distracted by the arrival of Mickey Matthews, a boy who liked to play in the old church and its grounds. Summoning his remaining strength, the would-be gangster knocked out the killers with a few well-placed punches. Both the boy and the policemen who hauled off the hit men mistook the young man for the church's new caretaker. He did a lot of thinking about his career choices during his recovery, meanwhile making friends with the curious Mickey. Adopting the persona of "the Deacon," he decided to battle crime instead of performing it, using Marshland Church as his headquarters. After all, no one would suspect a soft-voiced clergyman of being an. avenging detective, would they? Instead of mask and cape, the Deacon hides his identity with a slightly out-of-style brown suit and fedora worn over a minister's black shirt and clerical collar. He's carefully practiced his speech and walk to appear 10-15 years older than he really is. His religious garb and manner usually get him casual respect and cooperation from authorities and suspects, at least until he and Mickey start snooping. The Deacon isn't given to brilliant deductions. He's from the "let's poke around until the villains notice and try to stop us" school of detective work. Since he usually gets his man, the cops haven't bothered to probe his denominational bona fides. Though we don't know his history, the Deacon has to have undergone professional boxing training. He can drop almost any human opponent with two punches. He strikes with precision and he strikes hard. He knows how to use a pistol but doesn't carry one. He's a good enough actor and make-up artist to maintain an extended masquerade as a middle-aged man of the cloth even though he's never been to seminary. The Deacon's burglary skills are just good enough to get him into compromising situations, usually immediately after he's discovered an important clue. Which is why he needs Mickey to watch his back. Mickey Mathews follows the Deacon around the way Dennis the Menace pursues Mr. Wilson. He's a clever, observant kid of 9 or 10 -- not a Boy Wonder in terms of combat ability but surprisingly tough in light of all the hazards he's faced at the Deacon's side. (And just where are the boy's parents while all this is going on?) STR 16 CON 18 SIZ 14 INT 13 POW 9 DEX 10 APP 15 Move: 10 Hit Points: 16 (32 CON+SIZ) Damage Bonus: +1d6 Armor: None Attacks: Brawl 75%, 1d3+db+2; Grapple 75%, 1d3+db+2 Skills: Disguise 66%, Dodge 65%, Drive 40%, Fine Manipulation 50%, First Aid 40%, Insight 50%, Listen 70%, Martial Arts (Boxing) 62%, Perform (Acting) 70%, Perform (Oratory) 50%, Persuade 60%, Spot 70%, Stealth 55% Powers: Super Characteristic -- +4 DEX (12), +10 STR (10), +10 CON (10), +2 SIZ (2) Super Skills -- +20% each to Disguise and Acting (4) Unarmed Combat, 1 level, +2 AP to limbs for parrying blows (20) Defense, -65% vs enemy attacks Failings: None Notes: The Deacon had 500 professional skill points plus 130 personal skill points (INTx10), total 630. I randomly rolled really low stats, giving him only 70 power points based on unmodified characteristics. Thirty-four of these were-spent getting him off crutches and a respirator. I left his POW at 9 since the Deacon tends to be unlucky. He also doesn't have Etiquette skill. If he ever has to engage with real clergymen he may get himself in trouble.
  24. Ouch! Cat-Man and the Kitten don't typically slay their opponents, although the bad guys' actions may result in their own deaths. Fisticuffs are the order of the day. Hit-Girl and her mentor go out armed, expecting to off some criminal scum. On the other hand, the Kitten is no stranger to violence, and she wouldn't confront Hit-Girl without first thoroughly studying her from the shadows. And she is used to fending off weapon-wielding foes with her bare hands. Both kids know how to fight dirty. Tough call. Katie Conn has morals. Mindy McCready is amoral. She'd try to murder the Kitten by default. Conn would attempt to incapacitate Hit-Girl without killing her. Your Kick-Ass reference is apt. Like Big Daddy, many popular Forties superheroes had no supernatural abilities. They were simply tough, athletic guys (and gals) in a mask who were willing to take on the criminal element with their fists and perhaps an automatic pistol. A surprising number of them were frustrated off-duty policemen.
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