Saturday, May 26, 2012

Presenting: The Starchild!

A couple of months ago, I took part in an actual play podcast for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.  That led to an invite to take part in an ongoing series featuring Mutants & Masterminds.  This past week, I recorded a character generation session, available here.

Because I didn't have anything in particular I wanted to play, and to honor last year's ICONS exercise, I decided to use the Quickstart Character Generator, included in the M&M Gamemaster's Kit.  You can hear the full process on the podcast, but here's the result:

Starchild - PL 10

Strength 0, Stamina 1, Agility 1, Dexterity 2, Fighting 1, Intellect 4, Awareness 6, Presence 4

Defensive Roll 7, Evasion 2, Improved Defense, Improved Initiative, Leadership, Set-up 2

Deception 8 (+12), Expertise: Astronomy 4 (+8), Perception 4 (+10), Persuasion 1 (+5), Stealth 8 (+9)

Cosmic Flight: Flight 5 (Speed: 60 miles/hour, 900 feet/round; Distracting)

Mental Attack Powers
   Inflict Blindness: Affliction 8 (1st degree: Impaired, 2nd degree: Disabled, 3rd degree: Unaware, Resisted by: Will, DC 18; Increased Range 2: perception)
   Mental Blast: Damage 6 (DC 21; Alternate Resistance: Will, Increased Range 2: perception)
   Mental Paralysis: Affliction 8 (1st degree: Dazed, 2nd degree: Stunned, 3rd degree: Paralyzed, Resisted by: Will, DC 18; Increased Range 2: perception)

Mind Reading: Mind Reading 5 (DC 15; Linked: Telepathy: Mental Area Communication 3)

Precognitive Reactions: Enhanced Fighting 1 (+1 FGT, Advantages: Defensive Roll 7, Evasion 2, Improved Defense, Improved Initiative)

Telepathy: Mental Area Communication 3 (Area, Linked: Mind Reading: Mind Reading 5)

Initiative +5
Grab, +1 (DC Spec 10)
Inflict Blindness: Affliction 8 (DC Will 18)
Mental Blast: Damage 6 (DC Will 21)
Mental Paralysis: Affliction 8 (DC Will 18)
Mind Reading: Mind Reading 5 (DC Will 15)
Throw, +2 (DC 15)
Unarmed, +1 (DC 15)
Enemy: ???: There are those whose awareness of Simon's alien parentage far exceeds his.  And although he is unaware of them, they are constantly monitoring his movements and his actions.  To what end?

Identity: In reality, Starchild is Simon Stern, an incoming freshman at Beacon University.  He hides his identity until such time as he completely understands his extraterrestrial heritage.

Motivation: Acceptance: Simon has been an outsider all his life: the child of a single mother (whom everyone in their small town considered insane), a brainy telepath in Coal Country.  In short, everything in his life to date has branded him as an outsider.  Beacon City represents his chance to change all that.

Motivation: Doing Good: Having grown up bullied, Simon is a firm believe in standing up for justice.  Back home, he couldn't use his powers to defend himself for fear of exposure.  Now, he can finally do something for the oppressed and downtrodden.

Quirk: When Simon uses his powers, his eye turn pitch black and seem to be filled with swirling spiral galaxies.  He's gotten reasonably good at concealing it, but if someone notices, it's obvious he's not a normal human being.


Dodge 12, Parry 12, Fortitude 4, Toughness 8/1, Will 10

Power Points
Abilities 36 + Powers 69 + Advantages 3 + Skills 13 (25 ranks) + Defenses 29 = 150

Everyone back in Morgansville knew that Maisy Stern was nuts even before she started claiming the UFO came down and got her.  Everyone knew she'd just run off to Pittsburgh with some fella she met somewhere, and when she had that little boy a few months later, that just proved it.

Of course, no one really cared about her enough to do the math and realize she'd only run off three months earlier and she wasn't pregnant then.  But the good people of Morgansville had better things to do than worry about Crazy Maisy.

Maisy knew better, of course.  She wasn't crazy. Not most of the time, anyway.  And she remembered everything.  Her car stopping dead in the middle of a backroad.  The bright shining light coming out of the sky.  And him...he was tall, and slim, and wore silver and green, and his eyes were like looking into the night sky.  He spoke without speaking and called her to him.  They flew off in his ship and she saw the world from space...

Simon grew up hearing this story at least once a week, almost daily once Mama figured out he was different.  The worst part was, he knew it was true the first time he accidentally read her mind.

Growing up in Morganville was an exercise in survival for anyone who didn't fit in with the miners' kids, and Simon definitely didn't fit in.  By the time he learned to control his powers, he'd already alienated his peers.  The best he could hope for was to use them subtly, to avoid the worst of the beatings and to keep his grades up (it's hard to fail a test when you can read the teachers' minds). 

His grades got him a scholarship to Beacon City U., where he plans to major in Astronomy and maybe put his heritage to a good use.  As the campaign begins, he's newly arrived in the big city...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Yeah, I'm a Lemming

I won't lie to you, Marge.  I've been looking forward to the open playtest of D&D Next for a while.  Not champing at the bit, but eager to see what they come up with.  A lot of the buzz on the street (so to speak) gave the indication that WotC figured out they'd lost the soul of the game.  4e is a terrific piece of game design, and I've enjoyed our ongoing game, but it doesn't feel like D&D to me.  Even 3/3.5/Pathfinder is usually too complicated and involved for me to really enjoy it.  The closest I've gotten to what feels "right" to me is Castles & Crusades, and it's got its own set of issues.

At this point, I've only managed to download the playtest docs, load them on my iPad, and take the briefest of looks at them on a bathroom break (lunch is still an hour away), but it looks pretty promising.  It seems simple and clean and, at first glance, the character roles look like what I expect from Dungeons & Dragon, not from game pieces designed to fill tactical roles.  Hopefully, I can give it a read through at lunch and get a better idea of what's going on.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm A Cowb...erm...A Samur...uhhh...I'm Awesome!

A while back, I helped back the Kickstarter for Gareth Skarka's brainchild Far West, an epic mashup of two things I dearly love:  Spaghetti Westerns and Wuxia films.  Thanks to my support level, I got to submit some photos to be turned into an NPC illustration.  A few weeks ago, they put up a preview of some of these portraits, a fact I managed to miss until this evening.  It turns out that one of the previews was this here handsome feller:

At this point, I've no idea who this guy is, but I'm dying to find out.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Brief, But Hopefully Informative, Rant

Dear Artists and Art Directors:

Far be it from me to tell you your work.  I myself struggled through six hours of college level art classes before I decided my aspirations far outstripped my talent.  I've messed around enough with art and layout and the associated subjects to know that I lack all but the most rudimentary chops in that regard.

However, I do know quite a bit about the use of Renaissance weaponry, the rapier in particular.  I've been fencing in a period style for over twenty years, and while I'm no expert among my peers, I think I know more about this subject than 9/10ths of the gaming/fantasy reading public.  So please, I ask you, take the following under advisement.

This is NOT how you hold a rapier:

You see all the ironworks up there ahead of the quillons (the cross of the hilt)?  That's to protect your finger or fingers when you do this:

Or this:

You might not think moving the hand up all of an inch or so and wrapping a finger or two around the quillons would make much difference, but in terms of balance, weight management (period rapiers are fairly hefty), and accuracy, it is simply EVERYTHING.

And while we're on the subject, this:

Is not only wrong, it's actively painful after less than a minute.

So when depicting someone using a rapier, please do a few minutes' research and get the grip right.  To my eyes, there's nothing worse than looking an illustration of an alleged master swordsman and seeing him holding the sword like the lever on a slot machine.

And while we're generally on the subject, here's how you hold the dagger when fighting rapier and dagger:

You put the point out toward your opponent.  If the dagger has any sort of hand protection, it should cover the BACK of the hand.  There's a natural inclination to put it over the fingers.  They're actually pretty well protected by the blade itself and the positioning of same.  The back of the hand and the lower arm are much more vulnerable, hence the ring/shell/other blocking thingie.

Here's the same grip, viewed from the other side (palm up):

Thus endeth the ranting.