Podcasts and Blogs

Episode 53: GM Library Part 3
Regular Shows

 
 
00:00 / 48:15
 
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Main Topic

 

Guard-A-Manger

Poetics, Aristotle – The definitive book that describes and details the components of narrative tradition and the importance with which to address them – it is the oldest piece of literary and dramatic theory extant.  While written with the Greek Theatrical tradition in mind, it serves to this day as a blueprint for any story teller to understand how to approach an audience. The Poetics second part that dives deeper into Comedy is lost to time (or maybe not depending on certain research), but the breakdown of the parts of a story and what matters will inspire you either in agreement or in opposition to this day.

 

Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail `72, Hunter S. Thompson – A lot of games involve political intrigue and the power that congregates around them. Hunter S. Thompson provides his signature gonzo look at the 1972 election that is in many ways far deeper an insight to the human condition and experience than his more famous collection.  If you want to see not only a peek at the power structure, but also what I suspect is an iconoclastic and irreverent view our audience would find desirable. HST in a car with Pres. Nixon. You know you want to read it.

 

The Philip K. Dick Reader, Philip K. Dick – PKD has put into play decades of popular culture and futurism that you are already familiar with.  Total Recall. Minority Report. Blade Runner. All of these come from PKD stories. You need to read how these ideas came about and how they shape our conception of a popular future.  Philip K. Dick challenged the mindset of entire generations by applying his unforgettable prose to science fiction that reverberates across the years.

 

Zendead

Eastern Philosophy, Learn about thoughts and ideas from outside our Western thoughts. The lessons are different and rooted in religion as well as thought.

 

Imagica, I feel like this book was a crazy spiral of worldbuilding that shows just how crazy you can get if you let your mind run with a tangent and come back and do it again. I feel like the characters are awesome and rich and multilayered. Everything in this book can give inspiration and draw you into it. One of Clive Barker’s best works in long form storytelling.

 

Joules Watts

Slaughterhouse Five – I’m a huge lover of Kurt Vonnegut.  Focused on the bombing of Dresden, the story follows the life of Billy, a man who becomes “unstuck” in time.  The non-chronological style of writing in this book can be a little jarring at first. But it follows Billy’s life in real time as he becomes unstuck.  This book has a few “sci-fi” elements of time slips and aliens, but doesn’t feel like a sci-fi book. Those elements are used to serve the story. I’d recommend this book for its amazing non linear narrative.  Seeing its execution may give you some inspiration on how to handle non-linear storytelling in your own game.

 

Shaken and Neat – These are Shadowrun Novels by Russell (Rusty) Zimmerman.  Russell is a fantastic author, game designer and history professor.  (Full disclosure, Rusty happens to be a dear friend of mine.) The reason I’m recommending his writing is that he is able to take the Noir/Pulp style and use it to tell a terrific cyberpunk story.  His stories show that you can mix and match styles and genres and still tell a cohesive story. So if you have a friend who enjoys old school detective stories but is unfamiliar with cyberpunk, his novels can serve as a gateway.  He also has done some work on Earthdawn (fantasy) and other game IP. Thing is that his work is never just a “fantasy” or “Sci-fi.” He always blends it with other styles. So his writing is helpful in showing how blending is done well.

 

Nulloperations

Dragonlance Chronicles – While many RPGs follow common universal story concepts, sometimes it works to see exactly how an RPG company sees their universe. The original Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Winter Night, and Spring Dawning, helped establish TSR’s world of Krynn and what the knights, elves, and dragons of that realm are like. The stories provided many potential adventure hooks that could be tied into short or long campaigns for adventurers looking to fight it out with the minions of the dark goddess Takhisis.

 

Beyond this series, following the stories and fiction provided by RPG developers can lead to the creation of campaign ideas from even minor details while reading about a setting’s heroes. Shadowrun gives an in-game example of this as events in the Secrets of Power Trilogy cause the events of the adventure module, Total Eclipse. A repercussion of events that were impactful in the story lead to bigger trouble half a world away.

Lexicon

Cognomen    noun cog·no·men  \ käg-ˈnō-mən , ˈkäg-nə- \

 

Definition of cognomen

1 : surname; especially : the third of usually three names borne by a male citizen of ancient Rome — compare nomen, praenomen
2 : name; especially : a distinguishing nickname

 

Origin and Etymology of cognomen
Latin, irregular from co- + nomen name

 

First Known Use: 1691

 

Popularity: Bottom 30% of words

 

Closing remarks

Zendead- Infidel from Image Comics

 

Joules-Extra Sci-Fi

 

Guard-a-Manger- Preludes, Debussy – Impressionist style piano pieces that explored the nature of harmony available with the piano around 1910.

 

Nulloperations- SCP: Confinment on Youtube

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

Find us

Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter

 

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

Find us on Patreon

Another of the newer characters in the Argonauts that I came up with in Volume II is Titan.  A fairly expected name for a larger than human super strong brick. My one sketch is done when had only a handful of colored pencils available, but it at least gives an idea of what was in my head. 

 

System Notes

 

For the most part, designing a brick or tank character is really straightforward! They need to be strong and they need to be tough.  This is often easily accomplished in superheroic systems. In Mutants and Masterminds, the first thing to look at is the Strength and Toughness Attributes! Building out our standard brick will get us to a 13 Strength and Toughness with the attributes being otherwise unremarkable because we are spending the points elsewhere.  Trust me.

For standard and expected Brick powers, I am going to add in 2 ranks of innate growth for an

 

 obvious superhuman size and weight that makes a secret identity impossible.  That boosts the Strength and Toughness by 2 each as well, but does knock down the dodge and parry defenses. We will make the 15 Toughness an Impervious Toughness so that any attacks below 8 ranks are just completely ignored – this is the power advantage that is for the bullets literally bouncing off the brick’s skin with nary a scratch! In Mutants and Masterminds, the enhanced traits can be purchased as either the traits themselves or as powers separately.  If you purchase them as powers, you can push them and it can help define what special effect is the bases for the powers. I bought Titan’s attributes flat out in the character creation, but put a few “naked” modifiers to apply to all or part of his Strength and Toughness in his power set, like the Imperviousness for his Toughness or the Array of Super Strength maneuvers he likes to use.

Now we start to make this Brick a little bit more distinct.  I added a little speed and quickness to Titan to simulate to enhanced running speed their strength allows and added the de rigeur Leaping for faster travel.  The image of the brick making the “superhero” landing on one knee with one fist down and the earth cracking beneath them is too classic not to build in.

One thing I really like to do is build a suite of power effects in a “Brick Tricks” category of ways the Brick can use their strength.  In Mutants and Masterminds, that means using an Array of Alternate Effects! First, I know that I want to add 5 ranks of extra strength only for lifting to have the truly monumental efforts but also so that the hero can push that strength as a power which you can’t do as just the attribute.  Next, I throw in a Gorgon Stomp which is an area burst damage with a linked inexpensive Control Environment – Earth to create movement penalties with some side effects of actually tearing up the ground. To counteract his low chance to hit, a bull rush clothesline of an attack is getting added which creates an Area of Effect for his strength in a line! If he is indiscriminate, he can just barrel through people with his strength and body.  I pretty much skipped the Advantages part of this build because of how utterly Strength loaded Titan is. For his skills, I focused on Athletics and a few more ranks of combat skills to help him out. I added his Expertise in Accounting and Telecommunications as befits his background.

Finally, as the character notes will explain, Titan has been manifesting some thunder and lightning based abilities.  They are very minor compared to his strength right now, but important to some of his complications and to his overall character and story development. It amounts to approximately the difference between a Power Level 10 and a Power Level 11 character.

The Complications from Mutants and Masterminds blend the nature between the crunch of construction and the incoming character notes.  Every starting character has a Motivation and one other Complication which, if they come up in a session, may allow for Hero Points to be earned. Titan’s Motivation is Doing Good; he truly does see his powers as a way to protect the weak and vulnerable literally standing between them and harm. Meanwhile his Complication is his Family! As an over 8 foot tall and nearly 8 foot wide CPA, it is hard to hide who he is which means that his friends and family are often in harm’s way.  As a Power Level 11 character who has been through at least one volume of the comic book, he also has the added Complication of Temper – His temper is beginning to grow more and more powerful and he is struggling to keep it under control or understand where this sudden increase in ager is coming from.

Character Notes

Titan, or Babatunde Olawaye, grew up in Nigeria while it was under a military control.  It was a time of predators, both swathed in official titles and not, who took advantage of many of the Nigerian people. Babatunde was born after his father was one of the people who died at the hands of the lawless who took advantage of Nigeria’s political state. A precocious child with a distinct sense of right and wrong, he grew quickly and by the time he was ten, had easily broken 6 feet tall.  It was then that his powers were realized, when he stood in front of a jeep and stopped it with one hand.

It was not the time to question how or why these powers were blessed upon Babatunde, as he had people and family to protect.  It was a thankless job for several years, but the Global Commonwealth Agency eventually stepped in. When the ruling junta decided to expand it’s borders, it ran afoul of GCA jurisdiction and it was something that could be addressed. Babatunde saw this and saw that there was good in the world.  People could be better.

Chastened by his family, though, Babatunde only continued his heroics in disguise and in the time he could take away from his studies.   His mother was skeptical or his desire to change the world, and seemed more interested in his completion of his studies and moving to the capital for a quiet job.  

It’s hard, though, for an 8 foot tall super strong, super tough person to have a quiet job. Even in Lagos, he stood out.  Hired into a Telecom as a CPA, his company knew there was more to him, and quietly turned a blind eye to his being late to work and sometimes disappearing.  He humble demeanor and infectious laughter were his excuses … little did Babatunde know his “secret” had never been a secret. It was around this time The Argonauts became public knowledge and Babatunde again saw the GCA saving people.  He knew what was next in his life.

When Shining KNight had taken a leave from The Argonauts, and others had died, Babatunde took a chance that his growing exploits in lagos, and Nigeria, would be enough to help him help others through the Argonauts.  He was right.

Titan revealed himself publicly, though most of Lagos shrugged as it was the worst kept secret in the country.  His mother worried and fussed. His company was glad to take the publicity of having an honest to gosh Hero on the payroll for years.  Babatunde himself felt proud to stand against the evils of the world and to protect even more people than he had before.

Lately, though, Babtunde’s gregarious laughter has lately grown darker.  He has felt his anger beginning to rise up in the back of his throat, and a streak of viciousness is forming. At the same time, a crackle of lighting will play across his skin when he is under extreme duress, and a clap of thunder to deafen those around him has left him as shocked as his opponents. It was in a recent battle with Totem that has given Titan the most pause.  Totem smiled, in the way only the animated and fanged head of a dead animal can, and told Titan to ask his mother if the deal she made with Sango has come due.

Argonauts Overview Here.

Titan Character Sheet here.

Mutants & Masterminds © Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. References to other copyrighted material in no way constitute a challenge to the respective copyright holders of that material. Mutants & Masterminds, Super-powered by M&M, Green Ronin, and their associated logos are trademarks of Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. Please also see the Open Game LIcense from Wizards of the Coast regarding the use of the d20 system and underlying components that are not designated product identity of Green Ronin Publishing.
Imagery created with Hero Machine 3.

Episode 52: Healthy Practices for Long Term Gaming
Interview Show

 
 
00:00 / 1:03:47
 
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Main Topic

Here is where we get to be Game-Mom and Game-Dad to tell you to take better care of yourselves! Long Term Gaming means taking better care of yourself and to have some over all, and table specific, healthy practices. A quick disclaimer – we are not licensed medical or health professionals! Please consult an appropriate professional for medical and health advice.  

 

Overall

Nutrition –  Understanding that there are people who have specific medical dietary requirements that may differ, good gaming means having a well balanced diet which means you need to have a balance of fruits, veggies, carbs, and protein in your lead up to the game.  Yes, you can use vitamins and supplements, but overall eating real food to get these nutrients is best. This is a long term goal because it goes to your mental and physical energy level and well being. There are lots of conflicting research and studies about the *best* diet out there, but as a general rule of thumb, the old balanced diet that comes from whole foods will do you right.

 

This includes hydration.  Make sure you have enough water, and not just a lot of drinks that will do nothing more than have you more dehydrated! Tea, coffee, alcohol, all those lovely things are not sufficient for this purpose.  Drink your water.

 

Short term, while you play, include for sure both carbs and protein.  Your brain needs both to function well and when you undertake intellectually intensive activities you will find yourself craving them.  An unhealthy, but delicious gaming snack is a nicely loaded pizza! If you want to be healthier, hummus with a plate of pita and a bowl of fruit can keep your table going for a long time.

 

Sleep – You’ve heard it before, and you’ve scoffed before just like I have, but a regular sleep schedule is going to be good for your health, mental focus, and energy.  To the best extent you can, try to get your sleep on a regular schedule and listen to your body when it is tired. You should probably be getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night, but that’s an aspirational goal for me too. Also, shut off your electronic screens before you get in bed! The particular light of our electronic devices seems to interfere with melatonin production and then the quality of our sleep. Chemical stimulants are *not* a proper long-term substitute for sleep.  If you want the neuropsych on that, we can provide it in person.

 

Short term, make sure you have good sleep the night before you game so that you are fresh for the game and ready to roll your d20s! If you only game irregularly, make this when you break that schedule and recover later, but if you are gaming on a regular basis, like you lucky weekly players out there, schedule your times to keep all of you healthy and rested.

 

Physical Exercise – We’ll refer back to the disclaimer with nutrition and overall that you should consult and listen to the appropriate licensed medical or health professionals about your personal activities.  Some level of activity is good for you! This doesn’t mean you have to become a gym rat or a power walking fiend, but getting enough movement every day to help counteract our often sedentary work environments will do wonders for your overall health, energy, and mental focus.  When you add to that the fact that a lot of our hobbies involve being sedentary around a table or on a computer, this becomes doubly important.

 

Short term, if you are doing serious exercise that results in that ever so pleasant burn of muscle growth the day or two after your exercise, schedule your workouts so leg day isn’t leaving you sore sitting down the whole time!

 

Posture – This is similar to exercise, but we have to make sure we take care of our posture.  Check your work area, and make sure that your layout is ergonomic and working with your body.  Keep your computer monitor elevated enough so that you don’t have to look up or down the entire time you are staring at it.  Stretch your shoulders back out, by rolling them from front to back every hour 10 times to help counteract the shoulders rolling forward from being too hunched over the computer.  Or get a weight lifting/resistance exercise plan going to strengthen your shoulders and neck. For the love of all that is worth praising, stop holding your smartphones by your navel and tilting your head down to stare at it! You are increasing the effective weight and stress on your neck; hold your phone higher so you can read it more comfortably.  

 

Short term, catch me at a Con and i’ll demonstrate, but check the show notes and recommendations for a well regarded technique for posture.

 

Other Healthy Traits – Self care means keeping an eye on your own needs.  If you are required to take medication, set your schedules and and reminders to make sure that you are on your recommended schedule.  If you need to have certain foods, make sure that you have them ready (and if you are playing rather than GMing, let your GM or host know that you have some dietary requirements).

Stat Blocks

Zendead-

Nothing right now I have been going crazy with fixing the website.

 

Joules – Tabula Rasa, Inc

Do you remember when you were young, and reading Philip K. Dick’s “We can Remember it for you Wholesale”   It’s a literary classics with deep dives on the the amorphous nature of memory and reality. But honestly, the idea of having full realistic adventures downloaded into your brain was just a cool concept. Well, we here at Tabula Rasa, Inc. have brought this concept to mankind for the first time.  Tabula Rasa is a hospice/convalescent enterprise that promises that your remaining time on this planet will be your greatest adventure. Terminal residents are able to spend their final moments on this earth living through a tailor made experience just for them.

 

When admitted to our facility each resident is given full brain scan and psychological workup.  This helps our storymakers build the ideal final adventure. Then each resident is brought to their dedicated sensory tank.  We make sure that all end of life paperwork is taken care of with the assistance of our on site legal advisors before the resident is wired up to the simulation and then submerged in the tank.  And the simulation starts.

 

Our residents are able to spend their final moments pain free and completely mobile inside their own unique neural adventure.  And real time updates allow our storymakers to adapt the experience, so that our residents are able to finish their adventure before they pass away.  Death once said, “HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN.” So what we offer, at the very end, is the opportunity to be the quintessential human.

 

Almost every convalescent home promises dying with dignity.  We at Tabula Rasa, Inc. promise dying with humanity.

 

Guard-a-Manger- Codex Scientia

Every once in a while, you will come across a compilation, a data store, a newfangled “book” that holds wonder and promise.  More often than not, that promise is in the form of a new story or idea that captivates and delights the most imaginative parts of your brain.  Then there is the Codex Scientia.

The Codex Scientia isn’t really a book or data chip but a passkey into existing knowledge.  You see, while we collect so much data about our lives today, in the starfaring future of the Codex, the government and companies collect it all.  The codex is a backdoor key into a program that crosschecks and collates all the different databases in the known system. All the stories that are being told in real time in real life at your fingertips.  All the secrets laid bare for you to dig through, soak in, and seek out.

 

A nondescript slip of paper or data entry gave you this key, this almost magical font of knowledge, but every time you access the Codex, it’s owners come one step closer to finding where you are.  What you don’t know can kill you when it comes from beyond the edge of the system and has been laying its plans out with the Codex for the past century.

 

Nulloperations- Catalog : The Elevator Call Button

A faded and torn piece of paper reveals a page of the notorious catalog. On it you find the listing for…

 

The need for vertical movement comes as a necessity when exploring lost ruins, deep caves, or the sunken towers of the antediluvians. The modern world provides with the elevator call button; a wonderful device that can bring forth an ascending carriage regardless of the structure. Yes, with this device firmly placed against a wall, the service button will manifest a doorway into a box of tile and steel. The lift attendant will provide professional courtesy to applicable empty spaces above and below their bound and tethered work space in a polite and friendly manner.

 

Caution! Do not attempt to operate the lift yourself. Do not disobey the lift attendant’s commands. Do not attempt to call the otherworldly beings who are known only as maintenance. No help is coming. No help is coming. No help is coming.

 

The elevator call button. Up, up, and away.

 

Order with caution. All purchases recorded, and authorities will be notified.

Lexicon

Primal  adjective  pri·mal \ ˈprī-məl \

 

Definition of primal
1 : original, primitive
2 : first in importance

 

Origin and Etymology of primal
Medieval Latin primalis, from Latin primus first

 

First Known Use: 1604

 

Popularity: Bottom 50% of words

Closing remarks

Zendead- Kypton on SyFy

 

Joules-Jekyll

 

Guard-a-Manger- The Alexander Technique is a method of movement and posture that helps you move in a more comfortable and relaxed manner.  While some of the underlying health claims about The Alexander Technique are not supported by research, it will help you with posture and stress.

 

Nulloperations- I’m alive again

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

Find us

Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter

 

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

Find us on Patreon

A psychic character can be used for all sorts of interesting builds and useful powers for a team.  I will admit that this is a reskin of an existing idea because when I went back and was pulling characters out to use, a fiery bird of prey inspired telepath and telekinetic seemed a little too derivative even for me. Naming conventions for psychic heroes and villains in comic books will often revolve around some sort of mind or brain reference, or just using “psi” in place of “si” in a word.  Those are pretty well taken by the existing comic companies. Instead, Bright Star, or Estrele Brilhante, is a Power Level 11 character that came in on Volume II of the comic book series about the same time as Titan whose name refers to the bright manifestations of her psychic power. Because this is a reskin, I also don’t have a sketch from my youth for you to laugh at, so we will just have to use our imaginations.  

System Notes

Bright Star’s abilities are going to be pretty low over all.  I am going to focus most of her points into her mental powers.  Instead of focusing on the Intellectual side of many psionics, I am going to go ahead and make the Awareness and Presence at 5.  She will have a strong force of will, but isn’t a braniac like Atomic Avenger.

Moving on to what is going to be the main part of our work here – Powers! I used an Array, a collected list of Alternate Effects, for the different kinds of energy blasts that Atomic Avenger would frequently use, but another way to use an Array is to make it a Dynamic Array.  This lets you balance the total number of points between the different Alternate Effects in the power block. Instead of going all or nothing, a dynamic array gives you a little more flexibility but costs 2 points per alternate effect instead of 1. For Bright Star’s Telekinetic powers, I built a Teke-er Dynamic Array.  Telekinetic powers cover a lot of options, so I looked at using it for Flight, Protection, a Blast, and classic Telekinetic manipulation. Beyond that, I added some specialized slots like a Penetrating Blast or a Broader TK Force Field to protect others. Because it is a dynamic array, Bright Star can have her full TK Shield up and still have a few points of Levitation to stay mobile. These are all bright and colorful manifestations of her Telekinesis, so the overall Array has the Noticeable effect.  There is no sneaking around with the bright and colorful representations of the Telekinetic powers on display.

COnversely, I am putting the telepathy powers into a standard Array, Tepe-er, because they are not often going to be persistent or ongoing. A lot of the powers here are single shot attacks.  A common advantage for Mutants and Masterminds psychic powers is to give an attack an Alternate Defense – Will. Most heros will have a lower Will defense compared to Fortitude or Toughness. A Psychic Blast or Psynaptic Shutdown won’t be defended with Toughness so we add an advantage to go against the less common defense.  Finally, look at Mind Control which is an Affliction power to put Dazed, Compelled, and Controlled onto a character but it limited to a perception range and can take a while.

Outside of the two Arrays, I put three general utility powers – Mind Net which is an advantaged Communication to allow Bright Star to act as a mental command and control for The Argonauts; Linguistic Telepathy allowing a Comprehend Languages power based on telepathy; and Mental Leech which is the Advantage Beginners Luck that allows a way to try any skill but the special effect here is “borrowing” the knowledge from someone within her range. Since she can Mind Net across an entire country, I didn’t actually take any points back in that build.

The other three advantages are all based on Psychic Powers as well – Uncanny Dodge is a danger sense sort of ability but Bright Star can pick up on the hostile intent of the attack while Assessment is more about seeing what that opponent thinks they abilities are and Eidetic Memory is always a good one for a psychic to have. Skills are pretty light for Bright Star outside of some Ranged Combat skills to be able to hit with her attacks and then the Expertise skills of Sociology and Dance!

The Complications from Mutants and Masterminds blend the nature between the crunch of construction and the incoming character notes.  Every starting character has a Motivation and one other Complication which, if they come up in a session, may allow for Hero Points to be earned. Bright Star’s Motivation is Compassion; hearing the thoughts of others and raised as a charitable Catholic leave Maria with only one truth – that she must help those who are in pain all around her. Her Complication is Responsibility because she couldn’t leave well enough alone, the dance troupe she now runs is also an outreach and support center meaning that many more people rely on Maria Silva when she is out of her costume. As a Power Level 11 character, and additional Complication for her is Self-Doubt – when she fails to help or save someone, she can be wracked with guilt and whether she is doing more good than harm by taking up this mantle.

Character Notes

Sao Paolo is one of the largest and densest cities on the planet. Maria Silva’s Catholic upbringing was somewhat of a salve to her family’s constant precipice of disaster but it was her hope and joy on the stage that propelled her through childhood.  A dedicated and gifted dancer, Maria was rapidly recognized by her family as someone who had a way out … a way up in Brazil if only she could get in front of the right people to see her talents. Her parents fretted and worried; Maria danced her heart out.

A college education was something that definitely helped move Maria towards a solid middle class existence and the chance of breaking out as a dancer.  She was quite bright, but rarely applied herself until she found Intro to Sociology. She was intrigued by the idea of studying how groups behaved and how their culture shaped that behavior – so much to say about Brazil write large and her own community writ small. These were her two loves – Sociology and Dance.  

These loves didn’t always make ends meet and in time, she was scaping by and couldn’t ask her parents for help – they had fallen on hard times as well.  She saw an advertisement for volunteers for a medical trial. It should be simple money. She was young enough that as long as it didn’t interfere with her dancing, it should be fine.  

You won’t be surprised to learn it wasn’t fine.  The company behind the trial was working with unlicensed extraterrestrial biologicals … it was no secret that sometimes you used an alien gene splice these days in making the drugs but this strain hadn’t been vetted for human compatibility.  The results were … unexpected to say the least. Maria woke up with her eyes glowing floating off the bed where she was being monitored. The company was ecstatic, to say the least, until Maria began to hear their thoughts – This was to be a way to sell weapons of war across the globe; this was a way to exploit the contracts to be signed; the powers she had were not what they expected but more than enough to put a stop to this test.  Thankfully, this was their only prototype experiment, but not their only success. In the process of breaking out and tearing down the facility, Maria fought another victim of the experimentation. This hulking behemoth would eventually be known as Melancholy of the Four Humours, but started out as a natural disaster in the making in the middle of Sao Paolo.

It could have been worse.  That was what Maria told herself and what the media cheered – she had stopped that rampage before even more were killed.  But there were casualties. She had enough time with her injured parents to see in their hearts with her powers and to hear how much they loved her.  To hear how proud they were in their dying breath.

And to hear her called a “Bright Star” in the sky saving as many as she could.

She rose up and has ever since to protect Brazil, and especially to protect people like her parents and the underserved of Brazil’s dichotomous society.  She finished school, and did find a way to dance for her job, but her living became rising above Sao Paolo, and Brazil, to save those that needed hope in their lives.

Argonauts Overview Here

Bright Star Character Sheet Here.

Mutants & Masterminds © Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. References to copyrighted material in no way constitute a challenge to the respective copyright holders of that material. Mutants & Masterminds, Super-powered by M&M, Green Ronin, and their associated logos are trademarks of Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. Please also see the Open Game LIcense from Wizards of the Coast regarding the use of the d20 system and underlying components that are not designated product identity of Green Ronin Publishing.
Imagery Created with HeroMachine 3.

Episode 51: Convention GMing
Regular Shows

 
 
00:00 / 1:07:20
 
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Main Topic

Info on the Main Topic goes here.

If you are the volunteering type, you may have been roped into volunteering to run games at a convention! Convention GMing is its own peculiar species of GMing and requires a different set of tricks than you may use for your own home game! This week, we have a special guest – Bull the Best Ork Decker you’ve never met, is joining the Seize the GM crew to talk about running games at conventions and what sort of adjustments may be needed for you to take on this vaunted task.

 

  1. Be aware of time! At a convention, you are more a slave to the time of the session.  Each convention is a space premium so how you keep a group on track at a convention is a specific task of steering them in the right direction without it being rails. Both the people running the game and the players have other events to get to! Keep a clock handy and don’t be afraid of asking the players to tighten up the game.
  2. Know what Paths are Available! Each story and each scene has a way in and a way out – know that those ways out are more limited and know what the ways forward are. Players are creative; let their ideas find one of the existing paths or make sure they fail spectacularly.
  3. Deal with Players who may derail! Start by taking the attention of the player privately.  Have a quick conversation off table about how they are disrupting it for the rest of the players. If you have a room captain, make sure you know how to get their attention and what it takes to have someone removed from a room.
  4. Engage All The Players at the table! Give every player an opportunity to act with agency and to engage the game.  Make sure the chance is there but don’t force the issue. Everyone is there to have fun so make sure everyone has an opening to be involved. Be aware of any limitations or assistance a player needs in the hectic chaos of the game room.
  5. Take Care of Yourself! Don’t forget bio breaks, water, coffee, and snacks that you need to be a functional humans. Give yourself mental space to decompress or to be able to handle confrontational players – talk; stretch your legs; get to a place you can be simple.

 

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Stat Blocks

Zendead- Grouper

 

In the darkness after the collapse of the world generations will pass before they can truly start to rebuild. But even then the people that will come out of it will have changed. Maybe from the fallout maybe from the shift of the poles. But for some reason mystical energy has flooded the planet. This is the world Grouper lives in. She is the truest Urban Primitive. She has made this urban wasteland her home finding relics of the lost time. Finding her in this place is possible if you have read the signs.

 

Grouper is unique in that she is trying to rebuild a society. She uses her talents and her true power to get wanders to come to find her and her tribe. Her true power is maybe mystical or maybe it is a mutation, but it is powerful. She is able to shape concrete and metal and glass into shapes that it has never been in. Also the scale is part as well. When she takes and molds the old structures of the lost age into symbols and language that you can see from outside of the old places. These tell you where you can find her or places she can find you. Do you look for her. Of course you do that watercan isn’t going to fill itself after all.

 

Joules – Crystal Hearts

 

They’ve corrupted everything loved and cherished..

All treasured memories covered in sludge and tar.

All protections lost.

Then there is a light.

It’s warm.  Almost too bright to look at. There’s a figure there.  A silhouette so sharp you could almost cut your finger on the edge.  

The Crystal Hearts. A subset butterfly warriors. They are the most powerful warriors that fight against the denizens of closetland.  These are the children who combined their soul with the power of their belief. They are the only warriors from whom the seven kings flee. Even the Boogieman knows to give them a wide berth.

Why haven’t they won against the darkness?

 

Unfortunately it’s part of the pact they make when they merge their soul and their belief.  The Crystal Hearts… They burn so bright but for only half a lifetime. And they no longer can raise arms for themselves.  They can only raise arms on behalf of someone else. They can only go on the offensive in the act of defense. They no longer can defend themselves.  They can only defend someone else

 

How far would you go?  What would you risk? What keeps your fighting?  When everything is stripped from you, and you can no longer lift your arms to defend yourself?  How do you find the strength to fight on? Would you throw your life away to defend a weakling. A stranger.  A nobody.

 

Guard-a-Manger – The Most Glorious and Exalted Congress of Fine Fellows and Distinguished Ladies

 

Greetings and Salutations! Why, yes, you were expected here amongst your fellows.  Who am I? Oh, that should be not of your concern, young Master. I am not more than furniture and not less than a butler.  I buttle well.

You can place your coat and bag here in the foyer and I shall attend to them. Your meeting is about to begin and I would not want you to make a poor first impression at the table.  Why, yes, the study is down the hall and to the left young Master. You shan’t miss it opposite the globe in the hall. I do expect you are just in time to hear about the next stage of the plan.

Oh, it wouldn’t be my place to discuss that plan.  That is for you and your fellows who have made the preparations.  I will be just an observer to this and to the inevitable future. Oh, pish posh.  I am quite certain you are exactly where you should be.

That is of no matter that you hadn’t realized the congress was tonight.  Your arrival was ordained and, as I have already mentioned, you were expected.  

Now, off with you to the study! The dimensional rifts shan’t open without your vote!

I will bring along tea and crumpets presently.  

 

Nulloperations – The Coin of Cats and Dogs


It’s large for a coin, taking up your entire palm from pinky to thumb, and is embossed with the mold of a dog on one side and a cat on the other. As you turn it over though, you notice the size of the canine and feline figures seem to change, large, small, heavy, scrawny. Never quite the same, but distinctly cat on one side and dog on the other.

 

It’s only when you’re out on the town and trying to pass the time you notice something odd. First, as you’re holding the coin, any dog or cat you see seems to have a glow to them. Not a true light source, but as if the very colors radiating off them are set several stages higher. Your eyes are drawn to them.

 

And then you flipped the coin.

 

The coin lands cat side up, and the dog you look at suddenly shifts to an identical image of the impression of a cat. Large, fluffy, and all together very undog like. You pick up the coin and flip it again. Dog side, only this dog is leaner, muscular, like some noble’s hunting dog rather than the mutt that was digging through trash a moment ago. There’s a commotion and the dog runs before a set of city guards comes storming by. They’re all shouting a name, “Lord Paws,” as they rush past you. The fleeing dog stops a moment in recognition and starts to run back.

 

And then flip the coin again.

 

Cat side, only, the embossed image is much larger than a house cat. More muscular. Bulkier.
The tiger doesn’t look happy. You really hope you can flip the coin again before it reaches you.

 

Lexicon

 

Seminal  adjective  sem·i·nal \ ˈse-mə-nᵊl \

 

Definition of seminal
1 : of, relating to, or consisting of seed or semen
2 : containing or contributing the seeds of later development

 

Origin and Etymology of seminal
Middle English, from Latin seminalis, from semin-, semen seed

 

First Known Use: 14th century

 

Popularity: Top 30% of words

Closing remarks

Zendead- Detroit: Become Human

 

Joules- Dark Souls Remastered

 

Guard-a-Manger- Blue Beetle – Specifically, the Jamie Reyes version and any of the collections of the first series that introduced him.  Quite simply, it was a reimagination of a concept that blended together golden, silver, and bronze age Beetle’s while also giving DC a great teenage hero to explore that coming of age story.

 

Nulloperations- Rereading Trader’s Tales From The Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper, by Nathan Lowell. Starting with Quarter Share, Half Share, and Full Share, it’s a currently 8 part series set during a future where star-faring merchant marines make a living sailing in and out of stellar gravity wells, trading goods. It’s a fascinating set of stories that center on Ishmael Wang, a recently orphaned colonist from a corporate planet now forced to get off world after the death of his mother. The stories are touching, a little corney at times, but overall charming.

 

Bull- State of Decay 2 – Zombie Action Survival Game with online play capacity across Platform and desktop computers.

Larry XL Origins Comedy Show

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

Find us

Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter

 

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

Find us on Patreon

Espionage is another character about as old as Atomic Avenger because do you know what 11 year old boys like? Ninja! Especially super-ninja like the comic books and cartoons of the day would show.  Lo and behold, a ninja-like character sprung from my head complete with mysterious and shrouded pasts. The background story for Espionage has only changed minorly and his design has been refined but it remains a straightforward example of what I would term a “super soldier” or “generasupe” character.  As one of the originals, he is getting a Power Level bump each new volume so he is one of the two Power Level 12 characters in this Card Catalog Write Up.

A Super Ninja is just what every 11 year old needs

System Notes

Powers are going to be the lightest of the build areas for Espionage, partially because we will be heavily investing in Abilities.  Physically, as one of the premier hand to hand combatants in this world, a Fighting of 10 is our biggest splash with Agility and Dexterity of 7 each.  Strength and Stamina both come in at 5 making him a significantly impressive well rounded physical specimen. The remaining abilities don’t go below 3 either making him an all around better than average or even above average human.

Because there will be few powers involved, I am also spending a good chunk on increasing Defenses even without powers involved.  I’m going to raise his Dodge and Parry to a 12 which is going to end up better than most of the characters, but not as good as a moving Speedster.  Both Fortitude and Will are also getting an increase.

A quick note about Devices and Equipment – Equipment is purchased as an Advantage and will generally reflect normal, everyday items of use while a Device will be something that is more identified with the character.  Since his armor and his family sword are both items that have a story potential in them, I have them purchased as Devices/Powers for 3 and 5 points respectively. He also has 25 points of regular equipment he can carry with him for any of the adventures of missions. The most significant part of Espionage’s sheet are some of the least expensive – his Human Advancement powers of Retarded Aging and Regeneration.  These are a big part of his backstory and the world but are only 1 point each.

On advantages, there are a lot so I won’t go threw them all.  This is one place where a non super powered individual can even some of the scales.  AMong the notable Advantages our of the 20 or so on his sheet are the Benefit: Cipher which explains his tendency to be a mysterious individual and makes it harder for anyone to dig up his past; Hide in Plain SIght which allows him to make the sudden disappearances; and a host of Teamwork or Set Up advantages that are all used to enhance his field leader position in the Argonauts.

For skills, you may be surprised at the limited levels some of them have, such as Close Combat: Unarmed only having 4 ranks.  The level of attack is limited by your power level so that the damage plus the Ability and Skill cannot exceed twice the power level. This prevents a min-max approach on a single attack that is perfectly accurate and means characters who tend to have expanded fighting skills are not the most damaging.  The 9 ranks of Investigation is the largest skill total and besides what you would expect from a ninja-inspired character, I have also added Expertises in History, Politics, Law, Ikebana, and Calligraphy to round out his long life and show how he tries to leave his “day job” behind. He is about 3 points over, but I am going to let that stand as one of the “big guns” of this comic book world.

The Complications from Mutants and Masterminds blend the nature between the crunch of construction and the incoming character notes.  Every starting character has a Motivation and one other Complication which, if they come up in a session, may allow for Hero Points to be earned. Espionage’s Motivation is Responsibility because he feels that the current state of the world is his family’s fault or is his family’s legacy which he must contain.  For further complications, Espionage has Honor as something that will limit his actions, for all that he is a sneak around in the dark type, he won’t fight dirty or take advantage of an unfair situation. Since he has been around for a while, and through several reboots and volumes of the Argonauts book, we will also give Espionage Secret as his true family origin is something that would create all sorts of problems in the world and Enemy in the form of Slugger, who now heads a major political party and will be running for President shortly This all has to do with the character history.  

A bit of a later redesign

Character Notes

Espionage’s story does not start with him.  It instead begins with his father – Doughboy. Espionage’s father was the involuntary face of the United State’s war effort in the Great War as a soldier who happened to have been born as a more advanced human – one stronger, faster, tougher, and smarter than other humans.  His patriotism led him to the war effort, but the war effort nearly broke his idealism. The front lines and the gas and the horror of war left him needing to escape from what he knew. He went AWOL and settled into rural Japan, far away from the prying eyes of the United State’s. As you may have guessed, there was love, and there was a birth.  Ishikawa Kenichi Yohane was born in 1926 and had an unremarkable life for a decade.

In 1936, Doughboy was taken by agents for a group that called themselves American Patriots.  He was being returned to the United States because his body and powers may hold the key to future war efforts and future efforts in general.  Doughboy managed to keep them from ever seeing or knowing about his son, but he was gone from his son’s life. Kenichi’s mother told him the story and the truth about his father and that he also possessed the same gifts his father had shown.

The next decade of Ishikawa Kenichi’s life was difficult.  As Imperial Japan’s involvement in World War II began, his obviously mixed heritage was a liability.  He hid in the mountains of Japan and began to learn the ways of combat and of internal peace. One would not be taught without the other, and that was the price to pay for being sheltered and protected through the war.  After the war, and the horrors of the atomic bombs, Kenichi left Japan to travel across the face of the planet reshaped for a second time in only two and a half decades. By now, it was becoming apparent that he would not age like others would and the further he was from where his father stayed the safer his mother would be.   

For several decades, and under several names, Kenichi worked as a mercenary and explorer honing skills and contacts he has to this day but it was during this time that he was first introduced to agents of the Global Commonwealth Agency.  He began to work with them and for them helping the cold war never escalate too far, but also to use the GCA resources to try to find the American Patriots and possibly what happened to his father. It wasn’t until the 1980s that someone at the GCA put two and two together realizing that the nearly unaging Ishikawa Kenichi was actually Doughboy’s son.  And Espionage was born.

These American Patriots had been at work in the background for the past century, ensuring that they had influence across the the United States from corporate, to political, to social, and protecting Kenichi’s identity became imperative.  Under a mask and without a name, Espionage undertook covert action for the GCA becoming a legendary figure in the intelligence communities. When the Argonauts were formed, Kenichi was tapped by the GCA to be the field leader and to try to wrangle these disparate personalities into a team.  Stepping back into the light, even masked, has been difficulty especially with what he has learned since that day.

You’ve already heard how Kenichi has found that he cares for Anthony Chandler, Atomic Avenger, but what you haven’t heard in why Eidolon was hunting the Argonauts.  Slugger sent her to wipe out the Argonauts, but especially to make sure Espionage was brought back. The Argonauts were proving to be too great of a hindrance to the New Millenium Patriots, having rejected allegiance to just one country.  Slugger is not just the current leader of the New Millenium Patriots but is a successful clone of Doughboy. The NMP have successfully cloned Doughboy a handful of times and spliced his DNA into multitudes of others. Confronting the shadowy NMP after surviving Eidolon’s attacks, Slugger revealed himself to Espionage. He had put the pieces together and wanted to torment Kenichi. He told Kenichi about his own past claiming to be a truer heir to Doughboy’s legacy and teased that Doughboy was still alive in a lab, but that Ishikawa Kenichi would never see him again.

Espionage Character Sheet Here.

Argonauts Overview Here.

 

Additional character imagery from Hero Machine 3.

Mutants & Masterminds © Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. References to other copyrighted material in no way constitute a challenge to the respective copyright holders of that material. Mutants & Masterminds, Super-powered by M&M, Green Ronin, and their associated logos are trademarks of Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. Please also see the Open Game LIcense from Wizards of the Coast regarding the use of the d20 system and underlying components that are not designated product identity of Green Ronin Publishing.

Episode 50: Canon away
Regular Shows

 
 
00:00 / 51:19
 
1X
 

Main Topic

Every game comes packed with an amount of story or canon to choose from, use, or ignore.  We look at how much we each use and what the pros or cons are of the different levels of story or fluff behind our favorite gaming settings.  

 

Guard-a-Manger – I probably start with 90 to 95% of existing canon as the basis for the campaign.  Have the structure within which to improvise, more jazz than jam band, is preferable to me and allows for greater storytelling.  As campaigns progress, that number tends to decrease because the players actions will have a butterfly effect on the rest of the world. For me, knowing what the world already has in it makes it easier to use that in the campaign.

 

Joules –  I get basic cannon from the core rule book.  

 

Zen – I start closer to the core book only and after that I want my players to help to make the game ours. I feel like if we build things together then we make things unique. If a game has no real cannon then you get to build it with the players and make all of it yours. But if the players love the canon then do what they want. Since in the end it is collaborative in nature.

 

Pros of High Canon– The established framework usually has story ideas falling off of it in droves.  There is a structure in which the players fit or conflict with to create a dynamic for the ongoing campaign. The more printed material for inspiration, the easier it is to expand the scope of the campaign without unbalancing it.

 

Cons of High Canon – Some worlds are so full and developed, there is little left to discover. Players may have trouble separating meta knowledge from character knowledge of the world or setting. Players and GMs may feel overly tied to maintaining the canon or being shackled to other peoples stories.

 

Pros of Low Canon– Unbridled freedom to do whatever you want.  If you or your players decide that you want to see what’s over that hill, it is entirely up to you to do so.  Nobody will tell you that you got it wrong! Easier to make a collaborative world wholecloth in the whitespace with the players.

 

Cons of Low Canon– It is a significant ask on the GM to be able to populate the world, the history, and the entire campaign on the fly. It is easy to get stumped about what is over the next hill or have a conflicting set of answers between sessions. It can be repetitive if the GM is stressed or strained.

 

Stat Blocks

Zendead-

Krakatoa

Dr. Seamus Grats was at one time the world’s leading volcanologist. While out researching a new volcano that seemed to grow overnight he was lost. The research team that was with him was very excited by this new find. They set up a base camp not to far from the site. They had the backing to have all the latest toys. Once there they started to do the initial groundwork that might help to figure out why they erupt sometimes with no warning.

While out at the site on the third day something happened. All the equipment stopped feeding the information that would have told them something was wrong very wrong. The lava tube they were near just poured lava like something from a movie not at all like it was suppose to move. The entire team was presumed dead.

While everyone in team was covered by the lava flow something happened to the Dr. His suit did not save him for long, which is what the other doctors monitoring the situation wanted. As the lava started to eat the suit a strange thing started to happen to Grats. He started to fuse at a cellular level with this lava that is something more than just lava. He changed in both body and mind. The process gave birth to the creature we call Krakatoa today or Living Lava.

 

Joules-

The Last Farewell

To quote a great and sonorous sage, war never changes.  From soldiers meeting on the field of battle to flying aces dogfighting in the skies.  And since war never changes, there are those who will never say be able to say goodbye.  And from this sadness and longing, the last farewell was born.

 

No one knows the true nature of the last farewell.  Divine, Mystical, Psychological? It seems to fit and defy all of them.  Maybe Death sees value and allows it. Maybe the strength of the human soul will not be denied its final desire.  

 

The last farewell has been described many ways.  A pocket dimension. A psychic link. Standing before the gates of heaven.  

 

A heartbeat before the last breath seems to be eternity.  And in that eternity, the last farewell manifests. It allows the dying to say goodbye to one person.  The one who they love the most. A boy dying on the fields of Halidon Hill cries for his mother. Wanting to be held one last time.  As his final breath leaves his body, he sees his mother and feels her arms around him. She whispers as tears fall from her eyes, “I love you, son.”  “I love you, ma,” he whispers back. And he is gone.

 

His mother, miles away wakes up.  Fresh tears on her face. And she knows what happened.  She was allowed to say goodbye, and kiss her son before he died.  And unlike most dreams, it will never fade from memory. She will remember it all with perfect clarity.  And she whispers a small prayer of thanks. So she tells her friends and family about her experience. And the story of the phenomenon of the Last Farewell grows.

 

The Last Farewell is the last bit of grace for the dying and for the one that they love and who loves them in return.  This shread of grace has prevented angry spirits and reduced the darkness that surround battlegrounds. It has occasionally prevented hatred from festering.  And it has changed mankind slowly over the centuries.

Because if war never changes, then it is mankind who must change.

 

Guard-a-Manger

The Captain’s Stained Shield

Sometimes it takes an epic sacrifice, a valiant but ill fated action to create a lasting legacy in this world.  Stories and legends build the power around the items passed down from generation to generation. You can scarcely believe your eyes when you stumble on this shield … this bastion of the older era.  It’s design fits everything you’ve heard. The slight embossment, the odd battered edge misshapen by a powerful blow, and the very aura about it bring it all to mind and the stories wash over you.

It was another age, one lost to history and to dreams of the immortals.  It was the fall of the first human empire and the last stronghold’s final stand.  The captain of the guard stood true, and ensured that the messages of their loss would make it to the crown.  The captain of the guard stood firm and heard the hooves of the horses thunder away from the fort. The captain of the guard stood.  Alone.

The captain stood long enough, and longer than any thought, but it was a foregone conclusion that this captain would fall.  The story isn’t that the captain stood and that the captain fell, but that his shield and armor surface every generation. They find their way into the hands of new wielders, from humans to dwarves, to titans, and to kobolds.  They find their way into the hands of those who would protect their kith and kin. This is the Captain’s Stained Shield, but where is the armor and what will you be facing that calls to this legendary item?

 

Lexicon

Kirk   noun \ ˈkirk , ˈkərk \

 

Definition of kirk
1 chiefly Scotland : church
2 capitalized : the national church of Scotland as distinguished from the Church of England or the Episcopal Church in Scotland

 

Origin and Etymology of kirk
Middle English (northern dialect), from Old Norse kirkja, from Old English cirice —

 

First Known Use: before 12th century

 

Popularity: Bottom 30% of words

 

Closing remarks

Zendead- Unplug and spend a night doing something with your family.

 

Joules-West of Loathing

 

Guard-a-Manger- Star Wars Rebels – An example of taking canon in a respectful but new direction.

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

Find us

Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter

 

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

Find us on Patreon

Every young geek’s thoughts turn eventually to superheroes and comic books.  We truly live in a glorious golden age of superhero pop culture right now, and the language of super heroes has permeated the mainstream culture without a doubt.  For this installment of Card Catalog, we will look at a superhero team made with Mutants & Masterminds 3e, with a little exploration of the D20 system’s myriad uses!  First, if you can track down Green Ronin’s DC Adventures series, I highly recommend it.  That is what actually started this concept, but as I dug into the system and Green Ronin’s history, the underlying Mutants & Masterminds architecture came out.  I will also engage in a little bit of a selfish option here and write up a handful of supers that come from my own comics universe I began imagining back in the late 1980s.  

 

System Notes

Mutants and Masterminds is built on the D20 system that you may remember from the previous installment on Babylon 5.  Mutants and Masterminds, however, looks wholly different because it jettisons much of the existing mechanics you are familiar with.  What is retained it the primary method of resolution using a D20 plus modifiers either opposed against another roll or with a static Target Number.  There are no levels or classes. There are different attributes. The character generation is a fluid point buy system reminiscent of GURPS and HERO. In all openness, this is the first time I have used this system, so this will be a learning experience from the ground up.

The first thing to look at for a character is their Power Level! This is what defines the overall effectiveness, with many PCs being a Power Level 10 as a default, but with characters who are the “Big Guns” of their Universe at Power Level 12 and the iconic characters being Power Level 14. This level determines how many points you start with to build your character as well as providing limits to defenses and your other abilities creating a cap on the effectiveness of a character.  

When designing the character, your power points total is 15 x Power Level to be used throughout the entire creation process.  You need to budget your power points as you work through creation since the same point reservoir is used for Abilities, Power, Skills, Advantages, and more!

Abilities are your statistics and include: Strength, Stamina, Agility, Dexterity, Fighting, Intellect, Awareness, and Presence.  These are also used for certain derived Defenses that you can increase with some power points. Powers are just what they sound like – superpowers! These powers can be modified through a system of advantages and disadvantages to customize the rather broad and generic powers as we will show in the subsequent character generation. Skills are those learned abilities that are not powers while advantages fall somewhere in between the two.

Assigning the points will have you make certain choices that we will go into when we look at each of the characters in this Card Catalog Entry. The underlying mechanics are innovations on how to use a d20 + Modifier roll as well including the use of Hero Points that are awarded in a session when your Complications come up as well encouraging broad based character balance in the defenses and limits based on Power Level.

Setting Notes

For all these discussions, please note some of these ideas came from a very young Guard-a-Manger in the late 1980s with some occasional updates since then.  We are now at the equivalent of the third Volume for this comic book but some of the corny ideas from the contemporary inspiration remain and I won’t be ashamed. I read the Giffen & DeMatteis Justice League, Nicieza & Bagley New Warriors, and the West Coast Avengers.  A decade later, it was the Busiek/Perez Avengers & the Morrison/Porter JLA. I even tried drawing some of them which has various levels of success but eventually resorted to tracing the outlines of other figures.  I’ll include a few of those for fun along the way. As what would now be called a “tween”, an international team of heroes made sense and I originally divided them up for membership by continent and called them the Argonauts because of my early love of Greek Mythology.  The roster changed some as the years went by with characters being killed, going missing, and the world’s history advancing, but the notes for this world remained. Pardon my indulgence of using my own world and continuity but please enjoy seeing what started for an 11 year old boy and has kept with him over the decades.

Notes from 1989-2009 on the roster

The Argonauts

No one is quite sure how or why powers started popping up in human, much less when they started.  What is clear is that the rate of powered humans, aliens, and magical beings showing up on Earth is increasing at an alarming rate.  It had been a hundred years since the modern era had started with these extraordinary beings stepping onto the battlefield of World War I including the likes of Doughboy and Janissary.  The 1960s saw the worldwide spread of these special people like Slugger and Der Kommissar which continued through the 1980s revival of battlesuits even as Slugger founded a third political party in the U.S. reshaping the global power structure. When a self proclaimed “Demon Lord” made itself known collecting a coterie of villains to challenge the status quo, the planet couldn’t sit back anymore.  

The original design for “Demon Lord”

An incomplete redesign of the long running “Demon Lord” antagonist

With less likelihood of full scale conflicts, but a heightened frequency of small skirmishes between nation-states, the Global Commonwealth Agency, which replaced the League of Nations after World War I. was empowered to establish a peacekeeping force  and to specifically deploy powered beings to counter threats found across the globe. It was the birth of the Argonauts. There has been a lot of change since that day, with deaths, retirements, and politics dictating different line ups but the constant heroism of the Argonauts is a comfort to many and a warning to others. Some of the current roster include

 

 

 

Atomic Avenger (PL12)
Blaster
May 29, 2018

One of the elder statesmen of the Argonaut, Dr. Anthony Chandler was one of the first powered individuals to sign up but at the time he was encased in a suit of powered armor of his own design.  Atomic Avenger has been through some of the most changes,with the most obvious difference being that he no longer wears a powered armor and that he has been acknowledged publicly. An almost archetypal power set of flight and energy projection, Anthony has been questioning recently whether he should continue and what changes have been going on “underneath the hood”.

 

 

Espionage (PL12)
Super Soldier
June 05, 2018

Espionage wasn’t recruited, but has been the field leader of the Argonauts since its inception.  For the public, Espionage holds a great deal of mystery as he is seen almost exclusively enshrined in his black armor from head to toe. Even in private, he maintains his reserve and is Taciturn but somewhat paternal in his behavior, few have gotten any closer to him outside of Atomic Avenger.  Fewer still have had the opportunity to learn why he was chosen and what he isn’t telling about his past.

 

 

 

Bright Star (PL11)
Mentalist
June 12, 2018

Maria Silva is a child of hope and disaster.  She is the fortunate and the driven. Her life in Sao Paolo was never meant to intersect with the world of flying heroes and dastardly villains, but an unscrupulous corporation, alien dna, and a healthy dose of luck both good and bad landed her here.  Called the Bright Star of Brazil, her shimmering gold telekinetic powers and telepathic abilities have let her help many in her home country, with an eye to the poorest and least advantaged among the people. Her parents had put great hope in her dancing to take her away from the thin line between poverty and sustenance but they died seeing her literally rising above Brazil to protect others – she is their bright and shining star that now leads the world to a better place.

 

Titan (PL11)
Brick
June 19, 2018

Sometimes, the questions are not even worth asking.  The gregarious and quick to laugh Titan was brought onto the Argonauts and he had a straightforward role of punching and lifting things.  This is not a bad gig, after all and stood in contrast to his time spent as a CPA in Nigeria’s growing financial services sector. While there were never answers to where his powers came from, that was only because there had not been questions.  He still never asked the questions, but recent events included an answer to that …. And a slowly increasing temper Titan isn’t used to.

 

 

Autobahn (PL10)
Speedster
June 26, 2018

Autobahn is new.  You might say she still has that new car smell as she is a speedster, moving far faster than the eye could follow.  As her name may suggest, she is German and joined the Argonauts only recently to replace the missing in action Bionic Knight.  Her outfit certainly has some mechanical enhancements that imply she needs a little extra support to use her powers to their full potential, but they are *her* powers. Her powers are actually natural, and something that she was born with.  No government, organization, or extradimensional power forced a change on her, but instead she is an example of what sort of seed exists within humanity. In the meantime, and in between racing up and down the German streets, she is constantly following social media and trends with a snarky and slightly confrontational outlook on this post-postmodern life.

Mutants and Masterminds is © Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. References to other copyrighted material in no way constitute a challenge to the respective copyright holders of that material. Mutants & Masterminds, Super-powered by M&M, Green Ronin, and their associated logos are trademarks of Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. Please also see the Open Game License from Wizards of the Coast regarding the use of the d20 system and underlying components that are not designated product identity of Green Ronin Publishing.

Atomic Avenger is one of the oldest characters I made up, and you can tell this is high on the list of tween or young teen boy “cool” ideas.  His original battlesuit concept evolved as I advanced the story in that little universe to where we are now on the third volume of this comic book.  As one of the originals, he is getting a Power Level bump each new volume so he is one of the two Power Level 12 characters in this Card Catalog Write Up.

A design a 12 Year Old Boy Loved

System Notes

Since this version of Atomic Avenger is very much a blaster archetype, the powers are going to be a heavy lift on the costs.  Because of the history of Atomic Avenger, the clearly superhuman and exceptional attribute is going to be Intellect at 9 which is described as clearly super human.  He is, after all, still a brilliant inventor and scientist. The rest of the Attributes are in the unimpressive levels of 1-3 but this reflects his underlying human nature where a “0” is average adult human.

To increase the defenses involved, I am going to use some special effects and power based enhancements.  Specifically, I am going to link an enhanced Dodge to the Flight power and increase both the Will and Fortitude defenses on the special effect of “Growing Energy Being.” We will explore what that means in the Character Notes.  Promise.

In his powers, there are three things that must be address – protection, flight, and energy blasts.  This is the basic load out for a blaster archetype. I keep the flight to around 7 Ranks so that we have a reasonable supersonic speed and link the enhanced Dodge Defense to this.  When looking at the Protection, which is an Atomic Force Field, I cap it at 10 levels of protection. The combination of Dodge and Toughness (which includes the Protection power) is capped at twice the Power Level, so for AA it is a 24 total limit.

I mentioned the Growing Energy Being special effect, and including in that are going to be a handful of small powers that will grow into his future: Immunity to Radiation, a single rank of Immortality, and a single rank of Persistent Regeneration.  The big final power is the blasting for the blaster, but I am going to use one of the more interesting components of Mutants & Masterminds for that – the Array!

An Array is a grouped set of powers that are Alternate Effects for a single power.  These are powers that can’t be used at the same time, effectively pulling power from a pool that can be put into each slot.  You can choose a Dynamic slot for additional costs to rebalance the powers between them, but this is a straightforward collection of Atomic Blasts that show different aspects of the same power! The obvious start is a straight up Atomic Blast which is a 10 Damage Ranged Blast power which is augmented in the Array with the Atomic Flash 10 Rank visual dazzle power to blind his opponents, an EMP Pulse which is a 7 Rank Burst Area Nullify Electronics, and similar ways to manipulate that sort of energy projector utility.  

I’m going to look at the Skills and Advantages together because Atomic Avenger started as an almost stereotypical battlesuit building genius.  Obvious choices are 12 ranks of an Expertise: SCIENCE, 9 Ranks of Technology, with the Advantages of Skill Mastery: SCIENCE, Jack of All Trades, and Inventor.   This makes Dr. Chandler a leading luminary and world renowned scientist with a mastery of the creadth of comic book science that only happens in the Comic Books with the ability to improvise in the field as well as attempt any skill check.  A few other advantages like Evasion and Instant Up relate to his flight power while Ranged Combat with the Blast Array balances out his 12 Rank Array with another 12 ranks of to hit for his POwer Level Limit. Check the link below for the last few powers and advantages added to the sheet.

The Complications from Mutants and Masterminds blend the nature between the crunch of construction and the incoming character notes.  Every starting character has a Motivation and one other Complication which, if they come up in a session, may allow for Hero Points to be earned. For his motivation, Atomic Avenger has Thrillseeker as he has fallen in love with the energy and excitement of being a hero. For further Complications, Atomic Avenger is Slowly Losing Humanity as the transition to an energy being continues without his control. Since he’s been around from the beginning, we’ll add extra complications for him – Fame as one of the premier heros on the planet, he has a constant stream of fans and media attention as well as protesters over his ‘Atomic’ nature; and Relationship with Espionage that finally came about can leave him distracted in combat.  

The later version of AA from my late 20s

Character Notes

Dr. Andrew Chandler is absolutely brilliant. His mind is beyond once in a generation but perhaps once in a century.  He rapidly was recognized by his parents as far smarter than an ordinary child … indeed he was far smarter than his parents.  To his ever thankful history, his parents upper middle class, suburban lifestyle was exactly what an idyllic americana childhood should be … if it meant being left alone in the public library reading every book that he could get his hands on.

He was first recognized by the public and the media when at age 12 he was accepted to high prestige colleges and announced his intention to be working on his PhD by 14.  It wasn’t quite as big a deal when he succeeded at that. As a 13 year old at college, he didn’t really have a normal upbringing or normal socialization. His habit of asking questions of *everything* hadn’t abated by the time he had his first PhD at 17, or his second at 18.  While grant applications were easy to write, Dr. Chandler had limited experience with anyone who wasn’t a lab assistant or graduate student.

The idea of a self-contained, atomic powered and shielded suit had stuck in his mind after Vyrkolas had tried to ignite chernobyl-style meltdowns across Soviet Union.   This was troubling for sure because the human species would face extinction. He threw himself into the task at hand with great aplomb and little sleep. The initial few tests went well, and the engineering grad students were very helpful in perfecting the specific designs in the suit.  The prototype and the first generation suit were both ready when disaster struck. Okay, when sabotage struck. One of those grad students was well and truly seduced by large payments from the underworld o set in motion the almost inevitable explosion.

Dr. Chandler’s lab was ruiner, and the grad student escaped in the prototype suit to become Fireflight – a twisted reflection of everything that Dr. Chandler would become.  The first generation suit allowed Dr. Chandler to be The Atomic Avenger! It didn’t take more than a few years of flying around and blasting trouble makers that he was welcomed onto the Argonauts.  A super scientific energy blasting battlesuit is almost always desirable in a super team, after all. It was on the Argonauts that Dr. Chandler became Anthony and found his voice and his place.

He had fun.  Yes, it was serious and dangerous with world shattering consequences, but the excitement was like nothing he had ever experienced before.  

It was through the Argonauts that friendships grew, and Anthony even grew closer to Espionage – the taciturn and mysterious leader that the Argonauts had.  Perhaps,as he became one of the first to learn his story it was more than just friendship. In the course of saving the world, the second generation Atomic Avenger suit was pushed into use sooner than it probably should have been, but Anthony needed the power upgrade.  A fight with Demon Lord damaged it, and the power coupling’s slow leak sealed his future fate. A year later, when Eidolon literally ripped him out of his armor and threw him from the top of Uluru (Ayers Rock, when I first came up with this before the dual naming policy in 1993, so consider this one of the retcons from a world shattering event), Espionage and the few Argonauts left standing thought he was dead.  While Espionage and Magique dispatched Eidolon, Anthony flew back to rejoin them … under his own power.

It seems that the damage from Demon Lord had left an energy leak that has been slowly changing Anthony to something even further from Dr. Chandler.  While he is outwardly happy with his life as a premier world saving hero with Espionage at his side away from the public eye, he doesn’t know what the future holds as he continues to shift from the flesh and blood Anthony Chandler to whatever he is slowly becoming.

 

Argonauts Write Up Here.

Atomic Avenger Character Sheet Here.

©2014 Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. References to other copyrighted material in no way constitute a challenge to the respective copyright holders of that material. Mutants & Masterminds, Super-powered by M&M, Green Ronin, and their associated logos are trademarks of Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. Please also see the Open Game LIcense from Wizards of the Coast regarding the use of the d20 system and underlying components that are not designated product identity of Green Ronin Publishing.

Episode 49: Print vs. PDF
Regular Shows

 
 
00:00 / 49:43
 
1X
 

Main Topic

We live in a golden age of gaming where books are available forever and universally able to be found! Those of us from the dark ages where limited print runs and local stores created scarcity sometimes wonder at the PDF libraries available, or perhaps indulge in stocking a library we never could have maintained in our youth.  Print and PDF or other electronic formats provide two different ways to enjoy gaming books, but which is better?

 

Print – Classic Product with literal weight.  Some psychological studies show that retention is superior for most people with printed material.  Marginalia notes and house rules fit in the margins. Tabbing it for easy reference can be faster than electronic bookmarks.

 

PDF – A literal ton of books in a half pound tablet.  Searchability especially for PDFs without an Index. Bookmarking facilitates easy searching. Easier to organize and often copy from.  Printing individual pages versus the entire book.

 

Which do you prefer? Let us know on Twitter or the Facebook group!

Stat Blocks

Zendead-

The Picaroon Pot

The rusty old crab pot swings from the edge of the ship. Caught in the spray and the wind of the ship. There is a patch of old fabric woven in the wires. As the ships bell rings the end of work for the day the spray coalesces into several small crabs. As strange as this seems the crabs grow just a little bit more till they are the amount someone can eat in one sitting.

The Picaroon Pot as it is called comes when someone makes a deal after they have been stranded on an island with something otherworldly. It is capable of doing two things. One is if kept in the spray of water it will create a portion of fish or seafood for one person for one meal. And secondly if submerged it creates a feast for up to 5 people for one meal. If the first is done it can do this 3 times a day, and once a day for the second. There is no need for bait to create these effects.

But with all things from the ocean and otherworldly help there is a cost. Maybe it is that is only works a small number of times or maybe it poisons the user slowly. Make the rewarded get their just desserts.

 

Joules-

Summoning the God of Fire and Chrome

 

Legends whisper of a god of fire and chrome.  A lord of speed and power. Whose yawp would shake the earth.  Whose scream would arc across the sky as lightning. In whose flesh you would see a more perfect reflection of yourself.

 

In the 6th world, the urban shamans have now found a way to summon him.  Your local rigger more than likely has helped with this summoning.

 

It requires a car.  The actual make doesn’t matter.  But the body of the car has to have been built for speed and power and used as such.  Retired drag race cars are a fave.

 

Next comes the engine.  Scavenged parts of old racers.  Engine blocks from an urban assault vehicles.  Exhaust pipe molded from metal struck by lightning.  Anything that contains a fragment of the god of fire and chrome can and should be incorporated.  

While the being assembled, appropriate music must be playing to appease the god of fire and chrome.  And appropriate beverages must be used to quench the steel and to christen the engine as the god’s temporary new home.  A local rigger swears that a mix of meade, sweat and rainwater is the god’s favorite.

 

Has the ritual appeased the lord of fire and chrome?  You won’t know until you start to lower the engine into the car.  If the god of fire and chrome is pleased, he will make his approval known.  Some shamans claim to hear “Jesus Built my Hotrod” by Ministry. Other swear that “Legacy” by the Gone Jackals started playing out of the car’s stereo.  The ritual has pleased the god of fire and chrome.

 

So turn the key.  Slam the accelerator to the floor.  And let him take the wheel

 

Guard-a-Manger-

Big Tent Hippodrome and Spectacular

Everybody loves the circus, and the Big Tent Hippodrome and Spectacular is no exception! Coming into town fills the citizenry with delight and anticipation.  It is a show that brings the world under one tent and into three rings. The Big Tent has been travelling the world for years and always seems to be able to reinvent itself trip after trip, adding a new attraction or performer while staying true to the rustic and ramshackle origins of a good circus.

Time and time again, the Big Tent finds itself embroiled in dust ups in these towns and cities.  Maybe the locals think that Big Tent Hippodrome and Spectacular has more money hiding somewhere deep in those wagons.  Maybe they have just fallen deeply in love with the way that the performances make them feel. Eyes wide, heart open, and mind full of wonder in an almost infectious feeling as the elephants dances, the lions roar, and the acrobats flip through the air.  

Be it money or amazement, something is trying to trap the Big Tent in town and you need to help them escape … or maybe you want them to stay.  No matter that the ringmaster tells you, no matter where you look under the tent, you can’t figure out the inspiration that flows from the Big Tent Hippodrome and Spectacular.

Because it is the tent, no more no less, that fuels the performers and the audience.  It is the big tent under which dreams are born and dreams take flight,.

Lexicon

 

Antediluvian  adjective an·te·di·lu·vi·an  \ ˌan-ti-də-ˈlü-vē-ən , -(ˌ)dī- \

 

Definition of antediluvian
1 : of or relating to the period before the flood described in the Bible

 

2 a : made, evolved, or developed a long time ago
  b : extremely primitive or outmoded

 

Origin and Etymology of antediluvian
ante- + Latin diluvium flood

 

First Known Use: 1646

 

Popularity: Bottom 50% of words

 

Closing remarks

Zendead- Fall Out Boys new Album MANIA

 

Joules- The BonfireSide Chat

 

Guard-a-Manger- Field Notes notepads

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

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And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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