Single-Source Superheroes–how best to leverage Heroquest for this genre

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Single-Source Superheroes–how best to leverage Heroquest for this genre Submitted by Amos Anon on Sun, 15/04/2012 – 11:43

One of the interesting sub-genres to come out of the late 80’s and ’90s is the “super-powered people” genre, which I also refer to as the “single-source superheroes” genre. In this, there is some crisis event, which can be hidden and uncovered over time or is well-known and documented, which either directly or indirectly leads to the knowledge that there are people with extra-human capabilities among us. This source (psychic abilities, genetic mutations, quantum manipulation, “dark energy”, magic (?)) is capable of duplicating the full array of powers seen in comic books, and is enough of a challenge to conventional science that while the basics of the process can be understood, no one has any solid answers as to how it really works or why it it is occurring. 

Meanwhile, people are trying to get on with their lives, including the people that have these newfound gifts. The trick is to play up the tension between trying to live a normal life, while dealing with how best to use these new powers. Other questions emerge over time:

  • Can normal humans and super-powered humans continue to relate to each other as friends, lovers, confidants, and family? 
  • At what point are you “too powerful,” to the point where making an all-too-human error in judgment could have world-wrecking consequences? 
  • How does being a super-power change your perspective?
  • How do you use these gifts? How should you use them?
  • Can you intervene to change the world? Should you? If so, how? If not, do you bear the responsibility for not having acted when you could? 

I think Heroquest has the tools for superheroic play, but how best to go about bringing the above questions into play? 

Also, anyone who “came of gaming age” in the late ’90s knows there is one game in particular that I’m referencing: Aberrant. Lots of good concepts, but I’m not happy with how the mechanics work, and some of the societal changes looked good on paper, but in practice tended towards the absurd. I’m also thinking of another game (which is superior, IMO): Greg Stolze’s PROGENITOR. In a way, I’m trying to recreate the best elements of both games. 

I’m going to be using this thread to brainstorm, and I’d like some input. First thing: I had the idea of making characters write out 100 words on their human side, addressing who they were before gaining superpowers, and how their lives have changed after gaining them. (I think Relationships are key in making this setting sing.) Then, they would have 25 words to outline their superhuman abilities. Does that make sense? Also:

  • How would you handle Keywords in this situation?
  • Is it a good idea to have characters take a Relationship with their superpowers? (I think so, but I’d like feedback.) 
  • Is an “opening event” necessary? What if the big reveal was simply having humans manifesting powers…for no immediately obvious reason? What are the pros and cons of having characters who can do the impossible, with or without understanding why?
  • What are the pros and cons of using the standard method of character improvement in this type of game? Should I use an alternate method of experience? If so, what do you recommend? 

‹ Character Editing Software Something Wicked; other Gateways ? ›

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That’s a really interesting

Submitted by cj.23 on Mon, 16/04/2012 – 11:42.

That’s a really interesting one! 🙂 I would model it mechanically in a specific way, based on the Runes/Feats rules, but that would be a personal choice. I love the idea of 100 words on the HUMAN part – that is what drives the character. Now how to handle your superpowers…

Let’s imagine for my example the Superpowers are in line with the psi hypothesis – the idea that humans have a dormant set of ESP abilities, which sometimes can be awakened. (I use this because in “real life” I work in parapsychology/psychical research”). Let us also assume that scientists don’t have a model for how they work, just a descriptive explanation.

Now as i mentioned I have lost my pdf of Heroquest 🙁 but let us start with the rules – they include details on designiung genre packs as  I recall, and those will allow you to make a selection of Keywords that let you model specific Superpowers the players can select from. So if you wanted to stay faithful to Aberrant, you could convert them in to HQ terms – I’d give an exmaple, but I don’t have either set of rules to hand.

However why force the players to pick from a set list? I’d let them talk about their origion event, or game it, then design the Keyword Package.

The other method however that I might go with would be to model it on the Runes in the gloranthan appendix of the core rulebook. So for my psi based powers it might look like this

PSI POWERS

Telepathy: any ability ot transmit information mind to mind. Level of sucess includes content, length, and clarity of signal.

Retrocognition: Seeing the past. Any attempt tp read vibes from objects or buildongs (psychometry) or tune in to the past.

Mediumship: talking to dead people whose spirits are physically prsent, or summoning spirits of the dead.

Precognition: seeing potential futures. Player actions may change them to avert the outcome

Clairvoyance – seeing at a distance. Remote viewing, astral travel style things.

Micro-PK: altering random chance by causing increase or decrease in entropy. Can effect dice, cards, things breaking by chance, that sort of stuff.

Macro-PK: moving stuff with your mind. Telekinesis type powers.

DMILS: (direct mental interation with living systems). Used for healing or changing bodies in odd ways, diagnosis, Chalan Arroy style stuff.

So these would be the “runes” and players might have 1, 2 or 3 of them using the 17 for one and 13 for the others, but 21 is needed o awaken them (basically the “iniate” rules from the Gloranthan appaendix) and use them as active abilities. . I might then use the idea of affinities ot create character specific break out abilities, so for example Carrie might have Micro-PK 1W, with +3 in “spontaneous fire break out”. Later she might develop at 11W a “Feat” like “incinerate person I am angry with”.

Note that this is all just top of my head stuff. It would give a really different feel to the  same game played with carefully designed Keyword packages, but I think either could work. Think about how you want to model stuff in your game, and then just play with the system to get something that fits.

I appreciate your interest is way more than just mechanics, and I would love to help and hope others will, but these were just some firstthoughts on mechanics ideas.

 

all the best cj x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another potentially

Submitted by boztakang on Tue, 24/04/2012 – 01:34.

Another potentially interesting way to handle the superpowers might be to have each player write down 2 (or more) interesting power ideas on seperate cards, and then shuffle the cards and hand them out randomly to the players. You could even start play with everyone fully human, and have the players “discover” their (semi?)random super powers as traumatic or stressful situations arise in game.

Comic book heroes rarely get to pick thier own powers, and it could be quite interesting to play out the process of coming to terms with strange powers that may or may not mesh naturally with your pre-existing personality.

You’d need the right group to pull it off, as some players might be unhappy with powers they don’t like or that they feel are at odds with their “concept.” Of course other players might revel in the chance to play through their char’s angst over an innapropriate or “sucky” power (my favorite X-man was always Nightcrawler, who kinda had that as a running theme)

Perhaps give the players the option of spending a hero point to “re-roll” a power they just don’t like, or a chance to relegate the first power to a minor ability and discover a new primary power if they really find the original uninspiring. Or you could let them pick a new power at the cost of some inconvenient flaw (sure, you can be super-smart, but you are also covered with blue fur)

Mostly, I’d avoid trying to know too much about the powers or how they work to start with, and instead have the players work out the details of their powers as they play. Instead of 25 words, limit the initial power descriptions to 5 words or so, and let the players work out the mechanics and backstory of thier keyword as they play. (give situational bounuses to reward especially evocative or interesting ideas)

 

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