Wednesday 5 December 2012

Marvel Super Heroes - 20 year campaign highlights

 Marvel Super Heroes - A 20 year campaign.

I started superhero gaming in 84 with champions. It was fun and making characters seemed fun but there were some bugs. Tried superworld too. The thing that puts me off both these great games is points. Gurps too but gurps classic world books were easy to add to other games. Point games break when you cant keep the villains weapon even if you could buy one off the shelf. Aussie game Super Squadron in early 80s had a few fans too - a bit of a Villains and Vigilantes rip with less rules. Id still like all the V&V villains books.

When I playes marvel it was a breathe of fresh air in 85. I was the thing - one of my faves and my friend spike was captain America (he played great paladins or evil wizards well), Spiderman and the Afro black captain marvel. I was impressed at the flexibility, that dare devil could fight near Thor and could bother Hulk on a good day. No damage rolls, one table - a simple game that captured the genre well. I quickly abandoned the marvel universe and ended up running what now would be seen as typical Iron age 80s comic stuff. Ninjas, spies and the government are covering up everything. Wildcards was a bit of an influence too. I was a mad comic collector and with 2 friends got most of the marvel universe through the 80s. Marvel and DC whose who books were a great resource too. Zenith by grant Morrison with brit heroes vs mythos in 2000AD was genius too. Superworld was like champions and was my first BRP game. I still wish I could make Superworld work.

So my world had no public knowledge of superheroes for the first 3 years, They were recruited into APIO (Australian Paranormal Intelligence Organization) or would have been turned into assassins by the bad guys who knew more than the good guys. So for years they were meta secret agents pulling off incredible deeds and keeping everything secret. Eventually they got a feel for the various factions and dealt with foreign agents. Suits and codenames were for operation Open Book, for when normals would be be let in on some of the truth. In fact the powers that be never wanted it open but realized it was impossible to cover forever. Eventually the heroes found the master villain Ironking was in fact a mile long insectoid battling his partner for meta-human DNA for a biological arms race. The nifty suits heroes mostly wore were actually packaging and in neutral mode had graphics and colours identifying type and powers. Then it was time to mop up various villain orgs, find out what happened to their agent mentors who were really immortals. And i ran the Nightmare of future past where time traveling heroes battled anti meta robots in the future as per the MX modules. Of course beating on Nazis in the past and present in a heroes duty too.

At some point they hunted down long lost old heroes whos had served for decades and never got their credit, many having gone bad. These guys had a team member for every Australian state and territory and a base or hero silo (limited by meta-human test treaty limitations act). There ended up being an old states men and a new statesmen team. I probably designed well over a thousand npcs over many years so ill try and get some up here with some crude art.

Eventually they battled Ironking's true form - a swarm of space monsters which rained down on the planet blowing secrecy forever. A bit like a tyranid invasion if id known about tyranids then or Tiamat in Wildcards universe. Actually thats were super powers came from (well about 40% in fact).

This all went for 20 years before i was getting itchy to move to the east coast and rebooted the game in my fictional river city. This campaign had more than one main origin - i allowed magic and made some mystery men rules that with care could make outrageous heroes from mere humans. Ill go into some of my meta human types which i used to streamline creation choices some other time but basically i had 3 generations of 4 types of standard metahumans, mystery men (includes batman and iron man types), monsters, immortals and a more flexible super hero type for experienced players. I also had a list of background options to choose like weapon, armour, transport, suit, sidekick, pet, extra power, extra stats, extra talents, extra resources, etc. Ill put that here too.


Huntsman the immortal archer and vampire hunter got to play the whole marvel vampire hunter experience and basically kept them hidden and a minor force after killing off all the nobility. He was one of those annoying humans who never missed. My immortals chose which dice led after rolling and had immortality powers making them unkillable. Huntsman had been serving earth goddess since the Bronze Age and was called in to watch the party. He would wear a Stag mask from time to time.

Quantum cat - the cat who walks through walls after hearing team mate Discord go on about his his therworld metaphysics and the various evil beings he kept naming decided to pull a gag. He adopted the identity of Loki exactly as Discord described. He kept torturing his friend with videos, thefts and one day the party needed something from Quantum Cats base. They instead found his evil pipe organ, tv studio, a dead supervillain and all kinds af bad things QC had been up to as Loki. the cat got himself exonerated in court by claiming he was replace by a evil mimic from another universe with his Incredible Charisma. Other players testified it was possible. Years later when Discords evil enamies did appear they told QC he really was the host body for Loki and they were pleassed with his efforts so far. Gulp. Quantum cat started as Cheshire Cat and was a wacky phazing prankster with tech. Quantum was more spooky with a black suit with red eye of horus and an egyptian gold cat mask full of tech. By then he was teleporting, plane shifting and disintegrating stuff by touch.

Captain Resilience the super alien space ranger acted like an flirtatious 70s Captain Marvel (Marvel universe) or even a bit like a power ranger. In fact she was a humanoid formed shoggoth from a rebel colony seeking meta DNA in their biowar with the starspawn of cthulhu. She slept her way through the hero fraternity collecting bio samples. One day when a bad villain prisoner wouldn't talk and had a power she hadn't sampled the other heroes saw a barbed sucker come out her mouth and suck fluid from a villain who spilled all his beans. Suddenly the party realized everything she had said for years was true. Eventually she went home but also led Starspawn home. Battled Dire Wraith  (from ROM) for years too (evil rival-relatives). She looked all blonde and pretty in a white jumpsuit with gold helm and a yellow sunburst. She could fly, shoot webs and make force fields. Occasionally she would travel through what she called the food storage tunnels as a shoggoth meaning the sewer system and toilets (toilet-porting).

Sohei - a monk wha absorbed kinetic energy to heal and grow stronger. Heroically battle superior odds but feared henchmen with lasers.

Mr Smith - a blacksmith and ex soldier who had magnetic powers and regeneration. Would encase self in armour them fly at high speed into enemies. Would form spikes if other heroes not around.

Shadowbat - a sonic using special forces martial artist who was really awesome night fighter. Would tackle anything. Eventually would fly on his glider wings with his powers enhancing them. One of best martial artists in my game. Think cross between daredevil, black panther and banshee.

Cancer was an aquatic battle suit with a crab head and one massive crab claw. He was pretty deadly and smart as heck, helping to crack the metagenetic code on the extra alien chromosomes. Co developed Increadabilium with discord - a metal heroes made from resin that they could build bases, battlsuits and prisons and melee weapons.

Unicorn a super fast amazon with holy light beams, healing and regeneration.

Gargoyle - a silicon android who had been guarding a cathedral for 800 years.Sandman - A guy who turns to sand and was very smart. Later modified his meta type to become smarter. Dropped out of common hero life after that

Discord - A very strange hero. A black and white body suit with a long pole with a buzz saw and a plastic rope. He was actually very smart, had psychometry but his main power was matter animation. So he begun wielding his special rope and spinning the blade on his pole saw. He developed tunneling, animate gas, animate flesh (yuck) and more.

Space Toaster - an appliance owned by a cosmic devourer who came to earth in a strange ship which is unfathomable to humans. He shoots heat rays from the slots in his face and can make yummy toast.

Wally Surface - an ape detective who was an ultra conservative old timer who could pretty much bring down any thing for a few rounds. A grumpy funny guy to have around. His detective agency supported the Party.

Australian Sentinel - A super strong flying invulnerable martial artist who dealt fabulous speeches and broke the will of bad guys with reason - just like a real heron. Plus he was basically a flying rocket proof ninja. He also was an Excellent electronics buy and used gadgets. A number of part brains invented the wonder metal Incredibility for such characters.

Mercury is really sure he is son of zeus which doesn't fit into his life as wealthy Greek chemical magnate with a family. Has a base under his city factory which he occasionally uses to solve problems with. Jumps into a chamber and coats himself with alchemical mercury making his skin silver coated. He also can fly and has TK. Quite potty and overly trusting when a hero.

Warlock an astral traveling, precog/psychometric using agent who became a staff specialist. He would stun and slam the villains he couldn't hurt and set them up for the team. He always went first in almost every battle. But for some reason he would always get beaten most by normal henchmen. Used to try make deals behind parties back and betray them constantly in the belief he knew better.

Clawhammer - a crotchety smoking immortal Templar with a demons head in a cage. Could manipulate gates with weird talents and no powers per se.

Ninja Avenger - an Aussie bogan with martial arts who like Holden Manaro's (that's a car). He killed some cops who gave him cheek and Agent Banks from APIO killed him with one shot from a hi tech pistol. They all respected the Agency after that.

Devestator - An alien tiger man in a battle suit everyone assumes is really human. Had some sidekicks he modified too.

Adam Eternal - My eternals were kinda a green lantern corp who where granted energy powers in form of a symbol to battle evil by superior beings. Adam had a grey and white suit, ankh on his chest and a cape. He would either use life draining or healing light rays, was strong, could fly and and other nift stuff. I also played him in Superworld and Champions.

The biggest rule changes we made were:

Adding Extra Stat of Charisma to FASERIP to Equal FASE CRIP instead. As my heroes often act in disguise and in secret i needed to have a better stat than just popularity. Popularity is earned, charisma works the moment you step off your spaceship. Steve Rogers in Marvel comics easily has Rm or Inc Charisma. Also characters are sometimes hunted which effects their popularity but not charisma. We used it heaps and definitely helped in court. I think Doom could pull same thing with a jury if he needed to.

Adding extra martial arts. This is pretty common but ill put them all here some time. I also had a list of meditations for martial artists monks and wizards.

Karma - I had 4 basic alignments with slightly different goals and objectives. This was inspired by some notes somewhere on how to live with wolverine in your party and ot lose all your karma. As well as by the morality of godzilla films. Also the first yellow box set rules had seperate rules for villain karma and how to spend it - for a hundred karma they could escape any death or imprisonment.

The standard hero or person is a Defender. They pretty much use standard Karma system They get rewarded for capturing villains and surrendering them to legal process. They dont let anybody die and fight for justice.

The next is an Avenger - they get less karma but dont lose it all for kills. They live to inflict justice themselves and may clash with the law for maiming and killing bad guys.

Next is conqueror - really for villains who get karma for controlling resources by force or theft. Some want slaves and land, others want cash. Not too obsessed with destruction and killing except as means to an end. They do get rewarded for putting heroes in deathtraps but not for killing them in cold blood.

Finally the Destroyer. This if for monsters and morons who gain karma for smashing property and eating stuff or people. They may be territorial and even have a horde but that's just a hobby on the side.  Many are not smart enough to be sentient.

I ran a game of 50ft high+ monsters including a evil teddy who could shrink to toy size, a stone idol from Easter island, a grumpy space brain in a jar and a giant junk monster. Each player had human contacts they would play to solve the mystery stuff. Like when godzilla battles a monster the humans amid his feet get to fight some gangsters, spies or aliens.

I did lots of notes for a Cthulhu-Superworld campaign I might run one day or publish here too.


  1. Just considering different karma genres today, a la DC cool.

  2. Quantum Cat is a great name. May have to steal it.

    Was going to ask why so many Australian characters till I saw your location down on the first I thought maybe you just really, really loved Seeker.


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