Wednesday, October 31, 2012

USRPS/Champions Superhero Mash Up Conclusion

As I mentioned in the initial post regarding using USR to role play a supers campaign, I am going to use the Champions books Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth and Millennium City to create the starting campaign setting. Armed with some highlighters I skimmed STST looking for the adventure's important points.

Dr. Timothy Blank, the Viper scientist, was pretty necessary as his diabolical plans drive the plot. His desire to unleash a virus in a major metropolitan city after leaving the Viper Nest in the deserts of New Mexico helps establish Millennium City as our convenient home base for PC's.

The initial ghost town amusement park as cover for the Viper Nest hidden in the desert did not appeal to me. The thought of having the deranged mad scientist completely absent from the Nest in the opening acts seemed too much of a plot weakness for me as well. So I jettisoned both. However the PC's are "hooked" into being in the vicinity of Snake Gulch it will be at the same time Dr. Blank is making his explosive escape from the Nest with his breakthrough discovery: the Coil Gene. There is plenty of good info on the tension between the Nest Leader and Dr. Blank for a GM to fashion dramatic scenes of double crossing agents, compromised villains, and buffaloed heroes.

The aftermath of the first scenario can have PC heroes following leads back to Millennium City or returning to the city to lick their wounds.

With my initial PC's I created and their intertwined back story's it was a cinch to establish a time traveling accident in the desert, a Viper Nest confrontation, and return to the city in search of answers and aid.

Millennium City provides plenty of locations to play out the next chapters in the adventure as well as supporting NPC's fair and foul. Dr. Silverback is an obvious choice and Signal Ghost provides a good inside Viper agent who would be able to find common cause with the heroes at the height of the plague.

So what about all those PD's and ED's and Combat Skill levels and ???d6 damage dice used to resolve action in Hero Game System?

Just jettison them all.

Your Unbelievably Simple Role Playing System mechanics doesn't need them. Our character with the power of time travel was taken as an Action specialism. The +2 given his action rolls will suffice for his bonuses to attack and dodge. The time traveling agent would logically have some advanced armor characteristics to cushion physical and energy attacks. Any disadvantages and power limitations which would come into play will rely on the shared story created by the PC's and GM. Viper agents have blasters. Good, better avoid getting shot because blasters leave big holes in soft human flesh. If you chose to play a "Brick" type superhero with incredible physical toughness then those same blasters won't hurt so much.

My initial character choices are what I would consider enhanced normals. While some abilities are enhanced in extremely powerful ways (traveling through time in a controlled manner), they still can be harmed by normal physical means. If your genre book is a good one you can pluck all the mood and meta-genre information you need for creative guidelines for your campaign and the characters your players chose to play. Relying on my Champions genre sourcebook from my dusty shelves I find the Drama Campaign has many useful bits I would mention with my players while crafting the PC's back story's. The implications of time paradoxes, and the distortions possible with existing relations, the judgement of the Time Corps, etc...


Good character concept generated with the input of the GM and the other players at the beginning of play will allow you to use USR to game any genre effectively. For superhero role playing I just need to wring out all the essential elements of my existing sourcebooks and leave the number crunching aside.

As I mentioned earlier, I would read the Fiasco rulebook for inspiration on how to distill story lines down to their essential elements regardless of system. It will go a long way in maximizing your role playing pleasure with USRPS and other game mechanics which trend towards lite.