jay@vanishingtowerpress.com

Friday, April 15

Pulsar, the Perfect Super Hero Roleplaying Game is in Production

 I'm chewing through the powers right now, I think I'm in the "M"s. Pulsar is my attempt to create a legal retro-clone of DC Heroes 3e

Besides used copies for this out-of-print game and its first retro-clone, The Blood of Heroes, there is no legal way to get this great superhero system in print. What I am after is MEGS, Mayfair's Exponential Game System. The engine and internal logic which drives the game. Stripping out all intellectual property is not much of a chore. In fact, I have the rules, combat and gadgets complete. Middle of the Powers right now like I said (limitations, bonuses, etc. completed) so the next big chapter to write is Mysticism. Don't need to include any setting material, this is just a rulebook. There still are DC Heroes adventures you can find in the usual places, but you should pass on those. From my experience, super hero modules are fairly derivative an rarely stray far into the realm of unique or original. Game Masters are best creating their own stuff. Poach villains from anywhere. MEGS is simple enough to do conversions. I've wrote up one for Icons myself and posted it on the blog. 

The art is not going to cost me anything either. I'm adding in my drawings from the actual MEGS campaign I've been running for over a year. When I mull over the previous session I like to capture a scene that sums up the action and doodle away while I daydream. So yeah, we got art! 

Layout, the original rule books were built inefficiently. I believe this is due to all the optional rules available to add to the base rules. And these are littered throughout the book. Fortunately I am not taken with much, if any, optional rules the game has so that is the first clutter to go. The only other real change I am doing in layout is putting character creation after "The 8 Ideas". the rules, and combat. This is so the GM can go to the front of the book and be confident of finding the rule they are looking for, not go to several places piecing the answer together. I will do something simple, like run a black header all the way to the edge of the page, in the Powers section of Character Creation chapter. This gives you a black "section" you can see looking at the edge of the book.  When making a character you are going to go to this section many times, this should speed up getting there. The way BoH is arranged I would end up in the combat chapter when I'm looking for player information and always ending up in the Powers section looking for Knockout, or Falling rules. So rules first, then character creation. 

I'm wishy-washy on the Gamemaster section of the book. I write genre-centric rule books for my games and I write for people who know what they want and the campaign they want to run. Pulsar, the Perfect Super Hero RPG will be built the same way. I'm going to toss that section, except for Standard Awards. How to gain additional Power Points will need to be known so PCs can be, well, heroic.

I'll finish the book with a substantial appendix containing all the charts found in the game. Being able to scan Power Point Benchmarks and choose combat modifiers with this information side by side helps me during a fast and furious punch-up. 

This will be interesting, seeing how it is received and all. It is a dusty old system, but it kicks all sorts of supers ass. We will see, we will see.

Tuesday, April 12

A Vehicle Car Chase

 I  ran MEGS rules for vehicle combat paired with the traffic generators I made while watching my Rangers bet flame out this Sunday on TV. I'm preparing for a downtown city supers chase scene. I'm hoping I can parse the rules to create a dynamic running gun battle between supers and bystanders which will light up the mind like Hollywood lights up the big screen with their visual tools.

This is a solo roleplay example predicated on the next upcoming game session for Even Heroes Bleed so if you are in a player in VTP's current house game you should pass on reading this blog post till later.

To try and make sure I could run a credible chase scene I took notes and had  the BoH rule book open to their optional rules for vehicle dog-fighting.

I'm making no deviation to the MEGS existing mechanics, only adding my random generators to provide on-the-fly content while I roleplay the game action. The Universal Modifier Table used in most contested skill checks will be adapted and used as situations require. 

So the tools on the table are the Universal Modifier Table and the Optional dog-fighting rules with random traffic generators for scene details.

 On page 182 of The Blood of Heroes Special Edition rulebook are instructions for an optional Vehicular Combat system. The rules are intended to  adjudicate  maneuvering into place to intercept and or shoot at your opponent in another from behind, on an opponent's "six" and blast it to pieces, like in an aerial dogfight. This is a vehicle chase with an airborne superhero so we have an aerial and land vehicle engaged with numerous environmental factors presenting obstacles which can hurt either one of the combatants. Of course, in any type of vehicle combat there is the opportunity to fire on an opponent at any angle a shooter may be able to manage. The important concept to remember, from a game mechanics point of view, is that the combatants are each trying to gain an advantage in positioning which will either allow one to escape or the other to force the other vehicle to stop.

At the beginning of each combat phase, just after rolling for initiative, everyone involved in the chase makes a maneuver check. Each driver rolls against an OV/RV 0/0, adjusted by the speed in PPs they are driving their vehicle (or speeding along as the case may be). Any degree of difficulty because of extreme maneuvering, damaging gunfire, or other environmental hazard which may make the maneuver fail can be added to the OV/RV.

Okay, I lied about not deviating from the MEGS rules. Adjusting the Maneuver Checks by the actors current speed is my own idea. Really, just spring-boarding off the rules and making good use of them in roleplay. Perfect example of trad play. I'm condensing the table narrative into a contested action, building up interest an tension as we approach dice rolling time.

Any RAPs earned on this action check are then allocated to enemy targets in any fashion the driver wants. In order to "attack" an enemy, the driver must allocate more of his maneuver RAPs to the enemy than the enemy allocated to him. In the situation of a tie neither pilot can attack (hit, shoot, cut off, etc.) each other.  This seems convoluted as heck. This is why I took notes as I went about play, and once again for me the internal logic of MEGS snapped into place and I foresaw needing to refer to the rule book again and again to lessen. 

When an "attacker" has been established they make an Attack roll using their appropriate skill versus the defender's appropriate OV. Any success with the attack indicates they achieved the maneuver and/or attack they were trying to make. The GM adjudicates the result of any "damage" done and another combat round of the chase begins.

For example: Distress is trying to get away from Olympian in a green Ford Mustang GTO. Croc is leaning out of the passenger side window trying to shoot at the flying Olympian as they speed through downtown traffic. 

Distress has a DEX of 4, a Land Vehicle Driving skill of 8 APs, and a car with a max Running speed of 7. Olympain has a max flight of 6 APs and a DEX of 6. Distress makes a hard left through two lanes of oncoming southbound traffic as he attempts to drive west on 24th Avenue. Olympian will attempt to catch the fleeing sports car and use his tremendous strength to stop its forward movement. 

Distress really wants to escape the EE so stomps on the gas and burns 10 VP on his initiative roll. Distress has a base initiative of 11 so he will be rolling with an initiative score of 21. Olympian has an initiative of 18 and for now is content to stay on top of the thieves in their speeding car and will not add any HP to his initiative roll. Croc is going to spray his M4 at Olympian and will take his shot when most opportune. Croc will not burn any VP to increase his initiative roll. Final initiative rolls are C 19, D 24 an, O 26. Croc and Distress announce their intentions before Olympian has to decide what he will do.

Now, before Olympian can take his three actions for the combat phase both Distress and Olympian must make their maneuver checks. Distress is driving at a speed of 5 PPs and making a dangerous 90 degree left hand turn into oncoming traffic (here I am just making decisions on modifiers as a GM as if I was in an actual live game session). This costs Distress +3 CS to the difficulty of making a maneuver at 5 PPs of Speed. An AV of 8 vs. an OV of 5 results in a 9 or better needed to make the turn. The OV gets +3 CS because of the 90 degree turn for a final target number of 15 or better. Distress burns 8 VP to give himself an AV of 16. Now Distress only needs to roll a 7 or better. He rolls a 13, so not only succeeds but gets 2 CS in his favor on the Results Table. Cross referencing his Land Vehicle skill of 8 versus a RV of 5 and 2 CS leaves Distress with 5 RPPs.

Olympian has a DEX of 6 and is flying at his max speed of 6. Olympian does not have to add any CS for difficulty because Olympian's flight power allows him to make 90 degree turns with ease. He only needs to roll an 11 or better to pass his maneuver check and stay on top of the speeding Mustang. Olympian burns 3 HP to give himself an AV of 9. He now only needs to roll a 7 or better now. He gets a 4 and fails, earning no RPPs. Distress has 5 more RPPs than Olympian and intends to spend them to increase the distance between his car and the flying superhero. Since Olympian cannot "attack" this phase he only gains 1 PP of distance on Distress (speed of the car 5 PPs vs. Olympian's flight of 6PPs. 20 feet. Just over the length of one car length. If we established the distance between Olympian and the Mustang at the beginning of the combat phase as 200 ft (4 PPs) than Olympian is now only 3 APs away, somewhere between 41 and 80 feet from the escaping villains, and due to intervening traffic (interpretation of Olympian's failed maneuver check) cannot take any action against them. 

Distress is up next and will attempt to swerve through different lanes of traffic trying to get Olympian to fly into a street light or large commercial vehicle, all in an attempt to increase the distance between them. Distress "attacks" with her Land Vehicle skill of 8. Once again she will burn 8 VP to give herself a land vehicle skill of 16. Olympian will burn 5 HP to raise his Flight power to 11. Since he did not have to use his Movement Power as a Dice Action this phase he can use it as his OV. 16AV vs. 11OV = 7 or better. 13! Success with 2 CS. 8EV (driver's skill) vs. 6RV (O's Dex) with 2 CS results in 5 RPPs. 5 is greater than 4 (once again GM decision/interpretation on the fly) so Distress is able to open the distance back up 1PP to 4 PPs of distance. The Mustang has shot through traffic and is once again 150 to 250 feet away from Olympian. Distress is driving through heavy downtown traffic at 50 mph (5 APs) while Olympian gives pursuit flying close to the ground at 75 mph (6 APs). 

Croc, since Distress won the "attack" for this vehicles maneuver check takes his shot against Olympian. Croc has a Dex of 6. The M4 has an AV of 4 so Croc will stick with his Dex. He uses 1 additional ammo point (the gun is an automatic) reducing Olympian's Dex OV by -1 CS. Croc sufferes +2 CS because of shooting from a moving vehicle (Universal Modifier Table). For a total of +1 CS in Olympian's favor. 6 vs. 6 = 11, plus 1 CS for a final target #13. Croc decides to make the autofire a Flailing Attack giving -2 CS to the OV. Croc now only needs a #9<, but will suffer +3 Cs to the RV in this attack. Croc rolls a 7 and misses. Automatic fire goes streaming harmlessly by Olympian. Croc ticks off an ammo expenditure of 2 and has 6 ammo points left. 

Another round of initiative. None of the characters involved in the chase decide to spend any APs on initiative. C 17, D 15, O 26. Distress declares another sharp hand turn north at the next intersection. Croc declares he will take another shot at Olympian if he gets a chance and Olympian decides he is going to try and land on the Mustang by pushing his Flight and close the distance of 4 PPs.

Time for the maneuver check. The GM decides to see if there are any hazards to be considered at this intersection. Using my Traffic Generator I roll for the type of intersection. It is a T intersection with the road continuing east and west. It dead ends north due to road construction. It is a serious excavation so there are numerous street workers ahead. Distress decides to waste no time and sail through the intense street construction. There are large cranes swinging large concrete vaults around and lowering them below ground for city services.

Speed of 5, hazards give +2 CS against Distress' Vehicle Skill of 8. 13 or better. 10, Distress fails. Olympian is rolling against a 6AV/6OV. 11 or better. 8 Olympian fails maneuver check as well. Distress drives out the other side of the road construction with Olympian still buzzing behind 100-150 yards. Croc cannot get a shot off because Distress failed his maneuver check. The ride through the road construction was bumpy enough to make shooting impossible. Olympian maintains speed so is able to close the distance to 4 PPs, somewhere between 160 and 200 feet (all this is GM fiat/interpretation of the dice rolls and what they mean for the current situation). 

Another combat phase begins. So far we have been through 8 seconds of chaotic action. In the next 4 seconds the north bound avenue changes angle 30 degrees to the right (random generator roll). There is a parked bus on the right unloading passengers. 9 people are crossing the street. Initiative is rolled. D 21, C 18, O 25. 

Distress declares his action, not giving one fig for the pedestrians safety, he stomps on the gas bringing hisspeed up to 7. Croc still awaits an opening to take a shot. Olympian is going to try and get between the speeding car and the innocent by standers. 

Maneuver Check. 8 Land Vehicle Skill vs. Speed of 7 PPs. 11 or better. Distress rolls a 10, failed. Distress will not get a chance to put any pedestrians in danger. Olympian is looking at an 11 as well, Flight 6 vs. Speed 6. Olympian wants to leave nothing to chance. He burns 5 HP bringing his Flight AV to 11. Olympian needs to roll a #5< to protect any pedestrians in danger. Olympian rolls an 8, success with no column shifts. Dex of 6 versus a RV 6 yields 1 RPP. Just enough to intercede! Since the pedestrians are all getting out of the way Olympian can launch his attack at the villains directly. With a speed of 6 it will take Olympian 1 second to reach the car. This gives him plenty of time to try and stop the car. He will attempt to get Distress to drive right into him. This is a "Trying to get Hit" combat manuever, -2CS OV/-2CS RV.  This gives Olympian an AV/EV of 6/15 (Dex/Bod). OV is Distress' Vehicle skill of 8 and RV is the Body of the car, 6. The Block modifiers leave us with AV/OV of 6/4. I see no reason why the GM should apply -4 to the cars RV so the RV stays at 6 for a final OV/RV of 4/6. Olympian needs a 9 or better and rolls a 3. Miss. Distress is able to weave around Olympian's Block attempt and goes sailing on by leaving paniced, but safe, pedestrains fleeing for the sidewalks. 

Olympian has been chasing Distress and Croc for almost 16 seconds through downtown traffic. Neither has been able to lose or stop each other yet. Fortunately for Olympian no one has yet to be killed in the mayhem. Perhaps he can put a halt to this madness before someone does! The GM rolls on random tables to see what the road ahead looks like...


Sunday, April 10

Even Heroes Bleed AAR Issue #27

 The audio for the GM (me) was not picked up last game session, though it was live-streamed at the time. The episode was interesting. Bug player wasn't able to make the session, but we had an action-packed episode nonetheless!

Subplots, or at least the one between Mettle and Mayor Umpstead, was given more flesh to the bone. The payoff to Mettle involved Jimmie Mac, Star Pulse pistols and the murderous vigilante Ultra Rosa showed up and got involved. She told Mettle her new bag of money was hers. She needed to finance her war on crime. It was the price Mettle had to pay for Rosa not killing the city mayor, for the time being. If Mettle was going to extort the mayor to not traffic in human beings and extort innocent people for peace and profits, she was going to need to be in the payoff line too.

Mettle reluctantly agreed and let Rosa walk away with a bag of money, $400K I think it was. 

Bisbee Sharp called in a favor from Olympian. Wanted the mighty protector to go with Special Agent Madhur during a security inspection of Fordhem ChemTech Monday morning. Three other high-tech firms near Capitol City have been broken into and had sensitive technology and data taken. These break ins had no sign of forced entry and no evidence of the intruder has been picked up. The thief is a mystery, a ghost. Fordhem believes they may be next. Their work includes government military contracts, top secret stuff. The Federal Government wants to know Fordhem is taking reasonable steps to protect their classified R&D. Sharp sees it as a great PR opportunity as well as a chance to start figuring out who is behind the thefts.

DR. Janet Shane, the researcher who greets Madhur and Olympian at Fordhem ChemTech Monday morning, is a upbeat and fun smart person. She gives the members of the FBEE the nickel tour and speculates out loud the insurance company is what has made this security inspection really necessary, but she promises to keep the PC and the NPC entertained. She has some experiments prepared for Olympian. The highlight being a palm-sized titanium ball for Olympian to squeeze. Being a top-knotch physicist she plans on extrapolating a bunch of data from Olympian's exerted force. 

Fordhem has impressive research labs with sophisticated access control, face recognition software screening personal, and 7' tall Security Droids monitoring the entire commercial building. The robots are designed to withstand EE's with enhanced strength, and resilience, and energy blasters built into their chests. 

Right on cue an intrusion of the most sensitive lab occurred and put the place in a code rode lockdown. During the ensuing chaos it was determined an EE capable of de-solidifying and sliding through concrete walls and steel had possession of the the "Energy Harmonizer", the project Dr. Shane is working on. Olympian gets a fix on the intruder's location and seeks to confront the thief. Olympian encounter's the leather-clad intruder in an office hallway, but the villainous EE stepped through the building's wall and outside to freedom. Olympian Mr. Kool-Aided his way after the EE, but not before he had to tangle with a security droid. For some reason it fixated on Olympian and tried to use energy blasts to injure our hero. The security bot fumbled on the attack roll and burnt out it's electric brain instead.

Meanwhile Mettle who had  been watching nearby (she is a wanted person subject top arrest) stepped out of traffic and released her powerful magnetic control to try and cage the intangible intruder who had so demonstrated an ability to go through anything while carrying things along with them. Basically an ability to make themselves and anything else they want intangable. Her attack slowed the thief down, but did not immobilize him. Before she could push her abilities any further she is attacked by the airborne Power Disc. An EE who can focus a neutral electrical charge and projected it as a forceful beam. He uses pieces of technology he calls "Force Discs" to focus this energy he can generate. He scores a direct hit on Mettle and sends her rolling in her helmet and motorcycle suit 30 feet across the lawn. The thief jumps into a waiting black Dodge Charger and peels off, Power Disc covering their tail.

Olympian now gives chase but has to halt. Croc, an EE with a large, grotesquely fanged maw, tactical gear, and a loaded M4 gets out of a green Mustang GTO and charges in. Olympian punches Croc back into his car. Both car and Croc careen into traffic creating an instant traffic jam. Olympian turns back to the injured Mettle. She needs to be okay before Olympian feels he should fly after the fleeing felons 

Saturday, March 26

MEGS works with the Traveller Scheme

 Traveller is widely known for the simple structure of a character, PC and/or NPC. The Universal Personality Profile is hexadecimal notation (letters and numbers) which makes prep super simple and scanning a character's abilities super simple. For example, in Traveller a basic, normal npc would have the following stats: 777777. Sevens across the board. 


MEGS/DC Heroes/The Blood of Heroes has nine stats instead of Traveller's six. Also, The stats are arranged on the MEGS character sheet follows a grid with each row and column having some significance. Anyways, here would be the stat line for a normal person in the MEGS power scale of stats,

2 2 2

2 2 2

2 2 2 

twos across the board. Here is how I would arrange them ala Traveller's UPP. [222-222-222], ini: 6.

Wala, anyone who plays MEGS is going to know what all these mean and how the grid is written out straight across (physical attributes, mental attribute, mystic attributes, etc.). I add the character's initiative total after the stat string. With attributes and initiative listed you really have all you need for any old NPC you need to make up on the fly!