Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New Game: Ultralight Supers

Note to readers: I swear a lot in this one. Just the state of mind I was in while writing, sorry.

Found this song recently, been enjoying it. Not much else to say here
Hey, I was sitting at my table at the Gamerati Game Day on Saturday and I overheard some people talking about superheroes and The Dark Knight and I was thinking about The Core (because Geop and Vicas and the rest of that LP crew streamed it while riffing on it) and so I was thinking about Aaron Eckhart. It got me to his whole "you either die a hero or live to see yourself become the villain" line, and I was thinking about how that could totes be a cool death mechanic for a superheroes game.
And then I extrapolated a whole fuckin' tiny game from it over a couple days. It should be pretty obvious in reading it that I was reading my Lasers & Feelings sheet at the same time.
This is not a pretty or elegant game. It is rough and crazy untested and it exists only on 6 index cards.

Title: Ultralight Supers (fuck if I have a witty title)

Stats: There are three stats in this game, Power, Image, and Code. You have 4 points to split between them, with a maximum of three in any stat. For each point in a stat, you get a perk in that stat. Note that this isn't about actual power level or anything, but the balance of the three elements within the character.
Power Perks:
(  ) Kick Mook Ass: Add 1 to Power rolls against mooks.
(  ) Versatile: If you want to be able to do something, you probably can.
(  ) Unkillable: Any Mook that only deals one damage deals none instead.
Image Perks:
(  ) Allies: You've always got friends you can call on.
(  ) Resources: Money and stuff is at your fingertips.
(  ) Beloved: The public loves you, and you can rely on their support.
Code Perks:
(  ) Disciplined: You can fight through pain. You don't flinch or hesitate when you take damage (other than going Down or being Shattered).
(  ) Admirable: Others support your code, and are willing to help you uphold it.
(  ) Driven: When you would go Down, you don't go Down until the end of the scene.
Depending on your stat split, you also have a drawback. If your split is 3/1/0, choose a drawback from the 3 or 0 stat. If your split is 2/2/0, you have a drawback in the 0 stat. If your split is 2/1/1, you have a drawback in the 2 stat.
Power Drawbacks:
(  ) Berserker: If you ever take 2 or more damage at once, you can ignore the damage to just lose. fucking. control.
(  ) Unreliable: Your powers can cut out at any moment, especially if you're under stress.
Image Drawbacks:
(  ) Paparazzi: The media is always after you; depending on how much the public likes you, it might be angry and criticizing, or it might just be annoyingly omnipresent.
(  ) Part of a Whole: You don't do as well without the support of others. When you're totally alone, you take 1 off your rolls.
Code Drawbacks:
(  ) Restrictive: Your code is especially limiting, and you are uncompromising.
(  ) Unconventional: Your code is bizarre or unappealing to others.
Making Rolls:When you make a roll, roll a six-sided die. If you roll equal to or less than the stat you're rolling against plus two, you succeed (meaning a 3 stat succeeds on a 5-, a 0 stat succeeds on a 2-).
Roll against Power when, well, when you do powers at things.
Roll against Image when you interact with people to get what you want.
Roll against Code when you do something questionable or unlawful.

Life: Your Life Bar looks something like this:
{6}{5}{4}{3}{2}{1, Down} - {Dead}
* 6-2 are just damage, and you'll lose them like you do in any other gear, when you get smacked or something.
* Down means you're incapacitated. You black out and when you wake up, a new situation has arisen. Cross out Down and write Shattered instead. The GM will tell you how much Life you wake up with.
* Shattered means you're broken - maybe physically, maybe it's your willpower, maybe its your sterling reputation, whatever. You're on the brink, it's only now that you can be killed.
* Even the Shattered are powerful. Mooks and hazards can never kill you; only a villain can take you from Shattered to Dead. And even if they manage to get you here, you either Die A Hero or Live To See Yourself Become The Villain.
When you would take damage from mooks or hazards, roll a d6. If it is more than or equal to your current life, you are not hurt, take no damage. 
This means you get more resilient as your get more desperate - superheroes always take scratches and bruises really easy, but actually killing them is fucking ridiculous. It also means that once you're at 1, you're literally invincible to little guys.
When a Villain attacks you, you and the GM both roll a d6, but you get to add your current Life to the roll. If the GM's total is higher, you get hurt as appropriate. If you're higher, you totally resist. If they're equal, re-roll.
 Villains can wreck you once you start getting weak. However, the villain can't go after your right away or your Life bonus is going to keep you safe, so they throw their mooks and minions at you! That's sort of a pacing thing for why villains don't just immediately chase down the heroes and how you stretch the game into a whole adventure instead of just one fight.
If you would die, you have a choice to make. You can die a hero; you die, and your name will be purified and idolized in public myth. Or you can survive; but to do so, you must violate your code in a major, unrecoverable way, and are one step close to your final fall from grace. Regardless, if a Villain got you to here, they're totally getting away today, tough luck man. Your friends might still be able to chase him, but you're done for now.
 The root mechanic this game sprung from. I like it.

So we have 3 stats and when to roll them, perks and drawbacks for those stats, and a life bar that paces out the game. What your power is doesn't fuckin' matter, so go nuts as long as you can fit it to your traits. Here's some classic superheroes who I used as metrics while trying to write the stats and perks and drawbacks (for reference, the stat Image used to be Affluence, then Influence, and Code used to be Humanity. Also I considered being a giant troll and calling my stats Power, Public, and Principles, just to make your life difficult):
Batman: P1/I2/C1, Versatility, Resources, Beloved (somewhat as Batman, definitely as Bruce Wayne), Driven, Paparrazi
Beast: P1/I3/C0, Kick Mook Ass, Allies, Resources, Beloved, Paparazzi
Captain America: P1/I0/C3, Unkillable, Disciplined, Admirable, Driven, Part of a Whole (he works best as a team leader, not a solo fighter)
Daredevil: P2/I0/C2, Kick Mook Ass, Unkillable, Driven, Disciplined, Paparrazi
Green Lantern: P2/I1/C1, Versatility, Unkillable, Allies, Admirable, Unreliable
Hulk (To REALLY play Hulk, drift the rules and just give all 4 of his points to Power and make him Berserk after only 1 damage): P3/I0/C1, Kick Mook Ass, Versatility (faster than, more powerful than, able to leap tall buildings...), Unkillable, Disciplined (in Banner form, before being mad), Berserker
Human Torch: P1/I3/C0, Kick Mook Ass, Allies, Resources, Beloved, Paparazzi
Invisible Woman: P3/I1/C0, Kick Mook Ass, Versatility, Unkillable, Allies, Berserk (losing control over her powers and stuff cuz she's way strong)
Iron Man (one statting of him - this is more "Tony Stark", I could do a much more Power-based stat line too of P3/I1/C0): P1/I3/C0, Versatility, Allies, Resources, Beloved, Paparrazi
Mr. Fantastic: P1/I3/C0, Versatility, Allies, Resources, Beloved (pffft, not by anyone who actually knows him, but the public doesn't see that), Part of a Whole
Nick Fury: P0/I3/C1, Allies (well, I guess agents can be called "allies"), Resources, Beloved, Driven, Part of a Whole
Professor X: P0/I2/C2, Allies, Resources, Disciplined, Driven, Unreliable
Punisher (this fucker gets in the way, he's a high-level criminal with no powers, but I had to somehow make him "equal"): P1/I1/C2, Kick Mook Ass, Resources, Disciplined, Driven, Unconventional
Sentry: S3/I0/C1, Kick Mook Ass, Versatility, Unkillable, Admirable, Unreliable
Spider-Man: P1/I2/C1, Versatility, Allies, Beloved, Admirable, Paparrazi
Superman: P3/I1/C0, Kick Mook Ass, Versatility, Unkillable, Beloved, Restrictive
Thing: P2/I0/C2, Kick Mook Ass, Unkillable, Disciplined, Admirable, Part of a Whole
Thor: P3/I1/C0, Kick Mook Ass, Versatility, Unkillable, Allies, Unconventional
Wolverine: P2/I1/C1, Kick Mook Ass, Unkillable, Allies, Disciplined, Berserker

Sorry if those aren't perfect representations of the characters, I'm going for best approximations and I don't even read these fuckin' comics, I just like the characters.

This is the closest thing I've done to an original game mechanism ie I'm not using ApW here. I mean, there's a little Move wording in there, but it's not the structure at all really, just the rhetoric. I think it's pretty decent for a very quickly put-together game.
I figure I'll throw together a pdf or something, maybe make a little art, maybe not. It's not a complicated game (I don't think).

So, uh, what do you think? Don't take my dismissive-of-myself attitude as an indicator that I don't care about this thing, I really do like working on it. The pseudo-angry/unhappy/tired attitude you see is the reason I'm writing this and not The Old World right now, I only can work on that in the right frame of mind.
End Recording,

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