Thursday, September 22, 2016

Alice, Queen of Hearts (Cold Steel Wardens conversion)

I thought I would try out the Cold Steel Wardens and begin by converting some NPC's from other supers games.  My favorite from Silver Age Sentinels is Alice, Queen of Hearts.  She just needed to be powered-down a little.

Alice, Queen of Hearts

Magnetism 4
Accuracy 5
Force 3
Intelligence 5
Agility 5
Nerve 3
Awareness 4
Psyche 3

Pace 7
Defensive Value 8
Wealth and Status
Physical Strain 12
Mental Strain 12

Physical Skills
Armed Melee 2D+5, Armed Ranged 5D+5 (Pistol), Athletics 3D+3 (Parkour), Stealth 6D+5 (Move Silently, Stake-Out), Unarmed Combat 4D+5 (+1D Damage)

Investigative Skills
Canvass 3D+5 (Underworld), Examination 1D+4, Investigation 3D+4 (Pick out detail), Notice 4D+4 (Spot Ambush), Research 3D+5 (Internet)

Social Skills
Deception 4D+4 (Bluffing), Intimidation 3D+4 (Taunts), Intuition 2D+4, Persuasion 4D+4 (Seduction), Reputation 2D+4

Knowledge Skills
Criminal 4D+5 (Metahuman Assassins), Cultural 3D+5 (Art), Esoteric  0D+5, Historical 2D+5, Scientific 2D+5

Technical Skills
Driving 2D+5, Fine Manipulation 4D+5 (Explosives), Mechanics 3D+5 (Sabotage), Piloting 0D+5, Vehicle Combat 2D+5

Masteries: Case the Joint

Powers: Telekinesis 4D (Fine Targeting)

Flaws: Sinner (Greed), Hunted (Police), Secret (former member of British metahuman assassin group)

Memories: the day her powers first appeared, being trained by the black-ops program
Motivations: to make enough money to be safe, to have fun doing it
Stances: "Oh, I'm too smart to get caught."  "You don't know anything about me."

Equipment: Medium pistol, Kevlar-lined costume

Background: Alice was a psychic mutant born in the rough part of London whose powers manifested after being assaulted by a hoodlum.  Despite trying to keep it a secret, she was noticed by a very shadowy branch of the British intelligence community which was trying to develop metahuman assets for covert operations.  Alice was forcibly recruited and trained as an assassin.  Eventually she was able to break free of the control of her superiors and began a freelance career.

In a Cold Steel Wardens campaign Alice, Queen of Hearts could be traveling to New Corinth to branch out into a new and lucrative market as a gun-for-hire for one of the major crime families.  She is substantially less powerful than her Silver Age Sentinels iteration, lacking her force field for example.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

More corners and walls

I had a quiet evening and used the time to add a few more pieces to my modular dungeon.

So here is how it looks with a few other pieces, just set up on my small table.

A follow up to my Cold Steel Wardens Review

Last month I reviewed Cold Steel Wardens, a superhero RPG seeking to emulate the good parts of the Iron Age of comic books.

I feel like I read the game enough to write a review, but since then this game has been sitting on my nightstand, constantly drawing me in to reread it.  There's a lot that is compelling about this game, and a few things I'm having a lot of trouble getting past, both of which is probably what keeps me coming back to it.  (Note: I have a similar relationship with Rifts.)

One of the things I really like is the way that the rules support investigating play.  There's a skill for canvassing an area for information that is different than the one you use to interrogate people or the one you use to research stuff online.  The GM section of running investigations is excellent and I'll likely port it into any similar game I run.

I like how the game handles realistic combat and injuries.  Not really something you'd see in most supers RPG's, but totally in keeping with the genre here.  It's almost a version of the STUN/BODY mechanic in Champions, where there is the damage you recover easily from, and the damage that takes a lot out of you.

But here's what I don't like.  Guns.  Guns in the hands of mobsters and thugs I can live with. I'm not a huge fan of guns in the hands of heroes.  I like Batman, but never saw the appeal of the Punisher (and in fact mostly saw the character as the bland ripoff of characters from "men's adventure novels" like Mack Bolan.)

Don Pendleton, I'm pretty sure at this point you owe the world a rain forest.
As a card-carrying Genre Fiend, I get that there is precedent for gun-carrying heroes: the Punisher, Cable, the Red Hood, Vigilante, the loathsome Deadpool, the Comedian, Rick Flagg, etc.  But there are a lot more guys who did it without superpowers and without guns out there, and the game doesn't reward that behavior.

In fact, and here's my biggest gripe about the game: guns are as cheap and easy as they are in real life.  Unlike most RPG's, where a hero has to pay some kind of construction point for a gadget that they use regularly, in Cold Steel Wardens PC's buy them with money.  I can see this lending itself to an "arms race" where PC's regularly take firearms or cash off of villains they defeat to turn around and use to buy bigger guns to defeat villains.  Is there a term for SuperMurderHoboing?  Because CSW could have it.

I'd love to run a Batman-style supers RPG where the focus was on character and investigation, and less on how a PC or NPC could throw a semi truck.  I've been thinking the answer might be that the more guns you use, the less likely the police, etc. will be willing to help you out, look the other way, etc.  I wonder if I could use the "Heat track" from Primeval about how well or poorly the PC's keep the existence of time portals under wraps as a way to indicate how severe the "heat" is on them for what they are doing as vigilantes...

Like I said, a tough game to put down...

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