Friday, December 28, 2012

5000 Pageviews!


First I hit 100 posts just earlier this week, and now I'm at 5000 pageviews, so it is a week of benchmarks for Graph Paper Games.  I started this blog as an off-shoot of my wargaming blog The Army Collector, but lately I've been finding my interest being more on roleplaying games than wargaming.  Not surprising, since wargaming itself was an off-shoot of roleplaying games.

Right now, I'm in a curious play in terms of roleplaying games.  I've got a game, and I've got a great group, and we meet regularly.  But I'm discontented.  I've been running this game (D&D 4E) off-and-on for almost two years, and I'm a little bored.  I'm trying to ascertain if I'm bored with the fantasy genre as a whole, or if I'm bored with the "three fights fill an evening" game mechanic that seems to have evolved over time with the group.  I know the group (some of whom read this blog) have a great time hanging out with each other and playing the game, so they aren't necessarily hankering for something different.

But I have told them I'd run about a dozen more sessions or so to get them up to level 20.  After that, I'm done.  That gives me roughly six months to have another campaign in place in which to transition.  That means finding both a game I want to run, a game the players will want to play, and a game that could be used for a long-running campaign (since I'm not such a big fan of short games, having done way too many of those).  The list reflects my priorities, but I have yet to figure out what that game will be.  Maybe you all could be the sounding board about that.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Only War(?)

Side note: I know I owe about three more supervillains, but I haven't had time to stat any new ones out.  In the meantime, I had some thoughts about another game...

I picked up the Free RPG Day mini-adventure for Only War, the latest RPG offering out of Fantasy Flight's licensed Warhammer 40K RPG's.  Only War focuses on the Imperial Guard, the lowly grunts who make up most of the Empire's military apparatus.  Now the main rulebook is out, and while I really liked the little mini-adventure, I've had mixed thoughts about picking up the game.

FFG's earlier Warhammer 40K games had players playing members of the Inquisition, the crack teams who root out sedition, corruption, and covert alien invaders.  The game was supplemented by rules for playing Rogue Traders (semi-independent freebooters), and the iconic Space Marines (superhuman defenders of humanity).

But in the 40K universe, the Imperial Guard are usually the faceless masses of humanity thrown into the meat grinder of battling the Imperium's enemies.  That doesn't sound like great roleplaying: "so you're all in a ditch when a bomb goes off near you.  Now you're dead."  So how does one actually run this, or for that matter any military-oriented game?

If you go with the Only War mini-game, then the answer is to play a diverse crack special-ops team.  It's like a little pack of Rambo's all ready to go.  Nor far off from this is Dan Abnett's "Tanith" series of Warhammer 40K novels featuring a small IG company composed of tragic figures from a destroyed world.

But what I wonder is, how does any game not degenerate into a combat-encounter slug-fest?  In Dark Heresy you at least had the stories featuring uncovering conspiracies, et al.  I would think that after a while the game could grind down fairly quickly.

One thing I did consider, however, which is how it might work as the framework for a post-apocalyptic game.  Cybernetics, big guns, weird mutants--all part of the Imperial Guard universe.  You could ditch the military command structure and just run them in a Borderlands-esque universe.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Last Two Years (My Gaming History, Part 5)

After eight years of living in a very small town, first gaming with friends I could coerce into gaming with me and then later shifting to gaming at gaming stores, I moved again for work. This time, thankfully I was in a larger community and a college town.  I went from having a gaming store be a half-hour drive away to having one three blocks from my house.

Moreover, I also knew how to find other gamers, either by trawling gaming stores, the internet, or just my community of friends. I also knew I didn't want to spend two years waiting for gamers to fall out of the sky like I had previously.  I immediately arranged to run a game at the local gaming store and put up a notice on Meetup, which is a great tool for finding other gamers in your area.  That was my short-term goal.

Long term, I knew I'd be making other friends that I could try to game with me.  I had gotten over my aversion to letting the public know what I did as a hobby years before.  I think in this world where a lot of people play video games and go to superhero movies and enjoy TV shows like Lost you can get away with saying you're a gamer.

If I have had any mis-steps along the way, it was assuming that Fourth Edition D&D was still the gaming standard.  There's still a lot I like about the game, especially its ease when building adventures, but I had a lot of people say that they would game with me if I was doing Pathfinder instead.  I still think that game requires a ton of work, though (and why I think Paizo, as primarily an adventure publisher, is so successful).

After about four months of gaming at the gaming store, I knew who in the campaign I liked and would let into my house, and so I made the shift.  I had a pretty set lay-out: game every two weeks, cancelling sessions as rarely as possible.  Dinner and socializing at 6:00 PM, gaming at 7:00 PM, finishing up between 10:30 and 11:00 PM.  My campaign layout in many ways resembled an MMORPG format: I'd set up a handful of short quests (each five to six encounters long) from which the players could choose to follow, thus having at least a sense of agency while at the same time allowing for flexibility as people missed gaming sessions.  Urban location helped with this as well.  In the end I had about two or three people from the gaming store supplemented with three friends of mine from outside the hobby, plus my son who was now old enough to play.  That meant I could count on at least four people each session, but not have too many that the game became unwieldy.

One of the other players has a campaign that he is running at his own home, but it is on a night I can't play.  Sometimes he takes over the game for a few months just to give me a break (that might be happening soon). That I've been able to run a single campaign for two years straight might just be a first for my entire gaming career, and is a testimony to my finally figuring out what works in this phase of my life.  I won't deny that having a sizable gaming blogosphere to draw from has helped a lot, and I appreciate the feedback I get from my own readers.

I hope you've found my own history interesting, maybe even inspiring, or at least entertaining.  Despite staggering these posts over several days, I've actually written most of them at one sitting, in a rare bit of free time.  It was good to reflect on all the lessons learned, especially as I consider drawing my two-year D&D campaign to a close.  I'm sure I'll be writing more about that later.

Gaming with Non-Gamers (My Gaming History, Part 4)

So in my last installment of this gaming autobiography, I ended having left a city of two million to take a new job in a city of twenty thousand.  Also, this wasn't a suburb of a larger city, this was a small failed rustbelt town where the closest gaming store was easily more than twenty miles away.

Complicating matters, I had one small child and closely thereafter another.  My wife and I were both working, so there was lots of things going on.  While things like the internet were helping me find people to do wargames with, I was less willing to try to find other gamers, having had some back experiences with gaming with strangers.  You can play Warhammer against a stranger in a gaming store, leave and never see him again if you don't want.  It's harder (and a little more intrusive) getting out of doing a roleplaying game with someone who has been in your house.

After over two years of no gaming whatsoever, I got so hungry to do some gaming that I realized the answer was to just make gamers out of non-gamers.  At that point I had met people and made friends, friends who often had common interests like sci-fi and fantasy movies, etc.  Some of them had even done D&D back in the 1970's and 1980's like I had, but had dropped out.  So I started "outing" myself as a gamer to people,  risking some sort of social stigmatizing that actually never happened.  When you get to be in your 30's, you really shed a lot of your baggage from the past and a lot of the old nerd/jock/popular people distinctions fade away.  Plus, if you're talking to people who already like you, they probably already know that you are kind of geeky anyways and adding "RPG player" to the Venn diagram of your life isn't that big a shock.

So I adopted a fairly casual format.  I'd game less often, sometimes once a month or so.  I was often gaming with both adults and their older children.  It tended to center around having a meal of some kind; we'd get together, eat and be social, then game for a few hours.  That's worth noting: the five- to six-hour long gaming sessions of my past were long gone.  Schedule restraints meant I was usually just gaming from around 7:00 to 10:00 PM, and that meant a different kind of pacing.

It is also during this time that I hooked up with the EOW group, entirely because of my players in my group "outed" herself to a co-worker, who in turn had been running this Morrow Project game four times a year for twenty years.  I've talked about that elsewhere, but it was the epitome of the "gaming around a grown-up life" methodology.

By there was another factor in play in the RPG universe, and that was the Open Gaming License (OGL).  The third edition of D&D and Wizards of the Coast's willingness to allow third-party publishers to make D&D products meant that a lot of independent companies stopped making their own games and started cranking out D&D material by the truckload.  I was pretty burned out on superhero RPG's and the new interest in fantasy games across the gaming community swept me up, albeit briefly.  A quick look at the third edition of D&D made me realize what a cumbersome, prone-to-power-gaming system it could be.  I didn't want complicated at that point, I wanted something I could play relatively easily.  Which is why, when Castles & Crusades came out, I jumped on it.  C&C seemed to be a throwback to my earlier D&D games but with some pretty reasonable changes reflecting gaming wisdom of the intervening period.


What I wasn't able to do so easily was shuck a lot of the relatively modern RPG mindset when using what was essentially an OSR-style product.  I was still running plots, rather than sandboxes, and I was used to a low level of lethality and a high rate of advancement, neither of which this game (or other OSR games) offered.   As such, C&C didn't always click with people in my group, and despite the internet community telling me how great the old school was, I wasn't always getting it.  That took a while for me to grasp, mostly through reading a lot of other people patiently re-educating gamers about things like sandboxes and agency.

I also was getting personally frustrated about how irregularly I was gaming.  Since most of my gaming group hadn't much investment in the hobby, it was often difficult to get them to come play.  Finally my wife, after hearing me lament my situation for the upteenth time, said to me "you need to stop gaming with just people you know in town.  You need to find gamers like you who really love this hobby, even if that means driving half an hour to find them."

So, I decided to do something I had never done at that point: run a game at a gaming store.  By the grace of God I didn't end up with people like I had years before, but actually found a nice group of mature adults who wanted to game every other weekend like I did.  We'd show up, sack of fast food in hand, and game until the store closed on Friday night.  At that point my kids were no longer infants and my wife was more than willing to help me be happy living in our little town by having me be away for that evening.  The fourth edition of D&D had come out by then, and putting together simple dungeon crawls was easily (if not always satisfying).



As a side note, it really did seem that RPG's were on the wane, however.  World of Warcraft, CCG's, and console video games I think did have a serious impact on the hobby, and finding people even in gaming stores wasn't that easy.  I also think (and I believe the facts prove this out) that D&D 4E didn't quite take the gaming world by storm the way that 3E did.  At the gaming store I had a consistent group of four players, but I had a lot of people sneering at us like we were sell-outs.

Next chapter: bringing us up to now...

The Rough Years and Back (My Gamer History, Part 3)

When I left college, I returned to my home town, or rather my new home town since my parents had moved while I was in college.  That meant I didn't know anyone, didn't have much of a job, and was kind of at loose ends.  I thankfully found a reasonable-paying job (it was a different era back then), located the stores that sold gaming material, and began to look for a new group.

It didn't work out well.  I was back out in the MidWest and the pickings were surprisingly slim.  In the end I risked something I will probably never do again: I put up a sign at a gaming store saying I was running a Star Wars game and was looking for players. I got Brooding Guy, Quiet Guy, Jackass Guy, and Socially Inept Teenager.  I also recruiting my new girlfriend, who had some experience gaming although it wasn't really her thing.  (Later, she'd become Irene, my roller derby-playing, zombie-fighting partner over at Hard Boiled Zombies)  I liked most of them well enough, even Jackass Guy, although he could really live up to that moniker.  Once Brooding Guy announced he was dating a stripper and Jackass Guy made a point of going to where she worked, sticking money into her G-string, and then announcing he had done so at the next gaming session.  All told, the group was doomed.

I then moved, spent a little downtime writing for Shadis magazine (two articles), then settled into our new home as real, honest-to-God married adults.  Thankfully I had moved to a city where one of my old gaming crew from college was living, and she was plugged into the local gaming scene.  It was a lot bigger city, almost two million people, and had a large university smack in the middle of it.  In short, it had a lot going for it from a gamer's perspective.

I actually wrote the article "I Married a Boomer"

At its prime, my gaming group had about ten people in it, about half of whom were women.  When I really think about it that number was closer to thirteen, but I never had everyone at once.  Some people were only interested in World of Darkness games, for example.  Others were only interested in fantasy games.  Overall, if I could say anything broadly about the group, was that it was inconsistent.  We were young adults, working and getting ourselves set up, buying houses, etc.  Looking back, I can see that what I was trying to do was recreate what I had in college: a large gaming group that could meet regularly and consistently.  I didn't know how to run a game for a very irregular, inconsistent group, and I was frequently frustrated and would launch and re-launch games during this time, trying to figure out what magic formula might work.

Ironically enough, it turned out that one of my favorite genres had the answer.  You have to understand that, at this point in the timeline, Hero Games had gone pretty stale and Champions 4th Ed. was now considered to be way to crunch-heavy when compared to other game systems.  Cheap desktop publishing was allowing a lot of small, independent companies a chance to create innovative, quality product with very different rules ideas (this was before the OGL homogenized all of that).  But I was constantly creating campaign concepts that demanded internal cohesiveness: the questing party, the starship crew, etc.

Then one day I was reading an Avengers comic book when I realized that they were constantly cycling characters in and out of the plot.  I realized that I needed a format that was fairly episodic in nature, centered around a single location (thus allowing people to fade in and out of foreground without having to come up with ridiculous contrivances), and was a game I'd like to run.  So, I went back to superheroes.

Needing something that might appeal to my more jaded gaming group members, I decided to do something a little untraditional and went with Cosmic Enforcers.


Published by Myrmidion Press (also known for publishing the RPG's Witchcraft and Manhunters), Cosmic Enforcers was this superhero/sci-fi/fantasy mash-up set in Earth's far future.  You could literally play a spell-casting alien partnered up with a human superhero with a cyborg body.  Think Rifts, only without all the MDC garbage.  Thus it had a little something for everyone.  I also had a pretty inspired game concept: the PC's were essentially brought in to replace the established superhero team which had disappeared.  Between regular crime fighting they could investigate leads about what happened to their predecessors.

The game system itself proved to be clunky, and when the Marvel SAGA rules came out, we switched systems, which allowed for a bit more flexibility in play.  This was, by far, the most successful gaming enterprise of this period of time, not to mention the period in which my wife and I had our most prolific social life.  Unfortunately like it things, it came to an end for largely two reasons.  First, having done several years working at our post-college level a lot of the group decided to seek advanced degrees, which either took them to different cities or just took up a lot of time.  The other thing was much more important: kids.  I realized at one gaming session that I had literally five pregnant women sitting around the gaming table.  In a span of about two years almost every couple in the gaming group had their first child, and the time commitments that created caused a lot of people to drop away.  I was no exception, having done both.  After completing graduate school (in the city where I had been living, thankfully), work took me out into the hinterlands of the country, and I had to start over again.

As a side note, this was also the time I got into wargaming, for two reasons.  One, I had players who had a tough time visualizing where they were in comparison to other players.  One in particular was always where the action was, even if the previous moment they had stated they were far away from that point.  Using minis helped keep track of that.  The other reason had to do with the aforementioned inconsistency.  If I couldn't get the group together, I could at least get one person to play a wargame with me.  Not needing a group but just one person gave wargaming a lot of appeal.  It is because of that reason that I continue to like wargames that are more narrative, rather than tactical in nature.

Next time: something out of nothing....

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Halcyon Years (My History in Gaming, Part 2)

Previously, I wrote about my start in gaming; fumbling around but generally gaming a lot less than you might think.  All that changed when I went to college in New England, where both I think both the population density and cosmopolitan nature of the place lent itself better.  The college I attended actually had a school-sponsored club dedicated to playing roleplaying games as a way of encouraging non-fraternity activities.  What's more, when I got there I discovered that they played a game I thought I knew, but wasn't aware had advanced three editions.


I ended up playing, and then later running, Champions 4th Ed. for over three years, often more than once a week.  It's a slow game, combat-wise, especially when you've got six or so players, but this was the gaming mainstay the entire time.  And I loved it.  There was the Knights of New York, FUNHOUSE, Vanguard and its spin-off team Vanguard Europe.

We were a pretty mercurial group when it came to games, though, and frequently diverted ourselves with other RPG's that were big at the time.  Star Wars by West End Games was such a great game that we would continually launch and re-launch brief forays into a speculative post-Return of the Jedi universe (this was before the Zahn novels came along).  Most of these games had a pretty typical format: the Smuggler and His Crew battling whoever The Man happened to be while getting sucked into some Jedi-oriented subplot.  I frequently was the smuggler, a PC with the goofy name Fargo Wells.

But there was one other game that happened early in my college career that left an indelible mark, although it would take me a long time to figure out that what made it great wasn't the rules, or even the players.  It was the GM.  That game was Robotech.


Specifically, it was Robotech: the Sentinels, which for those who are up on their nerdstream know was the Harmony Gold-based anime show that attempted to form the glue between the three unrelated TV series that Harmony Gold had merged into one product for the American audience.

Back in 1989 and 1990 no one was using the term "sandbox campaign."  Most RPG's were pretty much set on doing a pre-determined plot of some sort.  Even D&D had lost this quality.  In fact by then D&D had become such a fetid, bloated mess that when one person in the college club admitted was playing D&D back in her old home town we acted like she had revealed that she was churning her own butter.  But the GM for the Robotech campaign loved, and I mean loved Robotech.  He knew all about the various shows.  He owned all the Palladium books.  He owned all the licensed novels.  He owned books about Macross artwork from Japan.  This guy had immersed himself in the Robotech universe.  And his campaign had a pretty solid concept: we were a REF force left behind on Tirol while the SDF-3 explored the universe in what was the Sentinels storyline.  Left behind on the planet were a few REF forces, some under the sway of the corrupt REF commander T.R. Edwards.  We weren't those guys.  Basically the GM laid out a couple of intriguing events (a weird telepathic but amnesiac girl, some bioroids attacking a hospital) and cut us loose.  We could do whatever we wanted.  Explore areas.  Cause trouble with the Edwards-affiliated troops.  Hunt bioroids.  It was, in later parlance, a ton of player agency.  And this guy had such a rich and fully-developed world in his head that we couldn't go off the page, at least not too badly.

It took me a long time to realize that the reason why players would literally stop by this guy's dormroom and say "hey, my PC wants to do this thing; let's game it out right now," wasn't because it was a Palladium game or about giant robots (I would go back to both of those concepts without the same success).  It was because in that game we did whatever we wanted, and he could just purely react.  Yeah, he had the deal about how Edwards was being controlled by the Invid like in the Sentinels, but I don't even think we made it that far.  We spent half the time just driving around Tirol like we were in a convertible with the top down.  I was still playing PC's with cornball names (e.g. Lane Mastodon, REF Scientist) but by God it was pure fun.  And now I get why.  When I recently took back over the 4E game, I started at least giving the players the choice of which quests they wanted to go on, a sort of flow-chart model of campaign design.  But when I choose to do another game, I so want to finally do what this guy did right over 20 years ago.

One thing that I did see happen that I would probably never do, but was unmistakably cool, happened in a game of Cyberpunk 2020 that a friend of mine ran.  We were a typical Cyberpunk PC group, which is to say thieves, spies, and killers who for some reason had a musician along for the ride (there's one in every group...)  We had been hired to steal this thing from this corporation (I don't even remember the details, mostly because it was such a generic plot for the genre).  Right before the theft took place, though, the GM arranged to meet with me so that my PC (a Fixer) could talk to one of the behind-the-scenes NPC's.  The guy told me that he had heard that one of my group had sold us out.

I immediately knew who it was.  There was one guy in our group who was really off.  He was distinctly the bottom of the nerd totem-polem, a bizarre person with poor hygiene and a curious habit of eating an entire bowl of nothing but chick peas and black olives at every meal.  Every meal.  We tolerated this guy, but only just.  It seemed so much in this guy's personality that he would sell out the group.  I didn't tell any of the other players, though.  I wanted to bring down this putz myself at the right time.

So we do the theft.  Two solos (one of whom was the suspected traitor), a hacker, and me went into the building while a tech and the rockerboy waited outside in our AV-4 as a getaway vehicle.  Not long after we get inside, the alarms go off, despite our having disabled them.  I immediately knew that we'd been betrayed, and I drew my toy gun (we used props for this game) and pointed at the other player's head.  "It's you, you bastard!" I shouted.  "You sold us out!  I know it!"

"Have you lost your freaking mind?" the player asked me back.

Then, we hear the two players out in the AV-4 say, "actually, that would be us.  See you later."  And then they said to the GM, "we fly off."

Then the four of us in the building died, one by one, as the security teams slowly took us out.  The moral of the story?  In morally ambiguous games, it isn't the social-inept combat monsters you need to look out for--it's the genre fiends.

The game that would finally move us out of cartoons/anime/sci-fi was the same one that changed gaming for a lot of people.  Vampire: the Masquerade.


It's 1992, and we'd played all sorts of stuff at that point.  Rifts. Amber. Even Fantasy Hero.  The guy who ran Robotech had long since graduated and I was the old man of the group, running most of the games.  We were at a gaming store one day when a couple of my friends came up to me with this game and said, "I'll buy this game for you if you'll run it."

Ann Rice's novels had become very popular at the time, and the idea of an RPG that was made up of PC's that were not part of some single team or unit but could even work against each other was a totally new concept.  After I agreed, I did discover that this game didn't work for everyone.  I still had guys playing vampire superheroes who only drank the blood of criminals and tried to interact with the police to solve crimes.  Others just couldn't stomach the notion of a PC that wasn't innately heroic.  But man, this game drew a certain kind of player in.  I still remember one of the players that betrayed the group in the Cyberpunk game, a young woman, coming to the first gaming session made up in pale makeup and playing a freaky Malkavian kid.  It was a level of roleplaying that none of us had done before, and we were getting into it.  I could do a pretty good Machiavellian plot for a 20-year-old, and like I said, the novelty had a lot going for it.

The problem is that gamers who love a lot of drama in their roleplaying tend to have a lot of drama in their lives, and in the end it spilled over.  One of the core couples of the V:tM group had a protracted, ugly break-up, and the guy in the pair decided the best way to get back at his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend was to wreck her favorite campaign.  It was such a dickish move that we basically called the game to a halt while things aired themselves out.

But around that same time my own long-term girlfriend (to whom I was actually engaged) and I broke it off, and not really wanting to be around and having more than enough credits to graduate even after only three-and-a-half years I informed the college I was leaving mid-year and told them to mail my diploma to me in May.

Of the college group, I know some of them continued gaming.  The girl in the V:tM break-up couple got heavily into the Vampire LARP scene and by a curious turn of events ended up in the same city as I did as an adult, forming part of a new core group years after college.  One of the players ended up contributing to several RPG's, including Scion and Ars Magica.  One became a big wheel for the game EverQuest.  Some like me continue gaming to this day.  But all that would come later.  College was probably the most heavy gaming period of my life, as I said before, and it would be a long while before I even got back up to something close to what I had then.

21st Villain of Christmas: Winter Wraith


Winter Wraith (Erin Heath)

Affiliations
Solo d8
Buddy d6
Team d4

Distinctions
Tragic figure
Cold hearted
Beyond the Grave

Power Sets

GHOSTLY PHANTASM
Flight d6
Invisibility d8
Insubstantial d8
SFX: Immunity.  Spend one die from the doom pool to avoid stress, trauma, or complications caused by aging, disease, poison, radiation, or vacuum.

WINTER POWERS
Cold Control d10
Icy Blast d8
SFX: Multiattack, as MHR

History and Powers
Erin Heath was driving out in the country during a terrible blizzard when her car went off the road.  Desperate to find help and no visible landmarks in sight, Erin foolishly abandoned the car and wandered out into the cold.  Within an hour, she was suffering from severe hypothermia and close to death.  As she lay in the snow, unable to move, she heard footsteps approach and a voice said, "Do you want to live?"
Finding herself able to speak, she said, "yes, I'd do anything to not die."
The voice of the stranger chuckled, and Erin blacked out.
When she came to, she had changed.  She was now a ghost, a specter of her former self.  She had also gained the ability to control the cold that had killed her.  Her heart, though, had become as cold as that winter night, and she had become a ruthless killer, determined to snuff out all life she came across.
As Winter Wraith, Erin has largely acted alone, but she has been introduced to other young women who have made similar deals with Gancanagh, the demon who granted her supernatural powers at the cost of her soul.

Quote: "I bring the cold of the grave."

The Early Years (My History in Gaming, Part 1)

Barking Alien once posted his "life of gaming," and it was such a good read I thought I would do the same myself.

Plus it is my 100th Post!  Woo Hoo!

My first experience of roleplaying games came when my uncle gave me a gift certificate to Sears.  Now back in the day, the Sears-Roebuck catalog was a big honking deal at Christmastime because you could look at all these toys you couldn't find anywhere else.  But even more bizarre that year was that the Sears store was selling a box set of Basic Dungeons & Dragons.  I was a huge fan of knights as a kid, not to mention Narnia and the Lord of the Rings books (admittedly I had only seen the animated movies), so I managed to talk my parents into letting me buy the box set.


Despite the assertions that this game was huge, I found it very difficult to find people to game with me.  My sister was only marginally interested in hanging out with me, since we were getting into full-blown sibling rivalry (plus we shared a room, which sucked).  My only real option was gaming with a friend at school, the one kid who might have been nerdier than I was, a poor boy with the unfortunate name Benjamin Woodcock.  We quickly began, as many did, playing this polyglot of D&D/AD&D materials generally determined by what we owned.

Ben and I were ridiculous power gamers at the time.  I tended to run the game while he played Ptah from Deities and Demigods.  It was that bad.  Eventually I moved away from Ben and transitioned from elementary to high school (Atlanta schools were K-7/8-12 at the time) which opened my social life up to both more and older youth.  It didn't take long for me to locate the gamers, a small coterie of social misfits being led around by a beautiful redhead named Sabrina who was distinctly enjoying being queen bee of the nerd hive.  The game?  FASA Star Trek.


The game was run by this adult friend of Sabrina's family, a creepy guy with a Gygaxian neck beard who probably should've had a background check done.  Actually Sabrina's whole family was a little strange: lots of guns around the house, early sci-fi cosplay, and taking their 13 year-old daughter to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  In the writing of this article I was surprised to find Sabrina on the internet.  It looks like she turned out okay developing software for healthcare companies.  Good for her.

When my family left Atlanta I ended up in Virginia and spent most of my high school years there.  I had a difficult problem finding gamers in the small western Virginia city we lived in, but in the meantime I had discovered at a comic book store a game that seemed to fit one of my other great teenage vices: comic books.


A couple of things Champions brought to the table.  First, obviously, was superheroes.  But it also had a point-buy system, which none of the games I had played had.  Suddenly I could build whatever I imagined, and I was imaging a lot.  There's NPC's appearing in my "25 Villains of Christmas" that are coming out of that era.

What I didn't have was a group.  For whatever reason the RPG scene just wasn't happening at my school, and I was too much caught up with other things to do more than make reams of heroes and villains on lined notebook paper and keep in a folder.

Thankfully, the world was about to open up much, much wider for me.  Stay tuned...



Thursday, December 20, 2012

The 7 RPG Meme

I don't know who started it, but there's been a lot of RPG-themed bloggers talking about their top seven RPG's played and/or run.  So here's my lists.

RPG's played

  1. Robotech.  Some time I'll write a lengthy post about how the Robotech: the Sentinels campaign I played in college was one of the best of all time.  I know Palladium Games gets a lot of grief about their rules, but this campaign is for me the gold standard.
  2. Champions 4E.  This was really the big game of my college career.  There were lots of fits and starts, but we were all superhero fans and this was the go-to game when it came time to roleplay.
  3. Dungeons & Dragons 4E.  My feelings about the game mechanics and general theme of play are pretty well documented here, but this game just gets points on longevity.  I've been alternatively playing and running this game for over the last two years in a single campaign, and that's a record unto itself.
  4. Stars Wars (WEG).  When we weren't playing Champions in college, we were playing the original Star Wars game.  This game is so good at doing fast-paced space opera that it is probably the only game my wife would consider playing.
  5. Morrow Project.  Actually this is the Star Trek/Traveller/Morrow Project mash-up we use for EOW. I've been playing this game for about four years, but only once a year for three days straight, and I'm sometimes running one of those days.  It's a lean, lethal system in which I've played many different genres.
  6. Star Trek (FASA).  This one is a purely sentimental choice.  Star Trek was the first non-D&D RPG I played, having been invited by this girl I was absolutely smitten with to play.  The game was run by this scary, bearded Gygaxian figure who probably shouldn't have been gaming with eigth graders.
  7. Cyberpunk 2020.  Back in 1988 the vision of a dystopian future was a good outlet for young adult pathos.  Now it seems naive, quaint, and a hair too realistic.  Plus they really underestimated telecommunications.  Huge props to the GM, though, who managed to get two of the PC's to agree to sell out the others, then misdirected the other PC's into suspecting an innocent one was the traitor.  At the climax of the story there was this great "guns all pointed at each other" moment.  Then we all died.
RPG's run (see above for duplicate entries)
  1. Champions 4E
  2. Dungeons & Dragons 4E
  3. Star Wars (WEG)
  4. Morrow Project
  5. Vampire: the Masquerade.  This game was the big shift away from "great big heroes" to a more roleplaying, interactive, and adult game. (I'm not alone in this, apparently.)  Many of the players in my group stayed with this game for years after I was done running it.  The end of my game came after some players brought some real-life drama into the game.
  6. Castles & Crusades.  After a brief try with D&D 3E, I picked up this early OSR entry, but it never really clicked with my group.  I think that most of the players did not play earlier editions and found it low-powered and slow, but I would be interested in taking another stab at it.
  7. Marvel SAGA.  In the post-Champions era, this was the supers game we landed on.  It had a funky card-based mechanic and we were still of the mindset that there should be some means by which powers could be defined and valued one over another in terms of effectiveness.  But it was a great supers campaign set in the future like Legion of Super Heroes.
Creating this list made me realize that while I own shelves and shelves of games, I've actually ran very few of them.  There's a couple that didn't make the list: valiant attempts at games that never really took off or worse, never got started.  It also made me realize that there are, like Barking Alien showed on his blog, certain "eras" of gaming that correspond with various chapters of my life.  I'll get them on paper (so to speak) sometime soon.

20th Villain of Christmas: Blitzkrieg


Blitzkrieg (Klaus Metzger)

I drew this one


Affiliations:
Solo d10
Buddy d6
Team d8


Distinctions:
Nazi
Secret Weapon
From Another Era


Power Sets:


ROBOT BODY

Superhuman Strength d10
Superhuman Durability d10
Superhuman Endurance d8
Enhanced Senses d8
SFX: Immunity to disease and poisonSFX: Invulnerable. Spend d6 from the doom pool to ignore physical stress or trauma unless caused by magnetic attacks.


ELECTRICAL DYNAMO

Electrical Blast d10
Electrical Mastery d10
Flight d8
SFX: MultiattackSFX: Multipower.  Use two or more powers from the ELECTRICAL DYNAMO power set at -1 step.


Specialties
Combat Expert
Menace Expert


History
Klaus Metzger was one of many soldiers recruited in Nazi Germany for a project to create a "superman" to oppose the rising number of superhumans battling for the Allies.  While many of these projects ended in failure, Metzger's process turned out to be an enormous success.  Metzger's brain was implanted into a powerful robot body containing an electrical dynamo of secret origin.  Suspecting the possibility that his transformation into an inhuman cyborg would unhinge Metzger, the scientists informed him that he had been transformed into a superhuman being that no longer needed to eat or breathe and possessed great power.  Government officials in Nazi German planned on covertly inserting Metzger, now called Blitzkrieg because of his tremendous strength and electrical power, into America via a small stealth submarine.  One there he would assault the US Capitol and attempt to kill President Roosevelt.  Metzger was placed into suspended animation and the submarine launched by remote control towards America.  Thankfully the submarine malfunctioned and Metzger was never awoken after the submarine beached itself off the coast of Virginia.


Decades later, a well-known actor was cruising in his yacht off the coast of Virginia when he encountered the beached submarine.  Salvage teams and naval archaeologists were called in to recover the craft.  When the opened the submarine, internal devices reactivated Metzger who initially believed that it was still the 1940's.  After some time of disorientation and confusion, as well as a battle with local superhero, Blitzkrieg retreated to reconsider his situation.  Now Metzger, still believing himself to be a metahuman and not a robot, plans to relaunch a Fourth Reich and take over the world.

Quote: "Bow down before your superior!"

19th Villain of Christmas: The Queen of Darkness


To help me get caught up with my "25 Villains of Christmas," my daughter Macy offered to come up with one.  She developed the concept, and I created the datafile.

The Queen of Darkness (unknown)

Affiliations
Solo d10
Buddy d6
Team d8

Distinctions
Really Scary
Really Evil
Creature from Nightmares

Power Sets

DARKFORCE POWERS
Darkforce Mastery d10
Darkforce Blast d10
Emotion Control (fear) d10
Superhuman Durability d10
Teleportation d10
Flight d6
SFX: Multipower, as MHR
SFX: Bring the night.  When creating a COMPLETELY DARK complication, add a d6 and step up the effect die by +1
SFX: Darkforce Constructs.  Add a d6 and step up the die +1 when using DARKFORCE POWERS to create assets.

SHADOW CREATURES
Flight d6
Claws d8
SFX: Multiattack, as MHR
Limit: Needs shadows.  If a BRIGHTLY LIT complication is in play on The Queen of the Night, shut down SHADOW CREATURES.  Take a doom from the die pool to restore.

Specialties
Combat Expert
Cosmic Expert
Psych Master
Menace Master
Mystic Expert

History and Powers
The Queen of Darkness was born in Alaska to parents who were criminals.  She began to manifest her mystical powers as a child, controlling a black energy called "darkforce."  As a teenager she began to use her powers to commit crimes with her parents.  During one criminal escapade her parents were captured by a superhero but she escaped.  Before she could free them, her parents died in prison.  The young woman, calling herself the Queen of Darkness, swore revenge on all superheroes.  She has been battling superheroes ever since.

She is most powerful in dark places, able to summon shadowy creatures of darkness to attack her foes, blast people with darkness, and create fear.  Her base of operations is in Alaska.

Quote: "I'll darken your life faster than you can flip a switch!"

And as a bonus, here's a drawing my daughter did of the Queen of Darkness!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

18th Villain of Christmas: Hive Tyrant


It's my list, I can rip off the IP of GW if I want to.  Especially if I'm a day late

Hive Tyrant (none)

Affiliations
Solo d10
Buddy d8
Team d6

Distintions
Insectoid
Superiority Complex
Submit to My Will, Mammal

Power Sets

INSECTOID BODY
Enhanced Strength d8
Enhanced Durability d8
Enhanced Stamina d8
Enhanced Reflexes d8
Enhanced Senses
SFX: Claws, as MHR

SUPERIOR ALIEN MIND
Telepathy d10
Mind Control d10
Psychic Resistance d10
Psychic Blast d10
SFX: Multipower, as MHR
SFX: Multiattack, as MHR

Specialties
Cosmic Expert
Pysch Master

History and Powers

The being calling itself Hive Tyrant came to Earth several years ago, reputedly fleeing his own people after a failed attempt at a political coup.  Once on Earth he began several plots to conquer the Earth, including one particularly ambitious plan to seize control of Russia's nuclear arsenal.
Hive Tyrant shuns alliances with other beings, feeling that they are beneath him.  If he uses any support, they will mostly likely be under mental control.
Hive Tyrant is an insect-like humanoid with a head resembling a preying mantis.  His fingers end in large claws.  He frequently covers his body in a voluminous, ornate robe.

Monday, December 17, 2012

17th Villain of Christmas: EyeStrike


My cavalcade of home-grown supervillains for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying rolls on, but the end is in sight.

Eye Strike (Glen Arnold)

Affiliations
Solo d4
Buddy d6
Team d8

Distinctions
Stubborn
Eager
Out of His Depth

Power Sets

OCULAR BEAMS
Energy Blast d10
SFX: Multiattack, as MHR
SFX: Deflect.  Take a die from the Doom Pool and allow Eye Strike to use OCULAR BEAMS to resist a ranged physical attack.

Specialties
Combat Expert

History and Powers
Glen Arnold was a low-level technician at a lab when a reactor leak bombarded his eyes with intense radiation.  Instead of suffering typical ailments from the accident, Arnold's eyes gained the ability to project intense beams of energy.  Arnold capitalized on his new powers by launching a career as "Eye Strike."

Eye Strike has not, however, been the most successful villain ever.  He has battled and been defeated by Raven, Bankshot, the American Express, and practically every other super hero on the East Coast.  He frequently attempts to team up with other small-time supervillains for bank heists, jewelry store robberies, or other acts of grand larceny.  Unfortunately for Eye Strike, his cocky, over-eager personality (compounded with comments like, "like my apartment, I call it my Eye Pad!") wear thin on other criminals.

Eye Strike's costume is a green bodysuit with yellow trunks and boots.  His head is covered with a green cowl and golden goggles.  A large eye sometimes is depicted on his chest.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

16th Villain of Christmas: Brawl


Brawl (Matt Maishock)

Affiliations
Solo d6
Buddy d4
Team d8

Distinctions
Arrogant
Misogynistic
Juiced Up Mercenary

Power Sets

ENHANCED BODY
Superhuman Strength d8
Superhuman Reflexes d8
Superhuman Stamina d8

ARSENAL
Weapon d6
SFX: Deadly.  Step back the highest die in Brawl's attack action pool to add a d6 and step up physical stress inflicted.
Limit: Gear, as MHR.

Specialties
Acrobatics Expert
Combat Master
Covert Expert
Menace Expert

History and Powers
Matt Maishock was one of several assassins given superpowers by Empyrean on behalf of the Syndicate of Crime.  His natural abilities were all enhanced to superhuman levels, but Maishock, now calling himself Brawl, supplements those abilities with a collection of knives, guns, and other weapons while in the field.
Brawl is course and over-confident, and has a particular interest in fighting and defeating female opponents.  He has developed a particular fascination with the martial arts heroine Raven over the last few years.
Brawl's costume is a full-body suit and cowl of light brown with a weapon's harness and shoulder pads.

Quote: "You're going down, you stupid cow!"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

15th Villain of Christmas: Lady Moloch


Lady Moloch (Erika Rawlins)

Affiliations
Solo d10
Buddy d6
Team d8

Distinctions
Grieving Widow
Ruthless
Don't Call Me a Bitch

Power Sets

REPERTOIRE OF MAGICAL ITEMS
Enhanced Durability d8
Mystic Resistance d10
Mystic Blast d10
Master Sorcery d10
Telepathy d8
Flight d6
Mystic Senses d10
Teleport d10
SFX: Area Attack, as MHR
SFX: Mystic Household.  When creating a Mystic or Cosmic related resource of stunt, give out a PP to step up the stunt or resource.
Limit: Gear, as MHR

Specialties
Business Master
Cosmic Expert
Menance Expert
Mystic Expert

History and Powers
Erika Rawlins was the owner of a multi-billion dollar corporation when she caught the eye of the mystic archvillain Lord Moloch.  Moloch was taken by Rawlin's beauty, power, and endless ambition, and he began courting her to be his wife and consort.  Eventually they were secretly married, and Rawlin's massive business holdings began to supplement Lord Moloch's dreams of world domination.
Lord Moloch was believed to be killed by Codex and the Dead Man's Hand when the high-speed vigilante arranged for Moloch to accidentally transport himself to the dimension of the Elder God F'nagthath.  Left alone and bitter for revenge, Rawlins attempted to seize control of her late husband's mystic powers.  Unfortunately for her, Rawlins lacked an innate ability to manipulate magic, and so has had to rely upon Lord Moloch vast arsenal of mystical items and artifacts.  While she publicly maintains her vast corporate empire as Erika Rawlins, she has adopted the name Lady Moloch for her husband's former affairs.
Rawlins is a cold yet stunningly beautiful woman who tends to dress in expensive business attire, accentuated by a handful of magical items of jewelry.

Quote: "Let me show you this ring my late husband left me."

Friday, December 14, 2012

14th Villain of Christmas: Metalurge


Back on track with the mysterious Metalurge.  If you might see this character as a PC, don't read his secret origin after the break. Otherwise, feel free.

Metalurge (unknown)

Affiliations
Solo d10
Buddy d8
Team d6

Distinctions
Villain Liberator
One Man Army
Mystery Agenda

Power Sets

SECOND GENERATION GENESIS KNIGHT ARMOR
Superhuman Strength d10
Superhuman Durability d10
Supersonic Flight d10
Cybernetic Senses d6
Weapon d10
SFX: Area Attack, as MHR
SFX: Multipower, as MHR
SFX: Power allocation.  Step up one SECOND GENERATION GENESIS KNIGHT ARMOR power for one action, then shut down another power.  Restore the shut down power by using one die from the Doom Pool.

Specialties
Combat Expert
Covert Expert
Crime Expert
Tech Expert

History and Powers
Little is known about the armored figure calling himself Metalurge, but his actions are consistent: Metalurge breaks supervillains out.  At various times his has attacked police transports, courtrooms, and prisons, always with the intent of freeing one or more supervillains.  Witnesses have reported that the escapees in question are often unaware of the attempt before it occurs.  Questions abound: why does Metalurge engage in this sort of crime?  Is he the agent of another, higher power?  And how does he possess what appears to be an offshoot of the original Genesis Knight armor?


13th Villain of Christmas: Throgmorton


A little late on this one.  Work was pretty demanding yesterday--the curse of the number 13?  Well, in honor of unlucky 13 we present another favorite of mine just for the name alone: Throgmorton!

Throgmorton (Jonas Throckmorton III)

Affiliations
Solo d8
Buddy d4
Team d6

Distinctions
Professorial
Cursed
Really Unhappy

Power Sets

FOMORIAN LYCANTHROPY
Superhuman Strength d10
Superhuman Durability d10
Superhuman Stamina d10
Growth d6
Leaping d6
SFX: Multiattack, as MHR
Limit: Vulnerable to Magic.  If Throgmorton is hit my any magical attack, step up the effect die.
Limit: Uncontrolled Change.  Jonas Throckmorton will transform into Throgmorton in the presence of strong magic.
Limit: Berzerk, as MHR

Specialties
Combat Expert (in Throgmorton form only)
Menace Expert (in Throgmorton form only)
Mystic Expert

History and Powers
Jonas Throckmorton was a professor of European Mythology and Folklore at a small university in the Northeast.  While researching Norse mythology Throckmorton acquired a set of ancient runestones which inexplicably cursed him into taking on the form of a Fomorian giant when in the presence of strong magic.  In his initial confusion and rage Throckmorton destroyed the runestones, possibly cutting off his only hope of a cure.  His initial rampage also drew the attention of the authorities and a local superhero called TurboKnight. Throckmorton (calling himself Throgmorton because of the difficulty of speech in his Fomorian form) seriously injured TurboKnight, ending his career.  Throgmorton went on the lam.

Now, Jonas Throckmorton is desperate to reclaim his full humanity, but bad luck follows his everywhere.  Frequently he will attempt to re-enter a semblance of his previous life by taking some sort of teach position under an assuming identity, but he is a frequent target of both well-intended heroes and some mystical villains who realize that Throckmorton can be bribed, blackmailed, or compelled to serve them.

Jonas Throckmorton is a slender, unattractive man with a pinched face and dour demeanor.  Throgmorton is a hideous caricature of humanity with huge, malformed limbs and an asymmetrical face.  As Throgmorton, he can not speak clearly and his intelligence is diminished to a more feral state.  Only after several days apart from strong magical forces can Throckmorton will himself back into his human form.

Quote: "No!  Why must you make Throgmorton suffer!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12th Villain of Christmas: Mandelbrot


Mandelbrot (Jason Kulas)

Affiliations
Solo d8
Buddy d6
Team d4

Distinctions
Anarchist
Locus of Chaos
Barely Contained Power

Power Sets

ENTROPIC WAVE GENERATOR
Elemental Chaos Control d8
Enhanced Durability d8
Chaos Blast d8
SFX: Multipower, as MHR
SFX: Area Attack, as MHR
SFX: Machines break more easily than people.  If an ENTROPIC WAVE GENERATOR power is used against an inanimate object or is used to resist an attack that is based on an inanimate object (versus a fist or an energy bolt, for example), step up the die for the ENTROPIC WAVE GENERATOR power.
Limit: Can't keep it together.  Create a ENTROPIC WAVE GENERATOR complication and add that die to the Doom Pool or step up an existing Doom Pool die by one step.

Specialties
Combat Expert d8

History and Powers
Mandelbrot has claimed, at various times, to have discovered a "mathematical key to the universe" which has both blessed and cursed him to be able to generate waves of entropy from his body that cause machines to break and fall apart and living creatures to experience a breakdown of bodily processes.  Whether Mandelbrot's story of his origin is true no one can say, but he has proven to be a potent source of destruction and chaos.  Mandelbrot has tangled with superheroes many times, but his powers make it almost impossible to imprison him for any length of time.  His anarchist, almost nihilistic tendencies are checked only by the threat they occasionally pose to his own safety.

Mandelbrot eschews a typical "costume" in favor of a signature long charcoal gray overcoat over regular clothes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

11th Villain of Christmas: Bola


Almost halfway there and not a single comment.  I've been wondering if Marvel Heroic Roleplaying just doesn't have that big a following or if homegrown campaigns just aren't the way people are going with this game.  In any case, here's one of my favorites so far.

Bola (Chris Manzo)

Affiliations 
Solo d8
Buddy d4
Team d6

Distinctions
Weapon Specialist
Mobbed Up
Ambitious

Power Sets

TRICKED OUT BOLAS
Weapon d8
Swingline d8
SFX: Exploding Bolas.  Against a single target, step up or double a WEAPONS die.  Remove the highest rolling die and use three dice for the result.
SFX: Gas Bolas.  When using a WEAPONS die to create an OBSCURING complication on a target, add a d6 and step up the WEAPONS die.
SFX: What Bolas Usually Do.  When using a WEAPONS die to create an ENTANGLED complication on a target, add a d6 and step up the WEAPONS die.
Limit: Gear, as MHR

Specialties
Acrobatics Expert
Combat Expert
Crime Expert

History and Powers
Chris Manzo was a talented hitman for an organized crime family, but wanted to be more.  Looking at the supervillains that were pulling in the big bucks for groups like the Syndicate, Manzo concluded that all he needed was a costume and a gimmick to take him up to the next level.  He began obsessively training with bolas and created a colorful costume around which to build an identity.  He started funneling his profits into expanding his arsenal and eventually was able to go freelance as the supervillain Bola.

Even as a supevillain, Bola is still pretty penny-ante however.  He might take on a street-level vigilante or lead some non-powered thugs in a heist, but at best he is fleshing out a supervillain group with his gimmicked weapons.  Despite this, Bola remains confident in his own abilities.

Bola's costume is a red bodystocking and full mask covering his head with a yellow gloves, boots, and torso.  A utility belt containing a variety of bolas is around his waist.

Quote: "A gun?  What makes you think I carry a gun?"



Monday, December 10, 2012

10th Villain(s) of Christmas: Crimson, Cobalt, and Viridian


Crimson, Cobalt, and Viridian (none)
Note: the datafile for each is exactly the same

Affiliations
Solo d4
Buddy d6
Team d8

Distinctions
Statuesque
Naive
In Love with Empyrean

Power Sets

GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CLONES
Superhuman Strength d10
Superhuman Durability d10
Enhanced Stamina d8
Subsonic Flight d8
SFX: Invulnerable, as MHR
SFX: Take the Hit.  Spend one die from the Doom Pool to take physical stress intended for nearby ally or friend.
Limit: Weak willed.  Increase the reaction die of any mental attack against them by one step.

Specialties
Combat Expert

History and Powers
Crimson, Cobalt, and Viridian are three identical female clones created by Empyrean (see separate entry) to serve as his personal bodyguards.  All three are superhumanly strong, invulnerable to damage, and can fly.  They have been especially conditioned to be loyal to Empyrean, but are fairly child-like in their emotional maturity.

All three wear skimpy uniforms with gold arm and leg greaves.  Their uniforms and hair color match their respective names: red, blue, and green.

Quote: "How dare you hurt our master!"

Sunday, December 9, 2012

9th Villain of Christmas: Empyrean


Empyrean (unknown)

Affiliations
Solo d6
Buddy d8
Team d10

Distinctions
Shaper of Flesh
Arrogant
Smarter than You

Power Sets

GENETICALLY ALTERED BODY
Enhanced Strength d8
Enhanced Reflexes d8
Enhanced Stamina d8
Enhanced Senses d8
Mimic d10
SFX: Focus.  If your pool includes a GENETICALLY ALTERED BODY power, you may replace two dice of equal size with one stepped-up die
Limit: Mutations.  Select the power duplicated by the Mimic power before the scene begins.  The power can only be changed during a transition scene.

SCIENTIFIC EQUIPMENT
Weapon d8
SFX: Mutagenic Gas.  When creating a Temporary Mutation complication, add a d6 to the pool and step up the effect die.
Limit: Gear, as MHR

Specialties
Combat Expert
Psych Expert
Science Master
Tech Expert

History and Powers

Nothing is known about the background of Empyrean except that at some point in his life he modified his own body's genetic structure to grant him "human perfection" in terms of physique.  Empyrean is a brilliant geneticist who continues to tweak his own body's abilities, temporarily granting him various superhuman powers as desired.  Empyrean has often offered his skills to various criminal organizations to help them create superhuman agents, and was responsible for the creation of Tarantula and Brawl, amongst others (see individual entries).  But beyond assisting other organizations, Empyrean will pursue his own goals of expanding his scientific knowledge and power.

Empyrean is arrogant and narcissistic, often dressing to emphasize his physique and Adonis-like appearance.   In combat he frequently wields a gas-spewing weapon of his own design that created unstable and unhelpful mutations in others.  He is often accompanied by one or more beautiful female bodyguards possessing tremendous power named Crimson, Cobalt, and Viridian (see next entry).

Quote: "Of course my plan was perfect."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

8th Villain of Christmas: Argent


Getting this one in a little late, but here it is!

Argent (Marc Rosen)

Affliations
Solo d8
Buddy d4
Team d6

Distinctions
Bitter
Ex-Hero
Hates the Media

Power Sets

REFLECTIVE COATING
Enhanced Strength d8
Enhanced Speed d8
Godlike Durability d12
SFX: Reflective Skin.  On a successful reaction against an energy-based attack action, either convert opponent's effect die into a REFLECTIVE COATING stunt of step back effect die by -1 and inflect as physical stress.  Spend a die from the doom pool if the action succeeded.
Limit: Conscious Activation, as MHR

Speciailties
Business Expert
Combat Expert
Science Expert
Tech Expert

History and Powers
Marc Rosen was a scientist specializing in the uses of nanotechnology.  He had devloped a method by which a exterior coating of nanobots could be spread over a person's body, creating a highly reflective suit of armor.  The nanobots would also enhance a perosn's strength, and create a frictionless surface upon which wearer could "skate." For the nanobots to function, they had to be carefully keyed to a specific person's body.  Inspired by the death of the Wonders, Rosen secretly had the nanobots created by his employers keyed to his own body, then took them in an attempt to become the first of a new generation of superheroes.  Rosen took the name Argent, after the silverly reflective skin he could summon to cover his body.

His career as a hero was short-lived however.  An overzealous investigative reporter uncovered is true identity, and when Rosen's employers learned that he had stolen the prototype nanobots and prevented them from being used by anyone else, they charged him with theft.  Shocked and enraged, Rosen resisted arrest and became a fugitive from justice.  He is now bitter and resentful that he was denied the chance to become a public idol, and will take any chance to lash out at either the media outlet that exposed him or his former employers.

Quote: "They ruined my life!  Now I'm going to ruin theirs!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

7th Villain of Christmas: Codex


Codex (Unknown)

Affiliations
Solo d6
Buddy d8
Team d10

Distinctions
I Kill Monsters
Plenty of Time
Master Strategist

Power Sets

HYPER-FAST PHYSIOLOGY
Superhuman Speed d10
Superhuman Reflexes d10
SFX: Pushing the Limits.  Increase one HYPER-FAST PHYSIOLOGY power by one step, then shut down HYPER-FAST PHYSIOLOGY.  Use a die from the Doom Pool to restore HYPER-FAST PHYSIOLOGY.
SFX: I've had time to think this out.  Replace any HYPER-FAST PHYSIOLOGY power with two die one step lower.

DEADLY ARSENAL
Weapon d8
SFX: I've found your weakness.  Step down any DEADLY ARSENAL die, add a d6 to the pool, then step up the effect die by one.

Specialties
Combat Expert
Covert Master
Crime Expert
Psych Expert
Tech Expert

History and Powers
Nothing is known about Codex except that at some point he was living a normal life until a battle between an unknown supervillain and an unknown superhero or heroes claimed the life of his family.  From that time on, Codex decided that he would do what superheroes seemed unable or unwilling to do: kill the worst of the worst when it came to supervillains.  No one knows where his powers came from, or even if he always had them, but Codex's body moves at an almost impossible speed, including his mental processes.  He isn't extraordinarily intelligent--he just has lots and lots of time to think things through.  Prolonged use of his powers on a physical level can be exhausting for him, however.  Gathering a group of anti-heroes, opportunistic villains, and mercenaries around him, Codex began targeting arch-villains for death.  His most noteworthy victims include Lord Moloch and Master Stroke, and he has launched plans against Starheart in the past.
Despite his crusade against mass-murders and would-be conquerors, Codex's ruthless methods have often found him pitted against heroes, especially those committing against killing.  He once broke into a superhero team's headquarters to raid their database of information about a target.
Codex wears a gray bodysuit with gray gloves and boots, and a utility belt holding various weapons and gear.

Quote: "While you were talking, I had time to figure out your ultimate weakness."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

6th Villain of Christmas: Hysteria


Hysteria (Callie Swanlen)

Affiliations
Solo d4
Buddy d8
Team d6

Distinctions
Terrified
Lashing Out
The Heart of a Mob

Power Sets

HYSTERIA-INDUCING AURA
Emotion Contol d10
SFX: Area Effect, as MHR
SFX: Invisible powers.  Until a hero defeats the Doom Pool, supplemented by Enhanced or Mystic Senses, and/or Mystic or Psych specialties, Hysteria can not be targeted by an attack.

ANGRY MOB
Group d6/d6/d6/d6/d6
SFX: Look out!  Hysteria can use an ANGRY MOB die as part of her reaction die.  If the reaction is successful, the die is lost.  If not, it can be used again.
SFX: Mob Mentality.  Any complications created by Hysteria using HYSTERIA-INDUCING AURA can replenish the ANGRY MOB pool.

Specialties
Mystic Expert
Psych Expert

History and Powers
Callie Swanlen was seized by the state as a newborn infant and spent her childhood being bounced around from group home to foster family.  While many foster families are wonderful, loving environments, Callie wasn't so lucky.  She lived in constant fear of her abusive foster parents or the torments of other members of the group homes.  Finally as a youth she was approached by a being called Gancanagh, who promised her power and security as part of a diabolical pact.  She readily agreed, and gained the ability to project her constant fear and terror upon others.
Callie is not a supervillain in the classic sense; rather than seek wealth or power Callie tends to find a large group, say at a concert or movie opening, then use her power to create an angry mass of people to protect her.  These violent mobs tend to attract a lot of attention, however.  Callie is generally a loner, but can be coerced into assisting a particularly manipulative individual, or a fellow member of Gancanagh's pacts or Gancanagh himself.
Callie doesn't wear a costume, preferring to remain an anonymous as possible.  She will become particularly obsessed with frightening "dark" heroes.

Quote: "Get away from me!"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

5th Villain of Christmas: the Multipower Gang


Not exactly "Five Golden Rings" but today I thought I'd put forward a group, rather than an individual.

The Multipower Gang

Affiliations:
Solo d4
Buddy d6
Team d8

Gang d8/d8/d8/d8/d8
Can be targeted individually or as a group with a Multi- Area Attack

Power Sets

POWER SWAPPING COSTUMES
1. Superhuman Strength d10
2. Superhuman Speed d10
3. Force Blast d10
4. Supersonic Flight d10
5. Superhuman Durability d10
     SFX: Force Fields.  Take a die from the Doom Pool and be able to use Superhuman Durability on another person as part of their reaction.
Superhuman Durability d8
Teleportation d10
     Limit: Recall.  Teleportation can only be used at the end of a scene to remove the Multipower Gang from being captured.

Limit: One power at a time.  Each member of the gang can only utilize a single power in a given action from those numbered 1-5, and no one can duplicate another's power in that action.
Limit: Gear, as MHR

Specialties
Combat Expert
Covert Expert
Crime Expert

History and Powers:
The Multipower Gang is a group of five agents, men and women, who wear high-tech outfits that appear to be able to manifest various powers, but only a single power per member.  No one knows who is sponsoring the gang, but the group refers to a mysterious figure known as "Control," who directs their attacks and, when the Gang runs into trouble, teleports them away.
The Multipower Gang has been involved in several high-profile thefts of both valuable and scientific supplies. When confronted by superheroes or the authorities they tend to try to keep their opponents off balance by frequently shifting powers and teamwork.  While not able to take on an entire superhero team, they can be a serious problem for a solo hero.
The suits themselves are black bodystockings with helmets and "Tron" circuit diagrams that change color corresponding to which power they can access at the time.

Quote: 
"You throw our friend up into the air, and I'll shoot him down!"


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

4th Villain of Christmas: Krag



Krag (Eric Kiefer)

Affliations
Solo d6
Buddy d4
Team d8

Distinctions
Bad Decision Maker
Walking Avalanche
Incredibly Bitter

Power Sets

MINERAL FORM
Superhuman Strength d10
Superhuman Durability d10
Tunneling d6
Limit: Weighted down.  Turn Superhuman Durability into a complication, then increase one die in the Doom Pool.  Remove a die in the Doom Pool to eliminate the complication.
Limit: Sensitive about appearance.  If Krag suffers an emotional attack based on his appearance, step up the effect die.

Specialties
Combat Expert
Menace Expert

History and Powers
Eric Kiefer a member of the US Army on his way to military prison as a result of his resistance to authority and his violent temper.  He was given an option to avoid imprisonment if he would participate in a top-secret experiment.  An alien spacecraft has crashed to earth, but had been almost completely destroyed.  A small sample of alien DNA had been collected, and a particularly reckless scientist had convinced the military to allow him to inject a portion of the DNA into a human being.  Kiefer agreed to be one of the test subjects, and after receiving the injection found himself painfully mutated into a horrible, rock-like creature.  Maddened by anger, Kiefer busted out the military facility and has been on the run every since.

While he deeply resents his transformation, Kiefer, now calling himself "Krag" as a pseudonym, being to use his powers in unsophisticated attempts to gain wealth and power, such as busting into banks in broad daylight, etc.  He is also frequently being used as a super-powered henchman for various masterminds and is a common member of the supervillain group The Vicious Circle.  He has tangled at some point with most established superheroes.

Quote:
"You're not going to look so pretty after I'm done with you!"

Getting caught up on things