Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Hufflepuff Game: the beginning

The kid looked at me sheepishly.  "I know your gaming group is full, but I wanted to ask if, maybe, if there was a player who was kind of inconsistent if you might consider letting me sit in on the game in his place."

Now, even if this kid wasn't my daughter's best friend and a pretty decent person, this is a young teenager approaching an adult to whom he is not related and for all intents and purposes is begging for gaming table scraps.

And that kind of courage matters to me.

I know there are GM's who like to limit the size of their gaming groups in order to maintain some consistency and stability.  I get that, and I'm playing in a campaign like that and am enjoying the dynamic of a small, constant group.  I'm not judging their decisions--it's their game and they can and should do what they want.

But I don't like telling people who are interested in getting to a gaming group but lack the wherewithal to form their own that there's no place for them.  And in the last year, there's been a lot of them.  But now, since the group for whom I've been hosting games has had two players start their own campaigns, I am free to run another game, one for anyone who wants to play, even if it is a very large group.  I'm calling this my "Hufflepuff Game," inspired by the ethos of that particular house from the Harry Potter books (as sung by the sorting hat):
Said Slytherin, "We'll teach just those 
Whose ancestry's purest."
Said Ravenclaw, "We'll teach those whose
Intelligence is surest."
Said Gryffindor, "We'll teach all those
With brave deeds to their name."
Said Hufflepuff, "I'll teach the lot
And treat them just the same."
 So developing this game is going to be the thrust of my blog posts for a while.  My general goals for the Hufflepuff Game, for now:

  1. Have fun
  2. Have a creative outlet for myself
  3. Have a game where anyone who wants to play can
More to come!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

H is for How Did I Get So Far Behind?

When I first considered doing this blog challenge, I spent a lot of time telling myself it wasn't going to work.  It was incredibly ambitious, both in terms of even conceiving of 26 supervillains in a month, much less writing them all out using a rules system with which I wasn't intimately familiar.

So here it is, past mid-April and I've just gotten to "G."  I told myself that if I got five days behind, I would consider strongly throwing in the towel, and I'm there.  That isn't to say I did have ideas for the other days.  For example:

  • Homunculus, a gargoyle summoned to this dimension by an evil sorcerer who has been captured by DOSHI.  Now Homunculus searches for a way to free him to he can return home.
  • Ironsides, a major player in the criminal underworld who wears an antique suit of power armor passed down from one generation to another in his family.
  • Judge Not, an anarchist who specifically targets law enforcement entities for the way they enforce societal order.
  • Khula Khan, a were-tiger who is attempting to create a sovereign nation-state of lycanthropes.
I just have not had the time to write all of it down.

So for now I think I'm done.  I may still try to get some of these to paper (so to speak), and I still think that The Ultimate Hero has some interesting wrinkles in it that set it apart from a lot of other supers RPG's, such as the geo-political angles and exploring alien cultures.  Thanks for following along and for all the support I've received.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

G is for Getaway

I mentioned in my last post that I had been contacted by the creators of The Ultimate Hero that they were changing the PC creation rules, which I've been using for the April A-to-Z Blog Challenge.  They followed up by saying the rules were not changing substantially, and that my previous (and future) entries will translate into the newer rules without difficulty.  So I continue!


Charisma 3
Intelligence 5 (Primary)
Will Power 3
Dexterity 5
Stamina 2
Strength 3

Race: Kasen, Gatekeeper
Power Level 1
Motivation: Greed
Disadvantages: Wanted (major)
Advantages: Attribute Bonus 5 (Intelligence), Portal Keeper, Secret Identity, Iron Will, Skill Point Bonus
Skills: Brawling, Range, Athletics, Perception, Subterfuge (Escape, Stealth)
Racial Powers: Improved Movement; +1 Racial bonus to Spot, Listen, and Tracking Specializations; Low Tech; Teleportation, Mystical Presence
Powers: Teleportation 2, Invisibility, Psi-Shield, Protected Senses

Saves: Kinetic 0, General 0, Will 1
Defense: Passive 10, Active 15 
Health: 48
Endure Pain: 3
Power Pool: 130
Power Channeling: 7

Equipment: longbow, dagger, armored vest

Background: The Kasen are one of the three alien races allied with humanity.  The Kasen are feline, lynx-like in appearance, and have a markedly more primitive culture than the other three.  Centuries ago they were taken in by the Xeros and protected and nurtured by that race.  The Kasen are a deeply spiritual people, with a profound ability to manifest both superhuman, psychic, and magical abilities in a way that blurs the traditional lines between those powers.

One of the most important groups within Kasen society are the Gatekeepers, shamans who possess the ability to teleport great distances, even across solar systems.  The Kasen are believed to have visited other worlds through this manner despite their lack of even modern technology.  Gatekeepers are respected as spiritual leaders and guides for the Kasen, which is why "Getaway" is such a source of public shame for the entire race.

Getaway was the scion of one of the most powerful of the Gatekeepers, a Portal Keeper who could teleport people light years in a moment.  Rather than embrace Kasen tradition, Getaway instead became enamored with the hedonistic lifestyle he witnessed in other races, especially humanity.  He eschewed his role as a future Portal Keeper and abandoned Kasen society to hire himself out to the wealthy of the criminal underworld, providing transportation services to smugglers, thieves, and others.  These enterprises in turn help fund his lavish lifestyle (poorly managed to the point where he is often seeking work).

Getaway is considered a high-priority target by the Kasen authorities, who constantly pressure DOSHI to capture him.  Getaway's powers, however, make this nigh-impossible, but sooner or later his luck may run out.

Monday, April 11, 2016

G is for Got a New Set of Rules

So for this A-to-Z Blog Challenge I thought I would do a series of villains for the science-fiction/superhero RPG The Ultimate Hero.  At the onset I mentioned this game was in development, that I had played it at a convention last year, and that at that convention I had won a hardcover of the rules.  Or more specifically, the rules at that time.
I got a very encouraging email from the creators of The Ultimate Hero saying how much he liked what I was doing, but also mentioned that they were doing a re-work of the character creation rules right now.  From what he has been saying, the rules tweaking is a very good idea, especially in the way that it streamlines Advantages and Powers.  Some Advantages basically were "low-flash" superpowers, like superhuman strength or toughness.  Others, like Ally or Resources, reflect the whole "perk" idea you see in a lot of games.

Anyways, I don't have the most recent set of rules as a result, and see little benefit in release stats for a out-of-date system.  So for the time being I guess what I'm going to do is just continue to share the character concepts I've creative without the write-ups.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

F is for False Idol

False Idol

Charisma 5
Intelligence 4
Will Power 6 (Primary)
Dexterity 2
Stamina 2
Strength 2

Race: Human, Mental Mutate
Power Level 1
Motivation: Power
Disadvantages: Foe from the past, Megalomaniac 
Advantages: Attribute bonus (Willpower) 6, Attribute bonus (Charisma) 5, Influential Benefactor, Power Pool increase, Resources 4
Skills: Meditation (Mental Focus), Social Interaction (Deception, Leadership)
Racial Powers: Powers in Manipulation or Mental categories are 1/2 cost.  Power from Body Manipulation and Reduction categories cost double.  Vulnerability to power negation.
Powers: Mind Control, Image Generation, Telepathy

Saves: Kinetic 0, General 0, Will 6
Defense: Passive 11, Active 13 
Health: 40
Endure Pain: 3
Power Pool: 115
Power Channeling: 7

Equipment: Ceremonial robes.

"False Idol" isn't what Simon Corrick calls himself; it is the name that DOSHI agents have given him.  Corrick has been known to call himself "The Emissary," "The Guardian of the Light," or "The Guide of the Celestial Path," depending on which religious cult he is currently leading.  Corrick's usual modus operandi is to slowly build up a following of individuals susceptible to his charisma and mental powers, then gradually expand, drawing in more people who can be exploited.  His enterprises have garnered him a great deal of wealth and powerful connections, despite DOSHI having shut down several of his fake religions and charging him with unlawful use of psychic powers.
Corrick is an attractive man in his late forties, with a carefully manicured appearance and radiant smile. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

E is for Egregious


Charisma 1
Intelligence 2
Will Power 4
Dexterity 3
Stamina 4
Strength 5 (primary)

Race: Human, Physical Mutate
Power Level 1
Motivation: Violence
Disadvantages: Unusual appearance
Advantages: Tough, Very Tough, Large, Attribute Bonus (Strength) 5, Skill bonus combat, Resources 1
Skills: Combat (Brawling 2), Melee, Range, Athletics, Vehicle Operations
Racial Powers: powers from the Body Manipulation and Reduction are half price, powers from the Manipulation category cost double, Vulnerable to power negation
Powers: Body Armor, Unyielding, Body Weaponry, Battle Fury

Saves: Kinetic 12, General 7, Will 2
Defense: Passive 10, Active 14
Health: 127
Endure Pain: 6
Power Pool: 45
Power Channeling: 6

Equipment: Combat Shotgun, 8 Dimeload rounds, 3 Shrapnel grenades, $3000

Barrett Coles grew up in a difficult, poverty-ridden neighborhood on Earth.  As a youth he became a schoolyard bully and developed a violent temper.  As he grew into a young adult, he realized that he was not only continuing to grow taller, but also more muscular.  His skin became think and lumpy and took on an unnaturally pink color.  Keratin-like spikes grew from his knuckles, elbows, knees, and feet.  By the time he was an adult, the full extent of his physical mutations had left him hideous but physically extremely powerful.  During this time he had begun running first with local gangs, then organized crime, and finally into the superhuman community as Egregious.  His physical attributes and penchant for violence quickly established him as a go-to person whenever someone needed a little hired muscle.  Currently he continues to hire himself out to paying customers, but sometimes operates freelance as part of a ground of supervillains calling themselves the Vicious Circle.
Egregious is often consider unintelligent, but that's not true.  He is however unimaginative, coarse, and prone to throwing himself headlong into combat instead of considering alternatives.  He is a cunning fighter, alternatively using heavy firearms or his natural weaponry and strength.

Adventure Ideas for villains A through D

I got a good bit of constructive criticism regarding my first handful of entries into the A-to-Z Challenge, namely regarding a lack of background, especially for those unfamiliar with the game (which would be just about everybody).  Some of that is just the pressure of cranking out all these NPC's, but I thought I would at least try to give some more insight into how I see these guys working in my own TUH games.

In TUH, humanity had superheroes and supervillains for over a century, but now there has been an explosion of spontaneously mutating humans manifesting powers.  In addition, the discovery of alien life and cultures whose technologies far outpace what humanity had to offer has caused huge societal changes for the Earth.  In less than fifty years humanity has gone from traveling through the solar system to spanning the galaxy, but their advancement has been under the very controlling gaze of the other races, especially the Xeros.  Those same alien races have also been terraforming and colonizing planets and moons within our own solar system as well.
All of which I feel would predictably cause some pushback, anxiety about mainline humanity losing their place in a world now filled with different, more powerful beings.  Ajax and his organization would represent one hostile response, a straight-up terrorist organization targeting aliens in the solar system, as well as notably mutants.

Lizzie Borden:
In TUH, there's a supernatural element to the universe, but it almost feels like it is the "alien's alien," one step further removed from the strangeness of the Kasen or the Xeros.  I just finished the book Maplecroft, a horror novel that posits the historical figure Lizzie "Lisbeth" Borden as having killed her parents because of their being possessed by a Lovecraftian horror. Now living in seclusion with her sister Emma (who suffers from tuberculosis), Lizzie continues to seek out signs of nightmarish life in her small Massachusetts coastal town.
My Lizzie Borden is a vengeful spirit, a solitary figure on a crusade that appears to the outside world like the acts of a supernatural serial killer but in fact might mask a secret agenda that the PC's could discover if they were to dig deeper into the lives of her victims.  I could foresee Borden becoming one of those gray NPC's who hop across the line of good and evil now and then, like the Punisher in season 2 of the Daredevil TV show.

I mentioned a little bit about mutates (TUH doesn't actually use "mutant" I suspect because it is so hackneyed in the Marvel canon).  I see Cryo-Jenny as the slippery assassin, an ingenue who was get close to any public figure either through guile or charm or superhuman ability and then kill her victim with a signature move (freezing them to death).  Cryo-Jenny would always be the facing issue of a bigger story, namely whoever was hiring her: organized crime, the Third World Union (a coalition of isolationist nations who embrace mutates), or another group.

Doc Clockwork:
Doc is a utility character, someone who can be more of a passive, non-combatant character for the PC's. He could be the origin of a host of monstrous villains, or could cause a headache by unleashing some weird alien tech on the world.  In TUH there's a hint of a plotline regarding an heretofore unknown alien culture on Mars, and perhaps Doc could have come across something from that mysterious group.  Naturally he would want to experiment with it, mostly likely by attaching to someone.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

D is for Doc Clockwork

Continuing with my plan of creating 26 supervillains for the sci-fi/superhero RPG The Ultimate Hero

Doc Clockwork

Charisma 3
Intelligence 5
Will Power 4
Dexterity 4
Stamina 3
Strength 3

Race: Human
Power Level 1
Motivation: Scientific Curiousity
Disadvantages: Curiosity
Advantages: Cyborg Powers (10), Keen Eyesight (3), Media Family (5), Resources 5 (20), Technical talent (20), Tough (7)
Skills: Knowledge, Social interaction, Hi Tech Theory (Cybernetics), Medicine (Surgery)
Racial Powers: 
Powers: Artificial Senses, Cybernetic Arm, Dermal Reinforcement, Nanite Regeneration

Saves: Kinetic 6, General 6, Will 2
Defense: Passive 10, Active 14
Health: 58
Endure Pain: 4
Power Pool: 55
Power Channeling: 6

Equipment: Doc Clockwork travels in a custom-built spaceship with a full medical bay including surgical suite.  He is often contracting private security or calling in favors from previous clients.

Doctor Soren Belmont was a leading researcher in the field of cybernetic enhancement and ran a successful surgical practice.  Despite his professional success and all that came with it, Belmot was determined to continue to push the edge of cybernetic enhancement, eventually eschewing acceptable practices and safety protocols.  When he was eventually discovered he was stripped of his medical license and lost everything.
Belmont refused to quit, and instead began operating black-market cybernetic outfits catering to sketchier clientele who were often disinterested in the risk and will to pay top-dollar for unusual tech.  Now calling himself Doc Clockwork, Belmot is again happy in his research, even to the point of outfitting himself with a number of impressive enhancements (a few to help him survive hostile encounters with law enforcement).  He can often be found patching up wounded criminals, including supervillains, outfitting people with illegal cyberware, or pushing the boundaries of sanity and safety in full-blown "mad scientist" mode.

Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Cryo-Jenny

For the A-to-Z Challenge I'm creating 26 villains for the sci-fi/superhero RPG The Ultimate Hero.


Charisma 3
Intelligence 4
Will Power 3
Dexterity 5 (Primary)
Stamina 3
Strength 3

Race: Human, Meta-Mutate
Power Level 1
Motivation: Greed
Disadvantages: Wanted, Minor Phobia (fire)
Advantages: Attribute Bonus Dexterity 5 (7), Jack-of-all-trades (15), Luck (10), Power Pool Increase (10), Power Trick Basic (20)
Skills: Martial Arts, Range, Athletics, Subterfuge (Lockpicking)
Racial Powers: Specialization (General Powers), Vulnerability to Power Negation
Powers: Ice Manipulation, Hyper Speed, Night Vision, Combat Reflexes

Saves: Kinetic 1, General 1, Will 1
Defense: Passive 10, Active 14
Health: 44
Endure Pain: 4
Power Pool: 115
Power Channeling: 5

Equipment: Personal Armor, Handgun (3 clips normal ammunition), silencer, business and casual clothes, PDA

Cryo-Jenny is a young mutate and professional assassin possessing a wide range of physical abilities. A young, innocent-looking woman, Jenny frequently will use her good looks to gain close contact with her target before killing them, usually by freezing them solid.  Once she has completed her mission, she will flee the scene using her superhuman speed and agility.
Little is known about her background, and her olive skin and black hair allows to blend in with many Terran cultures.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

B is for Borden, Elizabeth

I'm creating 26 supervillains for the sci-fi/superhero RPG The Ultimate Hero for the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge.

Borden, Lisbeth

Charisma 3
Intelligence 3
Will Power 4 (Primary)
Dexterity 3
Stamina 3
Strength 3

Race: Supernatural, Spirit
Power Level 1
Motivation: Vengeance
Disadvantages: Blood Lust
Advantages: Hide True Power, Tough, Skill Bonus (Blade Master)
Skills: Melee (Blade Master), Knowledge, Perception, Social Interaction, Subterfuge (Stealth)
Racial Powers: Undead, Spirit Form
Powers: Shadow Walk, Soul Forged Weapon (axe)

Saves: Kinetic 1, General 1, Will 2
Defense: Passive 9, Active 12
Health: 65
Endure Pain: 4
Power Pool: 85
Power Channeling: 5

Equipment: Victorian clothes, axe

Background: Three years ago local law enforcement were summoned to the home of Carl Morton, a senior partner at the financial consulting firm IFH.  There they found Morton and his wife fending off what the police described as a spectral woman wearing strange, outdated clothing and wielding a glowing axe.  The police managed to drive off the ghost, but not after Morton suffered serious injury.  DOSHI was brought in to assist with the investigation, and uncovered a string of unsolved homicides across the Earth using a similar modus operandi always an axe, and always a couple with adult offspring.  In one encounter with the killer in which they failed to apprehend her, she called herself "Lisbeth Borden," a name of a suspected murderer from the late 19th Century.

While the investigation remains open and Borden on DOSHI's wanted list, DOSHI operative Wolfenstein has suggested that further investigation into the victims' lives is warranted.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A is for Ajax [A-to-Z Challenge]


Power Level 1 Human Paragon (full conversion cyborg)
Motivation: Fanatic

Charisma 4 (Primary)
Intelligence 4
Will Power 5
Dexterity 4
Stamina 4
Strength 5

Disadvantages: Wanted (major), Intolerance,
Advantages: Ally; Attribute Bonus, Strength 5; Attribute Bonus, Dexterity 4; Attribute Bonus, Will Power 5; Attribute Bonus, Stamina 4; Influential Benefactor; Iron Will; Military Heritage; Resources 2
Skills: Martial Arts (Kickboxing), Range (Firearms), Social Interaction (Leadership), Subterfuge, Demolitions

Powers: Full Conversion Cybernetics
     Power bonus to Kinetic and General 10
     Health bonus of 20
     Close combat damage bonus of 5
     Strength 6 lifting capacity
     Vulnerability to magnetics

Saves: Kinetic 12, General 12, Will 9
Defense: Passive 10, Active 16
Health: 66
Endure Pain: 5
Power Pool: 120
Power Channeling: 5

Assault Rifle with built-in grenade launcher
Hand cannon
2 Grenades, Hi Explosive
Combat Armor, military

Ajax is a cell leader for the Purestrain Human Movement, or PHM, a radical faction of Terran extremists who are convinced that baseline humanity is critically threatened by both the rise in human mutation and the existence of extra-terrestrials.  Ajax had led several PHM teams in terrorist attacks on alien embassies, one of which resulted in the death of a senior Tarken diplomat.
Little is known about Ajax's history, including how he became a full-conversion cyborg.  He has made several public proclamations reflecting PHM's doctrine, however, that reference his "sacrifice" in the name of preserving humanity.

The A-to-Z Blogging Challenge: 26 Villains for the Ultimate Hero!

This all began in 2015 when I went to KantCon and had a chance to play The Ultimate Hero, a sci-fi/superhero RPG created by Paragon Notion.  It was a lot of fun and it was interesting to play in a game run by its creators as the game itself was in its Beta phase.  At the end of the session I happened to win the hardcopy of the rules which I've been picking my way through ever since.

There is not a lot of supplementary material out there for the game, including any supervillains with which the PC's can come into conflict, so I thought for the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge I'd try to come with 26 villains, including backstory and stats, from A to Z.

The background of The Ultimate Hero is that it is the year 2135.  There have been superhumans thoughout history, rare individuals who became the stuff of legend and mythology.  In the latter half of the 20th Century there was a boom in superhumans fueled by human mutation, followed by the appearance of typical "superheroes" and "supervillains."  World War III happened in 2020, the first publicly recognized alien contact by 2040, and another pan-global war in 2059.  By 2135 there are FTL starships, Mars and several moons of Jupiter have been terraformed, and humanity has become part of a coalition of sentient beings including the lynx-like Kasen, the militaristic Tarken, and the Xeros (who look like the aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind).  All along there have been humans with superpowers, psionics, and cybernetics, as well as a healthy dose of magic thrown into the mix.  The organization created by the Earth's governments to deal with superhuman threats is called DOSHI (the Department Of Super Human Investigation), which is the likely tentpole group of any campaign.

So, The Ultimate Hero is science fiction and superheroes with a vaguely Iron Age and anime vibe, but it needs villains, and that's what this challenge will be all about.  One note, though.  I'm a passable artist but will likely not have time to come up with illustrations for the characters.  If someone wants to help me out on this, please let me know!

Over at Strange Vistas