Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ego-tripping about PowerTrip'ping

While I should be posting about my thoughts on the T&T magic system, and its spells, even more specifically making new spells, Paul Ingrassia, Mist-Tikk, has diverted my attention. It isn't hard for him to do. he does it to me often, because the guy is a bubbling well-spring of ideas if not always energy. His blog The Troll Hammer was one of my favorite quieter events of this year, 2011 up until the depths of Summer, and then Jaws got him or something. Now he's no Malthouse, but his run of ideas mixes in with our tributaries and sloughs keeping the mighty T&T river, the Crocodile, flowing throughout our season.

...And everyone knows the Crocodile River is no stranger to flooding...

So what has gotten me distracted this time around, superheroes. Yes, yes, I know; I've been working on superhero-ey stuff for "Nixon's World." And I don't forget all the superhero movies that are the staple of every Summer since the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars finished their runs as CGI mega-block busters heralding the new millennium, heralding a new age of programming and media manipulation over craftsmanship and talent. But understand that I haven't been thinking about the rules and how to make superheroes in an efficient manner like I feel T&T derivatives should do so for more than a trio of years.

Instead, while lo
oking at the formatting requirements of my Nixon villains for The PowerTrip, I noticed that the game system went the direction of removing the character Type. Not a bad idea, Ken St Andre has been playing with that since Stormbringer(TM), though if I remember correctly, he didn't quite make the leap. MSPE did so, not an overly phantasmal RPG system, but with paranormal abilities available to the heroes participating, went the same way. But this freedom from PCs being "boxed" into a narrow confine of a rather stereotypical character concepts are once again replaced with "Skill Lists." But until Tunnels & Trolls(TM) is renamed "Rune-Inscribed Tunnels with Source Books About Trolls" this just won't smell right to me. D&D and various successful on-line games seem to have noticed the strength of having types of characters as opposed to free-form, if a bit constructed more like Tax Return forms than classic archetypes. In superheroes if not shamans and pirates, it just works. Gimme the Types, baby. Pour them over me.

In my book, these classical types would be the following five categories:

Brawler/Tank- Takes lotsa damage, and can dish it out.
Quirk/Gimmick- One power, err ability, defines that character.
Sneaker- A gal who can duck in and out of a dicey situation.
Blaster/Artillery- Ranged specialist.
Ace- The inventor guy or gal, who with a "gimmick" can be a rather fun player-character.

Now at this point, my self-viewed cumbersome "Skill Lists" like to creep up again. Very often they're arranged into categories and sub categories, with varying "costs" to purchase this or that special ability versus that throw-away one over there. I already have a "Skill List," it's called "T&T Spells." These spells should only be able to be used when the PC's attributes match those of the required levels. But the tests of their character that the characters must face must be empowered to allow him, or her, to increase those stats during the conflicts before him. With great drama must come great opportunity... Stan Lee should be taking notes, instead of writing Peter Parker's suicide note for the umpteenth time everyone, including his blood relatives kick him in the balls.

The characters in this superhero construct, that I am developing as I type this blog entry, gain a "super power" that is es
sentially from the T&T rules book spell list. I recommend using the 5th Edition for this, the 7th gets a little "idiopathic." But allowing each superhero and evil-villain one spell per level, provides a wide basis for diverse characters for any saga without out too much scratching of quills and gnashing of teeth. And practically, even the most established of gaming groups will only have 14-100 game sessions to start to get bored of things. Mind you, the GM should have plenty of graphics of geometrically aligned males and a couple females for players to sketch out and make the PC into a fuller protagonist in the drama being presented.

But I am getting ahead of myself...

What in game terms defines a superhero? Well firstly, greatly reducing the magical perks available to to world around them. Ken is doing this his PowerTrip, w
ith his "Newman," as opposed to human, premise. it is a universe, well setting, where the "magic goes away," to quote Larry Niven, but the supernatural resides in each character playing. But even so the designer of this setting has to draw his players into their characters. This actually isn't hard, just a simple house rule, a certain number of the PC's attributes are multiplied by ten BUT they still start out at first level.

These game-wise unrecognized, but way overly endowed individuals will indeed raise aspects that draw them, the Player-Characters, involved beyond the boundaries of the
mere humanity around them, demand a tabletop (world) full of challenges and obstacles to develop their abilities. And the GM will provide them with such challenges and obstacles in the shape, err shapes, of super-villains and world threatening crises. As for leveling, I'd stick with the 7plus norm of making it attribute-based, but only one of the enhanced ones. The matrix would be something like the next level comes about whenever one particular attribute increases by 10 points from it's starting point.

Well there's the abstract, maybe one day I'll get around to making the game itself.

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