Wednesday, August 23, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 23

*Sigh*

Really?

Are this year's question just a poll so you guys can figure out what you want your next product to look like?







"Dude, I picked up this awesome game yesterday. You've got to check it out! No, the rules are crap, it's an uninteresting premise, and the writing is god awful, but DAMN that layout is the shiznit!"

Don't know. Don't care. I like games that look good and are easy to read, don't like ones that don't and aren't, and can not recall a time when my jaw dropped due to an RPG's layout.

Do you guys even RPG?

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Barking Alien






Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Do Not Worry, For I Am Here!

I wanted to update you on my new campaign, My Hero Academia: American Ultra!

I know I haven't even completed the recap of the first session, but we ran the second session already, and I wanted to talk about some elements from both that I've noticed so far.






My Hero Academia plays quite differently from a traditional Superhero RPG in some aspects, and it is those differences that make it interesting, as well as bit more challenging to run. 

My previous post, Question #22 on this year's RPGaDay Challenge, revolves around which RPGs are the easiest for me to run. Well, Superheroes is definitely up there, having grown up on Superhero comic books.

I likewise have little trouble running games that feel like Japanese Anime, and Manga, especially of the Shonen (Young Male Comic) Action/Adventure variety. I get their style of humor as well, or at least most of the time. Some Japanese comedies are too wacky for my liking, though I really love the ones that can balance just enough humor in with the serious stuff. 

My Hero Academia is a somewhat unusual case however. It is essentially a Japanese Action/Adventure-Comedy about American-style Superheroes. If that weren't strange enough, it adds the secret/special school genre in there as well, making it something akin to Young Justice meets Harry Potter.

What makes that combination rather more tricky than a classic Superhero game, is that there are several things to consider that aren't major factors in other Supers based campaigns, and some additional factors as well. 


A Lot of Supers

My Hero Academia is a setting in which 80% of the Earth's population has some kind of super-normal ability. While most people's Quirks (the common term for superpowers) aren't especially powerful, or combat effective, that still means there are easily a hundred million, or more people who are cable of becoming Heroes, or Villains (probably a lot more). 

In the Japanese version, each of the classes at UA High School has 18 students. There are two Hero classes, two Support classes, two for General studies, and two for Business. Just focusing on the Hero classes, that means that in just one grade year there are 36 potential, new heroes. Ignoring the other grades, the other classes, and rival schools, that means each graduating year the school churns out a team larger than many incarnations of the Avengers, and the Justice League.

In our campaign each class has 20 kids. So I need 40 NPC students named, and roughly stated out, minimum [the two hero classes]. There are also at least a dozen or so teachers, a slew of pro-heroes, parents, siblings, etc. Without even getting into the bad guys this is the most NPC-Supporting-Cast heavy game I've run in a long time (and I've run Star Trek with its 300-400 person starship crews). 

A lot of my prep time is spent just making up NPC students, and teachers. The trick I've found is to describe, and stat out only those NPCs who I have a clear idea about, and who are more likely to cross paths with the PCs. Ideas that aren't yet fleshed out are used for characters in the 'background'. They might appear in a crowded lunchroom scene, or in the stands at a sporting event. If a player takes interest in their vague description it tells me that might be a character worth developing. 


It's Limited to Superpowers

The setting's unique superhuman dynamic is one of the things that makes it hard, but really fun. At the same time, it lacks a number of elements one would expect to find in classic Superhero comics. 

There are no aliens, no demons, or deities, no hidden lands, and no mystic artifacts. Up until the year 2017, this world was our world. Then, sometime this year or next, people begin manifesting Quirks, beginning with a newborn baby in a small [ficitional] city in China.

Wait...the setting has fictional cities. Even in the main story, the school is located in a fictional town, in an actual, real world prefecture of Japan. The train station from the battle in the first issue/episode does not exist in the real world however.

So if there can be fictional cities, towns, and the like, can't there be a Latveria, Savage Land, or Atlantis? Er...no? It just wouldn't feel right. It would also draw attention away from that which makes the setting special. 

The end result is that it may be more difficult to create adventures in this setting later in the campaigns run. I don't really anticipate that because of my peculiar approach to adventure construction, but it is something to consider.

One way to remedy this in the short term is to keep focus on the PCs, their families, and their friends. Work out their relationships, keep things personal and relevant to the player characters so they will remain invested in the setting and story. 

If you don't have the over-the-top locales, and props common to most Superheroes stories, try not to bemoan not having them. Instead, rejoice in character development, and exploring the elements of the setting the world does have, such as the nigh-limitless variations on Quirks.


Forget the Villains, Your Book Report is Due

The PCs are 14 year old freshmen going to a school to learn to be Superheroes when they grow up. 

This means that while plots may loom large as to which villain is up to what scheme, and who the new mystery hero is who's got all the reporters talking, the PCs still need to finish their homework, and attend classes. 

Again, in a fashion similar to the Harry Potter books, there will be an attempt to ground much of the day-to-day activities of the students in the knowledge that they are students in high school. This means they're not the ones going after the major super-baddies right now. It is the professional Superhero, that which the PCs aspire to be some day, who goes out there righting wrongs, rescuing people, and the like.

Well...sorta kind of. 

We all know that in the Harry Potter world it isn't Miss McGonagall who uncovers the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets, or Flitwick who battles He Who Shall Not Be Named. It's Harry, and his friends, and it has to be. That is the world they live in.

Likewise the PCs heroes of My Hero Academia: American Ultra are the heroes of their story, and will periodically face dangers even the pro-Heroes would have trouble with. 

Have their butts saved by the pros only sparingly, and make it a reward for the players thinking on their feet. Promote the idea that teamwork, and techniques learned in class can tip the tide of battle against seemingly unstoppable foes. Play to the strengths of the genre, and its tropes. 



Mini-Rant

[Very often, while playing in a Hogwarts/Wizarding World game my friend runs, the other players try to alert the teachers, get them to help solve the problem, or otherwise engage in doing what makes absolute, practical sense. That is, instead of being teens and young adults in a Harry Potter book.

No, they approach it logically, with the most prevailing logic of all being that they are kids and this-or-that is dangerous, and an adult should take care of it.

All, but me.

Why? Because I freakin' love tropes! Tropes are how you tell one setting, and genre from another. Tropes are the metaphysical laws of a fictional continuum.

Harry Potter-style universe Trope #1 is that the adults are not able to perceive what the kids can. Especially not at first. This might be because they are occupied with other, seemingly bigger issues. It could be because they're not as open minded as the children. Whatever the reason that helps you work that out for yourself, the bottom line is it's a story about kid heroes, so the kids get to be the heroes. Yes, this also means they get to be in danger too. Par for the course, part of the deal. Enjoy it. Stop being so smart you remove the fun from the setting. No one is going to say, "My, my aren't you clever. Now there's no game. Thanks!"]


The PCs have already pursued the opening metaplot, with one fellow coming up with some crazy creative ways to find out what really happened when the Number 12 rated villain supposedly took out the Number 1 rated hero. 

Eventually the investigation (which occurred three days before the official first day of school at AU High School) lead to a confrontation with a group of villains who appeared to be attacking the school. They weren't. Mr. Number 12 villain, Killjoy, wanted to turn himself in. He claimed he didn't do it, but was turning himself in because he's spent every moment since running from heroes who want to kick his butt eight ways from Sunday, and then some. Unfortunately, some less calm, cool, and collected friends of his decided to tag along. 

Tempers flared, his buddies got edgy, and so did some of the pro-heroes. The situation eventually devolved into a fight, and the PCs lent the pros a hand, with some of them delivering serious blows to their opponents (while still realizing that were far from being on the pro-level yet). 

Eventually, the calm, rational mind of one of the pro-Superheroes prevailed, and the villains, including Killjoy, surrendered, and were taken into custody. 

[It was pretty friggin' awesome actually].

So there you have it. The challenges posed by this particular campaign on someone who is normally good at this sort of thing, and what can be done to overcome them. In brief at least.

catch you later,

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Barking Alien






RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 22

I like this one.





Star Trek (Especially the Last Unicorn Games version) and Star Wars (West End Games's D6, 2nd Edition) are by far the two games I find easiest to run. 







The reasons for this are manifold, but some of the key elements include:

First, and foremost, I have a love and preference for Science-Fiction gaming, and Space Adventure style stories. I especially love exploration oriented games, which is why Star Trek beats out Star Wars a bit. 

The episodic nature of Star Trek, and Star Wars lend themselves to well paced 'world' building as you add new planets, species, and other things each session.  Eventually, I can create a unique, personal version of these two well-known IPs over the course of a campaign that feels special to my players, as well as myself. It's not just the Star Trek, or Star Wars universe, but our Star Trek, or Star Wars universe. 

My familiarity with the established settings, the tones, and the styles used to tell game appropriate stories in these settings is also a major boon. I never require my players to have a deep familiarity with these universes, but I feel that having one myself helps me make them seem more 'real' when I GM. 

That said, a passing familiarity helps a lot, and these are the two most universally well known Space Adventure properties in the history of geekdom. Its extremely easy to run a game in which the players are Starfleet Officers pinned down by Klingon disruptor fire on an ice planet when you don't have to explain what Klingons are, why they might be shooting, and what an ice planet looks like. Sure, you want to describe the features that make this ice planet unique, but the popularity of the setting makes your overall attempt to paint the picture much less stressful. 

Both the aforementioned games feature fairly simple systems, without too much crunch, or at the very least they can be run with the crunch turned down a bit. That's important to me, as I prefer the rules of a game to fade into the background as much as possible. 

While I can run either Star Trek, or Star Wars with minimal prep (virtually none for Star Wars actually), these are games in which I very much enjoy the prep work. 

Other games I find easy are...

Mutants and Masterminds, 3rd Edition
A campaign set in the Silver/Bronze Age DC Comics universe.
Teenagers from Outer Space. I don't even need the book to run it. I can do it from memory.
Faery's Tale Deluxe. It's a simple, rules-lite game, and I'm well versed on the subject matter.

So in conclusion, rules-lite, low crunch games that revolve around specific genres, or properties are among my favorites, and the easiest to run for yours truly.

Next question!

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Barking Alien












Monday, August 21, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 21

I am starting to lose my enthusiasm for this year's RPGaDay Challenge. 

Many of the questions so far can easily be answered with the same reply of 'Who Cares?'.

Best writing? I don't know. If I read it, and then I want to play it and can, it has good enough writing. Best cover? Seriously? Best interior art? Is this an award ceremony, or an RPG challenge?

This next one is almost intriguing, but only almost.







As I've stated in the past, it is my humble opinion that most RPGs are over-written. 

Too many unnecessarily complex rules, too many rules no one will use because they slow down the game, not enough examples of how gameplay works, but tons of uninteresting game fiction. Ugh. Save me. 

Asking which games do the most with the least amount of words sounds, to me, like a misunderstanding of how games should be written. The question should be, 'Which RPGs have just the right amount of words?', or 'Which RPGs use an economy of words to achieve the best results?'

I would have to say InSpectres is at the top of that category. Golden Sky Stories, the English translation, is another that uses what I feel are the right amount of words to get its point across, no more, and no less. 

I like to think my own game, The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show, does a pretty good job of this, though it is by no means perfect. In fact, it may be a tad underwritten. I hope to do even better with my next product.

That's it. That's all I have to say on the matter.

Can we get an interesting question now please?

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Barking Alien







Sunday, August 20, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 20

A bit more practical a question.




Not sure what the best source is, but some sources I use include DriveThruRPG, and RPGNow for pdfs, Noble Knight Games, ebay, and used bookstores.

Yes, used bookstores. Especially here in New York City, out-of-print RPGs often turn up at used bookstores. Rarely do you see the hard to find early stuff, but you never know, so it's usually worth your time to check in you're in the market for such things.

Besides, who doesn't love used bookstores?

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Barking Alien








RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 19

Long, good weekend.

What do we have here?





I don't know.

Seriously, I do not know. I'm not sure I've ever really considered which games have great writing as opposed to being great games. Yes, I have read games with great writing, and others with poor writing, but I never made a list of the best and worst in my mind. I also don't know that I especially separated the 'writing' from the games that they're in. 

Some of these questions are difficult to answer, not because the question challenges my sensibilities, or makes me think, but because they ask questions I don't really think about the answers to.

My favorite games are games I've read, and re-read many times. I suppose that had great writing. If not, I guess I love crappy writing. 

Whatever works.

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Barking Alien







Friday, August 18, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 18

In the 'Easy question that's actually hard to answer' category we have...





I would have said this question was a no-brainer, but if I'm being honest, it's not that simple to answer after all. 

I can name the games I've played most often, in no particular order as to which was played more than another, but picking one as tops is pretty hard.

I play a lot of different games. I modify practically all of them. I kitbash games, and merge parts together. I invent my own. That said, there are a number of games I repeatedly come back to, and run with minimal alterations (see Question #16).

Which was played most is difficult because I might say Star Wars D6 by West End Games, and then a week later run a game of Champions 4E. I hadn't played Ars Magica in forever, then ended up running a game for one group, only to start another campaign with a different group two months later.

The games I've played most in my 40 years in the hobby are (in no particular order - er, besides alphabetically):

Champions, 4th Edition (ICE/Hero Games)
Star Trek, Role Playing Game, TOS and TNG (Last Unicorn Games)
Star Trek, The Role Playing Game (FASA)
Star Wars, The Role Playing Game, Second Edition (West End Games)
Traveller, Classic/MegaTraveller hybrid (Games Design Workshop)

Honorable mention goes to Ars Magica, Mekton I & II, Mutants & Masterminds 2nd and 3rd, Teenagers from Outer Space, and Villains & Vigilantes.

I play a lot of different games.

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Barking Alien








Thursday, August 17, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 17

Oh @#%$. This question.




I don't buy food I'm not going to eat.
I don't buy clothes I'm not going to wear.
I don't own a TV because I only watch a few TV shows, and they're all on the internet.

I don't @#%$ing own games I'm not going to @#%$ing play.

Ugh.

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Barking Alien








Wednesday, August 16, 2017

RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 16

This next one...how do I answer this?






Seriously, do people actually do this? Play games 'as is'?

Like, exactly how they read it in the book. Exactly?

Really? C'mon, you're pulling my leg.

Gosh. The thought of it is...disheartening somehow. It makes me feel sad.

I couldn't do it. I wouldn't want to. 

There is no game I enjoy without some sort of modification. 


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Barking Alien







RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 15

Wow! Hey look everybody!

Come see, come see! Come on! 

They included a question just for me!

Hurrah!



+



I modify a lot of games. 







I think I ran a game as-is in 1985 once...or was it '83? I really don't recall exactly. Honestly, maybe I dreamed it.

Considering the fact that A) I feel a lot games are overwritten without actually paying attention to trying to represent their respective genres, and B) I'm a tinkerer, and kit-basher by nature, I've adapted dozens upon dozens of games over the years.

In the 9 years this blog has been around, you've seen me turn Traveller into Star Wars (and consider turning it into Star Trek), Faery's Tale Deluxe into The Smurfs, heard tell of Teenagers from Outer Space being turned into everything from Wizard of Oz, and Time Travel, to Galaxy Quest and even American Superheroes. I toyed with using it to run My Hero Academia, but decided to hack apart three other games into an original system.

Marvel Heroic makes a great game for running American cartoons, or Japanese anime. InSpectres can easily be adapted to run Sci-Fi Survival. 

Honestly, if I have to choose the game I adapt the most, or have adapted the most, it would be TFOS. I've done sooo much with that game. It's just so simple, and easy to add stuff to. 


I do love me some RPG-hacking.

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Barking Alien














RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 14

I'm still behind, but gaining fast!







Open-ended campaigns are my preferred approach to RPGs. I would rather run a game this way then any other. 

Games that are not designed for long term, open-ended campaign play absolutely serve a purpose, and have a definite place in ones gaming collection. There are a number of them on my own shelves.

While it is possible to run my own game, The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show, as a long term game with no definitive end, I fully don't expect that's what people are going to do with it. It, like Toon, Teenagers from Outer Space, Hunter Planet, Fiasco, and many other fantastic RPGs, these games are best a breaks from the usual, and familiar.

However, any game which focuses on exploration of the setting(s), and the characters, where power creep is relatively slow, or at least manageable, and you can change things up from time, to time without throwing the whole thing out of whack works for me for open-ended play.

I especially like games where the PCs are people living in the universe of the game. These are some of the best games for open-ended play because the players are following the lives of character who are native to the setting, and as such they may live, work, have adventures, get married, have kids, grow old, and die like real people. You are then able to play their kids, or grand kids. Life goes on, as they say, and a virtual life does the same except with space travel, magic, and more explosions.

My favorites for this type of game include:

Star Trek, using Last Unicorn's ICON System, RPG.

Traveller, using my Classic/MegaTraveller hybrid rules.

Champions, 4th edition of course, for Supers that keep on trucking. 

and while D&D isn't my favorite game by any stretch, I do concede that it is well built for open-ended, long term play. 

Others I've had success with include Star Wars (WEG D6), Villains & Vigilantes, Mutants & Masterminds, Mekton, and Teenagers from Outer Space (yeah, I know what I said, but it's possible to use the game for longer term play if you really want to).

OK, that's it for that. What's next?

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Barking Alien








RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 13

Are you challenging me? Are You challenging Me?

I don't see any other blog here so you must be challenging me. 

Come at me bro.






This question seems quite apropos considering I'm celebrating my 40th year in the gaming hobby. 

In order for me to answer this question, and for you out there to understand my answer, I have to start at the beginning of it all with my first gaming experience. 

From the first moments of the first game, I and those I was playing with at the time, approached the game [Basic Dungeons and Dragons, Holmes version, 1977] differently then most people did, as I have come to realize over the years. 

As a result of this divergent starting point, my gaming experiences took a different path then that of many of my fellow veteran gamers. After 40 years on that alternate path, my present looks a lot different as well, or rather it does when I am gaming 'my way'.

A recent conversation with a friend, whom a game with regularly, about my recent My Hero Academia based game really brought those differences to light. We had basic, fundamental differences on what makes for a fun game, what players in a game do, and what role the rules play in the fun, and why. Neither right, nor wrong, our opinions clearly marked what feels right, or wrong to each of us. 

My point?

Numerous gaming experiences throughout my gaming history changed how I play, starting with the very first one. 

It kept on changing.

I like to think it keeps on changing, and sometimes it goes back to what works best.

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Barking Alien






RPGaDay Challenge 2017 - Day 12

Another art question, huh?







Ugh. I have no idea.

As with Question #5, this one is hard to answer as lots of games do a pretty fair to good job of this.

Take into account the fact that I play a lot of IP based games, and I have to say my opinions on the matter are biased at best. Most licensed games use concept art, and photos taken directly from the TV show, movie, or comic they are based on. Instant inspiration if you are enough of a fan of that thing to have purchased a table top game based on it.

Did the FASA Star Trek RPG, or West End Games' Star Wars have good interior art? You bet your booty they did. They had stills from the things they were based on. 

A lot of games could use some help in this regard. Teenagers from Outer Space, Mekton, and many Superhero RPGs should be ashamed. Games based on visual media that don't have great visuals are annoying at best, insulting at worst.

Spend 15 seconds on Pinterest, or DeviantArt before making your game and hire one the bajillion talented artists. I know the guy a few desks down is your pal, and you guys built this game together, but damn it, he can NOT draw in a style even vaguely reminiscent of Anime, or Manga. No. Just, just no. 

Also, I am a fan of Japanese Anime/Manga art in many of its various interpretations, as well as a collector of Japanese table-top RPGs. While many of the latter don't have as much art as you'd expect, the art is always amazing, inspiring, and perfect for the product utilizing it. I am biased, but basically I am saying that some of the most inspiring interior art in an RPG product I've ever seen is probably in games a lot of people have never heard of here in the West.

Where was I? Oh yeah, most inspiring art...you really got me. 


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Barking Alien








One for All

Recapping our first session of My Hero Academia: American Ultra...









For those unfamiliar with My Hero Academia, it proposes a world where some 8, or 9 generations from now (roughly), about 80% of the world's population has some form of superpower, known as a 'Quirk'.

Quirks vary widely, and may manifest as relatively minor abilities such as breathing underwater, or moving very small, lightweight objects with one's mind, to devastating levels of super strength, or the power to generate intense heat and flames.

In the Japanese Manga and Anime it is explained that to prevent Japan from descending into pure chaos as a result of these conditions, it was made generally illegal to use ones' Quirk in public for any reason. It is highly illegal to use ones Quirk against another person, or against public buildings, or private property.

There are still those who attempt to abuse, or unlawfully benefit from their Quirk. As police generally do not use their Quirks in combat situations (adhering to, and upholding the same laws that apply to citizens), the profession of Hero was developed to handle such criminals. 

In order to be a professional Hero, one much qualify for a Hero License. Once a license is obtained, it is common for new Heroes to join up with one of the many privately operated (but government approved) Hero Agencies.

As with any vocations, schools were developed to help teach potential professional do-gooders how to be Heroes. Staffed by former, and current Pro-Heroes, Japan's most famous and well regarded high school is Ultra Academy (UA) High School in Musutafu, Japan * (thought to be located Shizuoka Prefecture).

Japan's greatest hero is All Might, whose rather unusual quirk is known as One for All

Our campaign is set in the USA of this world, beginning around the same time as the events in the Japanese Manga begin. There are a number of differences between my American setting, and that of the Japanese original.

First, American laws are a bit more flexible, and relaxed, which means the police do occasionally use minor quirks to help with their police work, delivery boys bike across town with an occasional burst of super speed, and causal quirk use in public places is not illegal, though it may be frowned upon in certain areas. By contrast, the penalties for aggressive quirk use with the intent to cause harm are much more severe. 

The US in general, and New York especially, sees more crime than Japan does, and it's Hero organizations are set up differently to respond to that. Instead of privatized companies and agencies, American Heroes are split into teams overseen by one, or more government agencies. While most superhero teams operate on either a city, state, or federal level, it is not the city, state, or even Department of Defense that has jurisdiction over them. Instead it is a series of Supers specific groups, and departments such as the US Department of Quirk Affairs, and Welfare, and Q.U.A.N.T.U.M. (the Quirk User Anti-terrorism Network Tactical Unit Monitor).

There are hero schools in the USA as well, with the best known and respected being American Ultra (AU) High School. To be a professional Hero on any level, American heroes also need to obtain a license just like the Heroes of Japan, and AU is the recommended place to start training for such a calling, and career. 


Episode 1: 'Favorite Sons and Daughters'

I opened with a prologue scene (which the PCs were not involved in), in which America's greatest hero, Favorite Son, and a protege'/sidekick hero named Waterbug, are chasing down a superhuman assassin named Killjoy. Favorite Son knows for a fact that Killjoy ran down a particular alley, and has cornered him there. Favorite Son sent other members of his team to surround the block just in case Killjoy made an attempt to escape. Waterbug is there to watch, and learn, and alert the other team members if things get nasty.

The thing is, Killjoy, though very dangerous, is no match for Favorite Son. While Killjoy is similar to Marvel's Deadpool, or DC's Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, he is not as good, or as powerful as those men. Favorite Son meanwhile is similar to Captain America, though decidedly more powerful, and possessing an additional superpower unknown to most of the world's populace (and not mentioned here). 

The lights in the alley go out suddenly, and Waterbug, who thought he saw something seconds before, is suddenly gripped with severe, debilitating doubt, sadness, and despair. Obviously the work of Killjoy (Quirk: Sorrow - Emotion Control that absorbs positive feelings, and thoughts, and heightens negative feelings, sadness, and depression).

Suddenly, Waterbug is stabbed through the chest by a katana! As he clutches his chest, and slumps to the ground, Favorite Son spins around searching for his attacker, and is stabbed as well. Both men are left bleeding in the alley...

And we cut to the next morning, where the top news story on every station is the death of Favorite Son (oh, and Waterbug). Heroes, current and retired, speak on how this terrible tragedy could have happened. Most agree that while the evidence points to Killjoy murdering the two heroes, it seems so unlikely that Favorite Son couldn't have taken him on. 

Flags across the country fly at half staff. A National Moment of Silence is declared in the early morning hours. A rifle salute is given at Arlington National Cemetery. 

That day, a Monday, marked a very special day for American Ultra High School, the USA's premiere Hero Training School, located in New York City, New York. It was the day accepted applicants were to take their placement tests to see what class, and department they'd be in.

Many recommended cancelling the event, including well known Superheroes and government officials. However, the school's principal, the beloved, long time heroine Timeless Beauty, declared that after the moment of silence the placement tests would go on as planned.

Timeless Beauty was a close, personal friend of Favorite Son, and gave a rousing speech about how he would want them to go on with the vital task of training the next generation of heroic defenders of peace, justice, and good will. He would want to send the message that, "Our spirit remains intact. Our mission never more clear."

Scene cut to the front of American Ultra High School, where over 120 students, their parents, family, friends, and teachers gather together waiting for the event to begin. And the placement exams truly are an event, and a time honored tradition at AU. 

The PCs are in the crowd, eager to see who else will be attending classes with them, who the teachers are, and what more (if anything) they can learn about the passing of Favorite Son.


The PCs are:


Darien Thomas (Played by Dave)

Quirk: Ball Lightning - Darien surrounds himself with a field of electricity that is dangerous to come into contact with (you could get electrocuted! Stay grounded! Wear rubber gloves!). After charging up for a few seconds, he can shoot himself throw the air like a lightning bolt. The field remains the whole time, making him a cross between an electricity character, and Marvel's Cannonball. 

Darien is the son of two very famous pro-heroes. His mother is the extremely popular Electric Blue, whose electricity quirk is one of the top versions in the world. His father is the well liked, but less popular Momentum. His Quirk is called Unstoppable, and he is a bit like the Juggernaut of Marvel Comics. 

The family is wealthy, upper class, but environmentally, and socially conscious. They are popular among the Superhero set, as well as the public (though Mom, and Son more than Dad, as he can be a little gruff). Darien grew up with Superheroes the way a lot of Celebrity's kids grow up knowing Hollywood types. 

On the surface, Darien is 'the popular kid', and seems a bit shallow and showy. In truth, he plays that part because its what the public expects. With closer connections, family and friends, he is very serious about being a hero. He is more down to Earth than one would expect.

There's a lot of pressure for Darien to do well, especially from his parents, but he remains a good natured, friendly sort who is trying hard to take it all in stride. 

Darien is friends with a number of other pro-Superhero 'celebrity kids', such as...


Jax Reed (Played by Marcus) 

Quirk: Sound Control - Jax can control sound. He can increase, or decrease the volume of any sound around him, including silencing loud explosions. Jax can not create, or completely eliminate a sound however, and when he appears to silence something, he must release that sound somewhere else. He can of course create sound by snapping, or speaking, but he can't, for instance, think of a sound and have it happen. 

The power is pretty versatile, though Jax is most accustomed to using it as a blast by absorbing the vibrations of loud noises and redirecting them. 

Jax, like Darien, is a legacy. His grandfather was the well known hero Sonic Marvel, who eventually retired from Superheroing to become a political and social activist, and community leader. 

Jax's parents are apparently quite wealthy, having made money off of granddad's fame. They run a business that produces the Sonic Marvel animated cartoon, makes the action figures, t-shirts, and assists in funding his charity and non-profit work. 

By contrast, Jax and his grandfather live in a middle income neighborhood, enjoying a simple 'blue collar' lifestyle. Sonic Marvel wanted Jax to grow up the same way he did, hoping that would lead to his grandson gaining the same morals, and sense of right and wrong that he has.

Sonic Marvel was a major advocate of a low-income housing program backed by the Catholic Church which is the current residence of...


Seph Rigard (Played by Jeff)

Quirk: Belief-Shaping - Seph can transform belief in himself, in his ideals, and in his goals into solid, and semi-solid 'energy' that he can then shape into various useful forms. If others join him in achieving the same goal, or give him encouragement (i.e. believe in him, or share his belief), he has more energy to work with. 

Essentially, he is like a Green Lantern, or possibly, a Blue Lantern. He can not perform fine manipulation, or create fine details thus far. Nor can he generate any of the side effect powers many Green Lanterns seem to be able to manifest (Creating a fire extinguisher that actually puts out fire, or a Sonar machine that bounces sound waves). The power is still incredibly useful, flexible, and potentially dangerous.

Seph has a very interesting background, though much of it remains a mystery. 

He is originally from England. Following the disappearance of his parents, his older sister became a rebellious youth, acting out as hero, or villain as her needs, and desires suited her. After a near disastrous run in with a powerful pro-Superhero, she decided to make a change for herself, and her younger brother.

Brother and sister came to America, and help, housing, and friendship through the Church. One particular priest took to looking after them personally, and became a mentor for Seph. During one of their talks, the priest told Seph, "You are destined to do great things. You will make a difference in the world, but only if you believe you can." Seph took this to heart, and with the priest's help, applied to American Ultra High School. 

Seph is very philosophical, and seems older, and wiser than his years. He gets along well with the other PCs, though each is a very different personality.


As the PCs interacted with each other, they also met a slew of their future classmates. Among them were...

Chenrong Leung - Childhood friend of Darien's who can teleport short distances (only a few inches or so), very often, and very quickly. The strobe light-like effect makes it very hard to hit her, or lock onto her with quirk attacks. It also gives her low-level super speed.

Chet Walters - A jerky jock with a quirk that creates a basketball sized 'kinetic ball'. 

Desiree Alvarez - Very self-assured girl with density increase resulting in super durability, and strength.

Jeremy Byrne - A nerdy kid with powerful heat vision.

Jesse Kirkman - Zombie looking girl who appears to be undead. Doesn't tire, breath, etc.

Lana Poe - A quiet, blue haired, pale skinned girl with a chilling touch.

Mikita Sferson - Daughter of the pro-hero 'The Viking'. She can generate disc shaped 'shields' of force.

Spencer Greyson - A kid with grey skin, white hair, pointy ears, and antenna. His quirk enables him to temporary redirect the pull of gravity, making people, or objects appear to fall up, backward, or sideways.

Rocco Sargossi - A large, super strong, super tough lobster/man hybrid. His quirk is that he can breath water as easily as air, and swim as easily as he walks, or runs.








These are just a few of the many NPC students I introduced, but they were the ones that got the most attention. 

After a bit of role-playing, and getting familiar with both their PCs, the NPCs, and the setting, the players got ready for the 'placement test' to come. 

I had the AU High School staff assemble the crowd, and direct everyone's attention to the principal, Timeless Beauty. I gave a short, impassioned speech (as the principal) about what the school was about, and how they are carrying on Favorite Son's passion of helping people, and stopping those who would abuse their gifts. 

It really went over well with the guys, building the relationship between the principal, Favorite Son, the bigger plot, and the world for future sessions. 

After that, the group was totally jazzed to get to the action/adventure part of the game. 

And I will tell you all about it...next time.

Plus Ultra!

AD
Barking Alien