Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sir Brian of Gamealot

I'm lucky to be part of a pretty great group of gamers. Counting myself, there are nine of us that regularly participate in our bi-weekly gaming sessions. This summer we've branched out into Savage Worlds and had a number of board-game nights.

It's a creative and talented bunch that likes to kick back and have a good time killing things.

One of the members of our group, Brian, is especially skilled at tracking down games at the various local resale shops here in town. We're all in Tucson Arizona, mind you, a great little city but it's no metropolis like Chicago, LA or NYC. In those cities can be found just about anything you seek in the small privately owned independent used book stores and resale shops. But here in Tucson it's a bit trickier.

As small as Tucson is, I've had my luck at scoring some great classic gaming items for real cheap mostly through yard sales and antique sales; a box full of classic Grenadier minis, a bunch of classic TSR D&D modules for just a couple of dollars.

But the true king has to be Brian.

He has scored the most amazing classic gaming items by casually scouring the resale shops here in town - and consistently too! Just about every week he comes up with some amazing find at the most unbelievable prices. Some of the games he keeps to play with his two sons (growing gamers themselves!) or sells/trades on the interwebs. But he's shared quite a bit with us, his fellow gamers.

Last night he brought over a bunch of 'presents' to hand out including a bunch of old Star Fleet Battles stuff.

But the real prize....the most amazing score had to be this:


Yes, the original Traveller box set with a stack of supplements.

And do you know what he paid for this?

Come on, just guess......

$5.00

Yup, just $5.00

Don't ever give up hope shopping around on a quest for those classic gaming items, 'cause they're out there.

So long live the king of amazing gaming finds: Sir Brian of Gamealot!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Original D&D Radio Play: Conclusion

We continue with the third and final chapter to this portion of our original scripted radio drama Beneath The Ruined Tower Of Zenopus; a pulp fantasy about a group of adventurers exploring the labyrinth beneath a magician's ruined tower!

If you missed the earlier chapters you can catch up here:
Listen to Chapter 1
Listen to Chapter 2

Tune in to the theater of your mind with Tales of High Adventure!


THE RUINED TOWER OF ZENOPUS
Chapter 3: Dark Sorcery


Written and Produced by Paul Fini

Music by Kevin MacLeod

Performed by the Warlock's Home Brewed Role-players:

Corey Bishop…..Arvin Ardmore, priest of Mithra
Brain Dunkle…..Tibag Backstabber, rogue
Paul Fini…..Announcer, Father Halford, Sorcerer
Zachariah Hoffman…..Skwanky Furrytoe, halfling
Clay Lewis…..Gedleesmote Hammersend the Dwarf
Max Lieberman…..Vincent the Wizard
Mike Moran…..Wolf the Viking
Christy Cameron Smith…..Narrator, Harlot, Morak

Also featuring
Richard Gabriel…..Mithra pirest
Sara Gabriel
…..Jesse the bar wench, goblin
Brendan & Adam Gabriel…..Goblins
Michael Griffith.....Pirate Captain

This Pod-play is dedicated to John Eric Holmes


Listen Now (14 minutes)...



Download Chapter 3 for your listening leisure!

If we leave you hangin' with this one, not to worry! We'll be continuing this tale as well as other original adventure fantasy dramas with our Tales of High Adventure Pod-casts. Coming to you totally infrequently and without warning!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Player Badges

Inspired by Stuart over at Strange Magic and his awesome DM badges and Zach from our gaming group I felt that the players needed merit badges too.



Hack and Slash! I like to kill things and take their stuff!


I'm only in it for the money! Gold! Gold! Gold!



I like to roll by character and crunch numbers. My character's mad skills are not mine but better! I've never met a skill roll I didn't like!


I like to role my character. I am my character!



I better end up a king in your campaign!



Keep me away from torches and barns.



My character's actions are not for kids under 17 or sensitive ears at the table. Yeah, I'm that guy.



I survived the Tomb of Horrors and all I got was this cursed merit badge!



I like to explore the underworld.



I like to explore the wilderness.



Wine, women and songs! Towns are for me!



I enjoy epic high fantasy!



I enjoy gritty pulp adventures!


UPDATE: Feel free to use how you wish!

Monday, August 22, 2011

DM Badges

I've been out of the loop on this whole FLAILSNAIL Convention thingy but from little I've gathered it sounds like a great idea. I just don't think I have the time to put into it at the moment.

BUT...Stuart over at Strange Magic came up with a great shorthand for your DMing style with these DM Badges. But why restrict it to just FLAILSNAIL, all DMs can let their geek-flags fly.

The Warlock's Badges:


  • I roll the dice sometimes in public view, sometimes in private but I never fudge. Let the dice fall where they may! Live it!
  • Character Death? Check! It doesn't matter how high level you are, you can always die. It's what makes the game fun and memorable.
  • Gonzo? Enough. Instant death icy blue lava, giant eyeballs, 100 crotch-goblins and giant Halflings.
  • I've gotten to waaaay less planning as the improvisation is so much more fun.
  • My players have tons of cool ideas, much more than I can come up with. It makes my job a hell of a lot easier.
  • Mystery and exploration is why I play RPGs in the first place.
  • It hasn't come up but I ain't against player vs player as long as it's in character.
  • BYOB, what's left over put it in the fridge for next week. Chips go on the bookshelf.
  • You better run if things look harry, though my players haven't figured that out yet.
  • Always felt inhibited in the long ago past but I love to tinker and house rule these days.
  • Player-skill over character skill. It's role-playing, ain't it?

Mystery Men! And My Ass-whoopin'

Yes, that's right. My Mystery Men! character the Firefly (based on a golden-aged hero) got his ass handed to him in the online PBP game I'm playing in. He was taking on TWO baddies, mind you, but I still think his performance was less than heroic - especially with a bunch of innocents in jeopardy.

He did get one good lick in, bashing a sound-blaster guy, but the Pinball dude kept shooting pinballs at me and that was my end.

But after his failure, and with the aid of The Green Mask, the Firefly brushed himself off and went back to his lab to 'invent' some crime-fighting tools.

That's the one really cool thing about Mystery Men! over ICONS; there is plenty of room for character development and improvement. It's built into the system and I like that a lot. It lends itself to more campaign play and not just a one shot evening.

The other thing I really like about MM! are the three character classes; Adventurer, Scientist, Magician. It seemed a bit odd at first but actually works quite well. Firefly's alter ego, Harley Hudson, is a scientist / entomologist and so I went with that class. The cool thing about that class over adventurer is that not only do you get your powers, but you also can have a 'Science Pool' that you can use to 'invent' new powers for each adventure depending on what you think you might need. It gives a lot of flexibility to that character. Of course you need a lab or workshop which costs you points during character creation.

Determined to not make the same mistakes again with this new age of super-villains (after all, Firefly is a golden-aged hero fighting in a Silver-aged campaign world), Firefly added some 'enhancements' to his abilities.

I present to you the Silver-age Firefox!

FIREFLY (Level 7 Scientist)

STR 13 | DEX 7 | CON 5 | INT 7 | WIL 3 | CHA 5 | HP 34 | DC 16 / 20 w-shields | ATK +4 | SPD 3

Powers: Iron Grip, Potent Attack, Jump, Invulnerability I, Super STR +7, Super INT +2, Super DEX +2, Super CON +4, Super CHA +4, Super Speed +1

Gear:
Shield – when activated, wrist guards create small invisible discs which help FF defend against incoming attacks; Can only be used for up to 7 rounds; FF must see the attack coming for them to be affective. DC 16, hp 5
Firecycle
Chest Symbol emits light 60' when controlled by button in belt. DC 10, hp 5
Apartment/lab

Flaw:
Ordinary human.
Joan Burton love interest and reporter.
Wrist shields only last for 7 rounds before needing recharging.
Science Pool: 4,550
Science Pool Gadgets:
Energy Hands Stinger (wristband)
Web Cocoon (wristband)


Now....Bring on the badguys!

Friday, August 19, 2011

ICONS: The Scarlet Hood

Finally finished reading the rules to ICONS. It sounds like it should be a fast paced fun game an. I hope to get a session going in the next few weeks. There's a couple issues that I have with the game and I'll be talking about them soon. But for now, I'm enjoying the random character creation. It's really a fun challenge to piece together a character based on the powers and abilities rolled but it's a great creative exercise.

The Scarlet Hood
Kane Foster

Trained

Prowess 4
Coordination 4
Strength 3
Intellect 7
Awareness 5
Willpower 3

Stamina 7
Determination 5

Specialties
Investigate
Science (physics)
Athletics
Stealth
Electronics
Weapons (expert Quarter Staff)
Weapons (Gun)

Powers
Invisibility 5

Qualities
Motivation: Wife, Sharon Foster Asst. DA was murdered prosecuting a crime-boss' son.
Identity: Kane Foster
Catch Phrase: The Scarlet Hood passes judgment upon thee.
Motivation: Hunting wife's killer
Connection: Informant on the street Henry Corbits


Challenges
Hunted by police
Obsessed with murder of wife.

Total Points: 39

When physics professor Kane Foster's assistant DA wife was murdered while prosecuting the son of a local crime-boss, something inside of him died. Shattered by the brutal murder and without much aid from the corrupt police department, Foster felt forced by circumstances beyond his control to take the law into his own hands. Thus, inventing an invisibility cloak to aid in his hunt for those responsible for his wife's death, the Scarlet Hood prowls the dark alleys and the grim underworld of the city.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beneath The Tower Of Zenopus Radio Play Chapter 2

We continue with the second chapter to our original scripted radio drama Beneath The Ruined Tower Of Zenopus; a pulp fantasy about a group of adventurers exploring the labyrinth beneath a magicians ruined tower!

A bit shorter than last weeks episode but I'll make up for it next week with Chapter 3. If you missed Chapter 1, you can listen to it here.

Tune in to the theater of your mind with Tales of High Adventure!


THE RUINED TOWER OF ZENOPUS
Chapter 2: An Unexpected Alliance


Written and Produced by Paul Fini

Music by Kevin MacLeod

Performed by the Warlock's Home Brewed Role-players:

Corey Bishop…..Arvin Ardmore, priest of Mithra
Brain Dunkle…..Tibag Backstabber, rogue
Paul Fini…..Announcer, Father Halford, Sorcerer
Zachariah Hoffman…..Skwanky Furrytoe, halfling
Clay Lewis…..Gedleesmote Hammersend the Dwarf
Max Lieberman…..Vincent the Wizard
Mike Moran…..Wolf the Viking
Christy Cameron Smith…..Narrator, Harlot

Also featuring
Richard Gabriel…..Mithra pirest
Sara Gabriel
…..Jesse the bar wench, goblin
Brendan & Adam Gabriel…..Goblins
Michael Griffith.....Morak

This Pod-play is dedicated to John Eric Holmes


Listen Now (11 minutes)...



...or download for your leisure listening.
Beneath the Ruined Tower of Zenopus: Chapter 2 An Unexpected Alliance

Tune in next week for Chapter 3: Dark Sorcery!

Chapter 1: Into the Dark

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Warlock Movie Review: The People vs George Lucas

"If only you knew the power of the Dark Side."
-Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes Back


As our gaming session fell apart last night due to birthing a baby, my wife and I went out to the local movie house in Tucson, The Loft, and caught The People vs George Lucas - an entertaining and often hilarious documentary about a bunch of 40 something geeks loving and hating on the famed director's revisionist obsession of their childhood space fantasy sandbox; the Star Wars epic.

The People vs George Lucas touches on all the famed subjects of this infamous debate over the original Star Wars, the prequels and the revised editions of the original movies. It leaves no stone unturned as director Alexandre O. Philippe hits everything from Amadala to Jar Jar and all the midichlorians in-between. Filled with interviews, clips from the movies and fan made films it's a clever 'Hell-ride' (yes, there's even an appearance by Wesley Willis

Philippe's camera is not only focused on George Lucas but also the sub-culture that was spawned back in 1977 and the obsessed fans who we can probably identify with all too well. In fact, as the folks interviewed recount their experiences of the original films and then the long awaited prequels you can't help but feel a part of the same emotional roller-coaster ride that well all experienced.

The film is limited release right now but it is well worth trying to get previewed into your town.

It's a brilliant and entertaining little movie about a man who expanded our dream of a galaxy far far away and then demolished it.....from a certain point of view.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Supers Inspiration: The Avengers Cartoon

I grew up a Marvels guy. Sure I had my handfuls of Superman, Bat-man, JLA, GL and the Flash, but it was always Marvel's high-octane drama that did it for me. Spidey, Cap and of course The Avengers.

Lots of folk liked the Bruce Timm DC series'; Batman, Superman and the JLA. I agreed, they were beautifully drawn animated stories that took the characters seriously. A big departure, IMO, from the Japanese Anime influenced hero cartoons from the late 80's and 90's. But I was never 'hooked' so to speak.

But now we have The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated cartoon and on this I am hooked. It's a Bruce Timm influenced cartoon of the Marvel Universe. They capture the evolution of the bickering team quite well and pack it with all aspects of their prized universe. Though a modern take on the heroes, it pays great homage to the Avengers of the 1960's & 70's through the development of the marvel expected depth of characters, the interwoven extended plots and villains galore.

From Ant-man / Giant-man (which is awesome in and of itself), to the discovery of Captain America, the crabby Hulk as a member, to the Masters of Evil and the Kree Skrull war it's a cartoon that touches on every almost every aspect of classic Marvel Comics greatness.

Though kids will love it, adults and fans of the characters will enjoy the character dynamics and plotlines even more.

I do have to say that the theme-song is the most irritating, ear-bleeding piece of crap I've ever heard that anymore than just a brief first listen will explode your brains.

So, for some great Supers action (and inspiration) check out The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, streaming from NetFlix! You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tales Of High Adventure Original D&D Pod-Play

So for all of you that have returned from your journeys at GenCon, for all of you getting ready for the OSRCon, for all of you Grognards out there old and young, for all you classic role-players, fantasy bloggers and all other fans of pulp fantasy drama The Warlock's Home Brew presents the first chapter in it's original Pod-Play drama Beneath The Ruined Tower Of Zenopus! An original scripted performance about a group of adventurers exploring the labyrinth beneath a magicians ruined tower! Dedicated to and influenced by John Eric Holmes' sample dungeon in the original blue book.

Tune in to the theater of your mind with Tales of High Adventure!


THE RUINED TOWER OF ZENOPUS
Chapter 1: Into the Dark


Written and Produced by Paul Fini

Music by Kevin MacLeod

Performed by the Warlock's Home Brewed Role-players:

Corey Bishop…..Arvin Ardmore, priest of Mithra
Brain Dunkle…..Tibag Backstabber, rogue
Paul Fini…..Announcer, Father Halford, Sorcerer
Zachariah Hoffman…..Skwanky Furrytoe, halfling
Clay Lewis…..Gedleesmote Hammersend the Dwarf
Max Liberman…..Vincent the Wizard
Mike Moran…..Wolf the Viking
Christy Cameron Smith…..Narrator, Harlot

Also featuring
Richard Gabriel…..Mithra pirest
Sara Gabriel
…..Jesse the bar wench, goblin
Brendan & Adam Gabriel…..Goblins
Michael Griffith.....Morak

This Pod-play is dedicated to John Eric Holmes


Listen Now (17 minutes)...



...or download for your leisure listening.
Beneath the Ruined Tower of Zenopus: Chapter 1 Into the Dark

Listen to Chapter 2: An Unexpected Alliance


Listen to Chapter 3: Dark Sorcery!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Warlock's Ramblings

Last night we finally got back into some role-playing. This summer, our sessions have been a bit scattered as summers usually tend to be. But we continued our Savage Worlds campaign with a full house (eight souls around the table). Clay ran a great session and there was a lot of laughter as we haven't seen some of each other for a while. Sometimes you forget how great this group storytelling concept really is.

Two of our players, Clay (who is running Savage Worlds) and Mike are having babies within a week of each other. Once their little role-players come into the world we'll most likely be taking a break from Savage Worlds and delving back into our Swords & Wizardry campaign, tying up some loose ends.

During this past summer we've had a number of board-game sessions which is always great fun and a nice break from the rigors of a RPGs.

But that's not all we've been doing. This summer we've also been putting together a special project to present to all of you who enjoy classic adventures and tales! I won't say much more now except that I think you'll all enjoy it (well, I hope you will).

So be sure to check out tomorrow's post here at The Warlocks' Home Brew!

Monday, August 8, 2011

More Mystery Men!: Shore City

I've been going through the Superhero RPG Mystery Men! by John Stater and I've been really enjoying this set of rules for a Supers game. Though I have yet to take it out for an actual test-drive, the quick pace, familiar rules-lite system is much to my liking.

The one thing that has just blown me away is the inspired campaign setting that comes with the rules: Shore City. Stater has put together a really fantastic broad-stroke hero's setting that gives you just enough to spark your imagination but without getting bogged down in over-descriptive location and characters. An imaginary industrial city on the Great Lakes, Shore City is filled with all manner of colorful neighborhoods, characters and plot hooks that can keep a campaign going for ages. Rich industrialists, ambitious politicians, gangsters and clever scientists all help to bring this city to life in any style of campaign; whether it be for a gritty street-fighting hero or a powerful cosmic entity. Shore City can cover the gambit with room to spare.

Every good comic hero has as his backdrop a city that is as much a character as himself; Bat-man has Gotham City, Superman has Metropolis, Marvel Comics has all of New York City. The city itself should be a major character and in Shore City you get that.

Reading it I couldn't help but feel that I wanted to dive right in there and cause some havoc or chase some baddies down and there was plenty of room to add enough color of my own. That's a sign of a well written setting.

I've really enjoyed reading this rule set. It's well put together and written with passion of the genre. I'm hoping to get a game started this fall. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hero Creation: the ARGHs! BAMs! and Crunch! of it all

So I've been looking at the Super's games Mystery Men! and Icons (though I may delve into Supers as well due to high recommendations). I really like Mystery Men! so far and Icons has certain qualities I like as well. But a heroes game all comes down to character creation, now doesn't it?

Mystery Men! uses a character build point system while Icons uses a random character creation. Icons also has a point system thrown in as an afterthought and I'll look at that as well.

There is something to be said about random character creation but for a Supers game I've never been sure how that would work. For me, part of a Supers game is creating a hero you want to play, whether it's your own creation or inspired by a classic comic hero.

So I rolled up an Icons character. I'm not going to get too into the mechanics of the game, I'll just talk about the results. Regardless, Icons uses 2d6 for the most part in it's creation process.

In Icons you go through a 7 step character creation process:
1. Origin
2. Ability Determination
3. Power Determination
4. Specialty Determination
5. Stamina, Background, and Description
6. Aspects (Qualities and Challenges)
7. Game Master Approval
Origin is your base starting point of how you received your powers, ie. trained, birthright, etc. I rolled Gimmick meaning all powers come from devices.

Next I rolled abilities, 3 physical and 3 mental. I ended up with low strength and a very high willpower (mental abilities). Still unsure what this character was going to be so lets see what powers I roll. Hmm, 2 powers, Animation (bringing inanimate objects to life) and Life Support. No real offensive powers. So this guy was going to be some kind of mentalist, in more of a support role, maybe alien (life support) so I choose Mental resistance for a skill.

I was a bit bummed about having a Prof. X type of character but then I thought this over once again and ended up with a brain kept alive in a floating jar of goo. Kinda like Basil Cronus from Godland. This was sounding more like a villain than a hero but really it could go both ways. This guy would be flipping' odd to have in your hero group.

I decided to go with villain and ended up with Hitler's brain in a jar come back to build a 4th reich (yeah, all this talk about Captain America hasn't influenced this at all).

Der Fuhrer's Brain! His brain is kept alive in this floating machine not needing to sleep, eat, or breath and he's protected from the vacuum and pressures of space and the oceans. He plots evils with his big brain and fights by bringing an assortment of inanimate objects to life through his connected machinery to fight his enemies. He's always in fear of having his jar being broken.

I actually kinda liked this guy. I don't know if I would ever have come up with this on my own so there's something to be said about random hero creation. He would even be a weird, freaky super-hero, something interesting to play. I'd take that challenge. Maybe Hitler's brain in a quest for forgiveness and redemption. Interesting and surprising. Either way, we've got some Kirbyesque gaming in this guys future.

One thing I would like to mention in the Icons random CharGen is that a hero can end up being just a bit better than a plain old guy or a superman, which I think is great for a multi-player team. A lot of diversity.

Now on to Mystery Men!

I built a character for an online game I'm participating in being run of the creator of the rules, John Stater. It's a silver-aged era campaign and we were allowed to build a character from scratch or base one off of a public domain golden age hero. I went with the golden age hero Firefly!

Mystery Men! foundation is based on an original fantasy game system so it's quite easy to pick up and create a character. In Myster Men! you get a pool of starting experience points ranging from normal (10,000) to cosmic (200,000). We were playing superhuman so we started with 50,000.

You start by rolling your standard 6 abilities on a 1d6 (yes, a 1d6) than building up from there. You add points to your abilities, use the points to buy powers, equipment, housing and even your character level.

There are three character classes to base your hero on, the adventurer, scientist, and sorcerer. At first I was a bit turned off by this lack of inspirational naming but it turns out to work well as it doesn't leave the class pigeon-holed. It's just a general category that you can just make into whatever you want - a true rules-lite open system and huge plus IMO.

Since Firefly was a scientist and used his knowledge to enhance his natural powers I built him as a scientist class character who still turned out to be quite strong. It was quite easy to match powers to the Firefly comic character, in fact, character creation was quite a breeze and fun. With a character concept in mind, you can pretty much breeze through the process.

FIREFLY (Level 6 Scientist)

The Firefly's real name is Harley Hudson, an entomologist and chemist. He discovered that insects can lift masses greater than their own weight because of their ability to coordinate their muscles. He taught himself to coordinate his muscles as insects do and found himself able to perform amazing feats. He then created a costume and called himself the Firefly. Thus, the Firefly does not possess any real superpowers but is merely a man possessing great physical and mental prowess due to his natural abilities.

Harley Hudson's romantic interest is Joan Burton, a newspaper reporter.

STR 13 | DEX 7 | CON 5 | INT 7 | WIL 3 | CHA 5 | HP 27 | DC 16 | ATK +3 | SPD 3
Powers: Iron Grip, Potent Attack, Jump, Invulnerability I, Super STR +7, Super INT +2, Super DEX +2, Super CON +4, Super CHA +4, Super Speed +1
Gear: Firecycle, chest symbol emits light 60' when controlled by button in belt. DC 10, hp 5 (I rolled a d6 and got 5 but if you want to roll on your own be my guest), Apartment/lab
Flaw: Ordinary human. Joan Burton love interest and reporter.


Finally, I wanted to see how the point system in Icons played out with the same character Firefly. The baseline hero points are 45 and that goes into all of your abilities and power levels. This can be adjusted by the GM, of course, for whatever campaign he/she would like to run.

So with 45 points I was able to create a pretty compatible version of Firefly. Housing and transportation isn't figured into the character cost like it is in Mystery Men! but the system worked better than I thought it would. With multiplayers starting with the same base points it may bring all the heroes into a closer power range with each other but I haven't explored that yet.

Regardless, both games process of character creation was fun and painless and didn't take to much time.

It's time to dive a bit deeper into the game playing aspects of both games and maybe take a look at Supers as well.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ye Ol' Dice

Alas, my Holmes dice are long gone. In fact, I know exactly when they left - exactly 6 years ago last month. I sold them at a yard sale in a dice bag with a bunch of minis and the original TSR Dungeon! game before my wife and I moved to Tucson.

Thanks to Tim over at Gothridge Manor for his Dice Marathon!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rolling Heroes

All my previous posting about Captain America a couple of weeks ago has got me thinking about running a Supers game. Actually I've been thinking about it for a while now and thought no better time than to dive back into the colorful world of the super-hero.

Back in the day, other than D&D and Top Secret, Champions 1st ed. became one of our regular RPGs. As soon as it came out I scooped it up as I saw no better combination for me than comic book heroes and role-playing games. At the time we loved the chunky rules and building the heroes and villains. The sessions turned into just full on bash-fests but we loved it - not to mention the cool character sheets with the hero figure lightly sketched in for you to finish up.

Late last year I picked up a copy of the old Champions rule book off the interwebs (mine having disappeared many centuries ago) and enjoyed flipping through the familiar pages. Alas, my old brain is not up for working with such a crunchy style game so I began to search for an alternative.

I was looking for something rules-lite. A game with enough rules to play a wide variety of heroes and villains without getting the feeling you're just changing the surface dressing of powers.

We've been playing a Savage Worlds pulp adventure campaign. Though having played Savage Worlds and have been enjoying our sessions I haven't been blown away with the system. Sure it's pretty easy to get going but I was looking for something else. Savage Worlds have a Super Powers Companion supplement for their basic Explorer rules. So that is a possible option but I'm not sold on it.

Right now, what really appeals to me are two sets of rules that are quite different - Icons by Steven Kenson (published by Adamant Entertainment) and Mystery Men! self published by John Stater.



I haven't completed reading both sets of rules yet but here are my initial impressions thus far...

Icons can be a bit pricey for a pdf but that price sometimes fluctuates. Keep an eye on it, you could get lucky. The print version runs about $30 plus shipping. A bit pricey for a cheap-ass gamer such as myself. Mystery Men! offers a free e-book as well as a print on demand for $7.30 (which I will be picking up on my next Lulu order), much more my cup of tea.

Both are rules-lite and seem to be fast paced and loose games.

I enjoy the layouts for both books with Mystery Men! taking a clean layout sprinkled with golden age heroes and images - a nice touch. Icons has more of a modern, Justice League / Bruce Timm look and feel and is in full color which all fits the mood of the game pretty well. The thing I liked about Icons is the terms used for time in the game; when it's your turn it is called a panel, after everyone completes their turn (panels) that's considered a page. A number of pages make up a chapter etc. all of which sticks with the genre. I love that little detail and would use that concept in any heroes game I run.

The main difference is that Icons sports a random generation character creation while Mystery Men! sports the character build.

Having played Champions, I enjoyed the planned character building process and customizing the hero's powers to fit your vision or copy of an existing hero. Mystery Men! seems to capture that pretty well in a much more simplified format. It also seems to give you options to grow your character over time - a big plus for an ongoing campaign.

I've also always enjoyed the random character creation in your typical FRPG (D&D Traveller, etc), but I've always been a bit apprehensive about that process in a heroes game.

So I'm in the process of character creation in both games. I'll post my results later.

For some insight in rolling up Icon characters you can check out Tower of Zenopus recent post.

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