Saturday, April 16, 2011

Photon Ranger and Plutonium Man would also like to protest

They have just as many P's in their name as she does!

P is also for Protest!

Phurious Pharaoh would like to protest being bumped from the P slot of the April blog theme. After all he has TWO P's in his name and that Psycho Girl only has one!

This is very disturbing.

So he's working on a special project just for her.

Then he's going to go find her.

And we will see what transpires.

P is for: Psycho Ex-Wife

Believe it or not this is one of Lady Blacksteel's characters and I did not make it for her - this is totally her own creation.

She looks so innocent sitting there
She crossed out my original entry for P and substituted one of her favorites. When I then told her that I expected her to write the entry for today as a guest-blogger she responded "the blog is YOUR thing" so I'm left in the position of writing about someone else's character.

I can tell you that she looks like a typical businesswoman apart from the tiny horns and the devil-tail, and the flaming purple aura that fires up when she gets angry.

Teamed up with the Unearthly Uberman
I'm not totally clear on her origin - well, her in-game origin, that is. You can take your guesses as to the real-life inspiration for this character.

Anyway she can usually be found right in the thick of combat, fired up and jump-kicking bozos with high spinning kicks pulled off quite impressively in her stylish high heels. She is often part of a team effort to take down villains though her companions vary from adventure to adventure - perhaps it's a commitment thing. She's been known to take the role of party face, which works well until she loses her temper. Once the flames  come on the time for talking is over and the violence begins.

She's the hero the city deserves... well some of the city anyway...

Psycho Ex-Wife for ICONS:

Prowess: 8 (Amazing) She's as good a fighter as any normal human could be, then she pushes beyond using a power from beyond
Coordination: 7 (Incredible) She's Incredibly graceful
Strength: 5 (Excellent) Stronger than you would think to look at her - until you notice the horns 
Intellect: 7 (Incredible) She's smarter than any normal man 
Awareness: 2 (Poor) Sensitivity? HAH!
Willpower: 10 (Unearthly) Nothing in the universe can change her mind once it's made up

Stamina: 15
Determination: 1

Origin: Transformed

Specialties: Acrobatics, Law (Expert +2), Martial Arts, Performance (Acting)

Elemental Control (Fire) - 8 (Amazing) Aura, Force Field, Creation (purple fire), Shaping
Emotion Control - 6 (Remarkable) Her irresistible charisma is effectively a super power, plus she knows exactly which buttons to push
Super Senses 1 - Detect Lie

"Temporary Loyalty" - PXW will fight ferociously for her current allies to the point of risking her own life. Once a particular mission or adventure is over though, there's no guarantee she will stay with them for another adventure. She forms no long-term attachments, but her short-term ones are ironclad. 

"Psycho" - PXW is no longer entirely human and wants to see her enemies dead. She has no mercy once combat is joined and will not leave the field if she is conscious and an enemy is still standing. 

"Ex-Wife" - PXW has spent a lot of time with the legal system and is not afraid to pursue litigation. Her cell phone could serve as a directory to al of the lawyers in the city and to the court clerks as well. She files, pursues, and defends against various lawsuits on a daily basis, sometimes taking calls between fights or while on the way to  villain's lair. She also runs a free legal service for women seeking divorce that has quickly become veeeeery popular among women in the city and has caused her to become feared and reviled by much of the male population.  

She teamed up with Blue Aluminum Man once - fire and ice! 
Note: Lady Blacksteel will not be upset if you use PXW as a villain instead of a hero - after all, PXW's are often misunderstood.

PXW teams up with the famous Dr. Von Sane

Friday, April 15, 2011

O is for: Obi-Wan Shinobi

Sometimes when playing around with a new system I like to try and create alternate versions of well-known characters, kind of like my Formshifters idea, but sometimes there's only one character involved. I wanted a katana-wielding hero in City of Heroes so I played around with the character creator and came up with this

I was going for sort of an Obi-Wan around Episode II look. Now I wasn't unhappy with this but one of my friends commented that it looked more like Luke with a beard than Obi. I knew I could do better, but it would take some time. In the meantime, we had this scene:

Nest thing said by both players - "It's YOU!" It was very funny. I tagged the guy but I never saw him again. Eventually I refined the costume into a Clone Wars look:

I think this one came out much better - people seem to recognize it, which is nice.

I find that Jedi powers fit right in to a supers game - super senses, super-fast reflexes, the ability to make super-leaps and run very fast, deflect shots, hold breath - sounds like a lot of common super powers, right? He's fought base criminals, aliens, robots... so it's a lot like what Jedi do anyway.

In the game I've written up as an amnesiac - he knows he's from somewhere else and that he fights to protect people there. The universe he has awoken in is a lot like his home in some ways, and totally different in others, so while he looks for a way back he fights the good fight here as well. The only detail he really recalls is that he was fighting an opponent with a red glowing sword so if he runs into one of those he has a ton of questions and sometimes a flashback that reveals a few more details of where he is from. He had an item on him that was labelled OB-1 so the people that found him dubbed him that and called him Shinobi due to his incredible skills. The name seems comfortable but not quite right, though he lives with it for now.

Obi-Wan Shinobi for ICONS:

Prowess: 7 (Incredible) He's a highly trained and experienced hand to hand fighter who's a step beyond normal human 
Coordination: 6 (Remarkable) They train to make this better and he's pretty good even among them. 
Strength: 4 (Good) When it comes to lifting things with his hands he's just like anyone else 
Intellect: 5 (Excellent) He's a fairly smart guy though he's not going to be inventing any gadgets 
Awareness: 7 (Incredible) He has a remarkable innate sensitivity to what's going on around him
Willpower: 7 (Incredible) He's strong-willed and has special training

Stamina: 11
Determination: 1

Origin: Birthright (1 extra power)

Specialties: Weapons - Blades, Leadership, Stealth

Telekinesis - 6 (Remarkable) + Attack
Reflection - 7 (Incredible) must have sword
Leaping - 6 (Remarkable)
Mind Control - 5 (Excellent)
Super-Senses - 3 (Typical) - Sense Emotion, Sense Life, Sense Darksider

"Honorable" - Shinobi is fine sneaking around, observing, misdirecting, and infiltrating but when it comes to combat he must confront an enemy openly. He will not back-stab or back shoot an opponent. He usually offers an enemy a chance to surrender before taking it to a lethal level.

"Hunter" - once he is on a case Shinobi will not easily turn aside and let it go. His combination of curiosity and determination mean that he is tenacious almost to a fault. 

"Lost" - Shinobi is not of this earth and a part of him really wants to get home, as much from his sense of duty as anything else. 

"Tech Disconnect" - Earth tech is lower than he is accustomed to and though he has grown familiar with most of it he is still occasionally confronted with tech he does not understand. 

"Melee Fighter" - Shinobi considers guns to be clumsy and random and will not use them. He is fine using his TK ability to knock opponents down or to blow apart a robot but he greatly prefers to resolve things with a hand to hand duel. 

At 63 points but with nothing higher than a 7 Obi is wide and fairly deep but not a Cosmic power. He has a pretty good set of tools for any situation but is not immortal and has no special defenses to speak of. He may work best as part of a team because of that, especially in a combat situation. I would put more limitations on his powers in a more granular game, particularly on the reflection (OAF katana) and the Mind Control (short commands only) and I might give him some other small powers like water breathing and minor audio illusions. In the hands of a serious fan and player I might just go ahead and make "force powers" a limited variable power pool and let the player go crazy.   I think he would be fun to play, in any case, and that's really the point. 

As a final note, I put this character together several years ago before I had ever read Jeff's Gameblog about his Encounter Critical character. Looking at the name in Google it comes back first from some guy's MySpace page and appears to be a pretty common riff so I guess I'm not as clever as I thought but I don't really care - I'm happy with it.

Obi teams up with the famous hero Gandhi

O is for: Oh great I haven't really played any characters that start with O...

... so I'll experiment with a series of smaller posts. So no, I'm not trying to turn the blog into Twitter, it's just an experiment.

But it is odd - I have characters under almost every letter of the alphabet, even if I didn't use some of them this month because I liked a different topic for that letter better. But O is kind of an... well shoot I just thought of one.

O is for...Orcs!

Warhammer Orcs!

O is for: ORKS!


O is for... Ogre?

O is for OGRE!

Yeah! Ogre is a game from Steve Jackson games about AI supertanks fighting each other and more conventional forces during a future war. It started off as a single boardgame but has generated several others plus a computer game and a GURPS supplement, creating its own small universe that is interesting as near-future tech-heavy sci-fi. The future looked pretty bleak at first. This is the board for the original game:

Nothing but desert and craters and a desperate attempt by some scraped-together conventional forces to stop a rampaging robot with tactical nuclear weapons from obliterating their command post.

Originally there were two types of Ogres, the Mark II and the Mark V. The others were filled  in over the years but it started with just those two. This is the Mark III:

The miniatures came somewhat later, 10 or 15 years after the boardgame got popular. I painted my Mark III up like Dale Earnhardt's #3 Chevrolet. I'm not a huge NASCAR guy but I thought it would work out and it did.

Silver strip at the bottom right above the treads, red stripe above that, then black. Silver gun barrels with red tips... it looked pretty good.

For my Mark V Ogre I wanted a contrasting color, something bright instead of dark like the Mark III. So I painted him bright metallic gold with red trim and named him Caesar (C35R). He looked really good on the table, kind of like this one.

Only bright shiny gold and with most of the black replaced with red. Now you may have noticed I have not shown pictures of my actual Ogre minis. This is because I painted them about 10 years ago, played a few times with my nice new awesomely painted tanks, and then I moved and in that move they were damaged. By "damaged" I really mean "destroyed" as in every possible part that could be separated from another part was, and then the box was given a vigorous shaking to ensure that all of these separate metal parts would rub up against each other and scratch up the paint very nicely. While I sometime try to achieve a nice weathered look on military miniatures, I had not done so with these and was not happy with their state when I opened the box. At the current time they are in a box at a very early stage of reclamation having been cleaned up and re-basecoated, but progress is on the "when I think about it" schedule and so moves very slowly.

Anyway, if you're wondering what the RPG part of the Ogre universe looks like, well, it looks like this:

If you're wondering what's inside it let me say "Nothing that I would ever run as a full campaign but instead two possibilities for mini or side campaigns". To clarify:

  1. The book spends a fair amount of time talking about the world and the war and playing people in it. Boring. It does spend a small chunk talking about playing Ogres as characters and this is where the book should have focused in my opinion. Where else are you going to get the chance to play a building-sized super-tough character armed with nuclear weapons and existing in a world where it's OK to use them. I can see it playing a little like a Mechwarrior campaign except that your pilot will not be leaving his mech - he IS the mech! Now I can;t see this as being a lengthy multi-year sandbox campaign but I do think a good DM could come up with one solid adventure to run. It would probably be combat heavy and if you;re players are interested in playing intelligent super-tanks then it probably should be combat-heavy. I also doubt I would run it in GURPS - I think Savage Worlds might be fun, starting with the premise that all Ogres are wild cards and everything else is not. It could be fun for a convention game too.
  2. Use it as a reference for a pocket universe if you're running a supers or time-travel or dimension hopping campaign. It has everything you would need so if your heroes get caught in some kind of time storm have them dumped out on Ogre Earth and let them decide if or how to intervene and discover a way to get back. Maybe there's a secret research lab deep in Combine territory that has a gate that will take them home. The Paneuropeans want to destroy it, so a deal is made with the heroes riding on the back of a Mark IV or Mark V on a one-way run to the lab, helping the ogre fight off attacks along the way. It would be a chance for Justice League or Avenger level heroes to really cut loose when they face off with a trio of enemy Ogres sent to stop them. 
 That's about all the role-playing potential I see in it. When playing the boardgame or miniatures it's fun to assign personalities to certain Ogres or military units but you don't really need rules for that. It just sort of happens as you play, which is one of the ways this whole hobby got started.

O is for OVER!

As in the people finally voted Paul off of American Idol! The guy who sang the worst version of "Rocket Man" I have ever heard (and yes I've heard the Shatner version)! They guy who sang Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" with an idiotic smile plastered across his face the entire time! Watch the original artist and note the lack of smiling as he sings it in an actual prison. The show can only be better now.

O is for...OOOOk!

As is the only line of dialog for the librarian of Unseen University in the Discworld novels

He's an interesting character as that's the only thing he can say, yet he still manages to convey a wide range of emotions and some instructions as well.

O is also for...Offer Letter in "one of those companies I've been interviewing with over the past month sent me an Offer Letter"

This is good news here at the Tower!

O is for...Oops!

'Cause I forgot to do Motivational Monday this week.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

N is for: Nightfalcon and Stormbird

Some characters work better in pairs

Since I run most of the tabletop RPG's we play I don't get a chance to play on the same side as Lady Blacksteel very often. Once we started playing some MMO's we finally got to bypass this problem on at least one level and it's a lot of fun. Some characters we mainly play solo, some are part of teams with friends, and we've made a few characters planning to play them as duos. The first and probably best of these pairs was Nightfalcon and Stormbird.

For Nightfalcon my concept was a sort of combination of Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne - a genius inventor who witnessed his parents' murder at the hands of criminals. I see him as older when it happens, probably finished with high school but still living in the mansion and somewhat sheltered from real life. He's merrily pursuing his theories and gadgets when the real world intrudes in the worst way possible and he's suddenly left alone in his huge old house and has to start handling things like he never had to before. His research takes a darker turn as he discovers that certain alloys of metal can be made to radiate energy at certain wavelengths which can directly influence the human brain, mainly its emotional state. This energy can be projected at a distance, concentrated, dispersed in a field across an area - it can be manipulated with the length of the alloy antennae and the amount of energy put into them to create different effects. He calls this "dark energy" as one of the secondary effects is that it creates a shadowy hazing effect when certain amounts of power are used. He builds these alloy wire antennas into a protective and identity-concealing suit and begins to haunt the streets at night, taking revenge on the criminal element as Nightfalcon. Secretly he is still Wayne Anthony, wealthy genius.

One thing to note here is that he is not insane or obsessed at this point. He's just very very angry about what happened and seeks to ensure that it doesn't happen again, and he has the means to do so. He does struggle with whether to kill certain criminals or not but to date he has stayed on the side of "not". That could change at any time though.

About a year into his nocturnal crimefighting he meets a nice attractive girl with some ... problems. She appears to have some kind of power over electricity but she cannot control it and things tend to run wild around her, shorting out cellphones and computers and generally making mayhem at random times and to varying degrees of power. This also cause wild surges in her emotional state which makes her social situation even worse than it already would be with the aforementioned electrical problems. Being victimized by her out of control abilities once himself while in the middle of a fight, Wayne realizes something has to be done and upon examining her he realizes that a variation of his own alloys could allow her to control these powers. He implants a small control device near her brain to calm the outbursts, then he builds her a suit similar to his own with a variety of alloy antennae set to her own wavelength that give her an amazing degree of control over electricity. It's so fine that she learns to control air currents through static electricity, giving her a suite of powers akin to the storm gods of old. The first time she asks to go on patrol, The Nightfalcon of course says yes and a new super duo is born, many times more effective than either of them alone.

After a short time of adventuring together they are married and Lyssa moves in to take up residence in the mansion.

Years later, He's now in his 30's and on the streets is a hard-bitten, gruff, and somewhat grim character as he realizes he can probably never win his war - all he can do is fight until he falls. He has come perilously close to killing some of his prey, but Lyssa is his connection to reality and his past and everything he wants to be. He still isn't crazy, thanks to her, but he struggles with it sometimes and if anything were to happen to her it is likely he would drop his real life and fully submerge in his war on crime, and it would turn into a very deadly war in short order, going out in a blaze of fury and blood. Thankfully, his better half keeps him anchored in a better reality. There is also the ever-recurring discussion about children, which could help anchor him more, convince him to retire, or could send him over the edge even faster and even he isn't sure which is more likely. It's not a question that has been settled yet.

He knows they are in a dangerous profession but sees it as safer operating in a team. He trusts her to look out for herself but does not like to send her off alone in an unknown or dangerous situation. On the few occasions when she has been taken down or seriously injured he has nearly lost control and  come closer to committing murder than at any other time.

She knows it dangerous but gets a kind of thrill from doing the dangerous work, being a mysterious figure, and working with her life mate at the thing he feels the most passionate about. She regularly underestimates her powers, which are probably stronger than his in most ways, but on the few times he has been taken down she has erupted like a raging hurricane, frightening herself and causing tremendous secondary damage to the area.

Other heroes see him as experienced, cool, and intelligent and generally trust his judgment, but a few have seen what happens when Stormbird goes down in a fight and they fear what might happen if it was serious or even permanent. Most policemen see him as an ally they don't have to worry about and will help the duo whenever they can. Stormbird is quiet around the media, unlike many other heroes. She lets Nightfalcon do most of the talking as she fears that she might say something that would give away their identity. He's short enough with the press that she sees less risk that way. That said, she secretly loves the role of savior and hero, and loves the game of "who is the mysterious duo" and reading the speculation online about who they really are.

They do work better as a team but in the long run there is the danger that one of them will fall, causing the other to erupt in a lethal and unrestrained show of force, probably ending the survivor as well, possibly harming innocents, and tarnishing their stellar legacy right at the end. Many wouldn't blame them for it if ti happened, but it's not the way they would want things to go if they were in their right minds. If a child were to come into the picture... well, it might be enough to hold back the explosion or it might mean another orphaned potential super-child grows up with a grudge and a legacy.