Re: [icons-rpg] Never Run Supers
common thing about superhero adventures is that superheroes tend to be reactive. In a lot of games it's the PCs who have a goal (strip the dungeon of anything of value) and it's the NPCs role to stop them (the monsters who happen to live in said dungeon and would rather hang on to their stuff). In a superhero game it's usually the other way round; the super-villain NPCs have goals (dastardly goal like stripping the city of anything of value) and this time it's the PC's job is to stop them.>>>The
From a structural point of view that makes superhero adventures more like horror investigation adventures for games such as Call of Cthulhu which are also normally about preventing something bad happening. <<<
That bit up there is, perhaps, the most important thing to understand when running supers. I've never seen a successful "sandbox" superhero game. I've seldom seen a successful one where the GM sat back and reacted to the PCs plans (at least not one that lasted long). In terms of genre emulation, you've got to plan for the heroes to react to the world, not the other way around.
From: Soylent Green <gsoylent@...>
To: icons group <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2013 2:08 PM
Subject: RE: [icons-rpg] Never Run Supers
A few years back I was in the same boat; I wanted to run a supers game but I could not see how to structure it without it falling into a villain of the week rut. But, thanks also to advice and encouragement from Tim "Silverlion" I did take the plunge and I am so glad I did. Years later I can confidently claim the superhero gaming is the prince of roleplaying; it's so much fun and such a natural fit.The common thing about superhero adventures is that superheroes tend to be reactive. In a lot of games it's the PCs who have a goal (strip the dungeon of anything of value) and it's the NPCs role to stop them (the monsters who happen to live in said dungeon and would rather hang on to their stuff). In a superhero game it's usually the other way round; the super-villain NPCs have goals (dastardly goal like stripping the city of anything of value) and this time it's the PC's job is to stop them.
From a structural point of view that makes superhero adventures more like horror investigation adventures for games such as Call of Cthulhu which are also normally about preventing something bad happening.
For me preparing a supers game all starts with super-villain's master plan. Looking at the plan from the super-villain's point of view I find helps. Give him some sort of complex goal, something which possibly involves multiple stages and possibly, if appropriate, have his henchmen (super and not) deal with these. For instance if the villain is building a doomsday device he may need secure weapons grade plutonium, a special detonator, the help (willing or not) of a world class scientist and maybe some other bits and pieces.
Next you need to figure out how to get the heroes involved. Generally speaking the heroes won't know the supervillain's plan or possibly even who is behind these individual crimes. As the super-villain's plan unfolds, various criminal incidents will draw the heroes' attention. Sometimes they may only learn about the crime after it happened, sometimes they may find out about it just in time to stop it. But until they figure out the pattern and work out the clues the heroes are basically playing defence.
At some point the heroes should have enough clues to piece the supervillain's plan and/or identity together so that they can finally go on the offensive. Now the PCs have the initiative. They can track down the super-villain to his lair, try anticipate his next move, set a trap or whatever they come up with. The moment in a game the initiative switches is usually very exciting.
One the biggest challenges in running a superhero game is getting the pacing right. If you just run the various events relating to the villains master plan one right after the other you can fall into a "villain of the week" sort of rut. Also, you don't get that sense of build up and time passing. If you look at the example above it is easy to imagine that in a comic book days could pass between the theft of the plutonium and kidnapping of the scientist. The events might even be split in different issues. You want to capture that feeling.
The trick to get this right, in my experience, is to multi-thread plots - that is to say have several supervillain plans or other challenges on the boil at the same time. So when one story arc is reaching its climax you are already setting the seeds and foreshadowing the next one. And perhaps even more importantly it mean that at any one point the player have choices regarding which of the various threads to priorities and pursue. And, well at any rate, that's the way Stan Lee used to do it.
That's goes mostly for campaigns. For a one shot adventure I strongly recommend getting the Therom's Icons adventure "Sins of the Past"; it's a masterclass on how to create an adventure with a strong, even poignant theme, a flexible framework and with equal doses of action, investigation and character interaction.
Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2013 11:24:36 -0500
Subject: Re: [icons-rpg] Never Run Supers
Do you read superhero comics? If so, figure out what fits the style of play you want. If not, I recommend watching some cartoons or movies. My personal faves are the DCU cartoons from WB, particularly Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Marvel's got some good ones too in Avengers Assemble! and Wolverine and the X-Men, not to mention the live-action movies.The next step is to make sure your players are on the same page for style. Nothing kills a zany Silver Age campaign faster than a loner gunbunny.After that, I recommend a fairly light hand. Let the heroes be heroes. My approach to plotting is to come up with the villain's plan, how the heroes find out about it, and what happens if they don't do anything about it. How they stop it is part of my fun.As for good beginner adventures, The Skeletron Key is a good intro session. Danger in Dunsmouth is fairly straightforward, but does have a couple of potential stumbling blocks.The best intro supers adventure of all time is Crisis at Crusaders' Citadel for V&V, though if you can find a copy, it would be pretty easy to adapt to ICONS.
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On Mar 16, 2013, at 11:11 AM, Michael Garcia <thecrazygm@...> wrote:How do you go about prepping for a supers game? I'v had *years* of experience as a GM, but never in the Super genre. I know I need to consider power level i.e. Batman vs Superman would make two totally different arcs.On the same note what is the best module to introduce and teach a beginner in the Super Genre?