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Re: [icons-rpg] Re: A sort of a rant, on adventure locations

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  • John McMullen
    Yeah, we played a second session of MHR, and really--though the start of the first act is in New York, most of the action is on a deliberately isolated prison,
    Message 1 of 11 , Apr 4, 2013
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      Yeah, we played a second session of MHR, and really--though the start of the first act is in New York, most of the action is on a deliberately isolated prison, so there isn't a huge amount of opportunity to work with NPCs: kiss them good-bye at the beginning of the act, wave to them as you leave for the Savage Land. (To be fair, that's in accordance with a lot of comic stories: the road trip stories have the continuing NPC stuff packed at either ends of the fighting, but with investigation there can be talks with other NPCs and so on.)

      Now, part of it is my fault: all the roleplaying is packed at both ends of the fighting, and I skimmed it at the beginning--at the end, it was too late, we were out of time, so I skipped that. Last night, I deliberately gave some time for RP, and as a result, we spent the entire session on a side trip that wasn't even part of the design of the session. (They picked up Emma Frost and headed to fix Sentry's problem about believing his wife was dead, because they wanted him a bit more stable before they faced Lykos...and the Void showed up, and the fight took most of the night, shortened only when I realized I didn't have to use his Unleashed SFX.) Now they have Sentry (and Lindy) and are off to the Savage Land, resuming the scripted adventure.

      But what I've found with my players, and this is not true for everyone, for superheroes, they really need the continuing characters and the consistency of setting. I theorize that, unlike some fantasy games, superhero games are largely about restoring the status quo, and working with the NPCs gives them the chance to affect things and build things. In a D&D game, you go to level 20 (or 30); in a Vampire game, you have political goals; in an Ars Magica game, you want to learn and perfect things (and possibly keep other groups from getting them). Superhero games, unless you're playing something retro with levels, don't have that spelled out, and the NPC interaction gives that players-have-a-lasting-effect-on-the-world. Your romance with Mary Jane Stacy can blossom (or be threatened by Gwen Sable, who just shows up one day).

      So for my players, the pickup nature of ICONS works against player immersion. (MHR is probably not the game for us, though: it manages to be fiddly without tactical options, and that bores the boots of them, too--but I don't want to run Hero again; I'll play it, but I don't want to run it. I am going to try both SUPERS! and Capes, Cowls, and Villains Foul too, when I get a chance in about six months.) So far, ICONS scratches my itch best, but the players are only lukewarm about it. One of them quite likes random character generation and will spend days, it seems, generating characters.

      Our sessions last about two to three hours, trending to two. If the fight takes that long, everything else gets short-changed.
      John McMullen (Searching for a .sig)

      From: L M <lordblacksteel@...>
      To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2013 12:47 AM
      Subject: [icons-rpg] Re: A sort of a rant, on adventure locations

      I agree with a lot of what others have said but I will also point out that this is kind of a tradition: 

      First published adventure for Champions: The Island of Dr. Destroyer - a remote secret island lair
      First published adventure for Marvel Super Heroes: The Breeder Bombs  -an around-the-world tour to stop a series of bombs
      First published adventure for Mutants and Masterminds: Time of Crisis - a pan-dimensional campaign to stop a series of bombs

      I'm a little surprised that you would mention MWP Marvel as the starter adventure begins in New York City, which pretty much is the home base for most Marvel characters. Then the first big book for it is Civil War, which has a bunch of stuff in NYC along with other U.S. locations. Now granted the second big book is Annihilation which is completely the opposite approach but Breakout + Civil War could take months to play through.

      For ICONS there are adventures from Skeletron Key to Flight of the Nova-1 to Day of the Swarm to Aquazombies to Primal Power to Gangbusters to Museum Mayhem that are all easily set in "Your Home City". That seems like enough to get a campaign up and running for a few months at least. Assuming you weave in some adventures of your own you can run a good long time with what's out there now and never leave home. Stark City will add to this kind of material as well.

    • John Post
      Regarding the use of the characters hometown as an adventure setting, I agree with most of what has been said. It s easier to set something in an exotic
      Message 2 of 11 , Apr 4, 2013
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        Regarding the use of the characters' hometown as an adventure setting, I agree with most of what has been said. It's easier to set something in an exotic location because if the writer uses the characters' hometown, the game master may end up rewriting a bunch of the stuff anyway, because it doesn't fit perfectly. I also think generic big town adventures can be boring.

        I try to address this both in game mastering and writing by having the introductory scenes take place in the characters' neighborhood, let the characters build up some determination, and then go globe hopping. If you look at the four adventures with which I am most familiar, they all allow some introductory scenes where the characters connections or enemies can be interacted with and Determination can be acquired.

        Whiteout! - the first third of the adventure takes place in the characters' home city with plenty of opportunities to allow connections and enemies to be tagged.
        No Laughing Matter - the entire adventure takes place in a generic "big city."
        Extraordinary Journey - the first scene takes place in a generic big city and the final scene takes places in the industrial section of that city.
        Through the Looking Glass - only the introductory preface takes place in the characters' home base, but there is nothing to prevent connections or enemies from visiting or working in the target location and being drawn into the misadventure.

        As someone mentioned, when Stark City comes out, Icons players will have the benefit of being able to more finely detail their connections and background using the locations provided. Instead of saying that Mary Jane Love Interest works at a tech lab, she can work in Tesla Industrial Park at Paragon Engineering or Impossible Technologies, and next thing you know she's in the middle of a couple of adventures.
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