Thursday, December 7, 2017

Mighty Protectors + World's Greatest Screen

Picked up my screen inserts for Mighty Protectors Referee's Screen a bit ago and they were a nice cheat sheet when working on characters.

Stopped by my FLGS today to do a little Christmas shopping and picked up another of Hammerdog's The World's Greatest Screen (I think I have five or six of them now) to use.  And it looks great!








Can't wait to use this!

This Old Dragon: Issue #105

I remember the start of 1986 as being a very cold one.  Of course this is the month that the Challenger exploded on take off forever changing how we felt about our space program.
I was in the middle of my Junior year in High School. My regular DM was going to graduate and move on so we started a campaign that mimicked WW I mixed with Crisis on Infinite Earths (which was the biggest thing happening in comics at the time).  It was so big that depending on where you were in the game world it was called The Shadow Wars, the Dragon Wars or even the Demon Wars.  It had a huge impact on my game world and how I later played in college.   In fact, this issue gave me some ideas for the group of characters I was playing at the time that were central to the fight.  So without further ado, it's January 1986 and this is issue #105 of This Old Dragon!

This cover was also one of my favorites.  A flying wizard attacking giant bats? How cool is that! Seriously that is pretty hardcore.

This is issue comes just before the "themed" issues later in the 80s. It has the same look and feel but there is still some evolution happing here.

Letters, as has been a while and will continue to do so, covers clarifications of the new Unearthed Arcana rules.  In particular getting the rules to work with other classes that have appeared in Dragon.  This is exactly the sort of thing that must have gotten the think tank at TSR to work towards a newer version of the AD&D game. After 12 years things just were not holding together on the fringes as well.

Big ad for the new Dragonlance Legends series.  I thought the Legends were a much better set of books than the first trilogy, The Chronicles.  The scope was larger, but also more personable.

Speaking of Unearthed Arcana, Len Lakofka is up with his Leomund's Tiny Hut feature in Tone Down the Demi-Humans.  Or putting some caps on the power of the new demi-human races.  Of the four, Wild Elves, Gray Dwarves, Deep Gnomes, and Drow, I agree with him on the Drow.  So much in fact that I banned them as a PC race until only very recently.  There was one very notable exception, also see that below.  No one ever played a Deep Gnome or a Gray Dwarf in my games for me to have a strong opinion about them.

Paul Vernon is up with Travel Works Both Ways. This is a guide for people (and things) the PCs are likely to meet on the road. Great for any type of hex-crawl or sandbox game.  It also fits into the larger philosophy I use in my games that the PCs are not the only ones in the world.  They might be the center of attention, but there are others.

Seeing is Believing by Geoffrey Meissner is one of those articles that had immediate and profound effects on my game.  Essentially it covers the three types of invisibility you can do in the AD&D game: Light-based, illusion-based, or psychic.   Since we were at the time heavy into psionics we used, and abused, the shit of this.  If you used the Invisibility spell well then no one could see you, but your thoughts would still give you away to a psychic. If you used the psionic power of invisibility then people didn't "want" to see you, but a mindless creature (undead, construct) could.  We got very, very particular about it.   I have eased back on it in more recent years, but it's still something I consider.

We get a little bit more on Centaurs in The rest of the Papers. No author given, but a followup to the Centaur Papers.

Ed Greenwood is up with The well-equipped victim: A “treasure type” system for 0-level encounters.  Exactly what is sounds like, what 0-level humans/humanoids would have on them.  In retrospect, this feels like a "Realms" article. It certainly has the vibe we will later see in the realms where people are more important than monsters (even if some of those people are monsters).   Five pages of "stuff" people can carry.   Now what I get from this is a good "normal setting" on what we can expect people to have.  PCs causally throw around gold pieces, but not everyone can or should do that.

Ah. Now here is something very near and dear to my heart.  Especially back then.
Fraser Sherman gives us A world of difference: The parallel concept expands gaming horizons, an article on how to use parallel worlds in your AD&D game.  I had already mentioned that DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths was already having a huge impact on my games at the time, but I had also just read Job: A Comedy of Justice and The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein.  I would later pick up Frederik Pohl's The Coming of the Quantum Cats having read the first part in my Pre-calc class when I borrowed a friend's copy of Omni.
Parallel Earth/Universes played a huge, huge part of my gaming then and now.  This article did not tell me anything I didn't already know, but it was a springboard AND an excuse to go crazy with the idea.  I would later gleefully steal the "D-Hopper" from the Myth Adventures series to make travel between the dimensions easier than travel between the continents of the same world.

Our centerpiece is an AD&D adventure, Betrayed!, for characters 3rd to 5th level by Jim Bengtson.
I will admit I never ran this or even read it in great detail. It looks like it could be fun and got me thinking I really need to run a murder mystery style adventure again.

Merle M. Rasmussen has Spy's Advice or some advice for Top Secret.

One of the first TSR Profiles I remember is up. This time featuring EIC Kim Mohan and Managing Editor Pat Price.

The fiction section is On the Rocks at Slab's which I am sure is related to Well Bottled at Slab's.

The Ares Section is next.

We get some alliances in Rites of Passage for Gamma World.

The Marvel-Phile deals a lot of snake-themed villains.  This article had a huge impact on my AD&D game.  Not because of the content, but the idea.  I created as my central characters for the this world ending war mentioned above a street gang known as the "Spider Society".  These were my characters built from Unearthed Arcana.  There was the Thief-Acrobat Eric "Spyder" Masters, a fighter (with all the specialization) Kiev Scorpius and drow (this was the exception) assassin "Arachnia".  I liked the idea of running a group of first level characters in some adventures of this war along with my high-level characters in other adventures in the war.  It was a lot of fun.

Up next are some optional rules for Villains & Vigilantes.  Not sure they will port over to the new Mighty Protectors, but there are some good ideas here. Such as lethal attacks (must be the late 80s!) and threatening civilians (yeah, definantly the late 80s).

Big Guns covers tanks and other military equipment for Marvel Super Heroes.

Expanding the Frontier gives us ideas on how to (basically) do Star Trek with Star Frontiers.  It's actually a good read and one I wish I had made more use of.

Con Calendar, Small Ads, Wormy, Dragonmirth and Snarf.
Dragonmirth has one of the few cartoons I still remember to this day.


Not a watershed issue for me, but certainly a very memorable one and a very useful one.

Want to know what I Was saying about White Dwarf from the same time? Check out White Dwarf Wednesday #73.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

No Way For You To Fight This: Carmilla and Laura for Mighty Protectors

I continue two series today! Of course I was going to bring together to my two newest obsessions; Carmilla and Mighty Protectors.

Outfits based on this picture.
All ADHD and OCD aside, Carmilla offers me a great opportunity.  Carm herself is a 330+ year-old badass vampire who was, to quote her sister, "death incarnate". Laura is...well she is a tiny wisp of a girl who happens to have the worst crush ever and knows Krav Maga.   This gives me the chance to see how well someone on the high end of the power scale (of what I consider "new" characters) works with someone on the very low end.  In my builds I targetted Carmilla at about 250 CP and Laura at 100 CP.  Good spread really.  Let's see how it turns out.

Carmilla
Out of the gate, I need to take a page from the Buffy RPG design and figure out a Vampire Package for Carmilla.  I did not really do that here, but it became obvious right away it is something I need to do.  Carm quickly got away from me too.  She ended up at 270+ CPs.


Laura Hollis
Laura, our tiny gay journalist, is completely on the other side of the build.  Spend some points on abilities and boom, done.  That works. But also need to represent her Krav Maga.  So 20 points there. She ended up on the other side of 100 from Carm's 250.


Both look great. The power imbalance is not really an issue in my mind. They are here for different things.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mighty Protectors: Converting* Villains & Vigilantes

Mighty Protectors is billed as Villains & Vigilantes 3.0. For the most part, I am completely fine with that.  The game feels the same and mostly plays the same.  There are differences though.  The differences feel about the same as those say between AD&D 1st Ed and D&D 3.0.
The numbers don't always line up in terms of CPs or BCs, but close enough that you can do what I call "concept-driven conversion".


Concept Driven conversion (for me) is a matter of reading over the character (monster, spell, adventure) and re-casting it in the new rules.  This is different than what I call Numerical Conversion where I can lump the numbers into an Excel sheet and get the proper conversion.

I tried both ways on characters I had been using for Villains & Vigilantes 2.x; Justice and Tarot.
I do want to point out that neither of these characters can be considered "mine".
Justice is derived directly from Superman and Wonder Woman, both owned by DC comics.
Tarot is owned by Jim Balent and Holly Golightly and she is very near and dear to them.

Justice (aka "Justice is Blind Issue 8: Mighty Protectors")
In the case of Justice I went with concept driven conversion since I knew I wanted to recraft her from the ground up as a 200 CP character.
To recap, Justice is also known as Astra Kal'El or Astra Kent.  She is the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman in the future.  I have toyed with the idea of having her go back in time to stop the death of Lois Lane but that would also erase her conception..so problems there, but none that I can't solve really.  I like the idea of a young Kryptonian/Amazon.  True, I get a lot of my Justice fill lately from the Supergirl TV series, but this is still a fun character.


This Mighty Protectors version of her is not as powerful as the Villains & Vigilantes version I made a few years back, but I am much happier with it. She is powerful but still just starting out.

Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose
For Tarot, I wanted to do a more numerical conversion.  She was one of the last characters I stated up for V&V 2.1 and thought she would make a good first character for Mighty Protectors.
Trouble is I didn't like the conversion I came up with.  So I smoothed out some of the edges with some concept-driven ideas and good old-fashioned number juggling.  Comparatively the MP and V&V 2.1 versions are much closer aligned. Well...in truth the paper sheet I have is much closer. The Excel sheet shows more of the "smoothing".


From a 13th level character to a 200 point build.  Again I am pretty satisfied with this one but the 2.1 version is just as good to me.  Besides.  Tarot is way too fun NOT to have in a game.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Victorious Villains & Vigilantes: Maxima

Last year I did a deep exploration of the Victorious RPG.  It is a really, really fun supers game set in the Victorian era.  I could have done a Plays Well With Others with this.  There is a lot in both games that the other can use. 


Mighty Protectors and Villains & Vigilantes both have an absolute ton of Powers that Victorious players can adapt. 
Victorious has skills and a ton of information on supers in the Victorian era.

Both have great advice on playing supers and are generally "Supers as the good guys" games. Not dark anti-heroes or modern-age supers.

One of the features of the Victorious game is that many of the supers in Victorian age are from the 21st Century, having traveled back in time.   Sounds just like our superhero Maxima from Villains & Vigilantes and Mighty Protectors. 

Maxima is one of the more popular of Jeff Dee's and Jack Herman's characters.  Afterall she is a seven-foot tall blonde amazon powerhouse.  She will be appearing in a future Mighty Protectors product where more of her history and future will be detailed. 

In Victorious let's say that Maxima went back in time, but instead of New Mexico in 1986 she ends up in London in 1886.  Maxima belongs to Jeff Dee, Jack Herman, and Monkey House Games.  I am just playing with her for a bit.

Maxima
Proper Name: Maxima

Strength: 36 (+12)
Dexterity: 38 (+14)
Constitution: 31 (+11)
Intelligence: 22 (+5)
Wisdom: 20 (+4)
Charisma: 20 (+4)
INIT: +12 (Intuition, Lightning Speed)
Actions: 1 per round
AC: 29
Defensive:
Hit Points: 380 (d12 HD)
Level: 20
Alignment: Good
Victory Points: 5
Skills: Melee
Languages: English
Supernatural Powers: see Packages and Powers

Packages:
Future Science Creation (theme)
- Attribute Increase: Strength
- Attribute Increase: Constitution
- Invulnerability (Temporal & Knockdown)
- Lightning Speed
- Might
- Robust

Powers: Robust 2, Might 4,  Attribute Increase (Strength)

Shortcomings: Enemy 2 (various villains), Obligation, Odd Appearance (7' 6" blond powerhouse woman) 2, Watched (British Home Office).

Maxima is very much out-of-time here.  She remembers enough of her mission and her life before to know she is in the past. She has also found other, similar heroes to help her.
She would be a great character to play in Victorious.  HEY! A time travel epic where the heroes of Mighty Protectors meet up the heroes of Victorious! 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

This Old Dragon Issue #111

It's the summer of 1986.  My regular DM has graduated from High School and is getting ready to go to the Air Force. We are gearing up for an epic world-changing round of adventures we call the Dragon Wars. Essentially this is our World War I. I can't recall if this cover played into that at all, but I would like to think it did.  It' July 1986 and this is issue #111 of This Old Dragon.

This is also one of my top 10 favorite colors.  The white and black dragons in a "ying yang" theme has been done before, but not quite like this. It is another winner from Denis Beauvais.  While meant to invoke the struggle of good vs. evil D&D players will look at it and proclaim "they are both evil!"  Sheesh...not appreciation for art.

Speaking of art. The Letters section covers the disparity between male and female figures on the cover of Dragon.  The all too common complaint is that females tend to be nearly naked and men wear sensible armor.   We are still having this conversation.

Our first article is by John M. Maxstadt, Good stuff, for a spell. Magic focusing: a new dimension for possessions. This deals with a common problem, what sort of magic item does a mid-level magic-user need?  The solution is a Spell Focusing item.  Now off the bt I have an issue with the term.  What is being described in this article is not spell focusing but rather spell storage.  The MU casts a spell into an item to be used later.  Essentially these are variations on the Ring of Spell storing only in wands and other items.  I don't want it to sound like I am dismissing this article. On the contrary, I rather like it and the author brings up a number of points I still see in my games.  For me a Spell Focus should make casting a spell easier or harder to avoid.  I have also allowed some spell focuses to change the die in which they use.  A wand of fireball focus would change the die from a d6 to a d8 for example.

Ah. Now here is one I remember. Welcome to Malachi: Visit a city where magic reigns supreme by Becky Helfenstein is about a city of magic. We are still a year out from the Forgotten Realms and their Waterdeep and Suzail cities.  This is also the time my DM and I had started to put together our own "Urban Survival Guide" for playing in cities.  This article is "class" focused. So what do clerics do, where do thieves go, what about fighters? and so on.  Not a bad way to set it up, but also leaves some gaps.  Ok it's only an article in Dragon, size alone will mean there are gaps.  I think a series of articles on Malachi would have been great.   Maybe I should do a series myself on The Urban Survival Guide.  I don't all the original docs (that was 30 years ago) but it might be fun to pull various resources together to discuss this.  Dragon and White Dwarf, the tables in the old DMG, the newest books on DriveThru.  Could be fun. A lot of fun really.

Roger E. Moore is up telling us everything we need to know about how to submit articles to the newest TSR Publication Dungeon Adventures.  Back in the day I had worked on a couple of adventures with the intent to submit them to Dungeon.  Never did, I could not get them to work out the way I wanted.  But it was great practice really.

No campaign ever fails: What to do if your game gets out of control by Joel E. Roosa deals with a common problem that I still see today.  It deals with a game/campaign where the characters get quickly overloaded with magic items.  I made this mistake in my first 5e campaign. Fresh off of a magic-saturated 4e game, 5e doesn't like a ton of magic items.  My son is seeing this now with his 5e game he is running.  In AD&D I always put a cap on the magic.  In my game there was something like 4 or 5 +6 weapons TOTAL in the entier universe.  The most powerful you could hope for was +5 or +3/+6 where the +3 was normal attacks and +6 was against a very specific creature type.  In D&D 5 this cap is +3.  I wish I had reread this article before I started my Come Endless Darkness game.

Big ad for GURPS.


Kent Colbath gives us a microscopic bestiary with Microscopic monsters: When they get bigger, they get a lot tougher.  So paramecium, dinoflagellates and the like made huge.  An interesting idea, but one I'd only use in special occasions; never as a random monster.  Actually, they would make for interesting encounters in the Astral Plane.

Lots of ads...

The centerpiece of this issue is an adventure, Death of an Arch-Mage, by Michael D. Selinker.  It is a tournament-style murder mystery adventure for AD&D.  No levels are given (that I was able to find) but that makes sense.  This is a thinking adventure, not a combat one. The NPCs range from 0-level humans to 18th level. The adventure itself is really kind of awesome.  I love a good murder mystery and I have often wanted to do a Sherlock Holmes/Agatha Christie-style adventure.  I bet this one would work fantastically with other versions of D&D.  This one is worth trying.  The adventure is long, becasue there are a lot of details the DM needs.
Anyone ever do a murder mystery?

Kevin Marzahl has some details on grenades for the Top Secret game in Pull the pin and throw.

We get too our Ares Section now and on tape we have a few of the most powerful Super-powered Heroines in different universes.    Ok, confession time.  I was looking over three different Dragons for this week.  I opted for this one since it had Maxima and Super-girl in it.

Roger E. Moore is up with arguably the most powerful person in the Marvel Super Heroes Game; Phoenix.  If you grew up in the 80s and read comics you knew Phoenix.  I played a little MSH and enve I know there are not many Class 1000 anythings out there.  Phoenix is a Class 1000 Psychic.  The article, which is long for a Marvel-Phile, especially one dedicated to just one character, gives Phoenix her due.  I will admit I used aspects of the Phoenix cycle in my own Buffy the Vampire Slayer games just like I use (and still use) aspects of Crisis on Infinite Earths in my D&D games.

Jack Herman is up with his (or is it Jeff Dee's, I never really knew) character Maxima. Back from the future in VILLAINS & VIGILANTES gaming.  Maxima is one of the most powerful characters in the V&V line.  She is a scientist from the far future sent back to Earth of 1986 to stop the Apocalypse that destroys mankind, sadly the trip damaged her and she has forgotten much of what she knew of her time and why she is here.  In the new Mighty Protectors game we still see Maxima, so glad to know she is still doing her thing.  I think it would be great to see a new Mighty Protectors version of Maxima.

Greg Gordon, not to be outdone, has a write up for Super Girl for the DC Heroes game.  He make the argument that she is (was, this is just post Crisis) the most powerful heroine of the DC Universe.  He makes a compelling argument really.  Supergirl has had boost in popularity with the great CW show and performances by Mellissa Benoist.  I am going to say, and have said, that future generations of fan will look on Mellissa Benoist as Kara the same way we look on Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.



Jeff Grub is next with the Marvel Phile on Longshot.  How did this guy get mixed in with all these super powerful superwomen? Luck I guess.

Not to be forgotten, George Mac Donald discusses super-super powers in Champions in Quantum.
We are introduced to the heroine of the same name.  I guess I should put up her pic too!

Small ads.
Snarf. Con Calendar and Wormy round out this issue.

So some great supers articles.  I am DYING to put all four of these superwomen into the murder mystery above.  I know! They are here to investigate the murder of Longshot!

Fun issue, with one of my favorite covers and some great articles.
You know who else had a good issue at this time? White Dwarf.  Pop on over and see what I was saying about July 1986 on White Dwarf Wednesday #79.  Great issue, ridiculous cover.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

PWWO: Mighty Protectors

Time again for another edition of "Plays Well With Others"!

Mighty Protectors is a new game, but it has a long history and some solid Old-School DNA.  Because of this, there is a lot of ways to tinker with the game.

It is no secret that there is D&D DNA in Villains & Vigilantes.  That DNA carries over to V&Vs offspring, Mighty Protectors.  While there are still plenty differences in these games, there are enough similarities to build on.

Mighty Protectors and Villains & Vigilantes 2.1


Total cheat really. These games are less "Mix and Match" as they are "ideas to be shared". They are basically two slightly different expressions of the same world.  Now V&V 2.1 has better, or at least, more explicit rules for magic and psionics. Plus converting between MP and V&V 2.1 is easy; there is a section in the MP book on converting V&V 2.1 over.  Using this V&V 2.1 becomes a Rosetta Stone of sorts for d20 based games.

This conversion key is really helpful for me for the next two games.

Mighty Protectors & d20 Silver Age Sentinels / BESM d20


Alas, Guardians of Order.  You were a not a well-run company, in the end, but you did have some fun games.  Two of GoO's games are of particular interest to me.  Big Eyes Small Mouth d20 (BESM d20) and Silver Age Sentinels d20 (SAS d20).  Both had great breakdowns of the d20 system (circa 2002) into Level-Based Point buy systems.  Using our V&V translation you can now have a translation of BESM/SAS d20 to V&V and MP.  In particular, the book Advanced d20 Magic for BESM d20 is a great resource for point-buy spells.   I have not worked out the mathematical translations or crunched the numbers just yet, but there are there.  My initial guess is that 1 CP (MP) = 2 Points for SAS/BESM. 
This would give me a great point-buy spell system with some well-defined familiar spells.

Another great thing about SAS (Tri-Stat or d20 versions) is the excellent history of comics and the superhero in modern culture. The Silver Age sensibility of the "how to play" sections fit Mighty Protectors to a tee.

Mighty Protectors and Mutants & Masterminds 2.0


One can't talk super-hero games and not mention Muntants and Masterminds.  While now in the third edition, it is the second edition that concerns us here and now.  M&M2 shares a lot in common with MP. I could detail it here, but this link, Converting Mutants & Masterminds 2.0 to Mighty Protectors, does a far better job.   I have gone over the list of Powers and Abilities for both games to see what one has that the other doesn't, But I can say that between these two nearly every power likely is covered.

Plus Green Ronin has an absolute ton of material for M&M.  Personally, I like to put the supers of each game into their own cities and if you go to that city that's where you will find them.

For my next round of characters, I am going to take some notes from these other games to get the characters I am really looking for.  It should be a blast.
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