1941: Return of the Sentinels

So this past Friday my group became somewhat smaller due to pregnancy. My friend who plays Liberty Belle just had a baby and she and her boyfriend, who plays Sgt. Freedom, will be out for a while due to much more important things.

That said, we decided to go back to the “Sentinels of Justice” campaign but switch over to the Mutants and Masterminds third edition rules. This meant tweaking the characters to better fit the new rules and with tweaks came come revamping.

We began with Aviator who had very little in the way of changes. I added a few extra bits, but by far the largest change was to his primary weapon. The intent was to give him a disk launcher that featured less-than-lethal ammo. In the old system he had disks that did normal damage and disks that became bolos upon firing so he could have non-damaging stun type ammo.

With third edition I removed the bolos. He now has the normal damaging kind and a alternate blast that incorporates the new ‘affliction’ power. This power works in degrees; at the lowest level it will daze an opponent, a bit better and it staggers them, and then further in it induces unconsciousness. It is Perfect for the intended result.

Next up was Wildfire. Her character was pretty vanilla, with all the details being in the role-playing of the character. With us losing Freedom and Liberty we no longer had any ‘tanks’ so I decided to go a new route with Wildfire. Since she is supposed to be somewhat common I decided that it should be hard for her to dodge bullets and engage bad guys in fisticuffs so I lowered her defense quite a bit. She now gets hit fairly often, however I added a ‘force field’ to her fire aura that gives her a much higher level of toughness. She has lost her alternate fire blast, but that shouldn’t affect much anyways since she rarely used it.

Impulse came next. I used this as a chance to really clean up his build. The player is too focused on increasing strength but in a team dynamic he doesn’t need to be the best at everything, but being the speedster he does need to be the best at that. So his strength took a hit, but points went into multiattack allowing him to do a lot of damage to one target on several small attacks to multiple targets. I have also done a bit of pre-research for his character.

MnM is a game in which if it’s not on your sheet you can’t do it (one time hero point powered stunts aside). Currently he can run 500 mph and has the ability to run on water. He wants to run faster but the next rank will put him past the speed of sound meaning he will break the sound barrier. So I have put together a sonic based area aura that will activate at these higher levels. Before he can level up he will have to buy this ability as well.

The final update was Sentry, who is now fulfilling the primary melee portion of the team. With this in mind, and the fact that out of all the characters he knows martial arts, I gave him a pretty high unarmed score. This allows him to hit nearly any foe, but being in the human range means he does minimal damage. In fact I gave him the power “I know karate” (a simple ‘damage 2, strength based’ power) simply as an excuse to bump up his damage a bit.

Also I managed to give him a cheaper version of an old power, which alleviates a bit of annoyance and guilt. The Sentry has a few tricks up his sleeve, one of those being that if you can’t see his face you can’t remember his face. In second edition that was a tricky power to build. Here it is a one point power called ‘feature’, and in fact one of the sample characters has something very much like it.

So going into this new era of the campaign we had: our agile blaster (aviator) and tank blaster (Wildfire), both of whom can fly, a speedster (Impulse) and melee champion (Sentry). A pretty good team all the way around.

The campaign began a few months into 1941, and involved the heroes on patrol. I described the  world as becoming very open to superheroes, with appearances and news of them spreading all over the country. As we opened the team responded to a series of gun shots, only to find four thugs armed with shotguns firing on one remaining armored truck guard.

Impulse quickly ran in and took out two of the thugs, while aviator distracted a third. Sentry used this advantage and took out said thug. Wild fire quickly came in and attempted to talk the final thug down but he was having none of it and opened fire, which of course did not help him. Impulse dropped him with a single punch.

The heroes quickly assisted with a downed guard and then proceeded to call the cops and check the thugs. It became readily apparent that the ‘thugs’ seemed like common business owners…

This was where the night’s events ended, as character creation had taken awhile.

Notes: the first half of this was notes. See?

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5 thoughts on “1941: Return of the Sentinels

  1. Is there a rationale for why the crooks don’t just lay down their weapons when they see superheroes bearing down upon them? Also, is everyone dealing nonlethal damage, and/or are some of the bad guys seriously wounded? Follow-up interrogations in the hospital make for some nice scenes.

    How much does “not on the sheet” matter? If Impulse were to pick someone up and instantly accelerate to 500mph, the thug would be dead or dying from a number of complications from the g-force. Is that allowed? Or he could just throw him.

    But yeah, how much common sense is there, and how much “nope” is there?

  2. Hard questions.

    For the first one I’m simply going to say “yes. There is a reason.” However in a non-specifically related to this situation I would say that being in 1941 the heroes are still less known as are their capabilities. Your average thug doesn’t realize yet that shooting Wildfire is a stupid idea, as time marches on however…

    From a mechanics standpoint, all damage in MnM3E is, by default, non-lethal. That said I play it by ear, usually depending on the damage taken. If the player takes a bruised level from a gunshot I usually list it as a flesh wound or even just a ‘close call’ but if they are staggered I will list it as more serious. Also if it’s dramatically appropriate I will toss them a hero point and have it be a pretty rough wound.

    For the ‘not on the sheet’ stuff. With Impulse I’m going with an acceleration based power, meaning he actually can’t accelerate to full speed immediately. He has to rev up a bit. Using this rule also limits him to about 100mph in battle scenes which he achieves basically by leaping in a long and shallow fashion.
    In 2E I had an immunity to high speed force whatever linked to his power and sharable to anyone he held. Basically he and a passenger were immune to damage from the running. The official write up for the Flash just has immunity to friction heat so I went with that here.
    I believe there are rules for doing such things as running quickly and throwing people, though if it’s obviously a lethal idea I tend to suggest it not happen.

    Basically the ‘not on the sheet’ thing is a way of balancing. It keeps a speedster from summoning tornados at whim, or climbing impassable barriers, or any other random thing they can think of in the heat of the moment. The beauty here is that by spending a hero point they can simply buy such an ability as a onetime thing.

    So even if he didn’t have ‘run on water’ he should still be able to do so at 100mph, but that’s giving him a fairly useful free ability that others probably had to pay for. However even if he didn’t have this skill he could spend a hero point to do it for one scene. If it were to become a normal part of his skills he should then actually buy it for his character with character points so he can have it always.

    There was a major discussion going on when it was discovered that the official superman write up lacked a ‘superbreath’ power. This means as written Superman cannot use his superbreath because he doesn’t have it. It was reasoned that even though it’s a part of superman lore he rarely uses this ability so it makes more sense to not clutter up the sheet with a limited power and to simply power stunt it when needed with either a hero point or extra effort.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s less “nope” and more “no, unless you dig down deep.” In a game like this where you begin as pretty powerful heroes it helps emulate how they grow. I’m going to cut this off here, and use a new reply for an extra example, because it’s been a good day and I feel verbose.

  3. New example!
    Let’s use Titanium in this example, because we all love Tim.

    As far as powers go Titanium is pretty basic, so for our example let’s say he has the following powers: To represent his tough skin we give him ‘enhanced structure: protection 4, immunity to heat and cold 2(limited to half effect), damage 2 (strength based)’ for seven character points. What all that means is this: he has 4 points added to his roll to resist damage, heat and cold only partially affect him, and he is capable of adding 2 points of damage to his normal strength damage when punching

    He also has ‘Super movement: Wall crawl 2, surefooted, slow fall’ for four points. This lets him run about on walls, never trip, and reduce damage from falling if there is a grabbable surface nearby.

    So ol’ Tim is trying to stop an elderly bank robber, it could happen. In a normal setting Titanium would just punch the guy, but since the bad guy is old Tim can’t do that. He decides to disarm the guy instead. Since he needs this to work he reasons that with his powers working on a molecular level he should be able to have a much better grip on the gun and also lock the hammer into a non firing location. This is not on his sheet, so while clever he cannot do it.

    However, he can spend a hero point to add what is called an “alternate effect” to one of his powers for one action (out of combat I say one scene). Alternate effects are bought for one character point but can only use an amount of character points in their creation equal to the power they are acting as an alternate for. Plus, while using an alternate power the hero cannot use the base power.
    So Titanium decides to go this route since it has to succeed. He first eyes the ‘enhanced structure’ power since that would give him seven points to build the new power with. But he reasons that should he fail to disarm the man, or if the gun goes off, he might need his superhuman durability.

    Instead he spends a hero point and adds an alternate effect to his “super movement” power called ‘yoink: enhanced feat sunder, enhanced feat disarm, improved initiative 2’ he then rolls and we will say that he takes the old man’s gun away.

    Adding to this, perhaps he uses this idea at a later date, recalling that it worked well. Eventually he has used it more than a couple times so he decides to just buy the power. He could spend one character point to buy it as the AE he had used if for, or he could spend four and get it as a separate power that works all on its own.

    Granted this might look very complicated, but if you have a GM who knows the system it works more like so:
    Player: I can run really fast, can I summon a wind storm?
    GM: sure, give me a hero point *GM then does quick mental math and tells the player a number to hit on the die.*
    Player: Woot! I saved the day with my wind storm!

  4. So this is like a way of producing those heightened moments, crescendos, highs and climaxes artificially, because instead of just having a power they can use a hero point and kind of wing it in a way that isn’t an every day thing.

    It also is a way of preventing physics majors from wreaking havoc. As I’m sure many M&M and other superhero RPG DMs have encountered.

    But this is more or less like the comics; I recall ultimate Sue Storm making a crowd of zombies’ retinas invisible to aid in escape; she hasn’t quite done this since. She also popped zombie-Reed’s synapses in his brain, not something she’d do in normal circumstances anyway.

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