Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chronicles of the Bwog, Character Generation



Having found this treasure trove of crunchy old school Marvel RPG manuals online a while back, I created a number of random characters just to see what it was like. It's tricky without having ever played the system itself, and many of the powers are really specific and, at the same time, generic. You might have a power that allows you to create matter spontaneously - which sounds really cool - but then you have to figure out exactly what that means and how it jives with your other powers or any limitations you might have. It sound easy... it's not. What if you have a limit that makes it so that you lose your powers when you're unconscious - does that mean anything you made is suddenly un-made? Maybe whatever suspension of the laws of thermodynamics that takes place when you utilize your power suddenly vanishes, crowding the universe a little more matter than it should have, in the form of your now useless creations?

It's weird like that.

We all know what it means when Spiderman crawls up a wall because he's been around for decades. Making a character, though, that's similar to one we already know and love (or hate) presents an awkward stage of development where you have to not only create/roll the powers and origins and weaknesses but define them all together in a semi-logical background and character build. Personally, I love that kind of thing... but it does get messy sometimes.

And that's all the introduction necessary, I think, for TSR's Marvel Roleplaying Game. Having rolled about half a dozen characters in my life, and never once actually playing the game, I'm going to try and make a new character and run him through a randomly-generated Mythic scenario. I'm not censoring anything here since all of this is available online (the Marvel stuff, not Mythic), so you're getting near-stream-of-consciousness from ol' BW. Here goes:

Physical Form [Ultimate Powers Book, p.3]: Android (rolled 37)
"Androids: These are artificially created organic beings. An android is made of laboratory-created protoplasm and grows to maturity in an artificial womb. More intricately made Androids can actually interbreed with Normal Humans. One example is the Vision. Androids generally resemble the race that created them; alien   androids can be any shape. Androids roll on column 4 of the Random Ranks Table. Popularity is initially lowered -1CS. Androids may raise any one Ability +1CS. Androids gain one Power. Androids have at least one Contact, the lab tech or scientist who created them."

Origin of Power [UPB, p.10]: Technical Procedure (54)
"Technical Experiment: The hero was the subject of a controlled scientific or magical experiment. Assuming that all the factors are reproduced, such a Technical Experiment should be “able to produce a steady supply of superpowered heroes. Unfortunately, the geniuses behind such experiments often leave inadequate notes; if something happens to the genius, the experiment is irreproducible. Dr. Reinstein, for example, never really wrote down the Super-Soldier Formula that transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America. Attempts to recreate it produced the Infinity Formula that has the simpler effect of increasing the subject's Health, Endurance, and lifespan."


***
BW's thoughts: Well... that's pretty much the most awesome random roll I've ever had. I love playing robots and droids and such, and, despite the Procedure/Experiment typo in the manual, I've already got some cool ideas for things. I've always thought the idea of time travel was interesting but rarely explored to its fullest. Imagine playing someone from the future who really has no context for present day. Simple things might seem awesome and complex things might be commonplace and uninteresting. Phrases like "We don't have those where I'm from," might be uttered often, and about ridiculously everyday items (paperclips, calculators, shoes, candy bars, etc.). Let's see if we can't steer things in that direction...
***

Primary and Secondary Abilities [UPB, p.11 (Column 4)]
Fighting - 32/Good
Agility - 43/Excellent
Strength - 21/Good
Endurance - 37/Good
Reason - 47/Excellent
Intuition - 99/Monstrous
Psyche - 58/Remarkable


***
BW's thoughts: So that's pretty cool. The Monstrous Intuition is pretty rad, but I'm a die hard fan of being random so we're going to roll to see if those abilities get modified. Here's hoping...
***

Ability Modifier Table [Advanced Player's Book, p.6]
Fighting - 58 - Increase by one rank > Excellent (Initial Rank Number 16)
Agility - 53 - Increase by one rank > Remarkable (26)
Strength - 84 - Increase by two ranks > Remarkable (26)
Endurance - 33 - Remain unchanged > Good (8) > Excellent (16)
Reason - 46 - Remain unchanged > Excellent (16)
Intuition - 34 - Remain unchanged > Monstrous (63)
Psyche - 100 - Increase by four ranks > Monstrous (63)


***
BW's thoughts: So that rocks, and I don't even know what an Initial Rank Number means!
***

Secondary Abilities [APB, p.7]
Health: (16+26+26+8) 76
Karma: (16+63+63) 142
Resources: Typical - random roll of 69 - increase by 1 rank - Good (IRN 8)
Popularity: 0


***
BW's thoughts: I forgot that I have to modify things for being an android, so let's do that now...

"Popularity is initially lowered -1CS. Androids may raise any one Ability +1CS. Androids gain one Power. Androids have at least one Contact, the lab tech or scientist who created them."

Well, I'm not sure how to lower my popularity by a Column Shift from 0, so we'll just leave it at 0. I can raise one ability by one rank, and Endurance is my lowest so we'll bump that up to Excellent (16) retroactively. The extra power and contact will come up in a minute. First, we need to roll for a weakness. I hate this part, but it only makes sense and I'm committed to my time traveling android...
***

Weakness [UPB, p.12]
Stimulus - Elemental Allergy (rolled a 12)
Effect - Power Negation (4)
Duration - Continuous with Contact (9)


***
BW's thoughts: Okay, that wasn't so bad. Water might be an interesting thing to be allergic to - we'll see what powers I end up with, but this basically says I lose all my powers and my abilities diminish when within twenty feet of [water] and that even at a distance I can't use my powers to directly target [water]. Hmm. Now to the (potentially) good part - super powers!
***

Power Generation [UPB, p.14]: I rolled a 72.
Powers - 2 to start with/8 total possible
Talents - 2 to start with/8 total possible
Contacts - 3 to start with/3 total possible

Power 1: Magic/MG (I rolled a 39), Sympathetic Magic/MG12(88)
Power 2: Matter Control/MC (46), Matter Animation*/MC8 (54)
Power 3 (Android bonus): Travel/T (98), Hyper-Leaping/T9 (33)


***
BW's thoughts: Hmm. I've never been a fan of magic stuff, it's just to messy for me to define. I like the matter control bit and the leaping thing could be interesting. I'm also realizing that I think there should be a power level associated with these, but I don't see where I was supposed to roll that... Ah. Page 8 of the Advanced Player's Book says it in the top middle - roll on column four...
***

18 - Good (IRN 8), 68 - Remarkable (IRN 26), 78 - Incredible (IRN 36)


***
BW's thoughts: Okay. Moving on... My first power is basically being able to make a voodoo doll and affect my enemies by stabbing it. That's lame and I sincerely hope I can swap it out somehow. I suppose an android equivalent would mean affecting the opponent in some sort of electronic way - like his toaster jams or his car swerves off the road or something. Meh. I won't bother posting that description here. Actually, now that I think about it, the asterix at MC8 means it counts as two powers, so I'll simply discard the voodoo bologna to keep Matter Animation.
***

"MC8/Matter Animation: The hero can alter the flow of any raw matter, impart movement to stationary matter, and shape such matter into any desired form. The Power can only affect matter that is in a relatively natural state. It cannot affect mechanical objects or material that is now or had once been alive. There are three basic forms of this Power, each with dominion over a state of matter. When creating the hero, the player must choose one of these forms for the character. He can do this himself or let the dice choose for him.

Die Roll Form
01-20 Air Animation
21-50 Liquid Animation
51-00 Solid Animation

Air Animation—The hero can directly control the movement of gases and vapors and indirectly control the movement of material suspended in the air, such as smoke, dust, steam, and so on. He can create winds of speeds equal to Power rank speed (see the Airspeed table on the inside cover). He can control the actions or air, wind, clouds, and potentially even the weather. The hero can use air either defensively  r offensively by forming shields or gales of Power rank strength. Note: Air attacks cannot penetrate Force Fields or an aerial shield of higher Intensity. The Power can be developed into Power Stunts such as Gliding, Whirlwind Flight, and limited Weather Control. The forms of Weather Control available to the hero all depend on stirring up the air. These include bringing in storms, fog, tornadoes, and suddenly bringing two air masses of differing temperature together to form either fog or lightning.
Liquid Animation—The hero can directly control the movement of liquids and indirectly control material suspended in liquid (mud, cake batter). He can create currents and waves that can travel at Power rank speed (see the Water Travel table on the inside cover) and do Power rank damage to anything in their path. Liquid can animated to resist gravity and act as if it were temporarily a solid of rank level Material Strength. Liquids can be used as a shield that reduces the Intensity of Energy Attacks by the Power ran  number. It can be further refined into a variety of Power Stunts, such as forming propulsion systems or being shaped into air bubbles with "solid" floors.
Solid Animation—The hero can alter the condition of solid matter, so long as it is not biological or mechanical in nature. He can give the solid movement, reshape to any form, and even give it the semblance of life. Solids can travel at Power rank speed (see the Land Travel table inside the cover) either across the ground or through the air. The hero can Mold the solid into any single mass. Solids retain their Material Strength but can be Animated to do Power rank damage to other targets. The hero can create Golems or simulated Elementals that obey his every whim; such creations are only sophisticated puppets that possess no more life than does a marionette. (Of course, there is the example of Pinocchio…) Animated solids possess a Lifting Strength equal to the Power rank. The Power can be refined into a variety of Power Stunts, such as turning an opponent'  weapon against him, creating self-tying knots, and creating flying platforms that can carry the hero across the ground or through the air.
The range at which the hero can Animate Matter is determined by the Power rank; distances are shown on Column B of the Range Table. The maximum amount that can be Animated is a mass weighing the equivalent of 1000 pounds times the Power rank number. For example, a Feeble rank can move one ton; in liquid terms this is the weight of a water bed. Matter remains Animated as long as the hero concentrates on using this Power. Judges are free to develop their own criteria to determine how well and how long a hero can do this in a given situation. Any material can be Animated, as long as it is within the restrictions on the chosen form of that Power. Any reshaping done to the target is permanent; of course, this only applies to solids. The possibilities for both construction and vandalism are immense. At the time the hero is created, the player has the option of raising the Power Rank +1CS by further specializing the Power's range of effect to a specific compound or type of matter. Examples of specializations include Powers that specifically Animate steam, water, oil, ice, clay, and so on. The Nemeses for this Power include itself and Disintegration."


***
BW's thoughts: Okay, let's roll again to see what we can play with...
***

57 - Solid Animation


***
BW's thoughts: I'm seriously considering limiting the character to just steel or iron or something. Let's look at Hyper-Leaping...
***

"T9/Hyper-Leaping: The hero can jump great distances. By repeated leaps, the hero can rapidly cover large distances. This Power's minimum rank is +1CS greater than the hero's Strength rank. If a lower rank is initially rolled, it must be raised to this level. The Power rank determines the distances the hero can safely leap.

Maximum Distance Rank Up/Across [and] Down

FE 4' 6'
PR 6' 9'
TY 10' 15'
GD 20' 30'
EX 30' 45'
RE 40' 60'
IN 50' 75'
AM 75' 105'
MN 100' 150'
UN 1 area 1.5 areas
X 1.5 2.5
Y 4 6
Z 8 12
C1000 .5 mile .75 mile
C3000 1 1.5
C5000 2 3

Innate safeguards in this Power enable the hero to safely land. (Otherwise he might break a leg attempting even a Good leap.) The effect is the same on the hero as if he were a Normal Human making a 2 foot leap up or across or descending 3 feet. The effects on the area the hero lands on might not be the same as if a normal jump occurred. Consider that the Hulk splinters the pavement when he lands. To determine what sort of effects occur when the hero lands, the Judge should figure what kind of damage results when a weight five times that of the hero suddenly drops on the surface in question. The actual landspeed varies with the angle of the leaps. The average landspeed for Hyper-leaping is a -3CS Land Movement rate. For example, an Excellent Leaper can travel 30 mph in a series of rapid 30-foot leaps. If the hero also possesses Hyper-speed, that can be added to this Power's rank number for additional speed by increasing the frequency but not the size of the leaps. Physical burdens do not decrease the hero's speed, although they might decrease his control. Anything the hero is carrying is also protected by the innate safeguards against damage; the hero acts as a shock-absorber. While the hero has a vague idea of where he is going, he can't see his touchdown point. This can be a real hazard when the hero can make Monstrous leaps or better. For example, while leaping cross country, the Hulk landed on seven cars (two were moving at the time), one semi truck, eight roofs, a swimming pool, ten mud patches, one river, twelve power lines, three street lamps, 57 trees and bushes of various sizes, and a late Merino ram named Herbert. Judges can assume that the hero has enough control on his descent that he can swerve to avoid dangerous landing sites. The player must make a green Reason or Intuition FEAT (whichever Ability has the higher rank) every ten leaps to make sure he doesn't come down on something he'd rather not have come down on."


***
BW's thoughts: Not bad. "The average landspeed for Hyper-leaping is a -3CS Land Movement rate. For example, an Excellent Leaper can travel 30 mph in a series of rapid 30-foot leaps." So my Land Movement rate is (according to the chart at the back of UPB, and Incredible - 3CS = four areas, at 60mph, in a quick series of leaps. Not too shabby. So I could, in theory, combine the matter animation and the leaping to raise platforms for myself to jump across... cool. Let's put on the finishing touches...
***

Talents [APB, p.10]
Scientific Skills (rolled a 79), Chemistry (2)
Fighting Skills (41), Wrestling (6)

Contacts:
1) ["the lab tech or scientist that created them"]
2) Leave blank for now
3) Leave blank for now


***
BW's final thoughts: That was pretty straightforward. The wrestling seems awkward to me, and I think I might be able to make some changes here and there using my resources or something, but that's not how I roll (very punny, eh?). We'll stick with what we got. Now all I have to do is write up the character's background, name, and all that stuff. I still like the time travel schtick and maybe the only way that's possible is to be in the body of an android. Maybe my guy's a pioneer of sorts, or scout. He anticipated the increased physical prowess and, by extension, the leaping - but not the matter animation, that's a side effect of the time travel. I'll have to figure out whether I want to limit it to one type of thing or just extend it to all solids but that'll mean taking a look at some numbers and doing a wee bit o' math, and I'll include that in my next post. Stay tuned for... The Chronicles of the Bwog!
***

With Brightest of (shades of outdated comic book) Greens,
BW

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