Saturday, May 19, 2007

Marvel Super Hero RPG, Game Session 1

After the somewhat spectacular collapse of the Northern Crown game we were playing, I was surprised that it's replacement happened so quickly. It was probably helped by the fact that all the rules and supplements are available online. Also, comic book plotlines are likely to be less linear. Hopefully this game will go better than the last.

The GM introduced some of the characters to me but I've forgotten most of the details. That's OK because my character will end up learning that information through game play. One player can transform into a plant-thing. Another has disintegration and illusion abilities. A third has gotten merged with a robot and the last has some weather powers. They had apparently been granted these powers by some sort of alien looking for worthy beings on which to bestow great powers and great responsibilities.

The GM indicated that the party (or "team" to use the genre's term) could use a Batman or Punisher-type of character. I looked through the powers and didn't see anything that really appealed to me so I pulled out Central Casting. CC is an out-of-print generic supplement that allows you to randomly create a person for use in a game. I started rolling and everything either came up boring (both parents still alive and together) or bad (people died when he was born, member of an evil cult, etc.) From there, an idea formed. The guy with weather control is something of a religious fundamentalist. The Holy Warrior, or something like that. Wears a pries collar and everything. I suspect that in real life the person playing him is a bit Born Again as well. To me, the answer is obvious, my character is a demon.

So, I developed a demon character. Not so much a Good vs. Evil kind of demon but Order vs. Chaos. A lot like the conflict between the Vorlons and the Shadows from "Babylon 5." As I recall one of the stories from, the Apocrypha, Lucifer was one of the highest ranked angels in the host of heaven. When God created man, he demanded that the angels bow down to them. Lucifer took exception to this form of servitude and formulated a rebellion. A third of Heaven joined him and they were eventually defeated and cast down into Hell. I'm casting this story in terms of the pure order, conformity and obedience of Heaven against the freedom, liberty and anarchy of Hell. Well, it's not quite that way but that interpretation will allow my demon character to not be evil and thus work with the heroes.

I'm taking most of my character cues from a number of demon webcomics; 6x9 College, Sacrilicious, Krakow, Maxwell the Demon, Elijah and Azuu, plus some Hellboy and Dogma thrown in. I'm trying not to take this too seriously.

I haven't quite figured out his true name yet. It's probably not important because he certainly wouldn't tell anyone on Earth what it was. The name on his college student ID is Damon L. Maxwell. He's going to school part time and earning a living as a bike messenger. He seems fairly typical for the urban cyclist crowd but it is just a mask. His true form is much more demonic; red skin, fangs, horns, claws, bat wings, hellfire, the traditional stuff.

So, the game begins with Damon taking a break and getting some lunch. A calzone and a Mountain Dew at a local pizza shop. Suddenly, gunshots ring out across the street. A bank robbery. One wouldn't expect a demon to leap to the rescue and, in point of fact, he doesn't. He could care less about the bank being robbed. But with gunshots and people getting hurt, well, he cares a little more about that. But the most important factor in setting him in motion is an opportunity to play the vigilante, beat people up and have some fun doing it. People don't typically care if the bad guys get what they've got coming to them.

So, he jumps on his bike to go fuck with the get-away driver. Except that someone else has beaten him to it. Spiders come out of the sewers and swarm the car (an illusion). And as the panicked driver hits the gas, Damon sees a plant-thing advancing on the bank. He puts two-and-two together and figures that superheros are involved. Let them deal with the bank, he's going after the driver.

After chasing him for a few blocks on his bike, he finally gets close enough to set fire to one of the vehicles tires. Another block and the driver abandons the vehicle, still not realizing that the guy on the bike is after him. Damon clotheslines him. Charging uses the endurance stat, which Damon has at the "monstrous" level. It's like being run down by the Hulk. Damon checks to make sure he didn't kill the guy then rifles through his pockets. He finds a fake ID and a few hundred dollars. He leaves the ID and pockets the cash.

He bikes back to the bank and eventually tracks gunfire into a neighboring building. He climbs a fire escape, goes in a window and eventually encounters a fight. A hero (the illusionist, apparently) is looking over a railing in the stairwell. On the next floor down, a huge scary cop with a huge scary dog (an illusion) is menacing the bad guy who is engaged in a wrestling match with the Holy Warrior. This goes on for a while and Damon merely shrugs at the illusionist. When it looks like the bad guy has gotten the upper hand and might get away, Damon jumps the rail onto him and wrestles with him. Grappling uses the strength stat, which Damon has at the "Remarkable" level. He can bench press a ton and probably punch through reinforced concrete, the bad guy's shoulders don't stand a chance. "Pop! Pop!" Damon leaves him in a heap, wishes the stunned heroes a good day and heads down the stairs.

Getting on his bike to ride off, he is suddenly enveloped by plant tendrils.

"Who are you?" the plant-thing asks. Damon instinctively immolates and the sulfurous flames cause the plant-guy to let go.

"You're calzone is ready," he says, transforms into a tumbleweed and rolls off, revealing that he recognizes Damon from the pizza shop.

So ends game one.

Neither the hero characters nor the people who play them know that my character is a demon. They know he's a preternaturally strong bike messenger who can set fire to himself but nothing more. I'm going to impress upon the GM the importance of keeping my demonic identity a secret. One, it's more dramatic that way. Two, it will allow me to become friends with the heroes before they learn that I'm a demon, preventing them from being prejudiced against the fallen. Three, if they do get judgmental, I'll be able to call them hypocrites.

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