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pawsplay

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  1. Back in the 90s, I knew a guy in college who got in trouble for computer crimes. Well, the FBI showed up at his hearings and made him a deal, and he got off basically scott free in return for helping them catch other computer criminals. Back in 1995, the FBI's expertise on computer crime was embarrassing to the point of being anachronistic. I see a world with modern supers being much the same way; super criminals are so beyond conventional law enforcement that agencies will readily back almost anyone able and willing to take on the hero mantle. It would be much like the old gunfighter days, where the line between sheriff, bounty hunter, and murderer could be quite permeable.
  2. About five acres of good farmland will support one person, so for a 10,000 person city (like early medieval London) you would need at least 78 square miles of farmland. Assuming less good farmland and twice the population, you would need at least 300 square miles.
  3. Evil people want something. However depraved, callous, and cruel they are, they are looking to fulfill a human need. By contrast, something that is Utterly Evil gains satisfaction only by doing the kind of evil things it embodies. Among other things, this means if the creature pretends to be fair, magnanimous, or to be serving a greater purpose, it is always lying. It's a lot easier to pretend something that has a grain of truth or that you somewhat understand, so an Utterly Evil demon has to completely manufacture all of its behavior when it pretends to help you. There's nothing about it really capable or deserving of redemption. Like Overconfidence or Narcissism or a Hero's Code, it does have a certain predictability which can be exploited. Further, if some magic or miracle requires a non-evil motivation to work, it never works for the demon, except under the circumstances one might defy a Total Psychological Limitation. That said, I probably wouldn't make it a Total limitation unless that kind of magic came up very often. Although its evil is absolute, its actual behavior is only bound by its preferences in the moment. I can conceive of a demon that always does the most evil thing, not necessarily the one that meets its own personal goals, but I don't think that's much like the demons I've encountered in fiction.
  4. As noted above, in Tolkien, Melkor and his creatures were unable to create life. Orcs are perversions of men and orcs, and therefore, in principle, are capable of salvation. Just as the Dark Powers can't create a soul, presumably they can't destroy one. However, it is implicit in Tolkien's writing that no mortal being can resist temptation forever. Without the Light and the One, mortal beings cannot prevail. Orcs were lost a long time ago, and their bodies and minds burn in the presence of things that are holy or forged with good magic, but you could, seemingly, try to redeem a single orc. But for all Gandalf's talk of mercy, Tolkien's world seems to accept the necessity of war and valor against evil, and so the heroes don't waste any more time trying to redeem an orc than they would a Haradrim or Numenorean (two human ethnicities of Middle-earth), or for that matter, more than an elf would waste time redeeming a dwarf that represented any kind of threat to them. But in principle, at least... Gollum, who was a thrall to the Ring for a long, long time, could still feel sympathy and conflict, despite having long been corrupted by the darkness. Orcs, in Tolkien, simply don't know any kindness, so what has been done to their bodies, minds, and souls would be difficult to heal. In early D&D worlds, orcs were creations of their patron immortals and deities. Their nature reflects their creation. Nonetheless, they are intelligent creatures and can, in principle, be reasoned with and even redeemed. That's probably not going to happen in a typical storyline, but there is still room for the pathetic or tragic orc that earns the mercy of the party, and maybe even some kind of friendship. It's also worth noting that in virtually all D&D worlds, orcs are rarely purebred, and all the traits that can be found in trolls, humans, goblins, and the like, can be found in orcs, even apart from their nature as intelligent humanoid beings. In Palladium, orcs are simply a species of intelligent beings. More brutal and less intelligent than humans, on average, they nonetheless possess all the variation and potentiality of any civilized being. An orc could be a soldier, a thief, a baker, an innkeeper. Someone might dislike orcs because of a given population's behavior, or because they don't like something about orc temperament, but orcs aren't "evil" in Palladium in any metaphysical or psychological sense, although many orcs, especially mercenaries and brigands, might individually be evil. Yrth (the GURPS fantasy world) has orcs similar to Palladium ones. Given that they are essentially a brutish subhuman race, this raises, on one hand, questions about the morality of slaying orcs, and on the other hand, implications in play about that touch on real-world history and prejudices about foreigners. They are a convenient guiltless foe, but on reflection, it's not clear if an enlightened view of orcs would really permit such prejudice. Again, orcs are tougher, more brutal and generally less intelligent than humans, but individual orcs exhibit the same diversity of characteristics as humans. A genius orc is still smarter than an average human. The backstory of Yrth highlights some of this ambiguity, as the world in its current form basically exists because the elves tried to commit genocide against the orcs, back before humans, goblins, and the rest arrived on Yrth through a magical accident.
  5. Maybe in your world, almost all iron ores are low quality, low in carbon and silicon, and high in sulfur. So the basic knowledge exists to purity the ore and cast it, but only something approaching early steel exists, basically just iron that has been smoked and tempered. Meanwhile, there are some weaponsmiths who possess almost magical secrets. They create something akin to Damascus steel or Japanese sword steel by carefully processing and forging the steel. In the real world, such technological disparities created legends that lasted centuries, until other places caught up. Outside of those masters, the only superior steel available is from meteorite iron. Note that in the early Iron Age, whether a given weapon of bronze or steel was superior depended a lot on workmanship. What created a revolution in arms is how plentiful iron is, compared to copper and tin (which are additionally rarely found near each). In a world of poor iron and inferior steel, bronze weapons might exist of superior allows and workmanship which are also quite powerful compared to ordinary weapons. Bronze tends to be more ductile, but it's also dense, so making superior bronze weapons would be a matter of know-how.
  6. As humorous as this is... when I was a kid I read a book about the Japanese internment in the USA during WWII. At one point, the main character notices an older Asian man doing gardening. He is perplexed, but he finds out from another boy that the man in Chinese. They then have a discussion about how to tell Japanese people from Chinese people. And you have the same people who will salute a vet when he's wearing his uniform on Veteran's Day and then turn around and then not support Social Security, the VA, and the other things this person needs to survive. Because they don't think of the veteran and the person with a disability as being the same person. So it's not hard for me to believe some people in the MCU hate mutants and not mutates, or they hate mutants and mutates but not science experiments, or they don't have a clear understanding of the difference between them, or any number of other configurations of attitude.
  7. I think it rings true on several layers. First of all, as noted above, mutants have been used to tell parallel stories about civil rights struggles. Originally race was often the salient comparison, but in recent years, parallels have been drawn to sexual minorities. Second, the Silver Age was a time of social upheaval. Mutants could be your kids, anybody's kids. The message being that we should have compassion for each other, even if we are drawn into battles that weren't ours to begin with. Third, there is a message of individuality. The mutants is a very American story. Someone who can walk through walls or lift a bus isn't just different, they are powerful. And there can be an impulse to lash out when we see others have a power we don't have. But ultimately, for society to work, we have to have some faith in each other. We might worry about someone taking a rifle and shooting up a story, or rioters tearing up a store, or cop abusing their authority, or an education system misinforming our children. But to actually solve those problems requires seeing past the person in front of us, and envisioning how a society operates where we are all free, and where we have the potential to do good or harm. We see this fear in an older generation looking down at a younger generation with access to online tools they never dreamed of, and a younger generation looking at an older generation on a road they no longer with to follow, with old ideas about politics, the environment, and so forth. So I think there is a powerful metaphor in the mutant, that of someone who is powerful but whose right to make decisions has to be respected. And Magneto represents the banding together with your own kind for protection, and Professor X represents trying to find a connection with the wider world so there can be some hope. Fourth, mutant powers are really about human potential. With our minds and our technology we can completely change the world like no other animal ever has on Earth. Mutants represent those among us whose capabilities drag us into the future, whether we are ready or not. A mutant who can read your mind is like a phone that can read your shopping history; a mutant who can defeat an army is like a versatility aircraft; a mutant who can control others is like a pathogen unleashed by a careless lab or a desperate terrorist; a mutant who can walk through walls is like a kid who hacks the school's computer network and changes their grades. Nuclear power, information networks, cloning, weaponry... our evolution has prepared us for none of these things, which are both opportunities or threats. So mutation is a metaphor for "what can arise among humanity that could save us or doom us."
  8. How do you handle something like a flamethrower fuel supply where damage to the Focus can cause a conflagration?
  9. She can go intermediate sizes.
  10. So this started as a simple concept, but ended up posing a number of challenges. This is a conversion from a M&M character, and the concept is straight up: she has some martial arts and she grows to be fifty feet all. After my first pass, I noticed she was going to have *ahem* huge END problems, so this is a revised version. GIANT JUDO GIRL 10 STR 0 20 DEX 20 20 CON 10 23 INT 13 15 EGO 5 15 PRE 5 8 OCV 20 9 DCV 30 3 OMCV 0 4 DMCV 3 5 SPD 30 6 PD 4 6 ED 4 10 REC 6 70 END 10 15 BODY 5 40 STUN 10 SKILLS 3 Acrobatics 13- 3 Breakfall 13- 3 Charm 11- 3 CK: base city 12- 3 Combat Driving 13- 3 Conversation 11- 3 Deduction 14- 2 KS: Global Politics 11- 3 KS: History 14- 2 KS: Judo 11- 2 KS: Philosophy 11- 3 Persuasion 11- 2 SC: Chemistry 11- 2 SC: Physics 11- 1 Language (French, fluent conversation) 1 Language (Japanese, fluent conversation) Martial Arts: Judo 4 Choke Hold 4 Martial Block 4 Martial Disarm 4 Martial Dodge 4 Martial Escape 3 Martial Grab 3 Martial Throw 3 Sacrifice Throw 4 +1 Extra DC PERKS 2 Fringe Benefit (hero) 1 Positive Reputation (hero of the city, recognized 11-) +1/1d6 TALENTS POWERS 150 Growth (Gigantic template), 1/2 END COMPLICATIONS 10 DNPC: Mom and Dad (Normal, Infrequently) 10 Distinctive Features: Mutant (Not Concealable; Always Noticed; Detectable Only by Unusual Senses) 15 Psychological Complication: Curiosity (Very Common, Moderate) 10 Psychological Complication: Respects authority (Common, Moderate) 15 Psychological Complication: Protects the Innocent (Common, Strong) 15 Social Complication: Public Identity (Frequently, Major) COSTS Characteristics 175 Skills 72 Perks 3 Talents 0 Powers 150 Background/History: Abby was a competitive high school judoka in Los Angeles, California. During a major competitive match, she suddenly doubled in mass, manifesting a previously unknown superhuman ability. Disqualified, she was heartbreaken that her amateur athletic career was over. Too young to compete in superhuman exhibition matches, she threw herself into her studies. Her life changed when a giant interdimensional monster attacked the Bay Area. Donning her motorcycle leathers, her gi, and a morph mask, she joined other local heroes on the scene, and growing to a size greater than she had ever been before, helped battle the monster. Despite her injuries, she was lauded as a hero, and it didn't take long for the news media to unmask the young judoka. She continues to work on her Bachelor degree while working as a reservist superhero and studying mixed martial arts. Personality/Motivation: Despite her easygoing demeanor, Abby is tough to the core. She acts instinctively to protect others. Abby respects authority figures, seeing herself as a good Samaritan. Quote: "You're about to have a big problem." Powers/Tactics: At her normal size, Abby is an an agile adventurer. She knows better than to tangle with truly superhuman threats at her normal strength, however. When her powers are active, she's a fifty-foot tall behemoth, still swift but powerful and durable. Against normal-sized foes, her standard approach is to grab and squeeze, while she will concentrate on immobilizing or knocking prone other large opponents. Appearance: Abby is an athletic young woman of Japanese and British descent with chin-length straight hair. In her civilian identity she wears casual to slightly conservative clothes, the look you might expect of an aspiring academic. As Giant Judo Girl, she wears a a three-toned white, light blue, and blue gi, a blue headband, black and blue athletic pants, and black slippers, with kneepads and gloves.
  11. Directed primarily at those who have played or own multiple editions: Are the Fantasy Hero weapons stats something that have been reprinted, more or less unchanged, edition to edition? Or have their been significant revisions? For instance, has the pike always been -1 OCV, 2d6+1 K?
  12. So to restate the question, how often in the comics do we encountered heroes who must take a full phase to act before committing a lethal act, and require an Ego roll at -5 to do so, no matter who easily justifiable or even necessary the act is? I think this whole concept evaded a lot of discussion in RPGs because for a couple of decades, comics were purposefully written to avoid showing hard choices or realistic consequences of violence.
  13. As much as they are upheld as standards of a Silver Age Code Versus Killing, the evidence suggests Cap and Superman both have a merely moderate Code Versus Killing, and with both having a carve-out for honorable participation in an actual, existential war. And Batman, depending on the version, might have a merely strong CVK. I really am not having much luck identifying any actual comic book characters with a total CVK. Cap avoids killing, Superman is so powerful he feels obliged not to, and Batman regards himself as a private citizen without the authority to perform executions. But none of them actually condemn the taking of life entirely.
  14. What about Fiacho as an amalgam of Helmut Zeo and Major Disaster? The idea of a privileged smart guy with an axe to grind, hooking up to commit crimes and to make cheap political points.
  15. There is an actual Cobra figure called the VIPER. I tend to dislike any depiction that looks too much like this because of the strong association I have:
  16. That's interesting in this context because Superman's species is Kryptonian.
  17. I don't think that's as true with the smaller number of core domains. A lot of gods have War clerics, for example. And Adventure League actually lets you pick your domain independent of your deity.
  18. Christopher Reeves throws a de-powered Zod into a pit. I guess you can interpret otherwise but it looks, if not instantly fatal, at least something likely to cause death. Clip. But anyway. With Code Versus Killing (Common, Total), if aliens invade in warships, you have to break out a lot of hand-cuffs. And in general I would say that's not how it works in the comics or movies. But I'm interested in examples of heroes apparently operating exactly like that.
  19. Defender has Code Versus Killing (Common, Total). Over the years I've seen it often implicitly assumed this is a common Silver Age trait, but I find myself questioning that. As written, if Defender is confronted with a quandry, he has to spend a full phase affected by this Complication, and then make Ego rolls at -5 to go against it (if the GM allows it all). That may or may not be a realistic portrayal of Defender, who is a character sheet and not a comic book character written over and over again across the decades. Superman is often cited as an exemplar of Code Versus Killing, and yet every major version of Superman (excepting maybe a brief run of the Super-Friends) has killed. If anything, he has Code Versus Killing (Common, Strong). If confronted by a true dilemma, he spends a phase trying to think around it, and if necessary he starts making his Ego rolls until he convinces himself to act (typically, wiping out a military style invasion force, or killing a foe that is both too powerful and too irrational to be reasoned with or contained). (And yes, I mean every version; Christopher Reeves' Superman takes out Zod as well as the nuclear man, and the DCAU version wastes a bunch of White Martians). Ron's Champions Now paraphrases Psychological Limitations in a somewhat different way: Again, while a hero's reluctance to kill may be a strong part of their character, it appears to me that the most severe level of Psychological Limitation is pretty rare even for thinks like Code Versus Killing, or Bushido, or other Psychological Limitations. Does anyone have a different interpretation of Total, or house rules about it? Do you think they shouldn't be that common, and discourage Total limitations except where truly warranted? Have you tweaked these Complication rules? Do you think Defender's PsyLim is really that powerful?
  20. I sometimes hear opinions that seem to treat reading a module as a cardinal sin. That's a huge assumption, though, that someone intends cheating. A lot of people read a lot of modules because they mostly GM. If you want a module to be fresh, especially one published decades ago, you should be tweaking elements of it.
  21. One way they could further their goals while generating operational funds is to buy up something like commodities or stocks, then smashing the competition.
  22. I think the most central element of fairy tale magic is the duality that it is persistent yet unreal. A curse could last 300 years, then vanish because someone calls someone by their correct name. Maleficent can certainly use combat magic; she hurls fire and turns into a dragon. She can hypnotize and command Aurora.
  23. I mildly prefer 5e, but I have trouble getting past the COBRA Viper vibe. Something tactical yet iconic looking would be best.
  24. Superheroes are shamans. They adopt a special role, often using a special name, maybe with an animal theme. Their purpose is to protect their communities from supernatural beings. In their mode of dress and behavior, they stand apart from ordinary people.
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