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Everything posted by assault

  1. Bartman overgeneralises wildly, but his essential point is correct. Money is something that only happens to the wealthy. Then again, a great deal of fantasy literature tends to follow the social patterns of the renaissance rather than earlier periods. Money, commodity production and exchange were rather more widespread then. Even so, unskilled labour would mainly be paid in kind rather cash. Most peasants, even if they weren't serfs, would have a well defined place in a mostly self reliant village community. Journeymen, apprentices and the like would be servants dependent on their masters for their livelihoods. Of course, there were people who were paid in cash - mercenary soldiers, for starters. On the other hand, mercenaries were notoriously fond of looting, and for good reason! I guess you probably should start with some kind of notion of equal exchange. After all, a cow (for example) was generally recognised as being roughly as valuable as a certain quantity of, say, cloth. Subsistence for a day's labour is as good a starting point as any. On the other hand, a vagabond's life was precarious, to say the least. In at least some societies, in fact, vagabonds weren't _supposed to_ work for hire, but were, instead, supposed to live on charity, on the grounds that this was morally superior, and less harmful to social order. Workhouses and such things only began to emerge when the number of vagabonds began to increase as land began to be enclosed by landlords, rather than rented out to peasants. I used the word "vagabond" deliberately. Waged and salaried work in the modern sense was very, very rare. Really only a few varieties of such work existed: mercenaries and some sailors. Anyone else who engaged in modern style work was a beggar. Alan
  2. Of course my original comment wasn't related to the folklore/literary aspects of the hobbit/goblin matter. I was actually referring to how "commoners" can either be sentimentalised respectable yeomen or demonised murderous fiends, depending on their degree of submission to their "betters". The very same individuals can potentially be found in both these roles at different time! To put it simply: Spartacus was a goblin. Alan
  3. Yes, and how many decent mystery scenarios have you seen in DnD? Detective fiction is one of the major roots of the superhero genre. Unfortunately, certain powers can make it can be difficult to explore this. It would be fabulous to be able to deal with a superheroic version of "The Maltese Falcon", wouldn't it? It would certainly beat "yet another slugfest against supervillain team #483". Of course, I suppose that you could say that the Dark Champions genre deals with this kind of stuff. That would be true, except, of course, that the Dark Champions genre tends to encourage machinegun wielding munchkinism. The Pulp genre comes a bit closer, but it has the disadvantage of being a period piece, which isn't all that easy to run. Mystery goes well with the action component of superheroics. It's the kind of thing that makes Batman, or for that matter, Daredevil, interesting. It's not at all surprising, by the way, that these two characters have featured in some of the best superheroic writing. Of course, Daredevil is a character with enhanced senses out the hither and yon! Being able to tell if someone is lying is really useful! But it's not the same as being able to reach into someone's head and rip out the truth... And incidentally, the original, 1930's version of Superman would be a perfectly fine character in a mystery scenario, too... I do, however, take the point that scenarios should be designed with the specific characters that will be playing them in mind, wherever possible. That doesn't help Hero Games, but it does help us "folks at home". We can, and should, tailor things to suit our own players and their characters. None the less, tweaking the PCs can make life a bit easier. Anyway, as I mentioned, I use few superbeings in my game. As such, I like to get a lot of mileage out of my normals. It's easy for them to be physically overwhelmed, but beating them mentally is a whole other story. That's where the skill lies. Alan
  4. Re: How's *this* for a new setting. I haven't ever done it, but I have considered Narnia as an interesting setting. The most obvious problem is the great big chunks of roaring allegory, but still, despite of this, it is a fine old setting. I particularly appreciate the fact that Dwarves can be found on both sides... I've long thought that the difference between a Hobbit and a Goblin is that a Hobbit pays tax. The difference between a Dwarf and an Orc is similar. Narnia, of course, has a very strong spiritual polarity. None the less, however, there is still a very strong element of free choice in people's allegiances. It is entirely possible for people (humans, dwarves, whatever) to pick "the wrong side" without it being quite as cartoonish as in some other worlds. So yes, this is potentially a good idea. Alan
  5. This is a problem for me, since supervillains are extremely rare in my games, and most of those that do exist don't have any serious defences against mental powers. Of course, I do use lots of robots, zombies and so on, who are totally immune to mental powers, but, of course, they are cannon fodder. I prefer to use normals rather than supers for one very simple reason: using supers encourages sloppy scenario writing. Using normals requires mystery scenarios, which are more fun, but tend to get destroyed by telepathy, N-Ray vision, Invisibility and so on. Alan
  6. In a word: codswallop. Don't confuse science fiction with reality. Alan
  7. This is the fundamental problem. Of course it's possible to make storylines proof against mystery wrecking powers, but most storylines probably shouldn't be. Frankly, the whole thing is a pain in the neck. That's the real reason why Teeps, Invisible guys and people with N-Ray aren't my favourite people. They make sceario design harder work than it needs to be. Alan
  8. This kind of approach would work better in Champions than in D&D, IMHO. The whole "proof" deal is a lot more rigorous in modern legal systems than in the kind that operate in most fantasy worlds. As far as mystery busting powers in general: I've had trouble with N-Ray vision, but, unfortunately, one of my favourite character designs has N-Ray vision! I guess that if I'm playing a character with it, I just have to make sure it's not a problem... Shrinking, Invisibility and so on can be a worry too. On the other hand, they're really just special cases of bugging... I've recently put a shrinking character on my list of "characters to possibly play". He's not powerful, but he's sneaky. He could be a very serious mystery buster, but then, he's _supposed_ to be a top line detective. Alan
  9. Of course, I read "community" as "continuity". So, presumably, if you were to declare that the trolls never existed, it would be a retcon, wouldn't it? Did I ever tell you how much I hate Connor Hawke, the new Batgirl, and Kyle Rayner, and how anyone who likes them are morons... Alan
  10. Thinking back to 1981... Not much change, really. More/better electronics. In particular, mobile phones with lots of neato PDA and other functions will be extremely common, but _not_ universal. Hydrogen and electric cars could be around, but gas guzzlers will still be around too. Cities won't change much in the "developed" world. Aging populations and lower birthrates will be partly offset by immigration, so you expect a higher proportion of the population would be from the groups currently migrating into which ever country you are considering. There would be better biometrics and surveillance techniques, but the spread of these would be partly offset by political considerations. There would be no AIs in the cartoon sense, simply because there is no reason to create them. Most changes would be subtle. Politically: anything could happen. Think about the results of the collapse of Stalinism. We didn't see that coming in 1981. I'd probably go with something along the lines of the US trying to throw its weight around, biting off more than it can chew, and partly retreating into a big sulk. It would still intervene militarily all around the world, but it would be a bit more inclined to operate through proxies. Europe would stumble along, not quite a superpower, playing Good Cop to the USA's Bad Cop. China might implode, become a superpower, or some mix of both! The former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe would have nothing to look forward to but continued humiliation, degradation and poverty. Japan might recover a bit from the 90s slump, but it probably wouldn't quite get it's "miracle" back. Australia would probably miss most of its chances through sheer insular stupidity, and end up as a bit of a has-been. Ditto the UK. Potentially it could also experience further devolution of authority in Scotland and Wales, but it's most unlikely that these would break away completely. Northern Ireland's "peace process" is a mess, but it doesn't seem likely for there to be a return to armed conflict any time soon. Then again, in twenty years time... Latin America: well, there's been a wave of revolts and leftish Presidents being elected in recent years. This is likely to continue. Eventually, it's possible that the US would start supporting military coups and dictatorships again, in order to bring an end to this inappropriate outburst of democratic and nationalistic sentiment. Some kind of direct US military intervention might occur as well, in order to show who's boss. Cuba might be a possible target, but one that's likely to be more than the US can chew. East and South Asia: a mix of economic growth and political turmoil. Limited conflicts between India and Pakistan are certain. Korea could go _very_ nasty. If you want to really mess with the world, China might try it on with Taiwan/the US. Africa: stagnation and death. Western Asia/the Middle East: more of the same. US attempts to "stabilise" the situation come into conflict with local aspirations. The Israel/Palestine struggle continues. In other words, my future history would be very conservative as far as changes go. Funnily enough, I can see a bit of a "rebirth of communism" in non-Stalinist forms, particularly in Latin America, where it would be mixed with nationalism. Social changes wouldn't be particularly profound. This is a world which most of the people on these boards are likely to live to see - and it will be our world. Alan
  11. It's interesting to compare Howard's Conan stories with the De Camp/Carter ones. There is quite a different feel. That doesn't mean that the De Camp/Carter ones are bad - far from it - but they definitely are different. The ones by later authors basically aren't worth reading. An idea I have considered is to base a campaign in a truncated version of Hyboria - more or less from Zamora to Turan east to west, and from southern Hyperborea to northern Stygia. This covers most of Conan's early career, from his escape south, his career as a thief in Zamora and Corinthia, his period in Zamboula and such places, and with a bit of tweaking, bits of his military career, especially including the battle in Black Colossus. The idea would be that the area is a bit of a no man's land between the major powers, with at best rather ramshackle collections of city-states. Of course, I would file off the Hyborian serial numbers... Some of Howard's other stuff is very good too, and other bits are a bit lame. Clark Ashton Smith wrote some pretty fine Cthulhu-ish fantasy stuff, which is worth a look. Alan
  12. Yeah, Ted was Heavyweight Champion of the world, but I think we should be more interested in comparative toughness rather than just body mass here. Otherwise things could get very odd real fast. In support of Ted's capabilities, though, here are some quotes from Catwoman #20 (August this year): 1. Selina: "This is Ted Grant. He was one of the people who trained me..." 2. Holly (Selina's sidekick): "What about Green Arrow, did you train him?" Ted: "Ha. He wishes." Holly: "But Batman? You trained him?" Ted: "Sure... a long time back..." And just for fun, here is another reason to like Ted Grant - his attitude: "It's hard sometimes to see the good in the little things. You save one person but another dies. Isn't it still worth doing even if you can't save them both?" Isn't that a lovely solution to the four-colour vs. "grim and gritty" dilemma? I think if I ever play in a street-level superheroic game, my character might go with that kind of attitude. It would mix quite explosively with the usual psycho-killers. Come to think of it, it's probably at the heart of Assault's attitude in higher powered four-colour games... Yes, I like Wildcat. I'll probably vote for him when the poll goes up. Alan.
  13. This is a little bit garbled. The Eastern Empire continued for about a thousand years after the Western Empire fell. This wasn't surprising - most of the people and most of the wealth was in the East. For its last couple of centuries it was split into a number of rival states, a couple of which survived the fall of Constantinople for about a decade or so. Needless to say, any comment you make about it depends heavily on the time period. For much of its history it controlled Greece and the Balkans. Justinian did reconquer Italy in the Sixth Century, bringing Rome back into the empire for a few decades. In addition, his generals also reconquered north Africa and major parts of Spain. Between them, these areas were probably the most economically important sections of the Western Empire. Unfortunately(?), the Romans weren't able to hold onto it. While they had defeated one lot of barbarians in Italy (the Ostrogoths), another crowd (the Lombards) soon rolled up to begin taking it away from them. The Roman holdings in Italy were soon reduced to a rump (which persisted for a couple of centuries, IIRC). Intriguingly, Justinian's wars in Italy played a major role in destroying civilisation there! The Goths, and Odoacer before them, had largely taken over Roman Italy intact, and were delighted to be able to enjoy its pleasures. While Rome itself had been sacked twice, most of the rest of the country was pretty much as it had always been. Justinian's Gothic wars changed that. For a couple of decades, Italy was subject to a seesawing conflict as barbarianised Roman armies struggled with Romanised barbarian armies. While two of the Roman commanders - Belisarius and Narses - are commonly recognised as "Great Captains", the Gothic leaders were no fools either, and delivered several serious setbacks to lesser Roman commanders. All good stuff for roleplaying. Many years ago, my DnD fighters tended to be influenced by Eastern Roman (Byzantine) models. Their wilderness equipment was more likely to be "horse, bow and sword" than "horse, lance and sword". Alan
  14. Yeah, pull the other one. Those of us who have been around for a while remember who the Earth-2 Batman married. And their daughter. ... One the main point of the thread: Wildcat would be a serious contender - if his lack of equipment didn't become a problem. He might also have a few problems due to his age - he might not be quite at his peak any more. On the other hand, very few of the others would like being on the receiving end of one of his punches! The Guardian would be a serious contender too. His new body seems to be a bit improved on the original, and, yes, he managed to avoid Superman for a while. As for the female section of the competition, well, I have a certain fondness for Selina Kyle. And her Earth-2 daughter - bringing this post full circle. Alan
  15. You might try a search on "Chview". This is a Java tool for mapping stars originally designed by fans of CJ Cherryh. It appears to be able to accomodate any set of data. Alan
  16. And this is bad, because...? This is actually one of the good things with Traveller - you can switch subgenre. My campaigns, and most of those I've played in, because my characters tend to pull them this way, tend to start as relatively law-abiding trader games, and gradually get a bit wilder. If they last long enough, they tend to become empire building games. Of course, this requires the players to be smart enough to not have their characters going on major killing sprees in civilised space, which can be a bit of a problem. Champions has a bit of a problem in this respect - subgenre shifts are much harder. I'm not quite sure what the proper escalation path would be. Perhaps it would be from bush league starting heroes to "world's greatest superteam" status, with a few major exercises in saving the world as milestones on the path. Yeah, that would be it: go from being the equivalent of the (original) Teen Titans or Infinity Inc, and wind up as the Justice League or Justice Society. The Marvel equivalent might be: X-Men (or New Mutants) to Avengers. (But then, I like the FF more than the Avengers!) Of course, that really only works if the higher powered scenarios are as interesting as the lower end ones. At least sometimes, lower powered games can be more interesting than the Cosmic Peril of the Week. Alan
  17. See: http://ourworld.cs.com/argentprime/batman.htm Some quotes: "In this first outing, Robin (who was armed with a slingshot in this and many subsequent stories of the early forties) killed at least three of Zucco’s henchmen by throwing or kicking them off of an unfinished skyscraper." "After the brutal murder of Batman’s friend and ally Wong, the unofficial mayor of Chinatown, Batman and Robin apprehend or kill the entire Green Dragon tong that has been terrorizing Chinatown. BF/BK/JR Notes: This story was one of the final times that Batman and Robin were shown to deliberately kill their opponents, in this case by crushing many of the tong’s members beneath their gigantic Green Dragon idol/statue." This was in 1940. While we are on the topic, here is Batman's first appearance: http://reading-room.net/Detective27/Detective27Cover.html Alan
  18. No. The main influence on the Golden Age were the pulps. Batman - and Robin - were killers. Superman had a definite fondness for intimidation... If you want "innocent" you have to go for the intentionally dumbed down books from the post-Comics Code Silver Age. Alan
  19. Zenith was good stuff. It's on my rereading list, soon. One particularly memorable aspect was appearance of lots of (thinly disguised versions of) old British comic characters. Zenith is also one of the most realistic portrayals of superbeings I have seen. Alan
  20. Re: Re: Re: Re: My final thoughts It certainly was. Of course, you might understand why I, as a bit of a Leftie, might prefer to identify with the author of The Maltese Falcon (Hammett) than with postmodernism. Alan
  21. assault


    Re: Grond To make sure that you don't feel unappreciated... Look, this is very, very cool. I can't really add anything more than that. Well done! I wish you were my GM. Alan
  22. He was actually more of a brawler in his first appearance. Come to think of it, he wasn't much of a detective, either! Having the Police Commissioner as a contact is kind of nice. Just ask the Shadow. Alan
  23. Re: Re: My final thoughts Funnily enough, there is a long tradition of leftist writing in the detective and science fiction genres, which are, of course, major influences on comics. Try Dashiell Hammett in detective fiction, for starters. I can't find words polite enough to describe my opinion of postmodernism. I'm currently rereading my collection of late 70s Green Lantern/Green Arrow. It's "standard superheroics" with bells on. I'm quite fine with that. Another important early 80s writer that nobody seems to have mentioned is Marv Wolfman. Does the New Teen Titans ring a bell? For very literate, if not always immensely exciting stories, there was Roy Thomas. Denny O'Neil was pretty good value too. He not only wrote GL/GA, but also the late 80s run of the Question. You don't get much darker or realistic than that without lapsing into twinkie-land. And those are just entirely mainstream DC/Marvel writers. Alan
  24. Assault's _been_ a member of a team. Does that count? It's not a problem for him anyway. He's a front line butt kicking machine. His job is to buy time for the tacticians. His other role is to kick people when they're down. Hmm. Maybe he should play Rugby. Alan (Actually he would play Rugby League, but that's another story.)
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