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MoonHunter Sayeth 20180803

MoonHunter

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Meta - Settings: CAPES: NOLA

It is a different world down here. Where your average superhero set is all spandex and robots, here it is more about the magic, the monsters, and the hidden (aliens, fairies, mermaids, etc). You are more likely to wear distinctive street clothes than spandex and capes (mixing and matching is the order of the day). After all, when you compare them to mardi gras costumes, most superhero costumes are not distinctive and pretty darn tame.

In and around The Bayou, voodoo, magic, and fangs are more common than mutant superpowers. When the power brokers in an area include a hundred-plus-year-old Voodoo Queen, a several hundred-year-old rockstar vampire, and a swamp monster, you do know things are a bit different. In NOLA, you have all the normal city adventures (crime, smuggling, drugs, a crazy villains), with mystical things going on in the background (voodoo, fairy connections, werewolves/ loup garou, vampires, sorcerers, angels, demons, and aquatic reptilemen), surrounded by swamps (some mystical), ocean (with a portal to an Atlantean city), and a spirit realm that is easier to access. The area around New Orleans broadens the scope of the chronicle without expanding the geographic concerns.

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This setting is your normal superhero kitchen sink. It is suitable for part of a multi-GM chronicle, with each GM running a different city, region, or agency. (The CAPES is a meta-story element, a TV show that covers super activity in a given city. New Orleans was one of four cities to be in the multi-GM setting. )

However, given the local geography and culture, that is part of the chronicle framework, CAPES NOLA changes the whole dynamic of a generic kitchen sink supers games. There is more magic and supernatural associated with this area, so there should be more magic and supernatural in the chronicle.

There is also a depth of history here, different than your normal supers game. (Because magic seemingly goes back to the days of sticks and stones (or at least Atlantis).) You also have a rich local history and local set of traditions here to tie your character into.

Given the chronicle and character framework, the special effect for powers tends to be the magical or mystical, rather than mutant or mutate. Sure The Swift might be a mutant, but his werewolf and siren teammates certainly are not (well, the werewolf might have a secret and be a mutant... but..)

A must for all settings: Do some reading about the city and the surrounding area, including some history. Provide some highlighted information in the chronicle pack for the players. This will help make the chronicle more complex and more engaging just because of the setting and the things you can tie characters too.

Now if the setting/ city is "imaginary", learn as much as you can about cities/ places that are similar (adjusted for time/ history).

Superhero Chronicles - In general

Setting Conception:
This starts with the Chronicle Blurb, but continues on from there. These are the controlling ideas behind the setting. Everything should fit those ideas - or have a DARN GOOD explanation why.

If the conception has bullet points (or important ideas) that are not obvious from the chronicle blurb, a summary of all of them should be included in the chronicle packet or the player hand outs. Remember, as a GM, to work with the other players to ensure their characters fit the conception.

Captain Star is a true blue Superman pastiche that does not initially fit the chronicle. However, the player wants him to move here from Washington after leaving the national team. The Player wants him "not to fit in". It sounds like a source of a couple of scenes, plot lines, and roleplay bits. The GM has him dial back his power (after all he was asked to leave after his power level was reduced) as to not overshadow others. With changes and good plotlines, The GM accepts the character that initially would not have been acceptable to the conception.

Also feel free to say No to a character concept. If the character does not fit your vision for the chronicle with the players until either a reworked concept or a new concept that fits the chronicle. Just because a player wants to play it, does not make it appropriate for the chronicle.

The phrase to remember is a very polite, "Yes your character makes sense and is perfectly legal by the rules, but it does not fit my vision of the chronicle at this time."
A good follow up: "Do you want to try a new idea or work with me to make this one work? "


Genre Conventions
You might want to call them genre rules, genre memes, or "the way things should be". These are usually expected things that "seem right" for "this kind of genre/ setting/ chronicle.

Certain superhero genre conventions are: Masks protect Identities, Costumes and Capes, Acceptance of Masked Vigilantes, Super Powers, and so on. Certain areas/ cities might have memes related to them "Let the Good Times Roll" for example. A New Orleans chronicle might have some genre conventions borrowed from Urban Fantasy or Horror novels. So a list of expected genre conventions that are or not being used in the chronicle packet might be handy.

In Capes NOLA, the spandex and capes convention is not being used. "The Secret Supernatural" and "Everyone believes a little about supernatural, but nobody really believes in public", borrowed from the Urban Fantasy Genre are added to the list.

Chronicle Focus
Soap opera between characters. The players should be set up to roleplay with (and against in a friendly way) with each other. Conflicting opinions, different approaches, discussions on what makes a hero/ justice/ the legal system/ if the CIA is justified waterboarding, etc, makes the game come alive. It makes it more than just "Move your minis and beat the bad guys"... with powers.

Character's mundane life. The character should be surrounded by a cast of supporting characters. This gives the player a chance to show off their character without rolling damage dice. The other players should be playing the supporting characters. When one player is in the spotlight, the other players will have something to do.

Do not ignore action scenes. There should be action scenes, but also these other bits.

Remember to assign these kinds of plot lines when the character is created. Also, keep in mind that superheroes are bundles of issues wrapped in powers. Consider giving them five plot lines instead of three.

MoonHunter Rules: Power Spiral, Diversity, and Choices.
MoonHunter is always emphasizing roleplaying and social interaction in a superhero game. If a GM makes it all about powers, they have created an arms race. If it is all about the combat and powers, The GM keeps having to throw more powerful and capable foes to keep challenging the characters. The players respond by making their characters more combat powerful and capable (or whining until they get that way). To challenge the characters in terms of power and combat, the GM needs to up the power level of the opposition. The players build up their power. The GM builds more power in. It becomes a death spiral for your campaign.

Both sides should grow slowly in combat power over time, keeping par with each other.

Characters need to be rewarded with diversity of rewards and advancements. Social Knowledge, Contacts, Favors, Money, Land/ Bases, Equipment, NS Social Status, are good rewards. The character can parley these into advantages that sheer powers can not be done. Knowledge skills, Technical skills, Science Skills, and Investigation skills are things to emphasize in scenarios, rather than more dice of damage, more armor, more powers. Breadth, not depth.

Superhero games need to be about the Hero Part. It needs to be about the "tough choices". It needs to be about risk and the innocents. It needs to be about the people, not the powers. Gamers can do the Heroic part all day, with low power or high power characters. It makes the "powers" part secondary to the game. Powers just give you cooler scope: a normal hero might fight off one or two opponents, a superhero might fight off thirty or so.
Suplots, subplots, subplots.
A GM can't concentrate on just main adventures or one-shot plot lines. There needs to be subplots to round out the chronicle, giving it depth and more things to advance than just villain of the issue. Working on making subplots interact with the main adventure or plot lines (the plotline is how the Blue Cowl is taking over the underworld, and the villains of the week ends up being people who used to work for her.) This gives alternate characters a chance to have some spotlight time, breaks up the sameness, and gives the GM a chance to spread out a main adventure.

There we go. Some rivets to build up the structure of your Superhero Chronicle.
 

Felix

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Not quite on point to your post, but when you said
. (The CAPES is a meta-story element, a TV show that covers super activity in a given city. New Orleans was one of four cities to be in the multi-GM setting. )
I think it could play a very powerful element in the game, just because of the similarities between reality TV and superhero comics.

Superheroes and villains love to deliver dramatic monologues. The camera confessional is a place for dramatic monologues.

Reality shows thrive on personal drama -- which comic books have too ever since Clark had to hide the fact he's the man Lois actually loves. They also thrive on action, which the fight scenes will deliver.

I'd be very tempted if I was running this to "lean in" to the CAPES angle, maybe giving bonus XPs for something you'd say "This would be a great teaser to air" and, if the players totally botch a fight, saying "The producers don't like the footage, and the Blue Cowl wants to pound you into the ground again, so we got him to agree to a reshoot."

Again, not quite what your focus is about, but my first thoughts on reading it.
 

MoonHunter

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Felix said:
I think it could play a very powerful element in the game, just because of the similarities between reality TV and superhero comics.
I am on the same page with you. While I didn't include it in the write up, it is a good meta-metaphor. The entire troupe needs to buy into the show angle, but it rocks when they.

My last Martial Arts chronicle used the television metaphor for its sixteen episodes and we had a great deal of fun taking it to the next level. (Follow the links). It was a side bit for the chronicle, we would play around with it during breaks (which given the amount of soda/ Dew consumed and the weak bladders was more of often than I could care to think).

We gave drama points/ player points (which sometimes got turned into EP) for best use of the metaphor. We used drama points to buy reshoots, rescasting, and other things (we were very influence by HKAT!).
 
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