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SuperLancer... Musings

CitizenKeen

Rules Lawyer
Validated User
I’ve got some thoughts about hacking Lancer into a superhero game. I’m just going to occasionally vomit some up here because it’s as good a place as any.

Design Principle #1: It’s a Game. This is very much a game, and while every attempt should be made to emulate the genre and allow the telling of fun tales, at the end of the day, I feel like ties have to be broken in favor of a good game.

Why Lancer? I feel like a lot of people thought D&D 4E would be great as a superhero game. (There were numerous threads here on that subject, in fact.) Those came to naught (much like this thread, reader in 2021 who found this discussion by Googling). Lancer is close to 4E in terms of DNA. And yet, it goes even further…

The division between (1) downtime/narrative play and (2) combat is well defined, borrowed from Blades in the Dark. That makes perfect sense in the comics – so many heroes could just have their powers during narrative play and not worry about it in combat. Spider-Man can just blip around the room like an acrobat, who cares about his web-slinging as a movement. In combat, he’s got an incredible jump and can clink to walls and can incapacitate his enemies. Narrate it however you want. Out of combat, his Spider-Webs can… do whatever a Spider-Web does.

Additionally, Lancer has a nice, flat power curve. Mechs don’t get much more powerful beyond Level 3, yet there’s still a sense of progress and growth. This solve a major problem at lot of RPGs based on superheroes have – superheroes tend to grow little or not at all in power from story to story, yet most RPGs have power going up.

Starting with Lancer. This is a Lancer hack. As such, while I’m okay with changing anything in service of the game, my default is assumption will be “Lancer does X, so let’s do X unless [reason].”

Frying pans and fires. While Lancer offers a nice flat-ish power curve, it introduces a new problem. Lancer pilots are designed to be able to change out their mechs from session to session. This makes less sense in a superhero context. If you finish an adventure with laser-beam eyes and a turtle-shell, and you come back next time with elastic powers and a telepathic field… That’s going to stretch believability.

It is a bit of a problem. Part of it is solved by looking closely at the comics. Remember that time Superman flew the Earth back in time? Or Blue Superman? Remember Spider-Man's toolbelt? Or the Iron Spider? Why does Rogue sometimes have Captain Marvel's power, and sometimes not? Why does Thor wield different weapons? And then there's the superheroes who change powers as part of their setup, e.g., Iron Man (Hulkbuster), Batman, etc.

The other part is solved by… And this isn’t an ideal answer, but…. If this bothers you, don’t do it.

I’ll keep my eye out for better answers as I think about it.
 

CitizenKeen

Rules Lawyer
Validated User
A threshold inquiry for this experiment is How much of Lancer am I keeping?” And the default answer has to be… all of it. I have to assume that unless I have a really good reason to change it, it should remain basically the same.

“Heat” and “Burn”, two very mech sounding mechanics? Keep ‘em. Heat becomes Energy (counting down is as easy as counting up), and Burn was already a stand-in for “curse-esque damage”, or DoTs, so let’s just go with Curse Damage.

“Frames” becomes “Archetypes”. Weapon Slots become… Attack Pools? (That one’s going to need a long think for naming.)

Manufacturers. So as far as I can tell, the point of Manufacturers is to give Core Bonuses a unified theme. That’s easy enough – Manufacturers becomes Trappings. I’m inclined to group the Trappings into four parts – Technology, Mysticism, Mutation, and the Exemplars. Tech is… tech. Even if it’s really simple tech, like a bow. Mysticism is not only magic, but also magic gear, and psionics. Mutation is both classic Marvel mutants as well as what the Marvel Universe calls “mutates”, like Spider-Man and She-Hulk: Those with altered DNA who weren’t born that way. And Exemplars are aliens and those who are just better than us. Everybody from Superman to Captain America.

There are corner cases… Speedsters, for example. Most Speedsters seem to be the result of mutations and freak accidents and fall clearly into the Mutation category. But if you wanted to make a Speedster in a Speedster suit, you’d thematically be in Tech, but the Core Bonuses (name forthcoming) you’d get from being a Speedster would be in Mutation.

That’s a problem for Future Me. I’m hoping to check boxes for about 85% of the super concepts, then work out details for the rest.
 

The Benj

Registered User
Validated User
I don't know Lancer, but I'm intrigued by this project.

I would think Speedster would be an archetype/frame, rather than an Origin/Manufacturer.
 
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