WtC the Roleplaying Game

Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game is currently in its development and playtest phase. I have great artist working on the color for the book, and several playtest groups crunching on the mechanics and providing great feedback. The page below gives a good view of what the book will ultimately look like: the RPG system used is Margaret Weis Production’s Cortex Plus open-source system.

Astra Character SheetFor those not heavily into tabletop RPGs, this will be a variation on the system used in the award-winning Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, the game which brought everyone’s favorite Marvel superheroes to life.

2nd Round Playtesting

At this point it looks like the second round of playtesting will commence in October! Anybody interested should let me know with a note, and keep their eyes on this space. I am looking for players who have deep tabletop RPG experience already, but also for new players for whom this might be their first game. They also need to have a group to play with, at least three people willing to spend a few evenings/weekends playing with the next draft of the rules and giving feedback. Everyone who does will be listed in the credits along with their hero and team names.

See you in October.

-M.G.Harmon

 

33 Responses to WtC the Roleplaying Game

  1. Pingback: GURPS Wearing the Cape | Marion Harmon, A Writer in Vegas.

  2. So…

    We are starting a campaign set in the WtC universe, right after Villains Inc (no GURPS, though, sorry)
    Something like Young Sentinels, but for adults.
    A recruitment center for the many new Supers appearing at the time.
    As such, I was wondering if you had a list of the setting’s main heroes, with their powers?

    Don’t worry, as soon as you release a campaign setting for the game, we will be the first to buy it!

    • George says:

      Unfortunately not: I keep procrastinating. May I ask what RPG you are using?

      So far as power templates, this is the rule I used.

      1.) The first heroes to appear got their power-template named after them. So you have the Atlas-type (superstrength, toughness, flight, supersenses), Ajax-type (superstrength, toughness), Volt-type (electrokinesis), etc. However, as powers proliferated and variations appeared, the types were more categorically and descriptively named. For example, speedster-types, metamorph-types, telekinetic-types, etc.

      2.) Classes (A,B,C,D) match up to damage/strength/toughness/speed pretty well but also reflect versatility. To give you an idea, in the Mutants and Masterminds setting, A Class strength is Rank 9, B Class is Rank 8, C Class is Rank 6-7, D Class is Rank 5. A Class powers are least common, D Class powers most common. Very brief descussions of powers can be found in WtC’s Chapter 5, 19, and 21 headers.

      If I do a sourcebook (which I really want to do), it looks like it will probably be for Mutants and Masterminds (they have an open license).

      I would love to hear the details of your campaign.

      • We are using the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game (old but gold), very light on rules but very dynamic. There’s a link below for it’s wikipedia page:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_Super_Heroes_Adventure_Game

        As an errata, I just talked with our GM (it’s an odd feeling not being the GM in a game, one of the only times in the last 10 years…), and our campaign will happen between books 1 and 2, right after The Big One.

        It’s great to see that you are using M&M! If you recall, the last time I posted in your blog, that was the system I recommended. They did a great job with both DC and Wild Cards.

        Giving the idea of “Rank per Class” is a great guideline, thanks! Our GM doesn’t play M&M, but I have the second edition here, I’ll show it to her and we’ll work on it.

        I told her to come over here and say “hi”, as soon as our campaign start we’ll post the details here.

        And I’ll be looking forward to this sourcebook, if you ever want a help/suggestion/opinion, give us a call!

      • On a more complete answer regarding powers, we are using the template naming system from the books. We will probably include new ones for the variations, as you suggested. Naming a super who can control metal a “ferrokinetic”, for example.

        There is also the mention of supernaturals, such as “vamps”. Those are two main broad categories we have already seen, supers and supernaturals. I don’t know if it is a spoiler, but do you suggest another broad category?

        Regarding classes, we were thinking of them precisely as power levels. That’s a very interesting part of M&M, because it is easy and intuitive to exchange between 1-10 and A-D. I thought about using something as an A-Plus to define any possible godlike super that appear, equivalent to power levels 12 an up.

        Hm, after all that talk I think I’ll have to start creating sheets for M&M for the main characters as a side project…

    • George says:

      Also, I take it your gaming group is in St. George?

      • No, actually we are from Rio de Janeiro.

        It’s a little far, but you’re welcome to have a caipirinha with us!

      • George says:

        Heh. Facebook misled me, and now I can’t see why. Is your campaign set in Rio de Janeiro? Now that would be interesting! You must let me know the details.

      • Actually I believe our campaign will be set in Chicago, with the Sentinels.

        But, that’s an interesting idea! After Tatiana’s (our GM) campaign gets going, I think I’ll start one here, it will be an nice change of pace!
        Super heroes stories tend to be centered in the U.S, but I think Brazil can provide a great mixture of supers and supernaturals.

        I’ll try not to “Balkanize” the country. ;-)

      • George says:

        Supers: breakthroughs who self-identify as superheroes (or supervillains). Their powers can be stereotypical or wildly variant.
        Supernaturals: breakthroughs who believe they are something from older beliefs/folkways/superstitions.
        Psis: breakthroughs who see their gifts as “mental powers.”

        The point is these aren’t hard categories with clear definitions–they’re social constructs. Make as many as you can think of, but the first two are the ones best known to the public and in countries less modern and secular than the US the distinction may be fuzzy or nonexistent.

        Above A Class is Ultra Class (bit of a spoiler).

        As for Brazil, as far as I know it’s a politically stable place with no destabilizing racial/cultural/religious fault-lines, so it probably came through the Event more or less intact. Am I wrong?

      • Great.

        I never really thought about Psis as a category on their own, but I can see how many people would make the distinction, being worthy a category on its own.

        A point I’ve always found very interesting is this grey area between different breakthroughs, as we saw with Astra. It must be a great culture shock for a person accustomed to a place dominated mainly by one kind of breakthrough going to one with a different paradigm.

        I’d just love to see Astra’s face if she ever visits New Orleans (or India)!

        Ultra Class. Nice. Great, just wrote it down here, much obliged for the spoiler!

        Well, last time I checked we were doing ok, but you never know when an A class religious nut job who can control minds will appear (and I just got and idea for a game)…

      • Actually, an interesting thing about Brazil is that we have never had a change of regime through revolution.

        Even our independence was, if memory serves, the only one ever without a war, and with diplomatic relations between metropolis and colony continuing without major incidents, as our new king was the son of Portugal’s king.

        We had changes of regime (from democracy to dictatorship and vice-versa) in the twentieth century without any war or major revolution.

        Brazil is very much a peaceful country. We do, however, have serious social issues and some low-grade religious tension. It is interesting to think what a charismatic leader with super powers could do. I don’t imagine a “balkanization” as I joked earlier, but some interesting issues could be raised.

        By the way, sorry if I am taking too much of your time, but I find this a very interesting subject, and it’s not everyday I get to chat about those matters with the very author himself!

      • George says:

        I was aware of Brazil’s record of internal peace; I wish that the US had been able to end slavery as peacefully as Brazil did! I know social classes are more differentiated in Brazil, and somewhat dependent on race, so I suppose there’s potential for conflict there. One option you might explore is the creation of superhuman-ruled micro-states breaking away, or even a revolution of some native tribes aided by outside interests (such as fanatical environmentalists fighting to “liberate the rain forests”). And of course a charismatic superhuman leader can changed everything; I had the same thought, which led to the Caliphate (see the page at Wearingthecape.com if you haven’t already).

        One thought I had for the sourcebook, which I’ll explore in more detail later, is asking fans who have lived in or are from different countries to give input on what they think happened locally, post-Event, and including as much detail as I can summarize in a chapter on the rest of the world. So thank you, and you are by no means taking my time.

  3. Konrad says:

    The Supers rules for Savage Worlds seem to be a good fit. Seeing as they are fairly close to street level for the most part but can just be tweaked enough to make Atlas on a reasonable point total.

  4. Tatiana Codorniz says:

    Hi! I’m Ricardo’s friend who will be GM in this game. It’s so great that you answer us all!! About breakthoughs in Brasil, I imagine religion would play a greater part in it than the supers/capes. From pastors that can heal with their faith to african deities with power over elements and men, to native’s gods os thunder…. there are religions here, like Umbanda, that mix all that in one belief. Brazilians are mostly catholics but in a way that allows them to put a gift in the waters for Iemanja (African Goddess os the seas) or put a statue of Saint Geoge in every bar (for the protection of African God Ogum). And no one thinks the mix is strange.

    • George says:

      That sounds excellent. Since Western culture and media has penetrated everywhere, you will still certainly have “superhero” breakthroughs, especially among younger superhumans–but supernaturals will be far more common in rural areas that are less modern and more traditional. I can imagine there will be new saints, mystics, and even avatars of older gods. It seems likely to me that all it would take is one or two charismatic religious breakthroughs from the Event to spark an explosion of religious enthusiasm, which would shape subsequent breakthroughs in those populations; and of course everyone seems to be moving to the cities these days. It would be a very different and interesting setting.

  5. Rich Burley says:

    Hello Marian, I had no idea that the WtC books had their inspiration for supers rpg’s. Awesome! I’m an avaid gamer and supers is one of my favorite genre’s. I have really enjoyed reading the first two books (and am looking foward to Young Sentinels!). Astra is a great character! Where can I find her stats? Also, just to offer another really great game system, Basic Action Super Heroes (is the game I play primarily) is phenomenal! It has the crunch and buildability of other systems and yet is simple and easy to use. May I humbly recommend it for a WtC source book?: http://www.bashrpg.com/ Chris Rutkowsky (the creator of BASH) is really good about allowing others to publish “open source” type books for BASH. Even if you publish your WtC rpg source book using M&M you may want to consider doing a version with BASH stats. I’ll bet Chris wouldn’t mind converting the stats for you. He’s a really cool guy.

  6. Rich Burley says:

    Whoops, meant to say “inspiration from”…not for. :)

  7. ereshkigala says:

    For Astra in M&M I’d give her;

    Strength 9 Stamina 11 Agility 3 Dexterity 3 Fighting 5 Intellect 1 Awareness 3 Charisma 5

    Dodge 5 Parry 7 Fortitude 11 Toughness 11 Will 7
    Athletics 7 (+16), Perception 4 (+7), Investigation 5 (+6), Unarmed Combat 4 (+9), Persuasion 5 (+10/+12), Deception 3 (+8/+10), Insight 4 (+7)
    Attractive, Power Attack, Defensive Attack, Accurate Attack, Favored Environment: Flying, Second Chance: Bludgeoning Damage,

    Flight 9, Regeneration 1 (persistent)
    Senses 8 (Extended vision 2, Infravision, Ultravision, Microscopic Vision 2, Analytical Smell)
    Immunity 7 (life support minus starvation/thirst/suffocation)

    Am I even close? I have her PL 9 at 138 points for M&M 3rd edition. I’d have Atlas at PL 11, with a strength of 14 – required to throw a 60-ton tank (rank 12 mass) 60 ft (rank 2 distance).

  8. ereshkigala says:

    Thanks!

    The issue I see with Mutants and Masterminds is scaling. There’s only a 20-rank scale for most things so the lower-end effects (i.e. a pistol or a punch) end up being unrealistically close to the higher-end ones (i.e. Astra’s or a tank’s toughness). The simplest example is a man with a gun requiring Power Attack to be realistically lethal vs other plain men but that power-attack shot will damage a tank or Astra. And statistically, someone twice as strong would only have 5% better chance to win in a fight than the weaker guy while someone ten times as strong would have 25% better chance rather than being able to take on several weaker opponents.

    The solution is to use a mutans-and-masterminds-like system but extend the scale to 100. A doubling in effect would be +5 ranks then. Astra is about 200 times stronger than an average human so she’d have Rank 35 Strength and a bit higher Stamina (say, 40), making attacks from humans, even those wielding battleaxes and machine guns, irrelevant while she’d be realistically dangerous to them (a full-strength punch would automatically reduce the human hit to roadkill)

  9. ereshkigala says:

    Yep, it can easily be scaled that way. Give 75 points per power level instead of 15 and have every Ranked effect based on the scale of 20 (ability scores, skills, defenses, attacks) now based off the scale of 100, while everything that is not Ranked on the 20 scale simply costs 5 times more. For example, a Strength/Toughness of 5 becomes a Strength/Toughness of 25, while a Strength/Toughness of 10 becomes a Strength/Toughness of 50.
    Exception: maneuvers like Power Attack and bonuses like Critical Hits, extra Multiattack damage or circumstance bonuses remain a +/- 2 or +/- 5 like they used to be.

    The change is not just a 5x in both points and costs – it changes the system into a hard turn towards realism;
    In the old system, Strength/Toughness of 5 means “Lift 1800 lbs without effort, and have comparable toughness” and Strength/Toughness 10 means “Lift 25 tons without effort, and have comparable toughness”. A difference of thirty-two times. And yet when two combatants like this fight, the so much stronger combatant only has a 25% better chance to deal good damage and 25% better chance to resist damage. Totally unrealistic – it’s like a middleweight boxer fighting a heavyweight boxer, nowhere near where the real difference should be.
    In the new system, the respective values are 25 and 50. They still mean 1800 lbs and 25 tons respectively. However, the difference here is great enough that the 32 times weaker guy can’t hurt the stronger guy – while the stronger guy can flatten the weaker with a single blow. Totally realistic – it’s like a 3 year old child trying to fight a heavyweight boxer, or a guy driving a two-seater car being run over by a medium tank… which is exactly the real-life meaning of “32 times stronger and tougher”.

    Now, this change does have an issue if you’re not careful. It makes combat realistically dangerous and unpredictable. If someone is ten times stronger than you, a glancing blow will hurt, a blow even slightly on target will knock you out outright and a good hit will kill you (assuming you’re using the “5 degrees of failure=death” option). If someone is ten times faster than you, you will miss. In fact, you’ll only hit him on a natural 20 in a fair fight, any hits you get relying only on sheer luck. Unless of course you deceive him with a feint or catch him flat-footed.

    I.e. the system reliably reflects an Astra vs Rush fight now… and inexperienced players can get killed in fights like that if not careful.

    • George says:

      Actually I see exactly what you mean–and I think it’s a very good idea. What I wondered about was how the changed point basis would effect other superheroes and their power levels for character creation purposes (I don’t know the M&M system well enough to see it in my head). But yeah, that change certainly reflects what Astra did to Volt, doesn’t it? The huge problem I see is that a rules-change would turn off M&M players who aren’t already WtC Fans–unless there was an easy straight-across conversion page so they could translate WtC characters into other M&M campaigns easily (and non-WtC characters into a WtC campaign).

      Later: headed for the comiccon!

  10. ereshkigala says:

    The conversion is even easier – you don’t even have to understand the system. You only follow these steps from one system to the other;
    1) Multiply/Divide ability score ranks (and any powers that give them) by 5.
    2) Multiply/Divide skill ranks (and any powers that give them) by 5.
    3) Multiply/Divide resistible powers and powers corresponding to linear measurement (mass/speed/distance/time) by 5.

    The issue with potential M&M players isn’t when making characters. It is when playing them. Generally speaking, the Spider-Man player (half as strong as Astra – Str 8 becomes 40) will expect to at least annoy the Hulk (fifty times as strong as Astra – Str 16 becomes 80) in comicbook combat, or even find a clever way to win. Realistically, the green giant that can flatten heavy tanks with ease and can leap three miles is going to ignore the annoying bug at best and squash it underfoot in one blow at worst.
    That’s because the M&M scaling supports comicbook heroic efforts while the altered scaling supports realism. And in Soviet Russia, realism squashes YOU! (couldn’t resist!)

    Of course, when you remind the M&M crowd that in their system Batman can power-attack and actually hurt a tank, a skyscraper or even Superman with his bare fists, they get really cranky.

  11. ereshkigala says:

    Some months ago I was discussing a DnD into M&M conversion and I made a writeup of the Time Stop spell, allowing for multiple real actions in the same round even though the system is built not to normally allow them. I just thought to use a similar writeup to reflect Rush’s Altered Time Rate in M&M. This is the ability;

    Altered Time Rate [8 points/power level, must be at full power level]
    Summon Duplicate, heroic, multiples 3, limit 2: share body/effects, sequential actions, permanent

    Anyone with the above ability gets 8 extra rounds’ worth of actions per round, allowing him to act a total of 9 times per round. That’s A-class Astraverse superspeed. B-class would have multiple duplicates 2 instead, allowing a total of 5 rounds per round and cost 6 points/power level. C-class would have multiple duplicates 1, allowing 3 rounds per round and cost 4 points/power level. D-class would only have the base duplicate, allowing 2 rounds per round and cost 2 points/power level.

    Now, to reflect “Hypertime”, you have Time Travel 1 (the present), Extra Mass 7 (3 tons), linked Senses 5 (“dimensional; temporal” extra on the 5 human senses) linked Permeate 3 (limited to air) linked Immunity: Suffocation (limited to temporal shenanigans – induced), all with Affects Others, Affects Objects, and Increased Duration 2 (sustained), for a total of 88 points. Though it will usually be taken as “alternate effect” for the Altered Time Rate rather than paid individually, unless there’s someone out there who can enter Hypertime but doesn’t have the more normal Altered Time Rate.
    The ability works like this; it is Time Travel that continually takes you to the present (i.e. the moment of its activation), and lasts as long as you sustain it. You can take both people and objects with you that you touch, up to a maximum of 3 tons (we’ve never seen Rush shift more than that). You can still use your normal senses despite the temporal shenanigans because of the Dimensional: Temporal extra it gives to your senses, you can still “breathe” despite air being frozen due to suffocation immunity and you can still move around despite the frozen air due to Permeation. Because no time passes (you’re stuck to the present), you cannot affect anyone or anything else while this lasts but because the effect is Sustained with a range of Touch, anything you drop/stop touching stops getting the benefits, dropping back to normal time. If you cannot maintain the effect (i.e. you fall unconscious, are stunned and so on), you drop back to normal time too.

    Yes, it’s complicated. But it works exactly as in the books and overall it isn’t really more complicated than the huge arrays a Green Lantern would have.

    • George says:

      Okay, now I’m officially impressed. After I finish Young Sentinels we have got to work this all up into at least a sourcebook format.

  12. ereshkigala says:

    It’s what I like about Mutants and Masterminds; it is the simplest system I’ve found that, some realism issues aside, can potentially reflect almost any effect if someone is creative enough.

    Speaking of Young Sentinels and future books in general, will we learn anything about the guy that could do this or others like him?
    Earthquake [ultra-class terrakinesis effect, 75 pp]
    Damage 5 (penetrating, secondary effect, cloud area 15; 64-miles-wide, concentration, ground-only, distracting, limited 2: only directly affects structures)

  13. ereshkigala says:

    I’ve been reading through the various Power Profiles for M&M that explain what specific power descriptors usually include, introducing new modifiers and features for those descriptors and how to build the abilities seen in a given power descriptor, the general rules and conventions of such a descriptor and so on and so forth.

    I think instead of a new system or a change in the base rule, the Astraverse could be done as a series of such Power Profiles. One basic profile with general Astraverse modifiers, features and descriptors (mostly a “lethality” modifier for damage and a new “highly resistant” modifier for toughness and other such modifiers and features and guidelines for the realism of the setting), then one more Power Profile for each type of Breakthrough archetype i.e. Atlas powers, Ajax powers, Energy Controller powers, Merlin powers, Vulcan powers, Speedster powers, Vampire powers, Shapeshifter powers and the like.

    And once there are a couple dozen or so “Power Profiles” that flesh-out your setting, they could be piled up into a single tome called “Barlow’s Guide to Superhumans” or something.

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