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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weekend R&R: Supers! Revised Edition

My history with the Superhero Genre in RPGs has been considerably more limited compared to Fantasy and Sci-Fi.  I first picked up the Marvel Super Hero Basic set (revised) published by TSR back in 1991 and, subsequently, the Advanced Set in '92.  I broke from my regular AD&D campaign at the time to do Marvel; my group created characters and I created and narrated the scenario for these 'would-be' hereos.  It lasted all of one session.

I liked the game and, along with my friends, we collected and read comic books as teenagers.  However, when players don't really want to play something and just rather continue with what we we doing, it can seriously derail a new game.  We went back to what we were playing and the MSH got shelved.  However, I remember liking the underlying 'FASERIP' system and the charts.

Almost two decades later, I was invited to join a gaming group for their Super Heroes campaign -- a campaign run by Andrew Collas, the editor-in-chief for Zenith Comics.  It was fun and I had a blast.  Over the past few years, I have gamed on and off with this group playing a variety of campaigns ranging from the Super Hero genre, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy.  It always comes back to the Super Hero genre with this group and generally, the heroic motif is a strong one in all of the stories and campaigns.  With a Super Hero game, there are many systems to choose from.  We've played games using the FASERIP system, BASH!, some homebrew rulesets, and just recently, Supers! (revised).

I was first introduced to Supers! prior to the IP changing hands.  It was originally created by Simon Washborne and the game was a rules-lite system that promoted narrative play for a Supers RPG.  It was a simple enough system to grasp but didn't go over the top with a burden of details or crunch.  It suited many a gamer who was looking for a solid basis for a Super Heroes game without raising the bar of accessibility for newcomers.

When the rights to the game were transferred, Hazard Studios, proceeded to develop a revised edition of the game and ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for the project's funding.  A couple talented authors help bring the idea of a revised edition of Supers! to reality and the rest is history!  This new edition tightened the mechanics somewhat, introduced benefits and hindrances to the system, broadened the options, expanded the powers and skills, and presented new options and provided greater detail than the original version ever did. The fan community received the the new edition very well too and after playing it myself, I can wholeheartedly agree that this revised edition of Supers! is a very solid offering.

While I like the simplicity of the original Marvel Super Heroes system (FASERIP), I never embraced it.  The game is very much the same it has been since the late 80's and could use with some refinement.  I took a liking to BASH! or, more specifically, BASH! Ultimate Edition though.  BASH! reminded me of what Marvel Super Heroes under FASERIP could have been like if it got a bit more refinement.  Yeah... the mechanics are different enough but retain a chart where a pair of d6's are rolled instead of percentile dice.  Unlike the original MSH game were you were more or less expected to play established Marvel characters, BASH! was meant to really create and customize your own characters.

Supers! Revised gave me a bit more of what I was looking for, even if I didn't know it at the time.  It has the same sort of flexibility that BASH! but keeps the granular details to a minimum.  That isn't to say that BASH! isn't simple and streamlined in its own right but Supers! manages to keep things a bit easier for the players and GM running the game.  However both BASH! and Supers! are on the same end of the rules-light / streamlined spectrum as opposed to something like the Hero System which is more in-depth.

Character generation is easy -- it is effectively a point-based system (or rather dice) where you will allocate dice between Resistances, Aptitudes, and Powers.  Beyond that, there are specializations for Aptitudes, Boosts and Complications for the Powers, and you can additionally purchase Advantages or get stuff back if you take Disadvantages for character generation.  The amount of dice you get to spend will be determined by the GM based on the campaign being run.  It takes very little time to create a character once you have a concept in mind and a very basic familiarity with the rules.

Mechanically speaking, the system couldn't be simpler.  Resistances, as I mentioned, are very much like the stats found in most other RPGs and are primarily used for the purposes of saves and checks.  Skills and Powers also work in the same way and the system is basically a system that involves opposed checks or target numbers.  What makes this game stand out a bit more is the flexibility of the system at play.  For instance, when an attack is made against your character, you select how you defend.  Do you have armor which will allow you to take a hit?  Do you have a movement power to enable you to get out of the way such as flight or teleportation?  Do you want to counter the attack with one of your own in terms of neutralizing it?  And so on... Supers! allows for a greater narrative on the part of the players as well as a simple flexibility.  Say you use a power to defend, you roll to see if you beat the attack or not.  If you do, then great, no damage but there's a catch: you won't be able to use that same power to attack in the same round.  On the other hand, if you fail, you take damage and unless the attack is specific, this damage will count towards on of your four Resistances (which are like a characters ability scores) and lower them.  If any of them are brought to zero, you character (at least temporarily) is out of the fight.

As for the rest of it, you have a simple system of advancement, some optional rules on top of templates, a roster of characters, a bestiary, and a sampling of vehicles.  Everything you pretty much need to play the game is in the book save for a setting.  The book even provides rules for miniatures and a random character generator!  I find it hard *not* to sing praises for this system.

Is it all good?  Well, despite the age old adage "Don't judge a book by its cover" -- some invariably will.  The book is made available through print on demand which, in itself, is not a bad thing but the color paper quality is not one you would find in a premium product.  As far as the art is concerned, there are a lot of great pieces throughout the book but the quality of artwork isn't consistent in the book.  The font is nice and large size making it easy on the eyes but more work could have been done to tighten up the layout of the text instead of just going with a default 2-column page view with standard full-justification applied.  The end results is a book that falls short of looking like a professional product despite being a very well developed and fantastic game system that rivals some of the best systems the genre has to offer.

If you want a good and rules-lite system and don't care for a super-slick presentation, then you should really consider to give this game a go.  You can find it through OBS services such as RPGNow! (HERE) for an extremely reasonable $10.00.  You won't regret it.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kickstarter Fullfilments and Wedding Invitations

The past few weeks, a lot more time has been taken away from my typical schedule to do things like writing, painting, and my various other projects. I've been doing wedding invites. I've designed and produced all that I need myself and just bought the necessities for the printing and mailing operations.

I realized it would take some time to do and that it wouldn't be a quick matter of an hour or two of work.  I spent many hours just designing all the components which are being mailed out.  I guess that layout and graphic design software I invested in has once again come in handy.  Of course, with all that work out of the way, actually printing, cutting, folding, and stuffing into envelopes has been taking longer than I thought it would.

While doing all of this, I couldn't help and recall of the various kickstarters I had participated in which had more than their fair share of delays.  There are always reasons ... and limited time and resources make the top of the list of excuses.

Fortunately, I don't have thousands or even hundreds of invitations that needed to go out.

My upcoming wedding is my no means small, but it is still a very modest size.  MOST of the invitations went out in the first 7 days and that consisted about 2/3's.  I still have some left to print/cut/fold/stuff but I'm also still hunting down some mailing addresses.  Meanwhile, I am keeping people in the loop as more invites go out and making sure everything goes out in a very timely manner.

It's kind of funny when you think about it, and this is proving more time consuming than I had originally anticipated.

Unlike those problem Kickstarters, my invitation saga will soon come to an end and the balance of invitations (about 1/4 left) should be all sent before the end of the month.  Replies have already started coming in from the very first ones that have gone out so, at least there's that.

Should be able to get back to a routine just in time for April.  Of course, I expect that this too will be derailed before the end of May.



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Kickstarter Reminder: The Storyteller's Dictionary

Just over 24 hours left for this very interesting Kickstarter promising to produce a very useful and specialized dictionary for writers and designers alike.

Produced by Chenault & Gray Publishing, the parent company to Troll Lord Games, this book is meant to be a companion volume to the previously released "Storyteller's Thesaurus" which has earned quite a bit of praise since its release.

This funding campaign up to now has been hugely successful and closing on another stretch goal at $30K. The stretch goals thus far have increased the promised content and expanding the dictionary as well as offering up an extra printed anthology of short stories -- much like the previous thesaurus kickstarter campaign did.

If you want to know more, you can find the Kickstarter campaign going on over HERE.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Weekend R&R: Games & Gears Katana Brush

The Katana Freehand Brush was part of the Games & Gears Ichiban Studios Kickstarter than ran last year.  Now I've had my brushes and have been using them since last summer (I give an initial review of them HERE).  At some point this month, I will revisit these brushes since I've had a lot more time with them and have used them almost exclusively since July 2014.  However, the Katana Freehand Brush was one of those items promised in the Kickstarter (a stretch goal add-on) that is only now being delivered.

So, what is it?

The Katana Brush is a silicone brush meant for freehand work.  Now some people can do freehand with their brushes really well but usually comes through a lot of practice.  Others seem to have a natural knack at it since they were already artistically inclined.  The Katana Brush is really meant to be an aid for those of us wanting to gain more control when trying to do fine lines, edges, or other details.

Now, this isn't the first time I have come across something like this so I was a bit skeptical at how well this could possibly work.  A couple of years back, I picked up a tool to do this same sort of thing.  It was called 'The Incredible Nib'.  Actually it is the 'Original' incredible Nib.  It more or less worked too but instead the tips (a different one at either end) were of some sort of wood fibre which helps hold some of the paint but gives the user very good control.  It didn't prove as useful as I had hoped though in part because the tips were a bit large for the kind of work I normally did.  The idea of a flexible and silicon tip intrigued me though offering a compromise between the rigid pencil feel of the 'Nib' and the flexibility of a brush.

Now, having played with it, it's not all that bad.

The flexibility does take getting used to as well as trying to write anything with it.  Actually, writing with it is not worth the aggravation in my opinion.  The silicon doesn't absorb the paint which is a very good thing and it does seem to cling to it and won't pool which is a great thing to hear.  However, it won't pick up too much paint either and when trying to write, a loaded brush stroke with the Katana may cause 'thicker' strokes as you are trying to write.  In other words ... if you are set to write something with the Katana Brush, try it out a few times to get comfortable.

Of course, that is common sense advice but it bears repeating.  What is worth practicing and experimenting with will be the paints you choose to use.  Depending the paints and their consistency, the quality of what you will get will vary on the paints used, how well they flow, and whether or not you are using some sort of slow-dry medium.  Using Citadel paints and some water, I was constantly dipping my tip into the paint to keep working and some of the paint would invariably dry on the silicone as you work.  If it's dry, it won't transfer to a different surface.  However, unlike a traditional brush, the hairs won't split when trying to do some prevision work along an edge or surface.

The good news is that, once you've figured all of that out and tried the Katana a bit, you can do thin and straight lines with relative ease within minutes of first using the brush.  Curves are equally simple to do and the maintenance is also tremendously simple.  Use water to clean and any paint still on the silicone can easily be scraped off gently with your finger.  It's not a bad tool to have in your brush kit even though it didn't perform as well as I would have liked.  Than again, my expectations for it were very high.

I don't regret getting it but the real question you have to ask yourself is whether or not this thing is worth the £10.00 that Games & Gears is asking for.  At today's exchange rate, we are talking about $14.75 USD (or $18.75 CDN) which is a bit on the high end if you ask me.  If you truly think that you need a new approach to help you with your detailing on the miniatures or your looking at doing a lot, then maybe the Katana Brush will prove to be a great investment.  However, if you already have a handle with the work you do and have gotten along fine without one, then maybe there isn't a reason to invest the money here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kickstart Reminder: Victorious RPG

We are down to just under 2 hours left on this thing!

It has met it's initial goal and busted a bunch of stretch goals too!

If you want to get in on it, check it out HERE.

Next stretch goal up is expanded material for "Manifest Destiny" which:

...details the United States of the 1880s and 1890s, giving details both historical and fantastical for heroes and heroines who fight for justice in the Great Republic.

Maybe it's just me, but it sounds like it would be a great supplement that could always use a bit more material.

For those who are additionally curious, I also wrote about "Victorious" a couple of weeks back, HERE.