Some messy notes about a superhero hack that I wrote after having too much caffeine.

I think this is the right forum to post this in, since the BW game it’s closest to is Mouse Guard at it’s heart.

I was thinking of what a Mouse Guard-derived super hero game would be like. Some ideas:

-Where would you put powers? Traits! Players could be very liberal by twisting their narration to fit would be great. Using a power to gain a check by making it harder seems right.

-It would have turns like MG or TB, but there would be an action phase where you fight the big bad or save people, and then other prep phases like secret identity phase, working on the plan phase, personal life or fame phase. I need to look at the scene rules in BE, especially interstitial. I think keeping a turn structure is important for pace and making the game fun for the GM. I don’t think a TB Grind seems right (see Experiences below, they cover the changes a character goes through).

-Greyed, um stats/skills? I don’t actually have BWG, but this seems like it would be a logical addition.

-The stats and skills would have to be heavily tweaked. I’m thinking that they would be changed down to less “how are you doing this thing”, to more “what are you doing”. To give an example: instead of Hawkeye having the skill marksmanship or archery or Superman having the skill reporter or flight control, Hawkeye would have “taking out mooks” and Superman would have “earning money” and “saving people”. These are the things that make sense for a superhero to get better or worse at. Pendragon’s emotional attributes or Golden Heroes’ Campaign ratings would go here! I’m thinking there wouldn’t be a need for more than 10 or 12 of these. (That would help keep the gaming flowing, with less to look up for factors!) A superhero shouldn’t fail at competency unless the player wants that (thus making powers "check-earning traits). WHAT THEY SHOULD FAIL AT is what they are doing, not HOW they are doing it. This is a subtle distinction, but an important one. Batman shouldn’t have to roll to drive his Batmobile, even through with awful traffic and rockets coming at him. What is rolled is “saving people” if he’s trying to get to Rachel Dawson in time. It’s ok for him fail that, or for Superman to fail “making a better world”

-Abilities. Now that I think of it, there’s no reason for there to be a separate Abilities and Skill list in this game. It would just be one list. (Both Abilities and Skills are bad names. I’ll call the list “Experiences”, since thats what you’d mark PASS/FAIL for advancement (and a nod to FreeMarket, of which matches up nicely)
Resources would be a trait/power (Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne). Circles? I would replace it with “doing detective work” or something like that, since how well you are social.
Willpower should be split into to resisting and whatever other action I can think of where you’d use willpower. Also conditions would cover some of this ground.
Health isn’t needed at all I think because of Conditions. (there would be more of those!)
Nature? Heh. Here’s where things get really interesting. We could use the nature rules for ALL of the 10 or so items on the Experiences list! It works perfectly, I think. Since Nature needs descriptors and the experiences list is basically a list of descriptors. So a player is free to choose ANY of her Experiences to roll, but if it doesn’t fit, it gets taxed. This way you also wouldn’t need RAW abilities to fall back on when an Experience hits zero, or starts as zero. So, beginner’s luck would stay, but you are inherently going to tax something else, changing WHO your character is, but not competence.

-WISES! That’s where you’d put reporting or archery or stuff the character knows. Gotham criminal network, mutant registry, OA politics. (Including the MG rule where players could put in their own facts would be cool, but I would need this to be closer to the TB variant because they shouldn’t be rolled on their own)

-CONDITIONS! I would add more! Thinking up conditions for Superheroes would be fun fun fun. A health score is just not needed. “Immobilized”, “Transformed”, etc

FATE and PERSONA could probably stay as-is. Persona could be used to tap an Experience. The end of session rewards would need a little tweaking, but basically just what questions are asked. I’m thinking of some type of leveling up thing like in TB, where you level up the City you defend itself, but that would be a pacing thing…

META LEVEL PACING AND ARCS: This is where I really need to iron out things. Burning Empires has Infiltration Mechanics, Mouse Guard has the changing of the Seasons and promotion, Torchbearer has leveling up (I’m assuming away from Murder Hobos to baronies and landowners in levels 6-10 is my guess).
I think +Judd Karlman came up with the idea of Spirit of the Century characters changing the world, instead of themselves, and I think that fits here. Leveling up the city or the domain in which the heroes protect seems really appropriate, (whether good or bad!) Through Twists and Fate/Persona spends seems right. IF I can shoehorn in Burning Empires style world creation: OH BOY!

CHARACTER/TEAM CREATION: Nothing immediate pops into my mind just yet. Lifepaths seem to have a little bit in common with origins, so there’s that. The questionnaire for MG and TB? I don’t know. I love it, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate. You know, now that I’m thinking about it, I got it:
-First the group sits down to do the questionnaire together. This would determine: What the Superteam is and their domain of protection (City, Reality, a concept, the world, Canada etc) and what origin/life paths are appropriate.
-Then Domain/CIty creation (similar to Burning Empires) Although, this could maybe be folded into the questionnaire since World Creation there is pretty much it’s own questionnaire.
-Then individual character creation though Lifepaths/origins. This would be tough to get right, but since Powers are simply traits, I think it would work… (I REALLY like the idea of getting a few randomly rolled powers and then having to figure out an origin that fits them. That’s from Golden Heroes! Although that seems counter to the character building of lifepaths. Maybe the origins are rolled (table generated from the questionnaire) and then the lifepaths are built from those…

WEAPONS and TOOLS rules: Honestly you could expand these to fit so much stuff (I’m not going to get into conflicts for this post, as I’m hungry) or limit them to a simple +1D from appropriate narration. This is another place besides Traits and Greyed Stats where you could put some mechanical crunch to superpowers, but man the work to do this. I don’t know if it would be worth it, especially since this is where you may end up with so many crunchy options for what should be actiony-flowy conflicts that it could bog things down.

BIGs! The best for last?
-Beliefs: So important for the heroes. This is the most important stat a character would have.
-Goals: I was thinking it would be really cool if only Villains had Goals and heroes were there to preserve the status quo, but that fucks up the game economy hard. Unless the team had to be comprised of Heroes AND villains, united to fight a WAIT NEVERMIND! The TEAM should have some Goals…! I ‘think’ that would work, as each character would have to be invested to earn some of those FATE/PERSONA rewards. It’s still a bit weird, and would be the biggest tweak to the game if individual characters didn’t have their own goals… I need to look/play more Mouse Guard for team stuff…
-Instincts. Don’t see much to tweak here. I like the idea of the Instincts popping up automatically, as opposed to the Mouse Guard variant. Instincts would be a key way for players to feel like their characters really are bad ass.

I’m thinking that each character would have:
2 Beliefs (secret identity/personal life vs superheroic)
0 Individual Goals, but the Team would have a few (faint shades of FreeMarket)
3 or more Instincts (Players shouldn’t often feel powerless)

That’s all my brain has today. Maybe I’ll cover Conflicts and Action Phases next (THE SAME THING maybe? what.)