Lesser Evils (a Midnight Sons PBP)
Lesser Evils is a Midnight Sons PBP game set on Marvel Universe Earth-615 and run using TSR's Marvel Super-Heroes RPG (FASERIP). It's part of the RPGnet Play-by-Forum Universe (RPU), a shared slice of multiverse that unites "sister" super-hero PBP games. The RPU includes Some Assembly Required, The (Mutant) Revolution Will Not Be Televised (both set on Earth-615), Let there be Justice, though the World Perish and X-Men: Year One.
The original pitch for Lesser Evils is:
The X-Men have faced it all over the years, maybe more than even different models of Sentinels they've faced just about every flavour of horror under the su... err... moon.
From Zombies raised by the powers of an unscrupulous Bokor.
To a near all out evolutionary war against Werewolves...
They even fended off a full on Demonic Invasion!
From Demonic abductors and tutors, to infernally corrupted psionic clones, to more than one member of the main team having been Vampires before Horror is in the bones of the X-Franchise.
Which is far from saying this game will exist for that sole purpose. As I said I want a game that can be entirely self contained, with it's own entirely defined meta, it's own themes and foes, and events. Somethimg that can and has carried multiple titles of it's own for decent runs. Marvel Horror Comics have a storied and lengthy history. From Tomb of Dracula, to Werewolf By Night, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider, Morbius, The Midnight Sons, and more besides. One I fully intend to take liberal advantage of.
This will be my first Solo GMing experience, but I've been the primary plot writer for a large scale Vampire the Masquerade LARP for about 8 years all told, and I grew up on these comics. I feel confident I can do at least a decent job at this, especially with a group in it to help us all have fun.
Of course it could go sideways for me...
One of the many perks from operating in the RPU is there's no need to worry about pesky continuity or reading reams of comics - our game takes place in an alternate Marvel-that-never-was, where things are still recognizably the characters you know, but we aren't bound by continuity.
I'll be using the timeline for Bel's X-Men game and adding a few pertinent details, but don't worry for a second it will be long or heavy reading. Rather a canvas for you to paint on.
Appeal to anyone?
- 1 Gamemaster
- 2 Cast
- 3 Timeline
- 4 Story Arcs
- 5 House Rules
- 6 Karma Awards
- First written records referring to En Sabah Nur, a mythohistorical figure supposedly possessing superhuman abilities.
- N'Kantu, Chieftan of the Swarlii kills the Egyptian Pharoah Arum-Set seeking to free his people. He is killed in turn.
- Nova Roma is founded.
- Vlad Tepes is defeated in battle by the Turkish army. He is spared and delivered to a Roma woman who turns him into a Vampire*.
- Victor Frankenstein, having grown obsessed with the notion of restoring life to the dead, creates a patchwork monster. Horrified at his work, he flees. The Monster escapes.
- The publically chronicled events of the novel ==Dracula== take place, though they are largely believed to be fiction.
- Embittered English aristocrat John Falsworth finds and solicits vampirism from Dracula.
- Rumours circulate of a hideous humanoid bat creature attacking Allied forces. The witnesses christen it Baron Blood, said to be some kind of commentary on the Red Baron.
- Julia & Quincy Coleridge are gunned down in a driveby targeting Joseph Manfredi, the son of a prominent Maggia don. They are survived by their son Maximillian. Manfredi similarly survives.
- Maximillian's Godmother and new legal guardian Patricia Brock is the recipient of a generous anonymous donation toward the boy's education.
- Max pours all his spare hours away from his studies into training in MMA and athletic conditioning, determined to ensure he would one day have vengeance for his parents.
- Department H forms after a rash of disappearances in the Canadian Wilderness.
- Maximillian Coleridge receives his Masters in Law and Criminology from the University of Chicago Law School.
- Mere months later Max departs for Nepal chasing rumours of a near mythical Cult of Kali that taught the most deadly of all the Fighting arts.
- Four amateur astronauts return from the first privately funded space flight with mysterious abilities granted through cosmic radiation. They save New York from subterranean invasion and begin careers as "Science Adventurers," dubbed the Fantastic Four. This marks the beginning of the so-called "Age of Heroes".
- The mutant terrorist known only as Magneto makes his first public show of force, his terrorist group the Brotherhood of Mutants triggering an EMP in Lansing, Michigan that leaves thousands of Americans without power for weeks. Federal response is heavily criticized for its unpreparedness for the disaster. Public opinion is dire for the rising Mutant Menace, with reports of more mutants appearing every week. Geneticist Charles Xavier urges caution, claiming that "we know so little about these mutants, considering them a threat would be premature."
- The original five X-Men, teenagers at the time, are formed to help give a counterpoint to this anti-mutant hysteria following Magneto's attacks. Note: the general public isn't aware that blue-furred Avenger Beast is a mutant, or that he was a member of this original team.
- Roberto da Costa's mutant ability awakens during a soccer match.
- The Avengers are founded to combat Loki, the would-be Conquerer of Earth. WW2 Era hero Captain America is unearthed from the ice.
- The Earth's heroes defeat the world-eater Galactus, saving the entire planet from certain destruction.
- Teenager Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider, changing everything for him.
- Max is honoured above all his fellow applicants with the Kiss of Kali, a burning mystical brand. He flees the temple in pain and cannot find it again.
- Using his newly found powers to aid in obscuring the exact nature of his scarring, Max joins the Crooked Man's gang, seeing them as an easy first test of his intention to destroy the mob from within.
- Present Day. Birth of the All-New, All-Different X-Men. The original five members have moved on to college or other exploits, but are on good terms with the professor.
'* Not Public Knowledge
Summaries by Fred.
Victoria Montesi gathers the soon-to-be Midnight Sons in an antiquated cottage on the outskirts of New York and send sthem to Wundagore, in Transia, to prevent Gorlion, one of the High Evolutionary squires, from meddling in things man was not meant to know, i.e., C'thon. Over the mountains, the Midnight Sons' plane is attack by Sir Beagle and wolf knights, but the group defeats them, not withou losing their craft. After interrogating BEagle and securing his cooperation, the team of monsters attacks Gorlion's unholy procession, vanquishng him and his followers. The Black Knight decides to remain in Wundagore to try and rebuild what was onc ethe chivalric New Men.
Victoria Montesi calls on the Midnight Sons again. This time, two new faces join the team: vampire detective Hannibal King, and Dracula's daughter, Lilith. They stand in for Black Knight and Doctor Druid, who left temporarily to investigate the strange going-ons that led to Gorlion's access to C'thonic power.
You can buy straight to the next rank. Stats that aren't already superhuman are kept at human limit.
Advancing something (Stat, Power, etc.) beyond Unearthly (100) takes you to the NPC realm.
A common criticism of this system is that the Body Armor power, granting damage reduction essentially, is a bit too powerful, and outright prevents certain characters from being useful. As a compromise, I propose that attacks with Red results ignore Body Armor, representing finding a critical weak point in its structure. Additionally, attacks with Yellow results ignore Half of the Body Armor score. If this proves a bit too much, we can revise it, but I think it will, overall, allow for more fun battles.
Defensive Actions - A common criticism of FASERIP is that it's too easy to hit dodgy characters, like, say, Daredevil. ;) We're going to rectify that by reducing the hefty penalty given towards taking multiple actions when taking defensive actions (Dodging, Evading, Blocking, Shielding). Usually, this gives a -2 CS to all other actions taken that turn, which can be a real drag. I'm reducing this penalty to -1 CS. Additionally, characters with a power that might apply towards this sort of manuever may substitute their power rank for that ability rank. Therefore, Daredevil for instance could use his Enhanced Senses power rank of Monstrous to roll for Dodging rather than his Incredible Agility. I'm not super sure how these changes to Defensive actions will work out in play, so this is subject to change, but let's see.
Traditionally, Karma serves the double-purpose of being both an in-game resource and an advancement resource, which leads to somewhat crappy situations where the characters that need Karma least are the ones using it for advancement. I propose that there be two separate pools of Karma - one normal pool for use in-game, and one of "spent" Karma which then becomes available to be used for advancement. This encourages heroes to be heroic, and I think fits the genre better than hoarding Karma.
The "spent" Karma pool is linked to the player, not the character. It can be used for the advancement of any of the player's PCs.
Once you've done a stunt THREE TIMES successfully and it becomes "Established", the Karma Cost will be reduced to 10, and you won't need any feats other than the normal one.
BETA (SUBJECT TO CHANGE) Changes to Martial Arts
Rules as written, Martial Arts talents are of greatly varying quality. These range from Martial Arts A, which grants a benefit already given by the advanced core rules, to Martial Arts D, which creates an advanced subsystem for studying opponents' moves. Martial Arts B is simply an unarmed specialty, which can honestly be rolled into the other weapon talents. C and E are highly situational.
My solution to this issue is to streamline Martial Arts into a single talent, designed to get rid of the clutter, and make Martial Arts something desirable. It also allows non-super-strong characters like Nightcrawler or Kitty Pryde to not feel totally powerless. I've reduced the 5 talents down to 2.
Unarmed Fighting - A character with this talent is trained in unarmed combat. They receive +1 column shift to attack, dodge, or evade rolls when fighting unarmed.
Martial Arts - A character with this talent is trained in one or more martial arts. When fighting using these martial arts, unarmed or not, the character may substitute the damage dealt by their Strength (or Weapon Value) for their Fighting ability -1 CS (maximum of Remarkable).
Example: Kitty Pryde, with Typical (6) Strength and Remarkable (30) fighting, busts out some of her newly-minted training on a Hand Ninja. Instead of dealing a mere 6 Damage, she may instead deal Excellent (20) Damage, her Fighting -1CS.
BETA (SUBJECT TO CHANGE) Shields
Shields follow a variation of the the Blocking defensive action. A shield block is a defensive ability that uses Material Strength of the shield used to lessen the damage of physical attacks. Which in this case include Slugfest, Edged and Blunt Throwing attacks, Force attacks, and shooting attacks (but not energy attacks). But not Wrestling or Charging.
The Shield Block move is an attempt to meet Force with Density and use the Shield's Material Strength as a form of Body Armour against a specific attack. The character using a Shield Block may take no other actions but may shield others behind them. Normal Body Armour, but not Force Fields still apply to Defense.
The Character using the Shield Block manoeuvre does not attack, but counts their Shield's Material Strength as Body Armour provided the force can be physically resisted (use common sense here- A fire cannot be blocked, but a pillar of ice can). Roll on the universal Table against FIGHTING to determine the effects. The notation -6CS for a WHITE result, -4CS for a GREEN result, -2CS for a YELLOW, and +1 CS for a RED result indicates the level of Body Armour taken from the Material Strength of the Shield.
Example: A Charactet with Amazing Fighting and an Amazing Material Strength Shield wishes to block a punch thrown by an opponent with Monstros Strength. The character gets a GREEN FEAT, -4CS which provides them with an equivalent Body Armour of Good. The character takes 65 points of damage. If the hero had made a RED FEAT roll, the character would've totally blocked the attack (Monstrous Body Armour against Monstros Damage Attack).
NOTE: these conditions may be modified by specific Shield Items Such as Black Knight' Ebony Blade's abilities. Which posseses anti-magical properties that exclusively and solely allow it to deflect spells and energy as if it were a shield of Unearthly strength
This includes only the general awards. Individual gains due to roleplaying, game contribution, etc. are not listed.
+20 Defeating Foes- There's no listing for foes at their level, but I feel you definitely deserve something.
+10 Roleplaying Award- Everyone has more than earned this, it's been great reading you.
And, it's time for the +10 Weekly award
I don't intend to make this a regular thing, but there are a couple of individual awards to give too.
Fred- Rescue+20: Dog Knights are 'People' too and while I won't penalise killing, I want to incentivise heroism. HumourShawn Hagen +5: Too often to count.
Once again everyone more than earns +10 for RP
I'm going to give +20 as another rescue for sparing Snoopy even knowing what he was complicit in
I think you all also deserve + 20 for planning and taking time to make sure you saved the word not just charged in heedlessly.
Some personal Awards-
Black Knight's Karma is on offer should Doom take him up.
+10 Act of Charity to Druid for helping Snoopy steel himself +30 Charity to Dane for Squiring him. I know it seems a lot but that's a LONG term commitment.
Shawn_Hagen: Nice touch, +5 Karma
blackthought: Genuine guffaw, + 5 Karma
Unka Josh: This post is SO VAMPIRE IT HURTS! So, as a lover of Vampire I feel you should have this +15 Karma
The Watcher: This just makes me happy +5 Karma
The Watcher: The way you took my clumsy misstep in pacing in stride and handed it back as something so polished and stylish makes you the new maître d' PbP +15 KarmaFred: I'm a sucker for a secret appendix +5 Karma
Everyone consistently more than earns the 10 Roleplaying Karma
Couple of personal awards I feel I can give now
+5 to Shawn for Elsa constantly being delightful in a way that never detracts from the brilliance of the other characters yet always makes me smirk
+10 to Dr. Doom for jumping in the deep end and helping me out hugely by piloting Dane.
+10 to Unka Josh for embracing the POWAH OF THE DARK SIDE!+5 to Fred for bookkeeping
Everyone consistently more than earns the 10 Roleplaying Karma
Violent Crime- Arrest 15- More punish by avenging the murders of Sir Ram and Bova, but I feel it counts
Global Conspiracy- Prevent 50 Things would've been very bad for the whole wide world without you
Rescue- 20 Redeeming Lord Gorlion
Defeat Amazing Foe 50 The mob of Wolf Knights
Defeat Unearthly Foe 100 Lord Gorlion
+5 to Shawn for showing no situation is dire enough to prevent a tea break+15 to both Fred and the Watcher for the Stump the Judge award. That combo of Mesmerism and Penance Stare took me awhile to ponder
So Weekly Award of 10 Karma
Everyone consistently more than earns the 10 Roleplaying Karma
I've been umming and ahhhing about how to reward you for this but, I think I'll go with Act of Charity + 30- Sparing and educating the Gorlion Pride
+15 to Dr Doom for being patient enough to wait to get in on the action, and kind enough to spare mre some decision making for Dane
+10 to The Watcher for being willing to switch out PCs to help me kickstart Doom into the game
+10 to The Watcher for a beautiful exposition post that will hopefully be a big help as I plan to get a little more sandboxy once Lilith is established.
+10 to Shawn for this (Esat Enders clip)
+5 to Fred for book keeping as always
+10 to Fred for all his other tireless works in helping the game run+10 to Unka_Josh for consistently making an old Vampire player smile.