Mystery Men! Google+ Play Report … the Conspiracy Revealed!

Google+ has been something of a renaissance for me in terms of actually playing games. At the moment, I’m running two games and playing in two games (and a third game not on Google+). Good times! I thought I’d give readers a glimpse into the games I currently running and throw in a few thoughts on doing “play-by-post” on Google+.

MYSTERY MEN!
I started by Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance campaign in July 2011 and, 810 posts later (yeah, I save them) it’s drawing to its conclusion. The idea for the game came from a post by Zak at Playing D&D With Porn Stars – in particular, a post of an old map of Dr. Doom’s castle. I thought that assaulting the castle could be pretty cool, and pondered just running a game in which people created heroes and then tried to get into the castle and defeat Dr. Doom.

Ultimately, I decided to make the castle the final scene of a larger campaign, one which was designed as the origin story of a new super hero group. Like the origin stories of the Avengers and Justice League, the campaign would start heroes in different cities and then allow them to follow a string of clues to a grand conspiracy. Google+, with its concept of circles, appeared to be a great way to do this – and in the end, I think it was.

Games of Mystery Men! revolve around the plans of the villain. Dark Renaissance is set in the early 1960’s. One fine morning, dozens of military targets across the USA (and, it turns out, the USSR) are attacked by American supervillains. Those who are captured turn out to be brain-washed and all have a common thread – they were living in halfway houses run by a The Helping Hands Foundation, a large charity operation founded by an Oklahoma oil man.

Three heroes quickly latch onto these clues: Orca in Seattle (played by Nathan Sorseth) and two Chicago-based heroes, The Green Mask (played by Reynaldo Madrinan) and Firefly (played by Paul Fini). Orca’s own naval base is attacked by a villain called Supersize, and with the help of his fellow SEALs he manages to stop him. In Chicago, a train is stolen by three villains – Pinball King, Shatter and Sunburst – a train holding a massive gold shipment (and a mystery metal called Harmonium) and, coincidentally, the Green Mask’s girlfriend.

[Quick aside … I really like that Google+ uses people’s real names. It’s much easier to get to know them and I feel less ridiculous than I do when referring to people by their “avatar names”]

Meanwhile, heroes in Washington D.C. and New York are following up on seemingly unrelated crimes. The mind-reading super hero Revenant (played by Andrew Byers) runs into Senator Haskel in his civilian guise and is amazed when he doesn’t recognize him. Using his powers, he gets the impression that the senator is not who he seems. Following him to his house, he breaks in as Revenant and is stymied and almost captured by the police. Still – this gets him on the trail!

In New York, a bank is overrun by rats and Nightingale (played by Luke DeGraw) intervenes in her civilian guise. Later that night, she and another heroine, Dynamo (daughter of the original Dynamo, and played by my daughter Alyssa) investigate the robbery and discover that the only thing stolen is from a subterranean vault, with the criminals having come up from below and disappeared into mysterious tunnels underneath New York.

The attacks in the USA and USSR drive both nations into high alert, and war seems a distinct possibility.

Ultimately, Revenant, along with new companion the Bronze Statesman (played by Stefan Grambart), discover that Senator Haskel and several other senators have been replaced by clones. The clones are being produced in the Central American nation of Mexidor, where Orca has already followed a lead – a psychiatric convention of Dr. Emily Roberts, the psychiatrist who treated Supersize. Mexidor is in the grips of a power change from a U.S.-backed government to a Soviet-backed government, and while there he comes into conflict with a Soviet super hero called Malatok (“Hammer”).

Bronze Statesman and Revenant finally capture two of the clones as another clone is being delivered to the Virginia coast in the dead of night from a mysterious submarine. The submarine is not Soviet, but rather a Nazi vessel commanded by Baron Doom, an old Nazi super villain now associated with the nation of Fascovia, the sole holdout of fascist nations after WW2. They are recruited by the secret service to go down to Mexidor – where the submarine originated – and take out the cloning operation. Ultimately, they and Orca converge on a villa in the hills in time to fight purple zombies and witness the death of Dr. Mengele – but they fail to stop a seemingly invisible and silent Nazi saucer from picking up Mengele’s creation, a sort of Frankenstein monster that is, from the outside, physically perfect.

Meanwhile, Dynamo and Nightingale have some adventures underground, discovering a complex constructed by the Green Sorceress and her underground empire using enslaved mole men. The heroes defeat the Green Empire and free the mole men and take a ride in a underground “super subway” that take them all the way to Greenland! Firefly and Green Mask, working with the US Air Force, end up in Greenland as well, following clues of weird lights seen by fishing boats. The four heroes finally hook up in a subterranean hangar for the Nazi flying saucers. This hangar base holds the laboratory of Marto, a deformed scientist who works for the Green Empire and the Nazis and has developed a machine that transfers super powers from one person to another (using harmonium, an alloy of gold and cavorite). The heroes fight some villains who are using the powers of a band of WW2-era European heroes called the Resistance, and ultimately defeat them and free the Resistance members and other captives. Unfortunately, several saucers escape the hangar before it self-destructs. Firefly, Green Mask, Dynamo and Nightingale steal a spare saucer and head back to the US base in Iceland.

At this point, the clone conspiracy has been uncovered, and the US and USSR are ready to team up against the real villains – the Nazis. To that end, a conference is held in London attended by all of our heroes. A plan is hatched. While the Resistance and the Soviet heroes known as Secretariat Seven act as a diversion, the American heroes will make the final assault on castle Graufalke in Fascovia.

[In between the Mexidor stuff and Greenland stuff, the heroes got to level up – which in MM! means either banking your XP and going up a level (or not, depends on how many XP we’re talking) or spending new XP on power upgrades and such. Bronze Statesman spent a bunch of his XP on new powers that were embedded in a bronze hand bell and became the Bronze Bellman, if you’re wondering about the name discrepancies]

And that brings us to today. The heroes entered the castle and found the research lab and Marto’s machine, which looked something like a star fish. In the center, a plastic “coffin” holding the Frankenstein body – which now holds the preserved brain of Adolf Hitler! Connected to it are several pods holding Nazi supervillains. The switch is thrown and the heroes launch into combat with some lesser villains (the Toad, Armbrust and the Rodent). When the machine stops buzzing, Marto roars with victory. The risen fuhrer rises from his coffin, and promptly falls on his face. As the other villains topped from their pods, the final pod opens to reveal the empowered Captain Nazi, who has rewired the machine and now declares himself the Ubermensch and that today marks the birth of the Fourth Reich.

The assembled heroes are now fighting Captain Nazi (well, the Green Mask is actually lost in the castle – hopefully he’ll make it to the fight before it is too late) for the fate of the world!

I’ve found Google+ to be an excellent way to do play-by-post. I have noticed that when a thread gets too long, participants are sometimes not notified of new posts (though I always was), so you’ll want to change threads whenever it makes sense (after combats, new scenes, etc.). Like all play-by-post games, busy Referees will appreciate the ability to think moves through, as I certainly have.

I’m currently running two groups through Nod on Google+, and when the Mystery Men! game is finished, and after a little break, I plan to start up a Space Princess game set in the catacombs of Mars. That will probably be followed by a Pars Fortuna game, and then back to Mystery Men! I plan to keep the Nod game running as long as there are players who want to play in the mega-sandbox – so if you’d like to join in, just let me know.

Big, Green and Plenty Mean [Monster]

In honor of the new John Carter movie (no, I haven’t seen it), and the fact that this kick ass illustration is in the public domain, I present everyone’s favorite green, four armed aliens for a variety of systems with the serial numbers just barely filed off.

Consider this baby Open Game Content.

ZHARKS (GREEN MARTIANS)

Illustration by J. Allen St. John

Zharks are tall (18-ft for males, 12-ft for females) humanoids who inhabit ruined cities in great wastelands. Exceptionally warlike and cruel, they form great hordes that compete, violently, for resources and slaves. Zharks have long torsos that support four arms, one pair located about 2 feet above the other. They have large eyes, ear stalks on the top of their bald heads, and great tusks jutting from their mouths. Zharks have olive green to dark green skin that is thick and waxy, helping to keep their bodies from losing too much moisture in the warm deserts they call home.

Zharks arm themselves with swords, spears and radium guns. These guns are exceptionally long rifles that fire bullets with a core of radium. When the outer casing of the bullets cracks and the radium is exposed to sunlight, it explodes for an additional 1d6 points of damage. Some zharks carry smaller radium pistols. The zharks acquire their more high-tech weaponry from others, for they are only capable of crafting primitive weapons.

Zharks are usually mounted on eight-legged monsters called zhotes. Their arch enemies are the girallons.

BLOOD & TREASURE
Zhark, Large Monstrous Humanoid, Chaotic, Average Intelligence
HD 5; AC 14; Atk 4 weapon attacks; Move 40; Saves F 12, R 11, W 11; XP 250; Special: None.

SWORDS & WIZARDRY

Zhark: HD 5; AC 5 [14]; Atk 4 weapon attacks; Move 15; Save 12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: None.

MYSTERY MEN

Zhark: LVL 5; PH 7 (+2); MN 3; DC 15; SPD 2; XP 500; Atk 4 weapon attacks.

SPACE PRINCESS

Zhark: HD 5; DEF 16; FIGHT 12 (1d10); SHOOT 9 (2d6); MOVE N; STR 7; DEX 4; MEN 5; KNO 3; DL 6; Special: Can make a total of four attacks each round.

Monster Matinee – Attack of the Crab Monsters

I’m working my way through the public domain sci-fi/horror movies on Pub-D-Hub, and last night I took in Roger Corman’s Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957).

Spoilers are a comin’, so be warned.

The combination of “Corman” and “Crab Monsters” doesn’t fill a person with much hope. The monsters, I assumed, would either be men in rubber suits or green-screened crabs made to look giant harassing a bunch of strangers, etc. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It is a movie in the sub-genre of “group of people menaced by monsters, dying one by one”, but had some pretty clever details – oh, and one of the characters is played by Russell Johnson, better known as the Professor on Giligan’s Island!

Still trying to get a transmitter to work, and not a coconut in sight

The “crab monsters” in the title weren’t what I expected. They were giant crabs altered by atomic tests on an island. As it was described in the movie, they weren’t just enlarged crabs. Their atoms had been detached from one another in such a manner that they were in a semi-liquid state – liquid given a permanent shape. Their weird atomic structure has given them additional abilities. When the crabs consume people, their atoms simply join the crab’s atoms, making them a sentient part of the crab. Several people’s minds and memories can exist within the crab simultaneously, and though they retain their memories, their personalities change. They now seek the continued survival of the crab, even if that means killing former friends. The crab’s are also capable of transmitting telepathic messages via bits of metal, these messages being in the voice of the people that have absorbed. The crabs can regenerate body parts and generate significant amounts of heat, but electricity turns them quickly to dust.

The giant crabs, there are two in the film initially, are intent on destroying their island to keep people from discovering their existence. One of them is “with child”, and once the crabs have increased their numbers under the waves, they plan on expanding their dominion. They are destroying the island using dynamite they have captured from the various groups of soldiers and scientists that have come to investigate an aircraft that crashed near the island.

Naturally, a monster this creative needs some game stats!

Crab Monster (Blood & Treasure)
Large Magical Beast, Neutral, Average Intelligence; Cast (1d6)

HD 6; AC 14; Atk 2 claws (2d6 + grapple); Speed 30 (Swim 20); Save F6, R7, W10; XP 600; Special: Immune to fire, generate heat, resistance to physical weapons, vulnerable to electricity, consume memories, telepathy 300-ft. (transmits through metal).

Crab monsters can generate heat in a radius of 30 feet. This can be done three times per day and 10 minutes at a time, and all in the radius suffer 1d4 points of damage per round. Metal in the area of effect is affected as per the heat metal spell.

Crab Monster (Mystery Men!)

Level 6; Physique 5; Mentality 5; DC 16; SPD 2; XP 2800; ATK 2 claws (2d6); POW consume memories*, correspond, energy burst (fire), energy immunity (fire, lasers), energy vulnerability (electricity), half damage from physical attacks

When a crab monster consumes a person, they add their mind to their own. These minds remain independent, but are now part of the crab and work for the crab’s survival and interests, even turning on former allies. The crab can correspond telepathically using the voices of the people it has consumed. Increase the crab’s Mentality score to that of the highest Intelligence it has consumed. Any psychic powers possessed by a person consumed by the crab monster are now possessed by the crab monster.

Crab Monster (Space Princess)

HD 6 | DEF 19 | FIGHT 12 (2d6) | SHOOT 11 | MOVE N | STR 6 | DEX 5 | MEN 4 | KNO 4 | DL 9

Crab monsters are immune to fire and heat, and suffer only half damage from lasers and ray guns and from physical attacks. Electricity attacks inflict double damage on them. Crab monsters absorb the KNO and MEN of people they consume, increasing their values to the highest value they have consumed. They also absorb the psychic powers and knowledge-based skills of people they consume, though they might not be able to use these skills due to physical limitations. Crab monsters communicate telepathically using the voices of the people they have absorbed. This telepathy can only be heard through metal.

Starman [Mystery Men!]

I just watched the public domain flick Atomic Rulers on Pub-D-Hub. It’s a wonderful little dubbed Japanese film from 1965 about the superhero Starman. If you have an hour to kill and aren’t allergic to old special effects, I highly suggest it – most entertaining! Oh – and don’t be fooled by the intro music – you’re not in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

STARMAN

Image found at Black Sun

Starman (known as Super Giant in Japan and Spaceman in France) is an android created by the Emerald Hierarchy (awesome name), who rule the Emerald Planet and do their best to keep the universe free of harmful radiation (yeah, apparently they’re not too up on their physics – still, they mean well). He derives his powers from his android body and from his Globemeter, a device he wears on his wrist. He claims to be the friend of all children, a claim which may one day bring him into conflict with Gamera.

Adventurer Level 8

STR 10 (+3) | DEX 10 (+3) | CON 10 (+3) | INT 3 (+0) | WIL 4 (+1) | CHA 2 (+0)

HP 65 | DC 17 | SPD 2 | ATK +6 (+9 melee, +9 ranged)

Powers: Invulnerability III, Super Constitution +7, Super Dexterity +6, Super Strength +7

Gear: Globemeter (DC 16, 3d6 HP; Adapt Body (Space), Detect Radiation, Disguise, Flight, Understand Language)

Space Princess Inspiration … Power Nelson!

Yesterday, Golden Age Comic Book Stories featured a Power Nelson comic with art by Dick Sprang (one of the greatest names ever). The combination of “out-there” science and old school art makes it a nice source of inspiration for Space Princess, so let’s have at it. We’ll begin with Power Nelson himself.

According to the Public Domain Super Heroes Wiki, Nelson comes from the unimaginable year of 1982, when two world wars had left the people of earth defenseless against a Mongol horde led by Emperor Seng I. Seng now rules from his palace in New-New York (yeah, they beat Futurama by half a century). A group of scientists have endowed Gene West with superhuman powers. When fighting the Mongols, he goes by the name Power Nelson (which is kinda weird, if you think about it – it’s like if Clark Kent called himself Super Hank when he put on his tights).

For Space Princess, Power Nelson is a perfect candidate for being an Atomic Superman. We’ll make him a combination Star Warrior / Atomic Superman:

POWER NELSON – Star Warrior (Veteran)
STR 10 | DEX 4 | MEN 3 | KNO 3 | HD 6 (34 hp) | DEF 16 | SKILL 6 | LUCK 1
Gear: Light body armor (+2 DEF)

Oh, and just for fun, why not some stats for Mystery Men! as well.

POWER NELSON (Gene West)
Adventurer Level 10 (17,800 XP)
STR 16| DEX 7 | CON 7 | INT 3 | WIL 4 | CHA 3
HP 63 | DC 14 | ATK +5 melee, +5 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Invulnerability III (15,000 XP), Super Constitution (3,000 XP), Super Dexterity (3,000 XP), Super Strength (10,000 XP)
Gear: Light Armor (600 XP), Spiked Boots (600 XP)

Yes, those yellow fellows above are the aforementioned Mongols. Since we’re not big on racist stereotypes here in the Land of Nod, we’re going to pretend they look that way because they are aliens from the planet Mongol-IV (which really isn’t that much better, to be honest).

MONGOL: Humanoid Alien (+1 DEX, -1 MEN) | Super Hearing

Ugi is the hapless son of the emperor. We’ll make him a rookie Star Warrior with pretty abysmal ability score.

UGI – Star Warrior (Cadet)
STR 2 | DEX 5 | MEN 3 | KNO 3 | HP 20 | DEF 15
Gear: None

Hey – there’s an interesting idea. You have a more powerful character adventuring with a bunch of lower level characters – how do you balance things? Give the powerful character his own personal Gilligan!

The scientists whip Power Nelson up a pretty slick spaceship in almost no time. From the size of it, I’d call it a blockade runner by Space Princess standards. Soon, he and Ugi are off to the planet Pluvius in search of radium needed to combat the green plague that is dropping people like flies in New-New York.

On the surface of Pluvius, they run smack-dab into a Tentacle Plant!

TENTACLE PLANT: HD 4 | DEF 18 | FIGHT 14 (1d8 tentacles x 6) | SHOOT 8 | MOVE n/a | STR 10 | DEX 4 | MEN 5 | KNO – | DL 5

Special: Those hit by the tentacles must make a STR test or be swallowed whole the next round, suffering 1d6 points of automatic suffocation and squeezing damage per round thereafter.

Next, the Gilligan of New-New York leaps into a yellow pool (why would you jump into a yellow pool to clean off?) that shrinks him to one-fifth his normal size. What a nice touch – a great little thing to throw into your next dungeon or space fortress.

The Ref is really socking it to them with the random encounters – now a Croco-Tiger!

CROCO-TIGER: HD 10 | DEF 17 | FIGHT 25 (2d6 bite) | SHOOT – | MOVE n/a | STR 15 | DEX 5 | MEN 3 | KNO 1 | DL 16

Power Nelson grabs him by his upper jaw and flings him into the yellow pool, shrinking him. Croco-tiggers definitely do not love strange yellow pools most of all.

Across the desert and another random encounter – Pluvian archers – maybe one of the best things I’ve seen all week. It’s like they’re wearing some kind of rubber armor.

PLUVIAN ARCHER: HD 1 | DEF 16 | FIGHT 5 | SHOOT 4 | MOVE n/a | STR 4 | DEX 3 | MEN 4 | KNO 3 | DL 2
Gear: Vulcanized Armor (+2 DEF, missed attacks by blunt weapons turn back on their attacker; super-science DC 15), Longbow (1d8 damage)

The king of the Pluvians, Rari, uses a ray gun to bridge the language gap. Essentially a wand of comprehend languages, or for Space Princess a Rosetta Ray (DC 15 super-science).

As with most kings, Rari sends Power Nelson and Ugi on a quest. Capture the queen of the Hairy Guroos and in turn get the radium needed to stop the green plague.

The Hairy Guroos can be portrayed as cloned cavemen armed with spears. Not surprisingly, Queen Wodo is a bit more attractive than her people.

Radium Catapult!!!

RADIUM CATAPULT: Range 100 paces; victim loses 1d10 points of strength. If reduced to STR 0, the victim is left unconscious.

Dungeon of Spikes!!! 

Damn this is a great comic. No stats needed for this one – you have an hour to live – straight up.

Just as Power Nelson is about to be killed, a “strange arm” appears with the antidote for the raw radium that sapped his strength. It’s Princess Leelee, the rightful Queen and a true space princess if ever there was one.

Health is not enough! – great motto

A quick kidnapping of the evil queen, and Power Nelson gets his radium and saves the world. Not bad for 15 pages of work.

But what of the cover? Worry not, gentle reader …

BUBBLE TANK: Super-Science DC 65 | HD 20 | DEF 25 | SPEED Slow
Attacks: Three flame throwers in separately controlled turrets (range 100 paces, 4d6 points of damage) and spiked tracks (DEX test against DC 10 to avoid, otherwise trampled for 6d6 points of damage)

The Roustabouts [Mystery Men!]

While the Great War raged, the eminent fighter against supernatural evil, Doctor Silence, found himself locked in a struggle with a nascent demon lord. Their battleground was a circus, and in the ensuing struggle a fire was lit. While Silence managed to send the demon back to Hell, he had occasion to witness three of the circus performers save many people from the inferno. These people exhibited extraordinary powers, and as a result were soon ostracized from their former companions in the circus, despite their heroism. The Doctor gathered these three and made them the core of a team of extraordinary people that could work for the good of all. They are known as the Roustabouts.

ELASTO (Marcus DuPres, Sideshow Freak)
Born in New Orleans, Marcus learned early on of his strange gifts and hid them from the world. A gangly man with only a mediocre intellect and education, he wound up working in a sideshow as a rubber man, and it was in this job that he met Doctor Silence. Marcus isn’t sure he wants to help normal folks, but he has a crush on Hot Toddy, who is quite taken with the idea of being a hero.

Adventurer Level 8 (10,000 XP)
STR 2 | DEX 16 | CON 4 | INT 2 | WIL 4 | CHA 4
HP 38 | DC 19| ATK +6 melee, +11 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Elasticity (4,000 XP), Invulnerability (1,000 XP), Super Dexterity (10,000 XP)

MINERVA (Candace Green, Strongwoman)
Minerva was one of the three original Roustabouts, a circus strong woman who could lift nearly anything short of a full-sized bull elephant. She has a sweet and amorous demeanor, but a terrible temper when riled.

Adventurer Level 10 (15,000 XP)
STR 16 | DEX 5 | CON 5 | INT 1 | WIL 3 | CHA 4
HP 57 | DC 11 | ATK +13 melee, +9 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Super Strength (10,000 XP)

HOT TODDY (Delores Webb, Dancer)
The third of the original Roustabouts, Hot Toddy was a dancing girl employed in the sideshow who did some interesting things with fire. In fact, she can control flames and even disappear in a burst of flame and leap out of other flames in the immediate area.

Adventurer Level 6 (7,000 XP)
STR 2 | DEX 6 | CON 2 | INT 4 | WIL 5 | CHA 6
HP 27 | DC 11 | ATK +5 melee, +6 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Dimension Hop (5,000 XP; via fire only), Flame Body (10,000 XP), Pyrotechnics (3,000 XP)

UNCLE SAM (Samuel Prescott, Veteran)
Uncle Sam is an immortal who fought in the Civil War in the New York infantry. A failed business man, he has a deep, abiding love of his country and a desire to serve it and its people. Despite his aged appearance, he is quite rugged and an excellent soldier.

Adventurer Level 10 (15,400 XP)
STR 5 | DEX 4 | CON 6 | INT 3 | WIL 6 | CHA 3
HP 43 | DC 15 | ATK +9 melee, +9 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Color Spray (1,000 XP), Invulnerability I (1,000 XP), Potent Attack (1,000 XP), Shield Other (3,000 XP), Strike True (1,000 XP), Super Will (2,000 XP) / Revolver (600 XP)

SWASTIKA KID (Grant Johnson, Cowboy)
Note: Before its use by the Nazis, the swastika was merely a sun symbol and, in the United States, a sort of exotic symbol of luck.

At first glance, Johnson appears to be a typical cowhand. He is tall and handsome and has deep, knowing green eyes. During one cattle drive, he found himself separated from his friends chasing down a rogue. Lost in a storm, he stumbled into a cave where he met The Old One, a strange little man who claimed to be a Tibetan monk. He nursed the injured cowboy back to health, and then taught him the mystic secrets of the Orient.

Adventurer Level 11 (18,800 XP)
STR 5 | DEX 6 | CON 5 | INT 2 | WIL 6 | CHA 3
HP 42 | DC 15 | ATK +10 melee, +10 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Invulnerability (1,000 XP), Protection (1,000 XP), Read Minds (3,000 XP) / Two Six Shooters (1,200 XP)

THE MERMAID (Alice Jones, High Diver)
Alice Jones was a bathing beauty and high diver who, during a stunt, struck her head on rocks and sank beneath the waves. Her body could not be found, and people assumed her dead. It turned out, though, that she had the mutant ability to breathe water, and did not die. Her appearance later that night sent folks into a panic, and she now lives with the Roustabouts. She is the on-again, off-again romance of Sockdolager.

Adventurer Level 9 (14,000 XP)
STR 3 | DEX 6 | CON 7 | INT 4 | WIL 2 | CHA 5
HP 56 | DC 15 | ATK +7 melee, +8 ranged | SPD 2 (Swim 3)
Powers & Gear: Invulnerability I (1,000 XP), Super Constitution (4,000 XP), Water Breathing (6,000 XP)

LITTLE DANDY (Paulina Besser, Actress)
Paulina was a glorified extra in silent movies who one day received an electric shock and found herself shrunk to the size of a doll. With Doctor Silence’s tutelage, she learned to control her powers, and now serves as a part-time heroine, part-time actress still trying to make it big.

Adventurer Level 6 (7,000 XP)
STR 4 | DEX 5 | CON 4 | INT 3 | WIL 3 | CHA 7
HP 38 | DC 11 | ATK +6 melee, +6 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Shrink (15,000 XP), Super Charisma (1,000 XP), Super Strength (2,000 XP)

SOCKDOLAGER (Ambrose Gorse, Prize Fighter)
Ambrose is a bare-knuckle boxer with the very useful mutation of unbreakable bones. A very coarse man, his relationship with the Roustabouts is often strained, though he looks on them as his family. He is deeply in love with the Mermaid, but not very clever at showing it. Ambrose is a died-in-the-wool fan of the Boston Nationals.

Adventurer Level 9 (13,000 XP)
STR 5 | DEX 5 | CON 7 | INT 2 | WIL 4 | CHA 2
HP 55 | DC 15 | ATK +8 melee, +8 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Invulnerability II (6,000 XP), Regenerate (6,000 XP), Super Constitution (1,000 XP)

TOP HAT (Unknown, Thief)
The man known as Top Hat is a gentleman thief who is permanently invisible. Captured by Doctor Silence, who saved his life, he now does his best to turn over a new leaf with varying degrees of success.

Adventurer Level 7 (9,400 XP)
STR 3 | DEX 6 | CON 3 | INT 6 | WIL 2 | CHA 4
HP 32 | DC 11 | ATK +6 melee, +6 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Invisibility (15,000 XP) / Stout Cane (600 XP)

THE WAIF (Jessie Knox, Pick Pocket)
Another former criminal taken in by Silence, Jessie is a young woman with the ability to pass through solid objects. While she respects Silence and looks at him as a sort of father figure, the Swastika Kid is her “true love” (he doesn’t know) and Sockdolager is like a big brother to her.

Adventurer Level 3 (2,500 XP)
STR 3 | DEX 6 | CON 5 | INT 2 | WIL 3 | CHA 6
HP 9 | DC 11 | ATK +3 melee, +4 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Etherealness (7,500 XP; must hold breath, only 3/day, cannot pass through metal)

DRAGON PRINCESS (Yen Lu, Mystic)
Yen Lu was a woman working as a fortune teller in Chinatown who was caught up in a tong war. Rescued by Doctor Silence, who realized she had a great potential as a sorcerer, she now works as his apprentice. She claims to be an exiled princess from China, but this is highly questionable.

Sorcerer Level 9 (13,500 XP)
STR 3 | DEX 4 | CON 4 | INT 6 | WIL 6 | CHA 5
HP 35 | DC 11 | ATK +4 melee, +5 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Force Missile (500 XP), Hypnotic Pattern (3,000 XP), Precognition (3,000 XP), Sorcery (5,000 XP)

THE DOVE (Celeste Cross)
Celeste was a child preacher taken in by Silence when her itinerant preacher father died in a hail of gangster gunfire. She is a bit preachy for anyone’s taste, but her heart is in the right place. She aims to one day save Top Hat’s soul. The Waif is like a sister to her.

Adventurer Level 1 (0 XP)
STR 2 | DEX 3 | CON 2 | INT 2 | WIL 4 | CHA 4
HP 3 | DC 10 | ATK +1 melee, +1 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Calm Emotions (3,000 XP), Heal Wounds (12,500 XP; 1/day) / Bible

THE MECHANIC (Rajmund “Ray” Nowak)
A Polish immigrant who fell into factory work, Ray soon learned he could repair things simply by touching them. Over time, he learned to turn raw materials into wondrous machines. He now serves as the Roustabout’s resident inventor and mechanic, keeping their machines in working order.

Adventurer Level 9 (13,900 XP)
STR 5 | DEX 6 | CON 5 | INT 5 | WIL 2 | CHA 3
HP 51 | DC 11 | ATK +8 melee, +8 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Fabricate (7,500 XP – metal only), Make Whole (3,000 XP) / Monkey Wrench (600 XP)

DOCTOR SILENCE (Occult Investigator and Medical Doctor)
Dr. Silence was an independently wealthy man who became a medical doctor and soon got into occult investigations as a hobby. Now in his 60’s, he created the Roustabouts to help defend humanity from evil.

Sorcerer Level 11 (19,000 XP)
STR 2 | DEX 3 | CON 3 | INT 5 | WIL 6 | CHA 4
HP 27 | DC 10 | ATK +5 melee, +5 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Protection (1,000 XP), Sorcery (10,000 XP)

Potential Google + Gaming

This post is really just for me to organize my thoughts and put them in pixels before I completely forget them. If any of these ideas grab your imagination, let me know.

For the Money, For the Glory, and For the Fun
The Duke of Raleigh has a challenge for any crew of mutants who want to earn a big payoff – travel west into the Rockies and bring him back a load of the most valuable beverage in post-apocalyptic America … Coors! This would be a Mutant Truckers game, in which (if enough people were interested) two or more crews would complete to make the journey to Colorado and back for a load of Coors.

Assault on Eagle’s Nest
This would be an Action X game (yeah, I’d probably have to finish those rules first) in which a crack team of heroes assaults Eagle’s Nest (Hitler’s command complex). The characters would all be based on literary, comic and movie characters who would have been active during World War II. No super heroes, just guys and dolls who can hold their own in a fight. Indiana Jones, Boston Blackie, Mademoiselle Marie, D.A. Grant Gardner, Sgt. Rock, Maj. Reisman, Pvt. Kelly, a young James Bond, etc.

Silver Age Madness
A Mystery Men! game in which silver age characters deal with all the challenges of the comic books of that period (nosy mates, turning into a gorilla, being split in two, etc.) while trying to keep the world from ending by a mysterious assault from something beyond their reckoning.

Crawling Through Nod
This would be a hex crawl through Nod using Blood and Treasure. A band of diverse heroes (all the races and classes I’ve published in Nod would be open game) doing what they want, going where they want in true sandbox style. There could be a few epic quests hidden in the sandbox for folks who like that sort of thing. No limits to this one – everything would be open from Hell to the Firmament.

The Catacombs of Old Mars
Using Space Princess rules, a band of heroes delve into the ancient catacombs of Mars in search of a mad scientist, who is attempting to unlock the Shiva-Force, a formula that could end the universe as we know it.

Fortuna’s Wheel
This would be a megadungeon delve using Pars Fortuna rules, as characters win their way into the Great Spire at the center of the world, atop of which there stands (reputedly) the Wheel of Fortuna, with which one can gain their hearts’ desire. All you have to do to get it is make your way through a mile high spire of stone that supports hidden kingdoms and every monster you could imagine.

The Streets of Shore City
Another Mystery Men! campaign, this one pitting low-powered heroes against the criminal elements lurking in the alleys of Shore City. Gangbusting, random patrols and maybe a chance to show up the “super heroes” when things really hit the fan.

Happy Thanksgiving, Mystery Men! Style

To start off, I want to give thanks for what has been a pretty good year for me. A couple years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d now be making a few bucks writing game material and even publishing my own games. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had and for the support folks in the game community have given me. I’m even more thankful for my wife, daughter and family and friends. Things are going well today, but I know that things can change, and I’m determined to be thankful for what I have while I still have it.

Now then, on to the goodies. When I was a kid, we used to do these book orders in elementary school. One of the items we could get from these four-page “catalogs” was a subscription to one of two magazines (I think one was four younger kids, the other for older kids, though which is which I don’t remember), Bananas and Dynamite. One little article from Dynamite that stuck with me was about “Zero Heroes”. Apparently, these less-than-stellar superheroes were created by B. K. Taylor as a set of stickers. Years later (now, in fact) I managed to find them online (amazing, isn’t it) and happily present you a hero for the holiday (well, kinda).

The Great Gobbler
According to the back of the sticker, the Great Gobbler had some exciting adventures, but his series was finally cancelled because, no matter how exciting they were, people couldn’t get over the fact that he was just a big turkey.

Cover image above from retroCRUSH.

Happy Halloween from the Mystery Men

‘Tis the season, and all that. Thought I’d write up a few heroes who seem appropriate for the holiday.

Bogey Man
Bogey Man is author Kendall Richards, a famous crime novelist who is forced to go undercover when a gangster called Blade steals his latest book, in which he has concocted the perfect crime. Once he gets his book back, he continues fighting crime as the Bogey Man.

Destroying Demon
Secret agent Bruce Blackburn is forced to go undercover as a traitor to break an un-American spy ring (no, that’s not political – they actually called themselves the Un-American Group). Most folks think he is dead, but he actually fights crime and spies as the Destroying Demon. His main weapon – a bungee cord that allows him to jump from building to building.

Fantomah
Fantomah is a jungle goddess who deals out grim punishment to evil-doers in Africa. She can either take the form of a beautiful blonde jungle girl or a blue-skinned, skull-faced hellion.

Purple Zombie
Zoro – if that’s his real name – was a corpse that was revitalized by a ray invented by Dr. Hale and Dr. Malinsky. Malinsky wants to create an army of zombies to take over the world, and when Dr. Hale opposes him he shoots Hale. The zombie, in return, strangles the evil scientist and then goes on a rampage. He is finally captured, but it turns out that Dr. Hale is still alive and is able to control him. The court releases Zoro to the doctor and embark on a life of adventure.

Happy Halloween Folks!