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zack zenobi

Superhero Cosm?

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I was looking at another thread that talked about new ideas for Cosms. I want to do a Superhero Cosm. I know the immediate response - "It Can't Be Done! Superheroes overpower the game!" Of course they do, so you have to do a Torg version of a Superhero Cosm, where the Superheroes are "super" but not exactly in the same League as Superman, Green Lantern, and The Flash. I have not looked at the Sourcebooks in a while, been busy at University, but if you take the powers that are in the Nile Empire book and allow characters to have them instead of just gadgets; and keep the same adventure cost you have supers that are now more overpowering than an aylish mage, renegade tharkoldu, or a heavily armed Akashan Monitor.

 

The problem I seem to be having is the same one that Aylse has. It tries to be a catch-all fantasy realm and ends up lacking Identity. Here it tries to hard to be whatever you want it to be, when what you really want is it to be itself. Aysle is one of the few cosms that was not a result of Genre-mashing.

 

So the question is do we go the path of simplicity and create a catch all Superhero cosm or find some other Genre to mash with it, to give it it's own identity? Keep in mind that one of the staples of the Genre is drawing on different Genres for inspiration. That is one of the reasons I am reluctant to "Mash" it with something else.

 

I know I have been gone awhile, but I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Ok, so I was doing some more thinking and see the problem I am having. I want to keep the normal core earth axioms, so that we have a standard comic book world a la Marvel/ DC/ Kurt Busiek's Astro City/ Valiant/ Wild Storm - in these cases the worlds all have Superheroes but the world remains pretty much one that we in the reading world can very much identify with.

 

I want the same here, a world that is mostly normal with the addition of Superheroes. A world where everyone has access to Kryptonian technology or where people don't bat an eyelash at seeing Dr. Strange fighting demons on rooftops, does not interest me. So we want a world where the axiom level for tools are limited to those of Core Earth for Ords, but not for P-rated Characters. I think that a WL can accomplish this.

 

So this makes a Genre-Mashup slightly difficult. Keeping the limitation of the above paragraph, it would be hard to mix with another Genre as most Genre demand a change in Axioms. So it looks like to have my cake I will have to give it a different flavor. That is to say, I think that the only way to make a Unique Superhero Cosm is to flavor it with an Alternate History or Culture.

 

I was thinking that to ground it even more in the Torgian mythos, I could have this Alternate History influenced by some Renegade Coar Akashans or Mohani.

 

Now that I have made myself more clear, I would love to hear your thoughts!

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I know I have been gone awhile, but I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

The Nile Empire is, to a certain extent, a superhero cosm already.

 

OTOH, I'm not a costumed supers fan -- I consider Unbreakable the best supers movie and The 4400 the best supers TV show.

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Thank you for responding. :cool:

 

Part of the problem that many GM's had with the Nile Empire, is that many were unfamiliar with what the Pulp Genre is. While the Pulp Genre does have 'Costumed' heroes, The Shadow, The Spider, The Phantom, and Zorro to name a few, with very few exceptions did any of them personally possess any powers. (The Shadow did not gain Super powers until the radio show because it was easier due to time constraints to say he was invisible than to try to explain where he was hiding.)

 

To stay true to the Pulps, when using the Nile Empire, Pulp Powers should be reserved for gadgets, except for Super Attribute or Super Skill. Yes I am aware that some of the later source material treats the Nile Empire like it is the Golden Age of Comics instead of the Pulps. I feel this is a problem with bad editorial decisions on the part of WEG.

 

I love the Nile Empire. I also love Superhero comics. I would really like to see my Pulp Hero and my Superhero side by side, fighting Gospog and Ravagons. I think it would be nice to see the differences between Doc Savage and Batman and how the different Genre characters would interact and see things differently.

 

Again thank you for your thoughts.

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A place to start would be to look at superhero comics and prune out some aspects so as to narrow down the scope of the setting, and then work on the world laws from there. Are there alien races out in the universe, always sending their last survivor to live on Earth or looking for an excuse to try invading it? Are there supernatural heroes and villains? Are there gadgeteers building superscience devices that anyone can use (armies equipped with rayguns and rocketpacks) or are gadgets just another type of superpower only usable by the select few?

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I've toyed with the concept of a "Superhero Cosm" and my first major decision was to decide that "being a superhero" was that Cosm's representation of being Possibility Rated.

First and foremost therefore, I decided that all "Superheroes" received three +3 packages to their Attributes, which were a 4-case on every other Cosm.

Secondly, despite their "Earth" being Tech 23, the overall Tech level was closer to 30 or 31.

The Social Axiom topped out at 23, with their Earth and most of the Universe operating at 21 or less (Nanda Parbat in DC was a Social Ax of 22 or 23 at least, maybe even more like 28-29)

The Spirit Ax at 11 (or less) -- god-level heroes such as Thor or Hercules being independent of the Spirit Ax predominantly.

Magic... I couldn't fit magic on the scale as I personally would have had the "Spells" operate independently from the Magic Axiom.

Maybe between 8 and 11, personally, as the "Magic Hero" types wouldn't rely upon the Magic Axiom, while minor "hedge craft" and witchery could be represented by nothing more than Ax 11 at most.

In the end however, All I had for a theme was exactly what was cited, DC/Marvel/ETC. -- which just didn't seem to be sufficient.

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Ok, so I was doing some more thinking and see the problem I am having. I want to keep the normal core earth axioms, so that we have a standard comic book world a la Marvel/ DC/ Kurt Busiek's Astro City/ Valiant/ Wild Storm - in these cases the worlds all have Superheroes but the world remains pretty much one that we in the reading world can very much identify with.

 

I want the same here, a world that is mostly normal with the addition of Superheroes.

This is a contradiction: as soon as you add super-powers to our world, it would be changed immediately. It wouldn't be "normal" anymore. Even if the super-powers came to light only yesterday, by today the economy would be in turmoil and antagonistic nations would be mobilizing preemptively. The only way to resolve a mundane cosm that also has super-powers is to make them necessarily secret and rare.

 

If we can go the alternate history route, here's an idea: Take the Weird War concept, that super-powers were developed during WW2, and then suppose the only way the war would ever end (and not use the nuclear option) was to ban development of super-powers. Of course, governments would secretly work on them anyway like they do with biological weapons, but to the public the war is over and life goes back to normal. Super-powers are illegal and feared by the general populace because they could upset the balance of the world and topple it into an apocalyptic WW3. The game balance for super-powered characters is that their powers always have obvious side-effects; there's no way for them to use them discreetly. Add modern forensics and a specially-equipped government agency that hunts down extranormals, and the player characters would have very good reasons to seek solutions without using their powers, and to go the costumed hero trope that is popular in the comics.

 

I prefer a simplistic method to add superheroes to Torg; don't define the super-powered cosm at all, and have the super-characters be sent to help Core Earth in a similar way that Dr. Hachi Mara-Two was sent (one-way.) Those characters would be powered through a World Law, so the only way they can use their powers is by spending a possibility on a realilty bubble. They'd never be in their own cosms, so wouldn't ever have home-reality advantage, would always be at risk of disconnection, and would burn their possibilities faster than characters chosen from more mundane realities. Torg was meant to be balanced that way, and it needs a sensitive GM to make it work.

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This is a contradiction: as soon as you add super-powers to our world, it would be changed immediately. It wouldn't be "normal" anymore.

One of the classic features of a "Super Earth" is that the arrival of superbeings didn't actually alter the history.

Superbeings altering history is more in line with the "Watchmen" novel/film or the "New Universe" made by Marvel in the mid-80s.

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This is a contradiction: as soon as you add super-powers to our world, it would be changed immediately. It wouldn't be "normal" anymore. Even if the super-powers came to light only yesterday, by today the economy would be in turmoil and antagonistic nations would be mobilizing preemptively.

 

Forgive Me, when I said normal I meant relatively of course. The problem many people have with the worlds of Comic Books is they say "that wouldn't happen in the 'REAL' world". I would never want to bring the Justice League to my world to meet mom and dad. This is because they would not be able to operate here.

 

No, the trick is to open the comic and go to their world. I want to go to their world with my sense of wonder intact and watch Supers battle to protect the city from the forces of evil!

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A place to start would be to look at superhero comics and prune out some aspects so as to narrow down the scope of the setting, and then work on the world laws from there. Are there alien races out in the universe, always sending their last survivor to live on Earth or looking for an excuse to try invading it? Are there supernatural heroes and villains? Are there gadgeteers building superscience devices that anyone can use (armies equipped with rayguns and rocketpacks) or are gadgets just another type of superpower only usable by the select few?

 

Good idea KJ. What I was thinking was I wanted the Heroes and Villains to have access to Advanced Tech, but did not want that Tech to end up being widespread and therefore having the world lose it's Tech 23 rating. Same thing for the Magic and Spirit levels. A convention of the Genre is to have Superheroes fight the occasional Mage, God, or Demon; without it severely changing the religious status of the world at large. Most people in the Marvel Universe don't really think Thor is the real Norse god o' thunder, the think he is just another superhero with delusions of grandeur.

 

I thought axioms might appear to be the same as our CE, but in reality the axioms would allow for much higher access to the tools of the Tech, Spirit, and Magic. I though that a "Law of Normalcy" WL might restrict the access of the higher axiom tools to P-rated characters. If a normal person comes across a piece of advanced tech it may short out or he just won't be able to figure out how to use it. Same with Magic spells or items.

 

Any other ideas?

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One strong image in "Superbeing Fiction" [DC Comics,etc] is that of the "Well Trained Normal" fighting alongside the "Truly Super".

Batman is the epitome of the "Well Trained Normal" while Superman is the epitome of the "Truly Super".

Getting BOTH in the same Cosm would take a degree of forethought and planning.

How does a "TORG-ified" Batman survive in the same setting where Superman and Darkseid are also possible?

Is there a "Super Normal" power or rule that prevents the "RIFTS/MDC Effect"?

Because without one no Super Normal would likely survive.

Also, stringent enforcement of "Power Flaws" or "Vulnerabilities" might be required.

Additionally, some degree of imposed limits on Lethality might be efficacious.

Maybe a highly specialized Wound Chart which maximized the shock/KO effect -- or even just a trade off wherein an increase in Shock/KO in exchange for greatly decreasing Wounds inflicted were rewarded by Possibilities...

All possible alternatives.

 

Additionally, some combats should instead be based upon Dramatic Resolution [ABCD], wherein defeating the villain is only the first step and other steps involve defusing the "Doomsday Weapon" in order to resolve the entire scene.

Mostly as stories often have a highly dramatic TIME LIMIT imposed.

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One strong image in "Superbeing Fiction" [DC Comics,etc] is that of the "Well Trained Normal" fighting alongside the "Truly Super".

Batman is the epitome of the "Well Trained Normal" while Superman is the epitome of the "Truly Super".

Getting BOTH in the same Cosm would take a degree of forethought and planning.

How does a "TORG-ified" Batman survive in the same setting where Superman and Darkseid are also possible?

Is there a "Super Normal" power or rule that prevents the "RIFTS/MDC Effect"?

Because without one no Super Normal would likely survive.

 

Well i guess I have to respond by asking, how does a "TORG-ified" Frodo survive in the same setting where Gandalf and Saruman are also possible?

 

How did R2D2 possible survive in a setting with Luke Skywalker and The Emperor?

 

Batman, Frodo, and R2D2; not only survive but contribute in ways that are vital to the Heroes winning the day due to one thing, a good author or in our case, a good GM. A good GM makes sure that there is a way for each character to contribute to the story, while making sure that the thief doesn't have to fight the evil sorcerer alone. Although Batman did take down Darkseid in Final Crisis, while dying in the process. Actually unknown to everyone he was actually transported to the prehistoric era, but I digress.

 

Torg has always been about balancing characters of different power levels. If I want to play a UCLA college student and my friend wants to play a Renegade Tharkoldu, then it is up to the GM to find a way to tell a story where both characters can contribute meaningfully.

 

 

Also, stringent enforcement of "Power Flaws" or "Vulnerabilities" might be required.

Additionally, some degree of imposed limits on Lethality might be efficacious.

Maybe a highly specialized Wound Chart which maximized the shock/KO effect -- or even just a trade off wherein an increase in Shock/KO in exchange for greatly decreasing Wounds inflicted were rewarded by Possibilities...

All possible alternatives.

 

Not every Superhero has a weakness or vulnerability. In fact if you take a closer look, it seems that it is the more powerful characters that have weakness. That seems like something that is already encouraged by the cost of superpowers themselves. The more powers a player wants to have for his character, the more P-energy it will cost every adventure, so the player is already subtlety encouraged by that fact alone. Maybe you increase the cost of Powers by one point, to give them even more encouragement. I am not sure I would have to look at my Nile book again and it is at home.

 

Now the idea of limits on Lethality might be an idea. I know not everyone likes the idea, but I have always been a huge fan of Jasyn Jones' Action Cant. Just give the Superhero Cosm an Action Cant of 5 and you have your limit on lethality!

 

Additionally, some combats should instead be based upon Dramatic Resolution [ABCD], wherein defeating the villain is only the first step and other steps involve defusing the "Doomsday Weapon" in order to resolve the entire scene.

Mostly as stories often have a highly dramatic TIME LIMIT imposed.

 

I think it is a small majority of Comic Book stories where the characters have to stop the doomsday weapon via Dramatic Resolution. It does not seem to be any more prevalent than any other genre. Remember the melodrama is for the Nile Empire.

 

I am really enjoying the ideas. Please keep them coming. I have ignored Torg for too long!

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Why not choose some classic comic book tropes for axioms?

 

"With great power comes great responsibility." -Spiderman

"Protecting those who hate and fear us." -X-men

"Truth, Justice and the American way." -Superman

 

Protecting the earth from alien invasion is a common theme, too. Perhaps the Superhero cosm is a good way to really incorporate Space Gods in a meaningful fashion?

 

In many ways, superheroes represent modern mythology.

 

Or try a twist on things. Perhaps the supers are not so heroic and they're the ones that the Storm Knights must stop! An Crisis on Infinite Earths-ish take.

 

Just brainstormin' here. Some of it sounds very similar to Nile Empire, but instead of a pulp feel, go for a Four-color comics feel.

Edited by Rerun941

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For my part, I haven't really noticed that powered humans are any more dangerous than anything else in TORG. Your typical "Electro-Ray" guy has a STR of 9 - 11 or so, putting his damage between 19 and 21. A Niational Guardsman who traded in his M-16 for an AK-47 can does 21 straight up. At much longer range. He also doesn't hurt himself if he rolls a positive bonus. And he doesn't have to pay 3 Possibilities per adventure to "kill every mother-luver in the room" either.

 

Sure, there are power combinations than can be dangerous (Invisibility/Dispersal/Brain-Blaster), but that's true of most of TORG (Weird Science, Occult, Alyse Spell Construction, etc).

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