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Author Topic: [WGP...] Blue Diamond meets the Hypernaut  (Read 1908 times)
Jon Hastings
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Posts: 95


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« on: August 04, 2006, 10:57:41 AM »

After finishing up our Sorcerer & Sword game, Eric, James, and I decided to take on With Great Power...  Due to scheduling issues/time constraints it took a couple of weeks to get through all the character creation and prep work, but we finally had our first session last Tuesday night.

Our Struggle is "Progress vs. Tradition".

James is playing the Hypernaut, a Green Lantern-ish, cosmic cop-type character, but with a much more trippy/far out sci-fi vibe.  His Strife Aspect is "Conviction: Man was meant to dwell among the stars (Progress)."

Eric is playing Blue Diamond, an out of work actor who got a job as a "corporate" super-hero.  He's in it for the money and the fame, and there're lots of hints that his corporate sponsors are really Up to No Good.  His Strife Aspect is: "Origin: Corporate Super-hero (Tradition)."

We swapped back issues and decided that the Hypernaut is an established, popular hero with a long-running series, but Blue Diamond has only been around for about a year.  We were going to play out the Super-Sized Blue Diamond Annual #1 - guest starring the Hypernaut!

I came up with a Plan based on their Strife Aspects and then created a Villain not only to fit this plan, but to incorporate elements of the heroes' back stories.

We had decided that one of the Hypernaut's arch-enemies was Bradford Clarke, the Evil Astronaut.  In the Hypernaut's very first adventure, he had foiled the Evil Astronaut's plan to take over Earth with the aid of his alien allies (sentient bacteria creatures from the moons of Jupiter).  I decided that the villain would be a Human-Jovian hybrid creature - named Jove - that the Evil Astronaut had created and then forgotten about.

Eric and I had talked about the kind of villains that Blue Diamond would have and we thought that his corporate sponsorship would put him directly in the path of the Treehugger, a clownish eco-terrorist who had been active since the 1970s.  I decided that Jove's lieutenant would be Maxmilla Svensson, the Treehugger's daughter, who sought to continue her father's crusade, with a professionalism and focus that her father lacked.

The first scene was my Enrichment Scene for Jove.  I Primed his Aspect "Origin: Human-Jovian hybrid" and described how the reader saw a mysterious figure emerging from the ruins of the Evil Astronaut's Uruguayan headquarters.  (I'm pretty sure I drew most of the images/inspiration for this from the earliest Wonder Man story-arcs in The Avengers).  I made liberal use of the Thought Balloon to establish that there was a struggle between Jove's human side and his new Jovian consciousness.  My Stakes for the Scene were: "Jove can pass himself off as completely human."  James came up with opposition stakes of "His Jovian side wants to help humanity."  I won my Stakes and Jove managed to gain control of himself enough to start plotting and planning.

We did a "Six Months Later..." jump for scene 2: Blue Diamond's first Enrichment Scene.  Eric decided that we should see Blue Diamond in action, trying to stop Killer Kaiju, a giant lizard, rampaging through midtown Manhattan.  Eric dropped a hint that the whole thing was a set-up: Blue Diamond's corporate backers had let Killer Kaiju loose so that Blue Diamond could save the day and get lots of good publicity.  Building off that we were able to frame Stakes as: "Blue Diamond makes a good impression in front of the Media" vs. "A reporter discovers a clue about the corporate origins of the giant lizard."  Blue Diamond won: he thrashed Killer Kaiju and looked good doing it.  Throughout this scene, James acted out the various members of Blue Diamond's personal film crew, who kept trying to film their hero's "best side" during the battle.

Scene 3 was Enrichment for the Hypernaut: in his secret ID of Todd Tiresias, he took a stroll through Central Park with his ex-girlfriend Kelly Qwan (the only person who knows his secret origin) and he expressed some doubts he had about whether certain cultures really are ready to dwell among the stars.  The Stakes were: "Hypernaut becomes more confident about making political judgments" vs. "Kelly takes offense at the Hypernauts ethnocentric remarks".  He lost and Kelly walked away, hitting him with a zinger about the success of NYC's multicultural society on the way out of the scene.

I should note that in both of these Scenes, the players chose to Prime two Aspects at a time.

Scene 4 was another Enrichment for me: I framed Jove's first meeting with his lieutenant, Maxmilla Svensson, Priming her, as well as Priming the Plan.  We established that Maxmilla's "cover" was that she ran the Worldwide Peace Foundation, but its really a shady front for her own brand of anarchaic black-ops.  The Stakes were: "Jove convinces Maxmilla he can accomplish what her father couldn't" vs. "Maxmilla's hi-tech surveillance team gets the goods on Jove's weaknesses."  I won - cementing Jove's relationship with his lieutenant and staving off her betrayal (for now).

Scene 5 was an Enrichment Scene for both Blue Diamond and Hypernaut.  The Worldwide Peace Foundation set up a phony blood drive solely to trick Blue Diamond into donating his (power-granting nanite-filled) blood.  Hypernaut is also there in his secret ID (Todd runs has his own new agey foundation).  The stakes for both heroes were basically: "I get suspicious of the Worldwide Peace Foundation" vs. "The WPF steals your blood and learns your secrets, bwahahaha!"  Both heroes lost.

Scene 6 was the last one of the session: it was a Conflict Scene between Jove and Blue Diamond.  Jove used his "Jovian Hybrid" Aspect to target Blue Diamond's "Corporate Hero" aspect, which looked like Jove busting into Corporate HQ and stealing the Nanite manufacturing machine.  Lots of punching & power use, ending with me losing and Jove captured.  (In retrospect, I misplayed my Wild Cards - live and learn!)

I think we're all looking forward to the next sesssion.

I had a blast playing.  I really like the way the Swapping Back Issues gets you on the same page and juiced to collaborate (a la PTA's Pitch Session).  This is probably the most fun I've had playing a super-hero RPG since I first got ahold of the old Marvel Super Heroes game, back in the 1980s.

My only concern is that I didn't push the Struggle hard enough, but now that I've gotten a feel for the mechanics and the flow of the game, I should be able to play it up more in our second session.

Finally, on the other side of the Thought Balloon, we drew a rectangle, which we used when we wanted to narrate "Yellow Box" captions.  It really added to the Silver Age flavor of the game.
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James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2006, 01:04:08 PM »

This was a fun session.  I've GM'd so much that it's strange to be a player--much less a player in a functional game where everything goes smoothly.  I enjoyed the ability to suggest counter-intuitive stakes.  The subplot involving the Hypernaut's "white man's burden" is refreshing to me, in part because you seldom see a serious treatment of race in comic books, and also, I'm genuinely worried that my character will turn out to be an asshole from outer space.

What Jon doesn't mention is that in the battle between Blue Diamond and Jove, both Jon and Eric slapped down about a zillion cards.  They're both kind of vulnerable right now, which tempts me to make havoc when I show up in the next scene.  On the other hand, all of my cards stink--I would have played harder for my goals, earlier in the session, except I couldn't have expected to win, so I played 2's in order to pick up new cards.

Quick WGP question/observation: it looks like WGP is a little bit like Capes in one respect: you need to establish really diabolical stakes, which will entertain the audience, but also encourage your opponent to play his or her best cards.  Thus, if you win, you get your diabolical stakes; if you lose, you get good cards. 

In the interests of completing the actual play report: (a) it was super-crazy-hot outside; I think I wore out Jon's Brita filter.  (b) the pizza was very good.
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Michael S. Miller
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Posts: 846


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« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2006, 06:24:10 AM »

Quick WGP question/observation: it looks like WGP is a little bit like Capes in one respect: you need to establish really diabolical stakes, which will entertain the audience, but also encourage your opponent to play his or her best cards.  Thus, if you win, you get your diabolical stakes; if you lose, you get good cards.

Precisely. If the choice to voluntarily lose your Stakes (and thus gain the card) isn't difficult to swallow, the game doesn't soar. When Jon mentions not pushing the Struggle enough, I think he's being a bit hard on himself. He set really great counter-Stakes in this session, and setting counter-Stakes is how you push the Struggle in WGP...

I love the Hypernaut having this phenomenal cosmic power, but losing his ability to relate to normal people.

Blue Diamond's erichment against the rampaging lizard was well-done, also. There's no way he's going to fail to defeat the beast, thus it's not part of the Stakes. What he (and the reader) is really interested in is "Does he look good for the cameras?" That's really great.

Tangentially, even in my own games I've seen a lot more Stakes centered on media perception lately. I wonder if it's something in the air?

I love the caption box! Because sometime's you've just gotta say "As seen is Hypernaut #23, True Believer!"
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