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Title: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 14, 2010, 09:15:19 PM
Back in 2005, I noodled around with a game design that I really liked, but set it aside for a number of reasons, partly because playtesting had shown a couple of stall-out points that I didn't see how to fix. Although I don't have any excuse not to work on several other projects, I recently picked it up again. This time, solutions appeared obvious to me, and I figured I might make a good game out of it after all.

The game concept centers around a supervillain, or perhaps ultra-villain, whose name is always Doctor Chaos but is otherwise made up by the individual play group. Various features of play are a bit unusual:
- Doctor Chaos is played by one person at a time, but his or her ownership bounces around from person to person
- Superheroes are not made up prior to play, but are instead improvised into existence by the people who happen not to be playing Doctor Chaos at the moment; they are very sketchy and many of them are defeated and disappear
- There is a lesser villain character who is played by one person throughout the game (and this person never plays Doctor Chaos either) who has the widest range of choices and theme.

(I mined a couple of features of Doctor Chaos for a later design, The People's Hero, which is also still in playtest, much more develoepd and with nearly-finished text, that I should get back to as well.)

Older threads about the initial concept and early playtesting include [Doctor Chaos] Cards, bad guys ( and [Doctor Chaos] Next phase playtesting ( The interesting thing is that you don't really set out at the beginning with a fixed goal of whether or not you want Doctor Chaos to win, or even if you do, it's subject to change.

In my dusted-off rules, ready for a new playtest, I decided that several stumbling blocks had to go. The Rummy rules were too fine-grained with too many possible applications of Gin; I pulled all of that out except for one special bit, the only one I actually cared about. I also had an insanely stupid rule concerning what had to be narrated in order to invent and introduce a superhero, in terms of villain's personal issues. That went out the window and I found a better way to deal with the Issues idea. Finally, and very important, I realized the game was full of exactly what people were finding tricky in a couple of other designs, narrating outcomes of rounds of conflict without any idea how the ultimate conflict would turn out - and without any indicator in that round of how it might influence the outcome. That was easy to fix in this game as I'll describe.

So, at the Dice Dojo, I rounded up Peter, Sam, Mike (from The Pool game), and Phil (from the Bliss Stage game). My discussion of the genre is quite finely-honed based on the older playtests, and three of the four pairs of eyes lit up like little Kirby special effects. Sam said, "Um, I don't know anything about comics." I swallowed hard. Looking around, I saw that everyone else had too. "OK," I said. "But follow our lead." And as it turned out, Sam's presence at the table served as a rather good stress-test for the rules in their current form. Whereas in past playtests the presence of such a person instantly tanked play. Now it was possible to shepherd them along a bit as well as to benefit from the outsider's perspective and tendency to serve as a productive if sometimes goofy creative factor.

Creating our Doctor Chaos went by the rules' very strict steps, based on Color leading, content following next, and then details reinforcing those. The result was quite strong, I thought. We chose Tech to be primary, although of course Doctor Chaos is notable and masterful at any sphere of power. He was conceived as a warrior for peace, considering himself to have a divine right to end war, so his Plan is defined as Conquer and Rule (not Control). He prefers intelligent appreciation, not mindless obedience. (Side note: Doctor Chaos' gender, or even presence of gender, is open to definition. I'm using "he" here for logistic convenience only.)

The Plan has four Conditions - (i) Distribute war-bots as servant droids throughout target nations; (ii) Steal the Statue of Liberty and put it in Baghdad (here Sam showed that his instincts were right on - he rightly stated that Doctor Chaos needed some kind of quirky Goal, not all practical and no-nonsense); (iii) Infiltrate and control NATO (whose headquarters we mistakenly placed in London instead of Brussels); and (iv) Remake the middle east with non-retarded national borders this time.

With all this in mind, we finalized his appearance. The rapid discussion yielded a freakishly tall but normally-proportioned man, dressed in spooky business clothes with a metallic, robotic neck and throat but otherwise distinguished and human. The thing is that you can't tell how much of him is mechanical. And finally, we briefly glanced at but did not further define his Issues: Ideology, Fixation (oil, unsurprisingly), and

Peter made up his lesser villain, The Red Architect, who presented a disturbing and very short combination of Stalin and Napoleon, kind of a cartoonish guy who wanted to re-start the Cold War and win it for socialism. This provides some insight into the Cheese Rule, which states that nothing about Doctor Chaos can be lame - but specifically does not apply to the lesser villain, on purpose. I hadn't seen a player run with this distinction as far as this yet, and it worked perfectly although I doubt that is evident while reading this post. Anyway, the R.A. had his own, smaller Plan and began play "free," i.e. not under Doctor Chaos' thumb.

Episode 1: Mike had Doctor Chaos, and it was pure joy to watch him get into it. He described how Doctor Chaos was unveiling his servo-droids at Madison Square Garden, as the public face of getting the things distributed all over the world. Meanwhile, according to Peter, the Red Architect had found his way into Doctor Chaos' robot control center in Tierra del Fuego, and he was trying to reprogram them to instigate international strife by attacking various nations with other nations' logos on their chests.

Well, the super-heroes showed up, of course! In different places, actually. Phil introduced Kinetic, bouncin' furiously all over the place, at the robot factory somewhere in northen Canada. Whereas at the Garden, I brought in Fireballs, somewhat more glitzy than the Human Torch, and Sam first puzzled and then delighted us with Hippiemancer, who floated in on strings held by a zillion sparrows. Note that this meant no hero was in a position to oppose the Red Architect, but that's OK - Doctor Chaos had that covered.

My favorite part of the ensuing fight was when Mike decided that Doctor Chaos, until that point trying to play off his "just a helpful businessman" facade, said, "Screw this!" and swung into action against the heroes, unleashing both warbot and personal weaponry upon them. To make a rather colorful sequence short, the outcome was that the heroes were flattened by Doctor Chaos but not with a Gin result, meaning that if any of them were brought back into the story, they'd be Developed. Oh, and much to the Doctor's annoyance, some snot of a little-villain successfully suborned his robots.

One of the biggest rules changes, as I mentioned above, is that one no longer needs to role-play villain's Issue as a means of getting a superhero involved. That was one of those rules-ideas that looks fine on paper but is ridiculous and deal-breaking in practice. It's funny now to have read the older drafts in which I expended monstrous effort to explain and enforce the rule.

Episode 2: Phil had Doctor Chaos, and it was pure joy to watch him get into it too. So, in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was getting swiped. The Red Architect was traveling north to get to London to mess with the Royal Family, and Phil specified that Doctor Chaos was indeed going to try to suborn/dominate him.

Homeland Hank (me) who actually animated the Statue of Liberty; Poseidon's Fist (Mike); and Astronut (Sam), one of the strangest so far. This time, everyone got smacked down by the Doctor, and the Red Architect came under Doctor Chaos' control. By this point, the nature and extent of Doctor Chaos' personal weaponry as well as the versatility of his orbital satellite were getting well defined through use.

Episode 3: I had Doctor Chaos, and boy was that fun. I decided that he need not get his hands dirty himself in Brussels London, and merely sent the Red Architect to do the job; Doctor Chaos merely relaxed in Baghdad and admired his new statue. The Red Architect struggled against the hideous mental programming that Doctor Chaos had inflicted upon him with glowing and scary machines.

And then, who should appear in Baghdad to challenge the ultravillain but the Star of David (Mike), champion of Israel; whereas two previously-seen heroes re-appeared, having been developed and re-imagined in deeper form with more backstory: Kinetic (Sam) and Fireballs (Phil). Notice that you can't re-introduce a hero who had been beaten on your watch. The re-appearance has to be transitive across players. To be clear about this part of the rules, the whole point of re-introducing developed heroes is that they have way, way better mechanics than undeveloped ones.

This was a hard-fought, actually pretty riveting set of scenes. Kinetic and Fireballs fought to protect NATO quite heroically, with much property damage inflicted by everyone, and the Red Architect did break free of control. Doctor Chaos elevanted the entire city of Jerusalem a mile into the air, and at first it looked like the Star of David had met his match, but as narrations turned out, Doctor Chaos may not have been morally capable of carrying out the implied threat - a rather cool moment, actually.

Well, Doctor Chaos won that Episode too, and his Plan came to a successful end. The fates of the heroes were quite appropriate in each case ... let's see, Kinetic got deactivated in the midst of a fierce and supersonic leap of some kind, so he went splat; the Star of David was morally crushed and rendered irrelevant by the dissolution of Israel along with every other nation-state in the area; and I don't quite recall what happened to poor Fireballs.

The number of players remains an interesting statistical and procedural issue. I'm currently thinking that five total is excellent, and four could work, but otherwise the system may break or simply be less fun. The question is whether to confirm and enforce that, or to find a way to expand the range. And one issue may have appeared through playtesting that needs resolving before I start considering that, whether the number of Conditions should be adjustable.

As I briefly described in [FreeMarket] Trouble with something (, I had already written and was careful to explain that narration during card-drawing is nothing but porn, by which I mean, raw comics super-combat spectacle. This went a long way toward making card play fun.

In sum, Doctor Chaos fulfilled three Conditions in three Episodes, ending the game. (The rule is that if he has more fulfilled Conditions than otherwise, he wins. This would mean three out of four, except that the heroes may totally defeat one or more Conditions along the way. So if they defeat one, then he wins with two out of three; if they defeat two, he wins if he gets them both. This is kept from being a possible end-run win on his part because defeating a Condition un-fulfills previously fulfilled ones, so the overall rule is re-booted.) So this gives cause for concern. Doctor Heroes over-matches the collective hero players by design, but they are supposed to have some chance, and a considerably better one if they exercise certain mechanics that develop during play. In our case, we did use those mechanics to an appreciable extent. This could be a problem, because I really don't want the game to be be wham wham wham, Doctor Chaos wins. It's supposed to be able to go either way, influenced both by the content and the resulting choices made, and the luck of the draw.

However, at a closer look, he actually squeaked by very narrowly. In the second Episode, a player's poor draw choice hosed the heroes, which was not a luck-of-the-draw thing but genuinely a bad play. In the third, which was quite extended, the win was only by a mere card, and both sides were struggling for a decent hand, so mechanically, it wasn't a walkover. If even one of the hero players had succeeded, the Condition would have been delayed. Also, the Red Architect broke Doctor Chaos' hold on him, so the next round would have included his efforts against the ultravillain too.

Now that leads to a serious issue that I may change! At present, the lesser villain must expend a full round to break free of Doctor Chaos. If Peter's cards in Episode 3 had been permitted to oppose the Plan as well as to break free (in a mirror to Doctor Chaos' ability to pursue his plan and to try to dominate the lesser villain simultaneously), then the outcome would in fact have gone against Doctor Chaos. We all agreed that this would have been quite exciting and well-timed, and full of possible further plot developments.

I definitely want to see whether the present design can lead to Conditions modification, more Issues for Doctor Chaos, and in the context of all this, more Development and successful usage of those mechanics. Yet the time of play, two and a half hours for a first-time run, seemed just right. Could it be that after the first game, this run-time will be typical even with more content?

Regarding his and the lesser villain's Issues, the best idea suggested was to have an Interlude-type step at the end of each Episode, where we get to see Doctor Chaos displaying his ideology, his fixation, or similar. I'm pretty confident that formalizing it to this very light extent will open the door to all sorts of spontaneous ramifications in the later Episode narrations, including interactions with heroes which are tied to those insights.

Peter raised the interesting question of whether everyone else should automatically get a chance to play him. My thinking about the game has always been that Doctor Chaos ownership should be slightly unpredictable, moving around the table more like a fun-potato than a stolid round-robin. But Peter's question challenged this because he simply liked watching people get so jazzed at that point, and wanted everyone to to get a chance to have that much fun, and to see how everyone did it. The two rules-bits that concern this question are (1) how the transfer is effected, and (2) how many Conditions a given Plan has. Right now, the latter rule is set at four, period. Should that be different? Sam did a little graph on some scratch paper to show that for everyone to get to play Doctor Chaos, given a turn-based predictable method of transfer, the number of Conditions would be 2N-3 where N = the number of players.

I have a fun experience for inspiration, colorful real-play details to use for examples, a page of significant notes, a ton of useful minor text modifications, and new questions to consider. Plus some folks who really want to try the next iteration of the rules. I'm a happy playtester!

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: SamuelRiv on November 15, 2010, 01:57:56 PM
I just wanted to say that playing this was definitely one of the most-fun times I've had in the two months I've been coming to the Dice Dojo. I am the one who had absolutely no background in comic books. I've read the entire collections of Asterix and Tintin, but in US comicdom I've merely seen the first and third X-Men movies, spending most of the time drooling over Kitty Pryde rather than caring about stupid Wolverine.

The appeal for me may have been some kind of utter novelty of genre, but of course even generic movies and culture are well-saturated with the concept of superheros and supervillains. But my favorite part of any RPG is in the development of a character, and it felt like in our grandiose entry narration every new scene, combining backstory and inevitable downfall, I got to live an entire campaign every half-hour. By the way, I must requote my favorite intro:

A blinding glare shines into Dr. Chaos's eyes as sunlight is strategically reflected off the visor of... ASTRO-NUT! A marooned cosmonaut adrift in orbit, he learned to substitute oxygen with insanity, giving him psychic control of all satellites above Earth!

As far as the mini-gin-rummy mechanic, it did not distract from play. However, I did not find it integrating with play either, as the consequences of drawing and discarding reflected nothing in the outcomes or narration of a scene - it really only became relevant when one knocks or gets gin. I have played gin-rummy thousands of times since I was a tiny kid, so the gameplay was fairly automatic, and that may have contributed to my disconnect between game and scenery. On the other hand, that disconnect seems to be what allowed me to feel completely free with narration, while guarding each attack-counterattack with the possibility of either massive success or failure in the next turn.

I can't decide if that's good or bad, in terms of what an RPG is. I felt soon after that the mechanic was completely divorced from the roleplay, which makes me think of Doctor Chaos as a fun way to play a casual card game like rummy, rather than as something I can think of as a uniform piece of meat (or even marbled meat). I had tons of fun and would totally try to play this at any party, but I feel uneasy with the way I think of this game (not as an RPG) versus the way Ron might intend it to be.

Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 16, 2010, 08:36:44 AM
Hi Sam! Welcome to the Forge.

I totally had a blast that night. I can't wait to get a moment for the next re-write, and I'm seriously considering hunting for an artist or two.

The biggest issue you're raising is "what is an RPG," I think. As I see it, it's a legacy term and there's no reason for me to claim or want Doctor Chaos to be in the category. The design is definitely in the realm of "possibly not quite" that I was working in around 2005, based on a lot of narrational freedom and an overarching, multi-person mechanic rather than per-player isolated mechanics. It Was a Mutual Decision came out of that period.

However, it does have a strong element of character commitment and decision-making about committing to a character, and that element interacts with choices about card play in a way that simply isn't found in other games. It is possible that this effect was strongest for the others because the inherent thematic tension of the ultravillain concept was more familiar to them. It's also possibly important that you were the one candidate for playing Doctor Chaos who didn't get a chance to do it. Therefore I'm not sure you tapped into the enjoyable tension between wanting to defeat Doctor Chaos and wanting to win for him, because you didn't encounter either the start-up access to that tension or the in-play access to that tension. (Nor were you playing the lesser villain, for whom that choice is constantly present rather than opportunistically as for everyone else.)

You were golden for introducing a necessary nigh-random colorful craziness to the game's content. I plan to write a whole section of rules about this. Comics nuts such as myself have a tendency to be too serious about the material and to forget, totally, about its absurdity which is actually part of its charm and effectiveness. I thought about this after the game and gave myself a reality check which turned into a kind of skit:

"Come on ... the Silver Surfer? I mean, with a surfboard?"

"It's so awesome. He's white and shiny! He was the herald of Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, and he gave up the ability to skim the spaceways, man ... for us! For Earth! He couldn't contribute to slaughter and, and, to unfettered arrogant power any more. And now he's trapped here. This is literature! Like Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Homer!"

"You're serious. ... Dude, he rides around on a flying surfboard." (does impromptu vocal rendition of Wipe Out riff) "OK, the story's pretty good, but -"

(beginning to squirt tears) "Are you not understanding? Do you not see the essential conflict, where the alien turns out to be the most human of us all? Where experiential indulgence meets its limits in the face of universal shared responsibility? How justice must be striven for despite all odds and despite all sacrifice? He even gave up his true love! As Norrin Rad, he loved Shalla Bal, and she him! And ..."

"Wait, his name is ... Rad? And his girlfriend is Shallow Ball?" (gives up, doubles over laughing)

"I hate you! Don't touch that comic any more! You're not allowed!"

The horrible thing is that I was able to compose the comics-fan dialogue effortlessly and had to stretch to reach the mind-set of the other guy.

Anyway, so your contributions and occasional suggestions were like a random mutation creative factor at the table which is totally important, because it wasn't fettered by the genre-emulating, occasionally feverish comics-faithful mind-set prevailing at the table. Granted, a certain percent of the suggestions made Peter and me scream and clutch our heads (literally as I recall), but the other percent filled a gap that the rest of us weren't providing. Without the bravery or simple imaginative freedom to say, "H'mmm, what if he has a skyhook from the moon," and even sketch it out a bit before saying, "Nahhh," then people like Jack Kirby would never have arrived at at-first-glance ridiculous but ultimately genius work like the Silver Surfer.

Every Doctor Chaos game needs a Sam. Plus the rest of us to scream "Aarrrgh! No!" a certain percent of the time.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: SamuelRiv on November 16, 2010, 09:01:24 AM
Skyhook ( Told ya so.

Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: Chris_Chinn on November 16, 2010, 12:46:43 PM
Hi Ron,

Comics nuts such as myself have a tendency to be too serious about the material and to forget, totally, about its absurdity which is actually part of its charm and effectiveness.

When I got to playtest way back at GenCon, that's totally what was in my head about coming up with heroes.  I thought back to my cousin's stack of comics from the 60's and 70's where you had Spiderman fighting a guy on rocket skates, or the introduction of folks like Dazzler. 

Just by buying into the super-super villain, "Dr. Chaos", you have to buy in to a level of cheese.  ("Victor VON DOOM.  C'mon, what were you expecting him to do?  Raise kittens?")

What's interesting about the game, though, is that because heroes are brought back into play based on other players buying into the concept, it serves as feedback for finding the line between too cheesy, too serious and just right.


Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: SamuelRiv on December 04, 2010, 01:01:56 AM
I just discovered that this idea has already been done ( Is this just a simple case of naive ignorance, or is there a darker side of Ron that we haven't seen yet?

He does seem to know an awful lot about computers... and organic chemistry...

Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 04, 2010, 11:50:08 AM
Ignorance! I'd never heard of the guy until two minutes ago.

Also, in the interest of clarity, I rate about a 2 out of 25 when it comes to computer expertise.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: Troy_Costisick on December 05, 2010, 12:07:01 PM
Heya Ron,

The Plan has four Conditions - (i) Distribute war-bots as servant droids throughout target nations; (ii) Steal the Statue of Liberty and put it in Baghdad (here Sam showed that his instincts were right on - he rightly stated that Doctor Chaos needed some kind of quirky Goal, not all practical and no-nonsense); (iii) Infiltrate and control NATO (whose headquarters we mistakenly placed in London instead of Brussels); and (iv) Remake the middle east with non-retarded national borders this time.

The two rules-bits that concern this question are (1) how the transfer is effected, and (2) how many Conditions a given Plan has. Right now, the latter rule is set at four, period. Should that be different? Sam did a little graph on some scratch paper to show that for everyone to get to play Doctor Chaos, given a turn-based predictable method of transfer, the number of Conditions would be 2N-3 where N = the number of players.

I have some feedback.  Iíve read over the older threads (I remember them well).  I couldnít find exactly what the procedure is for creating the plan.  Does someone just toss out an idea and the group votes on it somehow?  Is there a step-by-step procedure for it?  I might have glanced over the rules for it, so if I did, I appologize.

The reason I ask, though, is that I donít care for oddball math like the formula you suggest above in games where there really isnít a real need for it.  It looks like Dr. Chaos tries to fulfill one condition per play session (or cycle).  I looked, but I didnít see if that was specifically stated somewhere.  I may have just missed it.  But if thatís basically the rule of thumb, then I have a couple suggests for your #2 in the second paragraph I quoted above.

One way to do it, rather than use a formula, is to charge each player with coming up with a Condition.  Then you would have a number of sessions equal to the number of players.  With five players (your ideal group), youíd have seven sessions according to the formula above.  Do you think the characters of Dr. Chaos and the other villain would be stale at that point?  Peter noted that it was fun for a new person to get Dr. Chaos each session and fun for everyone else to watch that new person get him.  So one session per player makes sense to me.

A second way to do it is to allow the group just to choose the number of Conditions.  The rules could explain that one Condition will be attempted per session.  So, it if they want a short game, give him 3 conditions.  If they want a longer game, give him 8 or 9. 

Either option seems preferable to me than a formula- especially since there is next to no mathematical calculations in the rest of the game.  The formula just seems out of place.



Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 05, 2010, 12:42:30 PM
Hi Troy,

The current rule is simply that Doctor Chaos' Plan has four Conditions. That's all. There isn't any formula; the formula was an idea Sam raised during our post-game discussion and has no particular traction at this point.

The Conditions are invented during initial character creation. Both Doctor Chaos and the lesser villain have a Plan and each Plan has Conditions. Remember that superheroes are not made up prior to play.

The Conditions are listed in order, and a given Episode starts with whatever Condition is at the top. Here's what can happen to it.

1. Doctor Chaos beats the heroes. The Condition is checked off and goes to the bottom of the list. (The latter bit may seem nonsensical at this point, but you'll see how it applies in a minute.) When and if it gets to the top again, it immediately goes to the bottom, so the top of the list always has an un-checked Condition.

2. Doctor Chaos is beaten by one or more heroes, but not by Gin. The Condition is not checked off and goes to the bottom of the list.

3. Doctor Chaos is beaten by one or more heroes by Gin. The Condition has a line drawn through it and is removed from play. Furthermore, any other Conditions with checks become un-checked.

(Doctor Chaos is a genius, meaning that his Plan will not be scuttled just because a couple of its parts get delayed or fulfilled out of order. Or even removed. If his Plan is simpler than when he first conceived it, no matter - it will still work.)

The rules for finishing the game are a bit subtle. If Doctor Chaos checks off all his existing Conditions, then he wins. If the number of defeated Conditions outnumbers the others, then he loses. So in the fiction, the heroes are trying to defeat (not merely delay) three Conditions. Doctor Chaos is trying to fulfill all of the ones he has left (four, three, or two). As I see it, the game gets most interesting if the heroes manage to defeat two Conditions, because at this point, delaying one doesn' t accomplish much, defeating one wins the game for the heroes, and Doctor Chaos need only check two things to win. And that's why the lesser villain's Plan, incidentally, starts at two Conditions; it's already at the make-or-break point.

I should remind the reader at this point that these are not fixed sides. The ownership of Doctor Chaos changes with every Episode.

I hope that clarifies things a little. There are several intersecting dynamics that I expect would make every play session/story very different from any other, including heroes' development (making Gin victories possible for them) and the unpredictable, problematizing role of the lesser villain.

Our discussion about formulas and similar issues began with the question of whether this fixed number of Conditions was a good idea, relative to the number of players. I'm currently thinking that it is, and not varying the number of Conditions, again, rendering the formula question irrelevant, or any other technique toward the end of determining how many Conditions.

Also, in re-reading my rules, I realized that we'd screwed one thing up - we'd played as if Doctor Chaos won by achieving a majority of his Conditions, not all them, which is the actual rule. So we ended our session prematurely - and considering that the developed heroes' math was beginning to work together - what I initially thought was a stomping victory actually was more iffy, which is good news.

Finally, and in combination with the above, I've decided that the lesser villain's battle to resist or escape control does count as a means of challenging Doctor Chaos' Condition as well. And if that had been the case in our game, Doctor Chaos would not have fulfilled his first Condition, due to the Red Architect's interference.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: Phil K. on December 06, 2010, 03:18:30 PM

I loved this Doctor Chaos game. It was a lot of fun for me. I'm a (largely lapsed) comics fan who grew up in the 90s when universe altering mini-series were all the rage. The key element of many of those is that an ultra-villain has succeeded and some sort of time travelling hero has to go back and save the future. Part of the thrill of Doctor Chaos was definitely getting a chance to experience what would, effectively, be the unprinted issues of Age of Apocalypse whereby Apocalypse comes to power. 

Creating the superheroes on the fly was a ton of fun. The sheer creativity players were using was phenomenal. I actually felt a bit lackluster, my first hero was fairly run of the mill and (by superhero standards) conservative. One thing to remember with superheroes is that they are all outlandish. The ones that seem cool are no less absurd than the failures. All in all, it means I just have to get over myself and go for broke.

If Doctor Chaos has to actually succeed at all of his goals, it would make the game go a bit longer and introduce more chances for the heroes to get the upper hand. The developed heroes were starting to come into their own as the players got comfortable with the game and I would like to see how another playtest would go.

Taking control of Doctor Chaos is nothing sort of pure comic nerd joy. The ability to casually dismiss heroes is amazing. It gives everyone a chance to put on their evil hat and go nuts. Since Doctor Chaos is so powerful, we all had a ton of fun pulling forth interesting supertech to counter and smash the heroes. That level of narrative control was a blast. It seemed like the trickiest thing about it was not narrating outcomes... that had to wait until someone knocked and card play stopped. You can't go completely broke but you need to step things up a notch from a traditional game. Collateral damage, cosmic-level powers and things that seem impossible to overcome are par for the course. I can see that being a lot of fun with people who are really into comics. It challenges us to out do one another. The escalation would be epic.

On a historical note, Fireballs (actually, Air Commander Fireballs by the time I got to him) met his fate when his superpower-enhancing superjet was supercharged by the holy light emanating from The Star of David's super Torah... and was subsequently just absorbed entirely by Doctor Chaos.


Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 07, 2010, 11:08:32 AM
I've posted a public playtest version at the Doctor Chaos ( page at the Adept Press website. Download and play!

Best, Ron

Title: Re: [Doctor Chaos] World peace, my way
Post by: Larry L. on December 14, 2010, 09:21:37 PM

I just wanted to comment that I'm delighted you're working on this.

Also, the sample dialogue above with the Silver Surfer and stuff fucking cracks me up. Really, solid comic insight.