[WGP] Problems with a Plan, questions, and comments

Started by James_Nostack, July 12, 2009, 03:49:39 AM

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I'm running With Great Power... for the third time (I've been a player twice).  I'm currently doing prep, but I have some questions/comments based on earlier play.  I'd especially like some help brainstorming the villain's plan, which seems to be very hard to implement under WGP's rules.

Adrian, Josh: I'm discussing the game so you should probably stop reading...

General Background on our Group
* Me, Adrian and Josh are all active in New York's Old School Renaissance scene, playing a lot of D&D for ~1 year.
* I'm running a long-form version of WGP set in "1960's Marvel."  Adrian's playing Spider-Man and Josh is playing the Thing.
* The Struggle: Belonging vs. Independence.
* Spider-Man's Strife Aspect: With great power comes great responsibility! (conviction)
* The Thing's Strife Aspect: Valued member of the Fantastic Four (identity, national)

Questions/Comments on With Great Power... Rules
1.  Are there scene-types where you don't face-off with the GM over cards?  I find setting really juicy stakes & counter-stakes in every scene kind of tiring sometimes, and unhealthy for the pacing of a long-term game.  (It's true that comic books are paced this way, but it's a completely different medium than 3 dudes improvising a story around a table.)  If you don't have stakes in a scene, are you allowed to assess-down your aspects?

2.  Villain has a lieutenant who has no particular obsession or plan of her own.  This Lieutenant doesn't get a villain sheet listing her own aspects, right?  Only official, Plan-having Villains merit a villain-sheet.

3.  The rules say a Hero should have 3-6 aspects; how many aspects should a Villain have? Does the length of the campaign matter to this?  When I played in an "Annual-sized" game with six aspects, I never felt pressured: I had so many aspects that they never had time to boil over.  If a villain only has four aspects (including the Plan) does this become "crowded" during a long-form game?

4.  Every time I run WGP I find the text on creating the Plan sort of unhelpful.  Is there a reason for the first stage of the process at all?  I mean, the relevant thing is: Why might a villain want to corrupt the hero's strife aspect?  And then, knowing that, what villain could be involved?

5.  Is there any constraining force that keeps a talking-type Conflict Scene from switching over to violence?  If I recall, in Dogs in the Vineyard escalation changes the type of fallout you're likely to get; in Sorcerer you can pick up the dreaded Lasting Penalties.  But other than concern for the integrity of the fiction (which has never stopped anyone IME) there's nothing really stopping one player from switching categories all over the place if he has the cards to do so.  (This may be an issue later on; see Plan section.)

6.  As a minor point, I think the Risked - Threatened - Imperiled - Devastated progression is way too synonymous for me to keep straight when I've ran in the past: the references to these stages in the rules always force me to flip around and find the chart again.  If there's a revised edition in the works, I suggest "Frustrated - Worried - Endangered - Captured" or something: it's more informative.

7.  In a Conflict scene: suit is Hearts.  I change suits to Spades, narrating a change of forum (talking to punching).  You play the exact same card, effectively canceling my narration.  Even though what I described had no effect, are we punching now, or still talking?

Figuring Out a Plan
What follows is the Plan that first sprang to my mind, but it has serious issues.  I have a back-up Plan ready to go, but I really like this one and would like to make it work.

The Thing's membership in the Fantastic Four has to change: the Villain wants the Thing to join him.  Spider-Man's sense of social responsiblity has to change: the Villain wants Spider-Man to realize that "super heroes" are corrupt bumblers, leading Spidey to challenge them.  Who's behind all of this?  Loki, the God of Mischief.  His Plan: become the heir of Odin by disgracing his foster brother Thor (an NPC).  Loki wants to make the Thing to believe he's better off if he drops out of the Fantastic Four to become King of the Rock Trolls and thereby lead an attack on Asgard; Loki sends the Enchantress to seduce Spider-Man into stealing Mjolnir. 

To me, this screams Silver Age Marvel Comics.  I'd love to read this story.  But I can't help feeling it's an issue of The Mighty Thor instead of Marvel Two-in-One

A few questions:
* Is it legal to have a Villain whose Plan includes increasing the stress of one of his own aspects (namely, "My foster brother Thor")?  It seems like a feedback loop.

* Is it a good idea to have a Plan that simply uses the Heroes as pawns to hurt an NPC?  It seems like it's deprotagonizing.

* Loki's a problematic villain: he operates on a scale far beyond anything the Thing and Spidey can hope to affect, barring plot devices.  Also, he's a behind-the-scenes type of villain who seldom fights directly.  Any advice?

* I'm concerned about staging the Spider-Man/Enchantress scenes.  These scenes will generally be "Conflict type" because as GM I'll be trying to corrupt Spider-Man's strife aspect.  But it seems to me that WGP's Conflict scenes aren't really built to handle seduction/mind-control/tricking-people type scenes: they pretty rapidly become two people fighting like crazy.  (Maybe this will work and I'm just not seeing it.)


         With the information that I gather in this thread  I think I might finally finish my work.,




I need to post a quick synopsis of our play session, actually, but I'm not sure when I'll have time.  Short version: super awesome.  Playing with characters and a setting everyone knows and loves is so richly rewarding that it's almost like a different game.  I think I finally understand Simulationist play priorities.

Ron Edwards

James, try to refine your eye for spam. You just got spammed. Don't respond to it; just hit "report this post," OK?

It'd be great to see your summary of play. I think I want to discuss Simulationist applications of With Great Power ... for sure, in detail.

Best, Ron


I'm very intrigued by Spiderman having "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" as his strife aspect.

If the aspect actually gets to the point where it is transformed, would you go as far as getting Spiderman to stop believing in that?


Totally.  The Enchantress, one of Loki's lieutenants, is busily corrupting Peter Parker's morality.  When the aspect is devastated, I think we'll just declare that Parker is putty in her hands, a lost & confused menace to society (well, more so, as it's a Silver Age game and one of the things I like about Spider-Man during this period is how confused he is).  If it gets transformed, he'll become a genuine super-villain.

Latest version of AP thread is here if you're interested.


I see. That's very interesting. A super-villain still under control of the player I hope?