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Gaming => The Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game => Topic started by: Firebomb on December 16, 2017, 12:31:32 pm

Title: Universal Heroes: A Customized Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game (MSH RPG)
Post by: Firebomb on December 16, 2017, 12:31:32 pm
Starting back in 1985, me and several friends regularly met weekly (at the minimum) to play the original, basic Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game (MSH RPG). We were quite young, and we were rather dim compared to our modern selves. However, we were big comic book fans, so it was a hoot to engage in various adventures in the world of our favorite heroes.

Soon enough, the advanced version of the game came out, and we adopted its use in our regular play sessions. The more we used it, and the more we played other games in addition to the MSH RPG, I increasingly began to find bits and pieces of the rules I thought could use some tweaking. And, at the same time, I found there were more than a few things I'd like to add to the game.

So I began making them.

The material I churned out in the late 80s and early 90s was pretty unpolished, truth be told, but then again I was writing it all out on paper as I progressed. The modern age of computers has greatly helped to facilitate my creative efforts in this regard, even if of late I don't actually have a group with which to engage in gaming these days. Alas.

While the vast majority of what I originally built to accentuate the original rules was in regards to character generation, there are other things I wanted to tweak. And, as time went on, I developed the urge to produce material that wasn't weighed down by the many and various copyrights of others - in other words, truly original material.

And thus, the Universal Heroes system was born.

Ostensibly the same as the MSH RPG, my Universal Heroes rules all feature completely new text, with no copyrighted characters or art that certain corporations could use to Cease and Desist me off of the Internet. Furthermore, the vast majority of my work is still compatible with the original system's rules, in case you don't like all of my modifications.

Thus, one could plug bits and pieces of my original works into their own MSH RPG game if they like, or they could go all in and cut loose with a Universal Heroes game. Either way, I'll be using this specific thread to talk about my original rules material, if only to keep it all in one place and to prevent forum bloat. I wouldn't want to drown everyone else out, after all.

Even if the place is still filling back in.

If you're at all interested, you can find my Universal Heroes materials here:
Title: Universal Heroes: the Core Rules
Post by: Firebomb on May 01, 2018, 02:19:13 pm
The scaffolding with which my Universal Heroes modification to the old system is based upon, the Core Rules covers everything that every player ought to know about the game. Whether a regular player or judging the game, no matter if you're role-playing a cyborg, a wizard, a deity, an alien, or even just a highly skilled and motivated human, there's a whole lot for you to chew on here. The Core Rules include the following:

* ESSENTIAL CAPABILITIES: the heart of any game, ability scores describe the most basic, essential capabilities of every character. They quantify things such as how strong or smart a character happens to be, and so on, and are metrics by which every character can be described on equal footing. No matter what powers or talents they may have, a character always has ability scores. Further reading:

* METRICS AND ACTIONS: Metrics and Actions: expanding on the basics, it is important to note just how a character's traits, not to mention their incredible super powers, measure up to others. This portion of the game's rules does just that, and then goes on to explain how players can use these metrics to accomplish just about any action they desire during play - regardless of how difficult that action may happen to be. Further reading:

SPACE AND MOVEMENT: movement is the most basic of actions, but how does one handle moving around? Getting from one place to another seems simple at first, but then you mix various super powers into the deal and it gets all wonky. Here's some basic notions on movement and movement difficulties, from movement powers to clutter and the various issues it may cause. Further reading:

TIME AND COMBAT: one of the most important aspects of any game is the time scale of the standard turn. This determines when everything can occur relative to everything else, in a solid and consistent manner. The turn structure manages everything from movement to character actions, and is the very core of how combat flows in every role playing game - not just those presented here! Further reading:

ADVANCED BATTLE CONCEPTS: while most conventional combat has been covered in great detail already, there are a lot of things that simply don't qualify as conventional when you get down to it. Super powers, specialized tactics, and even the weather can act to modify how ordinary combat plays out - and Advanced Battle Concepts will show you exactly how. Further reading:

LIVING AND DYING: a coda of sorts to the many and various combat rules described previously, Living and Dying is all about the consequences of battle. The loss of Health and the expenditure of experience (both in play and for advancement) is detailed here, as is a variety of optional uses for these vital metrics, if they are to be adopted for use in one's game. Further reading:

CHARACTER GENERATION: with a (hopefully) solid understanding of all else, what you need next is a character to play the game with! Character generation explains all the options available to a player, and if it doesn't shuffle him or her off to another, specialized page dedicated to one origin or another, it details how to build adventurers without ascendant powers. Further reading:

POWERS: here one can find a comprehensive roster of every power currently available in the game systems supported here. Whether they exist as a mutant ability, a magical spell, a psionic talent, or even some sort of deific legacy, all the ascendant abilities that heroes, villains, and everyone in between can use in the game are spelled out in great detail! Further reading:

POWER CUSTOMIZATION: while these games try to account for every possible ability a player may want to try out, the truth is that even one hundred game developers could never achieve this astounding feat. Thus, room is left for players to customize their ascendant abilities, either by limiting them for more power or by enhancing them for more versatility. Further reading:

QUIRKS: the quirks system is a tool with which a player may customize and individualize a character somewhat, adding minor beneficial traits or deleterious hindrances as they see fit. Quirks can be used solely for that purpose, or can be added to a character in order to either justify additional powers, talents or contacts - or perhaps the reverse, if the player desires. Further reading:

TALENTS: talents are representative of knowledge a character possesses. One does not need aberrant genes or alien ancestors or psi exposure in order to learn a talent - anyone can do so given the appropriate opportunity and time to study. There are many different kinds of talents, all of which have a practical benefit for every character - either in or out of combat. Further reading:

CONTACTS: contacts are people that a character knows well. A character's contacts are a good way to determine or expand on his or her origin, as they represent people that not are not only aware of them but are willing to help him or her as they go adventuring. Questions such as why the character knows these contacts and how their relationships work only help to develop their story more. Further reading:

That's a lot to process, to be sure, but hopefully there's something here (if not everything) that you can use to enhance your own Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Games!
Title: Universal Heroes: the Textbook Character Treatise
Post by: Firebomb on May 01, 2018, 02:44:48 pm
The Textbook Character Treatise is a collection of knowledge geared towards those who wish to play the role of an inherently superhuman character in the Universal Heroes system. Sure, wizards, psis, and electronicists are great fun, but in the end they are merely human. Those characters who are the subject of the TCT are essentially one with their powers, not having had to build, study, or awaken them, and are often much different than others with power - both within and without!

The types of characters covered by the TCT include the following:

* ALTERED HUMANS: these are formerly normal individuals who have been changed - whether by accident or by design. The impetus for this change can be virtually anything unusual in the environment, ranging from bizarre energies to complex chemicals - or even a mix of the two. Similarly, something 'strange' in the character's genetic makeup may simply respond unusually to otherwise normal stimuli. This stimuli, whatever it happens to be, is the cause of the character developing powers.

* ARISEN: freak occurrences and strange happenstances are the cause of a person gaining inherent powers on many occasions. But sometimes, these events don't just invest powers in someone - they cause an entire transnormal being to manifest from seeming nothingness! These rare and bizarre incidents will generate a super human, their costumes, and whatever 'stuff' they acquired during character generation. They have no memories prior to the moment they sprung into being, but can nonetheless function as created.

* COMPOSITES: a character of this type is one who is comprised of the parts of many different individuals. On occasion this will involve the pieces of various dead bodies being reassembled into what is at first glance a coherent body, thus making the composite a variant on the reanimate theme. In other circumstances, this might reflect a character drastically modified by the aciurgy power - whether or not they possess that power. The powers such an individual has is either due to the sum of their parts, or the process that made them what they are.

* DEGENERATES: an accident of conception can cause advances in evolution, with beneficial mutations moving the species forward. However, similar accidents can cause reversions in the genome, thrusting a given lifeform backwards down their path of evolution. Of course, this leaves the suddenly regressed creature with a lot of 'extra' genetic material - which often combines in a random fashion to generate ascendant abilities! While society may frown upon such individuals, scientists love to pick degenerates apart, for they represent humanity's recent past.

* DESCENDANTS: these are posthumans who inherited their transnormal abilities from either one or both of their parents. This can involve receiving smashed genes from one's parents or a like exposure to the same... whatever it was... that caused such abilities to form in their progenitor(s) in the first place. As such, the abilities of a descendant will usually be somewhat predictable, based on what others know about their parents. Though not technically mutants or altered humans, it takes a keen eye to tell the difference sometimes.

* MUTANTS: these individuals are ascendant beings who were literally born different than his or her parents... very different. When first conceived, a mutant acquires genetic information that was not donated by either parent, yet are completely viable organisms nonetheless. Some mutants simply possess extra digits or perhaps heterochromia, but others manifest truly fantastic, ascendant abilities instead! An offshoot of their parents' species by definition, mutants are a race unto themselves.

* REANIMATES: these revivified entities were normal human beings their entire lives - well, physically at any rate. However, they eventually died... and instead of the normal biological processes taking over at that point, they suddenly lurched back to life - with incredible powers, no less! Such an individual is not undead, but instead has inexplicably seen their spark of life reignited somehow. Reanimates are usually the result of a formerly normal character dying in a spectacular fashion, often involving freakish chemicals or exotic forms of energy.

Should any of these transnormal character types interest you, the TCT provides comprehensive rules to generate each, from start to finish. In addition to a unique modifier that comes with each type of textbook character, a staggering array of super human powers is available for the taking, along with specialized limitations that such beings can take to augment their power. Furthermore, notes are provided to help players navigate such beings through the world created by their Judge, though naturally some details depend on its history.

Head on over to Technohol 13 at your leisure, and you can read the entirety of the Textbook Character Treatise.
Title: Universal Heroes: the Technical Reference
Post by: Firebomb on May 19, 2018, 06:02:48 pm
Technology is an amazing thing. The sum total of human innovation, technology is an additive phenomenon, each advance ultimately feeding into the rest of human knowledge, and growing it in new and exciting ways. Thus, it is inevitable that characters will appear whose super human capabilities are derived from technology, whether using devices to access those powers, being considerably augmented by science somehow, or even being the product of bleeding-edge industry.

The Technical Reference is an attempt to give players of the Universal Heroes Role Playing Game the tools they need to add characters whose abilities are based on technology. While every conceivable technological angle that can offer players powers cannot truly be covered by a single document, the Technical Reference gives a good base from which high tech heroes and villains can begin play. It includes the following segments of knowledge:

* SPECIFICATION: this bare-bones section breaks down the three basic kinds of characters that are detailed in the Technical Reference: device-wielders, cyborgs, and robots. Each come with inherent advantages and disadvantages in the game, or in other words, character limitations. This invariably tends to make technology-based adventurers more powerful than their conventional counterparts, but at the same time, does hamstring them now and then.

* DOCUMENTATION: this extensive portion of the Technical Reference provides the rules necessary to add common technologies to one's game. These can be the source of one's power, or simply something characters have laying around the house. Everything you need to know to handle armor (powered or otherwise), computers, cybernetics, firearms, robots, and vehicles is provided, along with notes for the basic characteristics of other, less common items one may encounter.

* GENERATION: want to build characters whose powers are derived from technology in some form or another? Here's how to do it! From start to finish, whether using the random or systematic method, the process for building characters with the Technical Reference is provided in exquisite detail. From character type to ability scores to powers/equipment to limitations to enhancements to quirks to talents to contacts, you won't need anything else to make your Child of the Electron!

* CREATION: once your character is active in the world, adding new technological capabilities to them isn't as easy as spending points or rolling dice. No, they have to build or otherwise acquire the technology they need in-game. This portion of the Technical Reference explains the process of invention in lurid detail, whether simply buying the gear off the shelf, spending hard-earned Karma to add new capabilities, or bypassing both to build things (mostly) from scratch!

* CULMINATION: the end of the Technical Reference, this portion of the book focuses on issues which may affect characters of a technological bent over the course of a campaign. Whether referring to actual character limitations or simply the sociological ramifications of such characters and their capabilities, this material is intended to be food for thought for all players, whether Judging or otherwise. Anything that puts an idea in someone's head, after all, is totally a good thing.

Should characters based on, augmented with, or comprised of technology strike your fancy, the Technical Reference has (most) everything you could ever need to make them happen in your game. If my probably gushing summary of the Technical Reference has stoked your interest in that project, you can naturally head on over to Technohol 13 to check it out, or even download the entire thing if you wish. You can find it at the following address:
Title: Universal Heroes: the Book of Magic
Post by: Firebomb on July 26, 2018, 06:38:09 pm
A meddling with the nature of probability itself, magic is the art of producing outcomes to events that, without its assistance, would be staggeringly unlikely. Generally circumventing just about everything we know about the conventional rules of existence, magic is the great equalizer, letting otherwise normal human beings perform feats to shake the heavens themselves. Of course, the risks of such power often exceed the reward, as many would-be sorcerer have found out in their day.

The Book of Magic is an effort to assist players of the Universal Heroes Role Playing Game in understanding this inherently incomprehensible phenomenon, and thus put it to use within the confines of the game. While naturally every conceivable detail about the power of magic is impossible to detail, the Book provides numerous different fashions through which characters can attempt to corral this unpredictable force. It includes the following segments of knowledge:

* CORE PRINCIPLES: getting to the brass tacks, this small but vital portion of the Book details how magic is not an inherent power, so much as a procedure through which anyone can manipulate cause and effect to some extent. It also expounds upon the six different types of magic spells, all of which utilize one of three different forms of magical energy, and how some of these spells are simply based directly on a form of magic energy, while others utilize some combination of the three to function.

* MAGIC SCHOOLS: the vast majority of beings who would wield magic cannot just grab a spell and run with it, no matter its origin. No, for the most part magicians must study a school of magic in order to figure out how it works. Magic schools are a philosophy of sorts, a tradition that is built around principles scientific and otherwise, which ultimately allows its adherents to cast spells. There are thirteen different schools of magic in all, allowing for a staggering variety when wielding magic!

* CHARACTER GENERATION: once you understand how magic works in the game, at least kinda sorta somewhat, the next step is to actually build a character who can wield it! This portion of the Book will walk players through this process, from determining their physical and mental capabilities, what school of magic they will belong to, the spells they are armed with, a magic artifact of their very own, and all the background information required to really flesh their characters out.

* SORCEROUS ROLE PLAY: while understanding how spells generally function is a good start, this portion of the Book spells out how ancillary details about magic functions within the game. Detailed notes about mystic instructors, maintaining spells, attempting entreaties and casting entreaty spells, character advancement, and spellcasting limitations (optional for the character or the campaign as a whole) are given here, the better to complete your mystical knowledge!

* ACCESSORIES: while most of my rule supplements have one or two accessories with which to aid players in their use, the Book of Magic goes above and beyond in this respect. As of now, there are currently twenty (!) accessories with which you can further expand upon the knowledge the Book already provides about magic, each focusing on a magic school or type of magic spell. More may be coming in the future, but for now, you can already make use of the following accessories:

Spell Roster Accessories (seven):

Dimensional Spells: dimensional spells are one of the easiest forms of spell to cast, in that they do not drain the energy of their wielder one iota. Instead, they depend on extradimensional sources of power in order to function, which can be fraught with more than a little peril. However, their staggering utility makes the abilities they provide absolutely vital to virtually every spellslinger. For more:

Entreaty Spells: different than entreaties for power, entreaty spells are magical formula that draw upon specific beings, things, or places of power to fuel their effects, whether they're resident in our own space-time or another. The easist magic to cast, entreaty spells have numerous benefits that allow their casters to bypass many of the limitations that normally hamstring their craft. For more:

Group Spells: there are only thirteen group spells in all, but they make up for what they lack in number with overwhelming versatility. Each group spell is comprised of six other, related spells, from which a mage may choose only one on a given day. This allows a thaumaturge access to a considerable amount of spell effects, all while greatly reducing the number of spells required to do so. For more:

Personal Spells: the most intimate of magic, personal spells are those which are actualized using the energies of their caster. These spells are perhaps the most draining on wizards, but at the same time, they don't require one to rely upon outside agencies of any stripe in order to function. Furthermore, they're the fastest spells to cast, which makes them perfect for combat usage. For more:

School Spells: while most of the spells that sorcerers can study by dint of their mystic school tend to be treated similar to personal spells, at least as far as casting them is concerned, they in truth draw power from numerous sources. Each school described in the Book of Magic has thirteen spells to (mostly) call its own, and altogether form the largest block of magic, bar none. For more:

Uncategorized Spells: though the intent was to build a comprehensive roster of spells for the Book of Magic, one that players could rely upon to create any sorcerous character they could imagine, I can't think of everything. Thus, the uncategorized spell roster is provided to warehouse spells and mystic ideas that exceed the original vision for the Book, made available for everyone's use! For more:

Universal Spells: spells of this stripe draw ambient power from the universe around their caster in order to function. This process is less draining on a spellbinder than the casting of personal spells, and offers the a much greater ability to affect the world outside their wielder. Sure, the effects of universal spells may take a bit longer to manifest, but the time spent is more than worth it. For more:

School Elucidation Accessories (thirteen):

Alchemy: a practice humanity has developed for as long as it has experimented with the many and various substances in the world, alchemy is the magic of material things. The product of seven thousand years of trial and error, alchemy excels in manipulating objects both mundane and fantastic, whether creating, altering, or destroying them. For more:

Clericism: for as long as thinking beings have existed, they have worshiped various people, places, and things in their environments. Fueling them with this veneration, sentient life is occasionally rewarded for their fealty, and some gods are happy to school their most faithful servants in the fine art of magic that furthers their interests. For more:

Eclecticism: while magical schools are a great way for the most characters to develop spellcasting abilities, some sorcerers do not follow their teachings, whether by intent or by circumstance. These mages find themselves on their own when attempting to advance their mystic career, and must work that much harder in their efforts to manifest magic. For more:

Elementalism: elementalism is what schools like geomancy ultimately evolve into, for the most part, shedding their clerical trappings and embracing thirteen elements instead of a mere seven. Scattered across the multiverse, elementalists strive to understand how reality - or at least some portion of such - functions! For more:

Entreatism: while any mage can conceivably base their entire sorcerous arsenal on entreaties for power and entreaty spells, it is the entreatist who has elevated such a practice into an art form. Using interations of the Sorcerous Concordat, entreatists can draw ever more power from as many entities as they have time and inclination to support. For more:

Faerie Magics: as the entities known as Faerie spread across the face of reality, intermingling with just about every kind of life that exists, they brought their sorcery with them. Faerie magic is a reflection of its creators, acting to manipulate and degrade the capabilities of others, the better to assert their superiority over everyone they encounter! For more:

Geomancy: designed around the notion that everything in reality is comprised of one or more of seven stoicheion, or classical elements, geomancy involves drawing forth the power of these elements to a variety of ends. Whether focusing on one element or sharing one's focus amongst many, geomancers are great protectors of nature itself. For more:

Paraprobabilitism: paraprobabilitism is a study of the very nature of magic, and how to manipulate it in various fashions. While other wizards rely upon knowledge gleaned by others in order to cast spells, paraprobabilitists dig deeper into that unpredictable source of power, regardless of the cost wreaks upon themselves... or others. For more:

Philosophy: long before our universe was born, when the first sentient beings came into existence in some unknown plane, they immediately quarreled about the nature of morality. This conflict ultimately spawned thirteen distinct psychoturgical energies, power which can be tapped with sorcery by its adherents to further the aims and influence of other, like minded individuals. For more:

Physiomancy: different than other schools of magic, physiomancy involves a supernatural focus on one's physical prowess above all else. Whether directly channeling the power of one's spells into their body or casting magic to staggeringly increase their capability, physiomancers have the capability of overcoming almost any physical challenge. For more:

Technomancy: proponents of the products of knowledge above all else, technomancers comingle sorcery with devices - either their own or someone else's - in order to merge the two into a singular, unstoppable source of power. While either technology or thaumaturgy are dangerous in a mechanical magician's hands, both combined are more than doubly so! For more:

Thaumentalism: the wizardry of thoughts, the sorcery of sentience, thaumentalism is a mystical study of how intelligence works. This school of magic can be wielded to alter the thoughts of either oneself or another, and can even be used to unlock, like the mother of all skeleton keys, the psionics inherent to the minds of every intelligent life form. For more:

Voodoo: generally described as an experience that ties both body and soul together, Voodoo can be viewed as either a faith, a philosophy, or simply a means to an end. This mystic school makes use of parley with Loa, souls of the deceased that walk the earth, whether to bargain for power, exchange knowledge and sensations, or to otherwise further each others' ends. For more:

So if any of this interests you, feel free to head on over to read the Book of Magic, available here: