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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:05 am
  

Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:06 am
Posts: 221
Hello all,

A couple years back I was waiting for my new job to begin, had lots of time to waste, and remembered that I really liked Heroes Unlimited. As a result, I sat down and wrote a 100+ page supplement that I pitched to Wayne. Long story short, after calling and emailing, he never wrote back.

Is it because the supplement sucked? Well, judge for yourself. The working title was "Advanced Heroes Unlimited," and it was chock full of rules, tables, and general explanations to help you integrate real-world laws, international relations, and markets into your adventures. It also included villains and adventures built around each theme, as well as GMing advice for working in home-rules, using Google Maps, and computerizing pen-and-paper RPGs to give your players immersive environments in which to rumble and explore without having to keep huge stacks of paperwork. I also used carefully-framed screenshots from the Champions Online game to provide cues for art.

This was the table of contents:

Introduction
Advanced Games Mastering
Superhero Background: Names, Dates and Destiny
Using Google
Mapping Software
Spreadsheets
Extra Rules

Testifying in Tights: Know the Law
Aguilar, Spinelli and You
Evidence, or Why Those Photos You Took are Worthless
Confessions of a Madman
Insanity, Before or Possibly After Trial
A Roll of the Dice: What Happens When You Get Sued

The Markets: Supervillains Buy Low and Sell High
What Happens When Insiders Trade
Black Markets and Bloody Diamonds
Chairman of the Bored: Quiet Corporate Con-kwest
Fraud and the White-Collar Mafia

International Relations: Unlawful Combatants Use Death Rays
What’s Under the SOFA
Rogue States: The Greatest Supervillains
Unlawful Combat: How Many Attacks per Melee Round?
Build-Your-Own International Crisis

Villains
Black Hand
Razor Venus
The Sickle and the Hammer
“Our Friend” – The Man in Black
Ace of Spades

Adventures
Sickle Seeks Hammer
Cheat Death for Only $999
Under the Razor
Heart of Murkness


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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:50 am
  

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OLD ONE

Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2000 2:01 am
Posts: 7695
Location: Indianapolis
Comment: PROUDLY Not a member of the "Cabal of 24"
Looks like it would be interesting. Hard to say without actually reading it.

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"Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put on this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer."
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Palladium Books 2015 Robotech RPG Tactics Tournament Rules


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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:09 am
  

Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:06 am
Posts: 221
Introduction

I was a roleplaying-game nerd in school. Middle school, then high school. Then even college. I felt embarrassed about it – no one else my age seemed to be interested. It was seen as something for fantasy geeks who took things like the special abilities of elves way too seriously. Worse still was the constant sniping and complaining about the supposed faults of the Palladium System, so that even if I did find others who shared my interest, they didn’t know what I knew.

What did I know? I knew that in a way no computer game ever can, a good RPG will allow you to create compelling characters, tense situations and ultimately great stories. With the right group, those stories become shared experiences – something you “got through together.” It’s deeply personal, wonderfully creative, and intensely social.

And the Palladium System is still the best way I’ve seen to do it. Much of the criticism it attracts is often undeserved (“My jump kick does more damage than my sword?” Not in the hands of a decent GM.), but some barbs are comically misguided (character balance is for competitive computer games – this is about, you know, roleplaying). I think much of the criticism comes from players who want clear-cut rules for every situation. Palladium recognizes that no system can ever do that. It trusts in the GM to control the gaming experience, not to hold court over a series of die rolls.

Decades later, I’m still reading Palladium books, because they fill me with ideas. Hey, I’ll think, that could be the start of a great story. And with that, I’ll yield more time and thought to how the characters would get involved, who the villain is, and what will keep the action going.

This book is for older players like myself, who have gone on to higher education, better jobs, and a deeper understanding of the complexity of the world. For us, RPGs are a great thing to do on a Saturday night over a few beers. We have laptops and flat-screen TVs, wives, kids and dogs. We recognize how brutal real life can be, and how powerless we often are to do anything about it.

This sourcebook will help GMs put together grittier, more realistic campaigns. It will help players understand why heroes are needed, but also how much the world can throw at them: the legal system, the stock markets and international relations can challenge a players as much as a super-powered mega-villain. And the villains in this book will know how to use these to their advantage.

So bring it on. Ditch the computer for an evening, grab some friends and jump into a real adventure.

Advanced Games Mastering

The days of pencils, notepads and awkward, hand-drawn maps are over. While RPGs shouldn’t be played as substitutes for video games – why compete? – laptops can make a GM’s life much, much easier, and that will make the action flow more quickly and let the players enjoy themselves more.

Character Background

Before you even start your campaign, get an e-mail group going with your players to flesh out the details. Gmail is free and is particularly good at keeping one thread of emails from multiple users organized. Here are some things you might want to get out of the way first:

• What brings your characters together? Are you a mercenary team? Secret agents? Products of the same experiment? A touring band of heavy-metal vampires who fight crime?
• What do your players know, and how can they work that into their character? Lawyers, reporters, and engineers are easy to work into a story, and if your player knows about that world, their character will be all the more helpful.
• What are your characters’ strengths, but crucially, what are their weaknesses?
• What contacts does your character have in the outside world? Try to get two: an honest policewoman, a troubled researcher, an old friend fallen on hard times?
Superhero names are often more important than you think. They should summarize the character’s abilities and his or her mood, of course, but how the character got its name can add important depth that turns a straightforward hack-n-slash adventure into something more three dimensional. Consider:
• Anonymous reporting. Police departments often provide phone numbers for anonymous tippers, with code names to allow them to collect rewards. Even if a hero isn’t in it for the money, using a code name could help establish trust with the police (discussed more in the legal section).
• Code names and call signs. The military uses code names to keep its operatives’ identities secret. Characters who have military or government backgrounds may keep the name out of habit or as a continuing part of the organization.
• Media campaigns. Not only will newspapers and TV news programs give nicknames to characters, but Internet commentators will start memes that can catch on.

Using Google

Streetview. Google Streetview can be an amazing tool. If your campaign takes place in a large city like New York, Google Earth will also give you a three-dimensional map. What you’ll need is a defined setting (your home town or a big city near you), a laptop, Internet connection, television and HDMI cable.

Connect the laptop to the TV with the HDMI cable. Set your laptop to a split-screen: you should be able to choose what the players see on the TV and what only you can see on the laptop. On your browser, go to Google Maps or Earth and show the players where the action is taking place. They can then use the images in streetview to better explain what they want their characters to do.

GM: The lab is supposedly set up inside the warehouse on the corner of 29th and Broadway. [The map shows up on the TV.] Here are the entrances and exits.
PLAYER 1: I want to prowl up the fire escape to that window on the fifth story.
GM: Okay, roll for climbing and prowl. I’ll give you a bonus equal to your PS on the climbing, and add your PP to your prowl.
PLAYER 2: While he’s going that, I’m going to set myself up on the roof of that building across the street.

See what’s happening? Instead of having to describe every detail, you’ve allowed the players to use their heads while still controlling what is and isn’t available. If there was something the GM didn’t want there, he could have used any other street. The GM chooses the setting – the players get to move around in it.

Google Docs. This allows users to share documents, including spreadsheets. This is perfect for creating characters before the session starts. If you have the time, create a spreadsheet for character creation and share it with your players. They can then copy it, and fill out their stats. This allows the GM to have a digital copy of a character in easy reach, just as the player does. Since the laptop screen also blocks the players’ view, it also allows the GM to check a stat or ability without clueing the player that something’s up.

Image Searching. Since Earth and Streetview only work on the outside, what do you do about the inside? If you know an adventure will happen someplace particular, do an image search on Google for “factory,” or “airplane hangar” or wherever you might wind up. Save the image to a campaign folder on your laptop. When there PCs arrive there, you can have it waiting to slide over onto the TV screen.

This works for more than places. Any person or thing can be found on an image search and easily modified to create a quick image. Programs like GIMP are free to download and can quickly alter jpeg files. Superhero computer games are great for creating images of villains or NPCs, which you can then take a screenshot of and add to your campaign folder.

Real-World Websites. Plenty of news sites will have articles you can take a screenshot of and toss into a campaign. Google News lets your quickly search for something that you can tie into an adventure. Even commercial websites can be useful: in the “Cheat Death for Only $999” adventure, for instance, feel free to look up real companies that offer similar services and send your players to their sites. The actual sites can also give you ideas that will flesh out a story.

Mapping Software

I try to avoid using mapping software in RPGs – it feels too much like a board game, takes a long time to make anything that looks good, and can often limit the players’ imaginations (as well as your own). However, used sparingly in situations that most resemble classic “dungeon crawls” (i.e. office buildings, prisons, and sewers), having a map onscreen will help concentrate the action.

Free mapping software is available online. I used RPGmaptools, but it’s easy enough to create your own with simple graphics programs. Combined with images taken from Google, you can often quickly and easily create a detailed floor plan with a few tokens to represent the PCs (remember those game screenshots? A good head shot can be used to easily create a PC token.).

There’s an added benefit to using Mapping Software, though an indirect one: it will often force you to think of ways to confine the action. A fight in the middle of a baseball park will probably be boring. After all, the ground is flat and there’s nothing handy to use. A brawl in a restaurant kitchen, on the other hand, is exciting. It’s a bounded space. There are lots of sharp objects, boiling pots, pepper and spices, racks that will tumble down, slippery oils that will spill on the floor, and little room to maneuver yourself for that perfectly-aimed jump kick.

Try steering the players into these modern “dungeons”:

• The jail of a local police station.
• A crowded subway platform, with fast, heavy trains zooming in and out.
• Warehouses, forges or manufacturing plants, where a loose cape can suck you into something decidedly unheroic.
• A flying cargo plane. Stray bullets mean death. Sudden turns can spill the players – and the cargo – all over.
• Zoos and aquariums. One is full of deadly animals. The other is full of deadly animals, dark corners and tanks of water.
• Famous landmarks. A fight on top of a big building is okay. A struggle on top of the Capitol Rotunda is epic.
• Dense neighborhoods. The French Quarter in New Orleans is nothing but a maze, complete with crowds, obstacles, and local character. So is Times Square in New York, Harajuku in Tokyo, or Pioneer Square in Seattle. Use Google Streetview to add detail.

The overriding concern is making sure there is plenty of opportunity for the characters to cause chaos. Remember that fight in the baseball field? It can work, but you might want to have the two teams brawling, the stands packed with fans, a ticking time bomb about the go off, and a blimp coming down on top of everyone’s heads. Make sure at least one PC is in the cockpit of the blimp, fighting the villain for the controls.
Now that’s fun.

Spreadsheets

Heroes Unlimited is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. Spreadsheets are work. Work is not fun.

All true, but a little work will make for a lot of fun. Free software like OpenOffice or Google Docs will allow you to make quick tables to keep track of the action. Here’s one I whipped up in one (count it – one!) minute:

PC/NPC SDC HP AR Armor Init. Attacks Used

That’s it – all you need to keep track of a big fight. Consider using something like the next table when your team is plowing through bad guys.

The particular beauty of this is that you can easily copy and paste one line from your list of bad-guys into your spreadsheet of combatants. You can then create a “dumping ground” where you move rows of defeated NPC for tallying up experience points later.

Since tabs are commonly used in spreadsheets, feel free to create a single file for a campaign, with each tab labeled according to its need. You can have one for each character, one for the villains, one to keep track of combat, one for experience, and so on. Yes, it’ll take some time to set it up at first. But you’ll only have to do it once. E-mail the character sheet tab to your players, have them fill it out, and send you a copy. Voila! Your adventure is ready, and you can use and reuse the tabs for however many campaigns you want to play.

House Rules

Palladium has been the target of criticism, some of which is unfair and some of which is (inevitably) worth considering. The ground rules are solid. But more than other systems, Palladium wisely requires a GM who will think about how something should work and who fairly, and realistically, steps up to the plate. In running Palladium campaigns, I’ve heard a lot of the same complaints from players. Here are some suggested “house rules” you can throw in that won’t disturb game balance.

Stats under 16 are meaningless! Because bonuses don’t kick in until a stat gets to 16, some players will complain that a 15 IQ might as well be a 3. No way.

Remember that this is a roleplaying game, and that playing your character convincingly is part of the fun. A GM should remind a player with the character whose IQ is 6 that the character isn’t particularly bright. If the PP is low, make them clumsy. If their MA is low, they say awkward things at the wrong time. Remember, you are your stats. More than skills, more than powers, your stats make your character what he or she is.

But a GM can also provide more material ways to reward PCs for their high, but seemingly useless (in context, at least) stats. Consider:

• IQ –Base % for attempting an unknown skill (for instance, detecting a hidden or prowling character).
• ME – roll under to save vs. knockout, pass out from pain or from a sudden blow.
• MA – roll under to read a person’s expression or mood; use this stat liberally in games – to calm down police officers, gain citizen trust, and get insight into the motives of NPCs.
• PS – damage over this stat will result in knockdown/knockback, 1 foot per extra point. Add to physical skills when a skill takes extra strength to accomplish (i.e. climbing while carrying a comrade).
• PP – add to prowl rolls, or subtract from detect concealment rolls.
• PE – taking damage over this will force roll v. knockout.
• PB – use as a kind of Horror Factor, at least for the first time the character meets someone. Failing to roll over the PB will result in the character pausing or stumbling to attack.
• Spd – initiative order. Bonuses to initiative will apply only to who moves first (i.e. a PC with a Spd of 15 but +3 to initiative can run equal to a 15, but has an initiative of 18). If equal, roll for initiative.

Armor is too cumbersome! It’s true that Palladium essentially uses two different concepts to explain how armor works: personal armor is treated as providing coverage, while mega-damage armor is about penetration. The rules sometimes obliquely refer to penetration, but no clear guideline is given.

A GM should feel free to use AR for man-made armor the same way it works for natural armor: as blocking attacks that fail to do enough damage. A .22-caliber bullet, for example, will bounce off a metal cuirass without damaging the armor. Say the cuirass has an AR of 10. That means a PC has to roll, with bonuses, over 10 on a called shot to hit an uncovered area. But it also means that any regular attack that does less than 10 points of damage will be soaked up. But an attack that hits for 15 points of damage will do a full 15 points to the wearer (as well as 5 to the armor’s SDC). It simply punched a hole through the metal.

Using this system, it’s up to a GM to provide bonuses for weapons that are armor-piercing. Most police armor, for instance, won’t stop a knife – and a character wearing it should know that!

Why are blades so worthless? The rules allow for characters with martial-arts training to deliver devastating blows, but knives will do only 1d6 to 1d8 of damage. It seems patently unfair.

It’s up to the GM to remember that a blade cannot be parried in regular hand-to-hand combat. PCs defending against small knives may parry, but will take a penalty (-4 seems about right). The PC will have to grab something to use as a shield, or dodge until his opponent is out of attacks.

Moreover, players with blade weapons should be able to make called shots – to go for the jugular – that do damage straight to HP. If your assassin wants to sneak up and kill a guard, he’s better off with a knife than merely trying to pummel the poor man to death with his hands. Simply roll for prowl, use an attack to grapple (PP versus PP roll), and roll to strike on the neck (over a 12).

Similarly, keep an eye on damage from guns and explosives. If the characters are taking potshots at each other from a distance, by all means – damage should go to SDC. But a critical shot, a bullet to the head, a direct hit from a tank cannon? The GM has to use common sense and say these things go to HP. There’s a reason Palladium divided up damage between SDC and HP. A good GM will use that to his or her advantage.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:12 am
  

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Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:44 am
Posts: 398
Location: Milford, CT
whoa! Well done!

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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:08 pm
  

Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:06 am
Posts: 221
Testifying in Tights: Know the Law

The judge was playing solitaire on her computer. Marcus didn’t need psychic powers to know that – he could see the screen reflected off her glasses. She sighed heavily as he read off the counts in the indictment. As he did, he kept looking back at the homeless guy sitting in the back corner of the courtroom.
Homicide, kidnapping, aggravated assault in the first degree, prostitution, obstruction of a government official, tax fraud…
She sighed and adjusted her glasses. Menacing, assault in the third degree, attempted criminal mischief in the second degree…
“Counselor.” Marcus paused and looked up at the bench.
“Attempted criminal mischief?”
“Yes, the, um, brick she threw at the police car while resisting arrest.”
“Did it damage the car?”
“No, it bounced off the tire.”
“And that’s your attempted?”
“Yes, judge.”
Marcus snapped his head back and saw the homeless man still sitting in the corner, alone. He wasn’t a witness. All other cases on calendar had been called.
The judge sighed again and dragged another card into a long pile on the side of the screen. Marcus had been in front of Judge Rimes before. She had a reputation for snapping at lawyers over things she hadn’t been paying attention to. They could never see it coming. Marcus would. “Defense?”
Marty Roth rose up to a full five feet, five inches of grandeur. His chest swelled with the great passion he had for justice and the billable hour. He had used many a billable hour preparing to rip into the prosecution for bringing a case without probable cause. As he thundered out his list of wrongdoings, he imagined with glee his opponents giving him the nickname, “Roth the Ripper.” He liked the sound of that.
“No chain of custody on any of these documents. The entire building had been contaminated for hours before the detectives even got there. Then when the detectives get there, they do the point-out all at once! Some twelve shocked, abused, traumatized young women, brought together as a group, and the only person the police shows them for identification purposes is my client. The result was preordained! And all of this evidence, your honor, coming from a masked vigilante who did THIS to my client’s face!” Marcus had expected the bandages wrapped around Julia’s lean face, swelling and heaving with innocent trauma. Marty did not disappoint. Judge Rimes took a cursory glance and returned to her job playing solitaire. She allowed Marcus a quick response.
“The documents we have only to refresh the recollections of witnesses, your honor. Our case-in-chief doesn’t depend on them itself. We have photographic evidence of the scene before the contamination, that can be verified by the girls themselves. The girls were asked to do a point-out all at once, but despite their ordeal, they showed no signs of incapacity. They knew their names, where they were, and what was happening around them. The injuries the client sustained could have also occurred during her altercation with the police outside of the, ah, ‘S&M club’ she has admitted to running.”
Rimes leaned back and gave Marcus a long hard look. Marcus knew it was the Jamaican schoolmarm look. His mother had done the same thing; still does, on occasion. “What about the vigilante?”
“It’s true that a, ah, private citizen assisted in the recovery of the girls from the basement of the defendant’s club. He was considered a person of interest in the police investigation, but the testimony of the girls and the arresting officers suffices to meet our legal burden of proof.”
“We want a missing witness charge, your honor.” Marty huffed and puffed. “There’s absolutely room for reasonable doubt there. And given the huge whole in the case caused by this man’s absence, I have to say, this should never even go to trial.”
“The private citizen is supposedly the individual called ‘The Red Shadow,’…”
“The Red Shadow.” Rimes breathed out the words, which carried the weight of a hundred full filing cabinets. She was tired of cases involving The Red Shadow. It was as if a show of disappointment in her docket would be enough to get the man to stop dressing up in leather tights and leaping off buildings.
“All the evidence we have the police gained independently of the Red Shadow. Only the photos come from him, and the girls can verify them independently.”
The judge looked pityingly at Marty and shrugged. “I’m going to find probable cause. Jury selection will begin tomorrow at 10 a.m. Counselor,” and she looked sternly down at Marcus, “see that your office either gets this guy in to testify or brings some cases that don’t originate from comic books.”
Marty stopped by at the table and handed Marcus his list of witnesses. Marcus knew the names – he had put several of them in prison before. He felt a twinge of pity for Marty. He knew the man had gone into criminal defense full of idealistic hopes about civil rights. Now it was just the money – putting two kids through college, hiring a nurse for his ailing wife – that served as a moral justification. That could happen to a prosecutor, too, someday.
Marcus moved slowly down the aisle, following the homeless man out the heavy doors of the courtroom, into the sterile glass-and-marble anesthetized hallway. “Did you take good notes?”
The man looked up in fear. He had a nervous twitch. Marcus knew it was permanent and not from the sudden confrontation. “If you’re going to spend all day sitting in a courtroom, you really should get paid a little more than what he’s giving you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir, I was just…”
“The Red Shadow. Tell him if he wants to make a difference he can start actually showing up at trial.”
“What makes you think…”
“Because I’m psychic.” Marcus laughed and walked off. It was funny, like so many other things, because it was true.

Comic books and movies often have stories to tell that require, for the sake of dramatics, often hilarious misstatements of the law. Police seem to have no knowledge of basic procedure; lawyers ask ridiculous questions while the judge looks down impassively at a blatantly unconstitutional trial. Okay, drama sometimes needs to trump accuracy. But accuracy is where we can often find the most sincere drama.

I’m an attorney, but I can’t summarize three years of law school into a few pages. Instead, it’s important to consider the kind of legal challenges a good team of crime-fighters and do-gooders needs to take into consideration, and how they’ll add to an adventure rather than detract from it.

Aguilar, Spinelli and You

In every common-law country (i.e. the US, UK, Canada), the government needs a warrant if it wants to bust into your home or office to look for evidence. To get a warrant, its agents need to convince a neutral judge that there is probable cause (a good reason) to believe both that crime is afoot and evidence will be found where the search will take place. The FBI might be able to knock down your door, but unless it has a warrant, it can’t use anything it finds inside as evidence at trial. The bad guys walk free.

What’s this got to do with your PCs? First, any PCs who act as government agents have the same responsibility to show probable cause and get a warrant. Captain Fireball may blast his way into the villain’s lair, but if he’s a government agent, nothing he finds there will be of any use, and the local District Attorney will scream bloody murder over how the Cap’s stupid mistake let the bad guy know the cops were on to him. All those hours putting him under surveillance wasted. Thanks, hero.

What about vigilantes? Well, most jurisdictions use a rule created from two cases, known as Aguilar-Spinelli. The rule is simple: if the police want to use tips from an informant (the PC), they need to have probable cause to believe the informant’s trustworthiness and his basis of knowledge. Put simply, is the guy trustworthy, and how does he know what he says he knows? Weigh the two together, and if you’ve got probable cause, you can get a warrant.

This leaves the PCs with a few options. One is to create a relationship with the police that allows them to provide tips so the cops can actually go get the evidence needed to lock the bad guy up (Remember the 911 anonymous tip names? This is a good time to let the cops know your superhero alias.)

The other option is to try to take the bad guys out of business for good. For Principled and Scrupulous characters, that requires not killing them – and that requires creative solutions. GMs, take note: creative solutions are the stuff XP rewards should be made of. Otherwise, killing the bad guys should bring the authorities down on the heroes, as well, who after all did just commit a homicide.

Stand Your Ground: Some US states have enacted laws allowing citizens to use deadly force in self-defense if they so much as feel threatened. There is no exception for supervillains! That means if Bratman confronts the Jester, who guns down Bratman, the cops cannot charge the Jester with murder. Oops.

Evidence, or Why Those Photos You Took are Worthless

So you knocked the bad guy unconscious and left him tied up to a streetlamp, with photos of his wrongdoing taped to the pole. Job well done, right?

Not unless you expect him to walk free in less than two days.

The problem here is that a prosecutor can’t bring charges against a person unless he or she has evidence to prove the person committed the crime. No proof, no charges – and the person has to be freed. Well, wait: why didn’t those photos prove the bad guy robbed that bank/sold those drugs/unleashed a plague of demons?

Evidence can only be admitted at trial if it has a foundation. That’s legalese for “we know it is what we think it is.” To lay foundation – to prove it is what you say it is – the attorney needs to call a witness to answer such questions as:

• Did you take this photograph?
• Is the photo a fair and accurate depiction of what it purports to show?
• Did you see this happen when the photo was taken?
• Have you been to the place where the photo was taken?

And so on. If the attorney doesn’t do this, the opposition can simply block the evidence from ever being shown to the jury.

So now here we are at the trial of your bad guy. The PCs took the photos, but can they take the stand, give their names and addresses, and subject themselves to brutal questioning by the bad guy’s defense attorney (who is really just doing his job)? No? Are there any other eyewitnesses willing to do so? No? Then you have no way to prove what happened, and without proof beyond a reasonable doubt (around 95% sure), the jury cannot convict him. He walks.

The problems with evidence aren’t limited to physical items. Testimony is evidence – and there are lots of rules that limit it, as well.

First, consider that all those previous bad acts the villain did won’t be mentioned to the jurors. That’s because every trial needs to answer only one question: did the defendant break the law at this particular time? Prior bad acts are irrelevant, and a jury shouldn’t base its decision on blind prejudice.

Second, the law is very careful about letting in hearsay evidence. This is a devilishly complicated topic that can’t be easily explained here, but suffice it to say that if someone told you something, you can’t tell it to the jury. “She said she saw him do it,” or “I heard he does that kind of stuff,” is hearsay, and you can’t bring it up at trial. The law wants to hear from people with personal knowledge, and if you can’t find that person and convince them to testify, then usually, too bad.

Common Problems With Criminal Procedure, and What It Means for You

4th Amendment
What: Need a warrant to search
Why: Limit police intrusions
Effect: Evidence found can be suppressed; bad guy walks free
Foundation
What: Need to prove evidence is what you say it is
Why: Guarantees the jury sees reliable evidence
Effect: Photos and physical evidence can’t be used unless PCs testify, revealing secret ID
Hearsay
What: Can only testify to direct perception
Why: Ensure reliable testimony
Effect: Information PCs give to cops often can’t be used to convict
Miranda
What: No forced confessions at trial
Why: Keep police from torturing suspects
Effect: Hard-nosed interrogations may get info, but can’t secure conviction
Right to Appeal
What: You can challenge an unfair trial
Why: Correct potential mistake by a judge
Effect: If the villain is out on bail, he’ll be free to commit crimes for years
Insanity
What: Insane defendant can’t be tried until cured
Why: Person should have right to defend himself
Effect: The villain, if found insane, goes to a psychiatric hospital rather than a prison.


Confessions of a Madman

We all know what happens when we’re arrested, right? The police are supposed to read us our rights: to remain silent, to have an attorney, and that anything we say will be used against us. Those are called Miranda rights, from the famous case of Miranda v. Arizona, and they’re followed by police around the world.
Rarely, though, do we ever think about what those rights actually mean. When do the things we tell police become evidence, and what does it mean that they can be used against us?
Unlike in movies and on TV, torture rarely works. The problem is that you can’t know if the person actually has the information you want, but once you start torturing him, he’ll say anything he thinks you want to hear to stop it. For that reason, courts around the world struggle to keep confessions from coming in at trial if it looks like they were obtained by having the police screw some thumbs.

Here’s the catch: Miranda only applies to testimony – what’s being told to investigators after arrest. It doesn’t do anything about statements made to police during an investigation.
Ex 1: The PCs defeat the Driller Killer and hand him over to the police, who put him under arrest. The police read him his rights, but DK says he wants his lawyer. The PCs punch him up, and DK yells, “Fine! I only did it to stop the spread of the moral decline of our youth!” Big problem – the DK demanded his lawyer, a Miranda right, and only afterwards admitted his crime without his lawyer present.
Ex 2: Police arrive at the burning building. One asks what’s going on. The PC yells back, “It’s okay! We burned it down to trap the Flamemaster in his lair!” Now the PCs are in trouble – that’s arson, and when they spoke to the police, they weren’t under arrest.

Insanity, Before or Possibly After Trial

The law is careful about trying defendants who are insane. The key word here is competent, and a defendant who is not competent cannot be tried.

This doesn’t mean the person is freed – far from it. In fact, insane defendants will likely spend more time behind bars, because they will be handed over to a hospital for the criminally insane, and not be given a trial until the doctors declare them fit. When will that happen? Maybe never.

The most common test is known as the M’Naughton Test, and it simply asks two questions:
• Did the defendant know what he was doing?
• If he did, did he know it was wrong?

While most common-law jurisdictions use this, plenty of US states have moved away from it. They look instead to two other questions:
• Did the defendant understand he was breaking the law?
• Could the defendant stop himself from breaking the law?

In American federal courts, at least, the burden of proving insanity rests on the defendant.

What does this mean for game play? Plenty of villains will be declared insane. That allows a GM either to lock them up forever, or to place them in a hospital that’s easily broken into by the villain’s minions.

Keep in mind that often, once the villain is “cured,” he or she will still be held responsible for the crime. Of course, by that time, the witnesses’ memories will have faded, evidence will have been lost, and so on.

A Roll of the Dice: What Happens When You get Sued

There’s a good reason why superheroes will want to keep their identity secret, and it’s not for particularly heroic reasons. You see, some things are crimes – those are punished with jail time. Other things are torts, and those just require money.

A lot of money.

So when Powerman is powering his way through a public bus, or leaping on to private property, or telling reporters about how evil Professor Evil is, he’s exposing himself to liability, for harm done to passengers, trespassing, or defamation. They can sue him for a lot of money, if only they can find him and serve him with notice that he’s being sued.

Why do people sue? Sometimes actions may not be criminal, but still are torts. Other times, people simply don’t care about jail time – they want to be reimbursed for their losses (real or imagined). Some time, people sue because… well, they’re just jerks. So where does that leave our heroes?

It means that even with the best of intentions, a person can be liable for his or her actions. On top of that, while criminal trials require a jury to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (roughly over 90% likely), a lawsuit only requires proof that’s a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not; in other words, 51% likely). Already you can see why so many defendants just choose to settle.

Common Lawsuits, and What They have to do with Superheroes
Negligence
What: Breach of a duty of care causing injury
Defense: They were also negligent
Effect: Anything that hurts people unintentionally can be negligence
Defamation
What: Exposes defendant to public ridicule
Defense: Truth
Effect: Can’t go around bad-mouthing villains unless you have evidence
Trespass
What: Going on to property uninvited
Defense: Consent or public emergency
Effect: PCs trespass all the time just to follow villains
Inflicting Emotional Distress
What: Intentional mental torture
Defense: None, except innocence
Effect: PCs can’t go around torturing or stalking people, even bad guys
Wrongful Death
What: Negligent homicide
Defense: Victim was equally negligent
Effect: Even if PCs aren’t charged with murder, family can sue them for killing the villain
Assault/Battery
What: Harmful or offensive touching
Defenses: Consent; self-defense; situational (i.e. pushed into someone)
Effect: Virtually any fight will result in battery. Even if the PCs didn’t start it, the cost of the lawsuit might make force them to settle.


Lawsuits take years to resolve and can run up tens of thousands – even millions – of dollars in legal fees. Although some protections exist against frivolous lawsuits, the US does not have an effective “loser-pays” system, and even in countries that do (the UK, among others), some torts are easier to bring than in the US, making them less frivolous (i.e. defamation).

The defense is a good disguise. This works because the law requires notice – meaning you can’t be found liable if you didn’t know you were being sued. That usually requires that a neutral party serve you with papers, including the complaint and summons. It’s hard to do that if the other party doesn’t know your name or the address to your hideout (“Dear Mr. Man, or super-occupant…”).

What this means in terms of game-play is that a threat to reveal the hero’s identity is more than just a way to endanger the lives of those he or she cares about – it can financially ruin the person. Even if the PC hasn’t hurt anyone, he could be the subject of numerous fake paternity suits brought by attention-seekers.
PCs need to be aware that even with good intentions, the law might not be on their side. The system can’t make exceptions for people it likes, and a good reputation won’t be enough to stall a lawsuit. Rich PCs have a lot to lose, and that can include their sooped-up car or armored suit, if the court thinks it needs to go on the auction block.

There are reasons superheroes are rare. Even if mutants and super-soldiers were real, courts still would be, as well. Consider yourselves warned.


Last edited by parkhyun on Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:32 pm
  

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Wanderer

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Cool! I want more!


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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:36 am
  

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Champion

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This is sweet! I'd love to see the whole thing, is there a way you can email it to me?

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Look upon me and tremble ye masses. For I am The Necroposter!
keir451 wrote:
Amazing Nate; Thanks for your support!

Razzinold wrote:
And the award for best witty retort to someone reporting a minor vehicular collision goes to:
The Oh So Amazing Nate!

Nate, you sir win the internet for today! You've definitely earned the "oh so amazing" part of your name today. :lol:


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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:22 am
  

Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:06 am
Posts: 221
The Markets: Supervillains Buy Low and Sell High

Perfectly manicured nails tapped with robotic efficiency on a desk arranged by economists. Papers lay neatly arranged in a stack organized by algorithms written by professors and cursed by farmers throughout the Midwest. One hand lay against Tony Morlucci’s face, a finger pushing hard against the temple, appearing ready to crack like a pencil. The tapping was distracting the client from his focus on the hand, and what made it look so oddly as if it was resting on the head instead of the other way around.

“You want to go public and you want my brokerage to handle it.” Tony had made it a practice to summarize whatever a client said and repeat it back to them. This gave the appearance that he was listening and cared about what they had to say. He had read in a book that this was an effective communication strategy.

“Yes!”

Tony had already read the rundown prepared by the junior analysts. The company supposedly had a formula to reverse the aging process, restore muscle fibers and strengthen bones and joints. It ran ads across the Internet teasing viewers with the body of a rippling, muscled man, the camera eventually rising to show the head on the body belonging to a balding, spectacled grandfather. Test results had been mixed.

“We thought, you know, we’d have to wait for years until the tech was perfected, but if we can do the IPO now, we’ll be flush with enough cash to hire the best geneticists out there. We’re so close to really perfecting this thing, really, the FDA will have to take a second look at it.”

Tony forced a smile. “I know of a commercial development trust that invests with us. I can recommend the shares to them. They have a lot of extra capital floating around and are looking for a safe place to put it until the housing market comes back.”

“You think this is safe? I mean, that’s great, we just thought no way would anyone ever want to put so much money into this right now, with the…”

The uncontrollable rage that leads to destructive rampages, ending with massive heart failure. “Investors will want to get into it now, before the tech is proven and you’re all billionaires.” Tony leaned back into the soft black leather of his executive chair and smiled. His eyes remained fixed on the client, unblinking. “We specialize in this kind of thing here. I’ve done this for too many companies for too many years to count.”

He walked the client out, hand on his back, smile on his lips, the eyes locked forward. The development trust would buy out the lab. He would control the trust. The lab would work for him. It didn’t matter how long the subjects lasted, so long as they did enough damage while alive. He stood looking out over the city, his back to his desk, where the invisible fingers of his mind tapped out an e-mail message to the business desk editor of The Standard, announcing the IPO. A pencil glided across the desk, hovering above a notepad, scribbling out a basic schedule in which to sell, create chaos, and then buy. Tony didn’t like to use his hands for typing and note-taking – too secretarial.

He closed his eyes and focused on what was happening across town, where he was simultaneously engaged. Public Defender was hitting the warehouse. Tony had put his own guards on the detail, but once again Mr. Spandex had knocked them down like bowling pins and rolled his way into the heart of the operation. Twenty million dollars of war diamonds, representing a market value of nearly a billion dollars and enough influence over the cartel to force their hand in any negotiation he wanted, was about to spill into the hands of the FBI. “Black Hand!”

Tony slid the samurai face mask down and raised the barrel of the assault rifle. “Black Hand!” With a thought, a crate fifty yards away tipped and broke, littering the floor with sharp sparkling cargo. “Black Hand!” Public Defender leapt across the tops of the crates toward the sound. Tony stayed crouched in the darkness, looking for the tell-tale shield of the officious intermeddler. “Black Hand!” He had to make the shot count.

Tony stepped away from the window and left the office. It was night now. The diamonds were lost. Public Defender had rapidly become a serious liability. Tony knew he needed better guards if he was to win the next round. And if they were going to die quickly to massive heart attacks, at least they would take Mr. Spandex down with them.


The markets probably never will – and probably never should – be a central character in your campaign. But integrating some basic knowledge of business, finance and capital into a story can be a great way to provide motivation, act as a catalyst, or create a looming threat. It can work well because markets are incredibly powerful, and rarely transparent, which presents a murky, vague and terrifying threat.
Terrifying? Really?

Busted markets in 1929 and 2008 created chaos – millions of people lost everything they had, governments were overturned, national sovereignty was lost, extremist politics came to the fore, and riots gripped major cities. All while a lucky, greedy few made off like bandits.

Or like supervillains.

What Happens When Insiders Trade

As everybody knows, a market trader tries to buy low and sell high. But as people learned in 2008, there’s a lot more to it than that.

First, understand that market traders don’t use their own money. They use leveraged trades, meaning investors give them money, counting on the trader’s skill to make a profit.

Second, although stocks, bonds and commodities are regularly traded, virtually anything else can be, as well. The most dangerous market is actually in contracts – a contract to buy or sell at a later date. These contracts are often used by farmers to lessen the risk that their crop will be wiped out, leaving them and the buyer stuck with nothing. But because the traders aren’t buying the crop, only the contract on the crop, it’s called a derivative trade, and it can be very, very risky – particularly because the trader is buying thousands of these contracts at a time.

Third, in order to give traders some clue as to what they’re actually buying, ratings agencies group derivatives together into tranches – ratings that signal how risky the contracts are. In the 2008 crisis, for example, traders had been buying and selling highly-rated tranches of mortgages – contracts on home sales – that turned out to be much riskier than the ratings agencies suggested. When the economy dropped, and all those people couldn’t pay off their mortgages, the traders realized that they had invested billions of dollars into tranches of junk.

Game Tip: if the PCs have parents or grandparents still alive, having the bank threaten the mortgage on grandma’s home can add a good sub-plot.

Where’s the crime here? The most common one is insider trading, and it’s crucial to building up a hidden financial empire that can later purchase things such as secret lairs and death rays.

With all the money to be made from derivatives, but all the risk of losing everything, traders naturally want first access to knowledge – they want to know everything the insiders know. The only people who have that information are executives, accountants, attorneys and board members who owe a duty of loyalty to the company. If, for instance, the chairman tells a trader that the company is about to release an amazing new product, and the trader pays him for the information, the chairman has just betrayed his company: the shareholders or owners had the right to those profits, not the trader who might buy up massive amounts of stock from shareholders who don’t know better.

So what? What does this have to do with Heroes Unlimited?

Idea 1: the most dangerous villain won’t have any super-powers at all. Instead, a rich but corrupt businessman or trader can wield incredible power by buying off insiders throughout the corporate world, amassing vast fortunes, controlling and manipulating the markets, bribing reporters and politicians, and backing it all up with the ability to blow up the economic system if he’s ever caught.
Idea 2: a supervillain with the right connections can launder his money through insider trading, allowing him or her to have access to millions or even billions of dollars without ever having to carry a wallet.
Idea 3: with the right knowledge, a villain can threaten to destroy the careers and fortunes of rich and powerful people. He or she uses this to try to control the heroes’ city, state, or even country.
Idea 4: the supervillain is merely trying to have his or her organization or company take over the business world, by snatching up controlling shares of major corporations – and it just so happens that information “leaks” that makes those shares appear worthless.

Black Markets and Bloody Diamonds

The basic rule of any market is supply and demand: if it’s plentiful, it’s cheap. If lots of people want it, it’s expensive. Some things, however, can be both plentiful and in high demand, yet still wind up being expensive. That makes it a very attractive business to go into. The only catch is that usually, the only reason this happens is because the product is illegal.

While everybody knows about the drug trade, and the violence and misery it attracts, a good GM should feel free to look into lots of other potential black markets. After all, anything that’s illegal or highly regulated is so because people want it. Consider the following:

Real Black Market -> Super Black Market
Smuggling sex workers -> Smuggling mutants
Diamonds from brutal warlords -> Super-minerals from villain overlords
Arms dealers -> Powered-suit dealers
Dumping toxic chemicals -> Dumping mutating chemicals
Animal fights -> Mutant animal fights
Harvesting organs -> Harvesting super-organs
Nuclear secrets -> Alien secrets


All of these are illegal or restricted because all of them can result in horrific human suffering. Yet enforcement can be difficult, and both the clients and the salespersons can be vicious. How much more vicious will they be if they can shoot laser beams from their eyes?

Remember that in order to keep these schemes running, the bad guys will usually need to buy off the authorities. You can create tension in a game by dropping hints of corruption, without giving away the names. Who among the PCs’ contacts is actually bought off? How do the PCs know they aren’t just bumping off a rival organization?
Modern businesses often pursue a strategy known as vertical integration, meaning the business controls the entire chain from supply, to manufacturing, to distribution. This helps keep costs down and maintain consistent quality. Black-market dealers are nothing if not businesspersons, and they’ll pursue the same strategy, even if not every part of the process is illegal. This can result in two adventure hooks:
• A bloody war breaks out between suppliers and dealers, one trying to take over the other, or
• Innocent businesspeople are bullied into giving up their companies – often their life’s work – to gangsters for little or no money

Combine this with a corrupt police force, the intricacies of the law (see the section above) and the needs of international relations (the section below), and you’ve got yourself a thinking man’s adventure.

Chairman of the Bored: Quiet Corporate Con-kwest

The corporation really is a beautiful thing: it allows thousands of people to contribute investment money to a business, helping create massive pools of resources that let engineers, managers and marketers invent useful new technologies or provide amazing new services, all while operating democratically. At least, that’s the theory.
In practice, although most corporations do provide useful goods or services, there’s a lot of political infighting and backbiting over who gets access to all that money. The more successful a corporation is, the more money it’s sitting on, and the meaner the fights become. Many of these fights will never see the light of day – but when they do, they quickly get personal, petty and vicious. Because corporations are the drivers of incredible technology, and because they provide strong motivations for characters and NPCs to fight and even kill, it’s good to know what you’re dealing with and how to use that in your campaign.

A quick summary of how corporations are organized:
• The Shareholders: buy partial ownership of the company, usually entitling them to vote on crucial management decisions.
• The Directors: whom the shareholders vote in to oversee management and hire the officers.
• The Board: the directors acting as a body, by election.
• The Officers: actually do the daily management of the business. Directors can often also be officers.
• The President: oversees the staff.
• Chief Executive Officer: oversees the business deals (usually the same person as the president)
• Chief Financial Officer: oversees the budget
• General Counsel: the top lawyer. The corporation is his or her only client.

The ground rules for how the corporation’s business is conducted are laid out in the Articles of Incorporation, which usually need to be approved by the local government where the corporation is headquartered. In the U.S., this is almost always done in the State of Delaware, whose laws are very favorable to corporations. It doesn’t matter that the actual headquarters is somewhere else – all the state needs to do is approve the articles.
So how do we work this into an adventure?

The hostile takeover. When one corporation wants to take over another corporation, it can do one of two things:
• Go into negotiations to merge the companies, which will have to be approved by the shareholders of both corporations.
• Use its funds to buy enough shares from the current shareholders to vote out the Directors and replace them with cronies who will sell out the business.

If it’s your business targeted for a merger, option 1 is what you want. Option 2 is what you fear.

The way to stop a hostile takeover is to create a poison pill – a change to the articles that makes the targeted corporation suddenly very unattractive. Usually, this means simply making a rule allowing the shareholders to buy up tons of new shares when a certain event happens, like, say… a different corporation buying 20% of the available shares. That would water down ownership and make it very expensive to keep buying stock, driving up the price of the takeover.

The other defense is to find a white knight, another corporation or investor who will keep making rival bids, forcing the hostile buyer to keep jacking up the price. Of course, in the end your business will be taken over by the white knight, but often it’s the lesser of two evils.

Hostile takeovers can provide real drama. You can use them in your game by having the villain legally, but evilly, exert his control over more and more businesses; have a director request protection because “those guys don’t play by the rules”; try to take over the PC’s business, if he or she has one; allow the villain to gain access to new prototype technologies that will allow him once and for all to destroy the heroes, and so on.

Set up a structure for a super-villain organization. The corporate structure can work just as well for a mafia outfit or ninja clan as it will for a computer maker. Either the PCs’ enemies combine their efforts into creating a League of Evil, or the PCs realize that they were fighting the entire organization to begin with.

The flipside can also work – Heroes Unlimited and Ninjas & Superspies both lay out rules for creating secret organizations. Feel free to put those organizations into a corporate structure. Doing so will not only clarify who does what, but might generate new ideas about why an NPC is doing what he or she is doing (“As the general counsel of No Mercy, Ltd., I advise you to make sure those witnesses disappear. No? Fine, I’ll do it myself.”)

Give your PCs promotions. Heroes can still have day jobs. Who says they can’t be CEOs? Characters in the Hardware, Robotics and Bionics classes, particularly, will be good fits for big business. Once they’re in, you’ll have almost unlimited adventure hooks. Consider just the following:
• Employee steals new technology to sell it to supervillain
• Lower-level officer tries to get the Board to give him the PC’s job – but is he really in the service of the enemy?
• Business partner is tied to hostile foreign power, attracting interest from federal agents and creating bad headlines for the PCs
• Rival businessman wants to undercut the PCs and makes deal with supervillain to sabotage the corporation
A big budget can also help with research on the PC’s super-gadgets.

Fraud, and the White-Collar Mafia

Legally, fraud is easily defined by five simple steps: 1) The seller made a serious misrepresentation, 2) the buyer believed the misrepresentation, 3) the buyer bought the good or service, 4) the buyer would not have bought the good or service if he hadn’t believed the misrepresentation, and 5) the buyer was harmed – usually financially – as a result.

Out in the real world, fraud takes on many faces. Essentially, the only difference between a jewelry dealer ripping off a customer for a few extra dollars and a massive “protection” scheme is only that one results in more jail time than the other. Because most readers will be familiar with the more traditional mafia pastimes – extortion, prostitution, drugs, and racketeering – let’s talk instead about the more modern equivalents.

Rigging the books. The 2002 scandal involving the power-supply company Enron shook the markets and hit economies around the world. What Enron was doing, however, wasn’t particularly new or fancy. Broken down, the scheme works like this:
• The directors and officers are awarded stock options as bonus payment.
• They then set up lots of little companies that look independent but are actually subsidiaries of the original company
• These subsidiaries use the mother company’s money to buy up more shares of the stock, driving up its price
• The directors and officers then use their options to buy the expensive stock very cheaply, and sell it to make millions.

To cover up the incredible scale of the fraud, Enron – which “managed” energy sales – arranged for vast swathes of the United States to be hit by blackouts, artificially driving up the cost of energy in a desperate attempt to make enough money to fill the gaps in the books.

The point to take home is that creative accounting may help lower your tax rate, but when a major company tries to hide huge losses or to cover up fraud, the best it can do is delay the inevitable. But while the inevitable is creeping up, the guilty parties are increasingly desperate, and will try anything to avoid what will likely be long prison sentences (though also likely cushy ones).

Like turning to gangsters. Or supervillains.

Insurance scams. Insurance companies spend lots of money on investigators to root out fraud (come to think of it, I’ve never seen an insurance investigator superhero before…). That doesn’t stop people from trying to put one over on companies that sit on mountainous piles of money. After all, there’s plenty more where that came from, right?

While saving an insurance company from losing a share of profit isn’t exactly a satisfying goal for a superhero, insurance fraud can serve as a modus operandi for a criminal organization or villain. On the other hand, heroes that engage in or allow wanton destruction during their epic battles with their enemies should expect themselves to be the target of angry insurance companies – hey, cataclysmic battles with invading aliens is bad for business! Teasing out the implications of insurance fraud in a world of super-battles can take adventures in new directions.

Ex 1: A new superhero is in town. Oddly enough, all his battles take place on properties that are under market value but whose petitions for rezoning have been denied. He also has a web site advertising his services “Smashing Supervillains and Everything around Them!”
Ex 2: Insurance companies lobby the city to crack down on supers, good as well as bad. Behind the campaign is a cunning mafia boss who is trying to get his enemies – superheroes and supervillains – out of the way. The PC’s enemies will seek a temporary alliance, but the more that’s destroyed in the struggle, the greater the resistance from the city government.

Intellectual piracy. Anyone who has walked around Manhattan’s Chinatown knows the scale of intellectual piracy on the streets. Whether you’re looking for DVDs of movies that haven’t hit theaters yet or fine leather handbags made by “Ppada” or “Louis Viton,” if it’s popular, chances are someone is mass-producing cheap copies of it.

While low-level intellectual piracy is more a nuisance than a major threat, on the corporate level it takes on much greater significance. “Piracy” becomes “espionage” – and the very future of a company can be at stake. Consider the iPhone: until its release, managers and Officially Busy People everywhere used the Blackberry, made by a Canadian company. Within a couple years of the iPhone’s release, that company was nearly wiped out by its American competitor. All the long days and hard years spent building up a business that created thousands of jobs were swept away by a single innovation from a foreign competitor. What would you do if it were your company? Wouldn’t you want to know what your rivals are up to? Wouldn’t you consider “bending” the law, if it could save your life’s work, your country’s prestige and the jobs of thousands of people in your community?

This situation can be a natural source of adventures for Hardware, Bionics, Robotics, or even Experiment characters, particularly those running their own corporations. Not only will villains be able to exploit these powerful motives, but rich clients will needs help – sometimes, super-held – to defend themselves from the enemy.

Ex 1: A struggling corporation hires the villain to try to abduct the hero, in order to grab his technology or even his DNA.
Ex 2: An innocent corporate employee with knowledge of a revolutionary new product is being hunted by his employer’s rivals, and needs the heroes’ help.
Ex 3: The streets are flooded with cheap, unlicensed goods decorated with the PC’s superhero names! Who else is behind this but their old super enemies, who find a way to profit from their defeat by cashing in on the heroes’ popularity – then using the money to buy weapons that they’ll turn on those same heroes.

“Honest graft.” White-collar crime isn’t always done by managers and executives. Politicians have been particularly good at abusing the system to their own ends – it helps when you’re the one who created the system!

Though the public spotlight on politicians often helps tamp down on flagrant law-breaking, the power inherent in the position can make it very tempting to engage in abuse. Consider the exactment: an agreement by a government to overlook a violation of some kind in exchange for some supposedly public benefit. Most of the time it’s used to allow zoning violations in exchange for public access to beaches or parks. But as long as there is a legal quid pro quo, the potential for abuse is great.

Graft is simply using the information you obtain as a public servant to make a private profit. If you know a big corporation will be relocating, because you’re part of the negotiations to lure them to town, you can start buying up land from owners who don’t know that, then sell it to the company at inflated prices later. Countless Westerns have revolved around the scheming to buy up railroad land, even if it involves pushing the people who already live there off their homes. Update it to the 21st Century, and you’ve got yourself an adventure.

Ex 1: The old standby. A local politician wants to buy up land he knows will go to a mega-corporation for millions, but the people in the community refuse to sell. He turns to gangsters and supervillains to convince them to move.
Ex 2: The supervillain bribes city officials by warning them of where he or she will strike – allowing them to have their agents there ready to buy up land and businesses for pennies after the disaster..

Random Economic Plot Table (1d4)
A…
Corporation 1
Foreign government 2
Employee 3
Director 4
Is doing…
Extortion 1
Fraud 2
Graft 3
Espionage 4
Against a…
Rival company 1
Foreign government 2
The PCs 3
Itself 4
Risking…
Community’s economic lifeline 1
High-tech falling into wrong hands 2
The PC’s business 3
Market crash 4
But…
PCs’ nemesis behind whole thing 1
Villain also at risk, will kill innocents to stop it 2
Crime exposes political intrigue 3
DA grabs all evidence 4
And…
Local reporter implicates PCs 1
Mastermind missing 2
Bribed politicians send secret agents 3
Int’l agency intervenes 4


Last edited by parkhyun on Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:38 pm
  

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Wanderer

Joined: Wed May 10, 2006 1:25 pm
Posts: 73
Great job on "The Markets: Supervillains Buy Low and Sell High!" I have a question. I have a player who likes to make rich powerful characters. He's not interested in superpowers, so much. I'm curious how you would go about creating a game mechanic for a PC that is particularly adept at manipulate wealth, resources and the economy?


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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:19 pm
  

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OLD ONE

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Location: Indianapolis
Comment: PROUDLY Not a member of the "Cabal of 24"
Actually, I think I can answer that one... Take a look at the "Entrepreneur" OCC in the Mystic China sourcebook for Ninja's and Superspies.

parkhyun - I am collecting all of this into a word document. It's a great read. When you approached Palladium with this material, was it before or after the current version of HU?

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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:12 pm
  

Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:06 am
Posts: 221
The Oh So Amazing Nate wrote:
This is sweet! I'd love to see the whole thing, is there a way you can email it to me?


For legal reasons, I have decided not to "publish" it as a home-made pdf. I'm not sure that Palladium Books actually is right that doing so is legally actionable, but I will respect their wishes to control their own products. However, since this forum is open to anything and is provided by Palladium, I see no reason why I can't post it in chapters. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time polishing the document and adding art and tables, and that can't be replicated in this forum.

Quote:
Great job on "The Markets: Supervillains Buy Low and Sell High!" I have a question. I have a player who likes to make rich powerful characters. He's not interested in superpowers, so much. I'm curious how you would go about creating a game mechanic for a PC that is particularly adept at manipulate wealth, resources and the economy?


High IQ + high education with a focus on business. I really don't think this would be a fun character to play, though. Markets are a great source of details and intrigue in an adventure, but I can't see how they could be the focus on a fun RPG.

Quote:
parkhyun - I am collecting all of this into a word document. It's a great read. When you approached Palladium with this material, was it before or after the current version of HU?


It was around spring 2012. I suggested that it be combined with a tech/gadget supplement, since my work was too long for an article but too short for a stand-alone supplement. Of course, I could have written more, but it seemed pointless.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:34 pm
  

Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:06 am
Posts: 221
International Relations: Unlawful Combatants Use Death Rays

I look down the sights and see my neighbor’s head. He was a baker. He gave my mother bread when I was born. She told me that. That was why she trusted him. The rifle is heavy. At first I thought it was the grip of the man I took it from, frozen around the handle, but even after I pried his fingers away I found it was heavy. The stock is too long for me, but I can look down the sights. There is my neighbor’s head. I pulled the trigger and closed my eyes. When I walked over, I saw his head, incomplete. The eyes were still open. It occurred to me that he was looking forward at the moment of death, trying to find out what happened. But he died too fast. I knelt down and looked into his eyes.
Gahiji woke up. He had had the same dream every so often since he was 12. He hated the dream. It made him want to kill people. He was trying to get over that. At least, he wanted to be able to get over that, once the killing was finished. That was supposed to happen soon. The Koreans were here.
General Ri was waiting. His given name, Gang-chul, literally meant “steel,” and his body proved it. Gahiji was glad the general’s practice was to bow, because he would have refused to shake those mechanical hands.


International relations and international law are both foggy, fuzzy areas where the rules – if there are any – are often vague and unenforceable. Thousands of international organizations bind governments together through treaties, contracts, or simply personal relations. Even a straightforward rule of always following the national interest bogs down quickly in the reality of dealing with 290 countries, any one of which could be a crucial ally in the next crisis.

Lots of superheroes work hand-in-hand with governments or international agencies to fight whoever happens to be trying to take over the world at the moment. Even if the heroes aren’t acting officially, if they’re operating internationally, they can run into problems as simple as visas and as complex as the Geneva Conventions.
Integrating a bit of international relations into a game can add depth and increase the challenge. International “hot spots” can also be great sources of adventures, particularly for grittier, low-powered characters who won’t be expected to battle gods, but can take out some of the worst people on Earth.

What’s Under the SOFA

In almost every country that hosts international troops, the diplomats needs to work out a Status of Forces Agreement, otherwise known as a SOFA. This functions as a treaty, meaning the countries are legally bound to honor the agreement. Mostly, the terms will cover things like where the foreign troops can go, what they can and can’t do, environmental protections around the bases, and legal liability for any crimes done by visiting troops.

As a GM, you shouldn’t have to know the intricacies of every SOFA, real or fictional, in the game world. However, you can use SOFAs, treaties, and other areas of international law to complicate missions.

Sources of International Law
Source --------------------Controls
Rome Treaty-------------Crimes against humanity, genocide
Geneva Conventions---Treatment of civilians and POWs
UN Charter---------------Behavior of UN member states
Nuclear Non- ------------Selling or trading nuclear secrets or weapons
Proliferation Treaty
(NPT)
World Trade--------------Economic spats between countries
Organization


How do you build this into an adventure, or work it into an ongoing campaign?

Ex 1: The PCs must take out a maniacal terrorist who has set up his base inside the territory of a friendly nation. No foreign troops may operate in his particular area, but the nation’s military has been bribed to look the other way. The PCs must get the terrorist and destroy his base without being caught, because if they are, their government will do nothing to help them.
Ex 2: Soldiers from the PC’s country have been taken hostage by a rogue nation (more on those later). The PCs must rescue the hostages without killing any nearby civilians, whom the government has used as human shields.
Ex 3: In any adventure, wantonly killing – directly or indirectly – civilians, or abusing or torturing enemy soldiers, can result in the PCs being wanted internationally and hunted by Interpol, which itself could have super-powered agents.
Ex 4: The actions of the supervillain have resulted in a warrant for his arrest from the International Criminal Court in Belgium. Only the PCs have the power to bring him to justice.

Remember that the SOFAs work together with all other treaties. Even if the PC’s government hasn’t made a specific agreement with the host government on a certain topic, if it’s covered by another treaty that either government has signed, the PCs will probably have to honor it or pay the price. Hmm… what is the price of flouting international treaties and laws?

The Rome Treaty. Not to be confused with one of the founding treaties creating the European Union, the 1998 Rome Treaty established the International Criminal Court – a court designed to deal with the worst offenders of international law. The crimes it has jurisdiction over are:
• Genocide
• Crimes against humanity
• War crimes
• Aggression

If that seems like a broad and fuzzy list of crimes to you, take heart – you aren’t the only one. Several states refused to sign it, including the United States and China, because they were worried their own soldiers would be put up on show trials. That makes enforcement somewhat difficult, because under the treaty, only people from the states that actually signed the treaty can be put up on trial.

The Court itself runs out of a fancy building in the Hague. It has no police power – it can’t bring in tinpot dictators on its own – but it has conducted trials of deposed leaders, some of whom were responsible for horrific mass killings, rapes, and mutilations.

Keep that in mind – hopefully, you will never be able to create a villain as bad as the real-world equivalents.

The Geneva Conventions. War is a terrible thing, and it’s often undeniable that acting terribly in war can be to one’s advantage. To impose some sense of duty on nations to engage in mutual self-restraint, the signatory nations agreed to a series of four treaties that have become the international gold standard of civilized warfare: The Geneva Conventions. They cover:
• Caring for wounded soldiers
• Caring for wounded or shipwrecked sailors
• Treatment of POWs
• Protections for civilians

Although in international law, a nation usually can’t be bound by a treaty it hasn’t signed, the Geneva Conventions are so widely adopted around the world that they are effectively enforceable against anybody, anywhere, who is at war.

That’s right: if you’re not at war, you can forget about it. What constitutes a war is itself not easy to figure out (more on that later), but for the sake of convenience, we’ll just assume in your campaign, the PCs will know if it’s a war. If it is, then violating the Geneva Conventions can get them arrested by the military and court-martialed. Violating it is a crime, and soldiers who do so are criminals.

But not only should the PCs follow the Conventions, if they are operating as part of a government force, they’ll be required to arrest anyone else who violates them. The implications for adventures involving government missions should be obvious.

The UN Charter. The UN is a big, unwieldy organization that comes in for a lot of criticism – much of it justified. That said, when you need to gather a group of the world’s greatest specialists because a terrorist mastermind is threatening the extermination of the world’s five greatest powers, who you gonna call?

The UN works by creating two voting bodies: the General Assembly, with ambassadors from all the member nations, and the Security Council, with five permanent members and 10 rotating “extras” who sit for two years. The General Assembly decides whether to send a matter to the Security Council, and the Council decides what to do about it.

Because the five Council members (the US, UK, China, France, and Russia) are often completely at odds with each other, the best one can usually hope for is a fact-finding mission that files a public report which embarrasses the violating state. In theory, it can declare a police action, in which member states join forces to fight an aggressor, but it can’t declare war, technically, since the treaty itself outlaws war. In reality, the only time the UN has ever fought a police action was the Korean War, which only happened because Russia was boycotting the Council and the Chinese seat was held by a Taiwanese ambassador.

That was, of course, until the world was invaded by aliens from above. Or mutant earthworms from below. It’s up to the GM, really.

Game Tip: Any of the topics covered in this book can be used for things other than just sources of adventures. Consider them for team backgrounds, character names, sponsor organizations or even fight locations (whatever you’ve heard, you can fight in the war room).

The NPT. Nuclear non-proliferation is perhaps the most terrifying issue to be ignored by most of humankind.
Governments don’t ignore the NPT. The treaty binds countries from giving out nuclear technology, or from developing it on their own, unless it’s for peaceful uses (like power generation). For the most part, it’s been a success: most nations have signed it, and as of this writing, only four countries (all of which never signed in the first place) have since developed a nuclear weapon.

But loose nukes are still the stuff of many a cheesy spy flick, and for good reasons. The countries trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons are inevitably countries with a record of supporting terrorism, aggression against their neighbors, or simply making continual threats to obliterate their perceived enemies.

Feel free to throw in complications with the NPT into any adventure featuring rogue states, unlawful combatants or international criminal organizations. A weak state with a nuclear weapon left over from the Soviet era, for instance, is simply waiting to be bullied by a menacing supervillain.

The World Trade Organization. This world body is tasked with ironing out economic battles between countries. This happens in a few different ways:
• The country gives financial support to an industry, which then sells its goods at a loss in the second country. Once the other country’s industry goes out of business, the price will suddenly shoot up, because the competitor is gone. Known as dumping.
• One country accepts goods from the other country, but the second country blocks the first country’s goods from sale at home. This gets the second country customers without having to compete. Known as protectionism.
• A country agrees to an economic treaty, then backs out when it’s not favorable.
• Potentially, the WTO can also hear cases over sanctions, where the first country passes laws targeting people who do business or supply any goods or services to citizens in a second country. Often the sanctions will affect citizens of third countries (i.e. bankers in Hong Kong who do businesses with North Korea against U.S. sanctions).

Although trade negotiations aren’t the most exciting place for a superhero to be, keep in mind that almost all international crises between nations will start on an economic level. Things usually will only begin to heat up once the countries start to feel the pinch of sanctions, dumping, or protectionism. Thus, an obscure trade spat in a country far away might draw the attention of superheroes, particularly if they are connected with a major corporation or work for the government.

Also keep in mind that a supervillain’s plan for world conquest or domination might start out perfectly legally, or at least requiring years of painstakingly slow negotiations through bodies such as the WTO. All this buys time and cover while the villain creates tension around the world and advances his plan to crush the existing powers. You can throw international trade into the mix by:
• Having the villain connected to an international corporation.
• Taking over a small, poor country that happens to be the only source of desperately needed natural resources.
• Inciting tension between rivals (such as the U.S. and China) by intercepting shipments of valued goods.

Rogue States: The Greatest Supervillains

Most countries, democratic or not, have leaders that are at least somewhat concerned about their population. They look out at the rest of the world and conclude that it’s in their own interest to make bargains and sign treaties. They allow people to move in or out of their country, so the rest of the world can get to know them. They hold regular diplomatic talks with their neighbors. All these things make them relatively stable and predictable. In a word, safe.

But what happens when a country doesn’t want to play by the rules? When a country’s leaders see their people as tools, mere devices to enhance their own power? When secrecy is more important than peace? How can the outside world even negotiate with something it doesn’t understand?

These countries have been called rogue states, and they’re very dangerous if for no other reason than they’re very hard to understand. At worst, they profit from terrorism and nuclear proliferation. This makes them perfect allies for the world’s most powerful supervillains, and deadly enemies for PCs.

Rogue States and Their Enemies
North Korea ------------- South Korea, Japan, the U.S.
Iran ------------------------Israel, the U.S., Saudi Arabia
Syria------------------------Israel, Lebanon, the U.S.
Myanmar (Burma)--------Thailand
Sudan----------------------South Sudan, Chad, the West
Zimbabwe-----------------Britain, the U.S., tension with South Africa
Pakistan-------------------India; the U.S.


North Korea. The Korean peninsula was split at the end of World War II, with the intention of having a reunifying election under the UN. Instead, partisans on both sides engaged in terrorism and assassination to eliminate their ideological opponents, and while the South eventually held an election, the North refused to participate, creating its own communist government. After a horrific civil war that drew in all the world’s leading powers, the North managed to hold on by the skin of its teeth and settled into a bizarre personality cult dedicated to the idea of “self-reliance” (juche).

North Korea is famous for its unpredictability. Because the state is controlled entirely by one man (currently Kim Jong-eun, the grandson of the founder Kim Il-sung) who handles the military, diplomacy, intelligence, and domestic policy, no one has a clear grasp on what its intentions are at any given moment – perhaps not even the leader. The North has promised to develop nuclear weapons and routinely threatens to wipe out its southern neighbor, all while trading missile technology for nuclear secrets and sponsoring terrorist acts around the world to sow chaos and fear.

All of this is bad enough on its own, but when you consider that North Korea is smack dab in the middle of the world’s greatest rivalries – Japan and China, the U.S. and Russia – and only 30 miles from one of the world’s most populous cities (Seoul), the consequences can truly be terrifying.

In game terms, North Korea can be an excellent adversary, by:
• Sponsoring terrorist supervillains
• Creating Physical Training super-agents to wreak havoc
• Providing elite soldiers as fodder for higher-level heroes
• Putting dangerous technology out on the black market
• Creating international crises that mask a supervillain’s plans

North Korean Special Forces
SDC: 50 HP: 20
5 attacks, +3 parry/dodge, +3 damage, +3 strike, +4 roll
AK-47: 4d6 dmg; Grenades: 2d10 dmg, Knife: 1d6 dmg; jump kick, knife hand, snap kick, flip/throw, wheel kick, axe kick


Iran. While the Iranian people tend to be easy-going, educated and, by Western standards, so hospitable it’s unnerving, the Iranian government is notorious for rigging elections, cracking down on anyone perceived as sufficiently un-Islamic, sponsoring terrorism, undermining government control in its neighbors, and viciously propagandizing for war against the West. Iran’s president has called for wiping Israel off the map, denies the Holocaust and regularly insinuates that Jews control the United States.

Iran was originally under the rule of the Shah. In 1979, with the Shah increasingly engaging in erratic behavior (he tried to change the nation’s calendar system overnight to supposedly match the ancient Persian dynasties), a group of Islamic students under the leadership of the Shia leader Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the U.S.-backed government and took Western diplomats hostage. The country then fought a devastating war with its Sunni neighbor before turning inward.

Internally, the government uses a paramilitary force known as the baseej to crack down on dissent. Outside its borders, Iran provides money and weapons to terrorist groups such as Hezbullah, which effectively controlled swathes of Lebanon and used the support to launch attacks against Israel. Oil sales to Russia and China keep the money flowing.

Iran can easily be part of a super-adventure. Consider:
• Protecting an important defector hunted by Iranian super-agents
• Financing a group of radical Islamic supervillains to terrorize the U.S. and Israel
• An Experiment NPC as a super-powered challenge
• Baseej volunteers as fodder for lower-level heroes

Baseej Volunteer
SDC: 20 HP: 10
2 attacks, +2 damage, +1 strike
Pistol: 2d6 dmg; Nightstick 1d8 dmg


Syria. Syria, like many of its Arab counterparts, came out of colonialism with a burning desire to regain its former glory and a lasting hostility to the West. Using Turkey as a rough model, reformers pushed for a secular state under a single nationalist political party: Ba’ath.

Today, Syria is in flux. At the time of writing, a popular movement is pushing for an overthrow of Bashar al-Assad, the country’s murderous dictator. Bashar has support from only one country: Iran. Iran and Syria have long been politically close, with Iranian money and training supporting Syrian control over the neighboring country of Lebanon and funding terrorist groups like Hezbollah in its fight against Israel and the West.

Hopefully, by the time you’re reading this, Syria will be a peaceful democratic country. If not, feel free to use it as a source of International adventures. Syria is a great source of:
• Trained terrorists, as fodder for mid-level heroes
• Arab nationalist heroes/villains, who may fight Western-backed superheroes at times while supporting them at other times (for instance, against radical Islamists)
• Shelter for supervillains who antagonize the West
• Plots requiring the PCs to protect democracy activists against government oppression, without involving official government intervention
• Hardware villains, backed by nearly unlimited funding

Myanmar (Burma). When the British controlled it throughout the 19th century, it was known as Burma. After independence, it became Myanmar – and since then, its various ethnic groups have been in one long civil war.

The official government of Myanmar is a junta of generals known by its English acronym SLORC, the State Law and Order Restoration Council. If any better name for a villainous organization has ever been created, I haven’t heard of it. While the Council has since renamed itself (to the “State Peace and Development Council”) feel free to keep the name SLORC around, purely for the joy of it.

Myanmar’s government is one of the worst abusers of human rights in the world. Disappearances are common. Passive resistance from Buddhist monks is met with machinegun fire. Whole populations are forcibly relocated overnight. Even the capital city went missing (!) until satellite photography revealed that the government had suddenly moved everyone to a new capital without warning.

The Burmese have been enemies with Thailand for centuries, and the rivalry shows no signs of going away any time soon. Although Thai politics is far from a democratic ideal, Thailand is at least nominally democratic and has a reputation as a responsible state actor internationally. Myanmar is nowhere close. It occasionally attacks across the border, particularly over areas it claims are its territory.
While Myanmar’s low technology makes it little threat to world peace, it can play a part in adventures by:
• Offering jungle hideouts to supervillains who ally themselves with ethnic groups
• Providing a source of heroin to drug rings around the world
• Attacking its own population, which only the heroes can stop
• Providing Ancient Masters as villains for high-level heroes or mid-level groups of PCs

Sudan. While Sudan takes great pains to appear democratic and modern, it is mostly an impoverished country run by an autocratic dictator. For years, the government fought rebels in the south of the country by arming militias, which it unleashed on the civilian population, killing, raping and plundering them. The scale of the atrocities was so great that Sudan is widely considered to have attempted the worst genocide since Hitler created his death camps.

Although the south eventually become independent, the militias (known as janaweed) have not been effectively disarmed, and Sudan is still one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Not content to terrorize its own population, Sudan’s government has started fights with its neighbor, Chad, another desperately poor country. Propping up the whole system is a large natural oil deposit, which the government leases to companies from China and Russia.

Stopping rampaging militias can itself be a worth goal for an adventure, particularly for lower-level PCs. Sudan’s ties to Russia and China can also come into play in international adventures, because while Russia and China’s relations with the West may be complex, the Sudanese government makes for a straightforward villain – particularly one who finds him or herself Mystically Bestowed.

Janaweed Militia Member
SDC: 40 HP: 15
3 attacks, +1 parry/dodge, +1 strike
Bolt-action rifle: 4d6 dmg; grenades 2d10 dmg


Zimbabwe. As Rhodesia, a British colony, the country was known for its fertile farms, educated population and safe streets. It was also known for the brutal racism of the government toward its native black population. This oppression was so noxious that few countries – not even Britain – recognized the government of Rhodesia, and the UN officially called for sanctions against it.

In 1980, rebels under the leadership of Robert Mugabe won power in a free election, and quickly asserted power over the white farmers who had supported the previous government. In the decades since, Mugabe has consolidated his grip on power, all while unleashing thugs to terrorize white farmers into fleeing their land and intimidate political opponents from asserting their rights.

Currently, Zimbabwe is the target of international sanctions. Businesses that makes deals with the government are black-listed, and human-rights advocates are sheltered in London and Pretoria. South Africa in particular has bitter feelings toward Zimbabwe, and is often suspected of placing agents in the country to undermine Mugabe’s rule.

Feel free to toss Zimbabwe into an adventure by:
• Creating Hunter/Vigilante villains to challenge heroes of any level
• Tying a villain’s corporation to secret deals with the Zimbabwe government
• Being the target of White-Power criminal organizations
• Creating tension with South Africa or Britain

Pakistan. Without a doubt, Pakistan is one of the most complex foreign-policy challenges in the world. As a GM, this presents enormous opportunities for both villains and heroes, crises and secret missions.

Pakistan and India were formed after World War II, when the British Empire dissolved. Unable to determine how the region’s Hindu and Muslim populations could peacefully coexist, the vast subcontinent was split into two countries – India for Hindus, and Pakistan for Muslims. Violence tore across the country as millions of families were chased out or moved away in terror, and then more violence erupted when East Pakistan declared itself the independent nation of Bangladesh, leading to invasion from the western part of the country and counter-invasion from India.

Today, Pakistan has a democratically-elected pro-Western government sitting on top of a vast military bureaucracy that is determined to assert control over the country, fight India at all times, and impose severe religious restrictions on its citizens. Money sent from the West to support the democratic Pakistani government is often diverted to the anti-democratic ISI, the nation’s spy network and military command rolled into one, all-encompassing organization. Pakistani soldiers fight and die opposing terrorists that receive weapons and training from the Pakistani military.

To make matters worse, Pakistan is one of the few countries to have successfully created its own nuclear arsenal, all on its own. Its nuclear power is the pride of the country, which suspects India and the West will stop at nothing to take away its nukes. This is a perfectly rational fear, because both India and the West see Pakistan as an unstable, radical country that could easily be taken over by fundamentalist Islamist terrorists. Protected by its nuclear umbrella, the ISI has harbored terrorists who have launched murderous attacks against civilians in India and who have pledged to attack the West.

All this is terrible stuff in real life, but a gold mine to an enterprising GM. Pakistan can be an excellent way to involve:
• ISI agents, as fodder for mid-level heroes
• Supersoldier or mutant villains, to oppose the PCs
• Battles between Indian, U.S., Pakistani and terrorist forces, perhaps all at once
• Terrorist super-organizations no longer under the control of any government
• A looming threat of nuclear war

ISI Agent
SDC: 40 HP: 20
4 attacks, +3 parry/dodge, +2 damage,
+3 roll, +2 strike
Assault rifle: 4d6 dmg; pistol 2d6 dmg
Jump kick, knife hand, flip/throw


Unlawful Combat: How Many Attacks per Melee Round?

Two.

All joking aside, the issue of unlawful combatants – fighters from no country or army – is a thorny one, a big legal black hole where concepts of sovereignty, citizenship and human rights goes to die.

There are obvious reasons to disguise soldiers as civilians. The problem is that this inevitably leads to enemy soldiers – the undisguised ones – indiscriminately killing both civilians and soldiers, because, hey, “you can’t be sure.” To put an end to the practice, an extra protocol was added to the Geneva Conventions, requiring that all combatants wear identifying marks. Nevertheless, in World War II, Germany sent several saboteurs to the United States, who pretended to be normal Americans but who were actually attempting to destroy important factories. The men were caught, and after a contentious legal defense that went all the way to the Supreme Court, hanged.

The legal problems surrounding unlawful combatants, terrorists and disguised agents are important, but too complex and ultimately irrelevant to discuss in this volume. The political and tactical problems, however, are low fruit waiting to be grabbed by a good GM.

Politically speaking, groups of unlawful combatants – those not aligned with any government or nation – create serious threats to the international system and to general stability. One major problem is that these groups can easily take over failed states – countries that have no functioning government. Once embedded into the country, the group can do as it pleases: the government can’t stop them, the local people can’t stop them, and because they are out of the jurisdiction of other countries, often their enemies can’t stop them, either.

Two good examples of this are al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and the Shabab in Somalia. Both groups were comprised of radical Islamic fighters from around the world, and both operated from rugged countries with no effective central government. Both were eventually driven out by the U.S. or its allies (in the case of the Shabab, an Ethiopian army). Both wreaked untold misery on the local population during their time in power.

Terrorist Henchman
SDC: 30 HP: 20
2 attacks, +1 parry/dodge, +2 damage
AK-47: 4d6 dmg, Knife: 1d6 dmg


Tactically speaking, once a government does try to intervene, it faces an uphill fight that regular armies rarely win. By mixing in with the local population and refusing to engage in stand-up battles, the insurgents:
• Wear down and exhaust regular troops
• Make soldiers hesitate in fear of killing innocents
• Allow themselves to decide when and where an attack takes place
• Turn the soldiers’ anger and frustration against the local population, making them enemies
• Force the government to spend enormous sums of money fighting insurgents with home-made cheap gear
• Drag out the conflict, making the government politicians unpopular at home

For these reasons, governments facing unlawful combatants tend to rely on small, elite teams that can move rapidly to take out precise targets without risking innocent lives. Which is a pretty good description of most super-groups, come to think about it.

Plenty of heroes, whether they’re government agents or not, will eventually find themselves fighting a shadowy international organization dedicated to taking down the world system. It’s up to the GM to read a newspaper (free online, mostly), find a failed state, and work through the implications.

Ex 1: The villain plots to bring the international system to its knees by interrupting the oil supply. He establishes a base on the coast of Somalia, where he supplies pirates with super-weaponry. The heroes intervene to save oil tankers and realize their enemy is behind the attacks. But the base is located somewhere inside the ruins of Mogadishu, protected by hundred of gunmen, some of whom are child soldiers.
Ex 2: The villain uses slave labor in the war-ravaged country of the Congo to mine diamonds, illegally selling them to fund his terrorist activities. The PCs should want to stop him and rescue the laborers, but the camp is protected by militia members, with the local population paid off (cheaply) and some “laborers” actually disguised soldiers and informers. To make matters worse, the country is in a fragile peace that could easily be shattered.

The complexity of dealing with these issues can add wonderful wrinkles to adventures, bringing a sense of hard-edged realism, but more crucially, a greater challenge to encounters. Consider:
• Child soldiers: innocent yet dangerous. Can the PCs sneak by, knock them out, or help them escape?
• Nominal governments: their troops will attack the PCs, but if the PCs attack them, they could create diplomatic problems or even weaken government control, thus strengthening the supervillain
• Civilian shields: either by holding them hostage, or paying them to do work that helps the organization, the supervillain puts them in harm’s way
• Booby traps: the old dungeon-crawl standby, these are usually the first thing to get tossed out of an adventure that doesn’t involve elves and swords. Big mistake – virtually every fight should offer the possibility that a wrong step will bring trouble. Lawless areas simply provide great excuses to toss in more, more, more. Land mines. Packs of wild dogs. Punji stakes. Suicide bombers. All at once. Do it.
• Rival warlords: your enemies may be bad, but their enemies might be no better.
• No escape: the hostile region and brutal terrain, combined with the state’s fuzzy legal status, requires that the PCs get in and out on their own, which means a single mistake can lead to an epic, and dangerous, trek.

Punji Stakes: PCs can avoid them by rolling for Detect Concealment or Detect Ambush, or simply the PC’s IQ (as a percentile, not d20 roll). Falling into one does 2d10 damage, renders the character prone, costs 2 melee attacks, and can result in disease or poison; roll to save.

Build-Your-Own International Crisis

GMs wanting to portray international crises can always watch the news and simply use real life. This is especially helpful, because a little bit of Internet research can provide excellent details that spare the GM from having to invent everything off the top of his or her head. While that provides for quick-and-dirty adventures, it also requires that the PCs enter the campaign after everything has gone wrong. What players should want is to keep things from going wrong, and that means your setting might require some creativity. Consider instead rolling on the following 1d4 times on the following table and putting it all together into a home-brewed disaster-to-be:

Quick-Roll International Disaster
1 – 7 Natural disaster weakens local authority
8 – 14 Country is under pressure to take sides between larger rival states
15 – 21 Valuable resource discovered in country
22 – 28 Ethnic tensions simmer over violent incident
29 – 35 Brutal government crackdown pushes refugees across its borders
36 – 42 Coup-de-tat by military
43 – 49 Assassination of controversial politician
50 – 56 Criminal gangs grow out of control
57 – 63 War next door threatens to drag in its neighbor
63 – 70 Sudden increase in prices leads to widespread riots
71 – 77 Local preachers call for religious war
78 – 84 Foreign government sponsors extremist group
85 – 92 State’s support for terrorists has resulted in crippling sanctions
93 – 100 Corruption results in foreign corporation taking land from locals


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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 5:14 am
  

Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:06 am
Posts: 221
Villains

In keeping with the hard-edged, realistic and darker tone of this supplement, the villains presented here are bad people. Not misunderstood, not melodramatic, but evil. The GM should not confuse simple facts with simple characters.

Good superhero movies have good villains – interesting people with clear motives we can understand without necessarily sympathizing with their actions. Because a good villain requires exposition and backstory, movies often feature lots of scenes showing the villain before his or her encounter with the hero. That’s important, and draws in viewers. GMs, unfortunately, have no such luxury. You’ll have to drop enough facts into the story to tease your players – to provide mystery – while not giving the whole thing away. Easier said than done.

The format used here as character sheets I created in a few minutes messing around with standard (even outdated) word-processing software [NOTE: in moving the manuscript into the forum, the formatting was lost - if the actual supplement is ever published, you can thank me for my brilliant design then]. Feel free to make your own. I make a new one almost every time I create a character, just to experiment a little and see what works.

One of the things players have told me again and again is that they feel constrained by the character class system in Heroes Unlimited. After all, isn’t “Unlimited” supposed to mean something? I’ve found that virtually any character I can dream of can be made under the Palladium core rules, and with the Powers Unlimited supplements, I feel positively challenged to try new characters with new amazing abilities. But what I think this criticism overlooks is that the character classes – and the random tables especially – don’t detract from my ideas, they give me ideas. Characters I had vague plans for turned into something much deeper and more interesting when I took the time to actually roll them up and work them through. Of course you can add something to a character that’s not in the rule book, if your GM lets you or if as a GM you feel it adds to the story or the challenge. Feel free to give your mutant a powerful exoskeleton if you want. It is truly “unlimited.”

What you shouldn’t do is focus on creating the most ultra-mega-powerful assortment of stats in the history of roleplaying games without a plausible character, story, and motive to flesh it out. A good GM knows his or her PCs and tailors an adventure to their level – get the character right, and trust your GM (or yourself) to provide an appropriate challenge.

These characters are all around level 1, so a GM can feel free to scale them upward if necessary. The adventures in the next section feature most of the NPCs here, but you can use them in recurring encounters, which the adventures here are designed to lead toward. All can be used in situations that involve the legal, financial and international factors detailed in this supplement.

Black Hand

(Tony Morlucci) Miscreant
Thrown out of a twisted dimension, Morlucci arrived on Earth retaining a fraction of his powers. Now long accustomed to the world, he uses his abilities to control the underworld, while ruthlessly attempting to corner the markets.
Immortal – fallen demon lord
Lvl: 1
Job: runs a hedge fund
Apartment: penthouses in New York, London and Tokyo
Car: several sports cars, sold and updated yearly
Life savings: virtually unlimited
Phobias: none
Education: equivalent to Ph.D (+25%)
Age: unknown, appears to be mid-30s
Weight: 180 lbs
Hair: blond
Eyes: blue
IQ – 13 HP: 47 SDC: 182 AR: (0/15)
ME – 9 Roll: +5 Pull Punch: +5
MA – 30 (trust/intimidate: 97%) Dodge: +1 Parry: +1 HF Save: +2
PS – 18 Damage: +3 Psi Save: Init: +2 Magic: +3
PP – 14 Strike: +2 Possession: +3
PE – 17 (+ 5 save/+5% coma) Attacks: 4 PPE: 82 ISP: 79
PB – 14 Spd – 29 ( y/m)

Powers
Multiple beings
Can create 3 other versions of himself (usually 1 lower level)
Extraordinary PE
Gains extra 1d4 HP per level

Natural Abilities
Heals 3x faster
Perfect vision
Keen senses

Weapons
Steyr rifle: 5d6 dmg
Baretta pistol: 3d6 dmg
Flamethrower: 5d10dmg

Psionic Powers
Summon Inner Strength +10 SDC, +2 save v. poisons/toxins, feels no pain or fatigue (4 ISP)
Alter Aura (2)
Telekinesis (3/8) +3 strike, +4 parry
Telekinetic leap (8)

Armor
Samurai scale
AR: 15 SDC: 75

W.P.s
Auto pistol
Auto rifle
Heavy weapon

Skills
Anthropology
Astrophysics
Biology
Botany
Chemistry
Chemistry: Analytical
Math: Basic
Math: Advanced
Business/Finance
Literacy
Research
Writing
Computer Operation
Secondary: HtH Assassin, Body building, Running, Athletics, Streetwise


The Black Hand is supposed to be a terrifying mafia family, the oldest and most established, the ones who never get caught. Its reputation proceeds it, leading hardened criminals either to meekly yield their ground or to deny that the representative actually speaks for the family – or that the family even really exists. Actually, it doesn’t.

It’s just Tony Morlucci.

Morlucci, you see, isn’t human. He’s what humans call a demon, although not in the religious sense of coming from hell. He is instead the loser of a political power squabble in a dimension inhabited by sadistic, powerful beings, who cast him out to Earth. Since his arrival, he’s fashioned himself as a smooth corporate professional, eventually establishing himself as the head of an investment firm, TM Securities.

Because he can create three other versions of himself, Tony is not exactly strapped for time. While he’s making money foreclosing on homes, his alter egos are busy taking over the criminal underworld. The Tonies don’t fear death, since Morlucci will just make another one, don’t operate on a limited budget, since the business has enough money, and don’t leave fingerprints, because they share Morlucci’s telekinetic powers. All this makes for perfect assassins and shadowy crime bosses who can appear to be everywhere at once.

Keep in mind that to Morlucci, this behavior is totally natural. Of course he would do whatever necessary to amass wealth and power. The idea that he would want recognition or fame for doing so is literally alien to him. He’s bored and appears to be stuck on Earth forever, and is obviously superior to all its inhabitants. What else would he do, other than entertain himself by dominating and controlling them?

Morlucci appears to be a neatly groomed, dapper Nordic man: blue eyes, slick blond hair, always wearing stylish, perfectly pressed cream-white suits with fancy wristwatches and Italian leather shoes. Everything is designed to impress and ingratiate himself with others. He has spent decades carefully studying human emotions and reactions, in order to mimic them, but cannot ever really understand them. His reactions are therefore superficially charming but unnerving and odd to close observers. This does not stop him from being a very good judge of situations, particularly those involving a power balance, even if he can’t judge a person’s character.

Morlucci will try to take care of meddlers using thugs and criminal henchmen first. Because his identity is always perfectly safe, he risks nothing using muscle instead of brains – and if the heroes dispatch all the muscle, his alter egos can always recruit more from gangsters who have no idea about the first group. If that fails, or if he can’t avoid the situation, Morlucci will don his specially-made suit of samurai armor, to hide his face and frighten the enemy. He will then use telekinesis to distract his enemy before he dispatches them at range with high-quality firearms.

Black Hand is excellent as a recurring enemy, given that the PCs can never be sure they killed the right one. His position as the center of the markets allows him to dabble in a little of everything, often with catastrophic results (for others – he makes out quite well). His light touch on his criminal enterprises also means the PCs might be totally unaware of who they’re dealing with until the last moment.

Razor Venus

(Julia Rasorkov) Diabolic
Tall, lithe and attractive, Julia wears a tight black leather suit that emphasizes her figure, but also allows quick access to a variety of brutal and painful weapons.
Hardware - weapons
Lvl: 1
Job: owner of a sadist club
Apartment: lives on the top floor of her business
Car: none; rarely leaves the club
Life savings: $50 million
Phobias: none
Education: high school (+5%)
Age: 32
Weight: 125 lbs
Hair: black
Eyes: brown
IQ – 16 HP: 16 SDC: 87 AR: (0/10)
ME – 11 Roll: + 7 Pull Punch: +2
MA – 17 (trust/intimidate: 45%) Dodge: +3 Parry: +3 HF Save: +1
PS – 16 Damage: + 1 Init: +1 Magic: +0
PP – 13 Strike: +2 Possession: +0
PE – 15 (+ save/+% coma Attacks: 4/3 firearms PPE: 0 ISP: 0
PB – 17 (35% charm/impress) Spd – 15 ( y/m) HF: 8

Relevant W.P.s
Revolver
Auto-pistol
Energy pistol
Targeting
Knife
Chain

Skills
Demolitions (+24)
Demo Disposal (+24)
Find Contraband (+20)
Basic electronics (+10)
Basic mechanics (+20)
Make/modify weapons
Recognize w. quality
Boxing
Acrobatics
Gymnastics
Wrestling
Secondary: HtH Assassin, Body building, Athletics,
Prowl, Palming, Seduction, Business/Finance, Streetwise

Special Abilities
+3 disarm on called shot
Paired weapons (will use to taze two PCs at once)
Quick-draw

Armor
Concealed
AR: 10 SDC: 50

Special Weapons: These are incorporated into her black leather suit:
4 throwing knives 1d6+2 dmg, +1 strike
20 exploding pellets (1d6 dmg but cause pain and distract victims)
Flash powder (victim loses initiative and ½ attacks)
Wrist-mounted tasers (4 charges each, 15 ft. range, must hit skin to be effective, victim must roll under ME or be incapacitated for entire melee round)
Spike tube (adds 2d4 dmg to kicks, covered with pain-inducing toxins, victim must roll to save or be incapacitated for 1d4 rounds)


Razor Venus is the work-name of Julia Rasorkov, a successful dominatrix. Julia made decent money humiliating rich and powerful men, until she realized that there was more money to be made, and fun to be had, on the sadist end of the S&M business. There are a certain number of people who have money and are masochists. Julia simply realized that there are just as many people who have money and are sadists. The business is very easy to run: Julia takes out a building somewhere in an industrial part of town, hires immigrants, prostitutes, or simply naïve teenage girls, and then never lets them leave. She attracts clients through back-page advertising for S&M services, and then encourages clients to go beyond masochism into the more expensive hobby of sadism: torturing people. Among her clients are policemen, politicians, city officials, and wealthy businessmen, all of whom wind up being accessories to kidnapping, assault, unlawful imprisonment, conspiracy, and more. Julia’s approach is very carrot-and-stick, in that her clients both enjoy her services and fear what would happen to them if their activities came to light.

Although whatever club she operates will be well-protected by both her personal bodyguard and the local police, Julia knows enough about pain and the human body to make her a deadly opponent in face-to-face combat. In a fight, she’ll gladly take one hit in order to make a crippling simultaneous attack, usually starting with a tazer shot from her wrist. Once the opponent is on the ground, he’ll be finished off with kicks from a spiked boot, with blades covered in a painful irritant chemical. If outgunned or outnumbered, she’ll use exploding pellets to sting or distract her enemies, toss out some flash powder and make her escape.

Julia knows that what she does is wrong, because she was forced into prostitution as a teenager. She learned basic street-smarts and the rougher elements of human psychology. But all people, to her, are bad. If a person doesn’t enjoy cruelty and power, doesn’t break the law, and doesn’t act according to selfish whims, that doesn’t mean they’re good – it means they’re cowards, because people are inherently bad. Masochists come to dominatrixes like her because they can’t accept their desire to be cruel, and instead transfer in into feelings of shame and a hope that punishment will somehow alleviate their guilt. Julia is very good at leading them to overcome this guilt, so that they can enjoy what they truly want to do: hurt others.

So let them pay to scar and torture a helpless girl. It’ll cost them extra, though, if they want to kill her.

The Sickle and The Hammer

Soviet Russia had a problem. The Americans were worried about a “missile gap.” The Soviets were worried about a superhero gap.

So in the 1960s, the government decided that if superheroes wouldn’t show up in Russia, Russia would make its own. They would combine everything they knew about eugenics, chemistry, physical training, experimental neurology and nuclear radiation and breed authentically Communist heroes, perfect specimens of proletarian virtue who would be raised to act as the vanguard of the Soviet state. After over 20 years and thousands of embryos, they got lucky: somehow, someway, there was a stable zygote with apparent superhuman characteristics. Then in the early 80s, they got even luckier: twins.

Named after the two forthright Karamozov Brothers, Ivan and Alyosha were raised by scientists and party members, taught unassailable communist doctrine, trained to be loyal, dedicated and brave servants of the people. They were ready to be introduced to the world as stars. What they weren’t ready for was that world to collapse.

By the 1990s, Soviet Russia had torn apart, the state run by corrupt alcoholics and the streets controlled by brutal gangsters. There was no more need for Soviet superheroes – no more nation for them to champion. No budget to continue their training. No people worth saving.

Instead of looking after the brothers, the scientist in charge of the project, desperate for money, decided to sell them to the Mafia. From there, the brothers were bounced around from city to city, used to terrorize innocents or pull off crimes. They knew they had been betrayed, but if you couldn’t trust the men you thought were your parents, who could you trust? Where could you go? What could you do for a living? Ivan and Alyosha decided to run away, something easily done when one can run hundred of miles per hour. The question was where to run away to. Ivan had seen enough of Russia – he decided to try life in America. When the time came, he grabbed Alyosha and they made their escape. Somewhere in Vladivostok, however, they separated, and after weeks of fruitless searching, Ivan flew to Japan, and from there, New York.

Each brother is deadly in his own right. Ivan has no remarkable superpowers other than his amazing physical abilities, which make him not only incredibly fast, but nigh-indestructible. In combat, he will attempt to gain distance before charging at the opponent, knocking whomever is unfortunate enough not to get out of the way through walls, into the ground, or even though the sides of buses, if fighting in traffic. Yes, he’ll take damage – but he counts on the victim taking far more.

The Sickle is more subtle. Alone, he’ll use his powers to craft ice versions of whatever weapon is appropriate, although razor-sharp pairs of sickles (not ice-sickles, sickles made of ice, though he does enjoy the play on words) are his favorite. If he needs to escape, he’ll attempt to encase the head of one of his opponents in ice, counting on his teammates to stop the attack to rescue their comrade. Otherwise, he’ll throw up ice obstacles and leap out a window, preferably something high enough to stall his pursuers while he creates enough ice to slide away. His typical modus operandi is to freeze himself up in a dark corner where no one would think to look, before leaping down to place a well-aimed stake of ice through their head or heart. This is particularly convenient because the murder weapon will melt away before the police arrive.

However, the brothers are meant to fight together, and this is where they are positively unstoppable. GMs might want to consider keeping both at level 1 if they expect the PCs (and there should be more than one) to have a chance. If they have time to plan an attack, Alyosha will freeze the feet of an opponent in place, rendering him helpless against a charge from Ivan. Otherwise, Ivan will use his incredible speed and strength to grapple an opponent while Alyosha stabs or hacks him to death. Alternatively, Alyosha can freeze himself to an enemy and let his brother pummel the victim to death.

The motives of the brothers will be explained more later (see the adventure, Sickle Seeks Hammer). Suffice it to say that both are eager to take revenge on those they think betrayed them, and have experienced enough disappointment, cruelty and abandonment to make them contemptuous of the world and its petty authorities.

The Hammer

(Ivan) Aberrant
Ivan is scarred, mentally and physically. His long hair is tangled and matted; his clothes torn and dirty. His weakness is radiation: when exposed to it, all his physical attributes are reduced by ½.
Experiment
Lvl: 1 Exp:
Job: none
Apartment: lives on the streets, going from shelter to shelter
Car: none
Life savings: none
Phobias: none
Education: on-the-job (+15%)
Age: in his mid-30s
Weight: 300 lbs
Hair: dirty blond
Eyes: blue
IQ – 13 HP: 40 SDC: 318 AR: 11
ME – 11 Roll: +11 Pull Punch: +5
MA – 11 (trust/intimidate: 0%) Dodge: +8/+2 auto Parry: +5
PS – 44 Damage: + 29 Init: +3 Magic: +0
PP – 13 Strike: +2 Possession: +0
PE – 24 (+5 save/+18% coma Attacks: 6 PPE: 0 ISP: 0
PB – 6 Spd – 300 (200 mph)

Powers
Superhuman Strength
Extraordinary Speed
Extraordinary Endurance
Hardened Skin

Skills
Streetwise
Pick locks
Palming
Prowl
Pick Pockets
HtH Martial Arts
Boxing
Wrestling
Gymnastics
Secondary: Pilot: auto, English, basic mechanics, climbing, basic electronics, recognize weapon quality

Attacks
Kick attack – 2d4
Body block/tackle – 1d4
Bonus damage: +2/20 mph (starting at +8)

The Sickle

(Alyosha) Miscreant
Alyosha is tall and lithe. He wears a long dark cape with a large cowl and mask to hide his face. His suit is black with red trim, and a Hammer and Sickle in red across the chest.
Experiment
Lvl: 1
Job: crime lord
Apartment: has hideouts in major cities throughout the world
Car: none
Life savings: millions
Phobias: none
Education: on-the-job (+15%)
Age: in his mid-30s
Weight: 180 lbs
Hair: bald, totally hairless
Eyes: blue
IQ – 26 HP: 18 SDC: 86 AR: 14 (in ice form)
ME – 9 Roll: +5 Pull Punch: +2
MA – 14 (trust/intimidate: 0%) Dodge: +9/+3 auto Parry: +9
PS – 20 Damage: + 5 Init: +1 Magic: +0
PP – 27 Strike: +8 Possession: +0
PE – 14 (+5 save/+18% coma Attacks: 5 PPE: 0 ISP: 0
PB – 8 Spd – 300 (200 mph)

Powers
Alter Physical Structure: Ice
Extraordinary PP
Adhesion

W.P.s
Paired Weapons
Targeting
Sword
Shield
Blunt

Skills
Computer operation
Research
Surveillance systems
HtH Assassin
Boxing
Gymnastics
Wrestling
Secondary: English, athletics, body building, TV/Video, prowl

Attacks
Snowballs (+2 strike, 1 dmg)
Snow mound (+4 strike, lose init. and 1 attack)
Ice ball – 1d6 (+2 strike)
Ice shard – 2d6/6d6 wild (+3 strike)
Encase in ice – 1d4 (+1 strike)


“Our Friend” – The Man in Black

The Man in Black wears a black fedora, black trenchcoat, black pants, black necktie and black shoes. His face is covered with a brown leather surgical mask. Only his shirt is white. Hence, the few people who have seen him and lived to tell about it just describe him as “the guy who wore a lot of black.” Usually this is followed by, “You know, the one who shot and slashed everyone to death all on his own.”

The Man in Black has long been considered to be affiliated with the Mafia, although with which family no one can say. Mafiosos under interrogation will listen carefully, smile, and with a laugh, respond, “We have no idea who he is, but he’s our friend.” They’re telling the truth. The FBI, MI5, the CIA and even Mossad have only gleamed traces of the man, enough to confirm his existence and no more. What they do know is frightening enough.

The Man in Black is a killing machine, leaping out of the shadows to blast down lesser enemies before moving in with a pair of razor-sharp katanas to dismember anyone still alive. As quickly as he appeared, he’ll disappear, leaving piles of bodies and pools of blood.

One reason “Our Friend” has been able to escape arrest is that his victims have always been, more or less, terrible people. His top hits have taken out leaders of several vicious gangs, heads of corrupt corporations and unions. When he has killed superheroes – and he does kill heroes – they have always been vigilante types, who used questionable methods and were wanted by the authorities. This has given some the impression that the Man in Black is himself a superhero; the fact that Mafia families usually profit from these killings discredits this theory. But because the Mafia itself doesn’t know who the man is, much less know his motives, it’s all mere speculation.

It’s clear enough that he is not superhuman, but is a highly-trained assassin. Although he never speaks, his encounters with the Yakuza suggest he at least understands Japanese. The facts that he displays precise skill with the katanas, and uses centuries-old ninja techniques, lead investigators to believe he spent long years training in Japan. Although under his hat, glasses and mask, little can be seen of his face, his eyes and eyebrows appear Caucasian.

Take Note! While the Man in Black is drawn up under the rules for the Ancient Master class, he uses firearms, despite that the manual says an Ancient Master won’t. Don’t get hung up on rules that prevent you from playing the character you want – the idea of a regular human master assassin could just as easily have fit the Physical Training, Hunter/Vigilante, or Operative classes, or several O.C.C.s in the Ninjas & Superspies game. In the end, the Ancient Master seemed the closest fit. As long as the GM gives his or her approval, go for character, not class.

Man in Black

(name unknown) Aberrant
The Man in Black wears a black trenchcoat and suit with a white shirt and black necktie. His face is covered with a brown leather surgical mask. He keeps two katanas strapped to his back and two mini-Uzis strapped to his legs.
Ancient Master
Lvl: 4
Job: assassin
Apartment: hides out someplace new every day
Car: steals what he needs
Life savings: $200,000
Phobias: none
Education: special
Age: Unknown, appears about 40
Weight: 200 lbs
Hair: brown
Eyes: black
IQ – 11 HP: 55 SDC: 175 AR: (0/10)
ME – 11 Roll: +9 Pull Punch: +6
MA – 11 Dodge: +8/5 auto Parry: +7 HF Save: +6
PS – 30 Damage: +15 Init: +6
PP – 19 Strike: +6 Disarm: +3 Possession: +6
PE – 16 (+1 save/+14% coma) Attacks: 8/ firearms PPE: 37 ISP: 0
PB – 9 Spd – 22 ( y/m) Mind Control Save: +2

Skills
Basic Math (98%)
Japanese (20)
Biology (20)
Prowl (20)
Wrestling
Climbing (20)
Acrobatics (10)
Gymnastics (10)
Cook (10)
Sewing (10)
Secondary: Acrobatics, swimming, running, pilot: auto, first aid

Armor
Concealed (AR: 10 SDC: 50)

Weapons
2 katanas – 3d6
2 mini-Uzis – 2d6

Attacks
Auto body flip +4, auto dodge, critical strike from behind, death blow 17-20, disarm, entangle, body throw – 2d4, knockout/stun 18-20, all holds, all kicks, karate punch – 2d4, karate kick – 2d6

Relevant W.P.s
Paired Weapons
Blunt +4
Chain +5
Sword +7
Staff +4 s/+3 p
Knife +6 th/+7 s&p
W.P. submachinegun
W.P. pistol

Special Abilities
Leap 12ft high & 20ft across
Feign Death (80%)
Cleansing Spirit (76%)
Channel Physical Energy – 3d6+8
Positive Energy (pg. 213)


Ace of Spades

Karl Geiger was a young man in a young country. It hadn’t been more than a few decades since Bismarck united the petty bickering states in central Europe into an industrial powerhouse that Karl and his countrymen found themselves in a devastating war that surely would resolve whether this idea called Germany could be allowed to survive.

Gung-ho, idealistic and straightforward, Karl joined the war effort, serving on the Western front. He quickly realized that what he thought was a noble effort was in reality a meat-grinder, a senseless massacre of innocent young men in which he was both a victim and a guilty party. Radical propaganda – espousing peace, solidarity, brotherhood – suddenly seemed sane, while the values he grew up with, of patriotism and sacrifice, were certainly not. Karl made up his mind: he would defect, cross the line and surrender to the French. He would not kill any longer. But it was, at that moment, that a French artillery shell landed in his trench.

Horribly wounded but amazingly still in one piece, Karl’s comrades rushed him to the nearest hospital. There he once again found himself a victim of cruel fate, as he was taken before the one doctor in Germany who had the skills and political support to experiment on soldiers near death, of which Karl was by far the best-preserved. Unable to speak but completely aware of his surroundings, Karl suffered in silence as his body was sewn up, injected up, dressed up and used up. The pacifist, anarchist boy was to become the Kaiser’s greatest killer.

But as he lay deep in the cellar of a Rhineland winery-turned-hospital, unconscious, tubes jammed into his veins, strapped to a makeshift operating table, the third irony struck. The Germany Army had been storing explosive shells under the roof of the hospital to keep them from being attacked; but a French fighter plane came down in a fireball and, in an explosion seen from across no-man’s land, exposed the lie. Karl’s doctor was killed; he alone had known the details of the program. Karl himself was buried under tons of rubble and crushed bodies, protected only by the arched vaults of the wine cellar. And there he lay, for 100 years, the experimental serum continuing to drip into his veins and eat away his brain.

It was the French who had wounded him, buried him, and then, a century later, resurrected him. Karl’s cellar tomb lay in the proposed path of the Large Hadron Collider, the 27-kilometer-long tunnel created by European scientists to function as a particle accelerator. Excavation for the tunnel tore through the walls of the cellar; in pored the greatest of Europe’s scientists, historians and doctors to examine what this mummified German soldier was. They had no way of knowing who, or what, they had awakened.

A century of dripping serum had made Karl’s body incredibly heavy and tough. Holding his face together is what appears to be a vintage gas mask, straps and all sewn directly into the skin. Despite his massive weight, Karl is fast and agile, his ropey muscles easily carrying his iron-solid frame. He appears zombie-like: his skin a blotchy white punctuated by terrible scars and ugly stitching. A metal shoulder pad is decorated with his old unit’s symbol, a single spade – the only thing that he can remember, the only thing left that ties him to his past.

Now operating as a mercenary for the most unscrupulous crime bosses, warlords and petty dictators around the world, the Ace of Spades, as he’s called, is a lethal hunter of men, as dangerous to a whole platoon as he is to a single opponent. Although he continues to use an old Mauser bolt-action rifle and Lugar automatic pistol, he is an expert shot with both. His facemask cannot be removed, but it provides him with extra-sensory powers, not only making tracking easy, but making it virtually impossible to sneak up on him.

In combat, the Ace of Spades will seek out the most disgusting, dirty areas to set up an ambush. Sewers, swamps, and landfills provide perfect cover, allowing him to blend in while limiting the movement of his enemies. He will then gun down his trapped opponents efficiently and mercilessly. All victims are bayoneted, to guarantee their death. If forced into close combat, he’ll use his great weight to pin his opponent, and then dispatch them with whatever weapon comes to hand.

In adventures, Ace of Spades will be a contract killer operating at the whim of whatever international menace the PCs face. GMs should give him a bonus to holds, grappling, and pins, to reflect his weight, unless fighting equally strong or heavy opponents. Although he can’t speak, he can howl from pain. He should be clearly psychotic, obsessed with death, and although crafty and cunning, not humanly intelligent.

Ace of Spades

(Karl Geiger) Miscreant
Geiger was a German soldier in the Great War who sustained horrific wounds. A doctor used experimental techniques to turn him into an undead killing machine, but the project was mothballed until Geiger was unfrozen and awakened a century later.
Experiment (supersoldier)
Lvl: 1
Job: assassin
Apartment: warehouse, Long Island City
Car:
Life savings: $2,300 ($11)
Phobia: Psychotic: obsessed with death
Education: military
Age: around 125 years old
Weight: several hundred pounds
Hair: none
Eyes: ?
IQ – 14 HP: 24 SDC: 275 AR: 13
ME – 14 Roll: +11 Pull: +6
MA – 6 Dodge: +7 Parry: +5
PS – 29 (+14 dmg) Psi Save: Ini: +6
PP – 16 (+1 p/d/s) Strike: +1 Disarm/Entangle: +0
PE – 17 (+1 save/+ 5% coma) Attacks: 5 PPE: 0
PB – 5 (0% charm/impress) Spd – 21 (420 y/m)

Skills
Basic Military (+20%)
Running, Climbing, Military Etiquette, HtH Martial Arts, Radio:Basic, W.P. Rifle
Espionage (+15%)
Detect Ambush, Intelligence, Wilderness Survival, Sniper (+2 aimed shot), Pick Locks
Physical
Boxing, gymnastics, acrobatics, wrestling
Secondary: Athletics, swimming, W.P. knife, prowl (35), body building

Powers
Increased mass, -10% climb, acrobatics and gymnastics; +6 dmg punches and kicks
Bionic sensors in face mask: motion detector (+1 p/d), heat sensor, explosives detector (8’), radio scrambler, clock calendar, radiation detector
Near invulnerability
Superspeed: leap 15’ up and 20’ across
Supersmell: recognize odor (74), recognize toxin (54), track (43), hard to surprise

Relevant W.P.s
Auto pistol (+3)
Bolt-action rifle (+3)
Heavy weapons (+3)

Armor
Natural

Weapons
Bayonet – 1d6
Luger pistol – 3d6
Mauser bolt-action sniper rifle – 4d6

Attacks
Kick – 2d4
Body block/tackle – 1d4
Pin/incapacitate – 18-20
Crush/squeeze – 1d4

Equipment
8 magazine pouches, gas mask, combat boots, tattered uniform


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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 10:55 pm
  

Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:06 am
Posts: 221
Adventures

Creating adventures can be as much fun as having them. The adventures here are designed to be thoroughly planned while still allowing for player flexibility. Ideally, every session should allow for at least one “talking” phase and one “action” phase, in which the players decide on a course of action and then execute it. Trying to narrow the players down to two clearly defined and different options can help to focus the conversation and avoid leaving the players confused about what, exactly, they’re supposed to be doing. Nevertheless, often the best advice to a GM is to try to say “yes” to as much as possible. “Is there a fire extinguisher nearby?” Yes! “Can we take this door off its hinges?” Yes! Ironically, the more careful the planning, the easier it is to smoothly integrate out-of-the-box thinking from PCs.

Feel free to ignore or completely mix up the outlines for each adventure, if it works better for your players. A good outline should cover the bases and provide catalysts to keep the PCs moving forward without requiring the GM to cram every bullet-point into the adventure.

Sickle Seeks Hammer

This adventure is high-paced and action-packed, focusing heavily on combat. It begins with the Sickle and his henchmen fighting a gang war in a crowded skyscraper. The PCs should be lead to intervene in order to rescue the innocents trapped amid the shooting. There they first encounter the Sickle, who demands to know the location of the Hammer. The Sickle should escape the encounter. Having rescued the civilians, the PCs learn about the Hammer and Sickle, and that the Hammer is supposedly living on the streets of their city. The PCs must find him before the Sickle does, although eventually they will all come together in a crowded downtown location, erupting into a battle involving the PCs, the police, the Sickle, his gang, the Hammer, and perhaps Russian agents. The basic flow should go like this:

The Skyscraper Battle
o Sickle’s goal is to take out rival gang he believes has the Hammer
o Rival gang operates from office of the “Russian Seafood Export Association” on the 10th floor of a downtown skyscraper
o PCs will be alerted to huge gunfight – police surround building but can’t get in
o Regular office workers caught in the middle
o Firefight takes up 3 floor; whatever direction PCs move in, it will get noticeably colder as they approach the final floor
o Final floor will be freezing; PCs will run into the Sickle, who demands to know, “Where is the hammer?”
o Sickle should escape out window – use attack by extra henchmen to distract PCs, if necessary
Sickle Meets His Maker
o Investigation shows the head of the “Export Association” is head of Russian consulate
o PCs wind up at his house just as Sickle holding ice blade to wife’s throat, demanding info on Hammer
o Intervention by PCs saves consul & wife; consul tells PCs about Hammer
PCs Track Down the Hammer
o Hammer living in homeless shelter
o Won’t believe his brother is a mobster
o Eventually PCs will notice that everyone in shelter has left – they’re alone
Big Final Battle
o Sickle has shelter surrounded, enters to talk his brother into joining him
o PCs can try to talk Hammer out of it
o Sickle and Hammer will take on PCs, eventually spilling out onto street
o PCs find themselves fighting Sickle, Hammer and Sickle’s goons
o Police arrive – depending on relationship with PCs, could go either way

The Sickle and Hammer had been raised to be Soviet superheroes (see the section above). Their mentor was Fyodr Mikaelovich, a scientist and Communist Party member in good standing. In the chaos of Yeltsin’s Russia, Mikaelovich’s budget was cut. With no money and no Soviet Union left worth protecting, Mikaelovich sold the brothers to the mob. In his telling, the mob took the brothers and tossed him a few rubles as a fig leaf. Whatever the truth, for years the mob used Ivan and Alyosha’s talents to break kneecaps, slash throats, ransack banks and bully politicians. Ivan still believed he could be a hero, be famous, but Alyosha fell in love with the mob lifestyle. When Ivan suggested running away, Alyosha agreed at first, but found he couldn’t give up the life – the power – that lay ahead of him.

Ivan wound up on the streets of the PC’s city, able to steal enough to live but never able to gain citizenship, get an education, regain the promise of fame and respect he was raised to believe was his birthright. Alyosha used his powers to rise to the top of the Russian Mafia, brutally eliminating his rivals at home before arrive in the PC’s city to track down his brother and conquer the foreign black market. Mikaelovich used his connections and money to build a political career that resulted in his being made consul to the PC’s city. His position as head of the “Russian Seafood Export Association” is purely nominal; the association is a thinly-disguised front for a mob racket, protected from the police and FBI through Mikaelovich’s diplomatic intervention.

The Skyscraper Firefight. The Sickle’s goals are two-fold: wipe out a rival gang, and either find or get information leading him to find The Hammer. The Russian Seafood Export Association occupies three floors in a tall downtown skyscraper (GM’s choice – something preferably known to the players). The floors are also occupied by a variety of other businesses, such as:
• Kratel & Palocci LLP (a medical malpractice law firm)
• Insyde Solutions (technical support)
• Masel Distribution (cookware and kitchen items)

The constant gunfire coming from the high floors has kept the police from entering – they don’t know who is doing what, only that there appear to be numerous gunmen and many innocents trapped between them. The building is therefore surrounded, but the police are at a loss as to what to do. The PCs can therefore get thrown into the mix in a few different ways:
• An official request from the police or authorities
• Live news reports
• Themselves being trapped in the building
• Stumbling onto the scene, perhaps while “on patrol”

It’s up to them to decide how to enter the building. If they don’t have official recognition, the police will also try to stop them from entering, believing them to be associated with the gunmen. Once in, throw teams of henchmen at them at random, preferably two teams of three men each (one from each rival gang) together with one or two innocents in need of protection.

Mob henchmen
HP: 15 SDC: 30
3 attacks +1 strike
+1 parry/dodge
+2 dmg Shotgun: 5d6
Mac-10: 3d6
Knife: 1d8


As the PCs move their way through the floors, things should get progressively colder. When they eventually get to the third floor (in whichever direction they’re moving), the walls and furniture should be covered with frost. The Sickle will then leap into combat, trying to freeze the players to the floor and repeatedly asking in heavily-accented English, “Where is the hammer?” When it looks like he’s about to lose, three or more henchmen will bust in to take on the PCs (try to use one henchman per player) while The Sickle leaps out a window and slides away into the night.

At this point, several things can keep the players moving:
• PCs with the right research skills can find out that the Russian Seafood Export Association is run by Fyodr Mikaelovich, the head of the Russian consulate in their city
• Captured henchmen reveal that the export association is actually connected to a rival gang; the attack was meant not only to disrupt the gang’s activities, but in its boldness to signal that The Sickle could act with impunity
• News reports could suggest the PCs, if relatively unknown, were connected to one of the gangs, and that police are asking a Russian individual known as “The Hammer” to come speak with them
• If already well-established, the PCs could be sought out by Mikaelovich or the police, or both, for help and protection

In any event, the heroes should wind up outside Mikaelovich’s mansion at night.

Sickle Meets His Maker. The Mikaelovich house is a large, three-story classic Victorian on a little less than an acre of well-manicured grounds surrounded by a 10-foot stone wall. Trees allow climbers to get easy access to see into the higher windows. When the PCs arrive, Mikaelovich and his wife will be hosting a large party, with guests coming in and out of the gates and milling around downstairs. At some point, the consul will leave the party to go upstairs, and in a locked office room will find himself face-to-face with The Sickle, who has grabbed the consul’s wife.

The PCs at this point should be aware that something is going on, either by spying on the party from outside, or by being at the party and noticing both the consul’s wife, and then the consul himself, hurrying worriedly upstairs. The conversation between The Sickle and Mikaelovich will of course be in Russian; PCs who speak the language should roll to determine what they can make out. If they bust in to confront The Sickle, he’ll threaten to have the guests downstairs gunned down – psychic PCs will sense he’s not bluffing and that some of the guests are actually gang members. The Sickle will then escape again, leaving Mikaelovich to fill in the PCs on The Sickle’s background, who The Hammer is, and why he’s searching for him.

Either through listening in to the conversation or hearing it directly from Mikaelovich later, the PCs should at least learn the following:
• The Sickle is looking for his superpowered brother, The Hammer
• The Hammer is supposedly living in the city, but no one can find him – he’s a drifter with no home and no real job
• The Sickle wants to bring his brother into the gang business to dominate the Russian far east
• The Hammer wants revenge on Mikaelovich and the gang that took him, but needs to believe that he’ll be revered and respected – if he knows what his brother really does, he’ll turn against Alyosha

Read the background for the brothers (above) and work in whatever details you can. Their story is sympathetic, even if they’re still dangerous people. At this point, several things should be moving the PCs forward, to find The Hammer:
• Concern about the havoc the brothers could wreak on innocents and law enforcement if they work together
• A desire to clear their names, if besmirched, by bringing The Hammer in to speak with the authorities
• If they’re working for the authorities, a direct order to find The Hammer before The Sickle does
• The realization that The Sickle will eventually come after them, as well, and that allowing him to pair up with The Hammer will only make him more dangerous.

PCs Track Down The Hammer. A few investigatory skills can help a great deal with this:
• Streetwise: success points the PCs toward the city’s homeless shelters
• Research: success brings up enough history on the Soviet superhero project to fill in any gaps the PCs don’t yet know
• Intelligence (-10%): success reveals that The Sickle has control over gangs operating across the globe, in competition with several other Russian gangs
• Interrogation: used against Mikaelovich, success leads to his confession that intentionally sold the brothers off for a profit, and that he knows Ivan is living as a homeless man in the city. Used against any of The Sickle’s henchmen, it will reveal that they’re under orders not to reveal to The Hammer their criminal designs; he’s supposed to believe he will be taking out the mob in order to be praised as a superhero.

Eventually, the PCs should find Ivan alone in the corner of a large church, now stocked with cots for use as a homeless shelter. He keeps a few mementos from his Soviet youth, as well as a chessboard to keep himself occupied. He’s dirty, burly, and sullen, but any mention of his brother (“Alyosha?!”) gets his attention. He won’t believe the PCs that The Sickle is a mob leader – there must be some mistake.

Before long, The Sickle himself should appear inside the church, to talk Alyosha into leaving with him. PCs with very high MA scores might have a chance of talking Ivan out of it, especially if they know The Sickle’s plan and Ivan’s opposition to it (roll the PC’s MA versus Aloysha’s 14, with a -10 penalty), but success will only stall Ivan. Eventually the PCs should notice that everyone has left, and The Sickle should inform them that the church is surrounded by his men. One way or another, a fight will break out, with The Sickle trying to convince The Hammer that the PCs plan to bring him in to the authorities (he’s there illegally, he’s wanted in Russia, various organizations want to use him), The Hammer trying to protect his brother, and The Sickle’s men outside keeping the police at bay until the brothers can take care of them.

Try to involve a few elements in the fight to make things interesting:
• The Hammer switching sides depending on the dialogue
• The Hammer’s run-and-smash technique busting through the doors or windows and dragging the PCs out into the street
• A bad relationship with the police resulting in the PCs fighting The Sickle and The Hammer while simultaneously holding off the cops
• Pews, cots, tables, chairs, chandeliers, and other church/shelter items getting tossed around or tripping up characters
• Possible intervention by the Man in Black (see Villains, above), if used as a recurring character
Ideally, the fight ends with The Sickle and his men defeated, The Hammer extradited to Russia, and Mikaelovich’s criminal connections leaked to the media or the authorities.

Subplots. Feel free to throw in a few subplots involving the PC’s past or current connections or enemies. A few ideas:
• Mikaelovich’s connections to the PC’s sponsoring organization exposes an important member’s secret ties
• Russian secret agents follow the PCs, hoping to use them to track down Ivan and kidnap him
• The PC’s corporation, if they have one, is revealed to have ties to the Russian Seafood Export Association, prompting an SEC investigation
• The Sickle’s mob entrenches itself in a small Caribbean or Central American country, controlling a strategic route in the drug trade and leading the PCs into an international adventure

Important skills. Physical skills will have the most obvious value here: PCs with Gymnastics or Acrobatics (and most usually have both) will probably have a change to roll for things like climbing ropes, keeping their balance, climbing and prowling to get into and around the embattled skyscraper. A few more skills can definitely make a big difference:
• Foreign Language (Russian): not something a PC will likely have, but if so, reward it. Listening in on Mikaelovich should give the PCs lots of extra information, as should conversations between the brothers
• Computer Hacking: success might allow the PCs to gain crucial insight into Mikaelovich’s history and the background and motivations of the brothers
• Streetwise: use liberally to help find Ivan
• Tracking: a GM might allow this skill to be used to locate Ivan or Mikaelovich
• Interrogation: success when used on a Russian mobster (better when paired with skill in Russian) should give the PCs more information about Alyosha and his reason for finding Ivan

Cheat Death for Only $999

This adventure involves moderate amounts for combat, combined with investigation and character drama. It begins with a rampage downtown by a middle-aged man who can’t be stopped by the police. The PCs should be able to stop him, or at least hold him off until he succumbs to a massive heart attack, giving the PCs a single clue before dying.

That clue is the name of a company that advertises “age reversal,” claiming that its combination of drugs and surgery can give an old man a healthy young body. News reports point to the involvement of a hedge-fund manager, who is actually the Black Hand. Investigation reveals that he is involved in a complicated scheme to use out-of-control man-made superhumans to wreak terror on the streets in order to sink the market. The Black Hand sets off simultaneous attacks by superhuman terrorists, who only the PCs can stop. The PCs should stop the terrorists, save their victims, and destroy the company, but the Black Hand will escape justice, presumably to taunt the heroes again. It should go a little something like this:
Downtown rampage
o An enormous, muscled middle-aged man goes on a tear down a busy street, tossing aside cop cars and threatening innocents
o The PCs stop him, but he has a heart attack – his last words are “PowerHealth”
Investigation into TM Securities
o News reports reveal that TM Securities has agreed to handle PowerHealth’s IPO; it’s also in the news for financing the Green Glade Housing Development in the suburbs of the PC’s city
o Quick investigation reveals Tony Morlucci as head of the company; TM Securities has constantly evaded SEC investigation
o Speaking with Tony will reveal only that he’s using the money he earns from handling the IPO to invest in the housing development
Checking out the Green Glade Housing Development
o Observation during day shows no sign of activity
o Breaking in at night reveals that the houses are flimsy mock-ups with no real construction taking place
o PCs might run into mobsters, who try to kill intruders
Checking out PowerHealth! Ltd.’s research facilities
o Sneaking in shows Morlucci is calling the shots
o Company has technology to give regular people super-strength
o PCs find that it’s using known mobsters as test subjects
The Black Hand unleashes his creations
o Morlucci lures the PCs to his office
o PCs learn Morlucci’s plan to use PowerHealth’s technology to create super-terrorists, bring down the markets and allow TM Securities to buy up stock cheaply
o While they’re talking, two separate pairs of super-mobsters are on a rampage – PCs must split up or decide where to intervene first

In a nutshell, Morlucci’s plan is to use funds from the development plan (essentially one big fraud) to secretly buy up a controlling share of PowerHealth! Ltd. With his control of the company, he will use its technology to turn low-level mobsters into unstoppable wrecking machines – with the side-effect that the chemicals in their body will drive them into an aggressive rage. Drop them off at two places at once in the city, let one of them wreak havoc on the market, and then clean up on the discounted stock. If that doesn’t work – just as well. Morlucci has shares in private security firms that could clean up in contract with the city to deal with the menace.

Downtown rampage. The rampage starts when a PowerHealth! customer begins to feel a rush of endorphins and loss of motor control. He has been undergoing therapy promised to give him the body of a young man – steroids, grafts and infusions of other chemicals advertised as a miracle formula, resulting in men who appear from the neck up to be grandfathers, and from the neck down to be professional body-builders. A mind-warping rush of rage-inducing chemicals is just an as-yet unfixed complication.

The PCs can be alerted to the ruckus several ways:
• Breaking news on TV
• Being nearby in the regular, alter-ego lives
• Police scanner or official orders to intervene

The man, David Ross, is tearing through the city. Police who drive up find him hurling manhole covers through their cars, or large mail containers flying through to air and knocking over police vans. Ross will use anything solid and heavy as a missile, but without any real hand-to-hand training can be worn down. The challenge is to keep him contained in order to protect innocents.

By the time he’s out of SDC or half his HP, Ross will be hit by a massive heart attack (PCs with medical skills can recognize the symptoms and can slow, but not prevent it). He’ll clutch his chest, wheeze and fall to the ground. His last words are “power health.”

David Ross
PS: 45 SDC: 150 HP: 30
PE: 30 2 attacks +1 strike
Superhuman strength Lift: 8k lbs +1 p/d
Extraordinary PE Carry: 4k lbs +30 dmg


Investigation into TM Securities. Right after the fight, TV news will report that PowerHealth! will be making an initial public offering (IPO), to be handled by TM Securities. Tony Morlucci, head of TM Securities, holds a press conference announcing that PowerHealth! will go public in seven days.

Related news will report on TM Securities’ investment in plans to create a large master-planned community outside the city, called Green Glade. Construction is behind schedule, but more investors have been found.

At this point, some skills can help the PCs gather information on Morlucci:
• Research: success reveals that Morlucci and his company have been investigated numerous times by the SEC, with none of the charges sticking.
• Business/Finance: success reveals to the PCs that TM Securities has a holding company with interests in various businesses, including security firms with connections to the city. High success (20% under skill) reveals that Green Glade can’t be profitable in the current housing market.
• Computer Hacking: success gets into Morlucci’s network, revealing accounting fraud in the Green Glade project, with money routed through the project into a slush fund to buy up PowerHealth! shares.
• Impersonation: success can allow a PC to pose as an investor or SEC agent, allowing a meeting with Morlucci. Morlucci is too careful to give the game away, unless the PC fails (GM should consider making a secret roll); in that case, he’ll talk a bit before admitted he sees through the disguise and dares the PC to try to stop whatever he’s doing.

The SEC: The Securities and Exchange Commission enforces market regulations. Although it can bring criminal charges against corporations, since a company can’t be locked up, the penalties are often bad press more than anything else (although that kind of bad press can badly hurt a company).

Checking out the Green Glade Housing Development. At some point, the PCs may want to pay a visit to the site, either to see whether it’s for real or to search for clues (if, for instance, the PCs go to PowerHealth! first, they might overhear clues pointing them in this direction). The whole development is several acres outside the city, surrounded by a high wooden fence. From the street, passersby can see the roofs of houses and the yellow bars of construction cranes; advertisements pasted on the fence show artist depictions of a pleasant suburban neighborhood.

If the PCs arrive during the day, they’ll find no activity – no sign that any construction is happening, but that’s not totally unexpected, given that new funding has only recently come through. Through the gates, the PCs can see guard dogs patrolling the grounds, but no people.

At night, mob henchmen stalk the grounds. There will be no sign of dogs or people; any PCs who enter the grounds will have to roll to Detect Concealment or Detect Ambush to notice the mobsters guarding the area. Close-in investigation reveals that the houses are empty shells, like a Hollywood set. Feel free to throw enough mobsters at the PCs to make it interesting.

Mob henchman
HP: 15 SDC: 30
3 attacks +1 strike
+1 parry/ dodge
+2 dmg Shotgun: 5d6
Pistol: 3d6
Club: 1d8

Guard dog
HP: 5 SDC: 15
2 attacks +1 strike
no dodge
+2 dmg Bite: 1d4, plus entangles the PCs


Checking out PowerHealth! Ltd.’s research facilities. The PCs will at some point want to find out what, exactly, the company does. It’s headquartered in a large warehouse in an industrial section of the city (in New York, for instance, Long Island City or Astoria, both in Queens). Successful Prowl skill rolls can get the heroes inside unnoticed to spy on the facilities.

The upper levels are office space. Moving down into the lower levels reveals a bunker-like area with guards and men in lab coats. Well-hidden PCs (in, say, ventilation shafts) can see one of Morlucci’s alter egos directly giving orders to the researchers to operate on the test subjects. Those subjects will be two large men who are already young and strong – mobsters under Morlucci’s control who believe the “treatment” will make them supervillains.
If the PCs are discovered, guards will go after them. Try to give them a way out; otherwise, captured PCs can be unmasked and interrogated by Morlucci. An unmasking may result in a stalemate: any surviving PC who reveals Morlucci will subsequently be revealed. The Black Hand will honor a deal in his interest. Otherwise, allow Morlucci to make a villainous monologue, then leave the PCs, who will have to escape and stop the subsequent super-terrorist attack.

Guard
HP: 15 SDC: 30
2 attacks +1 strike
+1 parry/ dodge
+2 dmg Pistol: 3d6
Club: 1d8
Tazer: stuns only


Keep in mind that there are real-life equivalents to PowerHealth! that you can use as replacements. A few companies have popped up offering miracle treatments that supposedly turn grandpas into grandmasters, with huge chests and rippling abs to complement the male pattern baldness. Feel free to direct your players to their web sites, or put it up on the screen, if you’re using a laptop HMDI set-up (see the Advanced Games Mastering section).

The Black Hand unleashes his creations. At this point, the PCs should have some awareness that Morlucci is funneling money through the development project into taking over PowerHealth! in order to create super-mobsters, but they probably won’t know why – what’s his game?

If there’s some way for Morlucci to get in touch with the PCs, he’ll invite them to his high-rise office on the pretext of assuaging their doubts and offering a golden investment opportunity. Once the PCs arrive, however, he’ll explain that he knows what they’re up to, and that it’s too late: crazed super-thugs have been let loose on the city to raise hell. Things to keep in mind here:
• If one of the PCs is psychic, try not to let Black Hand give away too much. He’ll either conceal that there are two separate simultaneous attacks, or that each attack has more than one attacker. Let the PC realize Morlucci’s plan is to both create havoc and lure the PCs into danger.
• Depending on where the PCs are based, the sites may change. In a New York setting, one place should be Wall Street and the other should be Grand Central Station (because they’re far enough apart, they’d cause the most panic and destruction, and it’s easy to finds lots of images to use of both).
• Morlucci isn’t wearing armor, but he keeps a Colt .45 under his desk that he can grab easily with telekinesis. Killing or wounding him won’t make a difference, since it’s not the original Black Hand anyway. That will make any struggle seem funny to him; he’ll go down laughing at stupid heroes who wasted their time stomping on a mirage.
• It should be clear to the PCs that time is of the essence.

There should be at least four low-level supervillains tearing through the city, in pairs. Sticking with a New York setting, the pair hitting Grand Central Station are:

Big Fists
HP: 20 SDC: 100
4 attacks
+1 strike, +1 parry/ dodge, +20 dmg
Supernatural PS (35): 5d6 punch, 2d4x10 power punch (2 attacks)

Barrel Chest
HP: 80 SDC: 120
3 attacks
+1 strike, +2 parry/ dodge, +8 dmg
Invulnerability


The pair hitting the Wall Street area:

Giant
HP: 20 SDC: 50 (570)
3 attacks
+1 strike, +1 parry/ dodge, +1 (21) dmg
Growth (up to 32 total ft)
HF: 12, PS: 36, PE: 18, Spd: 20

Sprite
HP: 20 SDC: 70
5 attacks
+2 strike, +2 parry/ dodge, +2 dmg, +1 init., Auto dodge, +1 disarm, +1 pull punch, +4 roll
Natural Combat Ability: punch: 1d6+2, paired weapons, kick: 2d4, leap attack (crit.) (see pg. 284)


Keep the action moving: the enemies are designed to be able to drag out the fighting, which shouldn’t stay in one location more than a couple of rounds. Train stations offer lots of possibilities: incoming trains are perfect as “traps,” but stationary trains are good for “dungeon crawls” as well. Supernatural strength allows for a villain to hurl heavy things a good distance – the brass ceilings of information kiosks can make for good shields and good disks to send the heroes’ way.

Likewise, any fight in a market should spill out into the street, where cars, pedestrians, trash cans, mail boxes, news booths and manholes are waiting to be torn up, tossed around, and bludgeoned.

Eventually, the PCs should stop the Black Hand’s minions from wreaking havoc. If they have sufficient evidence, they can hand it over to the DA’s office, but that’s always a big “if” (see the Testifying in Tights section above). Even if Morlucci is arrested, it’ll only be one of his alter egos, complete with a fake Social Security number to allow the others to keep manipulating the markets.

Sub-plots. Because every good adventure needs a good sub-plot, consider adding in one or two of these:
• An SEC or DA investigation serves subpoenas on Morlucci and, perhaps, the PCs
• A whistle-blower emerges, but who can protect him?
• The PCs’ company also has investments managed by TM Securities – could a director be trying to help crash the stock in order to buy up a controlling share and push out the PCs?
• The PC develops a potentially debilitating illness – could PowerHealth! Inc. be the answer?

Important skills. PCs with a finance background might have an advantage here. Consider the following:
• TV & Video: if the PCs sneak into the PowerHealth! building, they might find a security station with a nice video set-up
• Criminal Science & Forensics: great for examining PowerHealth’s victims/customers. Success at this should either be a prerequisite for success with Biology or Chemistry (below), or give a big bonus (+25%).
• Biology: getting vials of blood from one of PowerHealth!’s victims/customers might allow a PC to understand what kind of powers he or she will be up against
• Chemistry: a skilled chemist (-25% penalty) might be able to come up with a temporary antidote to the PowerHealth! fomula
• Business/Finance: use liberally to understand the Black Hand’s financial scheme; if talking with Morlucci while pretending to be an investor, the PC will have to use this skill to know how to answer Morlucci’s questions
• Literacy: a puckish GM might want PCs to roll for this to understand documents written in “business English,” the horrific mangling of the English language used by business writers to make simple ideas seem complex and “smart”

Under the Razor

This adventure involves moderate amounts of combat, with a great deal of investigation and a fair amount of planning. The PCs should already have established a relationship with the police or some powerful benefactor. They will be asked to find the missing daughter of a powerful local politician. Investigation will turn their attention to the dominatrix Razor Venus, and the PCs will have to plot an assault on her club to free the girl, and preferably all the other girls held captive. Once this is done, the tables will be turned, and Razor Venus will stalk the PCs down in an attempt to recover the girl before she can be turned over to prosecutors. It should be clear that the PCs will not know who they can trust, as the local authorities will be heavily infiltrated by Razor Venus’s puppets.

Although the beginning of the adventure will easily fit into a linear storyline, it can quickly move in an unexpected direction. The GM will have to be constantly considering how to give the PCs a way forward, without it feeling that they’re being shoved down a tunnel. For that reason, a GM should read over the outline well in advance and be sure to incorporate contacts and NPCs the players already know into the game. One way the adventure might run is this:
Search for Club Razor
o PCs’ contact asks for help finding missing daughter of local politician (Nancy)
o PCs get name of club, its owner, and general location, but nothing else
o PCs investigate, find the club
Rescuing the Girl
o PCs scope out club, make plan to rescue the girl or girls inside
o Big fight as rescue mission unfolds
o First encounter with Razor Venus
o Discovery of her control over local cops, officials
The Chase
o With discovery of endemic corruption, PCs realize they alone have to protect the girl or girls
o Razor Venus, her gang bodyguard and the police all start looking for PCs
o PCs must find hiding place to shake off their pursuers
Plan B?
o PCs must develop plan to deal with Razor Venus and deliver the girl or girls to safety
o Safety = RV and her henchmen can’t reach the girls
o Option 1: lure Razor Venus and her bodyguard into a trap or decoy and defeat them
o Option 2: reach out to the FBI, District Attorney, other agency to hand over custody of RV and provide safe-keeping for the girls
o Option 3: arrange for RV and her minions to get media coverage, putting them in the public spotlight
o Any option should preferably involve as much physical evidence against RV and her minions as the PCs can recover, along with the girl or girls’ testimony
Engagement
o The PCs’ plan will determine the place and nature of the fight
o Fight should involve at least RV, her gang bodyguard, corrupt cops, and honest cops
o Adventure should end with girls handed over to trusted party and RV and her minions dead or behind bars.

The Search for Club Razor. To make things easy, the PCs should have some contact in the city’s police department or mayor’s office. That person or persons should impart the following crucial bits of information to the PCs:
• The mayor’s/police commissioner’s/local congressman’s/city councilwoman’s young daughter Nancy is missing.
• She was last seen at a club in the city’s old industrial district (i.e. New York’s meatpacking district, Vancouver’s Gas Town, LA’s Koreatown).
• The club is known to be connected with the Locos 18, a brutal Central American gang.
• The police are supposed to be investigating, but the precinct’s cops have a reputation for stonewalling and are suspected of being on the take.
• There have been several girls kidnapped in the area, but they have never been found in one piece (bags of flesh appear here and there). A serial killer is suspected of prowling the area, but there’s no evidence of his involvement.

The serial killer, of course, is actually Razor Venus and her crew, disposing of the parts of girls killed in her club. Locos 18 is indeed connected to the disappearance, as they provide security for the club and will, on occasion, also deliver girls. The daughter is Nancy Riley, 21 years old, who was out clubbing with friends. She went outside to smoke a cigarette and never returned.

The PCs will probably scope out the club. Those with Streetwise can roll to recognize the bouncers as members of Locos 18 (it’s the crossed tridents, their gang symbol, and blue-black colors). Research will reveal that Locos 18 is a nation-wide street gang of primarily Central Americans, renowned for its brutal hits, wide-scale criminal activity and possible connections to organized crime.

Gangs v. Organized Crime: They aren’t the same thing. Gangs are street-level, loosely-organized criminal groups that create their own sub-culture of colors, symbols and hand signs to mark identity and create unity. The Bloods and Crips may be world-wide, but they operate street-by-street in loose networks. Organized crime, in contrast, is the Mafia: centrally organized, highly disciplined, eschewing obvious signs, and focused on high-profit criminal activity. Organized crime may sometimes employ gangs, but gangs almost never successfully challenge organized crime. In the battle between street thug and hit-man, there’s little question who will win.

If the PCs want to try Interrogation on the bartender, club manager, or one of the Locos, success will reveal that the girl was there that night and possibly (success by over 25%) result in the subject handing over a single business card – solid black:

Club Razor
Their pain is your pleasure.


There’s no address, no phone number, no name to contact, no web address. The subject of the interrogation will simply say an off-duty cop left it on the bar by accident after laughing about the “serial killer” snatching up girls.
The PCs will have to start asking around about Club Razor; using web searches, knocking heads on the street and stalking the police officer (if they can find him; his name is Ed Burns) should give the PCs the following information:
• Club Razor is an S&M club in the city’s industrial district
• It’s protected by Locos 18, but run by a dominatrix known as “Razor Venus”
• The clientele includes cops from the local precinct

The PCs will then have to stalk the streets, looking for clubs protected by Locos 18 and frequented by off-duty police officers. If they need an extra push, a contact can reveal a specific address, but preferably the players should have to work a little for it.

Rescuing the Girl. The doors to the club should be protected by tough, mean-looking members of Locos 18. The club itself should be a relatively non-descript brick apartment building in a bad area of town. Successful attempts at Intelligence, Impersonation, Disguise, and perhaps Surveillance Systems should be able to give the PCs a rough idea of the floor plan, the number of guards, and the available entrances and exits. It’s up to the GM to sketch out a few maps or find the right building on Google Streetview (see Advanced Games Mastering, above).

Locos 18 gunman
HP: 20 SDC: 30
PS: 15, PP: 14, PE: 15, Spd: 12
3 attacks
+1 strike, +1 parry/ dodge, +1 roll
2 pistols – 3d6, knife – 1d6

Locos 18 brawler
HP: 22 SDC: 40
PS: 18, PP: 16, PE: 18, Spd: 14
4 attacks
+2 strike, +2 parry/ dodge, +3 dmg
Bat – 1d8, Chain (15 ft.) – 1d6, can entangle


This should be planned, but frenzied, combat. The PCs should know what the girl looks like and at least on what floor she’s being held (the basement, of course). Throw waves of thugs at them, with perhaps a few crooked cops, until the PCs bust into the room with the girl and a striking woman in tight black leather and a latex mask. That’s Razor Venus. She should put up enough of a fight to get some dialogue across (i.e. that she’s a sadist, they can run but not hide, in the end they’ll be the ones chained up) before tossing her smoke pellets if necessary and making her escape through a secret door.

Among the rooms will be an office with files and a computer. Success at Computer Operation will reveal a client list that will include names of people the PCs should recognize as part of or connected to the DA’s office (though not the DA herself), the mayor’s office (also not the mayor), throughout the police department (beyond the local precinct) and perhaps a few city council members. Use of Pick Locks can reveal the same information in the file cabinet. Otherwise, Nancy or one of the other girls (there should be at least 10 others for the players to rescue) should at some point recognize the police officers or prosecutors, if the PCs try to deliver the girls to the police or DA’s office.

The chase. So the PCs have gotten in and out Club Razor alive and with Nancy, as well as perhaps a few other girls. Now what? The GM needs to get the PCs running for shelter. A few things can happen:
• The police pull up, and the girls tell the PCs they recognize their faces
• Razor Venus appears with a small army of Locos 18 and cops
• Both of the above

It might be possible to sneak around with just Nancy – although she’s not used to that – but with more than one girl to protect, the PCs shouldn’t expect to be able to just throw down a few smoke bombs and Prowl their way out. If you have Hardware or Robotics characters, this is a perfect set-up for a car chase with a few bad cops in hot pursuit. PCs with Flight powers might be able to pick up Nancy and another girl and launch themselves upwards – where you can sick a few police helicopters on them (assume the local precinct reported the PCs as kidnappers).

Otherwise, it’s going to be a running street battle, with Razor Venus directing the Locos against the PCs while she attempts to take back the girl(s). Provide enough enemies to make it clear that the PCs probably won’t survive by standing their ground, and definitely won’t be able to fight while simultaneously keeping an eye on Nancy. Inform that PCs that if they want to divide their attention between fighting and watching over Nancy, they’ll have penalties (i.e. -1 to every roll per girl watched).

The girls themselves are stunned and in shock – in good health, they’d be able to put up a fight, but they’re mentally and physically ground down after weeks to months of trauma.

Rescued girl
HP: 10 SDC: 15
PS: 8, PP: 12, PE: 9, Spd: 10
1 attack
No bonuses
Punch – 1d4, Kick – 1d6


Eventually, the fight has to end and the PCs will have to get to some kind of temporary safety to plan their next steps. This can happen a few different ways:
• Razor Venus is injured. She’ll call off the assault if she takes more than half her SDC or HP in damage. She won’t hold off without telling the PCs in no uncertain terms that she will hunt them down mercilessly.
• A few police cars or helicopters are crashed and piled up. Remember that PCs of good alignments should do their best to avoid letting anyone die in the process.
• The PCs engineer a distraction or a few hold off the horde while one or two PCs spirit the girls away to safety

Plan B? If the PCs have a hideout or belong to a secret organization, they’ll probably head there. Otherwise, because Club Razor is in the city’s industrial district, there should be a few empty buildings or factories to hide out in. This is the point at which the players should be talking and planning, and your job as a GM should be merely to keep the discussion on track and focused. If you’ve got a laptop setup, this is also a good time to start drawing up maps to help in whatever scene the players are leading toward. If the players are at a loss, suggest a few alternatives:
• Option 1: lure Razor Venus and her bodyguard into a trap or decoy and defeat them
• Option 2: reach out to the FBI, District Attorney, other agency to hand over custody of Razor Venus and provide safe-keeping for the girls
• Option 3: arrange for Razor Venus and her minions to get media coverage, putting them in the public spotlight

The end-game should be to have Razor Venus behind bars (or dead) and the girls safely in the custody of a trustworthy agency. If the players can’t figure out who that might be, suggest the DA, the FBI or some other federal agency. In the end, though, the PCs will have to deal with Razor Venus.

Engagement. Showtime – whatever plan the PCs come up with, Razor Venus and a significant number of Locos 18 will show up, with perhaps both corrupt and “clean” cops thrown in for confusion’s sake. While this will be a challenge for a GM, given that the players will have great deal of latitude, there are a few things one might do to make the scene interesting:
• Dogs. A few pit bulls can really liven up combat – roll to strike like a normal combatant, with success not only doing some damage, but also entangling the victim. Parrying won’t work – the dogs will simply latch onto whatever the PC uses to parry (including hands and feet). Until the dog is killed or knocked off, the PC is at -4 to all rolls, and continues to take 1d4 damage every round.

Pit Bull
HP: 5 SDC: 20
PS: 7, PP: 14, PE: 8, Spd: 20
2 attacks
+2 initiative, +2 strike, no parry, no dodge
Bite – 1d4+2 (special)
Knockdown – no dmg


• Nosy reporters. They aren’t dangerous to anyone but themselves, but they’ll get in the way and get themselves in trouble at the same time.
• The girls themselves. While a GM should avoid making victims of severe abuse into sexist klutzy helpless heroines, they should be vulnerable and targeted. Given the myriad ways this adventure can go, keep the focus on the girls and getting them to safety.

Sub-plots. This adventure is perfect for integrating the ideas from the chapter on the law (Testifying in Tights, above). Maintaining a focus on the legal necessities required to bring Razor Venus to justice can work well for PCs of good alignments, who otherwise wouldn’t kill her off. Not all heroes are so upstanding, however, and a good GM should have a few options for the more blood-thirsty group:
• The rot goes deep: evidence, but not proof, that one of the PCs’ contacts is mixed up in the whole sordid business.
• Heroes on the defensive: word goes out that the PCs are attacking cops (maybe they are!), putting them on the city’s “Most Wanted” list.
• Razor Venus has learned vital business secrets from a client; if she dies, the client’s massive fraud could crash the market.

Important skills. Given the investigatory/general sneaking-around nature of this adventure, several skills can be hugely important:
• Surveillance Systems: success allows the PCs to set up monitoring over the club, to determine when it’s most vulnerable
• Electronic Engineer: can be used to shut down the club’s lights and power, or to override an electric security door
• Detect Ambush: use liberally to foresee attacks by the Locos or rogue cops
• Disguise: success helps a PC get into the club to look around
• Pick Locks: also can be used to get into the club
• First Aid/Paramedic/Medical Doctor: can be used to treat any girls (or PCs!) injured; best used during the down-time in the “Plan B” phase
• Demolitions: if the PCs want to blow their way into the club, or set a trap later for the Locos
• Impersonation: the PC can impersonate a Locos member to get access to the club
• Climbing: can get a PC onto the roof of the club to sneak in or provide covering fire during an escape
• Streetwise: use liberally when trying to find the club
• Law: success helps determine what can be used as evidence against Razor Venus
• Photography: can be great for taking photos for use in trial, but either the PC or one of the girls will have to lay foundation (see Testifying in Tights, above)

Heart of Murkness

This adventure can be a straightforward shoot-em-up, but with diplomacy, strategy, team-building and wilderness adventure as possibilities the PCs or the GM can add to the mix. It’s designed for a team of PCs working for a government or international organization, but with the right background and a little tweaking, could be used for just about any group. Supersoldiers will be a perfect fit, as would Special Training, Physical Training, Hardware: Weapons, or just about any OCC from Ninjas & Superspies™.

The PCs are assigned to secretly kidnap a Rwandan warlord hiding out in the Congo, for trial at The Hague on charges of genocide. When they get to the rebel compound, they find that the warlord is hosting a North Korean operation that appears to be using the local population as slave labor to conduct mining operations. But the North Koreans aren’t looking for diamonds – the compound is a large operation trying to unearth ancient weapons of alien origin that the North Koreans hope to reproduce for military use and that the warlord wants to use to return to Rwanda and finish the genocide. The PCs are stalked by Ace of Spades, who will frustrate their attempts to kidnap the warlord, and the situation is complicated by either a sudden attack from the Rwandan military, the escape of a laborer with important knowledge, or both.

Mission briefing
o A former Rwandan warlord known as Gahiji (“Hunter”) is rearming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
o Gahiji is wanted by The Hague on charges of genocide, committed during the Rwandan civil war
o Because taking Gahiji would violate international law (assuming PCs aren’t Congolese citizens), and hurt diplomatic relations, PCs must go in secretly and act discretely
o Once the PCs get their man, they have to get him back to Rwandan soil to fly him out
• Insertion
o If PCs can fly, hey – problem solved!
o Otherwise, helicopters will take PCs into Congo territory; they’ll have to walk in
Observation
o Once PCs get near the compound, they’ll see big equipment, North Korean advisors, and a large excavation project going on
o Careful stakeout will give clues that the perimeter is being stalked (it’s Ace)
o Warlord has sizeable posse armed with modern North Korean weapons
o Slave laborers appear to be used in mining operation, including children
Action and Complications
o Once PCs get plan together, they’ll have to move in on the compound
o Ace of Spades will suddenly appear, taking crack shots at the PCs, firing warning flares and alerting the guards
o Gahiji will disappear down into the mineshaft, followed by Ace, North Korean advisors and guards
o PCs alerted to Rwandan military force moving in on the camp – can either run into the mineshaft after Gahiji or wait and try to team up with the Rwandans (if possible)
The Mineshaft
o PCs wind up in a dungeon-crawl-style adventure
o Ace will use rebel gunmen as distractions in order to lure PCs into ambushes
o Gahiji will run for the center of the excavations to retrieve the alien artifact and become superhuman, resulting in a big smackdown
o The North Korean advisors will try to stall the PCs by issuing warnings in broken English (or North Korean) about the power of the artifact
o Slave laborers will try to escape, attacking the rebels, if possible
o Numerous traps will challenge the PCs, including gas leaks, rock slides, and collapsing tunnels
Not the Mineshaft
o If PCs grab Gahiji before he can make it into the mineshaft, he’ll play along, smiling oddly
o Rwandan forces will block PCs’ escape, demanding Gahiji be handed over to them
o Gahiji will tell PCs the Rwandan commander wants the artifact for himself, to overthrow the government, take revenge on the remaining Tutsis, and conquer neighboring Burundi (all true)
o The Rwandan commander, Col. Habimana, will deny Gahiji’s insinuations but claim he is moving in on the camp to secure “North Korean weaponry” and needs Gahiji to tell him where they are
o PCs at this point have a few options:
 Hand over Gahiji, thus forfeiting the mission
 Try to pull an end-run around the Colonel, leaving him to collect the artifact and sow misery
 Team up with the Colonel, heading back into the mines
 Race back to the mines to secure the artifact before the Colonel gets there

Mission Briefing. Assuming the PCs are part of an organization, they’re simply assigned the mission. Their contact will tell them that the International Criminal Court in The Hague is after a former Rwandan rebel named Gahiji, who has set up in a remote area of eastern Congo and launched raids against other ethnic groups. Gahiji is cruel and bloodthirsty – his modus operandi is to leave his victims alive, but horribly deformed. The PCs should have no doubts that he’s a very, very bad guy.

The Congolese government is not hostile to the PCs, but given its history of invasions and cross-border raiding, will be outraged by any slight of its sovereignty. The PCs will have to be careful to avoid detection in order to not create an international incident. There is little expectation of running into Congolese troops, however. Insertion should be through helicopters, hover-vehicles, inter-orbital bullet pods, whatever fits the nature of the PCs’ sponsoring organization. They’ll land just inside the border and have to walk their way to the camp. Land Navigation and Wilderness Survival can be crucial skills. Tracking might help, if the PCs stumble onto a small rebel patrol.

Hey, this plot is too old! As of this writing, the Rwandan civil war already finished nearly two decades ago, making Gahiji in his late 30s. Time heals all wounds, but it also creates new ones, and by the time you may be running the adventure, there may be better places in the world to set it. That’s fine. All you really need are a war-torn third-world country, ethnic/religious strife, and a cross-border situation. A quick Internet search can fill in the rest (I used it to find Rwandan names; feel free to also check out the CIA World Factbook, available online, to flesh out any details).

The rebel camp where Gahiji is based is about thirty miles inside the Congolese border. Once the PCs capture Gahiji, they’ll have to move him back to Rwandan soil for extraction. They must not kill him. Punch him in the face repeatedly, sure, but not kill him. The Rwandan government is friendly – or at least, not hostile – and will allow the organization’s helicopters or hoverships or whatever to pick up the PCs.

Insertion. Once the PCs are in, they’ll have to find their way to the camp. The sponsoring organization should have provided them with maps, but Land Navigation should be a critical skill here. Failure means wandering their way into a Congolese army camp or back into Rwanda. GMs who want to add a little extra can throw a lion, hippo or wildebeest stampede into the mix. Otherwise, keep it moving and get them to the camp ASAP.

Wait, a player will say, my character can fly! Why, he’ll just fly over the border, grab Gahiji, and fly him out all the way to the Netherlands, if need be. This could be a huge stumbling block for a GM, but what the heck, let’em try it. Here’s what you can do to lure the PC to ground ASAP:
• PCs up in the air will be seen easily and attract a ton of gunfire from the ground.
• It won’t be easy to tell which rebel is Gahiji until the PCs gets closer or scouts the area – a PC flying brazenly into camp will not only be shot at from all directions, but won’t know who to take alive and who to shoot back at.
• Gahiji will run into the mine as soon as he can, and the PCs won’t be able to stop him, because they won’t know who he is until the slave laborers tell them.
• The Congolese army will notice the PC and head out to investigate (this could be a lot of fun, especially once the Rwandans show up)

Observation. Smart players will know to stake out the compound before charging in. Unfortunately, sigh – sometimes you won’t be dealing with smart players. For those who want to charge in, they’ll just have to learn the following at a time less convenient for planning an operation (if necessary, a GM can always point out that super-operatives of an international organization tasked with special missions generally know to do a little intel first).

Basic observation from afar will show a large wooden palisade with observation towers, surrounding a large number of huts, with a large metal structure in the middle that looks vaguely like an oil pump. A stream runs under a part of the palisade and emerges at the other side of the compound. PCs that successfully use Prowl to get closer, or have some kind of optical equipment, will see laborers using pickaxes and shovels to claw away the bank of the stream, apparently looking for diamonds. The equipment is freshly painted and looks new; it has some Korean writing on the side (Language:Korean success tells the PC it says “Energy Containment Unit” on the side; the style is North Korean). One or two East Asian men can be seen talking to the rebels in broken English.

PCs with Intelligence will be able to determine that the camp holds about 200 rebels with a mix of modern weaponry. Recognize Weapon Quality allows the PCs to learn that the weapons used by the rebels are North Korean, new and of sturdy design. Trap Detection reveals that the perimeter is laced with punji stakes. Detect Ambush success means the PCs will find clues suggesting the wooded area surrounding the camp (which has been cleared for 200-300 meters around) is being stalked by someone, but not a typical rebel – the boot-prints are very deep and don’t look like typical military footwear. Detect Concealment should come at a huge penalty, -30% or so, in order to locate Ace of Spades. Even once he’s spotted, he’ll run off back into the woods out of sight, as if he could sense he’s been compromised.

If the PCs linger, get spotted in a failed Prowl attempt, or intentionally intervene, some of the laborers might make an escape attempt. They’ll be pursued by a few rebels, who take highly-inaccurate potshots at them. If the PCs want to intervene, the GM can stage a brief combat in the dense Congolese forest (it’s not really a jungle, but call it what you want). This is a good time to introduce the PCs to Ace, who will track them, hide to take shots at them, and leap out, knife drawn, to quietly cut the throats of any stragglers.

Rebel fighter
HP: 25 SDC: 40
PS: 16, PP: 15, PE: 14, Spd: 14
3 attacks
+1 strike, +1 parry/ dodge, +1 roll
AK47 – 4d6, Bayonet – 1d8


Most of the handful of laborers won’t make it, but this can be a way to put a young local boy under the PCs’ protection as a plot device.

Mutabazi
HP: 8 SDC: 15
PS: 7, PP: 11, PE: 7, Spd: 5
1 attack
-1 all combat rolls, -2 to be hit (small target)
Speaks Bantu and French


Alternatively, the PCs might capture one of the rebels alive and use Interrogation. Either way, Ace should run off if confronted by more than one PC (he runs very fast, Spd 21, and knows the territory). With little Mutabazi (age 10) or the rebel talking to the PCs, let the players know that:
• The 50-odd workers are locals forced into slave labor, originally as diamond miners
• A few months ago, the North Koreans arrived, bringing heavy modern equipment with them. The locals were then forced to dig a maze of tunnels underground.
• Eventually, they uncovered a large room built like some kind of foreign temple, with a bizarre shiny metal spear on an altar in the center
• The Koreans are hesitating to take the spear, in part because Gahiji is demanding it “on loan,” but mostly because it appears to suck the life force out of whoever touches it. General Ri, the head of a group of about 10, has personally shot anyone who tries to take it.

Actions and Complications. The PCs should now have a plan to get in, grab Gahiji, and get out. What the GM needs is a good map of the compound, a map of the mine, and a scorecard to keep track of all the rebels about to get toasted (and not in a happy, beery way).

Gahiji should have a good chance to reach the elevator shaft. Feel free to throw a few Korean special operatives and rebel gunmen at the PCs. Add a few traps, both obvious and hidden, to spice up combat a bit, and reward PCs who make their perception rolls by allowing them to turn the traps against the defenders.

North Korean Special Forces
SDC: 50 HP: 20
5 attacks
+3 parry/dodge, +3 damage, +3 strike, +4 roll
AK-47: 4d6 dmg; Grenades: 2d10 dmg, Knife: 1d6 dmg; jump kick, knife hand, snap kick, flip/throw, wheel kick, axe kick


The mineshaft. What kind of traps can you set for a crawl through a mine-dungeon?

Pneumatic Hose: Laying around on some equipment. If it goes off, it sprays wildly, knocking over anything that fails roll under PP (natural 20 automatically fails) and has a PS of less than 18. Perception: 12. Damage: 1d8. Runs out of water after 2 rounds, but the floor is soaked, giving a -2 penalty to all actions (-15% to skills).

Tumbling Equipment: Carelessly stacked and heavy. Any sudden jostle will result in it crashing down. Failure to roll under PP results in the character getting caught underneath, taking 1d8 damage and losing all melee attacks. The equipment can be picked up, tossed around, or used offensively (power drills, perhaps?) once spilled, but also creates obstacles. Attackers that roll a 1 will trip and stumble, losing their next attack. Perception: 10.

Cave-ins: Weak struts make a part of the ceiling a dangerous enemy. Fighting underneath it for more than 2 melee rounds will send up enough tremors to cause a collapse. Perception: 16. Damage: 1d10, lose all attacks that round. Characters with PS under 18 will be pinned.

Fire: All that mining cleared out a lot of coal. Some of it is still laying around in piles. Bad news for fiery PCs or even gun-toters whose stray shots send sparks flying. The blaze will be contained, but cloud the area with smoke, poisoning lungs and blinding eyes. It also, you know, burns. Perception: 8. Damage: 1d8 per round in the flames, plus 1d4 extra rounds on fire. Those remaining in the room more than 4 melee rounds will have to make saving throws against toxins each round, plus -1 to all actions (-10% skills) stacking up each round of the fire. Lasts as long as the GM wants.

Various bad stuff: Mining uses lots of toxic chemicals, big sharp motorized equipment, and releases lots of dangerous gases while throwing up tons of dust and debris. Feel free to add this together to create fun hazards for PCs.

Once the PCs do fight their way through the guerrillas and North Korean special forces, they’ll face Gahiji and General Ri in a large room with a tall ceiling supported by ancient carved pillars. In the center is an altar holding a shimmering spear. General Ri believes it has a source of unlimited power, and wants it to power his bionics to new levels, allowing him to take power in North Korea. Gahiji believes it can be wielded to endow its user with superhuman abilities. So far, all it’s really done is kill two rebels who picked it up, and General Ri has shot everyone else who’s come close. The plan was for the general to have it, but Gahiji has lured the Rwandan army across the border, trapping the North Koreans in with them, forcing Ri to use the spear’s power to destroy the besiegers. That would then let Gahiji waltz into Rwanda and take revenge.

If the PCs don’t know this and simply snatch up the spear, they’ll have to make a save v. magic or wind up taking 1d10 damage and being paralyzed for 1d4 rounds. If the player does make the save, however, he or she will be imbued with the power Alter Physical Structure: Electricity, which lasts as long as they can keep their hands on the spear.

What’s the deal with the spear? Better to leave this unexplained. It can tie into previous or upcoming adventures. It’s some alien artifact that has some kind of power source, but mostly it’s what’s known in Hollywood as a “McGuffin” – a plot device that sets the action in motion without actually affecting anyone in the story.

GMs, use this to your advantage! With the Rwandan army closing in, both Gahiji and Ri will be scrambling to possess the spear. Any time a PC knocks them around, it’ll slip from their fingers, and the scramble will begin again. If the spear shocks one, the other will try to take it. If both wind up being paralyzed, more special agents or rebels will intervene to distract the PCs, or more traps will spring (or both).

Gahiji
HP: 25 SDC: 40
PS: 17, PP: 16, PE: 16, Spd: 18
4 attacks
+2 damage, +3 parry, +3 dodge, +5 roll, +3 strike
AK-47: 4d6, Machete: 1d8


Not the mineshaft. Whatever is going on underground, things should be rolling in above, as a Rwandan force under Colonel Habimana violates international law by pushing into Congolese territory to wipe out Gahiji’s base. The Colonel has brought about a dozen trucks with him, carrying some 200 men, along with two tanks.

Habimana’s plan is to surround the camp, kill the Koreans, and offer Gahiji freedom in exchange for the spear. He’ll then return to Rwanda, launch an invasion of neighboring Burundi, and use the war to claw his way to power over the region. If the PCs haven’t gone down into the mineshaft, he’ll cozy up to them, lie constantly, promise he’s acting under the authorization of the Congolese government, and constantly pump the PCs for information. He’ll especially be interested in getting information from Mutabazi, if he’s hanging around.

Gen. Ri Gang-chul
Bionic (partial construction)
Aberrant Lvl: 4
Education: military specialist
Age: appears late-40s
Weight: 280 (but looks slender)
Hair: black and slicked back
Eyes: black
IQ – 14 HP: 28 SDC: 72 AR: 11
ME – 8 Roll: +9 Pull Punch: +3
MA – 18 (trust/intimidate: 0%) Dodge: +5 Parry: +10
PS – 18 (19 arms, 22 legs) Damage: +3/4/7 Init: +2 Magic: +0
PP – 13 (24 arms) Strike: +7 Possession: +0
PE – 13 Attacks: 6 PPE: 0 ISP: 0
PB – 13 Spd – 188 (130 mph)

Bionics
Bionic arm (PS 19, PP 24)
Bionic legs (PS 22, Spd 188)
Amplified hearing
Light armor (AR 11 SDC 120)
Concealed arm gun (submachinegun, 2d6 dmg)
Chemical spray (blind or tear gas, +1 strike, 3d4/4d4 rounds, victims -10 to s/p/d)

W.P.s
Rifle
Auto pistol
Heavy Weapons
Knife

Skills
HtH Martial Arts
Running
Climbing (20)
Military Etiquette (20)
Radio: Basic (20)
Basic Electronics (20)
Basic Mechanics (20)
Demolitions (20)
Demo Disposal (20)
Underwater Demo (20)
Detect Ambush (15)
Intelligence (15)
Wilderness Survival (15)
Interrogation (15)
Detect Concealment (15)
Acrobatics
Gymnastics
Boxing
Wrestling
Secondary: English, prowl (10), body building, pilot: auto

Attacks: disarm, karate kick (2d4), snap kick (1d4), roundhouse kick (3d6), wheel kick (2d6)


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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:33 pm
  

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Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:10 am
Posts: 202
More please.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:07 pm
  

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OLD ONE

Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2000 2:01 am
Posts: 7695
Location: Indianapolis
Comment: PROUDLY Not a member of the "Cabal of 24"
Was a very interesting read. Well thought out and researched. I'd probably up the # on some of the damages you have in the adventures, but that's just me.

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Palladium Books 2015 Robotech RPG Tactics Tournament Rules


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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:56 pm
  

Dungeon Crawler

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NMI wrote:
Was a very interesting read. Well thought out and researched. I'd probably up the # on some of the damages you have in the adventures, but that's just me.


Thanks! Now tell Wayne what he missed out on.

Damages? I send more stuff to HP than some GMs probably do, but the thing with Palladium's system is that you're supposed to wing it. There really are no rules - just suggestions.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:22 pm
  

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ScottBernard wrote:
More please.


A lot of this is stuff I know off the top of my head thanks to legal, military and journalistic experience, and still it takes a lot of time to write down and polish into something readable.

If Palladium actually wanted to publish anything I wrote it would be worth it to put the time and effort into churning out manuscripts, but PB seems too small and too inundated with demands to be able to sort through offers and consider new writers. That's not a criticism, just an observation. Of course, I assume they would want to publish my stuff if they ever did read it, which may not be true.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:58 pm
  

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Champion

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parkhyun wrote:

High IQ + high education with a focus on business. I really don't think this would be a fun character to play, though. Markets are a great source of details and intrigue in an adventure, but I can't see how they could be the focus on a fun RPG.



First off...this is really really well done.

Second, there are quite a few good movies that deal with markets and business in an adventuresome manner:
Margin Call would be pretty epic as a game where the entire crash was caused by some villains.

-STS

_________________
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I am a firm believer that men with guns can solve any problem - Inscriptus
Any system in which the most populated areas have the most political power, creates an incentive for areas that want power to increase their population. - Killer Cyborg


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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:52 pm
  

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slade the sniper wrote:
parkhyun wrote:

High IQ + high education with a focus on business. I really don't think this would be a fun character to play, though. Markets are a great source of details and intrigue in an adventure, but I can't see how they could be the focus on a fun RPG.



First off...this is really really well done.

Second, there are quite a few good movies that deal with markets and business in an adventuresome manner:
Margin Call would be pretty epic as a game where the entire crash was caused by some villains.

-STS


Thanks! This may sound crazy, but I enjoy being complimented.

Since markets are so powerful, they make great catalysts for stories, but the human element is really what you need to get drama going, and in games, you need a lot of combat. For me, the talking bits are there to make the combat bits better. I'm not sure how you would do that in a market-based storyline, so I presented this as something that's more background and less forefront.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:14 pm
  

Dungeon Crawler

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Tables

Random International Agencies
1-8 The UN
9-16 Interpol
17-24 The International Criminal Court
25-32 Arab League
33-40 African Union
41-48 NATO
48-56 CIA
57-64 Mossad
65-72 MI5
73-80 Ministry of State Security (China)
81-88 ISI (Pakistan)
89-54 Indian Intelligence
55-100 FBI

Random Trial Result (Criminal)
1-14
Result: Guilty on all counts
Effect: Defendant sentenced to 2d10 years in jail
Game Effect: Villain tries to control crime from inside prison
15-30
Guilty on a lesser charge
Defendant sentenced to 1d10 years in jail
Villain tries to plan escape, revenge
30-44
Guilty
Sentence suspended; any further crime adds 1d10 years to a sentence
Villain tries to keep his fingerprints off any schemes
45-52
Hung jury
Trial will have to start all over again, taking 2d4 months
Villain gets more time to keep pursuing his scheme
53-66
Let off on a technicality
No prison sentence; only mark on record is for arrest
Police, prosecutors, PCs blame each other for the loss
67-73
Not proven
Villain walks, but is pounded in the media
Popular support rallies to the PCs
73-87
Not guilty
Villain walks, but is widely suspected
Public begins to doubt PCs
88-100
Not guilty
The prosecution backfires, making villain appear to be a victim of a conspiracy
Public anger turns against the PCs

Random Trial Result (Civil)
1-14
Result: PCs found liable
Effect: Must pay for all damage and for attorney’s fees
15-30
PCs found liable
Must pay only for damage
30-44
PCs found not liable
Only costs are for their attorneys
45-52
PCs found not liable
Losing side must pay PCs’ attorney fees
53-66
Injunction awarded against PCs
No fees other than attorneys’, but the judge orders the PCs to do something or stay away from the defendant (a restraining order)
67-73
Injunction awarded for PCs
Must pay attorney fees, but the judge orders the losing party to stay away from the PCs
73-87
Appeal by losing party
The PCs win, but the suit drags on, costing more money (50% chance to prevail on appeal)
88-100
Appeal by PCs
The PCs lose, but can appeal. If they win, all their costs are covered, but if they lose, they’ll have to pay for both the damage caused and for the legal process.

Why’d We Lose at Trial?
1-10
Objection: Foundation
What Happened? Can’t show evidence is what it’s purported to be
11-20
Opinion
Non-expert tried to give his or her opinion as a fact
21-30
Hearsay
Can’t testify about what someone else told you
31-40
“Best Evidence”
Can’t talk about what’s in a document – it must be actually shown to the jury
41-50
Expert not Competent
“Expert” didn’t have sufficient background or tried to testify about something ordinary people already know
51-60
Illegal Search/Seizure
Government agent seized it without a warrant or a good reason to be where he or she was
61-70
Irrelevant
Evidence doesn’t make it more or less likely that the defendant broke the specific law he or she is accused of
71-80
Privilege
The testimony was from the defendant’s doctor, lawyer, or spouse, all of whom can’t use it against the defendant
81-90
Chain of Custody
Generic item of evidence needs to be accounted for at all times (i.e. labeled in a safe)
91-100
Unfairly Prejudicial
Plays on peoples’ emotions more than it provides important facts (i.e. bloody photos of the victims)

Random Adventure Generator
The PCs must: (d10)
1. guard
2. destroy/kill
3. find
4. investigate
5. steal/kidnap
6. negotiate
7. rescue/recover
8. distract
9. deliver/escort
10. discover
A: (d12)
1. historic relic
2. shipping truck
3. group of kids
4. map
5. chain gang
6. church/temple
7. contract
8. recipe
9. gangster
10. treasure
11. live animal
12. refugee(s)
Which is/are: (d20, over 16 roll again)
1. trapped
2. cursed
3. chained to… (roll again for above)
4. missing
5. hunted by rivals
6. nonexistent
7. running away
8. in enemy territory
9. really high up
10. stuck in a mine shaft
11. slowly withering away
12. split in two
13. in the sewer
14. trying to kill the PCs
15. in disguise
16. incredibly smelly
During (d12):
1. a snowstorm
2. the local fair
3. festival
4. gang war
5. town on fire
6. market day
7. invasion
8. flood
9. rain that turns earth to mud
10. drought/dry spell
11. dust storm
12. evacuation
Before (d8):
1. it’s destroyed
2. captured by rivals
3. the bad guys arrive
4. everything burns down
5. it’s buried (alive?)
6. the beneficiary dies
7. PCs are killed
8. the event ends
Even though: (d10)
1. the box is empty!
2. the beneficiary is evil
3. it’s despised by all NPCs
4. PCs knowses, hateses it
5. It slowly weakens PCs
6. The PCs will be betrayed
7. PCs might get the plague
8. the world ends
9. it’s against the law
10. PCs want it for themselves
Oh, and also: (d12)
1. PC is wounded/sick
2. PCs hunted by enemies
3. PC is high/drunk
4. PCs are stuck with (reroll 2 and 3)
5. PCs have no gear
6. PCs are starving
7. Animal infestation
8. Teamed up with rival
9. PC can’t stop sneezing
10. All PCs chained together
11. PCs covered in stinky substance
12. PCs mistaken for criminals
Random intervention by: (d12)
1. Black Hand
2. Ace of Spades
3. Razor Venus
4. The Hammer
5. The Sickle
6. The Man in Black
7. the ISI
8. terrorists
9. North Korean special forces
10. Janaweed militia
11. Iranian baseej
12. huge mutant earthworms
Out near a (d20):
1. small town
2. farm
3. scrap yard
4. factory
5. shopping mall
6. military base
7. forest
8. ghost town
9. religious compound
10. rebel compound
11. laboratory
12. historic ruin
13. steel mill
14. dam/bridge
15. cave
16. major city
17. under the sea
18. inside an airplane
19. aircraft carrier
20. desert

I created several more tables, but since they're summaries of Megaversal rules, I won't put them up here.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:19 pm
  

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Palladin

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slade the sniper wrote:
parkhyun wrote:

High IQ + high education with a focus on business. I really don't think this would be a fun character to play, though. Markets are a great source of details and intrigue in an adventure, but I can't see how they could be the focus on a fun RPG.



First off...this is really really well done.

Second, there are quite a few good movies that deal with markets and business in an adventuresome manner:
Margin Call would be pretty epic as a game where the entire crash was caused by some villains.

-STS


Considering a number of board games deal with business and marketing and prove popular (look how long Monopoly's been around) I imagine there are more than a few people who wouldn't have problems with the idea of playing a marketing/business-based game.

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It's 'canon', not 'cannon'. A cannon is a big gun like on pirate ships, canon is what you mean when referring to something as being contained within one of the books such as how many dice to roll for a stat.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:05 am
  

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Anyone tried any of the adventures yet?


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Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 8:05 am
  

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No group to try it with, but it was a great read. I would have loved to have seen it as a HU2 supplement or even a Rifter article. Keep the good work coming.

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Megaversal Ambassador Coordinator
Palladium Books 2015 Robotech RPG Tactics Tournament Rules


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Unread postPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 4:43 pm
  

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Hardcopied and printed out for perusal and enjoyment. 8)

_________________
-------------
"Trouble rather the Tiger in his Lair,
Than the Sage among his Books,
For all the Empires and Kingdoms,
The Armies and Works that you hold Dear,
Are to him but the Playthings of the Moment,
To be turned over with the Flick of a Finger,
And the Turning of a Page"

--------Rudyard Kipling
------------


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Unread postPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 7:33 pm
  

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It doesn't suck! It sounds like what happened with my PFRPG Character Booklet. I'm still waiting on him to get back to me! It's been 2 years. I submitted it on the 13th of January, 2012. I have spoken to him, Kevin, and Alex about it. I'm totally ticked!

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Unread postPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 12:13 am
  

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parkhyun wrote:
Testifying in Tights: Know the Law.

Aguilar, Spinelli and You

In every common-law country (i.e. the US, UK, Canada), the government needs a warrant if it wants to bust into your home or office to look for evidence. To get a warrant, its agents need to convince a neutral judge that there is probable cause (a good reason) to believe both that crime is afoot and evidence will be found where the search will take place. The FBI might be able to knock down your door, but unless it has a warrant, it can’t use anything it finds inside as evidence at trial. The bad guys walk free.

What’s this got to do with your PCs? First, any PCs who act as government agents have the same responsibility to show probable cause and get a warrant. Captain Fireball may blast his way into the villain’s lair, but if he’s a government agent, nothing he finds there will be of any use, and the local District Attorney will scream bloody murder over how the Cap’s stupid mistake let the bad guy know the cops were on to him. All those hours putting him under surveillance wasted. Thanks, hero.




Quote:
What about vigilantes? Well, most jurisdictions use a rule created from two cases, known as Aguilar-Spinelli. The rule is simple: if the police want to use tips from an informant (the PC), they need to have probable cause to believe the informant’s trustworthiness and his basis of knowledge. Put simply, is the guy trustworthy, and how does he know what he says he knows? Weigh the two together, and if you’ve got probable cause, you can get a warrant.

This leaves the PCs with a few options. One is to create a relationship with the police that allows them to provide tips so the cops can actually go get the evidence needed to lock the bad guy up (Remember the 911 anonymous tip names? This is a good time to let the cops know your superhero alias.)

The other option is to try to take the bad guys out of business for good. For Principled and Scrupulous characters, that requires not killing them – and that requires creative solutions. GMs, take note: creative solutions are the stuff XP rewards should be made of. Otherwise, killing the bad guys should bring the authorities down on the heroes, as well, who after all did just commit a homicide.

Mind control and stasis feilds, or APS foam, are useful here.

Quote:
Stand Your Ground: Some US states have enacted laws allowing citizens to use deadly force in self-defense if they so much as feel threatened. There is no exception for supervillains! That means if Bratman confronts the Jester, who guns down Bratman, the cops cannot charge the Jester with murder. Oops.


But if Bratman gunned down the Jester, he's conveniently not there to dispute Bratman's self defense claim...

Quote:
Evidence, or Why Those Photos You Took are Worthless.

So now here we are at the trial of your bad guy. The PCs took the photos, but can they take the stand, give their names and addresses, and subject themselves to brutal questioning by the bad guy’s defense attorney (who is really just doing his job)? No? Are there any other eyewitnesses willing to do so? No? Then you have no way to prove what happened, and without proof beyond a reasonable doubt (around 95% sure), the jury cannot convict him. He walks.

The problems with evidence aren’t limited to physical items. Testimony is evidence – and there are lots of rules that limit it, as well.

First, consider that all those previous bad acts the villain did won’t be mentioned to the jurors. That’s because every trial needs to answer only one question: did the defendant break the law at this particular time? Prior bad acts are irrelevant, and a jury shouldn’t base its decision on blind prejudice.

Second, the law is very careful about letting in hearsay evidence. This is a devilishly complicated topic that can’t be easily explained here, but suffice it to say that if someone told you something, you can’t tell it to the jury. “She said she saw him do it,” or “I heard he does that kind of stuff,” is hearsay, and you can’t bring it up at trial. The law wants to hear from people with personal knowledge, and if you can’t find that person and convince them to testify, then usually, too bad.


This is why invisibility:Superior and Words of Truth spells (and their magic Weapon equivalents)are rather useful....

Quote:
[color=#FF0000]Common Problems With Criminal Procedure, and What It Means for You
Confessions of a Madman

We all know what happens when we’re arrested, right? The police are supposed to read us our rights: to remain silent, to have an attorney, and that anything we say will be used against us. Those are called Miranda rights, from the famous case of Miranda v. Arizona, and they’re followed by police around the world.
Rarely, though, do we ever think about what those rights actually mean. When do the things we tell police become evidence, and what does it mean that they can be used against us?
Unlike in movies and on TV, torture rarely works. The problem is that you can’t know if the person actually has the information you want, but once you start torturing him, he’ll say anything he thinks you want to hear to stop it. For that reason, courts around the world struggle to keep confessions from coming in at trial if it looks like they were obtained by having the police screw some thumbs.

Insanity, Before or Possibly After Trial

The law is careful about trying defendants who are insane. The key word here is competent, and a defendant who is not competent cannot be tried.

This doesn’t mean the person is freed – far from it. In fact, insane defendants will likely spend more time behind bars, because they will be handed over to a hospital for the criminally insane, and not be given a trial until the doctors declare them fit. When will that happen? Maybe never.

The most common test is known as the M’Naughton Test, and it simply asks two questions:
• Did the defendant know what he was doing?
• If he did, did he know it was wrong?

While most common-law jurisdictions use this, plenty of US states have moved away from it. They look instead to two other questions:
• Did the defendant understand he was breaking the law?
• Could the defendant stop himself from breaking the law?

In American federal courts, at least, the burden of proving insanity rests on the defendant.

What does this mean for game play? Plenty of villains will be declared insane. That allows a GM either to lock them up forever, or to place them in a hospital that’s easily broken into by the villain’s minions.

Keep in mind that often, once the villain is “cured,” he or she will still be held responsible for the crime. Of course, by that time, the witnesses’ memories will have faded, evidence will have been lost, and so on.

So, if you can't win your case, then use induce insanity to lock them away....

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If you support ICE/BCP/BorderPatrol at this point, you would have called the Gestapo on the people surreptitiously moving into your neighbor's attic and huffed that you were only following the law.


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 4:07 pm
  

Knight

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Location: Québec
Great villains! I hope you come up with more.


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Unread postPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 4:08 pm
  

Dungeon Crawler

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gaby wrote:
Great villains! I hope you come up with more.


Thanks! I've redirected my focus toward Robotech, and making it a way darker, more brutal setting:

http://palladium-megaverse.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=143422


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Unread postPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 10:00 am
  

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Hero

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NMI wrote:
No group to try it with, but it was a great read. I would have loved to have seen it as a HU2 supplement or even a Rifter article. Keep the good work coming.


+1. Congratulations to the author. I would love to see this in a Rifter article!

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 7:06 pm
  

While this might be nice for a group of lawyers that love to play RPGs. This supplement takes WAY to much creativity out of the GM's and players hand and would result in a bogged down and slowed game raster than the Cinematic experience we expect ehen playing HU/AU

Not say thing this isn't great for certain players/groups but it constrains creativity and more importantly Tropes needed to make it feel like playing out a comic book/movie.

This might fly in a non super powered campaign though.

But anyway that's likely why it was rejected.


Re-write it to be a city specific setting with those detailed rules and make the maps yourself and you've got a solid setting supplement.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:58 pm
  

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Niji wrote:
While this might be nice for a group of lawyers that love to play RPGs. This supplement takes WAY to much creativity out of the GM's and players hand and would result in a bogged down and slowed game raster than the Cinematic experience we expect ehen playing HU/AU

Not say thing this isn't great for certain players/groups but it constrains creativity and more importantly Tropes needed to make it feel like playing out a comic book/movie.

This might fly in a non super powered campaign though.

But anyway that's likely why it was rejected.


Re-write it to be a city specific setting with those detailed rules and make the maps yourself and you've got a solid setting supplement.


Thanks for the feedback. I'm with you on about half of it.

I don't agree that this is for lawyers - in fact, it's written explicitly for non-lawyers who want to play more challenging games. If you want more simplistic, action-oriented games, then of course this isn't for you. The point would be to present ways for GMs to ratchet up the challenge on players - to force them to think more creatively about problem-solving. My theory is that if Heroes Unlimited is intended to be the "thinking man's superhero RPG," then a good supplement should push the "thinking" angle. The same goes for the Advanced GM section: these are all suggestions intended to make play easier, and provide more options, but in the end are only suggestions.

I do agree with you that Palladium seems more interested in world-building than in tool-building. I would prefer a whole lot of "tools": stock NPCs, tables, mod-able scenarios, software, and guidance. These days, Palladium seems to focus on "world": settings, named NPCs, gear, and storyline. Sometimes this can be interesting, but I would argue that it limits creativity. No amount of sourcebooks will be able to match Google Earth.

You may prefer playing with GI Joes, and that's fine. Some of us are more into Lego.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:19 pm
  

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Palladin

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Comment: Palladium Books Canon is set solely by Kevin Siembieda, either in person, or by his approval of published material.
And some of us build the terrain for our GI Joes out of Legos. :D
I loved the supplement, and I am quite sure I will get a lot of use out of it. Especially in non-four color games where hero's ARNT above the law, vigilantes aren't best friends with the police commissioner, and villains need actual justifications to get out of jail. Its defiantly not for everyone, nor every game. But for those games that could use it, this sort of thing is invaluable.

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The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."


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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:24 am
  

eliakon wrote:
And some of us build the terrain for our GI Joes out of Legos. :D
I loved the supplement, and I am quite sure I will get a lot of use out of it. Especially in non-four color games where hero's ARNT above the law, vigilantes aren't best friends with the police commissioner, and villains need actual justifications to get out of jail. Its defiantly not for everyone, nor every game. But for those games that could use it, this sort of thing is invaluable.



Thinking about it in this context that is great!
Not everyone that likes the idea of superheroes is into the way they are presented in cinema and comics so this would be a great supplement for that niche as well.

I think there is 2 books now on literally how to make your own world, dimensions, and entire universes for the system :D

A bigger toolkit is nice.

My main goal though was to inform on why it's not getting picked up/advice to get it picked up(a profitable model that would sell from their end).


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Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:38 am
  

Dungeon Crawler

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Niji, I actually agree with you - Wayne probably looked at this, thought it wasn't where Palladium wanted to go with HU, and moved on.

But I'm glad people are reading and enjoying it. Let me know if you ever use any of this!


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Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:37 am
  

Dungeon Crawler

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By the way, I'm still providing "law-guy" feedback in this thread here:

http://palladium-megaverse.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=141817

Related to, but not part of, the supplement.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:59 pm
  

D-Bee

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Comment: Let's all have fun our own way and maybe, if we're lucky, sometimes those ways will intersect.
I'd buy this book as long as it was proofread and edited ("whole" where it should be "hole"). Reminds me of that "The Law is a Ass" column about legal errors in super hero comics, especially the farce known as "The Trial of the Flash."


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Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 3:08 pm
  

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Champion

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Comment: Time Magazine's person of the year, 2006.
As with most HU books, there are things here I'd pass on, but over all, I really like this work. Having frame work for dealing with the whos and whys of how international politics and super humans is a great tool. :ok:

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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:05 pm
  

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Wanderer

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Thanks again! I'm really looking forward to setting up the Razor story with my players. Although it is a bit dark.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 3:30 pm
  

Dungeon Crawler

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Hunterrose wrote:
Thanks again! I'm really looking forward to setting up the Razor story with my players. Although it is a bit dark.


Awesome! Let me know how it works out.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:17 pm
  

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Priest

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I only discover this thread now?
Again, parkhyun, you amaze and entertain. :ok:

_________________
-------------
"Trouble rather the Tiger in his Lair,
Than the Sage among his Books,
For all the Empires and Kingdoms,
The Armies and Works that you hold Dear,
Are to him but the Playthings of the Moment,
To be turned over with the Flick of a Finger,
And the Turning of a Page"

--------Rudyard Kipling
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Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:59 am
  

Dungeon Crawler

Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:06 am
Posts: 221
taalismn wrote:
I only discover this thread now?
Again, parkhyun, you amaze and entertain. :ok:


Thanks, but you didn't miss it. You commented above that you printed it out. Hey, it's an old thread!


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Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:21 pm
  

User avatar
Priest

Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:19 pm
Posts: 43200
Location: Somewhere between Heaven, Hell, and New England
parkhyun wrote:
taalismn wrote:
I only discover this thread now?
Again, parkhyun, you amaze and entertain. :ok:


Thanks, but you didn't miss it. You commented above that you printed it out. Hey, it's an old thread!


D'oh!
Dah, brain wipeout....

_________________
-------------
"Trouble rather the Tiger in his Lair,
Than the Sage among his Books,
For all the Empires and Kingdoms,
The Armies and Works that you hold Dear,
Are to him but the Playthings of the Moment,
To be turned over with the Flick of a Finger,
And the Turning of a Page"

--------Rudyard Kipling
------------


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