New Centurions, Issue #9: Emancipation

Last Saturday ((I’m falling behind again. Work has been nuts. On the up side, I’ve got the bare bones of two blog posts that aren’t game reports on the back-burner. Look for them soon.)), Clint ran the latest installment of the New Centurions campaign, and we wrapped up the invasion storyline.

He also took the opportunity to roll out his new experience system.

Why a new experience system? Well, as he quite rightly pointed out, most comic book characters don’t really level up. Some things about them change, but they don’t often gain new powers, or become permanently stronger, or stuff like that ((Yes, there are exceptions. But for the most part.)). Most experience and advancement systems not only allow, but encourage you to ramp your character up to new power levels, and that didn’t fit for the kind of game he wanted to run.

On the other hand, as players, we’re conditioned to want our characters to get better over time. We want to develop new powers and get better at using our old ones. And he didn’t want to take that motivation away from us.

He came up with a compromise heavily based on the idea of Milestones from The Dresden Files RPG. It focuses on Challenges, and overcoming a Challenge (a fight, a plot, a trap, a complication, etc.) grants certain benefits, which vary depending on how tough the Challenge was. At the lower levels, it lets you tweak some things about your character, and at higher levels, it gives you some experience that you can bank towards a bigger change. Challenges also give you Fame and Infamy, depending on how you resolve them.

So, after a brief talk about the experience system, we got down to play.

We picked up the game right where we had left it, with the New Centurions bursting onto the bridge of the voidship, filled with the illithid crew, with our poorly-armed army of ex-slaves at our backs. The rest of the evening was pretty much taken up by the epic combat that followed.

I’m not going to go through that combat step-by-step, but I do want to comment on a couple of things:

  • Everyone’s getting better at coming up with interesting things to do in combat, beyond the move-hit paradigm. And that’s so important to the feel of a superhero game. Jumping around, throwing enemies, making called shots on brain-controlling parasites, all of that happened. It was an action-packed fight.
  • Little plastic shot glasses make awesome forcefields and flying bases. And they’re cheap at the dollar store!
  • Figuring out how to use the minion rules to your advantage as a player has some real benefits.
  • D&D monsters make great extra-dimensional villains. Illithids and a bullette surprise!
  • Going into the fight with only 21 hits ((Out of a total of 100.)) made the fight extra-nerve-wracking for me. I figured S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. was gonna go down in a valiant sacrifice, but I survived with 6 hits left.
  • This spiced pecan recipe is very good ((What does that have to do with the game? Nothing, except I made them to bring with me, and they were yummy.)).

So, we defeated the illithids, but during the fight, the ship passed through the barrier into our world. The last several minutes of the battle had us hovering over the war-torn Manhattan landscape, trying to get the psychic computer in the ship to help us defeat the incoming armies of returning raiders without blowing up their ships full of captured slaves. We managed to work out an arrangement that allowed the illithids to release their slaves, then stay trapped in their shuttles until the slaves controlling our captured ship released them back on the other side of the barrier.

There were some interesting hints about why our world had a dimensional barrier at all, and some fun stuff with the Defenders superhero group getting most of the credit for helping out during the disaster ((After all, we were no where to be found, having chased the illithids into another dimension.)), and some dark government cover-ups put in place, and S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. reuniting with Shannon, his tech and lifeline. Then we called it a night.

Now I’m looking over the experience system, trying to decide what I’m gonna do with my brand new experience points.

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One Response to New Centurions, Issue #9: Emancipation

  1. Regarding your comment about the minion rules: I realized that in my head I had been treating some characters that would technically be minions in the rules [i.e. less that the full boat of 100 hits] as villlains. I have done this to reduce the Slog FactorTM [the time required to finish an encounter after it has stopped being fun and cool]. At 100 hits, even villains of the same point value can take a long time to deal with. Thus, I will not always allow PCs to treat such NPCs as minions, deciding whether they qualify as such based on their role in the encounter, rather than their standing according to the rules.

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