Original SA post
In honor of Mors Rattus's Xanth thread, I'd like to finally take the opportunity to explore something else from my extended adolescence that was okay at first glance, but is really actually pretty creepy when you get down to it!
In this case we'll be sharing...
Super Babes! The Fem-Force RPG, just like it says on the box. What's Femforce? That's a question that I doubt anyone really wants answered, but fuck it. I'm going for broke, here.
According to cursory google searches, Femforce is a comic that started in the hoary days of 1985, with a collection of original characters and some from the '40s and '50s that had slipped into the public domain. As the name might suggest, the main team is all women, and the game itself is generally written with the assumption that all of the PCs will be women as well... which, you know, should be fine. Assuming that everyone at the table is a mature adult.
The writing team for the RPG were not mature adults.
surprise, Femforce is still being published... along with creepy live action videos of scantily clad female superheroes fighting, which fortunately isn't germane to the RPG.
Back on topic!
Packaging, because I like to sperg about this kind of thing, is a white cardboard box about 2.5" deep, with graphics pages glued onto the front and back and a weird texture.
[Edit: Oh God, I think it's supposed to be imitation alligator skin.]
It's about the size and shape of a late TSR boxed set, and could hide safely among them since there's nothing on the side panels. According to the back panel, it was published in 1993 by an outfit name Selex Inc, based out of Eustis, Florida. Google has next to nothing on them, and the whole thing gives me the feeling that it was an amateur sideline by the company's owner or a younger relative... because everything about this screams amateur.
According to the back matter, the box contains one full-colour GM screen, one complete manual, one sheet of full colour cut-out heroines, blank character sheets, and maps of Florida and Orlando. Oh, and a full-colour poster of the Femforce, an issue of the comic, and a special collector's edition mini-comic. Huzzah.
And hey, it's all in there. Good god. But there's already a bit of a disconnect between what's said on the box, and what's in the box...
Super Babes posted:
If you are tired of dark, gritty, reality-based R.P.G.'s and are looking for a superheroic RPG that is fast moving and easy to learn, then this is the game for you. You can play your favorite character from the pages of the Femforce or create your own hero or heroine to battle the forces of evil... With a rule book written in a conversational tone instead of reading like stereo instructions, an easy to use conbat system and a good dose of tongue in cheek humor, this is a game that you will play over and over giving you hours of R.P.G. enjoyment.
The sample comic for this non-dark, non-gritty superheroes RPG shows what appears to be two supervillainesses fighting over the opportunity to torture an unconscious heroine who has been hung upside-down from some kind of nineties cyber-manacles. Nothing dark or gritty about that, no sir.
The conversational tone, 'tongue in cheek humor' and 'easy to learn' rules don't work terribly well either, unless maybe you're at the low end of their recommended 13 and up, in an alternate 1993 where alternatives like GURPS Supers and typically-played Vampire: the Masquerade aren't available. We'll get to those bits soon enough. God help me.
What Lies Inside
Original SA post
...we have the manual. It's the only non-comic book in the box, it's perfect-bound, and weighing in at 128 pages (plus a handful of character sheets) it really doesn't make a compelling argument for the huge amount of space in the crate. In my case this is fine, because it leaves room for all the other Femforce books I picked up off of eBay when I was younger, stupider, and flush with student loan money. But anyway, let's pick up the manu-- and whoops, the cover came off!
Remember that GM's screen bullet point? That's the cover for the manual. Rather, the inside cover of the manual. Sandwiched between the two is a sheet of glossy paper printed with full-colour character stand-ups, the sort of thing you'd find in an old-school Battletech box. These ones are apparently meant to be cut out with flaps to glue together underneath, but whoever did the layout didn't leave much room for that.
There are twenty-four human-scaled figures, mainly heroines and villainesses, with a few guys in spandex and bystanders of either sex. There are also two mailboxes and two fire hydrants, presumably for use with the throwing damage table tha takes up a quarter of the GM screen. There are also two oversized stand-ups, one of a woman that's nearly twice as tall as the smaller stands, and another that... unfolded, takes up most of one half of the sheet. I presume she's supposed to be the giantess on the front cover. My favourite is a fellow who looks a bit like Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap. With all of the characters and the few bits of scenery, there's an impression that Super Babes is meant to simulate the highly kinetic fight scenes of comics that existed before property damage became something to worry about. It's a bit surprising that they went to this trouble, but didn't put any sort of combat maps in the box.
I'd call the GM screen a reference card, more than anything else: it's thin cardboard, and only has one broad fold, so it's likely to fall over with the slightest breeze. Game stats are only printed on one side, and almost all of them are the sort of thing that players would want to consult too... unless you're the kind of GM who tries to hide everything from your players, and gets upset when they suss out the to-hit math despite you.
Terminology aside, almost a quarter of the space is given over to the 'Common Objects Damage Table', which gives damage ratings for hitting things with anything from a human body to an aircraft carrier. High-energy combat? Looks like it! Below there's a table for 'Normal Weapons' which ranges from brawling punches to rifles, rayguns and explosives. It's a
smaller table than Common Objects, and strikingly handwavy compared to the then-contemporary games that could spend whole books modeling the differences between calibers and manufacturers. The opposite page has a 'Combat Results Table', an old-fashioned To-Hit matrix. There are fiddly-looking tables for martial arts offensive
defensive maneuvers, and a list of what look like costs for regular combat maneuvers. The only things not of direct interest to players are the 'XP Award Table' and 'Fame Award Chart', which could both fit on a single index card.
I have to come back to the Common Objects Table, because at first glance it's really impressive looking: there are
different sorts of things to hit a villain with, but also huge amounts of duplication in the damage formulae. Manhole covers, saplings (or bushes), dining room tables, and king sized beds all do the same damage, but take up four consecutive entries on the table, and this duplication continues through the chart. Bizarrely, while the list is split into two sets of columns, it isn't split evenly: there are twenty entries in the first and eighteen in the second. I know layout software wasn't the best in the early Nineties, but this looks sloppy and the weird descriptive granularity of the table looks obsessive, especially when compared to the weapons table.
Actually, forget the manual for now. Let's make this the loose bits post. It'll be like a clips show, only not.
Next Issue: The Manual! Some of It! For Real!
Full-sized comic. I'm not touching this one again. Actually-- you'd think they might commission a special one-shot comic or something, but this is Issue 66
Part Two of Three. I think Horace called this technique 'you're on your own, dude'.
Special collector's edition mini comic. Despite the box's claim that this is unique to the game, there's a price tag printed on it too. Same price as the full-scale one, despite being black and white. It's basically a collection of action shots that frame short blurbs of origin stories and the evolution of the Femforce. Not a lot of detail, but a bit more engaging than a dry timeline and it fits the comics schtick.
Poster. Cheap paper, poor colours; the stock weirdly reminds me of temporary tattoos. Can't get the image of someone with a back-length tattoo of a fuschia-skinned heroine standing before the stars and stripes, surrounded by smaller heroines out of my head now.
Character sheets! Three of 'em! One's got a blank character drawing, one the outline of a guy for you to pencil your own costume onto, and one with a heroine they took the liberty of giving huge, glam hair to. Thanks for that, guys.
Paper Dolls Instruction Sheet (now with Conversational Tone)! Cut 'em out, fold 'em up, and-- oh, hey. Apparently you're supposed to glue them to pennies. Probably a quarter's worth in the case of the 50' Woman. At least they're less likely to blow away than the GM's screen is, like that.
Maps. Maps of Orlando and Florida, totally useless for tactical play, but apparently the writers thought it was very important that we understand where they filed the serial numbers off and wrote their own bits in. Attractions include 'Dizzy World' which '...showcases all of the creations of cartoonist Malt Dizzy', and the Burperware Auditorium. Comedy gold right here, folks. The maps themselves are really kind of useless; neither has a scale, so you get to guess at distances, the 'important' landmarks could be plopped down anywhere narratively convenient, and dumb, one-note jokes like 'Florida's Turnpike: A toll road on which many Florida residents try to break the land speed record' read like rejects from the Devil's Dictionaries. They're more accurate than your average
maps, but that's all they have going for them.
The Book Begins
Original SA post
In Today's Thrilling Episode of...
I'm late. Also lazy and distractible and on vacation, but still. Late. Sorry to anyone who was actually reading this series.
We begin with a credits page, which surprisingly includes over fifteen playtesters whose names were legible on the NDA forms, and somewhat worryingly includes a special thanks to the lake County Sheriff's Department. It also refutes what I said about its providence in the first episode, by stating that it was
by Tri-City Games and Collectables, while being
by that Selex Inc outfit, except where they used art copyrighted to AC Comics, which is everywhere-- and I mean everywhere. Open the book to any page and odds are better than not that you'll see super-cheesecake gamming back at you from one or both pages. With the exception of one or two unfortunate greyscale scans of a colour frame, it's all in black and white, There's a fairly even mix of art that looks like it was prepared for the book, and stuff that was obviously scanned from black and white comics, with the kind of attenuation and artifacting that being run through an old scanner tends to produce; the latter usually accompanies thematically related rules, which makes sense, but the accompanying dialogue fares as poorly as the line art.
The book doesn't have an index, though most of the last page claims to be an 'autograph section for your favorite AC celebrities'. Fortunately, the table of contents is
: their layout software scraped every last heading and sub-heading in the book. I say it's their layout software, because point values for everything but the super-powers are included in their related headings, and the end result makes for a particularly half-assed cheat sheet.
The layout in general is simple: two columns, occasionally broken by a page-wide table or piece of 'art', There's something about the font and type spacing that brings to mind printing essays off of an old inkjet-- it's got a rough, amateurish feel to it even before the rough, amateurish writing begins.
It all begins with an introduction that goes on for half a page about how excited they all are to be working on the project, and lets slip that they weren't the first outfit that Americomics tapped to create an RPG, but were the first to produce something saleable. Note that's 'saleable' and not 'playable'. And a section where they admit that they may not have caught all the glitches, and the proofreading might not be the greatest, and-- hey, that's what the credits page was missing: a proofreader! But they've got a mailing address for errata requests, Given that it's 1993, most geeks are still using their modems to dial into local BBSes; this is pretty decent for customer service, in these days. Then things take a turn with the list of things you'll need to play.
The 'conversational' tone mentioned on the back of the box is pretty much omnipresent, and for the first few paragraphs of the book it isn't too bad. It begins breathlessly excited, a lot like the preface of a RIFTS sourcebook... and much as those become strident when Kevin Siembieda wants to make a point about lasers being silent, or how drugs are bad, or people who don't like the RIFTS magic system are stupid, this book is prone to chiding and digression where tighter editing and trusting the players would have done them in better stead. I'll be pointing these out as I go on, of course, because some of them are real head-scratchers.
Case in point: Things You Need. This begins with logical things like pencils, folders for game-related sheets, and the like. It specifically calls out d20's, d10's and d6's, preferably two each of the first two and at least half a dozen six-siders; "If you can't find any of these, ask teh guy next to you who dragged you to this game. He's probably got enough to supply the room." I'm a little surprised that they didn't spring for at least 3d6 a 10 and a 20, since it's supposed to be an introductory game, but suppose that was probably cost-cutting, or driven by some worry about the comics being damaged by sharp corners.
"Beyond this is only our personal recommendation that you bring a 6-pack of some kind of soft drink, NOT beer; alcohol and RPGs do not mix well!"
Um, that's funny, because...
"You know what alcohol does to you, so we won't lecture you."
Er, you just
"Just take it from us, don't drink and game."
Whatever. This is unfortunately typical of a 'conversational' voice that happens to belong to a hovering older-brother figure who's invited us all to pretend to be all-American, big-boobied super-chix with him. It gets better, well, less awkward... until the next time the writer thinks you're going to try pulling a fast one with the rules, or sneaking a beer.
The game proper begins with 'What is a Role Playign Game? And How am I Supposed to Play it Anyway?' which shares half a page with a hovering pinup who has a lot of hair, almost as much boob window, and not a lot of clothes. It's typical stuff: what it is, how to play, do you play competitively, how do you win... and one that was particularly curious to me:
is role playing evil?
To me, 1993 seems like a weirdly late date to be playing cover-your-ass with the satanism connection. Mazes and Monsters and Dark Dungeons had been published a decade earlier in 1981 and 84, and around here that craze only really latched on with the Jehovah's Witnesses and assorted fundamentalists, all denominations of which were very thin on the ground. By this point people were already pretending to be vigorous, vampiric roshambo players in a surprising number of parks and basements. Then again, I've visited Florida all of once, and have spent most of my life in the bit of America's hat that keeps dangling into the Great Lakes. Maybe it's a cultural thing. Maybe it's just trying to convince parents that letting their sons play shamelessly cheesecakey superheroines is only as weird as letting them (ahem) read about them. This section is probably the most eloquently written part of the book, noting that anything can be taken to extremes or twisted out of proportion, and that those borderline urban myths who go all Black Leaf would have already been predisposed to seek escape from their lives. A few people do crazy things and RPGs get unfairly blamed. Somewhere, jazz music is laughing, and the nascent first-person-shooter industry has just woken up in a cold sweat.
Terminology follows. Since most of it is common to RPGs, most of the rest can be understood from context, and the rest pertains to certain game elements that want to be confronted and not just coyly flirted with, I'm just going to skip most of it. The section on die rolling includes instructions for rolling a d3, gets explicit if dividing and rounding is too difficult, and declares that class is dismissed! d6, d10 and d20's paragraphs all include the phrase 'ad infinitum' and that they are used to generate a random number between 1 and x; they call d6 out as a 'standard everyday monopoly type of die' (who knew?), d10 threatens a quiz (I thought class was dismissed?), d20's primary role is said to be determining success, and d100 actually tells you how to roll a d%. Each of these is only a paragraph long, but god damn they could have been shorter without the punchy school theme.
Oh, and then the page ends with the quiz they mentioned. Seriously. Only three of ten questions address things from the book so far ('what shape is 1d6?' 'which is the dice commonly used to roll 'to hit'?' 'When rolling 1d3, what would the number 2 indicate?') Less seriously, the final question is 'Why are you actually taking this quiz?'
Actually, I lied. The page ends with another column-length picture of another curvaceous woman striking an unlikely pose and showing a lot of decolletage, and me getting a sinking feeling that the 'funny' writing was added to plump the page length.
Next Up: I
stop trying to write funnily and
move on to chargen!
Original SA post
Today, on a Very Special Episode of...
...we tackle the rigors of chargen, and of being a superhumanly powerful woman in a universe devised by the men who both fantasize about them, and live in fear of being rendered irrelevant by them.
An Enormous Manchild posted:
We wrote this game for anyone who enjoys the AC Comics style of showcasing superheroic women in tighter-than-skintight outfits fighting crime and performing spectacular feats while occasionally suffering a moderately embarrassing or humorous occcurrences.
Which is to say that you can play men, and that girl gamers are welcome to join too, but we'll look at both of you in the same funny way that we do that guy who always rolls female characters in more mainstream RPGs.
This passage is particularly important, because as we'll see later, they have some
weird ideas about what counts as 'moderately embarrassing' or 'humorous', even for a bunch of guys writing a game about pretending to be super-girls in 1993.
Super Babes character generation is point-based, like GURPS or HERO: 600 character points buys your character's Origin, Attributes, Powers and Skills-- or 500 points does, if, as it says just below, the GM decides to hold 100 back for later character development. In theory, not a bad idea. In practice, thanks to a complete lack of sidebars, boxed blurbs, or other formatting beyond Wordperfect's column spacing algorithm, it gets tossed in in the same breath and just confuses matters. Not a good first step for a game that claims to be easy to learn and play.
Of course there's a field for measurements.
Chargen begins with the selection of an Origin from a list of ten. Not all origins are created equal, and origins have a character point cost that ranges from zero to a whopping
of your six hundred points. There are mechanical benefits and drawbacks to each, a thematic package deal that involves enough ifs, ands, or buts that the whole thing could have been tossed without anyone being the wiser. It reminds me unpleasantly of the character classes from Heroes Unlimited.
In order they are:
- At zero Character Points, this is the bargain hunter's Origin. Or rather the relic hunter's, because this Origin allows you to spend precisely
points on powers, and your stats cap out at a near-superhuman 20 across the board. You do have the option of starting with a single Gizmo (the rules for which will be touched on later), or beginning as a millionaire, which allows you to spend half your worth on gear at chargen, and nets you another cool million every time you go up a level.
Yes, level. Point based chargen, level based advancement. Not exactly a chocolate and peanut-butter combination, no.
So, yeah. A single super-item that you can't mod, fix, or do anything but press the button marked 'go' on... or half a million dollars to spend on... absolutely
. There's precisely one equipment table in the book, and it's just combat stats for a collection of generic weapons. Want prices on gear? Better consult the Sears catalogue.
Not that the authors seem to particularly care for this Origin, either:
Remember, though, the thing about being a millionairess is that nonprofit groups are always after your money, you have to pay taxes on it, and somebody may try to steal or wreck your comapny... Whew! Almost sounds like it's not worth the trouble, huh?
Yeah. Those evil, conniving, non-profit organizations.
Oh, hey. I just noticed that 'Origins' in the header on every left-hand page is misspelled. Awesome.
- Our second Origin, weighing in at 25 CP, and our first good taste of the writer's WTFery. These are your andr-- pardon, gynoids, your clones, anything that comes off an assembly line or out of a vat.
Artificial Being posted:
This type of character has many disadvantages...
What? I can see the Adventuress being a gotcha Origin, but we're paying points for this! Anyway, let's see where it goes...
...she must either roll on the scientific accident origin's life expectancy chart at +6, be subject to her creator's whims, or be subject to a classic paralyzing phobia (claustrophobia, hydrophobia, gynophobia, whatever) that will incapacitate the character whenever she is confronted by it, until she can roll under her WILL stat on percentile dice.
I... there isn't enough deodorant for that passage. Jesus Christ. Okay. Taking it from the top:
Yes, another Origin gets to roll to see how long they live. It's 'optional', in the same way that having a dire phobia or being mind controlled by your master is 'optional' in this case. For the 'Being who takes this option, they'll live a minimum of two weeks, and an average of a year.
The second is straightforwardly horrible. No resistance checks, no arguing, GM says your master says 'do this', you do that. Examples given include acting a certain way, looking a certain way, or even robbing banks a certain way. Just what every PC needs: a loss of agency baked right in.
? Projecting a little, guys? Sure it's an example, but goddamn is it a shitty example
for a game like this
. Claustrophobia, fear of the dark-- why not good old FIRE BAD! for those who just rose from a slab?
That WILL roll to resist? Average score's 9-11. Even if you're a smart-arse and buy it up to 100 or higher, you're still boned for a full round after you made your check.
But that's not all!
You need to decide whether or not you're technological or organic. A gynoid is immune to Control Minds, but vulnerable to Control Machines, and an organic construct vice-versa. If you're a cyborg? Then you're vulnerable to both,
your WILL is
when trying to resist. Nice try though!
- Our first (and only) Origin with a variable cost: ten points a rank, up to ten ranks. Your powers have either been granted to you, or amplified to the point of usefulness, by the magic of money (and probably unethical scientific experiments) and in return for maybe having access to corporate facilities, they own your ass.
...the character will often have to perform services... such as attending supermarket openings... or perhaps even escort duty for visiting VIP's! "Yeah, that one, the little filly in the skintight suit! That's the one I want to show me the town tonight!"
Ugh. We're only sixteen pages in, and these asshats are already wearing the creep on their sleeves.
Anyway, your paycheque, access to company facilities, and responsibilities to the company are all related to how many points you dumped into the Origin. For every 10 points, you get access to $10,000 worth of company gear and the same amount in salary per year. Every twenty points, you aways have at least one
, and your
will probably be tied to corporate events. What are BPs and BEs? They're... soon. They demand top billing.
Speaking of billing, the sponsored heroine has to perform
Actually need to borrow that corporate car? Be ready for it to take 20 minus your PERSONALITY score (average of 9-11 again) DAYS for it to filter through. If for whatever reason your PERSONALITY is five or lower, someone 'loses' the requisition. Every time.
You also have to pay to replace borrowed kit that gets damaged or destroyed, which is... fair, sure. What's bullshit here is the paragraph that boils down to 'pay for what you wrecked, or you can only borrow that much less' somehow manages to be
than the one that details the mechanics of requisitioning stuff in the first place.
- 25 CP, and another huge gotcha. This time, you're from so far out of town that you will be 'unable to start game play with many of the skills from the skills list relevant to the planet Earth'. Which skills? How so affected? Well, the example given is
firing a gun
, so... all of them, probably!
You can buy Earthly skills though...
you've advanced a level, and assuming you have the CP to spend, and you're always going to be stuck at an Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer level of familiarity with Earth customs.
Of course, right after the book mentions Earth customs, there's a picture of a winsome lass thinking 'THIS is the human mating ritual??!!'
This is the first Origin that's specifically called out as being cheap because it provides nothing but a big, honking pain in the ass. Until now, I thought Origins were benefits. 25 points for nothing but bending a character over? Forget that, these things are a
- 32 points? Why 32 exactly? Who knows! You're an X-Man, your powers are innate and inseparable from you, but all your life you've known that you were Different, and never learned how to communicate properly. In this lone case, it's 'creepy' that you can fly, and even when you're in mundane ID, other people can sense that you're weeeeeird and 'act accordingly'. What's 'accordingly'? That's up to your GM. If you're fortunate, 32 points is where the Origin Tax breaks even.
- For whatever reason, this one's exactly 18 CP, which makes me wonder if these guys were deducting point costs from some hidden pool, or more likely just pulling numbers out of their asses. This one has a whole damn table of ass-pulling attached.
GOVERNMENT SPONSORED heroines are directly responsible to their superiors, who can make the character's life miserable in more ways than you can count.
Fan-fucking-tastic. It goes on to describe the heroine and her husband wrecking their car, losing their jobs, dude breaking his leg, and medical insurance that won't cover him because of an obscure clause, all because she turned down a job with General...
What? No. Why the flying fuck would someone subject themselves to this kind of bullshit caprice, especially in a supposedly rules-light, light-hearted game that is supposed to be about golden-to-silver age superheroics?
Oh, and you're monitored fully half the time, and can be dragged into providing services for whatever branch or bit of alphabet soup you work for. But you get a paycheque! A paycheque that has a (5% times level) chance of improving a grade, checked
once a year
. You can borrow gear too... maybe. That's at a 5% chance (times level, again), with a maximum value equal to your level times your salary... assuming you've filled out the fucking paperwork. This time the paperwork takes ONE HUNDRED DAYS, less four days per point of Personality, and if your Personality is five or less, someone will 'lose' the paperwork halfway through and you'll have to start again... only for it to happen again, because your Personality is below 6.
Did they source this from somewhere? These are some pointlessly spergy numbers!
- For a whopping two hundred points, one might think this Origin would be sitting head and shoulders above the rest... and one would be wrong. See, 175 points of that is the Inventor
and... well, the system hates inventors, more than any other superhero game system I've encountered.
At chargen, you can make up to three Gizmos (which duplicate powers, and which cost CP), and at each level beyond that you can make a new one or improve an existing one. Not bad at first glance, but you're stuck with a single theme to your inventions at chargen. Want to play Rachel the Rocketeer? Great! Just... all of your gizmos will be flying machines. No guns, no tinfoil hats, just flying machines. Oh, and you can jury-rig broken stuff. Whee.
For a third of your default starting points? That's a pretty serious Fuck You.
- Five whole points. Remember the Artificial Being? This is where they get that life expectancy table. For five points, you were exposed to mutagenic ooze, or atomic radiation, and now you've got super-powers and
. At worst? You've got an hour to live. At best, twenty years. On a dead-average roll, three months. Or...
...you just don't know your own strengths. Yep. Terminal illness, or you just don't know exactly how fast you can fly, or that you can fly, necessarily, until one session you happen to miss the ground. Or worse, your GM might be old enough to remember
The Greatest American Hero
Remember: this chart is optional... in the sense that if you don't like it, you can opt to take another Origin!
- Fifteen points, and at this point I'm resigned to the realization that these guys are pulling values out of their asses. This one
grant the character powers from an entity that wants those powers back. Or it
be like the non-cancerous version of the previous Origin, and you just don't know your eyebeams from your Invocation of Isis. Or your power may be
and have its own plans, like world domination, or possessing that fertile body it's been attached to. In the case of villainesses, the last one might be bound to an object-- like a simple gold ring that's exceptionally resistant to heat and... wait, no. That's too subtle for this game.
- Another excuse to bone the player, and this time you're paying 50 points for the privilege. You have a mentor, an entity somewhere in power between Cthuhlu and Galactus. There's a flat 25% chance that they'll be watching at any given point in time, and if they catch you misbehaving they'll pull you out of reality 'for a little 'instructive discipline''. And if the world is absolutely, categorically about to end, you have a 5% chance (times level, of course) to call your mentor to intercede on behalf of delicious humanity.
Oh, and you might start with a gizmo too, if your GM is okay with that.
Yes, you can mix them! Kind of. Take two Origins, pay the most expensive cost, and... get the benefits and drawbacks of both. Yay.
Oh, unless you're an Adventuress. Whatever you combine with that one, you still can't take powers, and you still can't raise your stats above 20... but you might draw a government paycheque, or have virulently erupting super-tumors. Yay!
The intriguingly titled
Everything That You Know is a Lie
is half a page of long-winded explanation that yes, you and your GM can change your Origin at a later date if it isn't working out, or set you up with a 'fake' origin (whether you the player know or not)... but curiously forgets to include salient mechanics. Do you lose the benefits of your old Origin, like gizmos paid for with CP? Do you have to pay the difference between the 'fake' one and the new,
more expensive one? Who knows!
The Origins section ends with a couple of paragraphs on linking origins between characters, which has nothing to do with Origin origins, but rather coming up with excuses for the characters to be working together.
Next step is determining your
which, as luck would have it, map directly on to the classic D&D attributes (plus Unearthed Arcana bolt-on, Comeliness). Attributes cost 2 CP per point, and the chart starts at zero... but human average is usually (usually) in the 9-11 range: so in order to reach baseline average, you're blowing through another 140 of your 600 (or 500!) points. But speaking of assholes:
This kind of shit makes Kevin Siembieda's rants look downright dignified.
Y'know what would have been shorter, better, and easier than that odious little screed? Simply stating 'All PCs must have at least a 1 in all stats.' Boom. Done. Almost as easily, they could have dropped their always-be-adding math, default stats to 10 across the board, and reduce base CP accordingly. I say 'almost', because for whatever asinine reason, not all stats share the same average range. Penalties for low stats? They're baked in, with the exception of Looks and Personality, and the latter is specifically called out in several Origins.
Each stat follows a different progression table, which makes sense given that they're borrowing heavily from AD&D's highly differentiated attributes, and that some affect secondary stats in complementary ways and different rates. What makes less sense is that stat maximums vary from 300 to 1,000 points, and even more strangely, there is no flat average range where there are no meaningful modifiers.
D&D and its variants have carried 9-12 as an average range, because that's what an average roll of 3d6, rounded up and down, will give you. Super Babes doesn't, and that's fine-- it's point-buy and, while it's aping its ancestors, it isn't bound to the old bell curve. What it doesn't do is assign an absolutely average score. Some stats claim 9-10 is average. Some are 9-11. One even claims 10-12. It's like they didn't understand the basis of what they were working from, and just threw numbers at the wall. It's weird, because from 1-20, the tables do their best to bump modifiers up or down for every two points in a stat. Beyond 20 though, the scale shifts abruptly.
Each table has a column for a stat's 'class', which the writers admit is straight-up meaningless. Its purpose seems to be making the tables wider, while aping old AD&D's intelligence scale, or boxing weight classes. It comes off as cargo cult
adjectives assigned in nonsensical order, where 'Buff' stands above 'Peak Performer' as the capstone of normal human strength, and the supernatural range spirals out in a flurry of random jabs at a thesaurus. Seriously, 550 MUSCLES ranks merely as 'Remarkable', where 500 is 'Impossible'?
determines how much damage you deal with melee and thrown object attacks, the amount you can lift (which is important, given that huge table of increasingly large, improvised melee weapons), and modifies your hit-point analogue. Below the 9-10 average, you're losing starting HP and taking a penalty to melee damage.
The lifting calculations are flat-out weird: take your stat value and multiply it by a number that varies by rank. From 1-10, the lift value is 20 lbs. Yes, this means that an average, everyday human can lift and hold 200 pounds over their head. Go up to an 11, where the chart jumps to 50 lbs/point, and you're suddenly beating
with a deadlift of 500 pounds. Someone with a 20, the peak of normal human strength? She's hoisting half a ton.
Beyond 20, each new class raises your HP by ten points and adds another 1d6 to your thrown/melee damage. This is big, already: Everyone starts with 1d6 hp, a punch does 1d6 before modifiers, and the average pistol deals 2d6. By going into the realm of super strength alone, you're making yourself harder to kill
making it easier to turn lesser heroines into tent pegs.
Muscles goes up to 1000. It's highly unlikely that any PC will reach that point, but I suppose it's there if you really, really need something that gets an extra 220 hit points, can deadlift
one billion pounds
and dole out another 22d6 damage atop whatever's granted by the enormous object it's doubtlessly toting.
follows the same progression as MUSCLES, from zero on up to a thousand, with the average sitting square at 9-10. This stat modifies hit points at the same rate as MUSCLES from 0-30, beyond which the bonus per class rises to 25. It's also one of
stats that govern the regeneration of
Power Points (PP)
, the juice that drives a character's super abilities, and natural healing rate. An average person at rest regenerates 1 PP every ten rounds, and 1d6 hit points per day.
How long is a round? Oh, that's... that's defined
later, as six seconds during combat and... one minute outside of combat, which may or may not be called out as non-combat rounds. At least they have the decency to define PP in another few pages, after the stats section.
At the bottom rung of the superhuman range, a heroine regains 1 PP every 10 combat rounds, and one every non-combat round, which... works out to the same amount, funnily enough. It's also really anemic, as we'll see shortly. Oh, and she regenerates 3d10 damage a day too.
Meanwhile, at a score of 1000, your 'GODLIKE' entity gets an extra 600 hits, regenerates 30 PP every six seconds in combat and... 50 PP every
seconds outside of combat (non-combat rounds being a minute long), a bizarre discrepancy that sneaks in all the way back at the 31-50 level. Or maybe they're both rated in combat rounds? Who knows, thanks to their idiotic naming scheme! (Flipping ahead to WILL, it's implied that they do mean non-combat rounds in the latter case... which is... yeah.)
What isn't vague is the italicized 'sidebar' where they spend a paragraph passive-aggressively accusing the reader of looking for loopholes, before declaring that in a conflict between HEALTH's PP regeneration and WILL's, you take the better effect, and don't combine them.
Oh hey! On top of that, spending absurd amounts on HEALTH has fringe benefits: A score of 100 (not 101, where the next class starts) makes you immune to Earthly diseases; 200, you're immune to Earthly drugs and poisons; 300...
300 makes me wonder if they did a single proofreading run of this, because at that point you begin to regenerate hits at the same rate you do PP, which obviates the need for the last third of the hits-regained-per-day column. Oh, 10d10 looks impressive, but when you're guaranteed to get 360 back in an hour,
recover from going below zero hp without medical attention, it's wholly extraneous.
At 400, you're immune to the long-term effects of radiation. According to the paragraph-long rules for such at the very end of the book, this means you won't get cancer. At least, not from that.
500... you regenerate 1 hit per round, even if you're below zero. You know, just like you could back at 300, only inexplicably slower.
maps to Dexterity. It modifies your to-hit checks, your movement rate, your... 'hittability' (read: Armor Class) and curiously enough, adds another small modifier to hit points. Oh, and grants you an initiative bonus equal to 1/10 your score, but that didn't make it to the table for some reason.
MOVES scales from 0 to 500, with an average of 10-12, where you get no bonus to hit or to hit points, have a base movement of 4" (presumably scale) and a base hittability of... 4. A peak-normal human gets +3 hit points, +3 to hit, and has both a hittability and movement rate of 8. Oh, and +2 to initiative checks.
This table scales at a glacial pace, ironically enough, with a 'GODDESS-LIKE' 500 scoring an extra sixty hit points, +8 to hit, 20" of movement and a hittability of 20. Oh, and... +50 to initiative, which is probably on a d20.
... oh, god. Looks are looks, not charisma, which is PERSONALITY. It... it modifies hit points, of all things. That's it. And hoo boy, does it expose some assumptions while doing so.
LOOKS scales from 0 to 300, with a human average of 9-11. It is probably the only stat that really needs those adjectival classes, because... it only affects hit points, and only at extreme ranges.
A LOOKS of 0 nets you an extra
hit points, while merely being a 'SKANK' at 3-5 points nets you +4. From 'AVERAGE' to 'MAJOR BABE' (9-18), there are no modifiers. At the very top range of natural humanity, the vaunted 'MARVELOUS!' you get... -1 hit point.
That's right. The prettier you are, the more delicate you are... which speaks volumes about these guys' aesthetic senses and ideals of femininity.
LOOKS becomes a bigger trap as you go on, where a 'GODDESS' at a score of 300 is down fully
hit points because... because... she probably has a waist like a wine glass's stem: a fraction of an inch across, and made of glass.
is intelligence and, according to the book, your score times ten correlates directly to your measurable IQ. Whatever. Double whatever, given the book goes on to say:
There aren't that many geniuses in the AC universe, so this statistic isn't a highly prized one in this neck of the woods.
Neat, intelligence is a dump stat. I suppose that makes sense for a setting where superheroines routinely wear 'tighter than skintight spandex' and put up with being treated as the office toy, when they could be benching Buicks or setting themselves up as the eternal rulers of third-world countries. Don't want to threaten the readership, nosiree!
Ahem. BRAINS scales from 0 to 300, with an average of 9-11, and modifies hit points, mental to-hit, and mental hittability. That's it. Amusingly, a score of 0-2 gives a
to hit points, presumably because you're too stupid to feel it, and something with a 0 is as hard to hit with mind-beams as something with a 'SUPRA GENIUS' score of 100. Merely dumb characters get a penalty to hit points, probably because they're too dumb to get out of the way.
Someone of average intelligence gets nothing but a mental hittability of 3. The borderline superhuman 'SAVANT' gets +1 hit point, +2 to hit with mental attacks, and a mental hittability of 7.
This is another one that scales fairly slowly, with the so-called 'OMNISCIENT' with a score of 300 snagging +5 hits, +5 to hit with brain-stuff, and a mental hittability of 14.
Amusingly, the 'brains class' description reads: 'a humorous name for each class of intellect. No offensive intended.'
Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Wizard.
... may not actually map onto Wisdom, depending on how you vaguely define it, but anyway. It apparently has something to do with inflicting or resisting mind control, but that isn't so much as touched on here. What is are... more hit point bonuses, and regenerating both power points and hit points.
WILL ranges from 0 to 500. Below-average WILL gets you a penalty to hit points, no PP regeneration, and 0-1 hits regenerated per day of bed rest. The average person at 9-11 will regenerate 1d3 hits per day of bed rest. They repeat the same warning that you take the better of WILL or HEALTH regeneration rates, and double down on HEALTH's stupid out-of-combat regeneration rate.
WILL makes no distinction ('differential' in their spell-checker's choice of words) between in-combat and out-of-combat rounds... so someone with a 12 WILL regenerates 1 PP every minute in combat... and every ten minutes just hanging around. Why? Who knows. There are no suggestions involving pumping adrenaline, or reaching into reserves of inner strength... just a weird rule that makes you regain stamina faster when you're exerting yourself.
At the peak of human conditioning, a character gets +4 hit points, regenerates 1 PP every two rounds, and regenerates 1d6+3 hit points for every day of rest, assuming their HEALTH score doesn't have effects that supersede the latter two. At a score of 500, someone with 'ENDLESS' WILL gets fifty five extra hits, regenerates ten PP per round, and regenerates 10d10 hit points per day of rest.
See 'LOOKS'. No, I'm not joking, it's the same
table, from zero to three hundred. Being nice and personable (but apparently not forceful) makes you physically wimpier.
Remember that (god help me) 'weasel alert' from earlier? That's in here because these idiots made not one, not two, but
dump stats, two of which will actually harm your character if you buy them up. Personality at least is a two-edged sword, with a couple of Origins having built-in gotchas for characters that take it at a critically low level, but this is exquisitely bad, reactionary game design, shitty patches against 'weasel' players where a pre-launch overhaul would have tightened things up tremendously and left no one the wiser.
are more than I thought they were. They are the means with which you power your super abilities, perform most attacks and combat maneuvers... and they are also your first layer of hit points, too, Super Babes's way of simulating superheroines shrugging off massive amounts of damage. This means that they're just about
depleting during combat, and unless you're being very stingy
dumped a lot of points into WILL or HEALTH, you're not actually going to get any back during the fight.
Power Points are calculated by taking the sum of all your primary stats. That's it. An unlikely character with tens across the board will have 70 PP, and an Adventuress who pegs all her stats at 20 (they can't go above human maximum, remember) will have 140... but since she
have one Gizmo to power, hers are mostly padding. At the same time, if she maxed LOOKS and PERSONALITY, she'll have less than optimal...
, or Hits to Kill, or Hit Points, as I called them above, because there's trying to look like you're not cribbing from D&D, and going far enough that you look like a complete idiot doing so. TSR was litigious as Hell in those days, yes, but hit points had been a generic concept for a very long time, even then.
While only heroines and certain sorts of NPCs have PP, everyone has HTK. HTK are calculated by consulting every primary stat table, because all of them modify it, and... adding 1d6. When you go up a level, you get to add another 1d6. If a later stat boost nudges you into a class that grants more HTK, you get the difference. Riveting.
What are they for? Not dying, primarily. Secondarily, and wackily, you can burn them like PP to power your... powers and maneuvers, at the rate of 2 HTK per PP you would have otherwise spent. They're also for not passing out: each time you take damage to HTK, or spend them voluntarily, you have to roll d% against your new total or faint for one round for every three points you blew the roll by. Since Super Babes is trying to simulate the sort of universe where heroines are knocked out, tied up, and humiliated in a wholesome manner, and villainesses are knocked out and dragged to jail until they inevitably break out, it works... but it doesn't work well. Why risk players missing multiple rounds of combat on a bad roll? Why not just have people
when they reach zero HTK? There's a weird dissonance between the stated goal of high-power, light-hearted superheroics and this need for the potential for lethality.
Dying happens when something pounds you down to negative your maximum HTK. Prior to that you can apparently survive at negative HTK values indefinitely, but until someone uses the Healing power to bring you up above zero, or you convalesce under medical care (or you've got a HEALTH of 300+), you can't regenerate PP
Seriously. Old-school superheroes. Who the hell wants to figure out how long Batman has to stay in bed because Darkseid drop-kicked him through a building?
is a wholly useless statistic that nonetheless takes up three quarters of a page. What does it do? It lets your GM roll 1d20 to see if you're recognized in costume. That's it. There's a table with penalties for distance from your stomping grounds, and one for awarding boosts to your intrinsic FAME, but it's of no use beyond determining whether someone recognizes you or not... something that your GM could probably be trusted to fiat, even back in 1993.
- Point-based chargen, level-based progression. Why? Probably D&D again-- there's a table later on that looks suspiciously like an old AD&D to-hit matrix. Suggested XP rewards include defeating villainesses (100 xp times the villain's level, split evenly among the heroes involved), handling crises like helping Batman with a pesky bomb, or retrieving a kitty from a tree (100-500 xp, depending on how much grief you went through), and roleplaying (up to 100 xp per character). XP is awarded at the end of a session, so you won't level up in the middle of things.
range from zero to twenty-five. Yep: you start at level zero, with zero XP. Take heart, because level one starts at
XP, you are guaranteed to level up at the end of your first session... assuming you get that far. Each level has a title, ranging from 'New kid on the block' at zero and 'Babe in skin tight costume' (ugh) at one, to the not passive-aggressive at all 'About time to retire and let someone else have a chance' at twenty five.
Leveling up gives you 1d6 HTK and 50 CP, the latter which you can bank to buy more expensive powers later. It also moves your spot on the to-hit matrix.
- In a Bizarro universe, this could be an interesting mechanic. On the surface, it works something like World of Darkness Willpower, or Mutants and Masterminds Hero Points: they're an opportunity to break the rules and potentially do something amazing. While Willpower is a limited resource, and Hero Points are usually given as a consolation prize for the GM putting a character in a bind, Bimbo Points are a Faustian bargain and sword of Damocles rolled into a noxious whole.
By taking a BP, you can guarantee that an action you perform, if it is at all possible,
succeed with no roll necessary.
By taking two BP, you get to do something that falls outside the rules. The given example is a guy who opens teleportals, because there's no Open Wormholes power.
You can accrue a maximum of three BP a session.
What's the big deal with BP? They're a time bomb. At the beginning of each session the GM rolls d20 against your BP total. If he rolls under, you're going to suffer a Bimbo Event at some point during the session. A Bimbo Event is fate laying the smackdown for your having the temerity to have done something
. While the book claims that Bimbo Events are supposed to be 'generally lighthearted' and represent the 'humor found in Americomics'... but see the Corporate Heroine above for an example of their sense of humour.
This book, this universe, was devised by men who love the idea of spandex-clad supermodels zipping through the sky, and are simultaneously
that these women might not have need or desire for them. This is a book where
was in the writers' top three suggested fears.
Bimbo Events are not funny. They're humiliating. They're shaming. They're sometimes even dangerous. Consider the Corporate Heroine. The quoted passage could be the beginning of a BE. One who has the temerity to climb the corporate ladder high enough to spend 20 points or more on her Origin will
have at least one BP, and a proportion of her Bimbo Events
will be work-related
. I don't know how they did things in Chucklefuck, Florida, but workplace harassment had been PSA-worthy around here for yeeeaaaarrrrs by the time it was printed. But don't take my word for it. Let's consult the table.
There's a table? Of course there's a table. It's d%, even.
6-8: Character is sexually harassed by superior. (Hilarious!)
20-22: Someone steals the character's identity. (Possibly literally!)
23: Two words: IRS Audit. (What is this game's obsession with money?)
25-35: Character's costume destroyed during battle in public. (No entry for 24.)
36-39: Character gains 10 pounds- and everybody notices. (...what?)
40-44: Men's magazine publishes compromising pictures of character. (It's not an invasion of privacy: it's surprise snapshots!)
80-81: Character accused of sexual harassment.
83-86: Character is kidnaped (sic) by aliens or extradimensionals (For reasons that include 'to be their queen' and 'for breeding stock'.)
87: Character is evicted or foreclosed upon! (Money again!)
99: Character's acne flares up for one game, reducing her LOOKS by 1d6. (Might be able to get some HTK out of this one.)
There are a few silly events (getting 'slimed') and one or two that might work as actual plots (cult decides you must be sacrificed), but... sexual harassment in two different spots. Losing your costume fully ten percent of the time. This shit isn't funny, it's nasty. I can just imagine one of those rare-as-unicorns female tabletop players putting up with the steady Geiger tick of creepy coming from the book, and probably the guys who thought it was a great game to try, only for the
to tell her she's unwelcome. I'm imagining icicles forming in that Pensacola rec room.
On the bright side, your BP score goes back down to zero after your Event. Unless you're that Corporate Heroine smashing a hole through the glass ceiling. She's always got at least one Bimbo Point, just because.
I need to go take a shower.
Next Session: Super Powers, and Beyond!
Original SA post
Once Again, on...
After all, without powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal housewives, this game would just be about a bunch of bimbos in skintight outfits running aimlessly about.
I'm going to need a nice turpentine soak by the time I'm done with this. And maybe a trip down memory lane to finish that Robotech review I petered out on. But first...
Super Babes approaches powers in a way that's strikingly similar to Champions/HERO System in a couple of ways.
First, and possibly most importantly, they're
. It's up to the player to determine the theme and (non-mechanical) special effects of their powers; this is spelled out before getting to the powers themselves, and points out that while it is possible to 'reskin' your powers after you've started out, that sort of thing usually only happens once a campaign.
Second, as noted in earlier installments, their range and areas of effect are listed in scale inches, and most, powers require the use of PP (or HTK) to activate.
Unlike Champions, or GURPS Supers, both systems available when Super Babes was printed, there is no capacity for
altering skills, or combining them into cost-reducing arrays of related, but not simultaneously usable powers. If you want to be more than a one-trick pony, you're going to be spending a
Looking at some of the math, I suspect that Super-Babes's powers were derived from a more complex system, but with the effects of various modifiers (area effect, etc) baked into the description, and the math hidden. It would explain a few of the weirder cost values.
- There are actually
different Blast powers, thanks to a workaround for the system's inflexibility.
The basic Blast power does 1d6 points of damage, at a range of 6", for 6 CP; each additional die costs another 6 points, and each inch of range another 2. Regardless of range, it takes 1 PP per die of damage to fire.
We're explicitly told that you can pull your punch, reducing damage dice (and PP cost accordingly). We're also explicitly told that for every special effect you want (for example, thunder and lightning), you'll need to buy
Blasts, which I'm fairly sure you can't use simultaneously. Not that there's any real point: defenses aren't flavoured in the same way, and unless your GM's a prick, you shouldn't need to worry about your fire blast causing blazes. Then again, you're playing Super-Babes.
is an AOE blast that costs 11 CP per die, eats 3 PP at the same rate, and deals damage to a 1/2" radius per die of output. The wording is vague on whether you have to aim at a specific target or just an area, but if you hit, you deal damage to everything in the blast. The similarly vague wording gives no indication if you can reduce damage or blast radius, like you can with the regular Blast. Glancing at a premade sheet in the back, the indication seems to be negative... which makes this power both expensive and highly situational.
is a bastard that bypasses armor and damage absorption powers to deal damage straight to the target... but only if you have some kind of organic brain, which makes wholly mechanical Artificial Beings immune to this. Brain Blast is more expensive than its basic sibling at 8 CP per die, an extra 5 CP per inch of range (on top of its base 3"-- half that of the other two varieties), and takes 3 PP per die to fire it.
Gosh, whatever could this power do?
Apparently not summon 1d6 editors.
Blind produces an intense flash in front of the character's facing, that affects everything within 3" and 180 degrees. The book helpfully suggests digging out a 6" protractor. Everything in the area (friends too) needs to roll under MOVES on d% to simulate blinking at the right moment, or be blinded for 1d3 rounds. Anyone aware of an impending Blind attack gets to roll at double MOVES. Blinded characters are at +5 to be hit, but suffer -5 to hit anything within 1" (or 5 feet-- so we have a scale now), and a whopping -10 to actually hit anything at range. Blind's 75 CP to buy, and 10 PP per use.
is a comic staple, from the Hulk to Shazam: one character, two wildly disparate forms, possibly with different personalities and skillsets. This approach costs 50 CP and take 10 PP to activate, giving the character a mundane identity built on 150 CP; it must have an average of at least 7 in its primary stats, which eats a lot of those points, and you have to buy skills all over again. The mundane identity doesn't gain XP, unless you convince your GM that it performed heroically during a session, and gets the XP from that game. In the event that it does advance, it only gets 10 CP, and presumably 1d6 HTK.
is like Blast, in that it's basically one power with four different under-the-hood modifications.
Become Anything Else
, which costs a whopping 300 CP and eats 20 PP per go. It's also not precisely what it says on the tin, owing to the fact that you can only become things up to ten times or one tenth your weight... which the book seems to contradict by saying you just become a
(or larger) version of that object... which kind of complicates things, because when you duplicate something's form, you also duplicate its primary stats, but not secondary ones or powers. Would a roughly man-sized Galactus analogue still have his unbelievably high HEALTH score? Doesn't say. The only other clear drawback is that at some point in the past, you need to have touched whatever you're trying to change into.
Look Like Anyone Else
works the same way, for 50 CP and 10 PP, but you just assume their appearance. You're limited in size and weight by your original mass.
allows you to assume the form of inanimate objects, not just people, that are roughly your mass. This flexibility bumps the cost up to 150 CP and 15 PP per go. Seems a bit much for the ability to duplicate explicitly non-functional objects.
Stretching is a power that most people don't take seriously. Okay, so maybe we're among them.
and the character is so flexible that they take fully
damage from kinetic force and nothing will ever actually break the skin. It doesn't say if this is a side-effect of having the power, or if it's only on when they're blowing the 2 PP/round to keep it running. Costs 125 CP, lets you stretch up to 1" (five feet) per ten points of HEALTH you've got. Dunno what's so funny, but I guess where some people think 'Mister Fantastic' or 'Plastic Man', I think '
Claws, Spikes and Sharp Stuff
is half a page that sums up to 'your melee attacks are armor piercing'. Doesn't affect Forcefeilds (sic), but for 20 CP you halve any of a target's Invulnerability, and for 40 you ignore it completely. Fringe benefits include having an excuse to cut through bonds, and make the effects of damage rolls sound more impressive, but it has no other mechanical effects.
is a heading that covers a handful of thematically related powers, bound by the common rule that two characters vying to control a target first have to have a contest of WILLs, after which the winner gets a shot at using the power.
explicitly includes insects and reptiles, because people will argue definitions into the ground. Costs 100 CP, range is 6" plus 1" per point of WILL, and burns 2 PP per round, per animal you're controlling (up to a number equal to your WILL). Stats for animals are not given anywhere, and nothing suggests you can do anything like piggyback their senses, either.
is couched in warnings, given an optional limitation, and capped with an authors' aside that it's meant as a plot device power and included mainly for the GM's use. Requires physical contact, a Mental attack roll, then a battle of WILLs... and even if that works, it only does for 1 round for every ten points of WILL the attacker has. Fail the contest, the target realizes someone's trying to put the whammy on them, and gets a cumulative +5 bonus to resist for the rest of the encounter. If GMs find the power is being abused, it's suggested that they reduce its effect to a single type of combat die roll based on the sort of emotion invoked, to the tune of +/- 1 per ten points of the attacker's WILL, for the same duration in rounds. 'Hopelessness' is the example given, affecting damage rolls. Complex, limited, and kind of annoying for 200 CP and 15 PP per use.
is the reason why you don't want to play a robot, because this power can only be resisted by cyborgs (at half WILL) or things that dump points into Defensive Power Block: Control Machines. Anything affected by this power can be forced to perform its normal functions by the Controller... which makes robotic Artificial Beings, modern computers and weapons, and even technological
a huge liability for only 150 CP. Heavily dependent on WILL again, you can control one machine per ten points you've got, the range is 4" plus an inch at the same rate, and it costs 5 PP per round per machine.
is the biggie. It costs 300 CP, has the same range as Control Machines, and costs 25 PP per round to keep running. The main block claims that range is 'straight line of sight', but fuck it. A contest/battle of wills first requires a successful Mental to-hit roll, then a second action spent starting the actual contest. The contest itself requires all involved to roll d%+WILL, highest wins. A successful Control attack does not open any kind of telepathic communion, but it does let the attacker force the victim to act as they choose, on the victim's turn. The victim can try to resist by initiating another contest... which may or may not involve both spending their turns throwing percentiles at a cumulative -10 for the Controller, because this shit is not clearly explained.
is elaborate and obnoxious, involving a table of random weather conditions by severity, areas of effect from 'local' to 'world', and a PP cost in hours equal to the area's value on the chart times the number of steps between your current weather and the target. This is annoying on a state scale (1d3 weather effects to determine and counter) but at 'country' and beyond it's assumed that you're dealing with all sorts of weather and have to calculate for six shifts on the chart. Weather shifts at one rank on the table per round, and once things are the way you like them... you can hit someone with the weather for your level d6 damage, after which the weather snaps back and you can do it all over again. Here's a table:
needs no introduction, costs 20 CP, and take 5 PP to instantaneously swap your mundanes with your super-skimpy super-suit. Nevertheless, the writers caution you to seriously consider whether you really want this power or not, because...
Often this power will not easily fit within your initial character conception. And never underestimate the fun of desperately trying to find a phone booth to suit up in when trouble rears its ugly head...
I can't tell whether this is more 'my verisimilitude!' or 'my humiliation kink!'
exists to satisfy the troubling mechanical questions behind the Artificial Being origin. For 250 CP and the loss of all of your PP for 20-level days, you may create new life... once per year. If you're a smartass and use a Gizmo to do it, the device blows up and you get to recoup its CP next level. Huzzah.
comes in ranks, each at 30 CP, and it's always on unless you took Body Change. First level doubles your weight, second doubles that, and so on. Each level also reduces knockback by an inch, and gives you two points of damage resistance. Thematic, useful if your GM (or players) like to pick up or shove their targets around, but Invulnerability is drastically cheaper by itself.
(sic) is two and a half powers in one. It also has an apostrophe in the right place, outside the title, which makes me suspect these guys picked a font without punctuation for the important-looking bits.
lets you breathe water for 5 CP.
lets you hold your breath for a number of rounds equal to HEALTH plus WILL, for 10 CP.
makes it so you don't have to breathe at all, and are even safe from the rigors of space, for 20 CP.
Oh, and what's this?
Don't Breathe:It's a short description, read it.
was touchy, weren't they?
come in pairs, and carry an entire extra plausible action per round. That is unless you want a tail: they come in singles. Extra legs only let you move additional times, but extra arms can presumably do neat things like 'pull triggers' if not 'throw fireballs'. Even at a fairly hefty 75 CP per set, you can probably find a way to annoy your GM with this in short order.
is actually kind of neat. For 3 CP per point of damage resistance, and an ongoing cost of 1/2 PP per point, per round, you can shield yourself or a target within (uncertain range) against damage. You can also project it as a wall, up to rank inches away, with a surface area of 5' for every two ranks activated.
An actually useful sidebar notes that by blowing two bimbo points (ugh) you can bottle a target inside your force field; they have to deal twice its rank worth of damage in one hit to escape.
is unnecessarily spergy! It costs 4 CP per 4" of maximum speed, but only costs a flat 2 PP to use, which is good because sorting out how fast you can go at any given point is a stupid pain in the ass. You can fly at
speed, 1/4 your maximum, without spending an action. It does require an action to accelerate to
speed, 1/2 of maximum and the fastest you can fight at (with just fists, or eyebeams too?) with reference to a rule we'll touch on later.
(3/4 speed) and
take another action's worth of effort to reach, each. It also takes an action to
for each stage, because insult was lonely and called injury over to play Super-Babes.
I was going to make a joke about stall speeds, but I'm not even sure characters can
, rules as written.
(headache) comes in two flavours, the permanent
and the fiddlier
, which they helpfully point out is not a tumor. Unless you're a Scientific Accident or Artificial Being.
costs 200 CP, and is the first place where it's explicitly noted that the big, expensive powers are supposed to be character-defining; the writers spend a whole paragraph pooh-poohing the idea of a giantess with energy blasts... which is just as well, because while the process cranks her height to 50' and multiplies both MUSCLE and HEALTH scores
, it also divides her MOVES by five, so she isn't going to be hitting or dodging shit. Giantesses get +8" movement (to cover for the loss of MOVES), +10 to the Whip attack maneuver (again, critically shitty MOVES), and basic
. These stat changes also affect the secondary stats, so a Giantess is going to have scads of PP to soak up damage with. Stats bought post-chargen are similarly modified, so... holy shit.
The non-tumor edition of
works the same way, but in installments, and is reversible. Each level increases your height, MUSCLES and HEALTH one step in an arithmetic progression; each level beyond the first reduces MOVES by 1 and increases movement by 1", and gives a +1 bonus to Whip maneuvers. Growing takes 5 PP and an action per stage in
direction. What is probably under-the-hood math makes this fifty CP plus 30 per level.
Get Young Again
is prefaced with a pointless paragraph about Ponce de Leon, and comprises two powers that are... really, ridiculously overpriced for their mechanical value.
makes you... age backwards. Like Merlin, or Mork from Ork. It's 100% a special effect that they still feel compelled to charge 20 CP for.
reduces your age by 10 years at the cost of 100 PP per use, and can 'obviously' be used on others. 160 CP for a power that has no direct mechanical benefit, and that the GM is encouraged to make your life Hell with, if you're foolish enough to let slip that you can make other people younger.
is teleportation, dimension shifting, time travel... and the example they gave of a two BP buy because there was no teleportation power in the rules. It also carries another ranting 'weasel alert' instead of calmly stating that unless you take two BP, you can't use Super Senses and Line of Sight teleportation together.
Line of Sight
Anywhere You've Been Lately
(which requires a roll under BRAINS on d20 to remember a location well enough to target),
Anywhere on the Planet
(as long as you have a vague idea where you're going),
Anywhere in this Reality
(as before, only at twice the CP and PP costs),
(which involves going to Limbo, which is strikingly similar to AD&D's Astral Plane, and from there to your target), and finally
(which is a paragraph long, followed by three paragraphs of sidebar editorializing on why you probably shouldn't).
comes in three varieties: one that transfers PP from one person to another at a 1:1 rate (scarily effective for giantesses, given it's only another 50 CP); one that burns PP to heal HTK at a 2:1 rate and has a chance to revive the unconscious if you give them 4 HTK or more; the third is mechanically identical to the other two combined, basically saving a line on the character sheet. A writer's comment suggests that GMs could allow this to cure diseases, but that characters who did so openly would experience golden goose levels of demand for their powers.
Hit 'em Harder
rambles on about 'unsightly MUSCLES' for a paragraph, before stating that it lets you add an extra 1d6 damage to any
melee attack or maneuver. Possibly useful for a weapon Gizmo, but at 20 CP you're otherwise better off buying more MUSCLES.
begin with a bro-ish comment on women's ability to cloud men's minds. It comes in
variety, which is perceptible by eyes, cameras, etc and can deal 1d6 PP damage (per caster level) to people who fail in a contest of raw WILL vs. the caster's plus d%; those with reason to disbelieve get the d% roll too.
illusions are functionally identical, but with the potential to deal HTK damage as well. Both are AOE attacks with a base radius of 6" from the character, that can be upgraded by spending more CP.
characters don't age in either direction, and can only be outright killed by one specific means; examples given are 'specific ritual dagger through the heart' and 'conventional damage after failing to take your super-soldier vitamins for 24 hours'. Anything else, you get better from at the rate of 1 HTK per round. Base cost is 80, plus another 25 for each additional HTK/round worth of regeneration.
comes in the same flavours of Illusion.
invisibility affects only you and your costume (and possibly less, as the manual notes, at the tables of some GMs. Fucking ugh.) but it's basically foolproof and costs 175 CP.
invisibility is cheaper at 35 CP, but only affects organic minds within a 6" radius; robots, security cameras and laser tripwires will register the character (and attack, if appropriate), but their minders will still ignore you if they're within range. Range can be boosted 1" per 10 CP spent.
is simple! For 5 CP, you get to resist 1 point of incoming damage! For every 5 points of invulnerability, you deal an extra 1d6 damage if someone picks you up and uses you as a club.
Naturally, as with the Costume Change power, the writers want you to think very carefully about whether or not this cheap, utilitarian power
fits your ~concept~. They do have a point, though: damage already seems to scale much more slowly than PP and HTK do.
lets you leap 5" for every 2 CP and 1 PP you throw at it. It's a far cry from systems that worry about how high you can jump, and how long you'll be airborne. Pity they couldn't have applied that to Flight as well.
takes the rules and tosses them out. For each 2 CP spent, you get 1 CP to put into a pool that you can use to buy
power, or augment any stat
on the fly
. Stats so modified explicitly do not affect your PP score. You can even have multiple powers up and running, as long as you have the CP in your pool. PP costs for concocted powers remain the same.
cost 200 CP and require that your base MUSCLES never go above 21, or the game will
. For every level past one (not zero), your effective MUSCLES score undergoes an arithmetic progression: your melee damage and max press improve accordingly, but PP and HTK do not.
Move Things Without Touching Them
sounds like something from a HoL supplement. It's telekinesis that
be flavoured in some way; while magnetism is called out in the long sidebar, with a note that most of the world is non-ferrous, no word is given to gravity control or even traditional telekinesis. Successful use requires a mental to-hit roll against a physical hittability, at which point you get to use your WILL in place of MUSCLES to move the object around, up to a range of 1" per 10 WILL, at a cost of 1 PP per 10 WILL. All that for 200 CP.
Pass Through Stuff
makes you completely intangible to physical objects and all forms of energy at a cost of 20 PP per round. It also costs 200 PP, to keep the smartass value-- er, potential for unbalancing down.
costs 700 CP and has unlimited, interdimensional range. Yeah. Like Creation, it's basically a plot device power that's included so the GM can dot his I's and cross his T's. It functions similarly to Control Minds, only once the possessor's inside it requires the GM to determine a means of ejecting them.
Each shot takes 50 PP (peanuts for something that could afford this). An entity must leave its own body in a comatose state to attempt possession, during which time it has Pass Through Stuff and is immune to anything except Mental attacks. Manifesting bodiless is taxing: a bodiless Possessor typically has 1d6 rounds in which to whammy someone before fading out and returning to their own body.
is another power that comes in two and a half varieties. For 60 CP,
power block renders you immune to a specific special effect that your own powers express; the example given is a lightning-hucking heroine who is immune to her own bolts,
people's lightning, and electricity in general. Magic, it's noted, is too broad an effect. For 80 points, you can be immune to a specific
that you don't have; this is the version referenced in the Artificial Being origin.
There's another 'weasel alert' warning GMs against allowing Defensive Power Block: Kinetic, before getting to
Power Block, which lets you reach out 8" and force someone's power to go inert with a contest of WILL. You need to be aware that they have the power, and it will cost 20 PP per round. You can do it to
too, generally with no to-hit roll and at a cost of 5 PP per round. As the book says, '...for only 80 CP's it can be your character's very own.' Aww.
is slightly cheaper than the regular stuff, grants you a +1 bonus to contests of WILL, and reduces damage from psychic sources like Brain Blast by one point per level.
picks up the tired joke about women mucking with men's minds from Illusions. It's broken into three powers that basically build one upon the last. To hear thoughts, you need to make a mental to-hit check; if their WILL is greater than 1/5 yours, they can subconsciously (or consciously, if
can Read Minds too) force a contest of WILL to kick you out.
Basic mind reading just lets you
for 30 CP and 2 PP/round, which doesn't do translation and only works in line of sight.
Listen and Talk
translate back and forth, at a cost of 40 CP and 4 PP/round, again at LOS range.
lets you act as a telepathic nexus for up to your level in targets within 6+level inches. That version weighs in at 60 CP, and 3 PP plus 1 for every target per round.
Read minds is accompanied by the picture of a woman fondling her helmet, while ranting about 'delicious throbbing power'.
gives you another inch of ground movement for every 3 CP. No PP cost, and no arguments over
Next the writers air their giantess fetish by asking 'Why on earth would anybody in their right minds want to be able to
?' The rule belies their disbelief as Shrinking is a pretty nasty little power.
is like Giantess in reverse, with the same cost... only you keep your MUSCLE and HEALTH, but MOVES is multiplied by ten. Stuck between four and eight inches in height, you can be bottled like Kandor... assuming someone can catch you.
works like Growth, except that it costs 75 CP and 30 per level. That and it reduces your height by 6" per rank, increases your MOVES in an arithmetic progression, and reduces your end ground move by 1" per level past the first. Curiously, the always-on version doesn't.
Suck It Up
is a fantastic way to make combat take even longer, a three-stage defensive power that lets you ignore up to your HEALTH in damage from a single attack, and convert it into PP... as long as that wouldn't put you above your PP maximum, at which point the rest comes back around as damage. Jesus H.
The first level lets you absorb one narrow form of energy (electricity, heat, etc). The second lets you soak up everything but kinetic and mental energy. The writing for the third implies that it
absorbs kinetic energy, so that while you won't take damage from a napalm grenade's preliminary explosion, it'll still burn you handily. Not sure the science works on that last one.
Force fields and invulnerability mitigate damage before Suck It Up comes into play.
manage to be fussy by stating no two such powers can be used together... unless you pay double CP cost for every one you want to link together.
lets you hear whispers at 10".
is two paragraphs of stupid jokes instead of saying 'you have an amazing palate for 5 CP'.
just gives you 360 degree vision, so you can see your own ass and everything else that isn't invisible within 8".
See Far Away
is a refreshingly simple take on telescopic vision, letting you see things that are far away (the Moon is given as an example) as if they were within 5'.
See in the Dark
See Through Things
is the most expensive at 25 CP, but lets you see through everything but one specific element (real, or real in the campaign) to a range of 12".
lets you do things like read the date off a dime with a swipe of your fingertips. No word on using sandpaper as a torture device against someone with this.
suffers from one of their dumb jokes, and not mine. It's got a range of 3" and its efficacy is totally up to the GM. Can you smell emotions? Maybe. Can you smell the residue of old Player's Lights, and differentiate them from Pall Malls? Probably.
Finally there are
, which come in two sorts.
Visions of Elsewhere
are like D&D-style scrying: you must target someone you know, and roll under your level times seven on d% to receive one round's worth of vision. The GM can also
it to trigger, if the player involved is playing up the reclusive sorceress schtick too much. Cheap enough to take as a theme power at 40 CP.
Visions of the Past
are pretty much useless, even for 30 CP. If the character has a reason to do so, and the GM figures something in the past could be useful without wrecking the adventure, the character sees a brief vignette of things happening. Otherwise, she blew her 15 PP on static.
Next Time: Skills!
Original SA post
We interrupt this special news bulletin for...
Super Babes's skill system is simultaneously surprisingly elegant, and totally out to lunch. Skills are largely superfluous to most powered characters, who have burnt most of their points on stats and powers, but they're the bread and butter of the Adventuress, whose player is probably crying into his beer over the asinine skill resolution system.
A sidebar advises players should buy skills that fit their character concept, because being able to do everything is boring, and buying abilities for mechanical bonuses is depriving oneself of the true joys of gaming. The GM is also told to 'keep a hand in the creation process' to make sure that a character that began with one concept doesn't end as another. Because you know, you really can't trust those goddamn players.
Skills are broken into three sections:
General skills are basically an excuse to charge CP for starting funds and yearly salaries... again.
labourers get 1d6x100 bucks in the bank, and 1d10 thousand dollars salary per year, for free. The book claims that the player and most of the people they know are probably
labourers: secretaries, mechanics, and such with 2d6x100 bucks socked away, and make 2d10 thousand bucks a year, for 10 CP.
labourers include comic book producers, journalists, and... industrialists, with 1d10 thousand in starting cash, and 5d6 thousand in yearly salary, for 20 CP.
At the top of the heap,
like doctors, lawyers and... college professors demand 40 CP to join their club, but offer d% times a thousand dollars in starting cash and the same in yearly salary. I'm not sure what's funnier: the idea of a filthy rich college professor pulling in a hundred grand a year in 1993 dollars, or their argument that a nuclear physicist might be able to fix a shower pipe because there are lots of steam pipes in a nuclear reactor.
Super Skills can cost as much as mid-range powers. Mainly they're just package deals on individual skills, but some have skills or abilities unique to them. We'll mainly gloss these and focus on their unique traits.
Super Skills are... not necessarily a bad approach. The original Mechwarrior RPG had a similar semi-optional 'package deals' skill system, discounting the cost of pilot-necessary skills slightly, simplifying the math a bit, and leaving a few points for loose off-duty skills. Unfortunately, Super-Babes takes this concept and runs with it like Forrest Gump. What might have been an interesting little carrot-and-stick approach to specialization turns out more like caber-and-dinner-at-the-Ritz.
Finally, there are the Individual Skills. These range mainly between 10 and 30 CP. Interestingly, there are no skill levels; they do not improve unless you improve whatever STAT they're based on. Borrowing from then-current AD&D, they're like non-weapon proficiencies. In more modern lingo, they might be considered Feats.
Of course, all of this is at the ass-end of chargen, so unless you made an Adventuress and skipped everything past STATS, or read ahead, you probably can't afford to be an unskilled labourer, let alone a soldier of fortune.
I have to get this out of the way first, because goddamn. I go on a lot about how cack-handed this system is, but they really pulled the stops out here. Basically, there are
separate resolution systems:
No system at all. The skill is simply for flavour, or an excuse for your GM to drop some narration on you.
Roll d20 under something, typically a STAT.
Roll d% under something, typically several STATs.
That sound? That's the Adventuress trying to decide between headdesking herself senseless and drinking herself to death. Remember, she's the only one with a good shot at affording these skills... and all of her STATS cap out at a paltry 20.
Take heart, Adventuress! You won't run into those nasty percentile rolls unless you want to do something really special, like Super-Skill special skills, or... computer hacking. Or other heroic uses of skills. Erm. I think I'll have what she's having.
Of course, nothing can help the fact that 'something' might mean Stat + Level, or Stat + Stat, or Something Else. Guys: this isn't what Emerson meant by eschewing foolish consistency! Jesus.
Oh, yeah. Auto-fails, because there always has to be a chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! Natural 20 on d20, 96+ on d%. Not really noteworthy, except that
is noted dead between the Super Skills and the Individual Skills, while the individual skills each have their various rolls folded into their descriptions. If ever there was a need for a chart in this stupid book, here it is.
It's also possible to auto-succeed on a roll with a natural 1, which seems like a pointless footnote because I haven't seen any penalties that go that deep yet, and you can't use skills untrained.
Anyway. The Super Skills.
covers your secret agents, your special forces, your highly trained and possibly disavowable. For 100 points (45 points discount) you get Communications, Computer Operations, Cryptology, Demolitions, First Aid, SCUBA, and Stealth & Concealment.
And, as FourmyleCircus pointed out,
You can dive, put on SCUBA gear, know how not to get the bends... but basic swimming eludes you.
For 80 points, the
looks like it was made specifically to fit someone's pet character, because
. She gets Acrobatics, Animal Handler, Catwalk, Climbing, First Aid, Juggling, 1 Melee Weapon, Pole Vault, Running, SCUBA, Skydiving, Swimming, Swimming and finally Tumbling. Jesus. That's at a savings of 100 points too. Yes, that's over twice the cost of the skill itself.
. Remember this? This is where 175 points of that humongous 200 CP cost for the Origin went. Inventor lets you make Gizmos, cheap Powers that can be destroyed, stolen, or otherwise used to make you wish you'd never bothered. There's a catch, which I mentioned before, and which bears mentioning again.
You can only make
kind of gizmo. Their word is 'savant'. For 175 points, you are a one-trick pony... which probably has the effect of funneling every Inventor with two brain cells to rub together into specialing in weapons design.
The funny thing is, the Inventor opens up with a 'Has This Happened To You?' nightmare of an Inventor short-circuiting an adventure by
doing what inventor characters do
... then follows with a rule allowing them to build a plot-device (their words, again).
Inventors get First Aid, Inventor (which is turning into a matryoshka), Jury-Rig and 1 Science (or Occult) area of knowledge.
Jury Rigging is unique to the Inventor. Assuming you've got parts to hand, you can roll under level + BRAINS, and it takes 100 less your margin of success rounds to complete. This is called out as usually being used to 'save the day' or otherwise as a plot device, which... fuck it, I shouldn't think too much about this.
Inventor (the skill) is also unique to Inventor (the super-skill). It lets you create a new gizmo each time you level, or modify an existing one, with the points you get for leveling up. There are caveats. Of course. Creating something new takes 1
per CP invested (so, a month and a half if you're spending a whole level-up's worth of CP). Modification takes half as long. Actually
it 'flawlessly' requires at roll at twice your Jury-Rigging odds. There is no comment, here at least, on what happens to flawed Gizmos. My guess is that they're sent to the Island of Misfit Toys... which I'm totally keeping for another campaign, now.
Oh, and to confuse the shit out of matters, this one repeats that an Inventor starts play with 3 Gizmos (or 1 Gizmo with 3 effects)... which begs the question of what the fuck the other 25 CP were for way back in the Origins chapter.
Oh, that's right. Not getting super-cancer.
Anyone remember the unarmed combat and grappling rules from 1st and 2nd Edition AD&D, or the martial arts rules for those games? Super-Babes's very own
skill climbed right on out of that extra-special Hell.
costs an ouchworthy 50 CP per level. It's the only skill that comes in levels, and it adds a layer of complexity that would have found a much better fit in a game that focused on martial arts. This is the return of the sperg that drove things like Flight and the Government Sponsored origin's pay schedule.
Someone, somewhere out there just got really excited. "Ooooh, martial arts!" Every system has some sort of martial arts rules, and ours is no exception. Once again, let's remind the purists out there that no game system can truly duplicate any martial arts style, so this is our compromise. If you don't like it and want more realism, there is an alternative. Get down to the dojo and start working out.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I was expecting something closer to 'house rule it' than 'GTFO' and 'Do you even lift, bro?', but I should have known better from Super-Babes.
Anyway. Each time you buy Martial Arts, you get 2 offensive maneuvers, and 1 defensive maneuver... oh, and your Martial Arts level goes up by 1, which has no bearing on Character Level... while Character Level does influence Martial Artist level. Only it actually doesn't.
better. If you drop 250 CP to get five levels of Marital Arts, attacking with your kung-fu adds an extra attack (which can be doubled with the Doing it Twice maneuver, giving you four attacks in a round) because... something pebble something Grasshopper.
Coincidentally, there are ten offensive maneuvers and five defensive maneuvers, which means you've got the whole set if you buy all five levels. The Offensive maneuvers are for the most part anemic: 1d6 damage with a minor modifier. The big kahuna is definitely the Spear Finger: 1d6 damage (plus MUSCLES, etc) at -4 to hit... but 1/4 of the damage goes straight to the target's HTK. They all have generic names like crescent kick, high, middle and low punch, and the like.
The defensive maneuvers, on the other hand, look potent-- and three of them are actually affected by your Martial Arts Level, which none of the attacks are, but they're splitting hairs.
One lets you roll under Level + MA Level on d20 in order to take half damage from a melee attack, or knock a quarter off an incoming projectile's damage.
Another trades off the ranged resistance for the ability to stop a melee attack cold.
But wait! The third one lets you block a melee
attack on the same roll... which is making all of them look somewhat more situational.
The next lets you roll level or under to simply evade being tagged by any one non-area attack.
Finally, the last one takes two moves, and provokes a to-hit from the 'Artist when they're attacked in any sort of melee scenario. On success, they catch the attack, take 1/4 damage, and set the attacker up to take a -3 penalty on their next defense.
In a sidebar that's surprisingly reasonable, the authors note that the maneuvers were given generic names in order to allow players to attach names or styles of their own,
the same kind of special effects that regular Powers can have. So if you were stuck in the Everglades for weeks with a hankering to play the Street Fighter Storytelling Game and nothing to hand but Super-Babes... you could probably work something out.
asks only fifty CP and three easy payments of your immortal soul for absolute knowledge of the occult. This is, up and down, a plot-device skill, an excuse for your GM to pass you cryptic notes and whatever. There are no skill rolls for Occultist.
is like the Occultist, only 80% less likely to be burnt at the stake! The Scientist is a polymath, like Doc Savage, or... yes, book example, the Professor from Gilligan's Island. This 'skill' works the same way as the Occultist, only for things that can be rationally explained and don't go bump in the night.
is really poorly named, because it takes them a paragraph to admit it's meant much, much more for Green Berets and Navy SEALS than infantry. At 200 CP, you better believe it. Ignoring the unique skills, this saves you... surprisingly, only 125 CP.
Soldiers get a whack of single skills and two unique ones: Acrobatics, Demolitions, Detect & Deactivate Alarms & Traps, Pilot Land, First Aid, Fire Pistols/Rifles, Fire Unknown Weapons, Mechanic, Melee Weapons, Skydiving, Stealth & Concealment, Squad Tactics, Survival, Thief and Trapping.
Fire Unknown Weapons is a BRAINS vs d20 roll, +1 per round spent studying the device. This is presumably intended for things like alien ray-blasters, since the other Fire skills cover virtually every Earthly firearm.
Trapping lets you boobytrap things... or try to. BRAINS + MOVES vs d%, with failure causing the trap to go off in your face, plus potentially other rolls like Demolitions makes this one kind of a liability. The fact it takes 25 - Level rounds (minimum 5) to set a trap makes it even iffier. Plus the idea that you need literally superhuman abilities to have a better than average chance of successfully placing an IED or punji pit is pretty ridiculous.
While we seem to be missing the Tinker and Tailor, the
is here, walking off with a whopping 405 CP worth of skills for only 150 CP. They get Communications, Computer Operations, Contacts, Cryptology, Demolitions, Detective, Piloting 1 Area, Electronics, First Aid, Find & Deactivate Alarms & Traps, Fire Pistols, Gambling, Interrogation, Mechanic, Persuasion, Quickdraw, SCUBA, Stealth & Concealment, Streetwise and Thief.
Detective: "This skill is for those players who cannot effectively do their own clue spotting." Adorable. Oh, better. If your character misses a vital clue, the GM will prompt you to roll BRAINS vs d20. If you fail that... "...the player should take this as a sign that he is missing something and should look over his clues more carefully."
I... wow. We didn't have a word for that when I was playing back in '93, but we did know that people who did it were generally dickheads.
The Individual Skills
Acrobatics eats 20 CP and lets you do flips, rolls and other stunts... assuming you can roll under MOVES on d20. You can also use it to take 1/2 falling damage, or boost your hittability while flying.
Animal Handler allosw you to calm skittish animals, groom critters, and even ride them. The example they give is a rhinoceros. It's noted as being regionally relative... but in Super-Babes parlance, Earth counts as a discrete region. 20 CP, no resolution systems. You are the (insert animal) Whisperer.
Blind Fighting is a perennial favorite, described here as a 'Zen' fighting style. When blinded in some way, you can still fight people within 2" on the map without penalty, and only take half penalties at ranges beyond. Nice. 25 CP.
Catwalk has nothing to do with modeling, but is all about balance. With this skill you can move across narrow spaces at 1/2 speed, or at full speed if you roll under MOVES on d20. "Failure indicates that she plunges to her doom or teh ground, whichever comes first." Love you too, Super-Babes. 20 CP.
Characters without catwalk are apparently completely unable to move across narrow spaces.
Climbing lets you climb 'climbable' surfaces at 1/4 move. Sheer surfaces are not climable, unless you make them climbable by gouging handholds. If you're attacked while climbing, roll under MOVES on d20 to hang on. "If not, she goes splat. Got it?" Got it, asshole! 20 CP, and I think someone was really cranky about putting these skills in.
Communications takes 20 CP and has to be quoted.
Communications allows the character to operate known communications equipment. Radios, television cameras, broadcast towers, whatever. A simple skill for a simple task; no roll required.
Not only hilariously wrong, but... does that mean you can't use a CB radio without 20 CP to spend?
On the other end of ridiculousness, there's Computer Ops. 20 CP again, requires a BRAINS roll on d20 to do shit like... running programs, bringing up files, using the printer...
on your own computer
. If you're trying to break into another system... oh, wait, I was wrong. Here's another d% roll: BRAINS + level to pull that one off, and you probably need Cryptology too.
So. Broadcast engineering: easy. Everday computer use: requires a genius intellect. Hacking? Break out the fuckin' spandex.
Contacts costs 20 CP, for a poorly defined benefit. Every 5 PERSONALITY gets you 1 (one) friend (or victim) in high places that can be tapped for backup or info once a month. The example they cite is "...a certain police commissioner over at another comics company..."
Cryptology lets you break and write codes with a BRAINS roll on d20. Or if you're feeling frisky, and probably aren't an Adventuress, you can roll d% under one
your BRAINS to decipher hieroglyphics or alien squiggles.
Demolitions basically outclasses the Soldier's trap-setting schtick for 25 CP. You know how to set and defuse bombs, and can blow shit up by rolling BRAINS on d20. They only go off in your face on a critical failure.
Better still, you can
make your own
out of household substances!
Note that if the character wants to use it, the player must prove to the GM that htis idea would really work from a book or something... Watch McGyver, he does this all the time!
I'm going to go see if I've still got that ridiculous little Anarchist's Cookbook printout from my primary school years.
Detect & Deactivate Alarms & Traps costs 30 CP. Detection is BRAINS on d20, removal is MOVES, and the writing takes pains to remind us that it's two separate turns to find and remove. Thanks, Mom.
Disguise has two uses. To just not look like yourself, you don't need a roll. Presumably a hat or Groucho glasses, but no roll. Looking like someone else in specific is the realm of
super abilities, so screw you, celebrity impersonators.
The other use is... voice mimicry. It's apparently an uncanny imitation, only requiring a PERSONALITY roll on d20 if you're speaking directly to someone intimately familiar with the voice you're copying.
Electronics lets you fix or break electronic components. Apparently hatchets and hammers just don't hack it in the Super-Babes universe. 20 CP. Normal use wants a BRAINS roll on d20. Use with alien or 'unknown' technology demands d% under BRAINS plus level.
Etiquette costs 10 CP. No roll, implies that characters that don't have it wouldn't know a dessert fork from their elbows.
Equestrian lets you ride horses... like Animal Handler. It also lets you do all kinds of un-named stunts, the most difficult of which might require a MOVES roll on d20. Yee-haw. 20 CP.
Fire One Pistol. Yep. For 10 CP, you know how to fire exactly
one specific make of pistol
. Useful, maybe, for all of those firearm-building Inventors, since it isn't limited to your origin point in time and space. Anything other than that specific weapon and you're out of luck: "They won't even know how to take the safety off..."
I'm going to take a moment to look back at Communications and Computer Ops. Goddamn.
Fire Pistols! Any pistol! As long as it's from Earth, in the contemporary period, or wherever your character came from. 25 CP.
Fire One Rifle and Fire Rifle are the same costs with the same effects, only they're longer.
First Aid lets you heal a day's worth of HTK regen on someone with a BRAINS roll on d20
(their underline) a first-aid kit handy. It takes 10 non-combat rounds and someone can only be so healed once per fight. You can also perform CPR on someone, which adds a -4 penalty, with another -1 per minute since their heart stopped. If you blow the roll they're dead, "...having
, asphyxiated, whatever." If you succeed, they get to roll HEALTH on d20 or get dead permanently. 20 CP.
Forgery costs 20 CP and requires you to roll BRAINS plus MOVES under a d% roll in order to convince the school secretary that you get to skip school Friday.
Gambling requires a
roll on d20 to understand probability and win games of chance. I must be the world's shittiest person, because I don't understand how the fuck that's supposed to work. 10 CP though, and with the right GM you might be able to quit your job as a Multi Skilled Laborer!
Interrogation is fussy. Add the interrogator's BRAINS, WILL, PERSONALITY and level. Subtract the subject's BRAINS, WILL and level. Bake at 325 for 1 hour per point of the subject's WILL, then roll the result on d%.
Failed rolls can be repeated at a cumulative -1 to the subject's WILL, and if you want to make a party of it, each additional interrogator adds +1 to the roll. No word on the effect that a designated Good Cop might have on the proceedings. 30 CP.
Juggling. You can juggle objects up to 1/2 your maximum press. Why? "Well, haven't you ever wanted to juggle cars before?" Not personally, but I don't have the super-strength fetish these writers seem to. Anyway, a cute schtick that shouldn't have 10 CP asked for it.
...oh christ, they just had to include rules for it too. Can't do anything amusing in this system without a chance of embarrassing failure!
Roll MOVES on d20 each round. Failure on the first round means you couldn't get started, but nothing untoward happens. Failure afterward means shit starts raining and you have to roll 1/2 your MOVES on d20 to avoid being struck. Wunderbar.
Language grants you the use of one language that isn't your native tongue... assuming you can make a BRAINS roll on d20. The authors suggest that trying to converse in broken speech can make for "interesting role-playing". Linguistics, care of the armpit of Florida. Oh, each language that you're kind of shitty in costs 10 CP.
Mechanic "...enables the character to fix most conventional engines or transports (relative to her origin) and jury rig repairs on most things mechanical. It is not the inventor or scientist kit, and shoud be closely monitored by the GM to insure that it is not abused."
It might have made things slightly more understandable if they'd kept the 'kit' nomenclature instead of going with 'super-skills'. I'm particularly amused by the warning not to let Cooter down at the garage outshine the poor schmuck who decided to be an Inventor. 20 CP.
One Melee Weapon works like One Pistol before, but with a twist: each time you pick it up for a weapon, you get +1 to damage... which is actually really kind of shit for 10 CP a shot.
Melee Weapons lets you use any melee weapon. This time there's no mention of locality, and they specifically state that it's generalized... and then they add a note in about using unfamiliar weapons at a -3 to hit and damage. 25 CP.
Persuasion is explictly not a means of controlling people, since there's a
power for that. PERSONALITY less the target's WILL on d20, modified for a good speech, the character's fame, or anything else that might be brought to bear for a bonus that ranges between +1 and +10 (GM's discretion). 20 CP.
Piloting One Land lets you shoot cars. No, wait. You can drive one land vehicle that doesn't necessarily need to be contemporaneous to your origins. 10 CP.
Piloting Land is like Fire Pistols again: anything contemoraneous to the character. It's specifically called out as the skill for someone who wants to be able to drive virtually anything, and do it well.
...which is kind of funny, because when you hop into the seat of an unfamiliar vehicle, you have to roll BRAINS on d20. If you fail, you just can't find the starter. Combat or stunt driving in an unfamiliar vehicle requires a MOVES roll on d20 for each round it's kept up. No word on how long it takes to become familiar with a vehicle. 25 CP.
Pilot One Sea might include a hovercraft, because Piloting Land explicitly excludes them. 10 CP.
Piloting Sea lets you captain everything "from a dinghy to a hovercraft", and explictly excludes aircraft carriers. Same rules for unfamiliar vehicles as for Land. 20 CP.
Pilot One Air, because alphabetical order is for chumps! We all know the drill now, 10 CP.
Piloting Air: third verse, same as the first. 25 CP.
Piloting One Space costs 15 CP, because nothing says 'fuck you' like charging more for something you will very rarely use.
Piloting Space follows the rules laid out before, but with the cost raised to 30 CP. Because space.
Pole vault costs 10 CP and the example of Jungle Girl scooting around the battlefield with an 18' pole is giving me the giggles, imagining other superheroes using light standards to the same effect.
Pole vaulting basically lets you... move 1.5 times your regular move, or jump over an obstacle that's 1.5 times as tall as your pole, with a roll of MOVES on d20. And a pole. Because an 18' pole is convenient to carry.
To land safely, you need the Tumbling skill. Yes, that's stated in the book.
Quickdraw lets you not have to spend an action drawing your weapon. It lets you duel, too! Add MOVES to a d% roll for each character, and the highest result wins. Cute! 20 CP.
Running. Long-distance (10 rounds per point of HEALTH) running. Slightly faster running too, +2" to movement. No roll, and 10 CP. Seems cheap, given that it grants a measurable tactical benefit.
SCUBA grants knowledge of the use of SCUBA equipment, safety hazards and how to mitigate them. It does not teach you how to swim, which may be why it only costs 10 CP.
Skydiving, shockingly, does not require any rolls to pack your chute, deploy the thing at a safe altitude, or land without the risk of death or serious injury! If only juggling were so easy! 10 CP.
Speed Reading lets you skim a page of text per round, per point of BRAINS you've got. Recall requires a BRAINS roll on d20, and you'll only retain the information for half your BRAINS stat in days. 10 BRAINS. Er, CP.
Stealth & Concealment requires you to move at 1/4 your regular rate, and roll the sum of BRAINS, MOVES and (bafflingly) HEALTH on d%, less any searcher's BRAINS score.
Streetwise "...enables the character to walk the walk and talk the talk of the street folk." Roll PERSONALITY on d20 after spending 20-level minutes "...on the street hitting the bricks." 10 CP my man. As it were.
Squad Tactics doesn't actually grant any tactical training, and spends a thick paragraph to say 'roll PERSONALITY on d20; if you make it, and everyone you're trying to combine an attack with can hear and understand you, they get +2 on their attack rolls'. 20 CP.
Survival is another hilarious exercise in WTFery, requiring a BRAINS, HEALTH and MUSCLES check on d% every day or... it doesn't say. How do pre-agricultural cultures do it?! 20 CP, and every four days the roll gets a cumulative +1. Does that mean it gets harder, or easier? Who knows?
Swimming costs 10 CP, and without it you can't swim. At all. End of story. Apparently you can't even dog paddle, because only with the skill can you move at 1/4 your regular move in water. Brought to you by a state surrounded by water on most of its borders, and covered by it on a large amount of its surface area.
Swinging (from trapezes and lines) requires no rolls! Throwing a grappling hook requires an agonizingly long paragraph that boils down to 'make a to-hit roll. If you fail by 1, it's going to give way at a plot-convenient moment.' 10 CP.
Teaching begs to be abused. For 30 CP, any skill your character has, can be taught to others at
the usual CP cost. This doesn't apply to Super-Skills or their unique abilities, but still. It does beg the question of why a statted teacher is so much more effective than a lifetime's learning.
No rolls. No time required, either. Apparently it just drops you into a training montage.
Thief lets you open locks, crack safes, perform B&E's, and is vague enough that it tells the GM to watch it like a hawk. The "basic" roll is Moves on d20, modified by -1 to -10 depending on difficulty. 30 CP.
Thrown Weapons lets you throw weapons that were meant to be hurled, going into some pedantic logic to explain that manhole covers are neither weapons, nor meant to be thrown. It also mentions that bows go under Fire Rifles, because their two-handed projectile throwers. 20 CP, and my first-year phil teacher would have been amused.
Total Recall has nothing to do with superfluous mammaries on characters used mainly as eye-candy, which is a bit of a surprise given this book. Roll BRAINS on d20 to bring the desired data to mind. Works on incoming information, no penalties for the age of the memory, and probably dovetails really well with Speed Reading. No word on what happens if you fail the roll. 15 CP.
Tumbling lets you roll with impact and take half damage from falls. The authors mention that it has other applications, but they're rare so they're not going to bother mentioning them. 20 CP, no roll.
Weaponsmith lets you build, repair and modify
weapons. There are no rules for this, save a BRAINS roll on d20 at a penalty between -1 and -20 (!) "depending on the outrageousness of the stunt being attempted".
Gizmos are devices that "imitate" super powers. Except when they're not. This section spends half a page explaining that anything that can be bought off the shelf is not a gizmo-- so an alien's laser blaster is a gizmo on Earth, but not back on the homeworld where they can go to X-Mart and get them off the shelf. Presumably the same goes for Earthly weapons taken to strange new worlds.
Gizmos can also be things that don't have powers, but are too complex to be bought off the shelf. This feels like a definition being pulled out of someone's ass, because just before they describe hero bases being filled with supercomputers and ferraris and stuff at the cost of mere money.
Gizmos are available to anyone, you just need a friendly Inventor! ...and be at least second level. Typically the user pays the CP cost, but for some baffling reason there's also an option for the Inventor to pay the price... which seems like it's begging to be abused.
Adventuresses can add a new power to their gizmos (or get new ones entirely) every two levels; the Supernatural Pupil can do the same. The Inventor can do it every level. Everyone else can only add a gizmo every
levels. Only one person can spend CP on a particular gizmo-- if you're fortunate enough to have an Inventor blowing their CP on your gear, then you can't.
A Gizmo can duplicate one Power, one Skill (the example given is a sword with five ranks of One Melee Weapon for a +5 damage), or one STAT, which doesn't affect the character's PP levels. A Gizmo with an ability that requires a roll also requires the related STAT to be bought up-- it can't just piggyback on the user's abilities. STATs bought for this purpose can't be used to buff the player.
Building a Gizmo takes 1 hour per CP, and the book notes that even the most dedicated Inventor can only handle a twelve hour work day. Oh, and it should cost between two and five grand per CP, because. No inventors based out of junkyards here, nosiree. Reconstructing or altering a Gizmo takes about half as long and costs half as much.
Gizmos can be stolen, which is a really assholish thing to do because there's no clear mechanic for getting those points back unless you're an Inventor. Worse, stolen Gizmos can be used against you... or by you, but the rule given indicates that borrowed or stolen Gizmos lose their oomph after one to three adventures unless they're returned to their rightful owners. For this reason, mass-producing Gizmos doesn't work. Nevermind that thing about mass-produced alien devices counting as Gizmos on Earth.
The things can be damaged, too. If it's lying on the ground, it's an easy target. If it's being carried, it's a Trick Shot (called shot) at -5. Gizmos have HTKs equal to the number of CPs invested in them, stop functioning at half health and are destroyed completely at zero. A damaged or destroyed Gizmo can be repaired by an Inventor at no cost, but redesigns are only possible every X level. Inventors themselves have the benefit of being able to tear their old inventions down and build new ones with the same CP... which isn't a huge benefit when your options are 'gun' and 'gun'.
There are three classes of Gizmo, and oh my god who thought this was a good idea? Incredibly Obvious Gizmos are not only that, but easily snatched away when their owners are distracted. They're also effectively worth
CP for every CP actually spent on them. A credible threat... only if your GM bothers what that sort of thing. Otherwise, triple points.
Moderately Obvious Gizmos are typically worn: gloves, cloaks, jet packs, that sort of thing. These ones wring 2 CP out of every 1 spent.
Secret Gizmos are intended as hole card powers, Q-branch devices, items that no one would ever suspect harbored outre powers. Naturally, the authors punctuate three paragraphs sniggering about a mystic shirt. Hilarious. These ones are bought at a 1:1 CP rate.
Of course, obviousness really isn't a very good yardstick here. Your average suit of powered armour is pretty damn obvious, and it's also pretty damn difficult to pry off an aware and active wearer. Guns too, and they're not usually hanging around at your side like a heavily armed Skeets either.
Oh. Whee. Gizmos have their own goddamned PP score, equal to the effective CP cost of their powers-- so for an Incredibly Obvious Gizmo, you're looking at a PP three times the cost of the device itself. Arguably fair, given that the power(s) in that thing are probably going to eat PP like candy, but it doesn't exactly discourage using that sort of Gizmo either.
Magic Gizmos regenerate all of their PP once a day-- the suggestion given is midnight, but you know. Technological inventions regenerate 1 PP per round... but each one has one specific method of recharging. This can be as simple as plugging into a wall socket, to as awkward as needing a specific mix of fuel or bombardment with high-energy radiation. The book suggests that the method be non-portable and stashed at HQ, and that the Jury-Rig ability might be used to rig an adapter during an adventure.
This section ends with a full-page sidebar which is surprisingly cogent and free of slandering the players. Use discretion when approving gizmos (because they're probably all going to be weapons) and try to maintain verisimilitude (no guns that give Acrobatics, get fussy about what should go in what sort of Gizmo). Watch out for "PC NPC Inventors", which are apparently characters that players make, then half-retire, so they can make Gizmos for the characters they really wanted to play, and-- I almost said 'what' here, but then I remembered that the writers think their readers are stupider than they are. At least they finish up with an admonishment against stealing or wrecking Gizmos too often... though that makes the Incredibly Obvious ones that much more powerful again. That is, don't do it too often, unless the players are doing it first. And if they don't get that it's not D&D, "then find some new players."
Ah, there we go. That's the Super-Babes I've come to loathe.
And be careful about handing otu stuff that could be a Gizmo. An experimental plane tha tthe government gives to the PC group to test and use as their transport is fine, but don't go overboard....
Aaaand we're back to blurring the lines between 'thingy' and Gizmo. Ranks of supercomputers, satellites in orbit, ferraris in the garage... but only the loaner jet might be a Gizmo. Because.
Trust us on this one.
Moderation in all things.
I am in awe at the oblivious lack of self-awareness encompassed within that quote.
And... would you believe it? We're finally done chargen.
No, wait! There's a page of shit on character descriptions!
Three quarters of a page. With some art. On character descriptions. Because...
If the character is going to look pretty much like the average Super-Babe, then that's nothing that the GM has to worry about. However, let's say that the character wants to be 8 feet tall and weigh 800 pounds. This is the point where the GM has to step in and arbitrate... An unusually large bust size does not necessarily fall into this category, but a second head might.
AKA: The 'Can I Fap to This?' Rule. Nevermind that the game
characters of unusual height. The GM is instructed to come to an 'equitable' solution, either by making the player change his description or punitively buying a power that covers it. Because these assholes can never decide if they want to play fast and loose, comic style, or demand that ~verisimilitude~ be fellated at every turn.
And fill out the measurements section with at least a touch of realism in mind.
Imagine a cluster bomb of psyduck emotes going off, right here.
of the characters in the back of the book is smaller than a double C cup, and I think the average works out to a D.
Finally. We're done with chargen. Fuck me.
Next Season, on Super-Babes: The Part For the Guy in Charge!
The Part for the Guy In Charge
Original SA post
Sparks! Explosions! And that's just my teeth grinding as I read...
The Part for the Guy in Charge
Actually, it isn't, despite the header. The actual Game Master's section starts fifteen pages later, which is good because this portion includes the kind of mechanics that it's usually better for players to be familiar with than not.
It begins by describing the confusingly named
, which again lasts six seconds during combat, and one minute outside. It wouldn't have killed anyone to better differentiate between them with names like... 'rounds' and 'turns', but on second thought, that might have required someone to actually edit this book.
In a surprising nod to fairness, they explictly state that powers used outside of combat drain PP more slowly, since a non-combat round is six times lo...wait. Is this rule based explictly on a stupid, built-in technicality?
No matter the reasoning, this rule is in effect to prevent sustained powers from being useless outside of a combat scenario.
Distance is at a scale of one real inch to five feet in game.
Non-combat movement is gently handwaved as movement in inches doubled, and written down in miles per hour.
Running is determined by your MOVES score, and any modifiers applied from Growth, Running (skill) or Run Fast, if this wasn't already self-explanatory. Moving half your maximum range or less counts as
an action, which is a weird case that will become slightly less so shortly.
Jumping (without benefit of poles or related powers) lets you go half your maximum movement horizontally, or one quarter vertically. No word on whether that requires a running start, which is probably for the best.
Oh, combat. Oh, boy.
First you figure out who's fighting. Straightforward enough. Initiative is determined with a roll of d10 plus one-tenth your MOVES, highest goes first. They note that time-sensitive hazards (ticking bombs, as their example) also get an initiative roll too. Identical results trigger roll-offs between the lucky contestants.
Everyone involved (except perhaps the bomb) can choose to wait. A waiting character can interrupt the initiative order at any time, simulating the villainous habit of lying in wait, or maybe throwing themselves into the path of danger.
Surprise is simple: if there's a chance that someone would notice a lurking attacker, they get a BRAINS roll on d20 to notice before the trap's sprung. Otherwise, the ambusher gets a free full round on the targets. No extra benefits, unless they're using a maneuver that grants one. GM's are advised to play surprise by ear, and play fair.
Normally a character can move up to one half their maximum range, then perform an action such as blasting, grabbing, soliloquizing, etc. A full-length move counts for your whole round, unless... you
do it twice
Doing it Twice is a weird little rule that ex-fucking-plodes into a horror of extra moves with judicious use of martial arts and extra limbs. In essence it lets you double your actions in a round: normally one, which allows for move-attack-move maneuvers for regular characters, and a lot of die rolls for ones designed to take advantage of it in the most sordid senses of the word. It takes 3 PP and a MOVES roll on d20, which they note is easy for someone with high MOVES, but like a skill check it auto-fails on a 20.
For an innocently designed character this means you could:
Move twice your normal distance.
Move your full distance and take an action.
Move half your normal distance and take two actions.
multiplicative, not additive. They've walked straight into a sea of characters that will, at the very least, have four attacks per round 95% of the time.
What counts as an action? Activating a power, grabbing something, throwing a punch, that sort of thing. Deactivating a power or dropping an object doesn't count, which is nice. Not moving doesn't get you any mechanical benefits.
What about PP? Maintenance costs (if any) and regeneration are handled at the beginning of each character's round.
Actually hitting things involves consulting a chart that looks suspiciously like a 1E AD&D to-hit matrix, though this one skips and hiccups from one level range vs. 'hittability' level to the next. According to the authors, it's designed so that characters tackling an equal-level threat will have a 50/50 chance to hit. Taking cover or using specific maneuvers can bump things around, but why bother, given the enormous sacks of hit points these characters are carrying around?
Offensive Combat Maneuvers
...are where things get annoyingly complicated.
Punches are easy. Takes an action. Takes 2 PP. Deals d6 damage plus whatever modifiers you've got.
Attacks to Off-Balance are a fantastic way to piss off your GM! For only 1 PP, one action and a successful hit, you can deal -3 to-hit and -3 hittability to your target, and make them take +3 damage from the next hit that actually deals it. But wait, there's more!
This maneuver is cumulative
and you can get your friends in on it too! The penalties dissipate at the rate of 1/round, and vanish completely when you get around to whomping the poor bastard, but still.
Attack to the Rear isn't exactly a maneuver, per se, but it gives you +3 to hit. Backstabber.
Combination Attacks are a tried-and-true staple of the genre, saddled to a pile of shitty rolls that low-level heroes are hilariously unlikely to pull off. Because. Spend 2 PP for this, plus how many for Do it Twice and everything else you want to use for extra actions. Roll d20 under your level for each action. If you succeed with those, and all the actual to-hit rolls, you get to deal all the damage as one lump for purposes of defeating damage resistance and such. Multiple characters can combine too, a la Colossus and Wolverine or the Power Rangers, but that's another roll against your level again for everyone involved. If someone blows that one, they don't get to contribute.
Full Speed Strike is a flying punch, and that means dealing with those awful flight speed rules. Basically? You're ramming someone. You need to be moving at least 24", and if you're really fast, you deal double damage and take half of what's rolled yourself. If you're really, really fast, you quadruple your damage and take double what's rolled yourself. The writers claim this power can kill characters, but... no. Not likely.
Grappling takes up half a goddamn page to basically say the following: Grabbing is a to-hit roll, takes 2 PP and an action. Holding on requires neither. Breaking free is grappling in reverse, with the same costs, and forces each character involved to add MUSCLES to a d% roll with highest roll winning.
Haymakers just aren't worth the goddamn effort. It eats
of your potential actions and 3 PP, forces an initiative penalty and requires a successful roll against your level in return for... +1 to hit and double damage.
Hitting Things With Other Things comes complete with the half page Common Objects Damage Table, which provides damage potential for everything from bricks to aircraft carriers, and also HTK values... presumably based off those damage values. So the average human is as tough as a brick. Who knew?
First you've gotta grab something, as per grappling above. Then you've got to determine how heavy the thing is and whether you can lift it... which, hey!
There's no clear rule for this!
Awesome! And after all that, your super-strong character gets to deal even more damage.
There's also some half-formed rule for wear on improvised weapons reducing damage and HTK by one die per hit, which means tossed bricks disintegrate after one throw. Bravo.
The Love Tap is for taking out mooks. 2 PP, one action, only works on someone with no PP in reserve. Roll to hit, deal no damage, but force a HTK save on the target; if they blow it, they're knocked cold. Handy for capturing winded villains, too.
The Pop-Tart is another annoyingly complicated maneuver that your GM will adore you for. It takes 3 PP and three actions: a grab, a throw, and a punch. Strangely, the punch is against a Hittability of zero, which... is an automatic hit, according to the table. Maybe situational penalties apply too.
And because they don't think we can be trusted with sharp objects, the authors point out that this 'punch person into the air so they take falling damage' power doesn't work very well against characters that can fly.
Boiling down half a page of wank: deal punch damage, plus falling damage once you've figured out how high you threw them.
Pull & Punch takes three actions, which is going to require some dicking around, and 3 PP. Grapple, punch, and if the target doesn't escape the grab, you get to deal double MUSCLES damage because you... pulled them into your punch. Thank god I'm almost finished this section.
Strike for Effect is strangely named, because the only effect it produces is knockback. It costs 1 PP for every die of damage the attacking power deals, which must be spent before the to-hit roll is made. If you hit, you deal damage normally... then take it, divide it by five, round down and apply the result as the number of inches the target flies back (or up, if you're a bastard and did this with the pop-tart). If you're stopped short by something, you (and it) take 1d6 damage for every inch you should have gone further.
Apparently this one can be used to drive someone into the ground like a tent peg. While the ground apparently has an undefined amount of HTK per equally undefined portion of surface area and thickness, this is pretty much just cheap extra damage.
Throwing Things takes two actions, 3 PP, and involves grabbing and making calculations based on the weight of what you're trying to throw... which, again, isn't actually defined anywhere. Recall, this was printed when Yahoo! was just a collection of user-curated links, so determining the weight of weird objects could be problematic.
Objects under 3/4 of your max press can be hucked 1" per point of MUSCLES, and presumably do MUSCLES plus object's bonuses worth of damage; it's not exactly clear. Things that are heavier, but not beyond your maximum lift, only go 1/5 as far, and who knows what kind of damage they do.
Trick shots take two actions, 3 PP, and possibly a Bimbo Point if the GM thinks the shot is too outlandish. If the GM okays the move, the attack is made at -5 and will do no damage... unless you're trying to attack a carried Gizmo or the like.
Whip is... not what I expected. From the bonuses that Get Big granted, I expected throwing or some kind of sweeping motion. Instead... it's intimidation. For one action and 2 PP, you tot your PERSONALITY, level and FAME (holy shit, an actual use for this worthless stat!) together and compare it to a target's BRAINS plus d6. If the whipper's result is less than the defender's, shit happens. Equal or greater, the target loses an entire round considering. Double? The defender takes 1-3 whole goddamn rounds to do nothing but fret. And if it's triple, the defender meekly goes 'yes'm' and acquiesces.
While there's safety in numbers, it's not much: everyone affected by a single Whip gets a bonus to their roll equal to the number of people affected.
A sidebar explains that it isn't mind control, won't make someone do something they're diametrically opposed to, and is intended to convince thugs and half-mashed villainesses to stand down... which is unreasonably useful, because everyone, including the thugs, takes way too long to smack down otherwise.
But before we go on: aPlmost all these maneuvers have the vast potential for abuse, by both the GM and the players. A good rule of thumb for this system is USE IT-DON'T ABUSE IT!
Actually, a good rule of thumb for this whole damn system is 'leave it on the shelf where you found it', but I digress.
Defensive Combat Maneuvers
...Because what's an ungainly mess without more mess? Fortunately there are only two entries here.
Change Facing lets you make a BRAINS roll on d20 and spend 2 PP to turn 90 degrees. That is, just in time so that someone attacking from behind no longer gets their +3 bonus to hit. This can only be done once per round.
Cover isn't really a maneuver, but anyway. 'A little bit', characterized as hiding behind a telephone pole or an upright table, gives a -3 to hit. 'Halfway covered', such as standing behind a desk or the hood of a car, gives -5. 'Mostly covered', with only your head sticking out from behind a car, a corner, a hostage or the like, is worth a wacky -10 to hit. Finally, 'total coverage' grants a -14.
A sidebar points out that cover is usually effective only with ranged attacks, and that attacks that hit cover will often damage it (and its efficacy). Exceptions include things like playing whack-a-moleman.
Fighting Blind is not a maneuver. It's a status effect caused by things like a toon eraser wiping out your eyes, darkness, getting a bag pulled over your head, or the old sand in the face trick. At base, as noted in a previous update, being blinded gives a -5 to hit out to 2", and -10 beyond that... but there are mitigators. This takes a solid quarter of a page to explain, complete with slander against players who can't tell the difference between their awareness of the combat board and their characters'.
Means of mitigating the penalty for blindness are accumulative, but each one restates the penalties modified for that mitigator, so you have to do some backtracking math to figure the bonuses out in order to use more than one. Not difficult, but it could have been better.
Blind Fighting gives +5/+5, straight up. Being guided in some way by someone else is worth +2/+4. Good Hearing will give +1/+2, as will Smell Good, if they apply.
Damage From Normal stuff
And here we have a couple pages of what comes down to... squat. Or in Super-Babes lingo, 'guidelines'.
Acid deals damage based on concentration. Amazing. Acids that are strong enough to dissolve people or objects should average 1d6 damage per round.
Animal attacks will do between 1 HTK and 1d10. Their suggestion for a charging bull elephant is 1d20, as that should be enough to kill the Average Joe.
Atomic weapons vaporize everything within two miles, then 10d1% a mile out from there, less 1d% for every mile further out.
Characters can hold their breath for a very long time-- 1 round for every point of HEALTH, which is straight-up Guybrush Threepwood levels in out of combat scenarios. Once you run out of breath, your heart stops beating in 1d10 combat rounds, and there they repeat the resuscitation rules from First Aid.
Drugs are handwaved.
Electrical damage depends on voltage, which I'm pretty sure is wrong, but Super-Babes! 110v gets you at d6 per minute, 220v is twice that, a generic high-voltage line deals d%, and a transformer will deal multiple percentiles. You're a real asshole, Megatron.
Exploding gasoline only deals 5 points per
when it goes up. This must be some pretty low-octane stuff.
Falling damage! d6 per ten feet, capping off at 35d6 because of terminal velocity. And there's wank about sorting out how fast a character falls, and an impressive typo that almost doubles the maximum possible damage from falling to 65 dice.
All this takes a full half page.
Fire deals 3 damage per round, whether you're alight or just passing through. Smoke inhalation deals another point a round, and you're effectively blinded by the stuff after a d6 rounds. Have fun!
Truly lousy weather can kill you: at 0 or 125F, you'll take 1 HTK an hour. Every 25 degrees past those extremes bumps the hourly hassle by 1 HTK.
Being hit by a car basically involves sorting its current and maximum speeds out and applying the ramming-while-flying rules... which isn't going to do much, because I'm pretty sure that cars don't have MUSCLES scores to back up a few piddly dice of damage.
Liquid nitrogen and similarly cold substances deal d% damage with each immersion, until the target is frozen solid. Presumably dead, too.
Poisons are suggested as plot devices, since they're usually fairly slow-acting, if still lethal. Lethal poisons deal at least 1 HTK per hour until the antidote's conjured up and used.
Radiation deals... 1d3 HTK per round at high concentrations. "Smaller concentrations may do as little as 1 HTK per day, or just plain give you cancer!"
Fatalities: How They Happen, How To Avoid Them.
takes up, no exaggeration, a full page and a half of space. It's a valid concern: This is a game where PCs tote hundreds of hit points and can set themselves up to deal dozens of dice of damage; 'fine grained' is not a term that really fits here. It's also based in a Goldish Age superhero setting-- collateral damage happens, but people don't explode the way they would in an Ennis or Ellis joint. So it's definitely worth addressing.
"The Scientific Accident origin is almost designed with character fatality in mind..." Almost? The 'don't understand your own strength' option was barely a footnote. But anyway.
Here we're offered a handful of optional rules for keeping PCs alive, because apparently things get increasingly lethal with higher levels. In order:
Count Invulnerability twice, once a character is dipping into HTK.
Let characters go to -HTK before beginning the dying process, rather than cacking out at zero.
Have the player wipe their lips with the back of their hand, like Captain Kirk getting a second wind. No mechanical effect, but a signal to the GM to start pulling punches.
Know when to give up. Have injured villains cut and run (probably after doing something dastardly) or surrender, and encourage players to back off when their characters are teetering. Recurring villains, flimsy prisons and enemies more interested in showing one another up than killing them
pretty par for the genre they're trying to emulate here.
Next up are suggestions for dealing with PCs killing NPCs... intentionally, mainly. It's a fair topic, given that in the minds of a lot of players, and as presented in a lot of games, a target is something that you want
Make sure everyone knows about the fatality rules and expectations. Don't be afraid to repeat it here and there. "This way they can't claim ignorance, and you can be sure that your wishes have been communicated effectively." Claiming ignorance makes my eyebrows rise, but the rest is surprisingly mature.
Talk to the problem player. This section must have been written by a guest author, there isn't even a suggestion of kicking the bum out of the game here.
Fiat! The body vanished! It was a Doombot! The Clone Arrangers have been notified! She was faking it! Classic excuses for villains not staying good and dead! Best used in moderation, lest the PCs start to dismember enemies, just to make sure.
Call the cops! Even this is qualified as being intended for serial offenders, with potential unpleasant side effects like 'lost Origin support' and 'stuffed in stasis cell'.
Finally, in the case of incorrigible asshats, they bring out a ten-dollar word and suggest "...ostracizing such an individual from the game" as an absolute worst-case solution, should all else fail.
For real, this time! Great swathes of this section are very basic campaign-building 101 ideas, so I'm going to be doing more glossing than usual.
support for setting games outside 1993-contemporary AC Comics continuity. Golden Age is one suggestion-- Nazis, experimental super-serums, adventurers dragging red lines behind them as they travel the world... oh, and modern amenities would qualify as Gizmos. Whee. Westerns! ...populated mostly by Adventuresses. Alternate realities!
Yeah. Maybe a paragraph or two for each idea, and nothing particularly noteworthy or useful.
Villain campaigns are not recommended! They're an occasional thing, intended to break up the monotony of being good guys every week... or however often you play. Villains tend to be volatile and prone to backstabbing, so they suggest PC villains be in the employ (or credible threat) of a more powerful villain or Entity.
There's also a specific admonition against taking (currently) unused heroic sheets and pitting them against the active villains, because that kind of thing breeds out of character antagonism. It also makes the GM look like an asshat.
And right here, in a spot that's almost a footnote, they point out that NPC villains get XP the same way PC heroes do. This probably means they're going to be advancing a lot more slowly, unless you're taking them out to stomp on hapless heroes between sessions, or something.
The section on adventure ideas is profoundly lazy. 'Break an old villainess out'. 'Make a new villainess and weave an intricate plot full of detective work to find her... and retcon her in as the power behind the scenes.' 'Steal a movie plot.' 'Steal an adventure module from another game and repurpose it.' There's another section after that where they explain the concept of ad-libbing adventures.
Supporting cast, Law & Order, and Property Damage provide nothing more than what common sense or rereading earlier sections of the manual would.
These come in a few flavours.
The Average Joe has 150 CP or less to spend, which generally means 10s in each primary STAT and a shitty 10 CP job. They have no PP, which makes them particularly squishy.
Cops, thugs, soldiers, government agents and the like are built on the same amount of points... but they get to calculate PP, can level up (gaining 10 PP each level) and have enough left over at level 0 to grab Fire One Gun. The PP makes them a lot tougher, and lets them use all those annoying combat moves the PCs have taken to.
Supernatural Entities range from elven wageslaves to Dread Nylonathotep. They come in four varieties, or 'Classes', which range in power from 150 CP to a bowel-shaking 3600. Class 1's are Magical Average Joes. 2's can pass (or be used as) PCs. Class 3's are the rough range where Supernatural Pupils' mentors come in. Class 4's are commonly mistaken for gods.
Aliens follow the same pattern, only they're classed by Type. Same as before, only the Type 4's are described as a short allusion to Galactus.
Stuff is gear. Stuff is also basically confined to things peculiar to the Femforce universe, and takes up a lot of space to say very little, again.
Span-XX is... making me want to hit whoever thought that was a 'cute' name. Besides the stupid name, it's the in-universe excuse for costumes that don't tear, burn or otherwise come apart unless a Bimbo Event or the GM's penis decides they do. Basic superheroic costume material.
Surprisingly, given the obsession with money evinced early in the book, there's no cost per yard listed.
Neither are there costs listed for the page-long table of conventional weapons the next page over, either. While that may seem long, they've boiled things down to generic examples of weapon types. You don't really need four or five sorts of shotgun when everyone's flitting around and farting lightning.
Copping out, the authors suggest the use of catalogues to determine the cost of items, or just wing it. From personal experience, a lot of GMs will aim wide of the mark, so I'm a little less than enthused by that approach.
Bases are built with money. Specifics are left up to the GM, again, with basically a full page of fluff and chatter about sweet screw-all. Oh, and you can build Gizmos into them, at a rate of 5 CP worth of Gizmo for every CP invested. While regular Gizmos tend to break down when they get lonely for their owners, base-based ones are somewhat more accommodating.
Vehicles are like Bases, only smaller, and Gizmos built into them are considered Incredibly Obvious for purposes of the CP math.
Judgment calls! Waffling! Extraordinary circumstances! Precedents! This shit is self-explanatory!
Plot devices are things (or decisions) that break the rules in order to keep the story going. A super-gun that makes everyone Fall Down-- wait, sorry, that's the
cartoonish RPG-- is not a plot device, it's just shitty design.
Sometimes players will be unable to recognize or unwilling to accept a plot device for what it is. In that instance, GMs might want to fall back on GM's fiat and merely inform the players that it's a plot device and to leave it alone.
Normally I'd be inclined to let that slide, because I've been in similar situations, but
fuck you, Super-Babes.
When your players are dead set against letting the plot device slide, it's time to back the hell up, not piss them off further with the Handwave of God.
What is game balance? Simply put, game balance is a gamemaster maintaining
campaign through a judicious use of
I really think this passage is Super-Babes at its most paternalistic. Vague statements two paragraphs later about knowing when to say 'no' and when to say 'yes' only reinforce the feeling.
The half page on distributing XP isn't bad. Listen to the players; if you're friends, they'll chat with you about the campaign sometimes. Good idea. "...And players will constantly try to weasel information out of the GM about..."
I can't even get a paragraph's break from this garbage. What. The. Hell?
"Avoid sudden rises or drops in campaign XP; like a patient in a hospital, the sudden shock just might kill them."
Just how fucking fragile do you think your system here is, boys?
"Above all, be sure to maintain game balance."
I have no idea what this has to do with actually doling XP out.
Don't give out XP during the game. Be ready to calculate it at any given juncture, and make sure you do it before everyone leaves for the night, but don't give it out in the middle of game, even if someone is really close to leveling. Because gamers are fucking mogwai or something.
...are not what they sound like, shockingly enough. The writers claim that it's a unique idea, but let's face it: that's bullshit.
Basically, it's a full-blown character respec. Just about everyone can probably name at least one superhero who's undergone a major rewrite or full-blown retcon.
With this being Super-Babes, there is of course an asshole clause built in. First, you have to do it at a level-up. Second, you have to hash it all out with the GM, who (of course) reserves veto rights. Third, when you level up... you don't get the 50 CP you normally would. Why?
That's why. Thank you, Mr. Caruso.
And that's it for the core book! Except for a sample adventure which is next to totally useless-- it's a very vague framework, with references to high-level NPCs, and without even a sample combat to give new GMs an idea of how to run things or have a vague idea of how to set up a challenging fight scene.
And except for a few filled out character sheets. They're a rogue's gallery of heroines and villainesses across a variety of levels... none of which are anywhere near zero, which makes them a little useless for actual play.
They're also useless as guides for character design, too. In fact, there is no sample 'level zero' character in the book, whatsoever. Now, they repeat several times that you shouldn't try to shove everything you want into a starting character, because you won't have anything to advance toward. Sure, whatever, but... what about designing a competent character to begin with? What's a good starting stat for someone who's specializing in its traits? How many dice should a beginning Blast deal, and to what kind of range? These things aren't so much as suggested anywhere.
I was wrong, earlier. The average cup size in these sheets is a D, ignoring the fifty foot She-Cat robot (whose measurements are '?????') and The Black Commando (whose are listed as 'hey, he's a guy').
I've glanced over this book a few times over the years. I've become more aware of its skeeviness as time has gone by. I've always felt that, with some serious editing (getting rid of the editorial comments, eliding some sections entirely) it could work as a decent, low-impact superhero game. I was wrong.
The system is irredeemably awful. Entire stats can be safely tossed, whole systems deleted. The core of it all, the raison d'etre of the whole thing, puts the 'slug' back in 'slugfest'. This is what happens when you take AD&D 2nd Edition and circa 1990 CHAMPIONS books, shake them in the hopes of getting design wisdom to come out, then just kind of hybridize them when that doesn't work. Oh, and load it with commentary by the kind of person who bitches about 'political correctness' when they're asked not to be an asshole.
...and we're done. So long, Super-Babes.
I've got a short stack of Super-Babes supplements, and I'm going to touch on at least two or three. The first, because they had at least a brief brush with funny. The second, because it's just a horror of their brand of 'game balance'. The third... because I think it might have a sex offender bathmat in it.
What a wretched fucking book.
Game of the Century
Original SA post
Speaking of Shitting On Bad Games... I'm going to go through the Superbabes Adventure because... Well, frankly, I don't have the intestinal fortitude to pull of 13 Magazine right now. Or enough vodka. Friend of mine suggested making a drinking game out of WGA. Not sure my liver would survive it.
Superbabes: Game of the Century
This is a sequel to a module I don't have, called Return of the Ravagers. They somewhat assume you've played it, but just in case they felt the need to give nearly a full page of back-story on how the owner of the New York Patriots was trying to own the spirit of baseball by buying a possessed bat. And when that didn't work, stealing it from the current owner, who bought it in at garage sale. Welcome to the Stonebrenner and Casey show. You guys? The Players? Not actually that important, he just needed a bunch of super-powered women in skin tight outfits to get the bat into the open. Not kidding.
See, without the Spirit Of Baseball being actively used, baseball was going into a slump, which is what was causing all those scandals and such during the 90's. So Casey started playing in various exhibition matches. A phrase which is going to take a darker meaning today. Thus, Stonebrenner decided that the best way to get the bat from her wasn't to hire a crack team of super-thieves or anything, but to use his extensive network of contacts to blackmail two teams worth of super-humans.
Which is how you're brought into this mess. The adventure assumes that you're using the core FemForce team and have been playing with the villains from the book. If you're not... well, you'll have to improvise, but there are three characters that have to remain. Those being Casey(of course!), Proxima(one of the villainous characters, and plot important), and Yankee Girl(because having her as the designated catcher reduced fatalities when they tested it). And now, to draw your players into being part of this charity baseball game/overly elaborate heist. First, you blackmail the characters emotionally by the "It's for charity!" and the Make A Wish Foundation. Then you go after their backgrounds. Old high school coach, their corporate masters, or for the country. Just get them out there, even if it means revoking their stuff privileges until they cooperate.
And then you make them wait three weeks. Now, to be fair, it's only three in game week and doesn't suggest you put it off for three sessions. Which would be a little much, even if you were running the One Night Stands in-between. Yes, they're actual Superbabes products, and yes, they're called quickies. Anyway, back to the game at hand. If the players ask any questions about what's going on and you don't want to answer them... Don't! That's the game's advice, have Stonebrenner's lawyers and PR stonewall them.
So, it's time for the pre-game PR publicity shoot and all that, the GM is invited to get all of the BE out of the way here, and then make hints that there will be more BEs to come... That's Bimbo Events, not the other one. Although with this game, it's hard to tell. During this point, real baseball players show up to warn the players that the Bat is a mystic artifact and blah blah. The above back-story.
And so, it's time to move onto the locker rooms, which are booby trapped every which way. Two pages of nasty things to do, each one of them done to set off the next. They've drilled holes in the walls for Celebrity Skin, the Corporate Heroine's costume has been replaced with a string bikini and matching thong accompanied by a forged note from PR saying "This will really show off our assets to the folks at home!", the benches are coated in Crazy Glue, dyepacks are put in the shower heads so that they start dying people after about ten minutes, and the locker room has a very nice bathmat. It's a large absorbent sponge. It is, in fact Da Sponge. He's just going to lay there and try not to move. Staring at all the beautiful naked women with water running down them.
Yeah. Da Sponge is... one of the skeezier elements in this. And you do get a roll to determine if something's wrong... but only if you've dealt with Da Sponge in the past. Though, if you do something to get him riled up, a brawl might start. Or you just catch him moving.
Moving on, there's a Limburger cheese bomb in someone's locker, a d10 table to determine what color you turn if you go back into the shower after the ten minutes of safety are up, the Government Sponsored hero has had her costume replaced with a non-Span-X version that's two to three sizes too small, and the character with Get Big(if you've got one) has a perfectly fitted non-Span-X replica... And if you've got a guy in the party, just to make sure he doesn't miss out on the fun, he gets assaulted by Morgana the Kissing Bandit.
Finally, right before the game start, it's revealed who they'll be facing, all an star line-up of super-villains! We've got Proxima, Krone, Alexandria The Greatest, Maidenform, Vaklyra, Cherry Bomb, Prom Queen, XT, and finally, you know him, you loath him, Da Sponge! If you don't know him yet... you will. There's a listing of who plays what position and what they're getting in return... and Da Sponge is just happy to be here. Very, very happy. They note that Da Sponge isn't a woman, but it's arguable that he's not a man, either.
Anyway, it's time for the game. The usual Pre-Game stuff happens, there's a "Lush Rimbaugh" joke... They give a 'nice' little rule that just play the highlights reel. And then they give rules about how fast the ball should be going. Which is Ten MPH for every point of muscles the pitcher has. And then it gives a formula on how to take that number and determine how hard it is to hit. The problem here is that their numbers don't add up. They say that it's hittability is the MPH diivided by ten... Which would up it at the Muscles of the pitcher, and then they say that a ball thrown by Proxima would be at hittability 5, because she has forty five muscle, and... Oh screw it, I've scanned it, you can see their insanity.
Anyway, there's some nice advice on how to run the villains they've assembled for you that amounts to "Only two of them even knows how to play, ones the robot and the other is stuck in the outfield."
And then they decide to break it down by inning. First Inning, the thugs try to steal the bat while Casey is pitching. And the first PC to get to second base will be knocked the hell out by Alexandra... Who didn't know that you can't punch people in baseball. Second Inning, Cherry Bomb has rigged your helmets to explode, doing 3d10+10 damage if you get beaned. And Poxima will very much try to bean you. If you're using the team given, she'll go after Stardust, who can take it due to invulnerability... If not, well, you better hope that the first person to bat can take forty damage to the head plus whatever the ball does. Flying at 450 Miles Per Hour, a baseball is a lethal weapon, I'd say. Close inspection will reveal which of the remaining helmets are fitted with explosives.
The Third Inning, the mascot tries to steal the bat from the bat boy(who will be oogling the players) and thus being a constant thorn in your side. Unless you actually hit him, he's not going anywhere as he's the official stadium mascot. When the Away Team is on the field, Valkyra(a
defrosted nazi) will try to kick the Government sponsored player back to second base... Fourth Inning, it's time to roll to see if the PCs piss themselves. No, it's not random, apparently Prom Queen has spiked the GatorMaid with a powerful diuretic. I wish I was making this up. If your Health stat is under a hundred, you'll be in the bathroom, a lot. The lower your stat, the sooner and more often you'll be fleeing to the locker room and/or ending up mocked on the news as your costume abruptly changes colors.
Okay, we're halfway there. Fifth Inning, Promixa and Krone start shouting insults and eventually they start throwing punches at each other and anyone dumb enough to break it up. And then, as they can't get replacement players for a game like this, they have to shake and make-up. The Sixth Inning... Well, see for yourself.
Seventh, Alexandria gets a call and goes off to confront Casey because she's just been informed that Casey is cheating by way of magic possessed bat. After some bickering, Casey hands Alexandria the bat, and the bat explains that it's the spirit of competition, and Alexandria respect competition, blah blah. Long story short, she doesn't hand the bat over to the literal big bad. Eight, Valkyria murders a man on national television. You know those nutters who used to parachute into major sporting events? One of them show up, and Valkyria being "a nasty nazi" really doesn't want to be here, but an opportunity to kill someone perks her up and she'll hit a homer right through the guy. Unless you've got someone who can fly to catch the ball.
Nine, Stonebrenner just says to heck with it and goes Giant, starting the final battle. I just wanna take a moment to be a huge nerd who has actually read the comics... It states that Stonebrenner used the Giganta Serum. The problem with this is that the Giganta serum has flaw in it that makes you ultra-empathic, and that's why Giganta was out of her head with rage all the time. She was feeling everyone's fear, anger, and guilt and lashed out at the things people felt were oppressing them. Eventually, this was fixed, but at no point was an Improved Giganta Serum without this fatal flaw made... and it didn't really allow her to resize. She was just Giant.
Anyway, they've choreographed this battle nicely. Maidenform, the robot I didn't mention because she doesn't do anything useful, stands around like a post because she's been reprogrammed to play baseball and doesn't know how to fight. So she'll be used as a weapon. Proxima will go after Stardust, any other character from Stardust's planet, or Krone, in that order. She'll fight until there's no point in fighting anymore. If all of her preferred targets are taken out, she'll try to blend in with the crowd. Krone will try to kill Proxima. If Proxima is out of the fight, Krone will just sit there. Alexandria will wrestle a member of whichever team looks to be strongest. Theoretically, it'll be the heroes, but she'll switch sides in an instant. Again, she's just playing the game. She'll compliment everyone while trying to wrestle them into submission.
Valkyra, the Nazi will use Maidenform as a bat and beat the crap out of whoever she can. If Stonebrenner accidentally steps on her, she'll go after him. Cherry Bomb knows she's never going to be paroled, so she'll just try to blow everything up that she can. And if you ask for a grenade, she'll throw you a live one. Casey will take advantage of this. Prom Queen goes nuts and tries to take own whoever is around, but she's pretty much just a normal human and will go down like a chump. X-T will just sit there until someone gives her an order that doesn't require too much thought. Which will probably be one of the players.
And then, you have to take out Stonebrenner... After that, it's time to deal with the aftermath. The suggest taking a quick break before this part, and for once I agree with them. What happens is... Stonebrenner gets off scot-free because he's got expensive lawyers and he doesn't even have to pay for the damages to the stadium, his insurance will cover it. The players get 4 Fame points, plus some extra for their bimbo events, 5500 XP. Casey moves on, and the game ends. That said, I'd strangle any GM who ran me through this and then said "lol, the big bad has money! Nothing happens!"
The back has character Sheets for Casey, Stonebrenner, Cherry Bomb, and X-T. The rest, we're told, are in Knockouts and Powerhouses. Nothing really to say here except that they accidentally put Casey's picture on Stonebrenner's sheet. Either that, or he has a wonderful rack for a 64 year old business man.
Original SA post
Superhero comics have had a long, sometimes strange history with regard to gender relations. There's classic Jimmy Olsen going around in drag, under cover. There's just as classic Reed Richards telling Sue Storm that her female brain just couldn't cut it in the field of smartness. Even the inoffensive SuperFriends ran afoul of a radical feminist who brainwashed the world's women into turning all the world's men into computer tapes with eyebeams apparently all women have. Except the Superfriends, because the only woman in their clubhouse was Wonder-Woman, and they no-sold that faster than you can say 'golden lasso'.
Of course, given Super-Babes is built on the premise of controlling frightening women through embarrassment and casual cruelties, they just
to do something in that vein.
is the unfortunate result.
Forty four pages, including dedication. The credits page state that it's copyright 1997, and the introduction is marked 1996, which is a surprise: frankly, I thought this whole thing would have folded after a year or two.
The back matter claims that while the module is meant to be played with the Femforce characters (like Casey at the Bat, and like... who would want to play their own characters, in a system that's 90% chargen material?), it can be modified for play with 'low level lassies'. This is technically the truth. Level adjustments for the foes are brief, half-assed, and the absolute weakest still sit at 7th level. But really, who's going to play their own characters?
Summarizing the introduction, W.O.M.A.N. (Womyn Opposing Misogyny And Neglect) is an organization dedicated to gender equality, willing to use terrorist tactics, and with sleeper agents in almost every important government or corporate organization in the world. Except, presumably, the ones where women aren't allowed to work. A page and a half briefly details how a bunch of poorly described supervillainesses came together to form the organization and... yeah.
In a particularly fucked-up twist, some of these characters are actually sympathetic. Their leader, Pulsator, lived in the shadow of her villainous brother, and that ruined her attempts to go on the straight and narrow. Indigo Jo (wanted in... Hazard County, ugh) turned the tables on a physically abusive husband and accidentally beat him to death when her own super powers manifested. The booklet notes she was sent to prison on trumped-up charges because her husband was cousin to the sheriff. Pixie is a man-hating lesbian who likes to make passes in combat! She figures in some of the horror to come. Firefox is wanted 'by all red-blooded males'. She just wants to be rich and famous. Malefica is a Satanic rock musician and magical megalomaniac. Megadeath is Malefica's younger sister, possessed by a demon. Turbocharger is a Toni Stark who got bumped from taking over the family business when Dad's fair-haired boy returned from the dead.
Oh, and they have minions. B.I.M.B.O.s are grunts, armed with sonic pistols and light armor; their gear is cursed so that if their helmets are forcibly removed, their thoughts are rifled, or they hear someone reciting the Miranda rights, their
hair turns blonde
and their minds go blank for a brief but undisclosed duration. An organization dedicated to the forcible advancement of women, everyone!
B.A.B.E. agents have stripped down versions of the Turbocharger armour.
Oh, and a bit after either group are captured, a Harley Queen arrives with transfer papers for them to Harkum Asylum (run by Dr. Jay Ochre). Parody is one thing, but this is bordering on scribbling 'poop!' on a mirror with feces.
So! Thirty pages in, we finally get to the plot. And the plot is this:
Pulsator wants to turn all the men in the world into women.
So that, and technology and techniques to use one human egg to fertilize another, so the human race doesn't die off while staring uncomfortably at itself. Since she'd be the only one working toward that technology, at first she figures that she can use it as sociopolitical leverage as the new order starts sorting itself out. She just needs to kidnap and convince a certain scientist who has used these techniques to pursue a disastrous Jurassic Park reference. This is where the PCs come in.
A stupidly elaborate plan finds the villains trying to extract the scientist from a performance of the Ring cycle... that the player characters have been forced to attend as part of a charity event. Because, you know, culture sucks. Things kind of go awry from there: if there's a magical PC, she notices someone putting the whammy on the scientist; if there isn't, the spell affects a PC too.
Should your players prove to be incredibly dense and not get the hint, all is not lost.
No, you could take that as a hint and find something that they'd rather be playing. Thanks for the tip! But no, they suggest having a bad guy panic and take a shot. This should all lead to a big fight in the mezzanine, which the PCs should not end up precisely winning. If they get the scientist, the scenario is over. In the name of 'keeping it light', the writers suggest having a villain animate a Femforce character's magic cloak so that it
eats a few spectators
An interstitial scene follows, involving WOMAN dragging away the remnant parts of a discontinued government super-clone project. Mindless, female, super-human clones intended to be commanded by men. This is getting creepily self-aware.
The one that follows there is a lot of dragging around by the nose, as the forces of WOMAN decide to try and recruit the PCs. Side characters are kidnapped! Women are tied up in webs! Mechanics are abused to force the characters to listen, and notes are doled out to the GM so that awkward uses of powers don't short circuit themselves.
Pulsator makes strong arguments. It's almost like the writers are aware of how gross Super-Babes is, really. Unfortunately, she's really kind of dead-set on that crazy global sex-change thing. Doubly unfortunately, she's smart enough to know that she can't leave the characters a way out if they decide to join with intent to double-cross: to that end, she arranges to have them discredited in a raid on a handful of trucks transporting nuclear warheads. I
warheads are removed from missiles for that kind of transport, but... fuck it. Comic books. WOMAN tapes things, the PCs are persona non-grata. Missiles happen.
If the party refused to join up with WOMAN (this is especially likely if Ms. Victory is there, or on the slim chance there are any
PCs), this is where the adventure splices back in after their daring escape. Missiles may or may not have been got, but Pulsator has the two eggs, one baby thing licked (and at a cost only slightly greater than hormonal birth control, how wacky), the 'gynomorphic airborne transmutation media' has been successfully tested on lab chimps, and now it's time for human trials!
If the PCs joined up, Pixie returns from pizza with a few BIMBO agents and a traumatized, sex-changed Atoman slung over her shoulder, talking about how she's got a new girl who needs help getting in touch with her feminine side. The book referring to her as a 'blatant lesbian' aside, the PCs really should step in to prevent a goddamned
from occurring offstage. Strangely, unlike scenes with heroines wetting themselves or being sexually assaulted by Da Sponge, we're not instructed to play this one for laughs.
If there's a male PC, Pixie might grab him instead. We're instructed to be sure this won't piss the player off, and that an antidote is possible... which makes me imagine this whole scheme going off, only to be negated by massive programmes to develop and distribute boy-jabs worldwide.
Or the PCs might be stuck babysitting Atoman in the scene on the front cover. This being Super-Babes, and a scene involving a male character, Atoman is... an asshole. Put a wedding ring on him, and he's goatse. Worse, the supergroup he's in and the one the PCs are in mix as well as water and oil, and he's the slimy part. He's scuzzy. He's dumb. He's a chauvinist prick. He's also the focus of a very long, very dull ceremony that plods along until Pixie and her backup arrive, and Atoman becomes Atomwoman on stage.
Needless to say, Atomwoman freaks. You'd lose it too if Mr. Happy suddenly up and packed his bags without leaving a forwarding address. He becomes completely ineffective, screaming hysterically but not resisting as Pixie tosses "her" over her shoulder and attempts to take off.
By this point, the PCs are supposed to consider this comeuppance. At the same time, we're supposed to drop Deliverance references in the hopes of encouraging the PCs to give chase and not let Pixie rape the new girl. If the PCs win, Pulsator might trade a dose of antidote (possibly bogus, probably keyed to Atoman's biochemistry-- don't need the good guys duplicating it!) in return for her flunkies. Or not, depending on whether the final battle could use them.
Pulsator's had to push her schedule up an entire year, thanks to Pixie's stunt. She's ready though, and according to some techno-wankery the gas (actually bacteria) will breed in the ionosphere and rain down constantly, so that if someone does develop an antidote they'll need to keep dosing themselves with it. With only a few canisters' worth of gas-whatever-now bred, she has to target very specific altitudes and locations in order to get the stuff to propagate. And in comic style she makes some smart decisions (knocking out rocket tracking emplacements) and some really dumb ones (releasing her announcement, worldwide, before the birds are in the air).
If the PCs went with WOMAN, there will probably be a fight with a supergroup statted in another book before the announcement goes up. If they get cold feet afterward, the agents that have been shadowing them will put guns to the heads of the unconscious heroes-- apparently, like in Palladium and D&D, a coup de gras is a coup de gras. If they stayed good girls, another standoff occurs as their military liason's secretary turns out to be another WOMAN agent and dead set on helping the new order to pass.
However those go down, and assuming that the PCs haven't been swayed by talk of reproductive responsibility and single-gendered solidarity, a climactic battle ensues in what looks suspiciously like the NORAD command centre from Wargames. Here we're treated to a note about Nightveil, one of the Femforce PCs this adventure was supposedly designed for, who has a whopping
in her Magic pool, and Megadeath, who similarly has over
PP, and to feel free to stomp the former into the ground if her player dumps all of that into offensive power. If the PCs win, they've still got to take the radar-invisible (are they now? Oh, editing.) missiles down, but that's given over to the GM to sort out.
If that fouls up, or if the PCs have ended up going over to WOMAN's side, you can still handwave it! Maybe it only works in large concentrations. Maybe it didn't propagate properly. Maybe it only lasts for a few days, or a few weeks. Which... okay, it's a weird ending otherwise, but if the PCs managed to bungle things that badly, or if they actually joined up with WOMAN (and hopefully kept Pixie from executing someone's homophobic fantasies) it's really kind of hollow. At best. But as the core book makes awfully clear, it's the GM's game.
Oh, and the villains? If they're defeated, they'll probably get out sooner rather than later. Some of them are pretty, some of them can turn on the waterworks, and the attitude toward women and the judicial system in these books is like a distant echo of r/mensrights.
So there we have it. Attempted rape, Deliverance references, blatant lesbians, and an attempt to change the status quo that's probably doomed to fail even if the PCs do.
Original SA post
Picture it: the mid Nineties. AD&D's second edition is getting fat and bloated. White Wolf has accidentally stumbled over a heretofore unknown source of role-playing gamers. Shadowrun has successfully jammed magic and machine together like chocolate and peanut butter, and industry standbys like Palladium Games are still ticking along nicely. Things are going surprisingly well for the industry, and nobody knows what's in store for litigious TSR in a few years.
There is, however, a wolf in the fold. It's been lurking for a few years, an ever-growing existential threat to the role-playing industry as we know it. This is Super-Babes' record of those tumultuous times.
Nah, just shitting you. It's a cheap excuse to make gamer crack jokes. It's also, surprise of surprises, intended as an introductory adventure for characters of level zero through two, and actually set up so that this can be their first meeting as well.
This one's thirty two pages, somewhat thinner than Doomsday-Y, but the same ten bucks for what comes out to twenty pages of printed content. There's also eight pages of maps and a couple for the sole villain's sheets, and the last page...
...an abbreviation key that should have been in the front of the book. Yep, this is a Super-Babes joint all right.
The lower power level serves a multitude of purposes for the GM. By playing the characters together from inception, the GM gets a much better idea of what the party dynamics will be; who will lead,
who will be problematic
, who will leave plot threads strewn across the landscape...
And of course, the requisite bit of you vs. them.
Backstory wise, "Rich Odie" (These people wouldn't know funny if it pantsed them) who worked for Sorcerers on the Shore (...) created not-Magic the Gathering at the behest of the company CEO, actually a meat-puppet of a godlike entity that was trapped in the planes somewhere, and wanted a way out to Earth. Not-Magic is that way out: if CEO can get enough people playing with the cards (all of which are slightly magical, many of which bear the true names of various extradimensional creatures) can bridge the worlds and start stompin' around. To that end, he's been creating new cards and increasingly complex rules through executive fiat and booting Odie around.
Phase One is figuring out how to get the characters into the plot, by origin. The Adventuress's staff have been goofing off and playing Tragic, or somehow one of her friends has been
doing the same. The Artificial Being's creator is hooked on cardboard crack, and made her in the likeness of one of the cards. Hopefully she won't have to be torn down to evade copyright litigation, or be sucked into Limbo permanently because of weird metaphysical connections! Corporate Sponsored characters get sent to check out a factory or warehouse that got rolled over by a runaway card summon. Extradimensional characters get summoned by the cards. Extraterrestrials, marooned on primitive Earth, stumble across a card with a favored critter from home printed on it-- but that's impossible! Government Sponsored "There's been a marked increase in the number of RIO's (Reality Interruptus Occurrences); Control wants you to investigate and report. This message will self-destruct in five seconds." The Scientific Accident was perving on the new blonde research assistant, spilled their Coke as they leaned over to watch her play solitaire not-Magic, and sparks flew. And probably super-cancer. The Supernatural Accident probably had their cards explode. Or exploded from one. The Supernatural Pupil knows something's afoot, but not what, because their master is hooked on the game and doesn't have time to talk about such piddling things.
The Genetic Quirk gets a shrug. Admittedly, there isn't anything unique that would slot them into the deck, and several of the other ones would do in a pinch. Anyone else who refuses to grab a hook will have to be dragged to the first scene, kicking and screaming.
Next up are 'random' events, which aren't actually random, or wandering encounters, but... yeah. There's a note that states not-Magic cards will only work for Magical origin characters who
have 'uses cards' as part of their schtick, unless it serves the plot.
First, Giant Mutant Killer Bees attack a mini-mart, sensing sugar inside! They fly
, have about 80 hits, are absurdly difficult to hit at level 0, and have a really obnoxious attack that only deals 1d6 damage... plus 3 HEALTH. At a +4 to hit, and three of the things on each PC involved, things could get awfully grim for a bunch of lowbies.
Second, an accidentally summoned juggernaut punches some inmate-sized holes in the county lockup. There are at least five inmates per PC, roughly as tough as the bees, but without the ridiculously dangerous poison. Five have stolen some trucks and shotguns, and are hell-bent on driving off into the sunset. Hopefully someone can Go Fast. If the guards survive (though they still lay claim to a light-hearted game, they encourage the GM to play things as gritty or light as they want), they can provide first-hand clues about weirdness regarding the cards.
Third, Weird Pete's Gaming Dungeon is overflowing with Rabid Snarling Badgers! Overflowing, literally: while they're slightly weaker than the other critters so far,
four more spawn every round
. The only way to stop this is to make your way to the back room, where two players are shit-talking each other while one's monster generator card spawns creatures in game and out. Nothing distracts them, but the next round one concedes and the badgers vanish.
Next up is a grab-bag of natural disasters hitting the suburbs. A small volcano, a brewing tidal wave, an earthquake in the making, a reference to that time Ren and Stimpy were firefighters, a clusterfuck of rescue vignettes. The cause here? A pair of oblivious kids playing Magical Addiction in the living room of a house surrounded by an obviously magical wall of fire. Of course, the game ends just as the PCs are coming in (again) and the menaces vanish. Of course, the cards that were in play correspond to the events unfolding outside. Of course, the kids are eager to teach them to play.
The city library is suddenly replaced with the Library of Alexandria, accompanied by an undisclosed number of Bronze Age citizens and angry guards. Two guys are in the back room, obliviously playing their game. This time the PCs can find the instigators near the end of their game, or the game can end when the guards are knocked out. The Library and anything taken from it return to the past.
Oh god. Creepy guy (coincidentally, asshole playing the badger.swf card from before) gets a mind control card, realizes that he can use it for real, and goes after a sorority house. Escapee stumbles into a PC, or someone calls from inside, and hopefully someone intervenes. He's described as 'languishing' on a throne made of silk blouses and pillows, surrounded by a dozen 'cuddly, controlled co-eds'. Of course, he sends them after the PCs. There's at least five per character, they're tougher than anything else so far, almost as hard to hit as the bees (roughly 25% at level 0) and themselves hit harder than anything else the party's fought. Grand.
Then you get to fight creepy guy! He throws up a wall of spikes that's supposed to force the PCs to use ranged attacks, and hope nobody chose the same FX because his gimmick is neutralizing elemental attacks with 'cards' of an opposing sort, or just casting power drains. Fortunately, he's weaker than the sorority girls. Unfortunately, he's also going to come back as a full-blown villain. On the bright side, I'm the only one who had to slog through the gross comments about his weight and hygiene.
The last 'random' encounter, almost a dozen pages in, is downright mean. A local 'Lennys'
is suddenly turned into a den of the undead. The patrons are zombies, the workers are onion-ring wraiths, and the book suggests that the cops are pissed, since the city doesn't have a doughnut shop in the area. Stunningly, the game says nothing about
killing the transformed patrons and staff. There are no numbers given, and only the skeletons are particularly hard to hit. The perps in this case are a couple of guys sequestered in a booth off to one side; the scene ends when the monsters are mashed, or when the PCs manage to convince one of the two to concede... which is difficult, as playing Addiction apparently turns you into a sociopath.
"WHAT? You mean lose... on PURPOSE? Just to save a bunch of people tha tI don't know or care about? Are you on drugs?"
No word on whether or not pounding the snot out of one of the players would work.
So. By now, the PCs should have figured out that something is up, the cards are magical, people are figuring out how to use them outside the context of the game... and that the goddamned things had to come from
Phase two: a washed up magician and con artist, apparently hailing from Femforce #3, the Great Leolani comes onto the scene. His magical gimmick artifact is long gone, stolen by his erstwhile assistant Stella ("STELLA!") and he's been forced to live hand-to-mouth by being a small-time scumbag. Until now. Gimmick or not, he's a solid occultist, and while he may not know the ultimate intent behind the cards, he knows that they're an avenue to power.
So of course, the first thing he does when he gets to town is use one to summon a bunch of amazons, and commands them to knock over a... '6-10' convenience store. Okay. A dry run. Sure. Next, he accompanies a bunch of goblins to a jewelry store heist.
Third, he summons a fucking dwarven demolition team and accompanies them to a bank robbery. This is where the PCs come in. They're too late for the explosion, but there's at least five dwarves (over a hundred hits each, and 25% to be hit by a given level zero PC) for each PC, armed with everything from pipe bombs to fireman's axes. There's at least a suggestion to have the dwarves pull back into a defensive position around Leo if things are going badly for the PCs, as the man himself throws down a Not Daern's Instant Fortress and... either makes his stand from inside, or uses it to cover a teleport. GM's choice.
If he escapes, the PCs have some legwork to do. It turns out, going from gaming store to gaming store, that Leo's been playing the game for at least four months, but only recently discovered the heart of the cards. They also note that he's bitter as fuck and doesn't like women. "Go figure."
Then, a couple of days later, he takes over City Hall with another one of those mind control cards. God, I hated playing against Blue decks.
Leo's got some fucking annoying powers. First is (swear to god) Circle of Protection: Superheroes. Nothing will be able to scratch him for several rounds,
. Meanwhile, he's throwing Fear (lose a round), Weakness (MUSCLES reduced to 1/4 for the whole combat), Paralyze (lose two rounds!), Entrap in Wall of Bone (100 hit barrier) and... Summon Floor Elemental (which grapples with a 100+ MUSCLES and has over 200 hits).
Then he summons something that breaks the game. No. Seriously. ~Plot~ demands that he summon The Behemoth, which is supposed to just loom menacingly, because it has over
four thousand hit points
and is rated at level one fucking hundred. The characters will die fighting this thing. And the smug little sidebar needs to be seen to be believed.
...you fucking assholes. Why? Why. Jesus Christ. Let the goddamn GM throw something together. Let the PCs beat on the big fucking monster-- it's what PCs do, it's what goddamn superheroes do. Statting something up in a manner that doesn't even work in the context of your game, challenging the characters to rise to the occasion, even at the risk of utter annihilation? This is the bread and butter of the genre. Come... fucking... on.
But wait! Here comes the yank of the plot's choke chain! "Now, this is one of those moments that always works in th ecomics and in the movies but never seems to work in RPGs, but we're gonna try it anyway." What, like the fucking behemoth summoning? Jesus Christ.
Somebody gets to make a BRAINS roll on d20. They... you can probably guess. They see that one of Leo's feet is perilously close to the edge of his COP: Supers. They still have to do something to get him out, though. Illusions of Stella, a flirty appeal to his ego, or... fuck... me.
Or a super-strong character could tear up the floor and spill him out of the Circle.
Just like they could have done from square one.
Of course, getting him out of the circle has nothing to do with spotting his proximity to its perimeter, so I'm baffled as to what the fuck that was about.
Oh, hey. Even better, someone could have grabbed the Mayor's desk and hucked it at the slimy prick. No super-powers crossing the Circle!
And this all assumes that nobody's armed with a traditional slugthrower. Not that they deal damage for beans.
And all this, for 300 XP.
Phase three. By hook or by crook, the PCs go to investigate Sorcerers on the Shore. There's a lame reference to the shitty, shitty Fallen Empires expansion, and a direct reference to CEO's very own card, which is fatally broken in that it's absurdly expensive to cast and powerful enough that everyone's going to try and wreck it as soon as it hits the table. Assuming they meet Odie, he jokingly mentions that he's never actually met his boss...
Oh, and Sorcerers Central is surrounded by concertina wire and damaging lasers. And the guy in the guardhouse turns into a dragon with over 700 hit points, that flies like a Meatloaf album, and that you're not going to hit for beans. Fortunately, you can get in with Rich in tow, and skip that TPK waiting to happen.
I... Jesus. This wasn't really great to begin with, but things took a
with that fight in the Mayor's office. We're talking one in ten chance of hitting that dragon with an average zero-level character. It's over level ten itself. Fuck.
The regular offices are normal. The workers are normal. The conveyor belt that takes the finished cards (noteworthy, because most CCG cards are printed overseas) is normal. The boss's office... has never been used. The desk slides back, revealing a stone stairway into yawning darkness below.
At the bottom is something out of a Stephen King short story, the demonic printing press! It's shitting out two thousand cards a minute, attended by Goblinoid Workers and Windup Gnomes. Nothing notices them until the party starts looking at the works. Then, the Press stops. If they start prying, the mooks... drop. Oh, and the press horks up a very special card: the Doppelganger.
Yep. The final battle is against carbon copies of themselves. A sidebar suggests that the GM make copies surreptitiously, '"In the interests of keeping my paperwork straight and making sure that your points are all spent appropriately" or some kind of bull like that.' Because yeah, they're still the same shitheads they were three years before.
If it's too easy, add some mooks. Or double up on dopplegangers. If things are going badly for the PCs (but how could that happen, with potentially thousands of hit points sloshing around in a slow-moving battle?) have a double toss a PC against the Press, which does a little damage and makes the doubles flicker like static. They suggest 100-200 HTK for the Press at this stage. I suggest throwing sheets into the air and announcing the party won, followed with a suggestion of parcheesi or something else.
With the Press destroyed the helper-mooks are gone, the Doppelgangers are gone, the godlike entity that was manipulating things is still stuck and is
at the party, and the cards have lost their magical power. They're still cardboard crack, and they're not leaving the gaming scene, but at least they aren't conjuring shit.
Oh, and both Leo and Billy the Creeper are going to have bones to pick with the PCs about the loss of their preferred power gimmicks.
I considered running this once. It's silly, it's an introductory adventure. But ye gods. That first encounter with the bees probably would have killed characters that didn't buy up HEALTH by the gallon. Not one, but two of the same, bad gimmick boss fight, and not one, but two antagonists that would flatten the entire party if engaged, and finally a dumb, slow slugfest against opponents that the party is already intimately familiar with. The overarching idea is salvageable, but I can't imagine that anyone actually played all the way through this module, and sat down to play Super-Babes again.
Original SA post
It's Not a Double Post! It's a Short Commercial Break For...
FourmyleCircus covered Casey at the Bat, and aside from Magical Addiction and Doomsday-Y, the only other Super-Babes material I have is a booklet of character sheets and a few volumes of licensed character stats.
So, eh. I'll just touch on 'em briefly.
When Super-Babes came out, booklets of character sheets were still a popular thing. I've got a few that date back to at least 1984, and in an era where photocopiers were still fairly thin on the ground and you were looking at probably a quarter a page, seven bucks for a stack of pre-formatted sheets wasn't a bad deal if you didn't want to roll your own longhand. Thinking back, I'm surprised that I never saw RIFTS sheets packaged that way. Thinking back further, I remember the one sheet they had in the back of Sourcebook One, and I'm glad we rolled our own.
In this case, it literally is a stack of sheets: loose paper, never been stapled, sandwiched between a full-colour cover and the usual marketing jazz on the back cover. For whatever reason, there are separate sheets for each Origin; aside from very minor changes (the Agent has a field for 'staff photo' instead of 'character drawing') and names at the top, they're virtually identical.
The back cover claims that there are over a dozen character poses to draw your heroines around but, no surprise, they half-assed things. Same/earlier era GURPS had a similar gimmick with their sheet folios, hairless outlines of men and women in an assortment of poses, rendered in a light grey that was easy to colour over or darken as needed. The Super-Babes ones come equipped with full heads of hair (tough luck if you wanted a helmet, flat-top or a different, long style) and thick, black lines that defy you to dress them in anything but skintight spandex.
Where another publisher would have differentiated the sheets by printing a different pose on each one (and left one or two blank, because), these guys... printed the paperdolls separately: three pages worth, and some of them actually men. So you're still either looking at using a photocopier if more than one person wanted the same pose, and in addition, glue or tape to attach the resulting masterpiece to your character sheet.
The back matter also makes some... dubious claims:
Of course, this being a Super-Babes joint, there's a page with the authors being all creepy-condescendingly chummy thrown into the front. They're dropping references to Image and giving... instructions... for how to use the character sheets.
In short: they tell you to photocopy everything.
You know. Like you might have with the sheets from the core book. The sort of thing you'd buy a booklet of sheets in order to avoid.
...I am so glad that I didn't just gloss this one as 'branded character sheets'.
The last bits I've got are three sourcebooks, 'AC Unbound', Masked Men and Mystery Women', and 'Knockouts & Powerhouses'. Basically, they're rogue's galleries of statted characters from the game's parent universe. Nothing surprising there: D&D has a long list of that sort of thing, and closer to context, the old FASERIP Marvel Superheroes game had several volumes of its own. Assuming you admitted to touching the original comics with a ten foot pole, there's a good chance you'd want to do horrible things to your favourite characters.
Knockouts & Powerhouses is the oldest, copyrighted in '94; this printing is dated '95. It's arranged into supergroups that would only mean anything to someone familiar with the setting, so it's glossing time. Each has blurbs on the group's history, tactics, bases of operation and so forth, and in the case of characters printed in the core book,
stats and personalities, because superheroes go through the most ridiculous changes. It's all written with the same condescending, snorting Comic Book Guy tone we've all come to love. Each character takes up one to two pages, miniaturized sheet included, depending on how powerful or noteworthy they might be.
The last few pages are new powers. Oh god, they just keep dragging me back in. I don't want to do this, but I will.
Destruction costs 300 CP, has a 5" range, and deals 1 damage for every PP you dump into it. No jiggering, no pokering, just raw disintegrating damage that bypasses Force Fields. Not as efficient as a Blast, but sometimes you don't want to fuck around with two fistfuls of dice.
Do It Real Fast gives you an extra action. This can be taken multiple times. So yes, if you Do it Twice and have a level of this, you're getting four actions. No word on how it stacks with Extra Limbs or five levels of Martial Arts, but eh. 200 CP, and a warning about PP costs adding up... but come on.
Oprasize is switchable Density. It costs 40 CP a level, and I'm not sure whether it's a slur against stereotypical opera singers, or a specific, rather influential black woman.
Make it Dark produces a 3" radius of darkness within 9" of the caster, at a cost of 40 CP and 10 PP per round. It comes complete with patented Weasel Alert about people who thought ahead and bought See In the Dark for 5 CP, references a 30 CP power cost (ah, editing...) and suggests that the cheap way out work if the effect produces nighttime darkness, and not roiling smoke or the darkness between the writer's ears.
Make Monsters is half a page of idiotic infomercial babble that lets you rob yourself of CP to boost someone else. Not PP, actual character-building points. As written, it's a pretty villainous power: unlike Create Life, it requires an already living subject (who later assumes the Artificial Being template) and the stock option is to place the character entirely under your thrall. On top of however many CP you in
est in the subject, it costs 100 CP to buy (and 50 PP to use). A second level costs another 50 CP, but gives you the option of re-creating your creature (with the same PP total) over the course of ten rounds.
See in Bright Lights is 30 CP for defense against light based Blind attacks. A bargain at half the price.
Sense Emotions is "a handy power for players who want to really round out their characters." This from people who tell the GM to watch their players like a hawk during chargen and when leveling, so that they don't go outside their concepts. "Cheap, too." There's that. 10 CP, 2" radius, 1 PP per round.
Stick to Stuff lets you... stick to stuff, and doubles your MUSCLES score when someone tries to pry you loose, which make you an absolute bastard in a grappling match. 30 CP.
Wrap it Up lets you entangle people at range; 8" plus an extra for every 2 CP. It costs 30 CP for every entangle effect you can have out simultaneously, and 5 PP too. The effect only has 15 HTK, so unless you make a gimmick out of it, you're only going to annoy people.
Blind is revised! It is no longer explictly a flash of light.
Characters may now buy another five levels of Martial Arts. Not coincidentally, there's a suite of ten offensive abilities and five defensive ones. No word on extra, extra attacks from these higher levels.
Better Aim gives +1 to offensive martial arts maneuvers, and can be taken multiple times. Better damage works similarly, but adds an extra d6 damage.
A Dropkick knocks you back twenty feet by its lonesome.
Haymaker adds a +1 to hit with the attack of the same name.
Feint lets you waste an attack faking it, in return for receiving a +3 to hit with the next one.
Gouge hits at -2 for 1d6 damage straight to HTK. It also blinds the target in one eye for an hour (-2 to hit) if you roll under your Martial Arts level on d20.
Kneecapping does a couple dice of damage and knocks an inch off the victim's movement for a few rounds. This is cumulative, so keep hammering that patella!
A Sucker Punch deals a few dice of damage, and can only be performed when the victim isn't suspecting it.
A Tackle is +2 to hit, -3 initiative, 2 actions, and grapples the target if it ihits.
Uppercut deals a couple dice damage. It also adds a stacking -2 to the target's hittability, whether it hits or not. Which... what? Against that character? Against everyone? Until they disengage? Jesus.
Defensively, Cower is a full-round move that knocks 3/4 off incoming damage. Not very heroic, but someone diving this deep into Martial Arts probably needs all the help they can get.
Do it Better is like Better Aim, just for defensive maneuvers. It also looks like it doesn't stack.
Get Outta the Way only works if you have initiative and roll under MOVES. Then you get +5 hittability against one attack at the cost of a half move.
Roll With It works against incoming physical attacks (and sometimes Big Blasts); roll under Level and Martial Arts level, success means you take 1/4 damage... but the whole thing is calculated for knockback. Hope you're not standing close to anything solid.
Shield lets you grab something and use it to... yeah. Level + MA Level vs d20, and success means the object soaks up its HTK worth of incoming damage before the rest spills over to you. Blocking with a Gizmo goes through its PP first.
Some of these maneuvers look like the sort of things characters should be able to do, period. But no. Because Super-Babes.
Finally, there's a new skill. More a modification, but eh. The Penniless Inventor stacks with the Inventor skill, and eliminates the costs involved with building Gizmos. Time remains the same. It costs 50 CP normally, or 25 CP if your character has the Inventor Origin. "Are we swell guys or what?" Indeed. I'm pretty sure that swelling is gas gangrene.
Personalized Gizmo costs 30 CP and prevents a gizmo from being used by anyone else, friend or foe. Useful for villains, not so useful for the "battered players who have had their Gizmos stolen once too often" because it does nothing to prevent those gizmos from being stolen. Just used.
Masked Men and Mystery Women
is all about the golden age. Bookended by crap, it's got stats for typical mooks of the age and a middling assortment of heroes and villains AC presumably had access to at that point.
And by crap, I mean crap. The front matter starts with a self-indulgent wankfest where the author waxes rhapsodic about the good old days, then dumps the reader into period-appropriate rules modifications. The first is to halve starting CP values. There are brief suggestions for running sidekicks (who also start with 300 CP, funnily enough) and several pages worth of genre tropes disguised as character quirks... which of course, they're charging 25 CP for.
The back matter is... more self-indulgent wanking! This time it's the author complaining about how modern comic books suck, and they're badly written, and horribly drawn and... it's all really disgustingly ironic, given what this asshat is writing about and for. Not that comics in the Golden Age were really a whole lot better, either.
bills itself as a must-have for AC Comics fans as well as Super-Babes players, which smells just the tiniest bit desperate. This time it's nothing but stats and bases. Minor NPCs, bits of history, a guy who says his wife's muteness makes her the perfect woman, cutaway maps, top-down maps, half-assedly marker-sketched maps, a few gizmos, and occasionally a full-blown character sheet. Full-page sheets too, which suggests that someone was lazy, or someone was looking for padding. Was this the end for Super-Babes? Fuck if I know, but it's the end for me!
If anyone has stuff from this line that hasn't been touched (gingerly) by Fourmyle or myself, please feel free. We can begin the healing together.