Gotham - Forged in the Dark - Playbook Ideas (+)

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I was picturing more of a three way tug of war, where the players have to balance gaining power at the expense of other criminals with trying to avoid costumed hero intervention. The latter is probably unavoidable past a certain point. Playing factions of against one another should a key component of survival in what is really a pretty overpopulated Gotham underworld. I wanted the game to start in a state of 'you can have what you are strong or clever enough to take" rather than having a ton of unpopulated spots on the map.

Only hitch I see is some Gotham-y types don't care about having/taking so much as destroying. At least, in some incarnations.
 

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hawkeyefan

Legend
Hey @Fenris-77 - just checking to see if you've made any progress on this?

Sage Latorra's "Doomed" playset is now available. It's a super-villain approach to Blades. It was a KS backer reward, but took years. It's availabel to non-KS backers for $5. I've looked it over, and although it's not bad, it feels woefully incomplete compared to what I had hoped.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I haven't done a lot with it since my last post, no. I have a ton of little tinkering jobs on the go and I've been busy with other stuff. I'm glad you poked me about it though, I like this idea enough to generate some actual follow through. :p
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I haven't done a lot with it since my last post, no. I have a ton of little tinkering jobs on the go and I've been busy with other stuff. I'm glad you poked me about it though, I like this idea enough to generate some actual follow through. :p

Very cool. I've been thinking about a supers hack a lot. When I saw that The Doomed was available, I figured it would be pretty complete, and my efforts would no longer be needed.

But it's really just some altered playbooks, each one kind of conforming to an archetypal character, and then a couple of modified crews. Nothing for factions or world or setting at all, which seems a missed opportunity.

And the playbooks.....I guess maybe I'm a bit torn on how the playbooks might translate for a supers game. I feel if they get too specific, then it's a problem because you're really locking the player in to something like "Okay, so I'm Bane" as opposed to giving them the tools they need to craft a variety of characters within a role.

For me, the playbook should be less Colossus, and more team strong guy. If that makes sense.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I wanted the playbooks to stay pretty low-powered for the most part. Gotham is less super-y than most of the rest of the DC universe. I think it would take a separate set of books and some rules consideration to run higher-powered heroes, although that sounds like a worthy project as well.

Here's a thought, if we have a good template for how factions and settings would work in Gotham, we could probably bang out Metropolis versions using the same set-up. Metropolis could be the higher-powered version. We can call it a Tale of Two Cities. Obviously you wouldn't have to run Metropolis to play that tier, it just sounded like a cool way to name different tiers of play.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
That's pretty cool for sure. I like that idea.

What I mean by the playbooks isn't so much about power level as it is....diversity? I don't know. Obviously, characters can fall into more than one category....but within that category should still have different options.

So if Killer Croc and Bane and Mr. Freeze are all made with the "Tank" playbook (just as a for instance) because they're all big and tough and can take punishment, how do you allow for their other abilities that are less tied to their role. Bane's venom boost and Mr. Freeze's freeze ray and so on.

Is this just a matter of veteran advances allowing them to take powers/abilities from other playbooks? Or do you come up with a more traditional "power list" that many supers games do?
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
That's a fine question. I dont have a great answer. It might work to provide some bare mechanics that can be customized in some way perhaps. Tags could be another mechanic that could carry some of that load. We could also provide something more like building blocks and leave a lot of the custom trim in the hands of the players. Lots of options. I dont really want a huge powers list though.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
That's a fine question. I dont have a great answer. It might work to provide some bare mechanics that can be customized in some way perhaps. Tags could be another mechanic that could carry some of that load. We could also provide something more like building blocks and leave a lot of the custom trim in the hands of the players. Lots of options. I dont really want a huge powers list though.

Tags seem to be a pretty good idea, I think. You ever look at City of Mist? It’s a PbtA game that has some pretty interesting concepts that could help here (including tags).

I was struggling with that. I want to allow for interesting combos but I agree that I’d prefer not to have a big power list like many games.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Tags seem to be a pretty good idea, I think. You ever look at City of Mist? It’s a PbtA game that has some pretty interesting concepts that could help here (including tags).

I was struggling with that. I want to allow for interesting combos but I agree that I’d prefer not to have a big power list like many games.
I have a copy of Mists around somewhere. I'll take a look at it and see if theres anything there to yoink. Raw mechanics plus tags would get us a lot of the way to where we want to be though, I think.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
So if Killer Croc and Bane and Mr. Freeze are all made with the "Tank" playbook (just as a for instance) because they're all big and tough and can take punishment, how do you allow for their other abilities that are less tied to their role. Bane's venom boost and Mr. Freeze's freeze ray and so on.

Is this just a matter of veteran advances allowing them to take powers/abilities from other playbooks? Or do you come up with a more traditional "power list" that many supers games do?
After some more thought, I had another couple of semi-connected thoughts to add. One, yeah, veteran abilities should definitely be a thing, it'll help stir the mix and help builds that might straddle concepts. Also, if we have flexible playbooks, a player could approach making a character like Dr. Freeze from a couple of different directions depending on what aspects of that character they wanted to highlight. Maybe one builds out of Tank and another out of Mad Scientist (just to spitball a couple of concepts).

Also, I have decided I want to leave the option to not have have powers at character gen, but to develop them at some point. I'm not sure what that looks like mechanically, but for the moment lets call it a points reserve. What I'd like is for the player to be able to state in play, during a job, oh yeah, this is it right here, this is my origin story, and to be able to work that into the fiction.

Edit - I would also prefer to pick some types of character and ensure the rules do those really well, than to try and be everything to everyone end up up mediocre at everything, concept-wise.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
been thinking on powers and think you could do something like ‘Blast’ in a playbook to represent a ‘Ranged Power Attack’ which can then be taken to model everything from Machinegun fire to a Car being thrown to a Fireball and even a giant venus flytrap attacking.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
been thinking on powers and think you could do something like ‘Blast’ in a playbook to represent a ‘Ranged Power Attack’ which can then be taken to model everything from Machinegun fire to a Car being thrown to a Fireball and even a giant venus flytrap attacking.
Yeah, this is the kind of thing I was thinking about. If we also used tags, that could be how the flavor gets added. So Dr Freeze's ray is a blast with the added tag 'frozen' which does X. The tags so far feel like they'd add conditions to the base ability. The exact nature of the tags would probably be left up the GM and player, with a list of examples provided for scale.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Right, Blast could be anything from guns to thrown weapons to arrows to energy blasts and so on. As suggested, Tags might be able to help differentiate things a bit. So Mr. Freeze might have a "Ice" tag with his Blast Ability, and that allows him to immobilize targets? Something like that. Where as Deadshot might not need a Tag to add to his Blast Ability, because it's just gun shots.

It's kind of a range between being too vague and too specific, and you have to fin the right spot. And I think the right spot varies depending on what you're trying to accomplish.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Yeah, for sure. Tags are tough. City of Mists does seem to use them well, and I have a bunch of FATE IPs kicking around that also use them quite well. In the case of Deadshot he might have a tag like Never Misses that allows him to minimize certain negatives for shooting, or he might not have a tag there. There's a lot of weight put on the player and GM to comer up with the right tags for the right abilities, and bad choices can lead to poor play experiences. Examples will help, and I have no problem allowing PCs to edit their tags in between sessions to really hone in on the right one. That isn't a terrible analogy for learning to use a power anyway.
 

Taking veteran abilities to differentiate characters is definitely the way to go. Keep in mind that although there are three boxes listed for Veteran advances on each BitD playbook, there is actually no limit on Veteran advances in the rules. That's something people might miss.

The main question would be, is Bane a Mastermind who takes lots of Tank abilities? Or a Tank with some Mastermind? Is Freeze a weird scientist with some Tank, or vice versa?

The key is to think about which experience triggers they would go for. Is Bane going to be doing a lot of scheming and calculation? If so, Mastermind playbook, Tank upgrades and investing in getting special drugs (Venom would be a variant on the Cutter's Rage Essense).
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Yup, the playbook determines the XP triggers, so it's all about how you want to play the villain. I think I'm also pretty sure that the veteran abilities thing needs to be separate from the powers thing. That said, I'm still waffling on exactly how to realize powers.

I took a hard look at City of Mist and there are some great ideas there. I really like their use of tags for powers, and I really like how power tags can either stack for effect or go wide if you want diverse abilities. I'm still not sure how I want to graft tags onto the die pool system though. It works very intuitively in PbtA's 2d6 system, and I'd like to retain that feel but combined with the die pool mechanic native to BitD. Some of the moving parts to work other than just extra dice with are things like position, potency, scale and quality, plus additional effects from tags.

My initial thought is to attach a power to an action. Your power is Fire Blasts so you attach it to Scrap. You give it the Tag Red Hot, and say it adds 1d to ranged attack rolls. The XP or build cost would be the same as any other point (I think). You can spend additional points to add additional tags, so maybe Flaming Fists allows the +1d in melee, or Blast Focus adds potency to ranged. There should probably be a cap on straight die adds, maybe at +2, IDK.

What I would like is for those tags to also be more broadly useful in a narrative sense too. If the player thinks of a way that her Fire Blasts could help with a skill different than the one it's attached to she should be able to use there as well. That's the part I'm not sure how to handle. Maybe Blast Focus, from above, used outside it's keyed action (Scrap), simply adds a die. So our Fire Blaster, lets call her Volcano, asks if she can use Focused Blast to soften the padlock before she tries to bust it open. The GM says sure, take a die and roll Wreck. So instead of her normal 2d in Wreck she rolls three.
 
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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Huh, something I forgot about is the stress track. A lot of the above-normal abilities in BitD take stress to activate, so that should probably play in somewhere. Maybe taking stress allows you to add potency, quality or scale? IDK. That just leaves extra dice for the base power though, plus tags, so I think there needs to be something else. This is where effects, like Frozen, might help. What to put where though. Hmm. :unsure:
 

Huh, something I forgot about is the stress track. A lot of the above-normal abilities in BitD take stress to activate, so that should probably play in somewhere. Maybe taking stress allows you to add potency, quality or scale? IDK. That just leaves extra dice for the base power though, plus tags, so I think there needs to be something else. This is where effects, like Frozen, might help. What to put where though. Hmm. :unsure:
Don't forget cybernetics/alien abilities from Scum and Villainy! A great way for players to customize their own special list of things to spend Stress on.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Don't forget cybernetics/alien abilities from Scum and Villainy! A great way for players to customize their own special list of things to spend Stress on.
Yeah, upstream I has that listed as one of the things to use. I think it's a good way to have more and less power-y versions of the same playbook, which is cool. Mechanically I have no clue yet, but I feel like the pieces are starting to come together.

I've also been giving some thought to including weakness tags, which could be compelled but reduce stress (similarly to fate points, but for stress reduction). Villains always seem to have pretty obvious peccadilloes and weaknesses, so that sounds appropriate, and it also allows players to lean into their stress track a little harder provided they want to play their character to the hilt. I like it a lot.
 

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