Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Parvenu

John Holmes asked for an adventure with examples of many features that would help show the game. Here's an outline for one called The Parvenu.

Setup: The PCs just got their powers—at least one in an accident that put them in the hospital until this test. The session starts, in fact, in the Parker Lance test area for the newly expressed. The PCs are being put through their paces. (Others, such as those with a Gimmick, Unearthly, or Artificial origin are also invited—it's kind of a "coming out" in the super community.)

Test Day

The PCs are driven out and back by a bus. Even if they have their own transportation, the officials inviting them insist on the bus. Because...

Because the test area is in another dimension. It's safer to test supers that way. The bus has interdimensional travel but only this dimension. It drives down a dead end alley at full speed and appears near the test area.

The test area is six buildings set up around a "town square" and a hidden bunker in the country. The bunker is for the observers; it has scientists, doctors, and technicians who operate things. The bunker is more like a pillbox, and can hold about two dozen people. It normally has a dozen. Half are observers. One is Slipstream, a member of a well-known superhero group, the Freedom Squad.

(Outside the test area are two radioisotope electrical packs, each the size of a bus, which provide the power. If the GM wants, there can be an entire working installation for the manufacture and repair of the test there—so the Parker Lance test area is great for a locked-universe mystery—but I digress.)

The buildings are:
  • a six-storey office building
  • a bank
  • a bar beside/behind a coffee shop
  • a department store
  • a city hall
  • a police station
The centre of the "square" has a gazebo-bandstand structure. Each of the four corners of the square has a statue of a person—supposedly a town founder. Feel free to add other town square details so players can show off their powers.

The test involves rescuing some observers (robots) from a series of threats, and then dealing with the giant kaiju-robot that is "causing" it. (Fans will know that this is a refurbished robot taken from Dr. Tekno Black, one of the greats in mad science.) The PCs start off locked in jail cells but aware that the kaiju-robot is about to attack.

First they have to escape. Some powers make it easy, and all of the PCs have their gadgets or equipment.
Simple tests here. Pass or fail to get out of the cells; degree of success might indicate how far they travel. Anyone who helps other PCs escape gets a determination point.
The kaiju is a giant bipedal lizard thing with a flaming head, one clawed paw, one frozen paw, and a tail. 

Once they get out, the robot has to cross the square to get to them. There are (robot) civilians in the square, threatened by the kaiju-robot. Players who need guns can find them in the arms of the (robot) policemen, but there is ample evidence that the bullets are not effective against the giant thing.

Threats are allotted one to a player.  The exact threats depend on your players, but possibilities include:
  • bystanders about to be crushed by the tail
  • a blast of flame breath on bystanders
  • a falling building (the department store and the gazebo are both rigged to fall)
  • a jet of water from the ground from a bursting water main
  • electrocution from downed power lines
  • a tail smash causes the earth to crack open and swallow a bystander
Again, simple tests but without a chance of a second try, so use of Determined Effort is valid. Encourage them to spend Determination Points or to create Advantages by maneuvers or by giving themselves Trouble.

We assume that brute force isn't enough to defeat the kaiju-robot (though some powers might make it easy). There are several ways to defeat the kaiju-robot. For instance:
  • Combined attacks might defeat its Damage Resistance.
  • Falling walls or buildings might do more than enough damage.
  • They can overload its senses; that's a pyramid test against Difficulty 6.
  • There is a weak spot in its mouth that lets the PCs get to its "brain" without the Damage Resistance applying; that's a pyramid test of difficulty 7 (4 if you're in the mouth, but you will get burned).
  • The operators can be controlled with mental powers, if a PC can find the operators.

Those knowledgeable about superheroes or Dr Tekno might know these Qualities; the GM should bring these weak spots out so the PCs can discover them.

  • A PC who sees the mouth open might see the weak spot in its mouth.
  • A technological hero might recognize the kind of sensors it uses.
  • With an Intellect or Awareness test, perhaps a player can find the operators.

First they have to discover the quality, and then take advantage of it, probably involving a pyramid test.

Whether the PCs win or lose, the observers take notes. Slipstream greets them afterward but has to talk to the Freedom Squad.


Powers6Damage Resistance
4Flame breath (blast) Limit: Preparation 
5Slicing claws and teeth (Strike: slash)
5Cold touch (Affliction)
4Smashing tail (Extra Limb)
QualitiesSeven-storey tall robot
Weak spots
Learns about opposition

After the fight, the PCs get in the bus to go home.

The First Offer

Just after popping back into our dimension, a hologram of Dr. Tekno Black  appears on the bus. (He's supposed to be in prison.)

He offers them a job. His organization can train them, refine their abilities, and maybe get them some cool swag—plus, when his plans do succeed, they'll have good positions in the new order. His caveat is that it has to be all of them.

He doesn't demand an answer now, but says they can get in touch with him. He'll keep an eye on them.

The hologram vanishes. The bus driver calls back—sorry about the delay. Engine trouble. She says she has seen nothing.

The Second Offer

By the time they get off the bus, Slipstream is waiting there. The hero won't offer them a place on the team, but will offer them training with some local heroes, the Justice Pack. Slipstream gives them information, wishes them luck, and leaves.

If the PCs tell Slipstream about the offer from Dr. Tekno, the hero looks concerned. "How does he keep doing that?" Slipstream asks the PCs to keep the Justice Pack up to date, and they'll pass the information along.


The PCs have a couple of options:
  • Ignore it all—in which case Dr. Tekno gets more insistent. Eventually he frames them by committing a theft and leaving the money in their homes. 
  • Join Dr. Tekno for real—in which case you're playing a supervillain game.
  • Join Dr. Tekno but planning to reveal his plans, which is beyond my scope at this moment. My only advice is that Dr. Tekno doesn't necessarily believe them, so there's a loyalty test and a watchdog NPC.
  • Go to the Justice Pack.
  • Strike out on their own. In this case, what  remains of the Justice Pack comes to them.

Try to encourage them to make a group decision—Dr Tekno only wants them as a group.

The Justice Pack

The Justice Pack's headquarters is on a small island in the bay or river near the campaign city.

Unbeknownst to either the Freedom Squad or the PCs, the Justice Pack has just had a break-up. Everyone has left but Flashmob, a duplicator, and his powers are currently unreliable so he's afraid to recombine. (He'll do all the support stuff at the base.)

He's willing to teach them what he can, but they have to join the team. The team has some resources. (Transportation, training area, connections with government.)

The PCs might still have doubts, but Dr Tekno thinks they've made up their minds. So he attacks.

The kaiju he sends comes out of the water, as all the best kaiju do.

The Other Kaiju

Dr. Tekno uses the kaiju he modelled the robot after. PCs might think it is the same one, but Dr. Tekno has a kaiju mind-control unit on this one—a fine mesh laced over its head.

The monster is specifically proof against the technique they used on the robot (Dr. Tekno knows about that) but it has other weaknesses.

True to his current insecurities, Flashmob works support while the PCs handle it.


SpecialtiesAthletics, Technology
Powers5Duplication Extra: Horde
QualitiesEager to please but not on the front line
Knows everybody
Justice Pack repository
Right now, all his powers have the Limit: Unpredictable.


SpecialtiesMental Resistance Expert
Powers8Growth Limit: Constant
5Flame breath (blast) Limit: Preparation
5Slicing claws and teeth (Strike: slash)
5Cold touch (Energy Drain vs Will)
4Smashing tail (Extra Limb)
QualitiesControlled by nigh-indestructible gadget
Quick to anger
*Growth gives "Large."