Sunday, December 30, 2018



Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Jolly Kwanzaa, Super Solstice, Happy New Year.

I read Edgar Cantero's Meddling Kids over the holidays and am wondering how you'd turn it into a CoC scenario. Specifically, how could you use flashbacks to further the story instead of straightjacketing everyone by what has already happened?

One way is just to have the flashbacks strictly defined, of course: the GM calls for them and the details get filled in buy the end of the scene isn't really in doubt. But I'm looking for something a bit more free-form.

In Encounter Theory (and elsewhere) there's an idea that certain scenes provide a bit of information for the final boss fight, and that's what I'm thinking of. Maybe if you defined what that information needed to be closely enough (and had players who were willing to go along with it) you could say, "this flashback will define whether Bad Guy was at the scene back in the day." Though I haven't read DramaSystem, it might be a bit like a supplication: you want X result, and you get it or not.

In that case, the PCs could call for a flashback any time they want, to remember a crucial piece of information, even if they're running from Old Man Withers-cum-shoggoth.

That seems do-able, though it would add to the complexity. For time reasons, you'd probably want to limit the number of flashbacks to one per PC, and maybe one team one. could also do Rashomon if your players were up to it: all the flashbacks are the same events, but froma particular point of view.

Anyway...thoughts? Would it bend the scenario too much?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

No, I’m Not Dead Yet


Musings that come out of the latest BAMF podcast. If you want to listen to it first, it is here.

I started by thinking of the old Hero Games practice of labelling certain powers as potential story-breakers. “If someone has this power, it will probably derail many plots and adventures”

While I think it's a great idea (and one I have stolen in the past for campaign design: “These powers are verboten or need to have heavy limits....”), I wonder if the power level is the right place to apply it.

Even though it might be more words total, I suspect that this is a per-adventure thing, and might be better applied there.

A murder mystery, for instance, might be totally undone by a hero's Telepathy, even if the actual killer was set up for Death By Cop and isn't around to be questioned.


A vigilante hero — maybe Touchstone — who gets to pick one crime and his mystical gadget will identify the guilty party when pressed against the perpetrator's skin. Can only be reset by identifying the guilty party or a long mystical ritual that is only worth going through between adventures when the guilty party has no touchable skin, such as jail in South Africa or death by acid. The question must also be asked correctly, but I don't see that as a big problem; a skill or specialty in power use would offset it.

I'm imagining stealth, lockpicking, the Ring of Samash (made of unicorn horn), and two trusty pistols (named Crime and Punishment). Maybe a grappling gun.


Specialties Law (+1), Martial Arts (+1), Weapons (guns) (+1), Power use: Detect (+1)
  • Great (6) Detect: Ring of Samash (Is this person guilty of specified crime?) Limit: Can only change question with Advantage or if answer is “Yes” (+2 levels from 4)
  • Fair (4) Shooting: Pistol Extra: Fast Attack (second pistol)
  • Fair (4) Grappling Gun (Swinging)
  • Father killed by escaped criminal
  • Tough DA
  • Mother and brother don't know


Anyway, a given adventure might or might not be derailed by something like Telepathy. In some games, Danger Sense is very powerful and might break an adventure that relies on surprise; in others, it's just an enhanced awareness.

What I'm wondering instead is whether an adventure should have something like this at the beginning:

Broken by

  • Telepathy
  • Phasing

These are powers that are very difficult to safeguard against for this adventure, short of negating the power itself. This includes powers that would normally be circumvented but in this adventure, there's no way to make the circumvention happen.

Bent by

Mind Control
You can get around this by giving Maliciousness some mental defense
Being trapped is important to allow gadget users a chance to shine; if a character has teleportation, the prison is surrounded by teleportation shields that can be bypassed at the cost of burning out the teleporation ability for at least this adventure.

These powers can be circumvented, and here's how! (The reason for the circumvention might need to be adjusted. If the reason doesn't apply in your game, the power becomes a “Broken By” powers.)

Is that useful? I dunno. It seems to me that most writers go through that list any time they produce an adventure for publication, even if only mentally. (Adventures for your home group generally don't, because you know what your group's characters can do. You've either taken care of the problematic powers or they don't show up for you at all.

I know I would have found it useful in adapting some published adventures to my group (yes, I'm looking at you, Champions).

Still, modern adventures tend to do a better job of handling these sorts of exceptions, so maybe this is a solution in search of a problem.


Let's broaden the scope a bit.

So in an adventure, we want:

  • Scenes with purpose
  • Problems rather than solutions (generally, I figure that if I can imagine one way to get out, that's good enough; the players can think of more, and I don't ever have to tell them what that one way is, let alone direct them to it)
  • Reusable NPCs and organizations for the world-building
  • A list of things not to do or it will break the adventure
  • A suggestion what to do when the players take the obviously bad turn (Professor McGlothlin talked about this as "What if the characters take the agreement?")

Don't stress yourself out too much, though: you aren't writing a story. I think Mr. Kenson was right in saying that story really happens as you recount the adventure.

And remember:

  • They will try things you had not thought of.
  • They won't do the thing you think is so obvious.

It's a wonder that adventures ever get written at all.