April 2, 2014

Whenever's there's a hang up, you'll find.... Mutants & Masterminds?!

Taking a bit of a break from all things Star Wars, particularly in the wake of putting a wrap on Ways of the Force.

A few weeks ago, upon hearing that Erik "Ogehn" Benders was looking to add a new player or two for the Mutants & Masterminds 3e Skype game he was running, I asked if I could step in, and was quite pleased to hear the answer was "yes!" I'd been aware of the thread for his game on the d20 Radio boards for a while, but was unsure of how to go about asking "hey, you guys got room for one more?" particularly when I really didn't know many of the players.

The game is set in the Emerald City setting, with my hero and that of another player stepping in a few months after the conclusion of the Emerald City Knights adventure series.  I'm going to avoid typing any spoilers, but there'd been some pretty major shake-ups in Emerald City as result of the actions of the Stormbreakers (what the PCs decided to call themselves, a name chosen well before Green Ronin published the Emerald City sourcebook).  So, they opted to include some of the newer heroes into their line-up.

Well, prior to finding out there was an opening, I'd been re-reading my Deluxe Hero's Handbook (so glad I backed that Kickstarter, as it's a really cool book), and been toying with various builds, thanks in no small part to the Quickstart Character Generator.  While I'd done a plethora of builds for 2nd edition (and posted a number of them on the Atomic Think Tank under the handle of JediMorningfire), I was aware that 3rd edition had made a number of changes to the rules.  So having the Quickstart CharGen when developing various character ideas was a huge boon.

Now, while I'm not currently into comics very much, one of my favorite Marvel super-heroes has been Spider-Man, due in no small part to the Spidey & Amazing Friends series, the 90's animated series, and somewhat more recently the very awesome (but sadly short-lived) Spectacular Spider-Man series.  Even the various live-action portrayals have been enjoyable, barring Spider-Man 3 (good god as that movie a mess).  So I had the notion of "hey, why not play a hero based on Spider-Man?"  Well, after crunching the basic numbers and seeing how the PC was built, I decided that rather than try to to work around the notion of playing a clone (so to speak) of an existing hero, I'd fully embrace the idea and play the Freedomverse's version of Spider-Man, right down to using the name (which got applied by a reporter for the major newspaper and got adopted by everyone else, much to his initial chagrin).

The Spider-Man (PL 11) for the Emerald City Campaign

I changed a few names (my Peter uses the surname of Reilly, for instance) but he pretty much is Spider-Man, right down to having the mechanical web-shooters instead of them being organic.  The build need a few tweaks due to a lack of real familiarity and understanding of the system, but it's gotten to a point that I'm really happy with it.  He's a bit under his PL caps, but at least if the first session is anything to go by, he works very well as-is, and even then only needs a few PP to hit his caps due to having focused much of his attack bonus on skill ranks (good at unarmed combat or using his web-shooters, not so much at other types of combat).  He's also really smart, at this point probably being the smartest PC in the group on top of having a really good memory and decent ranks in the major tech skills.  Which is something I'm really happy about seeing as how one of the things that tended to get overlooked with many portrayals of Spider-Man in other media is that Peter's really smart (not quite Reed Richards or Tony Stark or Bruce Banner level of smarts, but he's still one of the smarter heroes in the Marvel Universe).  Of course, getting chances to put those smarts into play is going to depend on the type of adventures that the GM runs, but I figure that as long as I pay attention, the opportunities will present themselves.

And of course, there's the quippage.  One thing I felt was really lacking from the Tobey MacGuire movies was Spidey's long-standing tactic of pelting his enemies with lame jokes in a gambit to get them so ticked off that they lose focus and attack in blind rage.  And since I have a rather constant habit of making snarky remarks in almost any game I play, particularly when gaming with folks I know, having the option to make those kinds of remarks and be totally in character is simply great.  Especially since I don't need to worry about making them funny (frankly, a lot of Spidey's quips are pretty bad), just so long as I make them.  And with Mutants & Masterminds being a super-hero game, I can fully abuse the "talking is a free action" trope for all it's worth.

The initial session had us breaking up a bank robbery... and let's just say the team tactics need a bit of ironing out.  I kinda felt that Spidey wasn't super-useful in that encounter, but a large part of that is due to me not being fully comfortable with the system as well as still getting a feel for the character.  Mechanically, he worked as intended, so I got that part right.  A fun bit that I don't think the GM really planned for was that while the rest of the group made a beeline back to the team's base, I had Spidey head off a bit earlier, mentioning that he'd probably be late due to a combination of not being all that fast while web-swinging and that if he came across any street crime, like a mugging or petty robbery, he'd swing in to put a stop to it.  Well, the GM took advantage of that to introduce a plot element and give me a chance to interact with a "stormer" villain that's known simply as Bubblegum Girl (due to her appearance and having elastic powers), by way of her staging a mugging (with her as the alleged victim) as a way of drawing the attention of one of the other heroes; seems that she was rather put out about having the friendly neighborhood webhead show up instead.  There was banter, but no fighting as she was there to talk, and Spidey wasn't quite pleased with being duped into beating up a pair of patsies, which I figure was why he (a college freshman straight out of high school) overlooked the fact that Bubblegum Girl is smoking hot.  A plot hook was dropped along with more character interaction, perhaps setting the stage for a future adventure, and who knows, maybe the next time Spidey and BG Girl meet-up, the banter will be a bit friendlier... unless she's still fixated on Nature Boy (whoo!) that is.  But who knows, maybe the next time their banter will be a lot more playful.

Now from what I've been told, these sessions have a chance of showing up as Live-Play episodes of the Punching for Justice! podcast.  Admittedly, I've fallen out of listening to most podcasts, in part due to many of them having podfaded or just plain loosing interest.  Sadly, PfJ! was one of those "lost interest" in, partly due to one of the host's bile-fueled rant about the Man of Steel movie (I agree, it wasn't a great movie, but it wasn't the steaming pile that he made it out to be), but I may have to see about catching back up on that one, particularly the earlier live-play episodes of this campaign just so that I have a better idea of prior events that took place.

Of course, one element of playing Spider-Man is that eventually, this will have to happen...