Our Dances with Dragons: the map and the battles

Westeros is a really fun map, lots of castles and rivers and with folks who are fans of the books and/or show, lots of fun background. Also, making up stuff in Westeros history is a good time. I said something about the north still being made at the Starks over the King Who Knelt and had just put down the Bear Rebellion, in which the Mormonts rose up to attempt to take the north.


1) In which the Warden of the North quickly musters banner-men who can answer quickly and sets up camp in Moat Callin. He didn’t have the numbers he could have had but he had speed, aggression and a little bit of surprise at this point.

2) In which the Warden and his bastard brother take a segment of the army and go to the Twins in order to marry his brother to one of the Frey daughters while the bulk of his army, led by Lord Umber guided by a Maester to cross the river near Harrenhall, where an army loyal to the Princess is on the move. When the scouts note dragons on the horizon, they send 3 separate forces to draw them off. Two return but one substantial group of men is never heard from again.

Due to Riverrun being ruled by a child whose duties are seen to by an indecisive Regents Council, Lord Walder throws in with the North.

3) The Northern army overruns Silverhall and proceeds to pick the surrounding lands dry. Using the castle’s ravens and trickery, the Warden tricks the Lannister Army mustering at Casterly Rock into thinking that the northern host is moving down the Goldroad towards King’s Landing. They march hard to catch an army that is not there, leaving Casterly Rock open. When the Northern Host approaches Casterly Rock, the Iron Islanders are already burning and pillaging the city with plans to go right down the west coast of Westeros. The Warden convinces the leader of the raids to take him by boat to Dragonstone to break the siege.

At this point, they have around 7 dragons, picked up out of the westlands and from various Targaryen dragon-riders who have been cut off from other armies loyal to the princess.

4 – 5) The Ironmen’s fleet takes the Northern Host to Dragonstone where they break the siege and capture the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. When the commander insults the Warden of the North, mentioning the death of his son who had been squired to a knight who served the queen, the Warden showed restraint when the princess (the heir) ordered him to stand down and leave the hostage alive.

It was fun; we were hitting on beliefs and that is the crux of BW. Having huge battles resolved all in one roll wasn’t as satisfying as I had hoped, particularly because the opposing side was not fully burned up, so I erred on the side of less dice, leaving the Warden outnumbering the Lord-Commander’s die pool in every conflict. Several key rolls needed artha to cause sixes to explode and my dad rolled 6’s very, very often that night.

I’ve begun work on a slightly expanded battle mechanic based on Bloody Versus. If you want to take a look at how it is going, you can look at Clashing Storm of Sword-Kings here or see it on the thread itself.

We were talking numbers at the table but they were hugely inflated and I have left them out so that any professional or amateur historians wouldn’t hurt their neck wincing. Going by GRRM’s numbers, the armies of Westeros, like the castles, are far more numerous and grand than the European counterparts.

Ravens are a big deal.  When the army is on the move, they can’t receive ravens and so they don’t know what is going on around the kingdom. My dad decided to keep things moving, mostly so no dragons could zero-in on them and decimate their forces. It was a smart gamble but they lost the ability to know what was going on in the rest of the war. When they take Silverhall, they learned what was where, where the dragons were and learned that half of the King’s Landing fleet had sailed north to sack White Harbor. It was neat and gave yet another advantage to those who stay behind their safe walls.


Other Posts:

Winter is Coming and the Dragons are Dancing

Visiting Westeros…

How we got to Westeros with BW

Clash of Kings: BW Thread about Big Battle Mechanics


Reading Wraith: the Oblivion

I am reading over Wraith and it is making me want to GM…ST it a bit. It is the White Wolf game that always intrigued me the most.

I have this vague idea of a campaign where all of the characters are killed in the same plane crash and shake off the caul in the Shadowlands at the helm of a Stygian Galleon on the Dead Seas. The ship is composed of player’s fetters and bits and pieces of charred 747.

Another ship is cutting them off from land, flying no flags the characters recognize when the game starts in the middle of a storm…

Marvel Heroic Role-Playing: A Tour of Marvel’s Golden, Silver, Modern and Heroic Ages w/ Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman

The last post, in which Golden Age Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are statted out.

tl;dr Batman, Superman and/or Wonder Woman were stranded in Marvel’s 616 during World War II. The game sends the players careening through Marvel’s history, taking part in your favorite flashpoints.

Golden Age

“The world needs Captain America more than it needs Bucky.”

If you are Diana, you are flying Captain America and Bucky in to the Red Skull’s fortress where his rocket ship is hidden. Batman and Superman would likely be flying in a bomber alongside them.

Action Scene Ideas:

  • Messerschmitts get on your six and start lighting you up, threatening to put you in the ocean, forcing you to have to swim to Norway.
  • A horde of HYDRA goons in the way.
  • Thor, god of Thunder, mind-controlled by the Spear of Destiny is guarding the Red Skull’s retreat into his rocket ship.

Does history repeat itself or does Bucky live and Captain America stay out of the iceberg?

P.S. I know it was really Baron Zemo but Red Skull is so much cooler.


“I’ve become a political liability and you, you’re a joke.”

1XP When you discuss what it means to be an American.
3XP When you do violence on behalf of the United States.
10XP When you either walk away from this mission with a patriot’s heart or create Distinction or Milestone about your troubled relationship with United States politics.

Mission or the Man?

“This Ryan better be worth it.”

1XP When you bark orders or follow orders.
3XP When you change the plan.
10XP When you either complete the mission and bring the Red Skull to justice or set that aside in order to save your friends.

Silver Age

The Night Gwen Stacy Died

You hear on the radio that some kid in a spruiced up luchadore mask and some jury-rigged “web” shooters is fighting with a madman dressed in a goblin suit while riding a jet sled over the Brooklyn Bridge. A young lady is involved.

Action Scene Ideas:

  • This kid is an amateur. Can you get him out of the way so you can save the young lady?
  • The Goblin is tossing grenades.
  • Is this all a smokescreen for the Rhino to knock an armored truck off of the bridge into the water below and rob it? Maybe.
  • Cars careening out of control. Cops pulling guns on anyone who looks the least bit super-heroic. These are the early days of New York City’s super-hero tradition, before Iron Man flying by your office window was a kinda cool tweet.
  • Again, does history play out and if so, does Parker kill the Green Goblin or do you?

Parker’s Mentor

“Don’t loan anyone named Mockingbird or Wolverine money.”

1XP When you tell Spider-man or Gwen Stacy what to do.
3XP When you ask Parker or Gwen Stacy for advice.
10XP When you either take Spider-man or Gwen Stacy as your sidekick or give them a stern talking-to about future super-heroic dalliances and walk away.

The Osborn Solution

“In this world there is right and there is wrong and that distinction is not difficult to make.”

1XP When you threaten Osborn.
3XP When you try to help Osborn.
10XP When you either kill him once and for all or bring him to justice, hoping that his money doesn’t just buy him out of his criminal acts.

Modern Age

The Mutant Massacre

A young Morlock girl whose power is the ability to turn paper-thin runs up to you in (at your home?) and begs for help as the Marauders are hunting her for sport.

Action Scene Ideas:

  • Hunting Marauders in the tunnels.
  • Batman vs. Sabretooth or Wonder Woman vs. Sabretooth
  • Thor’s back…he seems to be a good guy…do you trust him or are you still holding a WWII grudge? Sure, a good old fashioned misunderstanding super-hero fight.
  • Showdown with Apocalypse as he uses the slaughter to gather his 4 Horsemen.
  • Confrontation with Mr. Sinister…


“Magneto was right.”

1XP When you ask mutants about their points of view, history or struggles.
3XP When you offer your skills to aid the mutant community.
10XP When you either go before the U.N. and speak on behalf of mutant-kind or walk away from the X-Men and all of their struggles, leaving mutant problems to the mutants.

Barry Windsor Smith, X-Men #205

Marauder Hunter

“We’re the best at what we do…”

1XP When you plan an attack against the Marauders.
3XP When you deal damage to a Marauder.
10XP When you either track the Marauders down to the person who put them into action or stop them all from ever being able to murder again.

Heroic Age

Civil War

Start with the Congressional hearings, having the Trinity choose sides and then launch into either hunting down non-compliant heroes or going on the run.

I don’t feel like I need to list cool ideas for action scenes because the supplements will be chock full-o-ideas. I love the idea of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman tipping the scales. And Clor gives them another excuse to beat up a quasi-Thunder God.


Action Scenes and Transition Scenes

Between each Age, I’ll ask the players how their characters are showing their years. If they are getting old, how are they able to continue? Or is this age the birth of someone new taking the mantle with appropriate changes to the character sheet. That said, I’m happy with the players giving answers that amount to Kingdom Come cosmetic changes that are not reflected on the character sheet or Batman taking Fury’s Infinity Serum or Superman handing the Big Red S to Hyperion or Wonder Woman handing the golden lasso to Carol Danvers or Batman taking Rick Jones as Robin.

Do they become more and more like their Silver and Modern age equivalents or do they stay as they were when they arrived during WWII?

I’d set it up like Mouseguard’s Players’ Turn and GM’s Turn. In the Action Scenes I set up in media res action scenes like the first pages of a comic book. The Transition Scenes being those bits in-between be it fun social interactions, building something, training someone, seeking solace or healing or good ole fashioned investigation. If they had no ideas, just set them up with a conversation in very mundane circumstances with a cool super-hero.

Low-Key Transition Scene Ideas:

  • Bruce Wayne and Matt Murdock talking law.
  • Bruce Wayne and Marc Spector talking about mental health.
  • Clark Kent  and Ben Ulrich talking about journalism.
  • Diana Prince and Ororo Munroe talking about leadership.
  • Superman asking Reed Richards for help finding Krypton or discussing if there even is such a planet in this reality.
  • Wonder Woman out drinking with Hercules.
  • Batman trying to mentor the Punisher.
  • Batman out on a date with Black Cat.
  • Being wooed by Namor.
  • Talking to Dr. Doom or Dr. Strange about returning to their own reality.
  • Dinner at the Avengers Mansion.
  • Helping with training exercises in the Danger Room.

Essentially, Action Scenes are exciting set pieces with interesting outcomes based on player choice and success. An Action Scene might grow organically from a Transition Scene and if so, Praise be to Clor! Some Transition Scenes might grow from the Action Scenes, with Batman researching Norman Osborn’s business dealings with Roxxon or Superman scanning the Morlock tunnels for survivors or Wonder Woman training Morlocks to defend themselves.


The Authority and Marvel milestones might be relevant at different times.

I ❤ Batman

“…and I’m a rich kid with issues, lots of issues.”

1XP When you show affection to the Caped Crusader during an Action Scene.
3XP When you save his ass from serious trouble.
10XP When you either marry him, mask and all or break it off forever, after telling him that he is effing crazy.

I ❤ Bruce

“This would be a good life, good enough.”

1XP When you show affection for Bruce, the man behind the mask or downplay Batman.
3XP When you talk about Batman as a sign of serious psychosis.
10XP When you either get Bruce to quite the cape and cowl or accept the Bat as an integral part of Bruce’s life.

Oh, Diana.

“You’re a princess from a society of immortal warriors… “

1XP When you help Diana get in touch with her Amazon roots or do something romantic with her in a place that has mythical significance.
3XP When you get into an argument with Diana about gender and patriarchy or mansplain.
10XP When you either pledge your undying love to Diana or do something shitty and passive-aggressive that you know will force her to dump you (and it does).

Oh, Kal

“You’ve got me. Whose got you?”

1XP When you help Superman get in touch with his Kryptonian heritage or spend a Transition Scene doing something romantic with him.
3XP When you cause Superman mental stress, letting him know that he isn’t responsible for saving everyone.
10XP When you either move in to his Fortress of Solitude and get serious about making a family together or declare his messiah complex bullshit unbearable and move on.

Oh, Clark

“Hey there, Smallville…”

1XP When you show affection for Clark Kent.
3XP When you point out how Clark is being hopelessly naive.
10XP When you either marry Clark Kent or end the relationship because he is too much of a boy scout or you believe he is better than you deserve. If you break it off, choose on and tell him.

Trinity Triangle

“Dating within the team always leads to disaster.”

1XP When you do something petty and jealous.
3XP When you help the other two get together.
10XP When you either step away from any romantic entanglements within the Trinity or find a way to make the relationship with all 3 together work.

Thomas and Martha

“How, father? How do I do it?”

1XP When you talk about memories of your parents.
3XP When you talk about the night they died.
10XP When you either find peace and put your grief to rest or have the injustice of your pain rubbed as raw as the day it occurred.

Last Kryptonian

“My son, you do not remember me. I am Jor-El.”

1XP When you talk about your Kryptonian heritage.
3XP When you talk about something you learned in Smallville or Metropolis.
10XP When you either try to being back the philosophies of Krypton through your own traditions and lifestyle or find peace with your Kryptonian heritage and your adopted home.


“…in a world torn by the wars and hatred of men…”

1XP When you discuss an injustice of the Man’s World.
3XP When you discuss something you enjoy that was not available at home.
10XP When you either return to Themiscrya never intending to return or find peace in your role as diplomat on behalf of your mother and sisters and teach your sisters here.

Gaming ideas rattling around in my head.

Burn the Throne and the Crown

By the people, for the people, dammit.

I’d make up a dozen or so Burning Wheel characters for players to choose from. No noble lifepaths, dammit! No noble bastards with pretty hair looking for revenge. I was thinking of having the only martial characters being a soldier turned farmer, a failed knight and a desperate killer while the rest of the characters are guild leaders, merchants and craftsfolk. Mmmmaybe a failed apprentice sorcerer but maybe not.

The players would craft beliefs about bringing about a revolution that will end the feudal system and links to their personal lives. I don’t want the revolution to be perpetrated by a group of hooded loners with spring-knives on their wrists.


Dwarving Mining Company

By my beard, axe and anvil, let’s make some money!

Pete had this idea way back for Burning Wheel. I’d like to add a situation to it – word is that the dwarven prince is on the verge of bankruptcy, so any enterprising guilders with money to lend will have a strong pull on the throne.


School Elections

Soda machine in the cafeteria and O-negative in the nurse’s office.

A few friends were talking about the supernatural-themed novels they were writing and one is loosely based on a Monsterhearts game she played this summer. After posting a link and another FB friend saying that the game looked it cool, it took every ounce of my self-control not to jump on the opportunity with both feet and offer to run a game.

Game fast, I’m not playing RPG’s right now and that is okay.

Naturally, the election season made me think of how much fun it would be to run a high school election in a supernatural drama.


Those are a few of the rough gaming ideas rattling around in my head.

How about you?


Conan the King: ideas on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to Conan

From this article:

“After the original seminal movie, all that came after looked silly to me,” Morgan said. “Robert E. Howard’s mythology and some great philosophy from Nietzsche to Atilla the Hun was layered in the original film. People say, he didn’t speak for the first 20 minutes of the film, but that was calculated in depicting this man who takes control of life with his own hand. This movie picks up Conan where Arnold is now in his life, and we will be able to use the fact that he has aged in this story. I love the property of Conan so much that I wouldn’t touch it unless we came up with something worthy. We think this is a worthy successor to the original film. Think of this as Conan’s Unforgiven.”

  • Conan has fashioned his throne of Aquilonia as a throne carved out of the Tree of Woe.
  • He’s talking to his daughter and tells her the secret of the Riddle of Steel as told to him by Thulsa Doom.
  • Maybe the movie begins with his wife asking, “Conan, what is best in life?” but he doesn’t know anymore, can’t tell her. Is it another mid-life crisis movie, The Incredibles ala Sword and Sorcery? Is that too lazy?
  • His daughter returns from an adventure having acquired the gem he stole from Thulsa’s tower back in the day and she’s put it on a young man she fancies.
  • Seeing the old gem that he once put around Valeria’s neck shocks him out of his great middle-age melancholy. He stops a demonic assassin in his bed-chamber, saving his queen and saying, “Do you want to live forever?” She saves him right back and says, “Yes, damn right, I do.”


Would we sell haga to slayers such as you?

Marvel Heroic Role-Playing: Shipping as a campaign starter.

Shipping:  A term used to describe fan fictions that take previously created characters and put them as a pair. It usually refers to romantic relationships, but it can refer platonic ones as well. (Just think of “shipping” as short for “relationSHIP”.)

So, you’ve got the Marvel RPG and you and your buddies want to get playing. Problem is, no one wants to play a pre-made iconic character out of the box but, you’d like to get started fast and furious.

So, you ship any two characters, declare them as having had a child or created a being through a relationship and off you go. You base the character’s stats off of things on the two parents’ character sheets and run with it.

For an example, I am going to ship Iron Man and Captain America.

Watcher: Pick two characters, say they had a child, or created a child or made a being together and that will be the group.

Me: I want to ship Iron Man and Captain America. They realize their feelings for one another and have a child together.

Someone: How do they do that? They’re both men!

Me: They go to Reed Richards who combines their DNA and hooks them up with a brilliant, bad-ass little girl.

Other Idea Person: I want to play the child of Storm and Black Panther and the god-father is Thor.

Someone: But in the comic they broke up.

Other Idea Person: I don’t care.

Watcher: Sounds good, let’s track down those two characters and take a look at Thor too just in case there’s something there we want to grab.

And Another Idea Person: What if Dr. Strange and Nightmare had an epic battle and in the summoning and sorcery and such this Dream-child was created in some other dimension to bring about the downfall of the Sorcerer Supreme. Now that the fight is over and Nightmare was defeated, Strange brought the child to earth.

Watcher: That is wild, we’ll look at Dr. Strange and brainstorm some Power Sets for Nightmare. It’ll be work.

Imaginary Bret: I want to play Johnny Blaze’s son, someone he didn’t know he had, conceived when he was jumping over buses at state fairs in the 70’s.

Watcher: It is close enough to the campaign concept that I’m cool with it.

Other combos that come to mind: Cloak and Dagger, Sue and Namor, Hercules and Wolverine, She-Hulk and Juggernaut, Hulk and Red She-Hulk, Johnny Storm and any alien in the Marvel Universe, Cyclops and Emma Frost, Wolverine and Jean Grey, Thor and Sif, etc.

Name? I have no idea what to call her? Which name does she take? Jean Rogers-Stark? Iron Citizen? Iron Lady? Patriotech? Thoughts appreciated in comments.


Solo D8
Buddy D10
Team D6


Socially Liberal Republican

Most Famous Young Lady in the World

#3? I’m at a loss for a third distinction, so I wonder if we could let this occur in play, writing it down after the first session when the character get’s some life breathed into her. Thoughts?

Power Sets

Super Soldier Serum in her DNA (See Super-Soldier Program, CW 164)

Stark Nanotech in her Blood (See Extremis Enhancile, CW 188)


Note: I just cherry-picked from her fathers’ Specialties and gave her areas where she had surpassed dad or had learned from one of them.

  • Acrobatics Expert D8
  • Combat Master D10
  • Business Expert D8
  • Tech Expert D8
  • Science Master D10
  • Vehicle Expert D8


Out from Your Fathers’ Shadows

Note: I almost made this a Distinction but I like it as a milestone better, as it allows her to actually emerge from her fathers’ shadows and become her own adult person.

1XP When you answer questions about your famous fathers or bring them up.
3XP When you rebel against either of your fathers.
10XP When you either find your own heroic identity and declare yourself out from your father’s shadows or get out from your fathers’ shadows by becoming a super-villain.

Born Leader?

Note: Altered version of Cap’s Milestone on page CW164.

1XP When you give an order to an ally.
3XP When you take advice from an ally or utilize an ally-created asset to stress out a villain.
10XP When you either take the lead of your own super-team or follow the lead of an ally.

Marvel Heroic Role-Playing: Thoughts on Alternate Fantastic Four’s (Issue #2)

Alternate Four’s

This idea grew beyond just a jumping off point to a Power Pack campaign, so here are other ideas for alternate Fantastic Four’s. Some are successful, putting together Fantastic Four’s blend of family, exploration of dimensions, zones and worlds, super-science and super-heroism and some just aren’t but here are some ideas. Feel free to put down our own ideas for alternate Fantastic Four’s in the comments.

Magneto, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision

I love the idea of the most messed up family in the Marvel Universe all in one place. Plus it sets up Dr. Doom vs. Magneto.

Captain America, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Patriot

The All-American family? Eh, I’m lukewarm on this one and the science/explorer angle just isn’t there.

Luke Cage, Jennifer Jones, Danny Rand, Rand’s long lost daughter

Heroes for Hire venture into other dimensions and figure out what family means to them and maybe Rand’s daughter is a scientist.

Storm, Black Panther, their mutant twin daughters

Move the Baxter Building to Wakanda? Why not?

Captain America, Iron Man, Winter Soldier, War Machine

This only works, to my mind, if Steve and Tony are a couple.

Hulk, Red Hulk, Red She-Hulk, A-Bomb or She-Hulk

The gamma irradiated Smash Family, all being able to press over 100 tons, and all wrestling with epic anger issues. Huh.

Namor, Sue Richards, Franklin Richards, Human Torch (the Golden Age Human Torch)

Something happened that killed Johnny, Reed and Ben and turned Franklin into some kind of hulking monster. Then Namor moved in and we’ve got a super-heroic Hamlet on our hands. Man, the more I think about this one, the more I dig it.

“Alas poor Mar-Vell, I knew him well, Leech.”

Dr. Doom or maybe Silver Surfer, Franklin Richards, Valeria Richards, The Thing

I really like the idea of Doom taking over and the kids stepping in after a catastrophe takes away Sue and Reed.

Punisher, Danny Ketch, Johnny Blaze, and one survivor from the original FF family.

The original Fantastic Four were killed and they gathered a group to get vengeance.

Next Issue: Mighty Marvel Milestones!


Marvel Heroic Role-Playing: Thoughts on a Power Pack Intro (Issue #1)

Daniel and I were musing on G+ about a play-by-post MHR game with Power Pack, one of Daniel’s fav comics. I was thinking about not putting them directly into an Event but making the first issues of their comic book its own thing, letting the group breath before tossing them into the deep end of Marvel continuity. This could be done with any 4 heroes, especially with the tradition of odd Fantastic Four teams.

The Pitch:

Thanksgiving meal at the Power household and a hologram message of Reed Richards arrives to each of the Power Pack kids: “If you are getting this, it is because we are far away, so very far that we might not come back before this era ends and I am asking you to take over, to be the new Fantastic Four. Wearing the ‘4’ has always been about family, science and exploration. Please accept my invitation to look over the Baxter Building and continue these traditions.”

In the first issue, the Snarks arrive to beg an absent Reed Richards for help, Galactus has come to their homeworld.


  • She-Hulk’s legal counsel
  • T’Challa/Henry Pym/Tony Stark/Bill Foster/Adam Cho’s scientific expertise
  • Cool Trophy Room Toys
  • An understanding of one of Reed’s Experiments
  • A place in Johnny’s rock band
  • A place on the Illuminati
  • A clue as to the Fantastic Four’s whereabouts (that way the return of the FF is firmly in the players’ control and of course each clue leads to an adventure and once they have 4, they can go rescue the FF and bring them back)
  • A place at the head of one of Sue’s non-profit organizations

Next Issue: Milestones and ideas on Alternative Fantastic Four replacements

Comics Pitch: Batwoman and the Outsiders

Michael Miller started a DC Heroes draft, where we took turns picking DC heroes and villains and pitched a comic book series based on what we got in the draft. I tied with Alex for the win. It was good fun. Check it out.

Here’s my pitch:

Team Name: Batwoman and the Outsiders

Elevator Pitch: Two very different former Batgirls, Cassie Cain and Stephanie Brown, resign from Batman Incorporated in order to put together a team that can really go out into the world, kick down villain’s doors and get proactive about justice, led by the Bat they most look up to.

Plot Synopsis: The Outsiders are characters on the periphery of the DCU, without a firm place in any team or family. Cassie and Stephanie find a link between Intergang and Talia al Ghul’s sect of the League of Assassins and prod Batwoman into leading them, forming the Outsiders in order to take the fight to the villains. The Justice League defeated Darksied months ago, fending off a full on Apokolips invasion but Apokolips tech is all over the black market.

Together, this team of super heroes on the outskirts of the families that make up the DCU put their differences aside and make a family of their own, while punching villains in the face.

Character Issues:

Batwoman, Kane was kicked out of the army for being gay. In her own comic, she continues to be a soldier but in Batwoman and the Outsiders, she becomes a general.

Cassie Cain has spent her life being brainwashed and mind controlled by the League of Assassins. In this book, she is dealing with having full control of her actions and taking responsiblity for them, dealing with being a grown-up. She is a trained assassin in a cape and refuses to wear masks or cowls anymore.

Stephanie Brown is taking a year off from college in order to work for Batman Incorporated but when that wasn’t what she wanted, she partnered up with Cassie and sought out a team of super heroes who could do the job the way these young ladies thought it needed to be done. She is a naive sophomore with big ideas, hopes and dreams. This book will see the real world smash into them and how far she is willing to go to see those dreams become reality.

Big Barda is separated from Scot Free, leaving him when he admitted that he was feeling trapped in their relationship. She is a tough, older woman of the group who has been through the wringer and has hard won wisdom and the ability to punch through walls. Barda is a Granny Goodness trained super-soldier thug, trying to figure out what it means to be a good person on her own for the first time in her life.

Renee Montoya is a woman who get’s answers. Her issues will be the ones where she gathers information for the rest of the Outsiders to act on; they will be black and white with rare splashes of color to show the information she is gathering and the violence she does to get it.

In the New 52, Steel isn’t the former Justice Leaguer I wanted for the group but that is still fine. In this world he is a former government weapons expert who left a top secret government program. Now he is an AWOL secret agent with technological know-how, about to reinvent himself and become the American Dream, a captain of industry and a super hero. We will get to see him become the Steel who is inspired by Superman to put on a cape and wear the “S” but in he beginning of the series, he’s part walking tank, part Q.

One Cool Moment: The final pages of the first arc, After the Apokolips, has the Outsiders surrounding Talia al Ghul, where we find that she has been leading them to their targets, taking stock of them so that she can offer her own leadership, so they can be led by her against the League of Assassins and a growing threat, her own recently resurrected father.

Next issue, Talia al Ghul and the Outsiders, as Batwoman takes her leave and the real gist of the book becomes clear, the team seeking its own goals by choosing its leaders carefully.

DC, Bob Harras, call me.

Leading Chargen, an underrated GM skill

In the realm of GM skills, facilitating character creation is the most under-rated. That is what I’m looking for when folks are making characters, that moment when their eyes light up because we’ve figured out together a way for the person at the table to put on that character’s clothes, something has made a connection. The next important step for me, something done right there at the table is making damn sure that character is as hooked in to the campaign as the player is hooked in to the character.

Like a fighter wins the fight through the hard work of their training camp, or a strong weight lifter lifts the weight based on how well they set up their mind, feet and posture before the lift, as a GM, the strength of the campaign is based on how well I lead that character generation. Leadership, to me, isn’t being overbearing but being a strong and fun hand in making the foundation of our gaming.

Important Parts of Chargen

  • Questions – asking players questions about their character, players asking the GM questions about the world, everyone getting a feel for the game.
  • Concept – everyone has to be bought in, excited about the idea that is bringing you all together every week.
  • Firm and Clear – if something feels odd, say so, voice your fears clearly, always with everyone’s fun in mind and never with keeping some kind of lame-ass patriarchal control of the table at stake. “I’m worried that this character has no motivation to do anything exciting.” “I’m worried that this is another bad-ass ninja-wolverine who is going to sit with his back to the wall growling all game.” “I’m worried that this character isn’t combat capable enough to survive.”

I’ve talked, e-mailed, IMed and skyped with tons of gamers who are having campaign trouble and every time it is linked to either some kind of real life power discrepancy at the table (“I can’t kick him out of the group; he’s our landlord/boss/whatever”) or something that went wrong or showed its face during character creation.

My friend, Anthony, taught me this and he taught it to me by making characters that he wouldn’t have any fun playing but more importantly, he made characters that made it impossible for us to enjoy his presence at the table.  We were playtesting Houses of the Blooded and in a game we had decided was friendly, he made a bastard/jerk of a sorcerer.

Me: What are you doing during the opera?

Anthony: My character is going into an alley, trying to dig up secrets about the other characters, hating the world, hating himself, hating and hating.

Me: Okay, what do you do after that is done, man? Are you interested in playing this game?

He insisted that he was and when scenes would pop up where his character was off, bathing in hate, he’d gleefully take up roles as NPC servants or children or peasants or whatever. When he was given space to contribute to the game he was great but his character wasn’t helping.

Some folks would recommend going after the sorcerer with in-game but I have found that responding to a real world problem with fictional consequences is a terrible way of dealing with a problem. Harsh in-game consequences to crazy amazing crap your players do (pulling dragon’s tail, so to speak) is great. Harsh in-game consequences because someone is having trouble or being a jerk, not so great.

I wrestled with how to approach him. I imagined myself saying, “Your character sucks! What the eff, man?!” or “Bring that character in the game or make a new one.”

I find a nicer and more true way to articulate my thoughts, “Anthony, I like playing with you and this character is standing between you and the rest of the table because of the way you see him acting. Let’s make a character that let’s us play Houses of the Blooded with my good friend, Anthony.”

He smiled, his eyes lit up and we made up a new character. His evil sorcerer had a son, already established in game, and he made up that character. We decided the son had killed the father. All around, it was a fitting metaphor and best of all, we had Anthony back at the table, contributing and playing hard.