Posts Tagged ‘marvel superheroes rpg

13
Jul
10

rama-tut is awesome

Rama-Tut, by pre-crazy John Byrne

I probably have several bloggable observations about the Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game, but they require me to think lucidly.  Instead I’d rather just post stuff about RAMA-TUT, one of my favorite obscure super villains, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four 19.

It’s related to gaming because in our game, Chrystos is playing HORUS, THE VENGEFUL FALCON, and Rama-Tut has stolen the mystical scepter he needs to become a normal human again.

Rama-Tut’s deal is that he became a super villain because, in the future there are no role-playing games.

For I was then, as I am now, a man of action, an adventurer! But there were no adventures in the year 3000 . . . No enemies to battle, no dragons to slay!  All was peaceful . . . Horribly, unbearably peaceful!!

Rama-Tut wants to get out there and get his freakin’ LARP on, as passive forms of entertainment totally blow.

Why was I born into an age when the only excitement a man can find is in watching 3-D stereovisions from a thousand years ago?!!

His adventuring urges frustrated by the shallowness of CRPG’s, he steals a time machine, disguises it to look like the Great Sphinx of Giza, and kicks the asses of everyone in Ancient Egypt.

Prototype of the Ultra-Diode Ray-Gun

So, Rama-Tut is like Evil Connecticut Yankee.  Rama-Tut’s super powers consist basically of being a Super-Genius (at least by 20th Century standards), and looking totally ripped while wearing a crazy green headdress.  In Ancient Egypt, that makes him a total bad-ass.

He also has what the Gamer’s Handbook to the Marvel Universe describes as an “Ultra-Diode Ray-Gun,” which can control your brain but mainly is cool because it looks like a Mauser.

This whole schtick – futuristic technology commingling with Neolithic society,  with a gloss of World War II industrial design – is one of the recurring motifs of Jack Kirby’s work, and one of the easiest to imitate in gaming.  Dude was always writing Pulp Fantasy for the Space Age.

To be honest, Rama-Tut is a pretty gimmicky villain, and would be totally forgettable, if not for a chance encounter with Doctor Doom in hyperspace.  Together, they have the GREATEST CONVERSATION OF ALL TIME:

Can you spot the elementary logical flaw which eludes the two greatest minds in super-villainy?  I revisit this conversation, found in Fantastic Four Annual 2, whenever I’m feeling low.

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09
Jul
10

dawn of the defenders

By the Book of the Vishanti!  I am roused from my eternal sloth to compose a quick post on the Marvel Super Heroes game.  I’ve been meaning to blog about Marvel Super Heroes generally, but I’ve been busy with work and various holiday-related events.

Quick character summaries:

  • Sternum’s playing DOCTOR STRANGE, the Sorcerer Supreme, whose super power is omnipotence.
  • Bodacious plays The SKINK, a Japanese fire-demon who works in a pizzeria and lives in fear of the INS.
  • Chrystos plays HORUS (a/k/a Sarcophaguy), a millionaire leper who is also a cyborg-mummy gigolo.
  • WeisseRose plays TUNDRA, a Z-list super villain who is pretty much the northern half of Canada.

They fight crime.

Specifically, they are the Defenders.

For anyone who wasn’t a big Marvel Comics fan, The Defenders was a comic book series that ran through the 1970’s, briefly revived a few times since, where the idea is that it’s a team of people who don’t really like each other, and who don’t think they’re part of a team at all.  As Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner phrased it:

The Defenders is merely a name, and no more.  At times we battle together against a common foe–but the Defenders is not an alliance . . . There is no leader, no rules, no charter.

In other words, it’s a super hero team designed around a West Marches or Red Box style of attendance, where the strangest collection of characters, from the Hulk to Howard the Duck to Dracula can all team up, drop in, drop out, and save the day or whatever they please.  Welcome to the world of Steve Gerber!

Character creation was a mixture of selecting established characters (Dr. Strange, Tundra), random rolling, and modeling based on concepts.  The players of the Skink and Horus wheedled a few minor powers out of me, so it wasn’t an “honest” random roll, but since they’re partners with Doctor Strange, who is arguably the most powerful guy in Marvel Comics, and also the game lets you simply adapt concepts without rolling, I didn’t think this was a big deal.

Horus, the Living Mummy

Plot Summary:

Doctor Strange is warned by the Orb of Agamotto that bad guys are gunning for the fabled Scepter of Set, a mystical gizmo that can conquer the world–but anyone who touches it will have their soul destroyed.  He therefore gathers up the Skink (who has no soul) and Horus (whose soul is theoretically sealed in a canopic jar), and after some bickering they arrive in Cairo to protect the Scepter.  (Tundra presumably will arrive later.)

There, they confront the fanatical witch-hunter the Silver Dagger, the robot minions of Rama-Tut, and the astral spirit of Baron Mordo–precipitating a four-way battle for the Scepter of Set.  After a lot of dice-wrangling, the heroes manage to seize the Scepter, only to discover it was a fake–suggesting that someone duped the Orb of Agamotto to keep Doctor Strange occupied…

System comments:

More to follow, but basically things worked pretty well.  It was a very fun session, but mainly because I enjoy playing with these folks so much.  The Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game didn’t get in our way at all, but didn’t do much to facilitate play either.

My only serious complaint is that, like early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, the mechanics permit but don’t require fictional inputs, leading to an “I attack… I dodge… I attack… I dodge” style of play if you’re not careful.

My thought on fixing this is to steal from Ron Edwards’s excellent SORCERER: if you end up repeating your action from last round, you take a cumulative penalty to your rolls.

My not-so-serious complaint is that the Magic Rules befuddled us completely.  Sternum was most familiar with the Advanced Rules, I knew the Basic Rules, and Doctor Strange’s character sheet was from the Realms of Magic accessory–and all of these texts have different rules for magic.  At some point we’ll have to figure it out.

Overall, a pretty good night.  We’ll do  few more sessions and see how things go.




Past Adventures of the Mule

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