Digest Archives Vol 1 Issue 32l

Desmarais, John
From: owner-champ-l-digest@sysabend.org
Sent: Thursday, November 05, 1998 10:52 AM
To: champ-l-digest@sysabend.org
Subject: champ-l-digest V1 #32

champ-l-digest Thursday, November 5 1998 Volume 01 : Number 032

In this issue:

Re: Boon to Mankind: you WILL drive properly
Re: Oh no! The Great Linked Debate! (Was Re: Ultra Slots in multipowers)
Re: Anglo-HERO (Re: San Angelo Opinions)
Re: Need help with plot [long]
RE: Comics Characters (Long [and for no bloody good reason])
Re: Cyber-Hero


Date: Sun, 16 Aug 1998 11:06:41 -0500
From: Ross Rannells <rossrannells@worldnet.att.net>
Subject: Re: Boon to Mankind: you WILL drive properly

Filksinger wrote:

> > From: Ross Rannells [mailto:rossrannells@worldnet.att.net]
> >
> >
> >
> <snip>
> >
> > Moore's Law applies to hardware, not software.
> > 10 years ago (when I was
> > writing AI systems for the DOD) the estimate was
> > on the order of twice
> > the size of the earth. Moore's law does not
> > apply to AI hardware like
> > perceptrons and neural net since every piece of
> > hardware is different
> > after its been trained and we're still not
> > exactly sure how the
> > guarentee proper training of them.
> True, but if we can get a computer to do something well
> today, but too slowly to be useful, then Moore's law will
> apply. There are some systems out there that do most of the
> things needed to drive already, separately, and at slow
> speeds. Ignoring software improvements, this alone can tell
> use when a computer can do X as well as a man.

Look how Microsoft's software is effecting Moore's law. More memory and
faster CPU's yet the computers are still less productive since the
software is putting a greater strain on the system.

> > The Army
> > spent millions training
> > neural nets to recognise tanks, unfortunately all
> > they got was something
> > that thaught daylight was good and darkness was
> > bad. This was due to
> > the fact that all the NATO tank picture were in
> > daylight and Warsaw pact
> > tanks in darkness.
> I know the story of what happened. I also recall the
> heuristic computer that raised to the highest importance a
> self-created rule that essentially claimed that it was
> responsible for the good results from other rules, and not
> the bad. Thus, it claimed to be right when any other rule
> was right, and was found to be wrong only when all other
> rules failed.
> A self-deluded computer. I had a programmer friend who asked
> that I never tell him anything like that again.:)
> > > Which means that if a computer could handle the
> > job today at
> > > 2 miles per hour, in 15 years it will be
> > handling the job
> > > fast enough to drive a car at 2000 miles per
> > hour, all else
> > > being equal. (Which, of course, it isn't.)
> > >
> > > This doesn't even take into account the fact
> > that many of
> > > the things we do today are done using methods
> > that weren't
> > > even conceived of only a few years ago, and
> > which are far
> > > more efficient. A number of researchers have made
> > > breakthroughs in areas connected to this
> > problem in the last
> > > few years.
> > >
> > > Filksinger
> >
> > Las I checked they were still using software
> > neural nets for information
> > completion and abductive reasoning systems to for
> > causal reasoning.
> They are using a number of other techniques, and for many
> purposes (including driving) there are other methods which
> appear to do better.
> I recall one scientist, several years back, who managed to
> produce very small robots that could handle complex
> cockroach-like behavior better than much more powerful
> neural-net computers could, in real time. It had several
> very low level processors, each with one task. Some
> collected information for others to use, such as one that
> would look for hiding places. Others would look for special
> circumstances, then take over and order certain actions. One
> would look for light. Another would monitor for certain
> types of movement. Another would cause the "roachbot" to
> avoid a spot (such as a suggested hiding space) if it
> determined that the present course would cause a crash.

Artificial Life systems, basically building muliple version of a
program and let the best one take over (mirroring natural selection).
They work well up to the about the bug level then break down as the
complexity of the program gows to big for the system to advance

> In the event whatever processor X was ordered to search for
> appeared, it would override operations and give its own
> orders. It was capable of responding to outside stimuli
> extremely fast; the bloody things were nearly impossible to
> catch until their batteries wore down. The were hard to
> _see_ unless the lights were turned down, because they were
> very good at scurrying in shadows.
> > Neither of these suit themselves very well to the
> > Von Neuman (sp ?)
> > computing model. Hardware maybe increasing at a
> > geometric rate (only a
> > factor of 2 mind you) but the reasoning data sets
> > are growing at a
> > factorial rate. Which basically means the
> > hardware can't keep up with
> > the software requirements.
> >
> There are improvements in software models all the time, some
> even get thrown out entirely, to be replaced by new models.
> The needed hardware requirements are reduced constantly _in
> some areas_. (In some others, of course, they aren't.)
> You might also keep in mind just what Moore's law does mean.
> Assume that a ball twice the size of the Earth was needed
> for a true AI at the time of that study, ten years ago.
> Assume no further developments in software for such
> machines.
> By today, the ball would be less than the size of the moon.
> By the end of the next century, it would fit in a ball the
> size of a billiards ball.
> Filksinger

This is correct, if your knowledge domain does not grow in size also.
Since the knowledge domain grows at a factorial rate and the hadware
domain grows at a geometric rate (only a factor of two). The shrinking
of hardware cannot keep up with the growth of the knowledge base. I
remember one of the automatic driving systems being worked on in 90/91
that showed promise early was abandoned when it was discovered that to
make the system work in rain ment that system would have to quadrouple
in size and each additional weather anomoly would quadrouple the systems
size again. The computer already took up all the space in a large panel
van and which towed it power generator behind it.

We should probably take this dicussion to private if you want to
continue it as we have gotten way off tapic.


Date: Wed, 7 Oct 1998 18:18:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: thomas deja <tdj723@webtv.net>
Subject: Re: Oh no! The Great Linked Debate! (Was Re: Ultra Slots in multipowers)

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Okay....I always thought there were two kinds of limitations--the
defining and the detrimental. Linked is a defining limitation, since it
shapes a power, making it what the player has in mind.

Defining limitations shouldn't be bought off because they make the power
what it is....

"'N I fell for all that'die-like-a-warrior' crap. I've seen clowns fall
off their bikes with more honor"
--Xander Haris, BUFFY TVS #1
THE ULTIMATE HULK, containing the new story, "A Quiet, Normal Life," is
available now from Byron Preiss and Berkley

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Date: Wed, 07 Oct 1998 07:25:24 -0400
From: "Robert A. West" <robtwest@erols.com>
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Subject: Re: Oh no! The Great Linked Debate! (Was Re: Ultra Slots in
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Daniel Pawtowski wrote:
> > is accurate though. Under normal conditions you can't use two attack
> > powers together without linking them. I'm not saying that your GM is
> That's the part that always bugged me about that interpretation.
> Linking is a Limitation. But it lets you do things that cannot be
> done with a non-Limited version of the same powers. The BBB dosen't
> even _have_ and Advantage listed for how to do it otherwise.
> You start with power B linked to A. As you "Gain a greater understanding
> of my powers", you spend exp and buy off the limitation. You have
> just *paid* points to *lose* the ability to fire A and B together.
> If you want that ability back, you'll have to spend even more to buy
> a second send of A&B and Link them again.

While I agree with the sentiment that there should be an Advantage to
cover two attacks that can be used together or separately, this can be
done sensibly for some character conceptions.

Electro starts with the following powers:

30 Elemental Control of Electricity [30]
30e1 20PD/20ED Force Field 0 END(+1/2)
e2 Lightning Bolt
45e2 4D6 RKA [60]
30e2 6D6 EB NND(+1) [60] Linked(-1/2) def: insulated or isolated
- --

Since the BBB specifies that linked powers must appear in the same slot
of an EC, each receives a pro-rata portion of the EC bonus: half in this

Later, Electro gains more control of his powers, but, as often happens
in real life, concentrates so much on doing things the new way that the
old skill is temporarily lost.

30 Elemental Control of Electricity [30]
30e1 20PD/20ED Force Field 0 END(+1/2)
30e2 4D6 RKA [60] {Lightning Bolt}
30e3 6D6 EB NND(+1) [60] {Shock Bolt} def: insulated or isolated
- --

Electro can use the powers separately, but is clumsy when trying to use
them together. As GM, I would probably allow use together at -3 CV
(weapon unfamiliarity) and an activation of 8- as a gimme. As Electro
gains more confidence with this newfound flexibility, he can spend
points to reflect it.

30 Elemental Control of Electricity
30e1 20PD/20ED Force Field 0 END(+1/2) [60-30]
e2 Lightning Bolt
45e2 4D6 RKA [60-15]
13e2 6D6 EB NND(+1) [60-15] Linked(-1/2) 8-(-2)
30e3 6D6 EB NND(+1) [60-30]
- ---

Since the Linked NND has a Limitation not shared with the base power, I
don't know of any GM that will not allow it to be used separately,
especially given the character's history. Ultimately, Electro gains
full control, and has:

30 Elemental Control of Electricity [30]
30e1 20PD/20ED Force Field 0 END(+1/2)
e2 Lightning Bolt
45e2 4D6 RKA [60]
30e2 6D6 EB NND(+1) [60] Linked(-1/2) def: insulated or isolated
30e3 6D6 EB NND(+1)
- --

I think that each character writeup is *significantly* more powerful
than the one before. I also think that, given the history, there would
be very few GMs who would object to the Linked being given the "base
power or both" interpretation.

BTW, for those GMs who insist on the 'both or neither' interpretation,
the following construct can be useful:

60 4D6 RKA [60]
48 6D6 EB NND(+1) [60] Var Lim(-1/4: Linked or 15-)

It is now unquestionably legal to use the powers either together or
individually, although the NND gains a 4% chance of failing if used by
itself -- by SFX I would treat this as an increased chance to miss.

Robert A. West

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Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 01:04:51 -0700
From: Rook <rook@infinex.com>
Subject: Re: Anglo-HERO (Re: San Angelo Opinions)

> > Native Americans have gone from wild savages to eco-wizards. I think
> > aboriginee's are getting the same on them. Though in australia I think
> > they're still seen as savages.
> >
> well actually there something to be said for propoganda and money here.American
> indians get land back, make money out of it.

Boy, someone should tell all those Indians living on dirt poor
reservations with no jobs and nothing but the clothes on their backs
that there's land and money waiting for them somewhere...
And maybe while we're at it we'll round up all the homeless Indians and
let them in on it too.

> and, actual people's opinions in the comunity. Most anti-aboriginie attitudes come
> from claiming they live off welfare, try to steal land,

I've never understood that one. How can you steal your own home?

> > So I really don't see a
> > 'whites are under attack' scenerio as anything but paranoia by those who
> > realize it's time to only take their fair share of the pie and not
> > everyone elses slice as well. Thankfully those people are in the
> > minority and also not a general trend of their race; though the angry
> > white male is itself becoming a stereotype.
> . .in a classic trick- the angry black man is justified, but the angry white
> manshould be laughed at. just like the women who's been beaten n\by a spouse
> is a tragic figure to be empowered, while a man in the same situation is
> treated like a joke- not just by other men, but female support group members
> and femenist spokepersons in certain factions.. nuh-uh.

Don't see this so much. I did see people claiming this is the case all
over the media during the last few years as anti affirmative action
camapaigns and tough on immigrations laws were up for bid. Lious
Farakahn (sp?) is the most known of today's "angry black men" and he
takes a lot of heat from it. From both blacks and whites. He also gets a
lot of respect for it. Again from both blacks and whites. David Duke is
a white counterpart, and many non-whites also suspect California's
governer Wilson to be somewhat anti-minority. Both of them have taken a
mix of heat and respect for their views.

The sad truth is that while the US is a legally equal society; we are
not a socially equal one. The only valid claim the 'angry white man' has
is against quota systems. And those have been illegal for years; even if
they are used by some. But even where they exist a comapny's management
still ends up mysteriously mostly white male.

> there is an enormous amount of suicide
> amongst young white males, there is a clear trend towards high culture'
> demonisation of white males,

My glasses must be foggy. Cause I don't see it.

> and there is as many stereotypes aimed
> at white males as everyone else. it's just easy to ignore those problems
> if you buy into the myth of the WMASP being the baddie who's whining about
> not getting to ride roughshod over other races anymore. Most young white
> males never even lived in that world, but it's still considered socially acceptable
> to juge their behaviour based on their ethnicity- as long as they're white.

So um. Most white males aren't alive today?
"That world" is very much the world of today. It may not be as open as
it used to be, in most circles. But it is very much there. The majority
of the wealthy, the majority of corporate management, the majority of
government is still white male. It's human nature to prefer those
similar to you. And so this majority stays entrenched even if they are
not actively conspiring to do so as they used to.

> > I think in most of asia less people will know martial arts than in the
> > USA however. Outside of places like Korea, Japan or Hong Kong where
> > there are schools like we have here; it's going to be a military thing
> > most likely.
> erm, hello? thai kick boxing? escrima work? ect, ect, ect ?

Yes. My point still stands. You learn those in select few schools. Most
of which are in the USA these days. The man on the street doesn't learn
these things. The USA is loaded with martial schools. Come visit us
someday and open a phone book. I lived in a city of 300,000 in S. Korea
for 3 years. There were four martial arts schools in that entire city.
Plus two more sharing a facility inside the US Air Force base. I went to
High School in a US city of 100,000 with at least 10 schools. I walk by
any school or community center in the USA and there's posts for self
defense classes. The number of such posts go up in areas dedicated to
women's activities. I saw nothing of the sort when I lived in Korea.
Here I know several people who study the arts. There the only people I
encountered who knew it were american GI's or ex-korean military guys;
most of whom didn't keep it up after their military days.

These things may come from asia. But they're more prominant in the USA
now. Times change.

Despite what I suspect your australian media may say about asians all
being dishonest marital arts practicing thieves; the truth is nothing of
the sort. (That image of your countries media comes from my brother in
law who lived as a student in Australia until his car was stolen and the
police refused to look into it as he was 'likely another korean gangster
anyway', as was told to him) And from a white step grandfather who spent
10 years there. So at least second hand wise; I believe you guys are
getting a distorted view of 'non-whites'. I know from personal
experience that we in the USA certainly do.

Positive portrayals of minorities are rare in all but comedy. And there
it's a mixed bag. Comedy and Sports however have always been the closest
things to egalitarian media we've had. Flip on a cop show and take notes
on who's what race.

Since I doubt you'll agree with me until the day you have a mixed race
kid for a son or daughter and see what they go through growing up
compared to their all white siblings, and I'm running low on ways to tie
this into Champions, this will be a last comment by me on this topic in

I guess we could look at this in terms of portraying racial issues in
Such as how would a team of all early 20's male supers showing up a bank
during a robbery be reacted to (robbery already in progress by masked
thugs). If they were White? Black? Hispanic? Asian? Mixed?

Like the religion in a game issue. How do people approach racial
tensions in game?

- --
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__ Super WebRing http://orion.supersoldiers.com/heroes/webring.html
/.)\ http://www.infinex.com/~rook/SH/SHlinks.html Super Hero Links
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Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 16:29:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: Michael Surbrook <susano@access.digex.net>
Subject: Re: Need help with plot [long]

On Mon, 10 Aug 1998, Bob Greenwade wrote:

> At 01:02 PM 8/10/1998 -0400, Michael Surbrook wrote:
> [snipping anything from this fascinating post that I'm not responding to
> directly]

Fascinating? Really?

> >PLOT POINT: I'd like to work in some sort of cross deal here. Hwu Dye
> >helps Sunita, but what does Hwu Dye get? Money? No. Favors? Maybe? An
> >artifact that Sunita has that Hwu Dye wants? Yeah... but I need an
> >artifact!
> How about some sort of heirloom in one of the PCs' family? Maybe Sunita
> doesn't actually *have* the artifact now, but knows how to gets it and
> needs Hwu Dye's resources and connections to carry it out. The current
> possessor of the artifact doesn't even need to know that it's anything more
> than a simple 3-carat diamond pendant.

Actually... one of the players had announced he is going to kplay a Hong
Kong/fighting game martial artist swordsman. As yet... I don't know what
sort of sword. This is a possibility.

> >PLOT POINT: Christopher Masaki Jones - TJ's father - lives either in LA
> >(or more likely), San Francisco. He will show up for the funeral or to
> >take the body back. He knew his son's job was dangerous and won't blame
> >the AMP. He sure as hell would like to know what happened. He still
> >carries the enchanted sword Tenchi (heaven and earth) and can still fight,
> >so he can be of assistance if needed.
> Maybe the artifact that Hwu Dye wants is Tenchi? As implied above, it
> could even have powers that Jones isn't aware of.

Maybe. This would kinda mess up some past hirtoy that was established in
a previous version of the game. And I am trying to keep cross game
continuity here.

> >PLOT NOTES: Why did they kill TJ? A: Because he was in the way. Why now?
> >A: Uh... because the stars are right? RD feels it's the 'right time'?
> >This isn't as important. 2033 isn't the anniversary of much of anything
> >as far as Amara goes. No...wait, she's been in the AMP 5 years as of
> >now... is RD that sort of sick bastard?
> I'm answering these as I read the post, and this would seem like a good
> way to tie in Tenchi as the artifact Hwu Dye is after. They killed TJ
> because that would bring his father, and his father has Tenchi.

TJ is a former PC who is getting axed becuase the player is no longer in
the country and becuase I needed a way to write him out of the current
game. I'd rather *not* cneter large portions of the plot around him.
Amara will be a reaccurring character (I hope). I'd like to link this to
a PC directly if I can...

> >PLOT NOTE: If Amara drops Aye, she'll leave her, presuming her to be dead
> >(keeps the PC around for later). If Aye falls, Amara will head up into
> >the station to try and hunt down anyone else she can find. Should I have
> >her cut down a generic officer or two, or is that *too* cruel?
> Go for it. She could even cut down several, though not necessarily
> fatally.

Yer a sick man, Bob...

> >PLOT NOTE: Hopefully the PCs will understand that hacking up Amara isn't
> >an option. Capturing her and restraining her should be top priority.
> Just to be sure, have some mucky-muck brass -- preferably one that the
> PCs know from pre-campaign history, and have respect for -- remind them
> that this is how things should go down ("just in case things get real hairy
> out there"), and explain why. (I've done that in the past, when I wasn't
> sure that the players would understand things like procedure and priority,
> and it's been about 95% effective.)

This is a can do. The PC's boss (Linda Maverick) will make this very
clear, once the nature of the threat becomes apparent.

<snip - removing some serious high wierdness>

> >I dunno if I want to axe Hwu Dye off-camera. It should be more
> >interesting for the PCs to run into him while pursuing Amara & Sunita.
> You might even let the PCs themselves do it, or at least one of them,
> possibly using Tenchi (whether you select that is The Artifact or not).

Confronting Hwu Dye is a must I think, or a least keeping him around for
... later.

> >Maybe RD is locked into some artifact that Hwu Dye wants?
> >
> >AHA!!! How about this angle!!! Sunita isn't working for RD, Hwu Dye
> >is!!! Hwu Dye's is using Sunita to enchant Amara and all that. In
> >exchange, Hwu Dye will return Sunita's Wu (who is captured somewhere) and
> >Hwu Dye will get some artifact important to RD, or some artifact that
> >contains RD's ... essence?
> It would probably be a conflict of story to have RD locked inside
> Tenchi, and be the true source of its powers. The first half might work,
> but I don't get the impression that the second would.

Yup. Tenchi the sword is supposed to be older than dirt and have been in
CJ's familiy for generations. This is established. I like the idea that
RD want's some artifact as opposed to some thing that contains RD's 'soul'
or 'essence'.

> > How is Takahashi involved? Personally? Doubtful, but a look at his
> >recent activities might turn up an idea. Possibly T. or someone close to
> >him is related to the obstacle. More likely he was in the wrong place at
> >the wrong time, or happened on some clue to the activities of the three.
> >
> >Me: I've answered this one. TJ was just in the wrong place. He also
> >serves as a side plot to distract over investigative PCs.
> If you're really sold on TJ being "just in the wrong place," then my
> idea (Tenchi being The Artifact) won't work. But please consider the idea;
> I think it'd be an interesting (and classic) twist, especially if not
> revealed until near the end of the story.

Yes, but as I said, it clashes with some pre-established stuff created way
back when... I'm not to crazy about pulling a Marvel trick and redoing
history elements like this.

> >Me: I like Brian's idea about eliminating Aye as a side benefit of RD
> >getting Amara killed. John's comments work as well, where ego starts to
> >wreck the villain's attempts to work together.
> This is, incidentally, a classic "bit" in comics and cartoons where the
> villains are too powerful for the heroes to handle. They notice how the
> villains grate on each others' egos, and play them off each other.

Banter among bad guys seems to be a staple of the genre. This is a good

> Sometimes they even manage to get one of the villains to change sides, but
> more often they just get them to fight each other.
> My thought in this case is to present the PCs with a bone of contention
> between the two main baddies, and let them run with it if they pick up on
> it. Even if they don't, things can deteriorate enough to give the PCs a
> hole to punch through.

Yeah, well, the trick here is figuring out what the bone is.

* "'Cause I'm the god of destruction, that's why!" - Susano Orbatos,Orion *
* Michael Surbrook / susano@access.digex.net *
* Visit "Surbrook's Stuff' the Hero Games resource site at: *
* http://www.access.digex.net/~susano/index.html *
* Attacked Mystification Police / AD Police / ESWAT *
* Society for Creative Anachronism / House ap Gwystl / Company of St.Mark *


Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 18:51:44 -0400 (EDT)
From: thomas deja <tdj723@webtv.net>
Subject: RE: Comics Characters (Long [and for no bloody good reason])

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My friend...

I finally realized why what was being said in this thread bothered me.

Of course there is repetitions in the super-hero game because there
really are only seven or eight general archetypes to play with: the
impossibly enhanced do-gooder; the speedester; the masked detective; the
masked swashbuckler; the freak of nature; the patriot; etc...You cannot
do a super-hero without somehow touching upon one or more of these

And what differentiates archetypes is wat is done with them. Yes,
Superman, Captain Marvel and Martian Manhunter are similar in
structure--however, one is the embodiment of doing the right thing in
the face of any adversirty (Supeas), one is the ultimate example of the
immigrant experience (MM) and one is the embodiment of childhood wish
fulfillment. so although they start out as similar on the surface, they
actually are three different, distinct characters. Even the speedsters
differ--one can no more confused the youthful-but-responsible Wally
Flash for the right-Above-All Barry flash or the action-before-thought
of Impulse.

As for my characters? One's a zoologist, one's a structural engineer,
one has no secret ID, choosing to use his popularity in costume to
bolster his charitable organization, and one's a doctor. Yes, reporters
and rock stars are standard IDs because they provide the hero with
mobility, but I felt it more important for my character's IDs to have
resonance with their cosumed selves (the structural engineer is an
Amerind who flies, for example...).

*shrug* I don't think super-hero comics are stagnant because of the
similarity in characters...I tihkn it's stagnant because of the emphasis
on 'event programming....'

"'N I fell for all that'die-like-a-warrior' crap. I've seen clowns fall
off their bikes with more honor"
--Xander Haris, BUFFY TVS #1
THE ULTIMATE HULK, containing the new story, "A Quiet, Normal Life," is
available now from Byron Preiss and Berkley

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From: "Filksinger" <filkhero@usa.net>
To: "Hero List" <champ-l@sysabend.org>
Subject: RE: Comics Characters (Long [and for no bloody good reason])
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 14:12:52 -0700
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From: Chad Riley
> Have you ever noticed the Proliferations of
> Archetypes in the DC
> Universe? I mean I used to think that Erik Larsen
> and Rob Liefield were
> the worst creating veritable clones of Marvel and
> DC heroes and then
> giving them names like Roman. ROMAN!! Namor
> spelled backwards for the
> IMAGE king of the seas (I gues it was easier than

That is excessive, I certainly agree.

> Anyway. DC doesn't really rip anyone off but
> themselves. They have the
> Superman Clones (The Superfamily, the Marvels,
> Martian Manhunter, the
> Daxamites, Bizzaro, Black Adam, Power Girl add
> naseum), Flash Clones
> (Flash (1,2,&3) the Quicks, Impulse, Miricle Max,
> the Future Flashes,
> add naseum (gosh maybe i'm adding a little too
> much nauseum?))

Possibly. It is "ad nauseum", not "add". If you write it
correctly, maybe you'll have less nauseum.:)

> The GL
> Corps, every other human Crimefighter is the a
> dark knight. DC has so
> many characters and they only had to make up like
> 10 sets of powers.And
> I felt bad for being unoriginal in character design.

They are pretty bad, I admit. I mostly missed this
proliferation, because of dropping DC when I was 8.

> I don't even know why I brought this up. So on to
> something else!(sorta)
> The other thing I notice inheirent only to DC and
> Clones of DC
> characters is the SUPERMAN syndrome. Where a
> startling number of
> Superstrong DC Heroes are super fast as well (and
> super smart and have
> all sorts of super senses and can fly and blah blah blah).

And this was why I dropped the line. I was already disgusted
with Superman's "super-all" array of powers. Then, he
manages in a few minutes, without any clue I could find, to
realize that this new supervillain would be stopped if he
saw his reflection in the side of a building and realized
that it really was him doing all these bad things.

> Marvel's Problem is the Class 100 rule. The
> inexplicable rule that
> states all of their heavy hitters can lift "over"
> 100 tons which is
> pretty sketchy how much over? We don't know. But
> at least their Strong
> guys aren't super fast as well.

I think they did that because a) back when they defined
their strengths originally (when they were almost all
_under_ 100 tons, even Thor did only about 95 and the Thing
85), it was pointed out to them that their hard hitters were
all lifting things much heavier than that. This way, no one
will ever say, "But X is much heavier than he can lift."

> Hey what are your favorite "secret Id's" for
> heroes? Reporters?
> Rockstars? Yourselves?

Well, for my present PBeM campaign, I have a magic-using
priest. I think that's my favorite off hand.

He doesn't even wear a costume. Just black gloves and a
black hood that covers his face and collar. I'm debating if
he should have to buy Instant Change.:)

> Starting to lose sanity.
> Try this stuff again
> Better not.
> Really sorry for this
> hope it was somewhat entertaining. I will not do
> this again for a long
> while

Why not? Glad to hear from you.


- --34823845--


Date: Mon, 2 Nov 1998 02:17:01 -0800 (PST)
From: "Steven J. Owens" <puff@netcom.com>
Subject: Re: Cyber-Hero

Michael Surbrook writes:

> On Sun, 1 Nov 1998, Jay P Hailey wrote:
>>>>Oh. And how would you have handled the netrunning section?
>>>>I imagine it would be some form of X-D movement...
> I like (and prefer) the X-D move idea.
>>>Possibly, or just Mental Combat with a cyber-spoo special effect.
> This idea is used in TUM, BTW. Cybermind is a seperate catagory, I
> believe.

Just for the record, I favor just using RTG Cyberpunk (preferably
heavily modified first edition :-) over Hero for doing Cyberpunk,
unless you have a reason to need Hero's flexibility, and have the type
of players you need to support it. In general, a cyberpunk game
should be very fast and very deadly. Combat should be abrupt, short,
and shockingly violent.

Reasons to use Hero for doing CP: 1) transgenre games, 2) your
players want to come up with odd things outside the scope of typical
CP games, 3) your players want the tactical options that Hero combat
provides (and are good enough both with the system and as players to
keep from bogging down combat).

That said, how to run CP in Hero, well there're three main
special topics you need to deal with. Weapons & Gadgets, cyberware,
and cyberspace.

Weapons are important because you have to have the cool,
high-tech, devastating weapons. You'll also probably need to put a
lot of up-front work into designing all sorts of weaponry and defense
systems and other gadgets. This sort of stuff infests the genre, and
you can't be stopping to improvise or write up something every five
seconds. Plus, you need to decide what "state of the art" is for your
game, so you can keep things within bounds.

One approach to consider is just writing up "descriptions" of the
gadgets and not telling the players their stats. Then you can just
improvise the stats on the spot, which is usually feasible to keep it
in bounds. Only do this if you're good at being consistent about this
stuff. Even if I were going to predesign everything, I think I'd keep
most of the game mechanics from the players, to enhance the genre

Weapons and defenses in general should be skewed towards
violence. Historically and in genre, "it's always much easier to
destroy than create." No wait, that's a different genre. Oh well,
the principle still holds true. Besides, the cyberpunk genre is one
where the players should always be on edge, never safe and secure.

I highly recommend using some sort of optional hit-location damage
rules. That was one thing I loved about the old Friday Night Fire Fight
rules; they didn't give you damage in hit points or something, they just
figured out how severe the wound was, then described the effects of a
would of such severity on such a body location.

If this seems like it's making combat unfeasibly risky, well,
welcome to reality (not to mention cyberpunk). Most of the time combat
*should* be unfeasibly risky. The players should almost always be
outgunned (unless they work for a large corp, in which case they only
gain a slight edge, since their opponents will often work for large
corps, and in addition they have to worry more about their own backers
selling them out for a slight advantage or for office politics...).
They'll have to think their way around obstacles and spend most of
their time avoiding combat like the plague.

Cyberware is mostly the same picture as guns & gadgets, except
you have to worry more about game balance issues. R. Talsorian used
the "cyber psychosis" excuse for game balance and now it's become
stock in the role-playing cyberpunk genre. However, it wasn't a big
part of the literature before then. Still, it makes enough sense.
Let's face it, most people don't deal too well with major body
modifications (tatoos and piercings don't count).

Additionally, there are *always* little side effects that are
constantly intruding on your life. Heck, even something as simple as
this ceramic tooth I have in my head has little side effects; the
nerve is non-existent, which makes it have a peculiarly "dead"
feeling, and I discovered a few weeks ago when I took an airplane
flight that the change in pressure made it ache a little and feel
somewhat loose. All of this was a little bit disconcerting.

Imagine how it feels to have your arm replaced.

Other game-balance factors include the biological load that
replacing major chunks of your flesh puts on the remaining system.
Your body wasn't *designed* to do this kinda stuff, and it's not going
to react well to it. Even assuming that wide-spectrum anti-rejection
drugs have dealt with the whole rejection issue, there's the
possibilities of infections and complications. Many patients who die
in hospitals, die not from the illness that brought them there, but
from infections and complications from being ill.

Even if you just enforce fiat game balance (the best kind - "No,
you can't have that!") you have to figure out where you're going to
have to draw the lines, and what procedures are commonly available at
the local mall bod-mod shop, while others are only available on the
black market. What powers are and are not available, and what's the
social acceptability? How will different sectors of society react to
obvious cyberware?

Again, I recommend writing up your own descriptions of things and
keeping the players in the dark. On the other hand, don't make the
options too straight-forward. Read through the descriptions of
cyberware options in the various Cyberpunk role-playing games. Put
some down as "plug 'n play" options that can be purchased at the local
body shop, put others down in categories of their own, as related
technologies. Then, when a player wants to have augmented strength,
they don't just purchase an option, "One from column A and one form
column B", they have to get into decisions about bone augmentation,
whether they want cultured or synthetic muscle mass, or motorized
joints, etc.

In general, lean towards cyberware that is more sophisticated and
less obviously powerful. The body-plated walking tank should be
almost non-existent - and usually only as a carefully controlled
military weapon (a'la Robocop), not as a free player character
wandering the streets.

So that kind of cyberware should be generally not available,
mainly because there's little public demand for it (because most
people in the game world aren't player characters and are worried
about being socially ostracized by 99.99% of society, and shot at by
the other .01%). Even when it can be gotten, there's a limit to how
much can be had before it becomes obvious - and the player becomes a
"shoot on sight" target, the same way anybody walking down main street
with an M60 machine gun and a grenade launcher would be.

Speaking of weapons, I'll leave the enforcement of "reality",
with regards to assault weapons, grenade launchers, etc, to you, but
keep in mind that Cyberpunk players will tend to exercise an
understandable paranoid reaction to being a target so much of the

Cyberspace is a little bit trickier than the other topics, mainly
because it diverges so much from the main thrust of the game. There's
a great temptation to make cyberspace runs a regular part of the game,
but that's something you have to consider strategically. The role you
want cyberspace to play in your game should determine the mechanics you
choose to use.

For example, the decker will commonly be jacked in and absent
from the party for large chunks of time, off hacking away, just like a
real life programmer. Or you might favor the special effect that
cyberspace moves at lightning speeds and much more happens during a
given span of time in cyberspace than in regular space, which means
you have the opposite - and potentially much more awkward - situation
of the rest of the players sitting around, waiting for the decker to
finish the run.

In either case, you also have the issue, similar to the issue
with mental powers in supers games, that you've changed the scope of
the game itself by adding a whole new area to the regular combat and
skill rolls areas. Unless you pay attention to the balance (both in
mechanics and in roleplaying & GMing) issues, you'll inevitably trip
yourself up.

Cyberspace can be a background element, in which case most of the
time it can be handled with a simple skill roll. Or it can be
slightly more involved and you can have several skill rolls. Perhaps
a group of related skills for scouting out a target, setting up
cutouts, infiltrating a system, breaking encryption, hijacking
authority, programming trojan horses, back doors and viruses,
subverting external peripherals, etc.

For this approach, set up a reasonable flow chart of events and
steps to carrying out common cyberspace tasks and figure out which
skill rolls apply at which stages. How detailed the flow chart gets
depends on how big a role you want cyberspace to play in the game.

If it's going to be a cyberspace-focused game, then you can just
define Cyberspace rules of your own. Somewhere, buried among hundreds
of disks and zip disks, I have some fairly interesting rules I roughed
out back in 1991 or so, for running cyberspace with each system being
an END reserve and programs being complex powers pulled out of a
hacking VPP and powered off the END reserve. Think in terms of
defining the cyberspace world via powers.

Or you can just make up your own cyberspace system from whole
cloth and call it "teleport to cyberspace dimension, leaves body
behind". Now you have to define all of the laws of the cyberspace
universe, which is pretty much the same as if you were just designing
all the rules from scratch and adding them to the game.

If you're doing a transgenre game where it becomes more important
how cyberspace rules interact with the regular rules, then, again
depending on how big a role you want cyberspace to play in the game,
you have some choices. You can either use "mental powers only affects
computers" or you can build your own set of equivalent powers using
the sense rules and a transformation attack to transform the programs
in the computer.

Of the approaches above, I think I favor using either: a complex
set of skill rolls (along with a map of standard stages and tasks in
cyberspace) for a regular game, along with good storytelling, in which
case cyberspace takes about the same role that "lab work" or some
other skill-based area takes. Or using a subset of the hero rules to
define the physics of the cyberspace dimension and see how you can
play with that. In practical terms, though, the latter course means
the game is all about cyberspace. Which can be fun enough in its own

Steven J. Owens


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