[19:03] <&TimK> Hello! I am Tim Kirk, owner and sole employee of Silverlion Studios. I’m a writer who creates tabletop role-playing games, notably High Valor, and the Hearts & Souls superhero RPG. I’ve been writing my whole life, but produced both my games in the last 10 (roughly) years.
[19:04] <&TimK> I’m dedicated to writing games that try and tackle their genres with love, attention, and care; even if it takes me a while to do it.
[19:05] <&TimK> [Done}
[19:05] <~Dan> Thanks, Tim! The floor is open to questions!
[19:05] <~Dan> Can you tell us the premise of Hearts & Souls?
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[19:07] <&TimK> Hearts & Souls is a superhero game, like many games it focuses on the business of heroes who put on cape and cowl and do the right things. Unlike most, its significantly focused on the heroes motivation: Why do they fight crime/save the world as an important impetus for play.
[19:08] <&TimK> I wanted the game to make the heroism exploits, even in a fictional sense, “matter” to the character. [Done]
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[19:09] <~Dan> (Howdy, Squide!)
[19:09] <&Le_Squide> (Hey Dan!)
[19:09] <~Dan> How does that work in play?
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[19:11] <&TimK> Every important character–hero or villain, or notable personal interest has a Drive. A motivitation that matters to them. For heroes that allows them to reroll the dice (and ignore bad rolls) in order to succeed when it matters. They do have to use either banter or monologues to get those rerolls without eaning them stress.
[19:12] <&TimK> These final success is all we care about, and its cost (if any.)
[19:13] <&TimK> [Done]
[19:13] <~Dan> What’s the core mechanic?
[19:15] <+GenoFoxx> so with great power comes great motivation?
[19:15] <&TimK> The core dise resolution system is roll a number of dice depending on the ability being tested. The number of dice depends on the rank, and the type of die depends on the scale. BRB
[19:17] <&TimK> Back.
[19:17] <~Dan> wb
[19:17] <~Dan> How many levels of scale are there?
[19:17] <&TimK> Basically the higher the rank and scale, the larger the die, and the more you roll, to a max of three per rank.
[19:18] <+GenoFoxx> what are the base attributes and what do the stand for?
[19:18] <&TimK> Low/Human Average/Human Exceptional/Human Spectacular/Superhuman Average/Superhuman Exceptional/Superhuman Spectacular/Planetary Average/Planetary Exceptional
[19:19] <&TimK> Planetary Spectacular/Cosmic Average/Cosmic Exceptional/Cosmic Spectacular
[19:19] <~Dan> That’s an awful lot of die types. 🙂
[19:19] <&TimK> and finally for things “off the scale” is Beyond, ro Infinite.
[19:20] <&TimK> Maximum is d12…it goes from Low (1d4) to Cosmic Spectacular (3d10)
[19:20] <~Dan> Oh, gotcha.
[19:21] <~Dan> (Oh, did you see GenoFoxx’s question?)
[19:21] <&TimK> I use fairly traditional attributes, despite attempting to try other methods, mostly because it gives people a quick “handle” on the types of actions and functioning of a character they can perform. There is Might, Agility, Toughness, Brains, Knowledge, and Resolve.
[19:21] <~Dan> (Ah, so you did. 🙂 )
[19:21] <~Dan> Are there skills as well?
[19:22] <&TimK> In 2E, I’ve even given a list of ways to challenge attributes (especially when scaled high) and things a hero can try and do with those abilities. The same goes for powers.
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[19:23] <&TimK> No Skills. Skills are “absorbed” into Agility (for Skills related to Coordination and Agility) and Knowledge (for those requiring information and brainpower) If someone wants a special skill that stands out beyond those attributes they take a “power” called Superskill
[19:23] <~Dan> How does Superskill work?
[19:25] <&TimK> Like abilities, all powers are measured by rank and scale. They provide a similar dice pool and are rolled. (The highest of any pool is all that matters, the “extra” dice are just extra free chances without need for stress, or drive based rerolls.
[19:26] <~Dan> So Superskill isn’t actually based on an attribute?
[19:26] <&TimK> Superskill is simply a stand out beyond a characters knowledge and agility. It could be “Superskill: Throwing” for such obnoxious and arrogant villains as the criminal and former card player named Cardsharp, or it could be any specific skill the hero wants.
[19:27] <&TimK> No. It isn’t. Abilities are seperate from powers, in most cases where they overlap the game informs the Editor (GM) to make that powr higher than the attribute it would be tied too. (As long as it doesn’t go over the games set limits.)
[19:28] <&TimK> [Done]
[19:28] <~Dan> What sort of power system do you use? “Cafeteria” style? Effects-based?
[19:29] <+GenoFoxx> does it come with it’s own setting or it just a toolkeit
[19:29] <&TimK> I use a roughly “plain English” system. You describe the power in as simple English as you can manage, and assign it a rank/scale. It works like how you described (with of course approval by the GM.)
[19:30] <~Dan> Ah, I see. Do you have any limits on powers like “magic” or “cosmic power”?
[19:31] <&TimK> A note I should make here: A succesful dice roll is NOT, necessarily a successful “wham” that takes a foe out. It is the oppurtunity to do that–essentially you have to stress a foe or hero out, stress is accrued by actions and rerolls that are tough. So even if a hero gets a solid roll, he is just making a “near miss” unless the foe is stressed out enough that he can’t move fast enough.
[19:31] <&TimK> This makes sure that a power even at high end, has some comic book flow to it.
[19:32] <~Dan> So how do you stress a foe out?
[19:32] <&TimK> Magic and Cosmic Power, all come down to the same power, and the limits are assigned by the GM. Usually it can mimic other powers, up to the players imaginations, BUT it has to go back to stressing out a foe for most things. So if you want to use magic to turn someone into a frog–you still have to accrue enough stress on them to “take them out”
[19:34] <&TimK> Genofoxx: Yes, I’m creating a setting this time around. Small parts of it were seen in 1E, its basically what I use in my home campaigns with a little more structure and a few changes to be unique, because most of the games I’ve run are “look out your window and add superpowers” this setting has a history going back to the dawn of time, tied to a comic book universe–so lots of stuff on the timeline, but a lot of stuff left open f
[19:35] <~Dan> (cut off at “left open f”)
[19:35] <&TimK> Dan: You successfully make rolls that challenge them. It is a hero only rolls system, so under most circumestances the foe takes stress with every attack, succusful challenge against them, or the like. However, villains (and heroes) and use monologues to hold off that stress being activated into Fallout (fallout being the “bad stuff happens)
[19:35] <&TimK> should be “left open for Editors.”
[19:35] <&TimK> and that should be circumstances. My typing hehe.
[19:36] <~Dan> Hmm. Could you talk me through that? What happens mechanically in the game when, say, the Hulk punches the Abomination?
[19:39] <&TimK> The Hulk would swing and two things can happen. The Abomination can avoid it (block it, dodge it, or the like) or take it on his armored scaly hide. Either one is a challenge for the hero to overcome. If the hero overcomes it–he generates stress, the blow lands but the tough hide absorbs most of the impact, or Abomination steps mostly out of the way but is still slammed about by the concrete crater that forms
[19:39] <&TimK> at his feet. When he has sufficient stress–the Hulk’s player (or the Editor) can call it and instead of a near miss, it lands full on and causes some serious event–knock back and stun, broken bones, completely knockout blow, and so on.
[19:40] <~Dan> So armor doesn’t matter if you try to dodge?
[19:41] <&TimK> If the Abomination is the Emil version with a spies mine, well he’s going to monologue and try and keep himself going. He might say “You are a pathetic monster Hulk, you’re no match for the Abominations might, and my keen mind!” and hold off that stress another round.
[19:41] <&TimK> Oh, yes it does.
[19:41] <~Dan> So what would be the point of just trying to “take it”?
[19:41] <&TimK> If you don’t defend yourself. You don’t take stress, you immediately take whatever effect the impact/injury should have. Period.
[19:42] <&TimK> In that case Abomination has Toughness and Armor, both of which can be used as defense (Toughness only works against pure fisticuffs–it won’t block bullets on its own.) While the armor will.
[19:43] <&TimK> If it were say a normal human with Average Human toughness, and no armor? Well, the stress will be enough for immediate triggering if someone even a fraction of the Hulk’s strength hits.
[19:43] <+GenoFoxx> the Abomination a hero…heh…not likely
[19:44] <~Dan> So do you roll Toughness and Armor and subtract the results from the attack?
[19:44] <&TimK> No. He’s not, but villains monologue too.
[19:44] <&TimK> No.
[19:44] <~Dan> Or, wait… You said only players roll.
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[19:45] <&TimK> Heroes only roll. So The hulk rolls to overcome the Abominations Toughness or Armor. Success is player centered so Hulk’s strength is at least Planetary Spectacular Might. He would roll 3d10. Lets say he gets
[19:45] <+DrNate> (What are we doing? Can I ask questions, or are we on question pause?)
[19:46] <~Dan> (Sure, you can ask, DrNate!)
[19:46] <&TimK> 7,6, 2. The 7 is a success. The Abomination Armor’s is probably Exceptional Planetary, so its not going to do MUCH for him against his foe. Unless he monologues and tries to meet that gap.
[19:47] <&TimK> He’ll take stress. (1 Stress, since they’re on the same scale. Different scales force one to take more stress to overcome/meet)
[19:47] <&TimK> Go ahead DrNate.
[19:47] <&TimK> [Done] with that one.
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[19:48] <+DrNate> Can I play a Blue Lantern?
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[19:48] <+DrNate> Would he be unbalanced as a starting character or just outside of the average power range of the game as a whole?
[19:49] <&TimK> Drnate: If your GM wants to run a “Lantern” game, that would be up to them.
[19:50] * +technoshaman is so sad right now 😦
[19:50] <&TimK> It depends on the campaign pitch. Honestly, while people of different scale pitches CAN team up, it always seems a bit unfair to make someone play Robin while they playe a Green Lantern. The game handles power disparity well, but the Robin is going to be bantering a LOT. (Which means more spotlight time) while the Lantern or Superman would be just pushing forward.
[19:51] <+technoshaman> (sorry)
[19:51] <~Dan> What is the scope of the setting? Single-source supers? Anything goes?
[19:52] <&TimK> Anything goes. Anything at all. The default setting: AMP, comes from the fictional American Moral Play company, who rebranded themselves as “AMP” and switched from publishing basically moral play style stories to publishing pulp and comic books during their respective periods.
[19:53] <~Dan> Ah, yes — that was what you discussed with Eloy.
[19:53] <&TimK> AMP’s world is full of everything. Godlike aliens, shapeshifters, Atlanteans, wizards, skilled two fisted fighters, super science.
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[19:54] <&TimK> Atlantis is just one city of a whole culture (there are three city states–Atlantis, Mu, and Lemuria) for example.
[19:55] <&TimK> There are civilizations of mole-folk in Subterra, and bug like magma dwelling creatures who make up one of the countries of the Flow-Nations, societies living on magma!
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[19:55] <&TimK> There are the Skrix, Blight, Irduun, and more alien species, the Godbloom who tampered and messed up..
[19:55] <&TimK> and so on…
[19:55] <~Dan> (Howdy, Cynthia!)
[19:55] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Hi, Dan. 🙂
[19:56] <&TimK> The first superhero, Dr. Velocity, was an African-American chemist, who created a healing serum, but it gave him superspeed, on top of the fast healing, and he turned his football skills and speed into being the first costumed superhero!
[19:56] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Hey there, Tim. 🙂
[19:56] <&TimK> Hi CCM!
[19:56] <~Dan> Tim: And when was that?
[19:57] <&TimK> 1939.
[19:57] <~Dan> Were there masked pulp heroes before that?
[19:57] <&TimK> Before that there were masked heroes, but if they had powers, is kind of unknown.
[19:58] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> None of them were ever caught and analyzed for powers?
[19:58] <&TimK> Nope. Their were far two few, and they were the 20-30’s versions of urban legend. The Walker of the Rails, the Friar of Fear, the Unseen Soldier…
[19:59] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Great names. 🙂
[19:59] <&TimK> The Fume…
[19:59] <&TimK> Thank you..:D
[19:59] <~Dan> The Friar of Fear!
[20:00] <&TimK> The current part of the setting takes place “now” whenever that is for the game, that is modern day. In “classic” superhero city, that I made.
[20:00] <&TimK> Based in part on my tiny hometown and the numerous towns around it–but I smacked it with a comet and had it rebuilt with superscience..
[20:01] <&TimK> Some of the impact of the comet has had a shifting effect on the populace–bringing more peope back to the area.
[20:01] <~Dan> (brb)
[20:01] *** Dan is now known as Dan-brb
[20:01] <&TimK> Other questions?
[20:02] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Is there much info on the Silver Age era of the setting?
[20:04] <&TimK> I’ve a huge timeline, and lots of stuff in the Silver Age is mentioned. Yes. From Dr. Velocity, his one expierience with Captain Eagle, and forward to the later teams of the Red, White and Blue Brigade (later the Golden Guardians) and then the Science Crusaders.
[20:04] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Very cool!
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[20:05] <&TimK> There is a nod to horror comics and such things in “The Haunted Man” who is a nod to the Phantom Stranger, and old hosts to horror comics…but a bit more active.
[20:05] <~Dan> Are the big-name supers tributes to published characters?
[20:05] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Okay, yeah, I’m sold. 🙂
[20:05] <~Dan> (The Haunted Man. Another cool name!)
[20:06] <&TimK> I love the Silver and Golden Age, but like the later part of it, when it bleeds into the Copper/Dark age–before that was coined. The era when heroes suffered more, like Spider-Man’s loss of Gwen, or
[20:06] <&TimK> The Death of Jean Grey (the first time.)
[20:07] <~Dan> Is it safe to say that the setting focusses on Big Damn Heroes rather than angsty and/or bloodthirsty sorts?
[20:07] <&TimK> Dan: That’s complicated. While I love other comics characters, I tried to do my own, there are similarities there, and they may seem like nods/tributes which I can’t help because of the archetypes many of the heroes created. For example the Atlantean is from Atlantis and deals with surface/water threats fighting the
[20:08] <~Dan> (“fighting the”)
[20:08] <&TimK> Nazi’s during WWII, and later doing the heroic thing. He’s in many ways a nod to both Sub-Namor (who predates Superman, if the stories/info of his creation are true.) and Superman…but he isn’t meant to be either one, just a superstrong/tough guy who is a “fish out of water.
[20:08] <&TimK> (I hit return.)
[20:08] <&TimK> Big Damn Heroes.
[20:08] <&TimK> Period.
[20:09] * ~Dan nods
[20:09] <&TimK> Heck, I killed off a lot of the previous heroes so the floor is open so that say Cynthia, or DrNate, or you Dan could make and run a game with this history to it, but where the focus, and the main good guys are the heroes your player’s create. Not my fictions.
[20:10] <~Dan> Does the game include a bestiary, and if so, how extensive is it?
[20:11] <&TimK> Another character that might seem to be a expy is Shadow Scarab–he’s got a magical scarab that lats him utilize the “essence” of his ancestors/incarnations–he’s otherwise human. So he comes off a lot like Batman, but his skills are very very scary, and sometimes archaic. I’ve a scene in my head from the “fictional” comic book, where he’s racing a foe in a chariot and someon
[20:11] <&TimK> asks him how he knows how to drive on…
[20:11] <~Dan> Cool character!
[20:11] <&TimK> The bestiary will include the major aliens, normal animals, giant animals, dinosaurs, a few alien critters, and the like. Its not finished yet.
[20:12] <~Dan> Sweet.
[20:12] * ~Dan loves bestiaries
[20:12] <~Dan> Any supernatural critters?
[20:12] <&TimK> There is after all an Island of Monsters–which includes dinosaurs, but also crazy kaiju.
[20:12] <&TimK> There will be a few of those.
[20:12] <~Dan> Awesome (on both counts).
[20:13] <&TimK> Yeah, werewolves, ghouls, and a black hound at least. Maybe sasquatch..:D
[20:13] <~Dan> Nice. 🙂
[20:13] <&TimK> Plus as a character–Seth-Heth, the Mummy Tyrannosaurus Rex..
[20:13] <~Dan> Yikes! 🙂
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[20:14] <~Dan> Oh, by the way: If the GM never rolls, how can NPCs compete with each other?
[20:14] <&TimK> Anything else?
[20:15] <&TimK> The Editor can handle it one of two ways–he can treat one side as a PC and go ahead and roll. Or he can do what I do and just decide what makes te most interesting story effect for the PC’s to witness.
[20:15] <&TimK> “Story” being in a comic book sense. What will make the heroes act/react in a cool way.
[20:16] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> I’m a sucker for systems in which the GM doesn’t roll (hence Slasher Flick and Macabre Tales). I blame it on Marvel SAGA. 🙂
[20:16] <~Dan> What sort of stats to the NPCs have? Are they just target numbers?
[20:16] <&TimK> Rolling for both sides increases randomness, and randomness doesn’t always “play” well for the kind of events I want in a game.
[20:16] <~Dan> Cynthia: You’d probably love Whispering Vault.
[20:17] <&TimK> They’re measured in the same way as heroes, but even their stats don’t become TN’s, the TN’s for every roll of dice is fixed based on the die. The stats are there to provide support for how much stress is likely to be generated/suffered.
[20:18] * ~Dan nods
[20:18] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Whispering vault? The name rings a bell.
[20:18] <~Dan> How is equipment handled in general and gadgetry in particular?
[20:18] <&TimK> Heroes are meant to win. It will be a struggle. But win and do good is the aim. Doesn’t mean they won’t fail occasionally, but I made it more choice driven (and willingness to engage in banter/monologues)
[20:19] <~Dan> Cynthia: Basically heroic Cenobites tracking down rogue god-like beings turned into horrors in our reality.
[20:19] <&TimK> Gadgets can be singular power: Dr. Fulcrum’s Lever that moves the World (Gravity Control Rod/Staff) or it could be just the “Gadget” versio of Wizardry—do anything but it takes some time.
[20:19] <&TimK> I love Whispering Vault. I wish we’d gotten a cool (improved) edition.
[20:20] <~Dan> Yeah…
[20:20] <&TimK> I’m trying to do something strange with the setting–a landlocked superhero city, set in Texas. Because they get them everywhere but Texas.
[20:20] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> That sounds amazing!
[20:20] <~Dan> Were any of the major comic book universes inspirations to you?
[20:21] <~Dan> To be more precise, does the setting lean more DC or Marvel, for example?
[20:22] <+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Hey, gang, I have to jet. Supper awaits. ‘Night. 🙂
[20:22] <&TimK> Marvel, mostly. But I’ve a strong appreciation for Red Circle Comics/The Crusaders, the Southern Knights, and Astro City. DC has some love for me too. But at the end of the day I like heroes, no matter how powerful to struggle with what it is to be a hero, and make the right choice even when its hard.
[20:23] <&TimK> Later CCM.
[20:23] <~Dan> Bye, Cynthia! 🙂
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[20:23] <&TimK> She’s awesome 😀
[20:24] <~Dan> Isn’t she? 🙂
[20:25] <~Dan> I’ve heard it said that superhero RPGs have to be able to do “anything”, and hence can be used for anything. Can you think of any other genres H&S might be used for, or is it pretty hardwired to supers?
[20:25] <+GenoFoxx> Mecha perhaps?
[20:26] * +GenoFoxx shoots GenoFoxx for his mecha fixations
[20:26] <+GenoFoxx> ((quiet you))
[20:27] <&TimK> I know playtests for 1E was used very well for High Fantasy. I think any Genre where motivations matter and drive play (which could be certain mecha settings) would work. It does lean heavily towards the heroic though especially its nature of success and “failure”)
[20:27] <~Dan> Yeah, it doesn’t sound particularly gritty.
[20:28] <~Dan> Speaking of which, how do weapons work in the game?
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[20:29] <~Dan> (Howdy, BPIJonathan!)
[20:29] <&TimK> A weapon has an effect like a power. Anyone can pick an ordinary weapon up and use it, but its driven by your attribute primarily for impact. I leave it up to Editors to decide if they should ask a person to pay for carrying around a weapon they picked up later or not.
[20:29] <&TimK> Allo BPIJonathan
[20:30] <~Dan> So weapons don’t have mechanical effects?
[20:30] <+BPIJonathan> Hiya Tim. Sorry I am late, I had to get some stuff done.
[20:31] <&TimK> Not exactly, not. The attribute of the person decided whether it hits or has an impact, the Fallout will be flavored by the weapon if stress is triggered. So if you shoot someone with a gun, your abilities decide its effectiveness of hitting, but the nature of injury is determined by the weapon.
[20:32] <~Dan> Oh, so the weapons do have damage ratings?
[20:32] <&TimK> For the most part, a gun isn’t more/less lethal. Its dangerous, but so can a punch from someone who can rip tanks apart.
[20:32] <&TimK> No. Its just narrative flavor to the stress.
[20:32] <~Dan> Ah.
[20:33] <&TimK> Remember if thug a shoots at you, and you fail, you take stress–take enough stress and the Gm turns it into say Fallout (5) Serious Bullet wound.
[20:33] <&TimK> Fallout takes time to heal, based on teh Toughness/Resolve of the hero.
[20:33] <&TimK> And what kind of Fallout it is.
[20:33] * ~Dan nods
[20:34] <~Dan> Do you have any sort of “mook” rule?
[20:34] <&TimK> But if Hulk punches you and you let stress accrue Fallout (5) Broken Ribs and Collarbone, is serious too :d (Major but not “He’s in a coma..and on life support..” serious)
[20:35] <&TimK> The game encourages players to take lots of
[20:35] <&TimK> little stress, rather than risk the big long lasting stuff.
[20:35] <~Dan> …pauses?
[20:36] <&TimK> Sorry, I was distracted (dog and food :D)
[20:36] <~Dan> 🙂
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[20:37] <&TimK> I know H&S is strange to many people mechanically, but honestly, I feel it does the comic book heroes better than most others I’ve played (of course I would.) That doesn’t mean I don’t think there are other great superhero games, I just think they’re different. 😀
[20:38] <~Dan> Sure. You just seem to favor simulation of outcome rather than… what’s the right term… simulation of physics?
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[20:39] <&TimK> Right. My aim is simulation of the genre, not the real world. Because comic books have only nods to real world physics. 😀
[20:40] <&TimK> Most of the time superheroes take a beating, and come back anyway. That’s part of the aim of the game.
[20:40] <&TimK> Plus I want to avoid the “little girl and train” scenario.
[20:41] <~Dan> Well, I don’t mean real world physics, exactly. I mean games that try to give you the tools to play in the setting and tell you to go nuts.
[20:41] <~Dan> What scenario is that, Tim?
[20:44] <&TimK> I played a game years ago, where the villains had been built with no thought as to heroes abilities, and a situation was set up where a little girl was on train tracks in front of a run away train. The villains slowed the heroes down, and the little girl died. She died because the rules were very restrictive about movement speed, and the villains had powers which we couldn’t really overcome. Now part of that is
[20:44] <&TimK> GM, but part of it is the inability of some games to realize that superheroes are as flexible as they need to be, to be HEROES, not just people with powers.
[20:44] * ~Dan nods
[20:44] <~Dan> I’m torn on that, really.
[20:45] <~Dan> I see the value of genre emulation… but by the same token, I also see the fun in being given the powers of Superman and being asked, “What will YOU do?”
[20:45] <&TimK> I can imagine. Comics, especially Marvel ones, could turn that event into a heart aching moment, but it wasn’t good story events that did it, but rules and limits of the rules.
[20:46] <&TimK> Well, we tried to save her–but the heroes were hit with an effect we couldn’t break or avoid, according to the rules. So it was just bad all around.
[20:46] <~Dan> Yeah, I get what you’re saying.
[20:46] * ~Dan nods
[20:47] <~Dan> Let’s see… In the time we have left, is there anything you’d like to mention that we haven’t covered?
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[20:49] <~Dan> (Howdy, FaerieGodfather!)
[20:50] <&TimK> Well. I’m going to try and Kickstarter H&S when the manuscript is complete. That will be to pay for art (full color art), editing, and layout! Important stuff all of it. I’ll be adding some things like an AMP worldbook (I won’t call it that because of Eloy’s game..), a Wild West City, and a Space Sourcebook. (More aliens, technology, and such.) Beyond that I don’t know. I’m just trying to make it a “massive” game
[20:50] <&TimK> for doing any superhero stuff you want. Lots of tools, support and help. I’m just a slow writer.
[20:51] <~Dan> Excellent.
[20:52] <~Dan> Thanks very much, Tim! I’ll have the log posted momentarily. 🙂
[20:53] <&TimK> Thank you..:D