Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Captain America for B/X

Image result for tsr marvel super heroesI've asserted several times that Advanced Marvel Super Heroes (TSR 1986) is one of the best RPGs ever published.  Like King Arthur Pendragon, the system doesn't just simulate the action of the game but the mechanics compliment the theme.  The crunch is minimal, the universal chart is thematic and fast, and Jeff Grub and Karen Martin generated rules text that bounds along--clear, entertaining, and never taking itself too seriously.  Also, Jeff Butler could draw the heck out of some super heroes.

All that being said, I decided to try and translate Captain America into B/X D&D stats ... because ... why not?

Image result for captain america punch hitlerAssumption: Grub's 1986 version of Cap is authoritative.

Captain America's MSH "Fighting" stat of "Amazing" means he connects 75% of the time when punching (unarmored) fascists.  

That translates to a level 6 fighter (who hits an AC 9 on an 8+) with a +2 for Strength 17--Grub sets Cap's Strength at "Excellent," just below human maximum, so that works out nicely.

Hit points come next and are trickier.  140 points of Health in MSH is suitably huge, but then again the average sword stroke in that system does 10 points of injury (unless the wielder has Strength higher than "Good," in which case it can go up to "Excellent 20").  If I figure that Captain America is good for about 14 sword hits before he drops, and I use an average D&D longsword damage of 4.5 hit points, that gives us 63 hit points.  
That's really high for a 6th level fighter, but MSH puts the good Captain's Endurance at "Remarkable 30," which again tops out the range for homo sapiens.  So assume an 18 Constitution for +3 hit points / level and 63 hit points actually fits within the D&D range, though it does mean having rolled 7s and 8s on every fighter hit die (I'll chalk it up to Super Soldier Serum).

Intelligence stymied me.  MSH has him with Reason of "Good 10" ... that's about a 13 in D&D, but the Captain speaks at least 7 different languages.  I'll just stick with the 13 for now.

MSH notes that Cap's attacks with his shield are at +2 Column Shift, but since the Universal Table is mostly in 5% increments that's easy to convert ... a +2 gives us the same probability.

What about Armor Class?
Grub sets Captain America's Agility at "Incredible 40," the highest a character can go before becoming super-human ... 18 Dexterity for a -3 there.  Chainmail for Cap's armor and a +2 shield of course ... and I present ...

Captain America   6th level Lawful Fighter

STR 16
INT 13                63 hit points
WIS 15                AC -1
DEX 18
CON 18
CHA 18

Chainmail, +2 shield

combat (including adjustments from shield and ability scores) :
+4 to hit in melee for 1d6+4 hit points of damage
+5 to hit when throwing shield for 1d6+2 hit points of damage

additional languages: German, Russian, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese

I'm sure somebody has translated Marvel characters to B/X before--we did that kind of thing commonly back in the day and Dragon Magazine even ran an article converting the then-brand-new Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader to D&D stats.

So what do you think?

Surprised that the Cap only rates at 6th level?
Incidentally that's a "Myrmidon" in terms of level title, a bit short of the level 8 "Super hero."
On the other hand, it means that dwarf which you've painstakingly advanced to level 5 really is pretty heroic in terms of her capacity to kick some butt.

It also adds perspective to the notion that dragons and some other critters, with "only" 10 or 11 hit dice, are somehow less than epic in the Moldvay, Cook/Marsh version of D&D.
Your party may "poo-poo" a mature black dragon, but it could be enough to make the mighty Avengers have to pause and roll up their sleeves.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wrapping Up Summer Games Camp

Last week we wrapped up another two weeks of summer games camp at a local high school.  Here are some highlights:
    Image result for werewolf card game
  • FIVE former students returned to help run tables--these volunteers really make camp a breeze and let me focus on the action at my own table.
  • WEREWOLF (the party game, not the RPG) was the clear crowd favorite this year.  Run in groups from five to 18 kids, this became the "go-to" game when we had 15 minutes to kill.
  • SHADOWS of BRIMSTONE was a hit both weeks and I got to show off the first set of minis I've painted in 15 years

  • D&D, in a variety of incarnations, but mainly with a B/X spin, had strong participation both weeks.
Image result for mice and mystics
  • MICE and MYSTICS, which is basically Descent Light with a cute theme, maintained a loyal following and the campaign story-mode was well supported by our morning session / afternoon session structure.

  • AYE DARK OVERLORD is incredibly loud when played with middle school gusto.  They had fun with it, but I'm kind of glad its over.

  • KING of TOKYO, SMALL WORLD, ADVENTURERS: PYRAMID OF HORUS and SMASH UP continue to hold their own.
One of the more interesting developments of the week was the core of repeat-customers: kids who have attended up to four previous sessions and who are coming back for more as they move toward high school.  

Because they were already familiar with most of the games, these players had a distinct edge in the four-team tournament format that we used--victory in our morning or afternoon break out games could earn points that were used to buy resources in our week-long meta-game.  

These players also had some pretty strong personalities, and I didn't necessarily want to see them dominate their teammates, so I took a gamble and placed all of the veterans on the same tournament team.

To offset their experience, however, I increased their challenge level--rather than play as a standard nation in what was essentially a week-long, combined RISK-lite / Catan game, the veteran players would take on the role of The Plukish Confederation, a collection of allied, island city-states.  

Owing their modest population, however, the Plukish team would not be allowed to assemble military units like their neighboring nations!  Instead, their victory would have to come strictly through trade and diplomacy (routes open to their competitors too).  

By mid-week it became clear that they were up to the task, and they went on to form a monopoly over key goods, effectively placing all three other teams in an economic stranglehold.  

Their competition could have broken out of the Plukish monopoly and embargoes, forcing them to relent, but ONLY if they were able to set aside their own border wars and territorial disputes long enough to collectively pressure the veteran team with coordinated military might.  

This, however, was not to be the case and nationalist rivalry and suspicion kept the other three nations from exerting the unified pressure necessary to bring Pluke to heel.  The veteran team, despite never fielding a single battalion all week, won a resounding economic victory!

A very satisfying week--it was great to see so many kids come back for analog gaming and to see them grow in leadership, social skills, and strategic thinking.