For a number of reasons I have moved development of Absolute Power over to here:
It’s a super hero game in the same vein as Watchmen or The Authority. It’s supposed to have that feel. It’s supposed to make the players stop and think, 'boy its tough being a super'.
By using a game mechanic that gives the players a choice. Use your powers and risk corruption. Don't use your powers and risk failure. DRYH is a great starting point for this. Its Exhaustion/Madness talents have a spiral of destruction that should lend itself well.
- Find a better name, I don't like DRYC
- Find a better name for Price/Pain/Cost dice
- Better define how corruption, pain/price/cost and humanity are described in outcomes
- Rework Corruption dice and how they work
- Rework the hope and despair mechanics.
- Create an end game matrix (like Fiasco, but not gonzo)
- Create scene/location ideas
- Create working character sheet (Smaller, sexier, less numbers, less blank space)
- Create working play sheet (Diagrams of how the dice work)
- More Playtesting and more feedback
- Get someone to run some
- Create a better section on 'how to frame scene's comic book/graphic novel style'
- Have a look at who frames what. Should the player or GM narrate the introduction scene?
- Look to see if the player handout (rules sheet) can be incorporated into the char, sheet
- Team work? How does that work?
- More detail on 'how to answer the questions' needed.
- Arrange the text (below) in a more intuitive way. At the moment it's all over the place.
- Get some pictures already!
- Tips for GM'ing Absolute Power (pushing dice forward not adding more dice to the opposition pool)
To get you started:
Baked into the mechanics of Absolute Power is rules that make the protagonists spiral into damnation the more they push themselves. The more they use their powers the more powerful they get but also they have an increased chance of things going wrong.
Bear in mind when running/playing the game the focus should be on the protagonists. Their use of their powers, their goals and agendas and of course how society sees them and their battle to contain there own corruption.
Superheroes are powerful! They are able to achieve goals they were never able to, they can save the world from hideous injustice, they can make the world sit up and listen. But it’s not easy, it costs the supers. But what is the price?
Remember play fair, but play hard.
Tone & Setting:
Far be it from me to tell you how to run your games but please bear in mind the rules contained within are meant to perceive a dark, gritty world where humanity is represented by desperate people who would go to any length to achieve their goals. These also maybe the very same people who have now got the power to under take these tasks at any cost.
It was pointed out to me, people aren’t evil by default. They do necessary things with unfortunate consequences. A strong focus should be put on humanity, at its best and worst. Why does the robber steal? To survive? To ensure he gets his next meal? To ensure the people depending on him get their next meal? Think about how far you would go to protect your family and friends. Would you kill someone? Even if it was to save a member of your own family?
Everyone in the real world has an agenda or goal, everyone in Don’t Rest Your Cape has those same agendas and/or goals.
When the players (through characters actions) get involved in situations there should often be a moral dilemma. After all these supers are now judge, jury and executioners. Who tells them what is right and wrong?
As for setting, well I do indeed let go on the reigns here and allow (I’m such a giver) you to create it. For inspiration is the Absolute Power world present day? Does it take place in a large US city? Is it some undefined time in the future following genetic enhancements? Are supers all over the place? Are they generally accepted? Are they tagged so the government can keep tabs on them? The answer to these questions are in your head, they are in the heads of the others sat around the table. Talk about ideas regarding the world before you start to play proper. Ensure everyone is on the same page and be open to others ideas. Use the ‘yes and/but’ rule.
Now is also a good time to talk about boundaries and how graphic you as players want the game to be. Again this is personal taste and often saves grief and/or embarrassment.
Behind the Mask
To create a Absolue Power character follow these simple steps:
1. Answer the following questions:
- I am…..
- But I used to be…..
- What are your powers?
- How do others see you?
- How did you get your powers?
- What is it you want right now?
2. Next to responsibility write 3
3. Start thinking about your introduction scene
Answering the questions
Your alter ego/super name
But I used to be…..
Your real name and short description of your physical condition and any jobs/hobbies you had. Any dependants you have and your relationship to them. The answers here should be used as part of damned and retreat outcomes. They should be put at risk to force the character into action.
What are your super powers?
What powers do you have? Can you stop time, throw fireballs, teleport, etc.
How do others see you?
Do you wear a costume? Have you been disfigured or mutated in any way since you got your powers? What would a stranger say was your most dominate trait or emotion? As a GM this question should help shape conflicts and help put obstacles in the player’s way. Is there something about the super that really doesn’t click with the general public? How easily will the super be accepted?
How did you get your powers?
Was it a science experiment gone wrong? Was it after a supernatural or alien encounter? Have you always had them but they have lain dormant until now? Did someone wrong you, your family, your friends or all three and now you want revenge? What in you had the resource, the time, the passion or the opportunity? Would you create augmentations? Would you create machines to help you fly or throw bolts of fire? This question frames the first scene for each character. This must be a significant point in the protagonist’s life.
What is the thing you most want?
What is your characters goal, what do they want right now? This has to be something specific and achievable. In game terms this is what drives the character. It can (and should) be something your character wants more than anything else. Best goals are those that often conflict or jeopardize others goals/agendas.
An Example Super
But I used to be…..Ben Archer, middle aged man and father of two. Who used to be a soldier in the army.
What are your super powers? I can turn my whole body to flame at will. I can shoot fireballs from my hands and I can now move at an incredible (lighter than air) speed leaving a trail of fire and smoke where I go.
How do others see you? An aggressive hothead, unmasked I have bright white hair and carry a constant look of pain. I wear a yellow and black fireproof suit capable of withstanding, but not retarding, my powers.
How did you get your powers? When I was fighting in Afghanistan our base was bombed. Liquid fire poured everywhere covering my whole squad and burning them to death. I was caught in the agonizing blast but somehow I survived.
What is the thing you most want? I want to find out who is responsible for posting my squad in that dangerous area and have them answer for the deaths of my friends and colleagues.
Accepted - 1 2 3 - Hated
The Introduction Scene
This scene is your chance to introduce your character, to bring them to life, to start their story wheels moving.
As the owner of the PC you will frame the scene you will say what the scene looks like, who is there (if anyone), what’s happening. You get to assign NPC roles to the other players if you so wish. When you do assign roles tell the player what the NPC’s agenda is. You then drive the scene toward conflict.
There are a couple of rules when framing the introduction scene:
- The scene must be connected to how (or why) your PC has superpowers.
- The scene must contain conflict
Conflicts in Absolute Power must be meaningful the pc/s (and indeed NPCs) must have an investment in the conflict and a reason as to why they want to win. How much investment or how much they wan to win is up to them. Will they risk their humanity ensuring they succeed?
I’m going to once again point out Vincent Baker’s rule of:
Say yes or roll the dice
To resolve a conflict first identify who has an investment. This will always be at least two parties. If there is only one person (one side) with an investment there is no conflict, say yes without the dice. Once two or more parties are identified as having an investment follow these rules:
Before the dice are rolled -
- Choose to roll between 0 and 6 humanity dice
- Voluntary add one permanent corruption die
- Set cost level (this is the number of dice the NPC will roll. The more dice the GM rolls the harder it is for the PC's to succeed. read more about this later)
As the dice are rolled –
- Roll all of their responsibility dice (represented by white d6’s)
- Roll all of your permanent corruption dice (represented by black d6’s)
- Roll all of your permanent Humanity dice plus any extra you chose to roll (represented by blue d6’s)
- Roll Cost (represented by any other color d6’s)
After the dice are rolled –
- 1,2 and 3’s on any dice are considered successes
- Whichever party rolls the most successes is the winner
- Find the highest rolled dice by number and determine which pool is dominant
The Results –
- The winner gets narration rights and describes what happens. Following these guidelines
- If responsibility is the dominant pool, the winner acts in a responsible way
- If Corruption dominates, the winner acts in a way that revels this corruption. They also add 1 permanent die of corruption. If this takes them to 3, 6 or 9 Abuse of Power occurs.
- If Humanity dominates, the winner acts in a way that damages their acceptance. They cross off one of their acceptance boxes. If they are unable to cross of a box (because they have used all 3 previously) they Retreat.
- If cost dominates. Describe what it has cost the charatcer.
Further clarifications -
- You may voluntary add 1 Corruption die per conflict
- Corruption dice are permanent and stick around after the conflict.
- To use a power you must be rolling at least 1 Corruption die.
- You can voluntarily use between 0-6 Humanity dice per conflict.
- Humanity dice are not permanent (unless you have had to Retreat) and are removed following the conflict
An example of a conflict -
Cinder is in a petrol station when he witnesses an armed man enter and demand the clerk empty the till into a bag he holds. Cinder decides to take action and wishes to stop the robber.
GM – Ok, so this is a guy trying to hold up the petrol station. His investment is to rob this guy so that he can feed his drug addiction. He has done this kind of thing before and is holding a gun. He has a price level of 4.
PLAYER – Hmmm, Cinder’s investment is that he grew up round here and doesn’t want this neighborhood turning to ruin. He wants to stop this guy. I will roll all my responsibility dice (3) plus I already have 1 permanent corruption die and I will add a further corruption die. So I’m rolling 5 dice, 3 (white) responsibility dice and 2 (black) corruption dice.
GM – That’s only 5 v 4, there is still a good chance I can win this. Are you sure you don’t want to add any Humanity?
PLAYER – Humanity dice will go after this conflict, so ok I add 2 Humanity dice too.
GM – Right well the dice look like this: Robber 5 (price) dice, Cinder 3 (responsibility) +2 (corruption) +2 (Humanity) = 7 dice total.
The dice are rolled:
Robber – Price: 1,3,4,4 (SUCCESSES = 2)
Cinder – Responsibility: 1,2,4 Corruption: 2,5 Humanity: 5,6 (SUCCESSES = 3)
Humanity dominates as it rolled the single highest die.
GM – Ok Cinder won so you get narration rights.
PLAYER – The robber points the gun in the clerks face and again demands the cash. Cinder emergences from behind a stack of cans and unleashes a fireball right in this dudes chest sending smashing into the confectionary and spilling M&M’s and other sweets everywhere.
GM – That’s good but don’t forget Humanity dominated. How does that appear in the action?
PLAYER – Ah, yeah. Well rather than his chest the fireball hits the robbers head, melting his face. All the time the dude is screaming at the top of his voice. The clerk turns white, shaking his head side to side disbelievingly. That is right before the smell of burnt flesh fills the air. At which point the clerk turns and empties his stomach. Cinder seeing his work done turns and leaves.
GM – Great, don’t forget to check one of your acceptance boxes. I’m sure the clerk doesn’t feel particularly accepting of you right now!
TOAD: This is a shit example, anyone fancy coming up with a decent one?
The Dice Pools (Responsibility, Corruption, Humanity and Cost)
Every superhero should be responsible with their powers or risk Corruption or public hatred. Responsibility in game terms reflects safety. All the time protagonists act in a responsible way things stay under their control and they are able to narrate outcomes how they feel appropriate. If characters are acting in a responsible way then death isn't an option and should be reflected in narration. An example of acting responsibly:
Mick is playing as Tank, a super with super human strength. He is witness to a child being savagely beaten by their own father and wishes to stop the situation. He succeeds in the conflict and Responsibility dominates. Mick describes although Tank would love nothing more than to break every bone in the bully’s body he is able to restrain himself and ends up picking the guy up and throwing him through the air crashing down hard onto the floor. The bully is dazed and confused has stopped beating on the kid but isn’t badly hurt.
Within every human there is selfishness, anger and hate. Often these are only held in check by the fact someone stronger or more powerful than them tells them it is wrong. What if a human was given super powers? Would they fight injustice or would the power corrupt? If Corruption dominates during a conflict then the protagonist must narrate how their powers are slowly corrupting them. The narrative should focus on how the super is unable or unwilling to control their power. This could come in the form of a flashback or as part of the current scene. For example:
Example 1 - Flashback Technique
Jez is playing Nano, a super able to control the speed at which time passes in very localised areas. He has just gotten into a fight with a couple of thugs. During the conflict Nano's Corruption pool dominates. Jez frames a flashback scene there and then. He tells us how Nano's girlfriend is always going on and on at him about menial tasks. He tells us this is happening right now and he is getting pretty fed up with it. So he thinks it won't hurt (just this once) to speed up time so that this lecture can be over quicker. Problem is he overcooks the power and rather than a few minutes passing (focussed on his girlfriend) many years pass. She visibly ages in front of him to a withered old lady. Nano flees the apartment in shock, guilt and disgust. The game then cuts back to the scene directly following the thug conflict.
Example 2 – As part of the scene Technique
Same situation, Jez is playing Nano he has just had a conflict with a couple of thugs. Although he won the conflict his Corruption pool has dominated. Jez narrates how Nano reaches both his hands forward aimed at the thug’s. They both stop dead clutching where their heart is. Nano is slowing both of their hearts down which causes them considerable pain. We see Nano’s face has a huge grin on it. Jez narrates how much Nano enjoys the feel of power over the two thugs and probably would of killed them both had it not been for another member of the team putting a hand on his shoulder. Jez tells us Nano shudders when he realises what he nearly done.
As you can see both examples above focus on the abuse of Nano’s power this is important when narrating Corruption dominant outcomes.
How does the public perceive you? Are you still human enough to be part of humanity? Are you ridiculed and branded a freak? Is someone trying to find out who you really are so they can harm you via your family? If the humanity pool dominates during a conflict then the superhero's acceptance is questioned as is expressed during the narrative outcome. Narration regarding humanity should reflect how harm, fear or distrust comes to an innocent because of the supers action. As with all the outcomes (as long as it makes sense) it could be part of the original or a short flashback scene or anything else that makes sense. For example:
Example 1 - Flashback Technique
Same situation again, Jez playing Nano. He has just had a fight with a couple of thugs. This time his Humanity dominates. Jez frames a scene where we see a run down house. He tells us it's the thugs house. In one of the rooms is a small girl no older than about 6. A man enters (it's the thug) he picks up the small girl and gives here a great big hug. He tells her he loves her, she replies saying how much she loves her daddy. Then the man heads off out of the house to get food for his daughter anyway he can. It goes without saying either the thug is beat up badly by Nano or he is sent to the Police Station. Either way the 6 year old girl is left frightened, alone and hungry because of Nano's actions.
Example 2 - As part of the scene Technique
Same situation again, Jez, Nano and thugs. Nano’s humanity is dominant and it’s down to Jez to narrate what happens. He explains how between the thugs and Nano is an old lady who is out taking a stroll. Jez explains that getting these thugs is alls that’s important to Nano. So he narrates how he shoves the old lady into the road to clear the path. The lady manages to avoid the oncoming traffic barely, but the passers by, the drivers in their cars and the lady herself are shocked by the supers actions. Nano doesn’t even notice he only has eyes for the thugs.
As you can see the protagonist isn’t directly affected by the dominance of Humanity. But the same can’t be said for innocent members of the public. Another thing to point out is that Supers (in your world) could be rare or celebrities and as such are followed by news cameras, waiting to shot their next feat of daring action or the next time they fuck things up.
Supers put themselves on the line all the time, either through their own gains or acts of heroism. Often they have a price to pay for doing that. If Price dominates in a conflict then it will cost the super something more. This could be a physical, mental or emotional cost. This is the Price they pay. Here are a couple of examples of how Cost dominance works in play:
Jane is playing Pestilence, a super able to inflict or cure terrible diseases on others. She is called to a situation where a man has cancer, given up on any hope; he has decided to jump from a motorway bridge. Jane rolls to try and talk him down and succeeds however cost is dominant. Jane explains how Pestilence talks the guy down by absorbing the cancer which riddles his body. She tells how the caner forms into a humanoid being. Pestilence then walks up to the cancer, embraces and absorbs it. Pestilence coughs once and we specks of blood on the supers hand.
Pete is playing the Atomic Hammer, a super able to split his body into hundreds of copies that can act independently. He is holding back an anti-war protest that has gotten out of hand. People are being hurt, guns are being fired and innocent life is being lost. He is successful in calming the riot but in doing so a number of Atomic Hammer copies are beaten, shot, stabbed and killed. Pete explains each one of the wounds sustained against the copies is like the original Hammer taking that damage. Blood runs freely from his nose and mouth and he is severely weakened by the effort.
Cost should be something costly! It should be something the players (and most definately the characters) wish to avoid. When narrating Cost dominance make sure it is just that. None of this 'Oh I broke my Sword or my guns out of bullets' or 'I broke my finger nail.' bollocks. It should be horrible, it should fuck the super up. Play hard! Play Fair!
A quick review of the terms:
- If Responsibility dominates – Things stay under control, no one dies.
- If Corruption dominates – The super abuses their power, causes pain to others.
- If Humanity dominates - An innocent is hurt, acceptance of the super is lowered
- If Cost dominates – The super is hurt, physically, mentally or emotionally
Or even more simply:
- Responsibility = Control
- Corruption = Abuse of power
- Humanity = Innocent impacted directly
- Cost = PC impacted directly
Things going wrong (Abuse of Power and Damned, Acceptance and Retreat)
Abuse of Power:
When a super begins to abuse their power either consciously or unconsciously the Corruption is clear for all to see. They have begun to cut corners and take the ‘easy option’. They used there powers instead of dealing with the issues they face. This abuse of power can only lead to being…
So you have become the very thing you were fighting against! The supers Corruption and resulting Abuse of Power have caused something disastrous to happen. Think of it as a release of built up anger, frustration and pain. This manifests itself as something hideous and disgusting to the average Joe. But this is exactly what they need to help re-think their beliefs and what is important to them. Have they gone too far though? Will they be saved from themselves?
Supers use their powers to improve situations, either for themselves or others. But the more powerful you are the less human you become. Will the public still accept you? Soon, they'll brand you a freak or, worse still, they'll see you as less than human. Even if you are trying to help them you can never please everyone. You’re different and they are jealous of what you are. Some supers may need to keep their identity secret otherwise it can be used by others to hurt them and those close to them. The more you keep yourself secret the less human you become. Becoming unaccepted by the public leads to…
Nobody said it was going to be easy having all those powers! In fact with the added responsibilities no one would blame you if you couldn’t handle it. Run away! Hide! The public hate you anyway, why should you put your life or your family’s life on the line for them? The super is unable or unwilling to 'deal' with things right now. They go into hiding for a time until they can re-find themselves or what they are fighting for.
Scenes in DRYC should be independent and they should drive toward conflict. There should always be something happening within the scene. If any of the players or indeed the GM feels the scene is stalling then they should (with consent of the other players) call a close to that scene.
Generally the GM is responsible for framing the scenes explaining who is present and what is happening. However there are exceptions to this. The players are responsible for framing introduction scenes. Also at the end of any scene the GM offers the players a chance to frame a scene around their PC and the PC’s goal. This is a choice and is in no way mandatory but players should feel supported and empowered to frame scenes that are important to their PC.
The Flow -
- Decide on a setting for your game
- Decide on any boundaries in the narrative
- Create the characters. This should be done in an open manner seeking and giving feedback
- Players take turns in framing their introduction scenes
- The GM then frames scenes with the guidelines above
- At the end of each scene the GM offers the players a chance to frame their goal scene
RULES SUMMARY (player handout)
Once per roll, you may increase your Corruption by 1.
Any time you roll, you may add 1 to 6 temporary Humanity dice.
To determine the degree of success, count the dice showing 1,2 or 3.
To determine the strength of the pool, find the dice of that color showing highest number (break ties with the next highest number within those pools. If it is still tied follow this hierarchy: Responsibility, Corruption, Humanity, Cost).
If you meet or beat the GM’s degree, you succeed. Otherwise you fail.
To determine what dominates, pick the pool with the highest strength.
If Responsibility dominates, things stay under control.
If Corruption dominates, you become more corrupt. Increase corruption by 1 permanently.
If Humanity dominates, you are less accepted by humanity. Check off a box and behave accordingly.
If cost dominates, you pay a greater price. TOAD: There needs to be more of a mechanical element to Cost.
If corruption is increased to 3,6 or 9 you are damned.
If you must check off an accepted box and can’t, you retreat.
If you are damned, you power has corrupted you, act in such a way to represent this. Lose all corruption dice, lose one responsibility, and gain a permanent corruption.
If you retreat, you go AWOL for a time. Clear out your acceptance, lose one responsibility, and gain a permanent Humanity.
If you lose all you responsibility, you are beyond help (the super is out of the game)
To make use of humanity dice, you may add 1 to 6 temporary humanity dice to the roll (plus any permanent humanity the character may have).
Indie Pete (Atomic Hammer)
Jez Grey (Nano)
Mike Harnish (Megaton)
Ashley Griffiths (Scarlet Wraith)
Mike Lacey (Professor Elements)
Joe Reddick (Marksman)
Mick Reddick (Tank)