Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Secret Origins - Fabulous First Issue - Part II

When last we left our heroes...

The Terrific Trio had arrived at an office building fire just in time to save an office worker and her child (lousy time for 'Bring your child to work day', no? - Or maybe she just couldn't find a sitter). The next thing they knew, the evil Prof. Pandemonium leaped through the building's roof and into the air. Before rocketing away with his boot jets, the criminal mastermind fired micro-missiles from his gauntlet toward the flame enshrouded edifice. The missiles struck the edge of the roof, sending charred masonry and burning wood tumbling down toward the assembled firefighters, emergency response personnel and civilians below.

Sonar Man was the only one fast enough to pursue Prof. Pandemonium but if he did, the avalanche of brick and flames would fall upon the good people of New York City who were gathered on the street.

The Terrific Trio snapped into action...

Roughhouse began to grow and leaned over the paramedics and firefighters around him. In mere seconds he was two, three, four, FIVE times his normal size. The debris bounced harmlessly off his rocky hide. There was a reason they called him RoughHOUSE.

U.F.O. moved quickly, deliberately and smoothly as he always did. He managed to pull the young woman, her child and several firefighters down around him before activating his Telekinetic Force Field.

Sonar Man did not acknowledge their actions, having faith in his friends and allies to do the best they could. Instead he focused on the largest piece of wreckage and redirecting the cacophony of noise on the city street, from shattering brick and mortar to the frightened gasps of onlookers, into a single, powerful blast of sound. Making an extra effort, Sonar Man combined his massive sonic attack with his vibratory power and blasted the falling facade into tiny pebbles and ash.

He has saved the day. Cheers went up from the assembled citizenry. Sonar Man nodded and waved in an absent minded manner. He saved the people for now but the Professor had escapes. He scanned the skies. Pandemonium was nowhere to be found...


GM (Me): "Experience point bonus! Nice work Sonar Man. What made you blow up the debris instead of chasing after the supervillain?"

Player 1: "I had no idea if a chunk that size, which was on fire, would hurt the rest of the guys. And they had there hands full protecting people. What if this landed where they weren't...on people they couldn't reach."

GM (Me): "Granted. I meant, why does that matter? Aren't they just NPCs?"

Player 1: "No way. They are the people of this city and I am a superhero. I'll always do what I can to protect them first."


This adventure and the dialog below occurred in 1982. We were 13. It was my first time running a session of a Superhero RPG and the RPG in question was Villains & Vigilantes.

If one wonders where I am coming from with my idea of what constitutes a heroic PC, you can easily trace it back to this moment. A player thinking about his buddies' characters and the NPCs well being before thinking about beating up the bad guy.

There has been quite a bit of hullabaloo about heroism, the traditional smash and grab style of dungeon crawling and related ideas and I must say that I applaud the discussion of it if not always the nature of the arguements.

While I won't deems the 'kill the monster/take his stuff' approach to gaming 'wrongbad', I will say it was never really my thing. From as far back as my first D&D adventure as a player to my first Superhero one as a GM, I've preferred a more cinematic approach. This isn't some new school concept or indie gaming thing, this is how I've always done it. This is what I enjoy.

In the end, that's all that matters,

Barking Alien


  1. Thumbs up my friend.

    Have any of those characters made a return appearance? I love dropping in references (if not outright appearances) by old PCs and NPCS so it happens a lot in my games.

  2. Believe it or not...

    These character were basically test characters in a test game. It ran all of three sessions and than these guys were never seen again.

    Sonar Man is mentioned as having a brother who also has powers and his player would later play the brother in a long, ongoing campaign. It was revealed in the latter game that the brothers got their powers from some project their physist dad was working on. Also, the brothers can't team up because the closer they get to each other the weaker their powers become. Within a few feet of each other their abilities cancel out and they're normal people.

    Roughhouse was the first of a series of big, strong guys whose names started with 'R' that my friend Joe ran. Others included Ruckus and Roundhouse. He also created Ruckus' arch-nemesis Rampage.

    U.F.O. is was my character and he is seen in whole or in part in many later PCs and NPCs including USAstronaut, The Visitor, Mr. Spaceman and Excelsior.