Wednesday, August 16, 2017

One for All

Recapping our first session of My Hero Academia: American Ultra...

For those unfamiliar with My Hero Academia, it proposes a world where some 8, or 9 generations from now (roughly), about 80% of the world's population has some form of superpower, known as a 'Quirk'.

Quirks vary widely, and may manifest as relatively minor abilities such as breathing underwater, or moving very small, lightweight objects with one's mind, to devastating levels of super strength, or the power to generate intense heat and flames.

In the Japanese Manga and Anime it is explained that to prevent Japan from descending into pure chaos as a result of these conditions, it was made generally illegal to use ones' Quirk in public for any reason. It is highly illegal to use ones Quirk against another person, or against public buildings, or private property.

There are still those who attempt to abuse, or unlawfully benefit from their Quirk. As police generally do not use their Quirks in combat situations (adhering to, and upholding the same laws that apply to citizens), the profession of Hero was developed to handle such criminals. 

In order to be a professional Hero, one much qualify for a Hero License. Once a license is obtained, it is common for new Heroes to join up with one of the many privately operated (but government approved) Hero Agencies.

As with any vocations, schools were developed to help teach potential professional do-gooders how to be Heroes. Staffed by former, and current Pro-Heroes, Japan's most famous and well regarded high school is Ultra Academy (UA) High School in Musutafu, Japan * (thought to be located Shizuoka Prefecture).

Japan's greatest hero is All Might, whose rather unusual quirk is known as One for All

Our campaign is set in the USA of this world, beginning around the same time as the events in the Japanese Manga begin. There are a number of differences between my American setting, and that of the Japanese original.

First, American laws are a bit more flexible, and relaxed, which means the police do occasionally use minor quirks to help with their police work, delivery boys bike across town with an occasional burst of super speed, and causal quirk use in public places is not illegal, though it may be frowned upon in certain areas. By contrast, the penalties for aggressive quirk use with the intent to cause harm are much more severe. 

The US in general, and New York especially, sees more crime than Japan does, and it's Hero organizations are set up differently to respond to that. Instead of privatized companies and agencies, American Heroes are split into teams overseen by one, or more government agencies. While most superhero teams operate on either a city, state, or federal level, it is not the city, state, or even Department of Defense that has jurisdiction over them. Instead it is a series of Supers specific groups, and departments such as the US Department of Quirk Affairs, and Welfare, and Q.U.A.N.T.U.M. (the Quirk User Anti-terrorism Network Tactical Unit Monitor).

There are hero schools in the USA as well, with the best known and respected being American Ultra (AU) High School. To be a professional Hero on any level, American heroes also need to obtain a license just like the Heroes of Japan, and AU is the recommended place to start training for such a calling, and career. 

Episode 1: 'Favorite Sons and Daughters'

I opened with a prologue scene (which the PCs were not involved in), in which America's greatest hero, Favorite Son, and a protege'/sidekick hero named Waterbug, are chasing down a superhuman assassin named Killjoy. Favorite Son knows for a fact that Killjoy ran down a particular alley, and has cornered him there. Favorite Son sent other members of his team to surround the block just in case Killjoy made an attempt to escape. Waterbug is there to watch, and learn, and alert the other team members if things get nasty.

The thing is, Killjoy, though very dangerous, is no match for Favorite Son. While Killjoy is similar to Marvel's Deadpool, or DC's Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, he is not as good, or as powerful as those men. Favorite Son meanwhile is similar to Captain America, though decidedly more powerful, and possessing an additional superpower unknown to most of the world's populace (and not mentioned here). 

The lights in the alley go out suddenly, and Waterbug, who thought he saw something seconds before, is suddenly gripped with severe, debilitating doubt, sadness, and despair. Obviously the work of Killjoy (Quirk: Sorrow - Emotion Control that absorbs positive feelings, and thoughts, and heightens negative feelings, sadness, and depression).

Suddenly, Waterbug is stabbed through the chest by a katana! As he clutches his chest, and slumps to the ground, Favorite Son spins around searching for his attacker, and is stabbed as well. Both men are left bleeding in the alley...

And we cut to the next morning, where the top news story on every station is the death of Favorite Son (oh, and Waterbug). Heroes, current and retired, speak on how this terrible tragedy could have happened. Most agree that while the evidence points to Killjoy murdering the two heroes, it seems so unlikely that Favorite Son couldn't have taken him on. 

Flags across the country fly at half staff. A National Moment of Silence is declared in the early morning hours. A rifle salute is given at Arlington National Cemetery. 

That day, a Monday, marked a very special day for American Ultra High School, the USA's premiere Hero Training School, located in New York City, New York. It was the day accepted applicants were to take their placement tests to see what class, and department they'd be in.

Many recommended cancelling the event, including well known Superheroes and government officials. However, the school's principal, the beloved, long time heroine Timeless Beauty, declared that after the moment of silence the placement tests would go on as planned.

Timeless Beauty was a close, personal friend of Favorite Son, and gave a rousing speech about how he would want them to go on with the vital task of training the next generation of heroic defenders of peace, justice, and good will. He would want to send the message that, "Our spirit remains intact. Our mission never more clear."

Scene cut to the front of American Ultra High School, where over 120 students, their parents, family, friends, and teachers gather together waiting for the event to begin. And the placement exams truly are an event, and a time honored tradition at AU. 

The PCs are in the crowd, eager to see who else will be attending classes with them, who the teachers are, and what more (if anything) they can learn about the passing of Favorite Son.

The PCs are:

Darien Thomas (Played by Dave)

Quirk: Ball Lightning - Darien surrounds himself with a field of electricity that is dangerous to come into contact with (you could get electrocuted! Stay grounded! Wear rubber gloves!). After charging up for a few seconds, he can shoot himself throw the air like a lightning bolt. The field remains the whole time, making him a cross between an electricity character, and Marvel's Cannonball. 

Darien is the son of two very famous pro-heroes. His mother is the extremely popular Electric Blue, whose electricity quirk is one of the top versions in the world. His father is the well liked, but less popular Momentum. His Quirk is called Unstoppable, and he is a bit like the Juggernaut of Marvel Comics. 

The family is wealthy, upper class, but environmentally, and socially conscious. They are popular among the Superhero set, as well as the public (though Mom, and Son more than Dad, as he can be a little gruff). Darien grew up with Superheroes the way a lot of Celebrity's kids grow up knowing Hollywood types. 

On the surface, Darien is 'the popular kid', and seems a bit shallow and showy. In truth, he plays that part because its what the public expects. With closer connections, family and friends, he is very serious about being a hero. He is more down to Earth than one would expect.

There's a lot of pressure for Darien to do well, especially from his parents, but he remains a good natured, friendly sort who is trying hard to take it all in stride. 

Darien is friends with a number of other pro-Superhero 'celebrity kids', such as...

Jax Reed (Played by Marcus) 

Quirk: Sound Control - Jax can control sound. He can increase, or decrease the volume of any sound around him, including silencing loud explosions. Jax can not create, or completely eliminate a sound however, and when he appears to silence something, he must release that sound somewhere else. He can of course create sound by snapping, or speaking, but he can't, for instance, think of a sound and have it happen. 

The power is pretty versatile, though Jax is most accustomed to using it as a blast by absorbing the vibrations of loud noises and redirecting them. 

Jax, like Darien, is a legacy. His grandfather was the well known hero Sonic Marvel, who eventually retired from Superheroing to become a political and social activist, and community leader. 

Jax's parents are apparently quite wealthy, having made money off of granddad's fame. They run a business that produces the Sonic Marvel animated cartoon, makes the action figures, t-shirts, and assists in funding his charity and non-profit work. 

By contrast, Jax and his grandfather live in a middle income neighborhood, enjoying a simple 'blue collar' lifestyle. Sonic Marvel wanted Jax to grow up the same way he did, hoping that would lead to his grandson gaining the same morals, and sense of right and wrong that he has.

Sonic Marvel was a major advocate of a low-income housing program backed by the Catholic Church which is the current residence of...

Seph Rigard (Played by Jeff)

Quirk: Belief-Shaping - Seph can transform belief in himself, in his ideals, and in his goals into solid, and semi-solid 'energy' that he can then shape into various useful forms. If others join him in achieving the same goal, or give him encouragement (i.e. believe in him, or share his belief), he has more energy to work with. 

Essentially, he is like a Green Lantern, or possibly, a Blue Lantern. He can not perform fine manipulation, or create fine details thus far. Nor can he generate any of the side effect powers many Green Lanterns seem to be able to manifest (Creating a fire extinguisher that actually puts out fire, or a Sonar machine that bounces sound waves). The power is still incredibly useful, flexible, and potentially dangerous.

Seph has a very interesting background, though much of it remains a mystery. 

He is originally from England. Following the disappearance of his parents, his older sister became a rebellious youth, acting out as a hero or villain as her needs and desires suited her. After a near disastrous run in with a powerful pro-Superhero, she decided to make a major change for herself and her younger brother by moving to the USA.

The two youths found help, housing, and friendship through the Church. One particular priest took to looking after them personally and became a mentor for Seph. During one of their talks, the priest told Seph, "You are destined to do great things. You will make a difference in the world but only if you believe you can." Seph took this to heart and with the priest's help, applied to American Ultra High School. 

Seph is very philosophical, and seems older and wiser than his years. He gets along well with the other PCs, though each is a very different personality.

As the PCs interacted with each other they also met a slew of their future classmates. Among them were...

Chenrong Leung - Childhood friend of Darien's who can teleport short distances (only a few inches or so), although she does this very often and very quickly. The strobe light-like effect makes it very hard to hit her or lock onto her with quirk attacks. It also gives her low-level super speed.

Chet Walters - A jerky jock with a quirk that creates a basketball sized 'kinetic ball' of force. 

Desiree Alvarez - Very self-assured girl with density increase resulting in super durability and strength.

Jeremy Byrne - A nerdy kid with powerful heat vision.

Jesse Kirkman - Zombie looking girl who appears to be undead. Doesn't tire, breath, etc.

Lana Poe - A quiet, blue haired, pale skinned girl with a chilling touch.

Mikita Sferson - Daughter of the pro-hero 'The Viking'. She can generate disc shaped 'shields' of force.

Spencer Greyson - A kid with gray skin, white hair, pointy ears, and antenna. His quirk enables him to temporary redirect the pull of gravity, making people or objects appear to fall up, backward, or sideways.

Rocco Sargossi - A large, super strong, super tough lobster/man hybrid. His quirk is that he can breath water as easily as air and swim as easily as he walks or runs.

These are just a few of the many NPC students I introduced but they were the ones that got the most attention. 

After a bit of role-playing, and getting familiar with both their PCs, the NPCs, and the setting, the players got ready for the 'placement test' to come. 

I had the AU High School staff assemble the crowd, and direct everyone's attention to the principal, Timeless Beauty. I gave a short, impassioned speech (as the principal) about what the school was about, and how they are carrying on Favorite Son's passion of helping people, and stopping those who would abuse their gifts. 

It really went over well with the guys, building the relationship between the principal, Favorite Son, the bigger plot, and the world for future sessions. 

Following that, the group was totally jazzed to get to the action/adventure part of the game. 

And I will tell you all about time.

Plus Ultra!

Barking Alien


  1. So you have anime, superheroes, and teenagers from outer space all in one RPG. It's like you formed the Adam Dickstein RPG Voltron.

    1. LMAO

      It is indeed. It just keeps getting better too. The second session was an intense mix of investigative mystery-solving, combat, and character exploration.

      So good!