Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mystery Men! Play Report: OMG vs. The Clown & Brute

Last night, my little gaming group and I took MM! out for a test drive. I thought it went well, and the feedback was positive. I figured we would play about 4 hours, but the game went long without people completely losing interest (though Rygar did make an entrance that stripped away one of our sorcerers for a few minutes – hey, they guy was a Rygar addict from way back).

So, without further ado, I introduce you to the power and majesty of OMG (decided after the fact to stand for Operating Meta-Human Group). Character creation probably took about thirty minutes, some of which was spent explaining the rules. If there had been a need to create some replacement characters, I suspect it would have gone a bit faster.

There was one other hero - Random by Crystal Franklin - whose character sheet went home with Crystal. I can report that he was a drag queen based loosely on Gambit who could fly and shoot energy bolts.

So, the adventure begins ...

5:00 AM, OMG HQ, Imperial State Building: A scan of the internet brings to light a bank robbery in progress (I guess somebody tweeted it). Our brave heroes leap to action.

[Sidebar: When starting your own superhero group, you want to make arrangements for transportation. A new rule (not yet in the Gamma document) replaces money in the game for XP expenditures at character creation and feats of Charisma for later acquisition of goods. It didn't occur to OMG that they should buy a vehicle at character creation.]

The First National Bank of Shore City is about three blocks away from the Imperial State Building, so the group immediately starts trying to figure out how to get there. Two attempts are made to commandeer a van using feats of charisma, with neither one successful. The sorcerers are hesitant to spend XP from their sorcery pool to teleport, but eventually M Knight teleports himself, Emma Entropy and Nightmare to the bank, letting Anti-Spidey and Random web-swing and fly respectively.

Getting to the bank, our three heroes (yeah, they split the party almost immediately) find that the vault has been cracked using dynamite. Rushing in, they encounter three thugs armed with machine guns. The thugs beat OMG on initiative and open up with their machine guns, with Emma taking a little hit point damage. Nightmare rushes forward and takes a gunman out with his zweihander. M Knight decides to raise a wall of fire to burn them severely (yeah, they're those kind of heroes), not discounting the fact that Nightmare is in the line of fire. Emma makes an attempt to put her ally into temporal stasis to stop him, but he makes his feat roll and avoids it (yes, they're fighting each other only 10 minutes into the game - this is par for the course with these guys and I love them for it).

The wall of fire is raised, the thugs take a bit of damage (they make a dexterity feat and take only half damage) and Nightmare does the same. Taken by blood-thirst, Nightmare rushes through the flames and with a single sweep of his sword (made two extra attacks, took a -6 penalty to all three attacks), dispatches two of the remaining robbers and brings the third down to a single hit point. The thug surrenders and, surprisingly, Nightmare doesn't kill him. In the meantime, M Knight raises a wall of ice on top of the wall of fire, squelching it and creating a fog cloud. Nobody is entirely sure why this is a good plan, since it would give the thugs a chance to hide in the fog, but since Nightmare already has the last thug by the nape of his neck, no harm is done. M Knight is going to want those sorcery XP back later, though.

Having foiled the robbery, OMG does exactly what my players did when they were the Tender Blades and Wyld Stallyns – they walk away, questioning nothing. Most of OMG goes back to their HQ, while M Knight, with the help of a spell of super charisma, goes out and hires a helicopter and pilot. While in HQ, the Referee decides to goose things a bit with a skype from the police commissioner, letting them know that the thugs work for Boss Feeney, notorious crime lord.

[Sidebar: All of the Golden Age sponsors of Mystery Men! will show up in the Shore City setting. Since Tom Feeney is an old friend, his name popped into my head first, so he became a mob boss. The rest of his friends were quite enthused about tracking him down and bringing him to justice]

A plan is hatched – M Knight will cast astral projection on Random and she'll go check out the home of Boss Feeney to discover his hideout. She makes the trip, but being unable to touch or move anything makes searching difficult. Boss Feeney isn't home, his butler is sampling the scotch with his wife, and she does check out the contents of his wall safe (ledgers, papers, money, jewels, drugs) and his cellar, with its secret exit. Back home, she reports to the group and they decide to head to police headquarters to look for the location of Boss Feeney's hideout. With some poking around and a charisma feat by Anti-Spidey, they find a cop on Feeney's payroll who is willing to lead them to his hideout, located beneath a pool hall.

Once in the pool hall, OMG manages to convince the assembled toughs that they want to join the gang (another charisma feat by Anti-Spidey). Boss Feeney turns out to be harder to convince, and an energy bolt from Random that was meant to scare him instead brings an attack. This time, OMG faces off against Feeney and five thugs with handguns. Anti-Spidey invokes his black tentacles, M Knight turns to his crossbow, Random throws her energy bolts, Nightmare swings his sword, Emma starts throwing around hideous laughter and in the end the thugs are vanquished and Feeney questioned.

Feeney admits he was hired to hit the bank by a big guy with iron gauntlets to cause a distraction. All he knows is that he visited the guy on a boat (The Flying Duck) docked at the marina. OMG heads for the boat in their helicopter and discovers it has departed. Emma (now played by Jessica) uses locate object to track it, and in a few minutes they arrive to find the Flying Duck committing an act of piracy against a larger yacht.

The Flying Duck has thrown a couple of grappling hooks over to the larger yacht and the big guy – notorious super hit man The Brute – along with three thugs and two men in hi-tech armor and carrying swords – are on board, shaking down the owners. The gunmen open up on the helicopter, which takes heavy damage. OMG jumps out and the chopper flees for the city. Emma invokes a cloudkill and takes out one thug and the two swordsmen, while another gunman is downed by Nightmare and M Knight takes out a grapple with his crossbow (hey, it's a comic book).

The Brute takes a mighty leap back to his boat and Nightmare attempts to follow, but smacks into the boat and drops into the drink. While Anti-Spidey rescues Nightmare with his web power, Random peppers the boat with energy bolts. The Brute cuts the last grapple and, though he takes a energy bolt from Emma using the true strike power, manages to get the Flying Duck underway. OMG checks out the owners of the pirated yacht and find that a large, valuable diamond was stolen. For some reason they don't give chase in their own yacht, and instead head back to HQ.

Thinking it over, they decide that the diamond is probably going to be used to make a death ray of some sort. Since this is a comic book world, this is actually a reasonable suggestion. Anti-Spidey and Random hit Google, and figures out that the swordsmen are the henchmen for notorious international terrorist The Clown. The police report an hour later that the Flying Duck has been found a few miles away from the city in a wooded area. They've canvassed the cabins and found no sign of the Brute or anyone else. Investigating, they find signs that the Brute got into a heavy vehicle and headed for a main highway.

By checking some traffic cameras at the local news station, they determine the Brute was headed back into downtown. A long thinking session follows, and with a little help from the Ref, they ask the police if there have been any crimes lately that might tie into the making of a death ray. Sure enough, a month ago a scientist from some local labs went missing. The administrator of the labs is questioned, and it turns out the scientist was working on harmonic resonances a' la Tesla's earthquake machine – for peaceful uses, of course. He made a prototype machine using a large synthetic crystal, but decided he needed a massive gemstone to make it work and, of course, such items are too valuable to expect anyone to lend it for use in an earthquake machine.

So, OMG now knows what they are up against, but they don't know the target. A visit to the subway control station reveals no sign of the villains on security cameras. The controllers mention that the older, abandoned tunnels don't have security cameras and that, indeed, they can be found under most of the prime targets in downtown. OMG decides to hit those tunnels and look under the Imperial State Building, where their own headquarters is located, and they get lucky. There, almost finished setting up a new machine, is the Clown, Brute, three swordsmen (enhanced armor, energy swords, force shields) and the kidnapped scientist. A battle erupts, and in the end Anti-Spidey's black tentacles finally capture the villains while Emma gets the scientist out of harm's way and M Knight disables the machine. The day is saved and Nightmare and Anti-Spidey come close to death's door but manage to survive.

XP earned - 1,520 total, about 304 per hero.


What did we learn?

1. Crystal wishes heroes had a way to develop a signature move. I'll need to make a more clear reference to using feats to modify powers and develop such moves. Perhaps there can be an optional rule for heroes putting XP toward getting bonuses to make their signature move.

2. We learn that heroes need to put some thought into vehicles and headquarters and maybe henchmen.

3. Sorcerers need to spend XP on powers outside their sorcery pool. Once he was tapped out, M Knight was reduced to shooting a crossbow at things.

4. Likewise, it's a good idea for everyone in the group to have at least one super ability score. Failed intelligence feats to make connections and find clues and failed charisma feats to acquire items and shake down thugs made it obvious that super abilities are highly useful. This was only highlighted when the super villains, built with 40,000 XP each to give them a fighting chance against the more numerous heroes, came in with more levels. Honestly, the Clown build was sub-optimal as well – his swords were pretty pathetic, while the Brute's iron claws almost took out Nightmare.

I can think of a few rules tweaks after the game – I think the fly power needs to have a slightly improved speed and I'm pretty certain I'm going to replace Single-Use / Limited / Permanent with One per Day / Three per Day / At Will – easier to keep track of. I might add some more equipment – a communicator of some sort might be nice.

The game was fun, and I think (if I had the time) we'd make a campaign out of it. I think the proof of concept was a success and the game is just about ready to go live. I need to write up the sample setting (Shore City, Boss Feeney, etc) and put a little more work into the sample adventure, but other than that Mystery Men! is on its way!

Thanks to my players for their input and help, and if anyone else out there has play tested the game, please let me know how it went.


Sketch of M Knight by Danny Roberts. You can see his real artwork HERE.


  1. Is Enhance Armor a post-gamma release addition? I'm looking for a way to convert magic plusses...

  2. In 3rd edition terms, Enhance Armor I is "Mage Armor", Enhance Armor II is "Stoneskin" and Enhance Armor III is "Iron Body", with slightly different effects.

  3. If Gambit was actually a drag queen, he'd be a much more interesting character.

  4. Much different gaming experience from an H&H session. Well played!

    In H&H, a mysteryman does gradually increasing damage with a signature move (instead of getting backstab).

  5. Couldn't she simply lean through to look inside?


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