Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kapow! - Joshua Macy

Kapow! Breakdown

172 Pages - Free at http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/95884/Kapow

PART I

In the introduction, definitely wearing his four-colour heart on his sleeve, the designer.

Chapter 1 - Steps to Creating a Superhero

Scope - From 1. Normal, to 12. Cosmic.  An approximation of the power level of the game.  Also Tone - from Grim, to Camp.

Quick Start Hero - pick an entry from the sample list closest to your idea and modify.  Decide if a power is Automatic or Active.  There are a few different templates.  Standard, Powerhouse, Minimal Jack-Of-all-Trades.

Power names and descriptions are free-form.  Every character gets 3 Boosts to differentiate with.  You can take Disadvantages on powers to boost them.  Add Complications and background detail.  There are Advantages as well like Ultra-Flexible and Area Effect.

Chapter 2

Concept - make one up.

Chapter 3

So to take the Standard Template to convert my first Super Squadron character Nightblack. A darkness generator that wears all black and has a big red sword and shuriken with some enhanced abilities like fighting and Agility.

Standard:
Main Power: 8 (d8, d8) - call this Fighting
4 others powers at: 6 (d6, d6) - Darkness Generation, Strength, Agility, Endurance.  Spend the three boosts on Tough, Will and Actions.

Tough: 3
Will: 3
Stamina: 2
Actions: 3

Chapter 4

Boosts, Advantages, Disadvantages.

In Kapow! powers are scaled to Scope.  Nightblack was a standard four-colour type hero.  It gives examples that 8 Telekineses could lift a car at Street scope but a Blue Whale at National scope.  So the narrative fictio matters.

Minor Powers are the fourth type are Regular, Movement and Utility.  Characters can have any number they like of these.  So explicitly could definite Nightblack as having the ability to see in the dark at 4: and also Running at 4:.

There are rules for Assets, Companions, Gear, Vehicles, Bases, etc. and for making up your own add-ons to these and to powers.  Also Perks, Contacts, Reputation and Favours.

Chapter 5

Complications

You must take one Big one and two Small ones.  So if Nightblack is tackling Doctor Technology's hidden US bases, he is then Out Of His Area to go along with Aging Vigilante and Alone.

Chapter 6

Origin and Background

Skills and abilities from this are at the Default Power Level of 4.  In Nightblack's case, Asian Weapons and Academics.

Drive - let's say Justice.

Appearance - dresses in skintight black spandex with small red goggles.

Add a Battle Cry.  Only mentally, in Vietnamese for a darkness wielding martial artist, really.

Chapter 7

Examples characters.


Part II

Playing a Superhero

Chapter 8

Quick Summary of the mechanics.  The dice rolling, roll the two dice that your power is rated at: 8 is (d8, d8), 7 is (d8, d6) etc. and you use the higher result.

Then a list of various combat manoeuvres and options - even the Sudden Death challenge one roll takes it - highest side wins.

Chapter 9

Defining Powers.  With examples and levels.

Chapter 10

Using Powers.  They have to make comics sense. The Default Skill substitution roll if you have nothing relevant.  Contested and Uncontested Actions with difficult numbers.  What happens when you are Damaged and Hindered (reduced effectiveness).  And Out as in taken out in an appropriate manner, physically or mentally.  There are simple timing rules in recovering from this...or preventing an opponent from doing so.  Tired, Overkill, Disabled.

Minion and Mob rules!

Chapter 11

Tropes, Battle Cry, Combining Powers, Pulling Punches.  Failure Is Not An Option, Overdrive, Power Play - for those times when you really call on the reserves, Sheer Determination, Sudden Death, Wild Shot.

Chapter 12

Rounds and Turns

Chapter 13

Special Situations

Like Crossing Scopes and Crossovers with Guest Stars.

Chapter 14

Ranges

These are abstract.  Normal = large room, Agent, Street, Cosmic etc.  Like Scopes.  Movement, chases and senses.

Chapter 15

Investigation, Gumshoe.  With a note: don't overuse it and make a skill system.

Chapter 16

Experience.  Generally one XP per session.  Getting taken Out or capture gives extra.  Spending it, Patrol, Training.

Chapter 17

The Environment

Vehicle scope, Buildings, More Stuff to Break. Hazards and Obstacles.


Part III - Page 109

Gamemastering Superheroes.

Chapter 18

Advice on types of game, campaign, etc.

Chapter 19

Villains

Motives, Modus Operandi, Types along with the two former.  Complications and casting.

Chapter 20

Adventures, types of Scheme.  Lairs.

Adventure Preparation.

PART IV - Page 148

Appendices

A

Otherwise known as Yay! :)

Suggest that it is a guideline, not a complete procedure.  This is the gamemaster section.

Trying it out :-

Theme - 1d10 = 3 Elemental
  Elemental Theme - 1d20 = 17 Magnetism

So the bad person here might just be a Magnetic Elemental.


Appendix B - Page 159

Tables of different levels of Scope and what they approximate to for weight and speed.


Appendix C - Page 165

Options summary for manoeuvres.

Appendix D - Page 166

How to be a good player.

Then an index to finish.


Overall this is a very solid point buy creation game with reasonably straightforward mechanics and would seem to be somewhere between BASH and Cortex in that sense.  A few power levels, referenced as dice with very free form power choice, design and definition like the latter.

The game makes consistent sense and reinforces the design decisions with the general advice favouring a standard four-colour type hero game, but with other possibilities.  This is the Primary Rule that actually exists in game.  Be superhero-like.  The title obviously suggests it, too.

Having played a couple of times, it is quite suited to bringing a new player in.  What can your hero do?  What are they best at?  Ok, that is an 8, the others are at 6, we will work out the abilities and some minor powers as we go.  Done in a minute or two.

The Power Level chart could use reiteration of listing earlier, I think, before Page 67:

Again, the base mechanic being roll 2, keep 1, the highest.

e.g.

PL Dice
2  d1
3  d4
4  d4, d4
5  d6, d4
6  d6, d6
7  d8, d6
8  d8, d8
9  d10, d8
10  d10, d10
11  d12, d10
12  d12, d12
13  d8+5, d13
14  d8+5, d8+5
15  d10+5, d8+5,
16  d10+5, d10+5,
17  d12+5, d10+5
etc.

Definitely a lot better than I thought it would be.  The advice for Gamemasters section is longer than Villains & Vigilantes and Super Squadron, at least in page count.

Abstract ranges and measurement means a fiction-weighted rules light game that holds together very nicely and would suit lots of people. 


4 out of 5

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