Tuesday, July 25, 2017

SPC Gargoyles: Goliath and Elisa


Wild Card Gargoyle Veteran

Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d12+4, Vigor d8

Skills: Fighting d10, Intimidation d6, Knowledge (Arcana) d4, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Stealth d8, Throwing d6, Tracking d6

Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 7; Toughness: 14 

Gear: loincloth

Hindrances: Heroic, Vow [Major; defend his “castle”], Stubborn, Vengeful [Minor]

Edges: Attractive, Charismatic, Command, Noble, Tactician

Super Powers:

  • Armor (5): Armor +14, Limitation (Major; during stone sleep only)

  • Attack, Melee (5): Str+d6, AP 2, Heavy Weapon

  • Fear (1): Scary

  • Flight (8): 4 x Pace, Switchable, Limitation (Minor; gliding, requires altitude and wind currents), Requires Activation (must unfurl wings). Switches with Leaping and Speed.

  • Growth (7): Monster

  • Heightened Senses (2): Low Light Vision, Tracking

  • Leaping (5): Bounce, Death From Above, Switchable. Switches with Flight and Speed.

  • Regeneration (1): Limitation (Major; occurs during stone sleep)

  • Speed (7): 2 x Pace, Blinding Reflexes, Catch and Throw, Switchable, Limitation (Minor; movement at increased Pace requires running on all fours).

  • Super Attribute (12): Agility +3, Strength +3

  • Super Edge (8): Berserker, Counterattack, Frenzy, Sweep

  • Toughness (5)

  • Wall Walker (1)


Elisa Maza

Wild Card Human Veteran

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d10, Strength d8, Vigor d10

Skills: Climbing d6, Driving d8, Fighting d8, Healing d6, Intimidation d6, Investigation d8, Lockpicking d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Shooting d10, Stealth d8, Streetwise d8, Swimming d6, Taunt d6, Throwing d6

Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 10 

Gear: Glock 9mm (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1, Shots 17, AP 1, Semi-Auto), muscle car

Hindrances: Heroic, Stubborn, Vow [Minor; to protect and serve]

Edges: Alertness, Attractive, Brave, Investigator, Martial Artist, Marksman, Quick Draw, Steady Hands, Strong Willed, The Best There Is (super skill)

Super Powers:

  • Super Skill (23): +1 Climbing, Healing, Intimidation, Lockpicking, Swimming, Taunt, Throwing; +2 Driving, Fighting, Investigation, Notice, Persuasion, Shooting, Stealth, Streetwise

  • Super Attribute (14): +1 Agility, Smarts, Strength; +2 Spirit, Vigor

  • Uncanny Reflexes (6): Blinding Reflexes

  • Toughness (3): Limitation (Minor; doesn’t apply when the Game Master deems it important to plot)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Gargoyles SPC Humans, Immortals, Mutates, and Post-Humans

Baseline Humans

The vast majority of humans in the Gargoyles setting (Elisa Maza, David Xanatos, Dingo, Matt Bluestone, Tony Dracon, Dr. Sevarius, etc.) have no inherent superhuman abilities and are limited to spending their Power Points on the following powers:

  • Attack, Melee: Advanced combat training; see Gargoyles SPC Campaign Parameters for damage limits as set forth by the Cartoon Violence setting rule.

  • Awareness

  • Danger Sense

  • Deflection

  • Gifted

  • Invent

  • Leaping: Level 1 only.

  • Minions: this could potentially handle the Golem of Prague and similar companions.

  • Parry

  • Sidekick

  • Speak Language

  • Speed: Level 1 only; Blinding Reflexes and Catch and Throw modifiers only.

  • Super Attribute

  • Super Edge

  • Super Skill

  • Uncanny Reflexes 

As noted in the Gargoyles SPC Campaign Parameters post and the Untapped Potential setting rule, however, players with human characters may hold Power Points in reserve to buy more exotic powers after some transformative event changes them during play. With Game Master permission, heroes may begin play as one of these transformed humans; the categories are immortals, post-humans, and mutates.


Humans who have achieved immortality through some form of magic or another (Macbeth, King Arthur, Peredur fab Ragnall, Scheherezade) may have additional abilities than those outlined below, but the majority of canonical immortals seem to have only gained resistance to aging and the ability to recover from mortal wounds. Game Masters should consider carefully whether they wish to allow such heroes.

  • Ageless

  • Regeneration


Mutates are those humans changed by Dr. Sevarius’ mad science into mutates: bioengineered chimera with the traits of multiple species. Aside from Wolf of the Pack (who was mutated into essentially a werewolf), the most common mutates are the human/big cat/bat/electric eel hybrids of the Labyrinth Clan in New York City – Claw, Fang, Maggie the Cat, and Talon – who were designed to emulate the Manhattan Clan gargoyles in abilities and strength. Those mutates have the following common abilities:

  • Attack, Melee (5): Str+d6, AP 2, Heavy Weapon.

  • Fear (1): Scary.

  • Flight (10): 4 x Pace, Switchable, Requires Activation (must unfurl wings). Switches with Leaping and Speed

  • Heightened Senses (2): Low Light Vision, Tracking.

  • Leaping (5): Bounce, Death From Above, Switchable. Switches with Flight and Speed.

  • Speed (7): 2 x Pace, Blinding Reflexes, Catch and Throw, Switchable, Limitation (Minor; movement at increased Pace requires running on all fours). Switches with Flight and Leaping.

  • Super Attribute (12): Agility d10, Strength d10.

  • Stun (7): Area Effect (burst must be centered on self), Ranged Touch Attack, Strong.

  • Toughness (5)


Some rare humans possess mystical or technological super powers: cyborgs such as Jackal, Hyena, and Mr. Duval, part-fae like Fox and Alexander Xanatos, and straight-up superhumans such as Rory Dugan and Dingo (after he bonded with Matrix). Such characters have the potential for a much wider array of abilities, but it must be noted that most of the canonical post-human characters have abilities comparable to gargoyles. Players are advised to limit super powers to better emulate the source material; recommended powers and limits include:

  • Altered Form: I’d argue against the Replenish and Viscous modifiers if it wasn’t for Dingo and Matrix.

  • Armor: +10 or less. 

  • Attack, Melee: as limited by the Cartoon Violence setting rule.

  • Attack, Ranged: as limited by the Cartoon Violence setting rule.

  • Awareness

  • Broadcast

  • Flight: 120 mph or less 

  • Construct: required for cyborgs.

  • Damage Field: as limited by the Cartoon Violence setting rule.

  • Danger Sense

  • Heightened Senses

  • Interface

  • Leaping 

  • Paralysis: a physical electric shock in most cases.

  • Parry

  • Regeneration: advanced nanotechnology.

  • Sidekick

  • Speed: 120 mph or less. 

  • Stun

  • Super Attribute

  • Super Edge

  • Super Sorcery: part-fae only.

  • Swinging

  • Toughness 

  • Wall Walker

Gargoyle Super Powers Companion Racial Package

All gargoyle characters begin with 40 of their base 45 Power Points dedicated to the following racial abilities; these abilities do count against their power limit totals. Super Karma can be used to gain additional Power Points. 

  • Armor (5): Armor +14, Limitation (Major; during stone sleep only).

  • Attack, Melee (5): Str+d6, AP 2, Heavy Weapon.

  • Fear (1): Scary.

  • Flight (8): 4 x Pace, Switchable, Limitation (Minor; gliding, requires altitude and wind currents), Requires Activation (must unfurl wings). Switches with Leaping and Speed. (Note that gargoyle beasts like Bronx do not possess this power, and therefore gain 1 additional Power Point to spend as the player sees fit.)

  • Heightened Senses (2): Low Light Vision, Tracking.

  • Leaping (5): Bounce, Death From Above, Switchable. Switches with Flight and Speed.

  • Regeneration (0): natural healing roll every day, Limitation (Major; occurs during stone sleep).

  • Speed (7): 2 x Pace, Blinding Reflexes, Catch and Throw, Switchable, Limitation (Minor; movement at increased Pace requires running on all fours). Switches with Flight and Leaping.

  • Super Attribute (12): Agility d10, Strength d10.

  • Super Edge (2): Berserker (yes, I know it isn’t a Combat Edge, but it’s pretty obvious all gargoyles have it).

  • Toughness (5)

  • Wall Walker (0): Limitation (Minor; cannot climb surfaces their claws cannot pierce).

The remaining 10 Power Points can be spent on improving existing powers with the following limitations:

  • Attack, Melee: maximum Str+2d6 damage (see Cartoon Violence)

  • Flight: additional points can only be spent to increase Climb (gargoyles glide, not fly, so improving their speed to 120 mph or more seems out of character).

  • Heightened Sense: no Spatial Sense.

  • Leaping: maximum of level 2.

  • Speed: maximum 4 x Pace.

Or on the following powers with the following limitations:

  • Animal Control: Only to purchase a gargoyle beast as an Animal Companion (but I advise making them as player characters instead).

  • Aquatic: An amphibious Loch Ness clan is canon according to series creator Greg Weisman, though they never appeared in the show or comic.

  • Attack, Ranged: Some gargoyle clans may have manticore-like tail barbs or similar abilities; see Cartoon Violence above for damage limitations.

  • Danger Sense

  • Deflection

  • Extra Limbs: one extra limb only; note that while all gargoyles have prehensile tails, most lack the tail-eye coordination to use their tails at the same time as their hands. The snake-bodied members of the Mayan clan are a notable exception.

  • Growth: maximum Size +3; as this reflects the gargoyle being of unusual height or breadth (like Goliath or Broadway) this ability always has the Monster modifier.

  • Invent

  • Parry

  • Sidekick: again, building fellow clan-mates as additional player characters is preferable.

  • Super Edge

  • Super Skill

  • Uncanny Reflexes

Note that some canonical gargoyle characters possess additional powers not recommended for player characters. Game Masters and players should discuss whether to allow these powers for heroes.

  • Ageless: While gargoyles live twice as long as humans naturally, this indicates magical or scientific meddling in the character’s lifespan (such as with Demona).

  • Construct: A cyborg or android built in the image of or inhabited by the consciousness of a gargoyle like Coldstone, Coldsteel, and Coldfire. Construct gargoyles may ignore the limitations on flying speed above.

  • Minions

  • Regeneration: Ageless beings like Demona and Macbeth may take advanced levels of the regenerationpower and even the Regrowth modifier.

  • Super Sorcery: Though no canonical gargoyle possesses the super-sorcery of the fae, it remains possible that one of Oberon’s Children may have had half-blooded offspring with a gargoyle – just as Titania did with the human Halcyon Renard.

Gargoyles SPC Campaign Parameters

I ran the Gargoyles game utilizing the gargoyle Paradigmatic Framework I posted on the blog a while back, but – frankly – I wasn’t too satisfied with it. The hefty load of Hindrances was too overbearing for a one-shot game, so I wound up rewriting and simplifying things a bit on the character sheets. At about noon on Friday, I realized the whole affair would have been easier with the Super Powers Companion, but it was too late to redo all the characters.

While the stats I used for the game worked fine at my table, where everything was at least internally balanced (if not exactly system-balanced), I don’t want Game Masters and players out there who want to borrow the characters to have any balance issues at their tables. Therefore, I’m presenting revised options to play Gargoyles with the SPC.* 

Gargoyles Campaign Parameters

Gargoyles is a Four Color power level campaign world using Super Karma and typical Power Point distribution (instead of the Rising Stars model). The available races are gargoyles, humans, Children of Oberon, mutates, and New Olympians. The following new setting rules are in effect:

New Setting Rule: Family-Friendly Violence

I’d rather just leave this as gentleman’s agreements between Game Masters and players, but we all know there’s going to be that one jerk who wants to break the game.

Except for “Deadly Force” (a Very Special Episode if there ever was one), violence on Gargoyles is rarely deadly. Characters get hurt worse than on most American-made children’s television of the ‘80s and ‘90s (Gargoyles is arguably more violent than Batman: The Animated Series, for example), but most violence stays well within the limits of typical Saturday morning and syndicated cartoons. Claws, guns, rocket launchers, and swords all have about the same chance of seriously injuring someone.

To reflect this, characters are limited to a maximum of two ranks in any damaging powers. This means that attack, melee is limited to Str+2d6 damage, attack, ranged is limited to 2d10 (with the Enhanced Damage modifier), damage field is limited to 3d6, etc. This applies to uses of super-sorcery by Oberon’s Children as well.

New Setting Rule: Ritual Magic

Outside of the Children of Oberon and their descendants, no characters in Gargoyles display the ability to work magic without using a spellbook (almost always the Grimorum Arcanorum). Even the Archmage relies on the Grimorum – which he has magically ingested – during his brief reign of terror in Avalon.

The super sorcery power is unavailable to any character except fae or partial fae. Characters in possession of a spellbook may activate a power from that book by beating the spell’s Power Point rating with a successful Smarts or Knowledge (Arcana) roll. This roll may be attempted as a Dramatic Task for spells with higher Power Point costs, with the results of each roll adding to the previous one (suffering the usual -2 penalty to the roll and complications).  

New Setting Rule: Untapped Potential

Over the course of the series, numerous characters who begin as ordinary humans become super-powered: Derek Maza and Wolf become part-animal mutates, Jackal and Hyena become cyborgs, Dingo gets a set of super-armor (that becomes even more super later on), Rory Dugan is the reincarnation of Cu Chullain, Fox is revealed to have innate magical abilities from being part-fay, etc.

Rather than spending all of their Power Points during character creation, players creating human characters may save points to purchase super powers after some transformative event. This option is only available for human heroes.   

*Honestly, the Super Powers Companion is everyone’s best friend for non-Rifts® higher-powered and/or cartoony Savage Worlds games and all of y’all should own a copy. It works just as well for anime and cartoons as it does for supers; you just have to set limits on what powers are and aren’t allowed at the table. Heck, I swear by it as a tool for pulp-style games – after all, who needs some sort of “chainmail bikini” Edge when you can just give your loincloth-clad barbarian some extra Toughness?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Recent revelations for me about Game Mastering

I tend to go with simple, clear character sheets for one-shots.
Frankly, I don’t bother to read or listen to other people’s game mastering advice all that often. I’ve been doing this for the better part of 25 years, and I have reason to think I’m pretty good at it. I should probably stop being so arrogant, though, since the last two months have provided me with some surprising revelations.

(They’re probably not revelations to a lot of readers, but they are for me, so it’s best if I write them down somewhere that I’m not going to lose them.)

1) I GM better when I stand the whole game. It keeps my energy up, it helps me project, it helps me hear everyone, and it helps me act. My biggest strength as a GM is roleplaying NPCs, and being able to act with my body as well as my voice plays into that. Not every game session is going to provide an opportunity to play Captain Jack Sparrow, but being able to inhabit that role physically as well as mentally really pushed last Friday’s Gargoyles game to a higher level.

Oh my gods, I enjoyed hamming it up as Jack SOOOO much! I got the distinct impression that the players were deliberately pushing me to dig deeper into the role, as well. I didn’t intend Jack’s story about being hired by Demona to steal the Atlantean Praying Gargoyle stature from Marie Laveau and Jean Lafitte to be a serious red herring of any sort, so I have to assume everyone just enjoyed watching me bullshit my way through Jack’s account of how young Don Diego de la Vega stopped him.

2) One-shots and convention games based around playing pre-existing or easily-recognizable characters work better than trying to make players suss out a homebrewed or original setting in just four hours. I totally get now why Shane Hensley has been running his DC vs. Marvel game at conventions rather than Deadlands or some other Savage Setting. My Fairy Tail and Zorro games at Chupacabracon IV worked better than The King is Dead (which worked and was fun, but not as much as the others) and the Gargoyles game was a blast.

Obviously, it helps when all the players are fans of a property and know the characters, but I think I can apply this lesson to Wine and Savages original settings and other Savage Settings. For future TKiD convention games, I’m going to need to make pre-gens who are simpler to digest (which is, admittedly, hard with that setting); perhaps characters who are more obviously Casanova, Hawkeye, Mozart, etc rather than trying to give examples of the depth and breadth of the secret societies. If I run Savage Rifts®, Rippers, or similar games in the future, then I’m going to want to make the pre-gens straightforward and interesting.

Speaking of which… Years and years ago when I wanted to get into comics, I thought up an iteration of the Seven Samurai plot that would have starred off-brand variations on the classic sword & sorcery heroes: Conan, Elric, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Jirel of Joiry, etc. I should run that as a convention game using the original characters and call it Seven Swords of Sorcery. Maybe I can get Shane to play in it; we usually wind up scheduled opposite each other at Chupa, but I doubt he’d be able to resist a set-up like that. Hmm...

3) A-frame paper minis are easier to custom make than tri-folds and stay in place better if you use a penny for a base (and what base is cheaper than one cent?). It’s also easier to see the illustrations on A-frames, so any loss in arguing who has what line of sight is more than made up for by being able to see who is where quicker. We didn’t actually use the Gargoyles minis that I made, but having them at the table seemed to help ground everybody. I think the players enjoyed having an action figure of their character even if it didn’t get used.

(There’s something really satisfying about making minis, something tactile and artistically-satisfying in a painting and drawing kind of way. I somehow accidentally figured out an even better system for making custom minis in Paint.NET when I made the Gargoyles minis – and I could probably drop a step from that to make things even simpler – so I’m feeling extra proud of those unused A-frames. I wonder if I should reduce the DPI on the images, though…)

Man, I keep telling myself that I’m going to run fewer games when I go to conventions, but I keep getting inspired to run more and more games! Dagnabbit!

My apologies for the blog going quiet for the last couple of weeks (especially those of you whom Tommy Brownell directed over here). I was writing some Savage Rifts® material, a Rippers scenario that’s under review for the Savage Worlds Explorer, and my one-sheet for the Buccaneer: Through Hell & High Water Kickstarter. Now I’ve got to get to work on a mystery/urban adventure for Savage Rifts®that should also see print in the Explorer; thankfully, Robin is co-writing that one.

Wendelyn Reischel’s Facebook post about the Gargoyles game drew a surprising amount of interest, so I’ll post my GM materials from that on the blog this week. It won’t be exactly what I used, because I realized late on Friday that there was a better way of handling things and I didn’t have time to fix it before the game. Another Facebook post by Wendy about adapting favorite cartoons to Savage Worlds got me thinking about another favorite property of mine, so expect a white shadow that moves unseen to fall across the blog next week.
Yes, I put Jack Sparrow in a Gargoyles adventure. Sue me.

Savage Rifts Playtest Update: Too Many BUGS!

Sean and I went down to one of our many gaming stores -- Court of Gamers -- to run a playtest of Savage Rifts. Gathered around the table ...