FreaX and GeeX
“FreaX and GeeX”
Elevator Pitch: Inspired by the Marvel universe, the game is about the lives of a handful of teenage mutants (or other superhumans) with newly-realized powers living in a small suburban town. They have to deal with the day-to-day drama of high school social politics, compounded by the difficulties of keeping their powers secret (or dealing with the aftermath of exposure). Meanwhile, outside events and characters introduce new threats and problems that the PCs must try to deal with, coming to grips with their new abilities.
• What version of the rules are we going to use?
We’re going to use the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying System. There are no published supplements to the rules, so that’s not a consideration.
• Are we going to use any house rules?
I may need to adjust some rules to make it flow better from a pre-published setting to one I’ve created. These should be fairly minor and probably don’t need documenting, but if needed I can make a list and store it somewhere online like the Facebook page, Google Drive, or an Obsidian Portal page, which should discuss if we want to use or not.
Update: The “Combat” specialty has been split into “Melee” and “Ranged” specialties. These will need to be taken seperately.
I plan to set the game in a spin-off of the Marvel Universe. Time in the Marvel Universe is already slippery and hard to pin down, but it would take place roughly chronologically near the start of the X-Men comic book series. Superhumans in general are known to exist; the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the Avengers are all public knowledge. SHIELD is fully operational but unknown to most of the public. Mutants have existed for decades (the first recorded instances of the X-gene being before WWII), and certain government organizations are aware of them, but for the most part the public is unaware of mutant existence. However, as more and more teens start to display mutant powers, the secret becomes harder and harder to keep. Professor Charles Xavier is starting to recruit mutants for his School, and Magneto is establishing his Brotherhood.
However, very little of this is actually relevant, as the majority of these events are taking place in other parts of the country geographically. This story takes place in a small Midwestern town. I plan to make the setting a clone of my hometown, Dexter, Michigan, with small modifications to make it more “comic book-like”. I may change names, or I might just leave it the same for convenience.
• Will this setting be fun for the GM and players?
It will be fun for the GM, because it will be entertaining to incorporate my childhood into a comic book setting. For players, it should create a fairly “real” setting to explore and live in (since it is a real place for the most part) while also being connected to a popular universe.
• How will this setting convey what makes it fun in game terms?
The small, semi-rural town keeps the emphasis on the people and events going on. In a small town, everyone knows everyone, making social issues a huge part of the everyday life. At the same time, including more comic book-like elements and setting details will allow for the fantasy action that comic books thrive on.
• What opportunities or limitations are inherent in the setting?
Continuity crossovers are possible, and with the emergence of mutants it becomes easy to introduce new and unique superpowers. But as high-school students and newly formed superhumans, the PCs will need to be less powerful than the fully realized superheroes of most other comic books.
• Does this setting create too much work for the GM?
No; it allows me to use my own life as a resource to come up with new locations or other elements. I can also look to the comic books for ideas, while not being too strongly tied to the comics.
• What is the overall tone of the game?
Angst, mixed with the power-fantasy aspects of the comic book setting. The juxtaposition I want to create is to have characters (PC and NPC) who can throw a car through a brick wall, but still stress out about their Geometry finals or finding a date for prom.
• What restrictions does this setting impose on the PCs?
You have to be public high school students, with all the legal and social limitations that implies. For example, you may or may not have a car, and you are reliant on your parents for food and financial support. Your powers have to be semi-secret; family members or a few close friends can know, but they can’t be public knowledge.
• Will sensitive topics be explored, and do they conflict with your social contract?
Sex and sexuality will be a part of the game, as these are very real issues that high school students must deal with, but will not be explicit or graphic in nature, and will mostly happen off-screen. Alcohol and drug use will also be present and will be dealt with, but will likely play only a small role in the plot. Violence will, of course, be present, but in the fantasy style of Marvel comics, not the graphic, realistic, or bloody violence of Watchmen. Religion will probably not be covered, except as it relates to individual characters’ beliefs or on the topic of anti-mutant racism.
• What from the Marvel Universe is canon?
The Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Spider-man, and other high-profile superheroes have been seen on the news. SHIELD exists. Alien races exist and have occasionally been to Earth, although their existence has been forgotten and ignored by the general population. Time travel is theoretically possible and has been done before, but no stable “time machine” exists. There are other dimensions, most notably the Darkforce dimension, but again, travel into these dimensions is difficult. Certain kinds of magic or supernatural powers do exist.
• Does anyone or anything have “script immunity?”
In general, no. We’re playing in a spin-off of the Marvel Universe, so maintaining continuity with that universe is not mandatory.
• What do the PCs know about the world?
You know about the existence of superhumans and aliens, but this doesn’t affect your day-to-day life all that much. You are familiar with the high school and the surrounding area (unless you just recently moved there, in which case not). You don’t know much about mutants because they aren’t public, but most mutants find out from other mutants what they truly are.
• What doesn’t work the way one might expect?
Comic book physics are in place; a sufficiently cool power or magic device can violate any or all rules of physics that are appropriate.
• Who will create the setting?
Ben, borrowing from the Marvel Universe and from his hometown.
• Will the GM be using published adventures, creating his own adventures, or both?
I’ll be making my own. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I might borrow a character or two from the official Marvel source material, but nearly everything will be created by me.
• What kinds of stories will play out during the campaign?
Expect to see at least one love triangle, at a bare minimum. There will probably be an “episode” about “the big dance” and who’s asking who, etc. Feuds between friends will be common. Conflict between parents and children will happen a lot. It’s also fairly likely that I will introduce new characters, or reveal that already existing characters have superpowers. I plan to include one or more shady organizations in the setting that will have their own nefarious agendas, which your characters will need to deal with.
• How will the campaign be structured, story-wise?
Episodic. Every session (or two for a long story), I will introduce a new threat, we will play it out, and bring it to some resolution. Each session will inform the next; if you do something in the previous session, I will try my best to connect it to what happens the next session. But there will not be a single, continuous plot.
• How long will the campaign last?
Ideally, we would start this campaign midway through the semester in Spring 2014, so hopefully no shorter than 6 weeks. If everybody stays in Minneapolis that summer, then we could potentially play straight through the summer. If that isn’t possible, then we either cut it short at 6 weeks or pick it back up in the fall. I would hope that we could get at least 10 weeks of gaming in before we pack this one up.
Roles and Characters
• What roles to the PCs play in the setting?
High school students with superpowers (or super-tech that effectively gives them superpowers). You will not be the biggest, baddest superheroes around, as other, older superheroes simply have more experience and more time to hone their abilities.
o Has the setting, story, or role limited any character concepts?
You have to play a character attending a particular high school, and you have to have lived there long enough to have made some connections so that you’re invested in the social environment. You have to have some sort of ability or gear, and you have to be trying to keep this ability or gear secret at the beginning (not from everyone, just from most people). Beyond that you don’t have many limitations.
• Are there required roles in this campaign?
It would be nice if one of you played the “paladin/Superman” type of superhero, as this would make it easy to motivate you to action by having a bad guy do a bad thing. An entire party of antiheroes sounds fun but gets old fast. But I’m not going to require it, as I hope to be mostly using drama as the driving conflict. I also want at least one mutant in the party.
o Are the players willing to fill those roles? If not, can they be made less important or should the GM play an NPC in the party?
If none you guys don’t want to play the “paladin”, I can make do without one, or I can introduce an NPC with that mindset who can urge you to action (a sort of pseudo-Charles Xavier). I plan to introduce a mentor NPC anyway. But I really need at least one mutant; if you’re all aliens, or humans after a freak accident, or Batman-style heroes, then most of the conflict in the setting is lost.
• How powerful or experienced will the PCs be at the outset?
Compared to a lot of other comic book heroes, you will not be very powerful. As new superheroes, you will still sort of be in training, learning the ropes. You will likely only have a few specialties each, and almost all of these will be Expert, not Master. Your powers will probably not be fully developed.
o Do the PCs get any bonuses during character creation, and are there any house rules that affect character creation?
There isn’t really a character creation process; you make a character you want to play, and I’ll check it to make sure it falls in line with the other PCs and with my idea of how powerful you guys will be.
• How quickly will the PCs advance?
That’s sort of up to you, with the Milestones XP mechanic. You will gain XP as fast or as slow as you can hit those XP triggers. I will make sure that your milestones aren’t too easy or too hard, though. I plan for you to gain, on average, 5 to 10 XP per session; most sessions you will get less than that, but then when you hit your 10 XP trigger you’ll get a big boost. If one player starts to advance much faster than the other players, I’ll make his Milestones harder to slow him down and let the other players catch up.
Edit: I’ve decided that on average I would like you guys to get 10 XP per session. As a guideline, each 1 XP trigger should be something you hit once or twice a session, each 3 XP trigger should be something you hit one in every 3 sessions, and your 10 XP trigger should take about 5 sessions to achieve.