Ben’s “I’m Sick and Phoning It In” Post
Welcome back to 8-Bit WedNESday. Recently, I saw someone asking advice on how to run a superhero RPG, loosely based on Disney’s hit movie Big Hero 6. First, I love superhero stuff, I have since Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Second, I really enjoyed Big Hero 6. Third, I’ve written a number of smaller adventures for Fat Goblin Game’s vs M Engine, (originally created by Phillip Reed). Lastly, I feel ill, and this will just have to do… something, something, upcoming return of Movie Matinee line of books.
An adventure is just like a book, play, or movie; it’s broken down into acts which help guide the narrative.
Act 1 – The Setup
This is the basic plot of the adventure, and gets the players involved in the action. It’s also where we introduce other characters, locations, and any background info we need.
Act 2 – The Response
Here’s where related events begin building towards the climax of the story. Players know what happened; now they need to make a plan. This is where players can do research, make their battle plans, or gather up the resources they need.
Act 3 – The Climax
This is the big showdown. Players battle villains, solve the big problem, etc. This is usually the big action scene near the end of a movie.
Act 4 – The Resolution
This is the happy ending, or cliff-hanger for the sequel. In an RPG, you probably want this to tie to the next adventure’s Act 1.
This is the very basics of an outline for an RPG adventure, or, for a movie. In Big Hero 6, Act 1 is the introduction of our characters (Hiro, Tadashi, Baymax…), the city of San Fransokyo, and the villain in the mask. Act 2 is where Hiro and the other members of the team begin making their superhero gear, and plan on how to stop the masked man. Act 3 is the showdown outside of Krei’s new building (and a wormhole), and Act 4 is defeating the masked man, and saving the city.
That’s a very basic plot synopsis. In reality, each of these acts happens several times throughout the movie; each one building up to the big action scenes at the end. Let’s look a little closer…
Act 1: Introduction of Hiro, a back alley bot-fighter. He’s obviously smart, but gets in way over his head with Yama, the current bot-fighter champ. When Hiro’s in trouble, it’s his brother Tadashi that saves him. We learn that Tadashi goes to “nerd school,” and that the boys live with Aunt Cass. So, we’ve been introduced to four characters, and a little bit about the city.
Act 2: We find out Hiro’s really smart, but, he doesn’t apply himself. He just wants to bot-fight and earns cash from that, even though it’s illegal. Tadashi agrees to take him back to the bot-fights, but, has to stop by Nerd School. We meet Fred, Go Go, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and their teacher Robert Callaghan. We see Hiro fall in love with all the cutting edge technology at the school.
Act 3: Hiro wants to go to nerd school. To do so, he has to challenge himself, and come up with an amazing idea. He eventually builds his micro-bots, and impresses everyone at the school’s exhibition.
Act 4: Hiro has been accepted to school and achieved his goal. After being congratulated by his brother, a fire breaks out, and Tadashi dies in the accident. Not all endings are happy ones.
In our second example, we see how all four acts fit inside of first act of the over-all story. This can (and probably should) apply when you’re writing adventures in an RPG. You can have a full adventure for a game session, but, it’s just the first step in an even bigger story.
Help Your Fellow Gamer
Like I said, these are the basics of writing your own adventures. I’d like to hear how you do it. If you’ve got any tips or tricks, let me and everyone else know in the comments!
I Need Something Cool, Now!
If you’re looking to play a super-hero based RPG, there’s lots of options. Today, I’m going to point you at Masks: A New Generation by Brendon Conway of Magpie Games. Masks uses the Apocalypse World Engine for the game mechanics, has fantastic comic-styled art, and focuses on third-generation superheroes; people that have known of superheroes their whole lives. I backed this project on Kickstarter, and have the core rule book, but I’ve got a lot of other rewards I still need to download – and more time to play it.
That’s it for this week, I hope to see you again soon!
Your pixilated GM,