Youthful heroes + one dad

Since I’m not recording play with people under majority age, you get to see me talk about doing it instead. It’s the same group who’s been playing Tunnels & Trolls, preceded by The Pool for some of them: five young teens and the father of two of them, plus me. We are playing Villains & Vigilantes (revised, 1982).

For those who don’t know the game: I do provide the necessary information, but so you know going in – in this game, you play yourself, very much as-is, with the addition of a particularly good roll-choice-roll procedure for super powers. After that, it’s up to you.


5 responses to “Youthful heroes + one dad”

  1. I couldn’t resist the invitation to get my hands on the game system – in my case, version 2.1 of the manual. Here is my superhero counterpart, Duat:

    I was particularly lucky with my roll for powers (a full 6!) and especially in their choice. Looking at the character generation procedure, I wonder how much dialogue is needed between the GM and the player in selecting character choices, in procedures that I am curious how smoothly they run at the table. Especially Magical Spells and Mutant Power are uncharted terrain-I’m not so sure how I would handle it if I facilitated the game for other people. In my case, I followed the suggestion mentioned in the manual and presented in your video, and stuck to the strictest interpretation in describing powers. Okay, so maybe I got slightly carried away with Mutant Power. Sue me, Imaginary GM!

    The association between these powers to arrive at a defined identity was more complicated than expected. But I’m pleased with the result: I imagine a character (me? him?) killed in some terrorist attack, and brought back to life, for reasons unknown, as a champion of a not-quite-but-quite-hegemonic deity. I particularly like how this outcome ties in with the weakness Prejudice: it is clear that this vigilante is not really a hero, but an agent of cosmic vengeance. How to reconcile the two roles? And the low Charisma score means, as defined by the rules, that the public is right to fear Duat.

    • I like him!

      I don’t know those rules at all, so it may be that the number of powers differs from the edition I’m using (1982). In that one, you roll 1d6+2 initially, then delete one, or two if you want to ignore the rolled Weakness. So by those rules Duat would have rolled eight powers and subtracted one for seven total.

      For the moral question, as you saw in the video, the edition I’m using is quite straightforward: you do not play wth people who want to play evil “heroes.” If we were playing and wanted to honor those textual standards, then Duat as well as the other player-heroes would definitely want to accord with their criteria of “turning lawbreakers over to the proper authorities” and would try hard to do so. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a semi-fanatical revivified instrument of divine vengeance too! (it just makes for an interesting life)

    • It may be useful to make a point: the 2.1 edition of Villains and Vigilantes (2010) is substantially similar to the 1982 Revised Edition. Some of the power costs are changed, and there turn out to be extra appendices (V&V Wrestling!), but we are talking about an edition that is basically faithful to the one you are presenting. The ancient text you are clutching in your hands is actually rather unobtainable on the Internet, but for anyone intrigued by exploring this system without huge compromises the 2.1 is available electronically and can be found quite easily.

      All this is also to say that you have correctly zeroed in on the number of powers available to Duat. In my case, I decided to remove the second Magic Spells obtained on the table. At the time, I could not interpret whether the two obtained powers should be read as “you start with two spells closely related in power to the superpowers presented” or “now that you have obtained the same result twice, you can relax some criteria and create faster, more powerful and multifunctional spells.” Not wanting to pry into the issue, I simply removed one of the two to keep among other things the very useful Magnetic Power.

      On the question of morality: absolutely, and I think pushing a lot on the conflict between “I have become a cosmic tool” and “I want to help people like a real superhero would, bringing them to justice” can lead to interesting situations. If I’m honest, a lot of the “ideals to which a superhero should aspire,” the way they’re presented in the manual, are a little strange: heroes are supposed to be patriotic, they don’t use profanity, they never lie, and they’re not unnecessarily cruel. These are high aspirations, and of course they push me to ask: what happens when you break them? I am reminded of the session you described, and the poor criminal who was thrown from the second floor of the museum.

  2. A separate curiosity looking at the group’s adventures: it seems obvious, but are all the players at the table Swedish? And even more specifically, located in the same city?

    Knowing how strongly the game’s authors insist on the “You=your character” equivalence, and how the routines, places, people, and events surrounding the players are the cue for the situations, I wonder how this game would work by playing online, with the usual mix of players coming from different regions or countries. I mean, you could always jettison the entire procedure and work with complete fictional characters…but that would kill one of the “oddities” that make this set of rules appealing. I guess I’m curious to know if you can preserve the spirit of the game rules with new ways of playing outside your local group.

    • We’re playing live right here in town, not by screen, so it’s super Swedish, super local. It’s about as close as I could get, these days, to the original notion as I understand it, of high school buddies playing together as “ourselves in our home town.”

      I feel the same way you do about altering that. Obviously, one could do so, and so what, after all … but on the other hand the feature is uniquely producive and genuinely fun. So at least until I play enough to think otherwise, whatever limitations it might impose are worth its quirks.

      As a related point, the text includes the option simply to pick the super powers without the nuanced choose/roll process. I feel exactly the same way about it: why choose the “normal” option when one can do it weirdly and with such unpredictable yet almost always enjoyable results?

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