Recently Nerdarchist Dave welcomed our good friends from Frog God Games to the daily live chat on our YouTube channel. Zach Glazar, Bill Webb, and Jim Wampler to talk about the the Rappan Athuk Reborn Kickstarter and let us know that there would be a new Kickstarter coming before the dust even considered settling on the current Rappan Athuk. From the brainchild of Jim Wampler, in conjunction with Frog God Games, looming up from the corrupt city streets of Cincinnati comes MegaHeroes superhero RPG.
Back to the Races with Frog God Games
All of us are very excited for this. Fantasy and comic book fans alike flooded the chat with questions. Even those, much like myself, who aren’t huge comic fans were intrigued. Not only is there a new setting coming, there’s new easy-to-use mechanics. We’ll touch on some of the details below, but they promise no more hordes of dice. All you need is a d20 and d6. That’s it. I know we all love our dice, but from the perspective of someone who helps teach other people to game, only two dice is a godsend.
They also spoke of a reactive XP system. So, much like the karma system from Shadowrun, you gain reputation you can spend to gather new powers or enhance yourself. However, because it’s reputation, your bad choices can decrease it. There are a lot of questions still about this system brewing and I had the good fortune to be able to ask Jim some questions on his brainchild and what we can hope to see coming.
Q&A with MegaHeroes designer Jim Wampler
I was fortunate to be able to have a quick email chat with Jim on this new project. Here are some of the things we discussed and hopefully it’ll spark your interest as much as it did ours.
When last Nerdarchy was chatting with you, you were working on a non-d20, almost level of success style mechanics system. Are you able to elaborate any further on that and has it been tweaked any as you’ve done play testing?
“We’ve only undergone crude combat playtests of the Hit-Crit System written especially for MegaHeroes, so it’s premature to say things won’t evolve and change. But so far, everything is working as intended. All actions in the game are resolved with a simultaneous roll of a single d20 and d6 (the proverbial “hit” and “crit” dice). One each of those dice are all you need to play. Since this system requires all damage values for weapons, powers, and other effects to have a fixed value (which is then multiplied by the results of the crit die), the main trick is to get those numbers correctly balanced. For this, in addition to tabletop playtesting, I’ve also got a programmer writing a combat simulator for me so that we can run the numbers thousands of times for sample combats under varying circumstances — just like you would a computer game. That will help us get it just right.”
During the live chat you were hoping for about 15 minute character generation. I’ll admit, I’m not a huge superheroes person, I mostly read Constantine and Hillbilly, but I’ve looked into Mutants and Masterminds, Modern D20 and the old Marvel Super Heroes Roleplaying Game. I’ve not been able to generate characters in these systems that quickly. What is the advantage that the new MegaHeroes game will bring that will allow the creation process to be so streamlined and quick dive in?
“Fifteen minute character generation is one of my prime design goals, because as you say, that’s never been done in a superhero RPG (at least to my knowledge). Other fantasy RPGs have been able to accomplish that goal, so I’m just building on what’s come before in new and interesting ways. I’ll be able to comment on how close we came after some more thorough play testing. I can tell you that the character generation rules allow for both quick generation of characters with either completely random rolls or by player selection of certain aspects of the character concept. My design philosophy has always been ‘why have to choose between cake or pie when you can have both?’ “
The game’s just been announced a couple of weeks ago, and a Kickstarter has been teased for late summer if I recall correctly. Is that still the time table and have you guys started sneaking info out onto the net about this yet?
“The plan right now is for the Kickstarter to debut at the end of the year. We have a lot of work to accomplish between now and then. I can promise that the Kickstarter won’t happen until we have an edited manuscript that’s been thoroughly playtested in hand.”
Superhero games usually have different aliens and mutants, will these be worked into your game off the start or something that will show up later or is it still being left as a surprise?
“Character concepts that include strange visitors from other planets, beings from alternate dimensions, artificial lifeforms, and all the expected comic book tropes are already baked into the game. If you wanted to play an hero from another star system, an android hero, or a sentient semi-aquatic fowl from duck world, it’s all possible in MegaHeroes.”
It’s a new game coming, superheroes are starting to pick up again with the Marvel and DC movies, the comics are all reborn, new styles of heroes coming are to the market – what will be the big wow factor that will make people from the comic side, and RPG side of games meet in the middle and must play this game?
“That’s an excellent question. The goal is to present a game unburdened by many of the typical d20 game conventions that do not adapt well to the superhero genre, while also presenting rules specifically written for that genre’s expectations instead. That, plus quick-play, fast-action gameplay with just enough crunch and flexibility to provide meaty, campaign-worthy game play is the outfield fence I want to hit the ball over. I’m obviously confident that we’ve already figured that out, but the market reaction will quickly grade us on how well we did. I don’t think superhero RPGs have ever gotten their full due, and as you say, in this era of Marvel movies and CW superhero shows that’s a crime. Sounds like a job for MegaHeroes!”
Finally, at least for the moment Jim, I know there’s still a lot of things under wraps on this Kickstarter; it’s been announced but not dated yet to my knowledge. What do you want to let people know about this up coming venture, and is there any opportunities through conventions or anything where people can get a sneak peek?
“North Texas RPG Con in June will be the first public playtest outside my own gaming group, The Mutant Murder Hobos in Cincinnati. Around that same time, we will be conducting outside playtests with select groups, but those GMs and groups will be chosen from folks I already have playtesting relationships with. So sorry, we’re not doing open public playtesting with outside groups. That said, future backers can expect the usual Frog God Games goods — a smythe-sewn library quality hardback book with color cover and color interior, lots of maps and adventure modules at launch, and a great bang for the gamer buck.”
Concluding thoughts on the upcoming MegaHeroes Kickstarter
As a non-superhero fan, and someone who actively helps people find the game genres they want, I am very excited for this project. The concept behind MegaHeroes is solid. The promise of a nice, straightforward game everyone can pick up is exciting. This game has all the potential of a blockbuster hit and I know we’re all looking forward to it. Frog God Games have a stellar reputation, and the books are so well made you’d swear they could stop a bullet. Putting a superheroes game in something that finely made will have you leaping over small buildings in excitement. We’re going to do all we can to keep you guys in the loop on this one, this one is going to be huge. For those looking for some extra special info, please check out the interview below with our own Nerdarchist Dave. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: a defective copy of Frog God Games The Blight actually stopped a bullet for real! But do not attempt to test this phenomenon by any means.]
The Blight is just one of the huge selection of awesome RPG products from Frog God Games. The gigantic book has everything you need to run endless campaigns in the vast and sorcerous city, poisoned by alchemy, extending its empire through necromantically-powered industries.
The book includes a huge collection of new monsters, NPCs, and other resources for the setting, a ten-chapter gazetteer to the city’s individual districts, and a nine-part series of adventures that introduce your players to their first taste of the Blight and its rotten and degenerate urban confines.
Nerdarchy has an exclusive promo code for the Frog God Games store, available twice per user. STAY-NERDY-30 gives you a 30 percent discount on anything in the store.
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Long time RPG enthusiast, I first started with D&D back when I was 7, then jumped back into it again at 14 when I could understand what I was reading. I’ve tinkered as a story teller in many different game systems from Gurps, to Vampire, to most recently in Savage Worlds: Rippers Ressurected, though I’ve never forgotten my love for D&D.