Saturday, April 27, 2019

Silent Legions of Superheroes

I've talked with certain people quite a bit about the pros and cons of the scenario tools in Silent Legions. One of them has argued that it doesn't do enough to create a holistic mystery.  Instead of having each new piece of information compounding to create a picture of the incident, they act as breadcrumbs to lead you to a preset resolution.  This isn't necessarily linear (indeed non-linearity is part of the point) but Silent Legions' goal is focused on having certain types of scenes rather than replicating a police procedural.

However, that structure works better for the kinds of superhero games I want to run. Having the kind of action and investigation "beats" (for lack of a better word) allows problem solving to be tied to the heroes' abilities and superhero stuff while still keeping it from being a bunch of fights in a line. I've made a couple of these before, but for this post I'm going to use one I made while writing it to show how it's done.  I'm going to roll on the Silent Legions tables, provide the results, and then convert the whole thing into a supers scenario.

First we need a resolution.  I roll that it's going to be a Time Sensitive Resolution and get the following result: An Enemy seeks to destroy a Friend or an object which is impeding its Scheme. Investigations will reveal the existence of the threat and the means by which it intends to do this.

So we need to figure out what clues lead to the Existence of Threat and to the Means.  I decide that both are people/events (the means being an actor of some type) and for the Existence of the Threat i get: The event was related to a Secret in the location, and those that are trying to protect the Secret will also try to dissuade the PCs from examining the event.

For the Means I roll: The Actor involved has been kidnapped by agents of the Enemy and taken to a remote Place. They mean to keep him or her out of events until the Scheme has come to completion, but they’ll kill him or her if necessary to preserve their silence.

Now I decide I want a clue to the Scheme itself and get: The event was hushed by local police, and getting the facts requires either the cooperation of an Actor involved in the investigation or a stealthy inspection of local police records.

For the Introduction scene I got: A Friend gives the PCs the results of their own research which aims the PCs at one or more Investigations. They’re still looking into things; if the PCs don’t dissuade them they’ll discover a useful clue for the heroes, but will perish hideously.

... and the Hook: The site's Enemy needs victims or recruits, and just happens to pick the heroes for an attack that is decidedly less overwhelming than it should be. The assailants have some sort of clue that traces back to the site.

To give a little more description I want to flesh out some of these.  I decide the Hook is an Ambush and so roll an ambush scene: The Enemy threatens a known Friend or ally of the PCs in order to goad them to come to their aid, and then attempts to deal with them all. The PCs will be aware they’re heading into danger, however, and may choose not to respond.

I decide the Means is going to be some kind of physical Combat scene (the thing guarding the captured Actor) and get: an eldritch entity summoned by the cult.  I decide to ignore the direct text - since this isn't a Cthulhu game - and instead that it's going to be some kind of non-human baddie as guard.

For the Actor involved with the police I decide I want a social encounter with Someone Who Fears Something and get: fears a person present with them

And finally the clue found that points towards the existence of the threat needs someone to..: recognize the residue of an occult ritual or event.  Again I'm ignoring the word "occult" and just going to say they need to recognize that some kind of villainous activity took place.

Taking some cues from the current political moment, I decide that HYDRA is working to get Taskmaster to train some Watchdogs recruits so they can infiltrate the NYPD. Ben Urich has been doing a report on the Watchdogs and wondering who is funding them and what they're planning.

A group of trained but not yet initiated into the police Watchdogs take Urich hostage and are overconfident in thinking they can take out the team of heroes that arrives to confront them.  From interrogating the Watchdogs or perhaps from some card or written address they can track down where Taskmaster is training them. Taskmaster doesn't exactly know who's funding him or why they want the guys trained but he's not one to leave money on the ground.  The PCs can either confront him directly or stake out the place to become aware of his presence and then figure out how to proceed from there. 

If they want to follow the cop angle there's a non-crooked member of the NYPD, we'll call him Officer Joel because that name popped in my head, who realizes that all of his buddies are being replaced by real racist assholes but isn't in a position to talk about it and is usually followed, even off duty, by somebody in with the Watchdogs.

While the PCs are working on one of those two angles, Urich continues the beat and gets kidnapped by actual HYDRA members.  They lock him in a warehouse with some robots made by Arnim Zola and you got some things the PCs gotta fight to save him.

It also leads some loose ends, like where are the HYDRA brass opperating out of? Do they have a goal with the police beyond just turning a blind eye to hate crimes? Do they have any other schemes with the Watchdogs?

So hopefully that shows how you can use the Silent Legions tables to make super hero scenarios.

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