Justice Avenue (A superheroes hack for Trollbabe)October 27, 2016
Was re-reading the Trollbabe game and realized how much of the issues and situations map really tightly to street level superheroes, like stuff in the Marvel/Netflix lineup… and got inspired.
Always start with the City. You can pick a real city, a fake city, or a city that’s almost real – like a fictionalized New York or whatever. You want a map – but not 100% exact. Slightly detailed tourist maps might work – we’re interested in districts and landmarks, maybe with some space to scrawl notes for other locations on it. You can even get a second map for a specific neighborhood, if you want to narrow down the focus.
Who are the Heroes?
Rule #1 – you are human. You’re not an alien, a robot, or a magical being from another world. You come from this world, this dimension, this time (not the future or the past). Comics get pretty wacky, but your heroes, are people from here. Any alienation you feel is normal human alienation in a stressful, unique situation, not because you no longer understand humans or are a silicon based lifeform or anything.
However you got your powers, you’re here, now, and your concerns are with this place, and these people in the City.
Who are the People?
Most people think the City in a superhero comic is about crime and justice. They’re wrong. It’s about the people who believe in society and the rules as the best way, and people who don’t.
Don’t assume society & rules always equals good, either. The corrupt Mayor who believes they can shove out the immigrants to open a new mall and use their access to bypass the normal approval process believes in the society and the rules – that this is how society works and the rules let them do this, so it’s all for the best. The earnest reporter who has been trying to get the corrupt police Sergeant brought to justice and has been blocked at every step is probably quickly on the road to not believing in society or it’s shitty rules.
So some people want to keep things the way they are (usually because they gain some benefit, real or imagined) and some people want to violate or change it (perhaps because they want to improve things, perhaps because they like to see the world burn…). These folks aren’t slavish tied to obeying or breaking laws or social mores – but they’ll justify their exceptions based on their primary goals.
And what about the heroes?
Well. If you don’t need a large organization, or a gang, or a district, to make something happen, but rather you alone can change things? You’re powerful. And the people on either side will either see you as an ally, a threat, or an opportunity.
Describe your character with an (adjective) and (profession/social role).
- Good-natured kid
- Injured Athlete
- Teenage Runaway
- Repetant Criminal
- Wealthy Inventor
- Poetic Scientist
This is either who your hero still is, or the life they left behind when they got their powers.
You set a number between 2-9. Rolling under for Fighting. Roll over for Skillful Action. Roll the better of the 2 plus the number itself for Social.
Skillful Action replaces Magic. This is anything your hero has proficiency or knowledge in, including investigation, having friends in the neighborhood to draw info from, knowing the spy trade, being an athlete, an inventor, etc. You’re not limited in this, except in your character concept for yourself – a good rough rule to work with is to consider your Role and what it might suggest as plausible options for your character.
You can pretty much pick anything for your powers, however, the dice are the dice, and if you pick something that is too hard for you to work with in your narration, you’re going to have a hard time.
Smaller, more limited powers are easier to narrate for the sake of the Stakes. As the Stakes rise, you may need to think harder about what applies and what works for any given situation. Vice-versa, greater, more expansive powers require that you consider that your great action will have small Stakes at first. While it’s easier to describe greater Stakes with this, it can also become a place where you have less imaginative or interesting narrations when these do make these effects.
The Checklist is almost exactly the same, except instead of “remembered magic”, you get this:
- A suddenly remembered piece of information or technique, relevant to the situation.
Running Justice Avenue
Pretty much all of the other rules and advice applies from Trollbabe. Obviously, go to a modern, urban context and not funky comic Norse world, but otherwise, it fits the same.