As I'm wrapping up Maximum Recursion Depth, I've been considering what I want to do next, or if I want to take a break before working on my next big project. I've got a lot of thoughts on follow-up issues of MRD, but then I learned about this Funnel Jam on itch.io, and I'd been sitting on this Superhero Funnel idea for a while, so I thought I'd try this as a palate cleanser. I don't know if I'll actually finish it on time, or if it will receive any kind of layout or just be a google doc of a glorified blog post, but I'm excited about the idea nonetheless. One of the MRD followups I've considered is superhero-related, and that's all I'll say on that for the moment, but this might inspire or replace that to some degree or another, we'll see.
The Funnel is inspired by My Hero Academia, a brilliant superhero shonen anime where the characters are students at a superhero school. The opening arc involves a competition where only the top X participants, or participants who exceed a certain score, I forget off-hand, but only a limited number of applicants get into the school, so in effect, it's a Funnel. So that's what I'm going for here; less so deadly DCC Dungeon, more so My Hero Academia competition.
Below is the basic outline for what I'm thinking, and I would absolutely appreciate feedback, but I might change things pretty significantly by the time I actually put it together. I have never designed, run, or even played in a Funnel, so I imagine there are a lot of concerns I'm not fully anticipating.
It will be a while before it's ready, but I would also like to playtest it if anyone is interested!
Basic premise and mechanics
- Inspired by My Hero Academia UA Entrance Exam.
- Very rules-light, FKR-ish.
- Hero Point system on top of "survival".
- Ability scores aren't physical but based on the scoring categories of the competition.
- Challenges or trials can be solved in many ways, but bonus Hero Points in some cases for solving in one way over another creates interesting circumstances.
- Random Tables:
- Superheroes (name, costume, power).
- Signature moves.
- Alter egos (using my character formula).
- Multiple trials with different conditions.
- SHOWmanship: Power displays, catchphrases, signature taunts.
- TEAMwork: Help others, self-sacrifice, wholesomeness, public safety.
- WILLpower: Resistances e.g. elements, suppression, manipulation, and overcoming limitations.
- TECHnique: Using items or abilities in complex or atypical ways, technology (excluding tech relating to powers / personal gadgets), infiltration.
- EXAMination: Notice subtleties, investigation, deduction and prediction, intel gathering.
- Hero Points: Hit Points, stress, tournament score.
- Free-for-all: Reach the goal, bypass opposition. After all other PCs have passed or failed, the last PC gets a single action to finish, or else they auto-fail.
- If they pass, they get bonus points.
- Teams: The PCs are broken into teams to pass a team-oriented trial. Ideally, each player should only have one superhero per team, with team sizes of 3-4 (or whatever works best). GMPCs or players with multiple superheroes per team can be used if necessary.
- Subsequent trials don't require superheroes to stay with their team, but they lose points for leaving their team and even more points for betraying a teammate.
- Superheroes should be able to amicably switch teams without losing points, or under certain conditions like between trials. I like the idea of the team/solo tradeoff and "punishing" superheroes for being selfish, but if players have superheroes who get disqualified asymmetrically, I want there to be ways for teams to regroup to help with game flow, without punishing them.
- Solo superheroes or partial teams can make new teams so long as the max team size is not exceeded.
- Trials are more difficult for solo or partial teams, but more points, so being strategically selfish is sometimes viable, creating tension and drama.
- Various challenges
- Defeat villain
- Reach a goal
- Rescue civilians
- Medical assistance
- Protect object or environment / minimize collateral damage
- Sports / Game-y like capture the flag or king of the hill
- Poor vision.
- Ears sensitive to touch and also loud or high-frequency noises.
- Singularly focused when following a scent.
- Sensitive stomach.
- Powers are entirely technological, with the ears doing all of the scent analysis.
- Anthropomorphic bloodhound.
- Foxhound; smaller but faster and more agile.
- Uplifted bloodhound.
- Blood-bound: If they draw blood, they can perfectly track their target until the wound no longer bleeds.
- Scent Analysis: By touching their ears to the ground or a surface, they can reconstruct a scene, including the order of events, and to some extent thoughts or sentiments (from pheromones), from the scent alone.
- Bloodlust: They become significantly more powerful, but enter a near-uncontrollable rage, after drawing blood from one of their targets.
- Power Pack: Their super senses and animal instincts make them excellent team players and benefitting their whole team on tracking-related tasks.
Costume: Suit and tie, mask that obscures their face and shifts facial features, and modulates their voice, so that they are entirely unrecognizable.
- The longer they stay in deep cover, the more likely they are to lose sight of their original purpose.
- Brain hemispheres operate independently, leading to infrequent hallucinations or delusions.
- Substance abuse problems relating to controlling their powers.
- Burned by their organization; they have limited resources and many enemies.
- Powers are entirely drug-based.
- They are actually a distributed intelligence funneled* into a human shell; underneath the mask is an empty void. Even their "true" self is an illusion.
- Powers are entirely technological.
- No secret benefactor, this is itself a delusion; training and gadgets come from acquired through mysterious means.
- D: Even if spotted, if there is a crowd, they can seamlessly blend into the crowd under (D)eep cover.
- Multi-Task Maneuver: Their split brain hemispheres allow for superhuman multitasking, and they are uniquely trained for fighting while outnumbered and using their opposition's numbers against themselves.
- Panopticon: Carries holographic scanners, an array of micromachines tossed like dust that can coordinate within a space to reflect light signals between each other, functioning as a comprehensive surveillance system across a large space.
- Blue Flower: Attached to the suit lapel, causes mild hallucinations and delusions to those in the vicinity when pressed, and the effects compound over the number of exposures in a short time and proximity to the flower.
- The nanomachine virtual reality has subtly incorrect details like objects being differently colored, or lower resolution like being static to wind or light.
- Converting too many objects in a short time span makes them lightheaded.
- One experiences a distinct myoclonic jerk like falling asleep when scanned into the nanomachine virtual reality.
- There is a 1 in 6 chance that a converted object is dysfunctional, and this will not be apparent until it is used.
- They are actually gray goo and their human form is that of or inspired by a human loved one.
- The gray goo is an artificial intelligence with its own personality, loyal to the superhero but with cat-like independence.
- The gray goo is an alien or extradimensional organism that has developed a symbiotic relationship with the superhero.
- They are a gray goo blob and for some reason cannot change their own form except inside the virtual reality.
- Labyrinth: The nanomachine virtual reality is a maze full of paradoxically twisting planes that disorient those inside who may not be aware that they're in a virtual space.
- Entropy Bath: The nanomachines vibrate into a 6x6 sphere of plasma.
- Protocol 42: The nanomachines operate as a super-advanced quantum computer, able to perform computational tasks that would otherwise be impractical or impossible.
- Golem: The nanomachines are programmed into larger forms that protect them and attacks opposition within their influence.
- Riley Reiner: Rambunctious athlete and stamp collector who loves the limelight.
- Simone Simpson: Nihilistic engineering geek and soup kitchen volunteer who isn't sure what she believes anymore.
- Neal Nguyen: Charismatic class president and vlogger who enjoys the simple life (when he can have it).
- Jivan Jarodia: Perky homebody and aspiring graphic designer who sublimates his violent temper through acts of kindness.
Example Superhero 1
Example Superhero 2