Supers: Trust & Reputation?

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Supers: Trust & Reputation?
« on: April 01, 2013, 06:42:56 AM »
Further to the discussion here, I'm wondering whether a Trust stat of some description is worth including in my Just Heroes hack. In a world that might contain heroes like Superman, Batman, Spider-man and The Punisher, having a blanket treatment of all heroes doesn't seem quite honest. They should be perceived differently by the public, the media, the authorities and the underworld, but is it worth having a mechanic that does so?

The big question is, as I'm keeping the harm rules more or less as they are in AW, what happens when 'Superman' kills someone? And does the same thing happen to The Punisher?  Should heroes have to choose alignments? Or is it better to keep track of their actions and have the public respond to them accordingly?

Re: Supers: Trust & Reputation?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2013, 08:55:01 AM »
I almost think some kind of stat that goes from Infamy to Famous would be cool.

I think the hero themselves should start out at 0 with certain PB's getting +/-'s and certain moves doing the same to start out with.

Wouldn't then certain moves or scenarios alter that as the game progresses.

Re: Supers: Trust & Reputation?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2013, 09:41:41 AM »
I'm leaning towards a two or three point scale like you describe; I'm undecided as to whether a zero/neutral point is necessary or if it would add anything to the game. I'd like to keep it simple, a straightforward Loved/Hated division, with a Superman-type character almost always being on the Loved side and The Punisher pretty much always on the Hated side. I probably won't use those exact words though as they're a bit loaded, so maybe Fame/Infamy or something like that.

The old hack had it that you had to retire your character if they became responsible for someone's death, with the 'Dark Avenger' playbook having a move that made them an exception to that rule. The more I looked at it though, the less satisfactory it was: why allow PCs to cause harm at all, if it could only lead to their ultimate retirement from play? So now I want a softer approach, where being responsible for a death really harms the hero's reputation, but gives them a chance to redeem themselves. Of course, 'Dark Avengers' still won't care about that and will happily murder their foes, but even that should have an effect on the character in play, making the public and the authorities less co-operative with them.

Re: Supers: Trust & Reputation?
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2013, 11:52:11 AM »
It's not worth a mechanic unless it does something.

So what do you want it to do?

Many players won't care that their heroes are hated and feared by the media or the guvment if they save the world regardless. Even being spit on by normal folks will be largely unimportant while you've still your superfriends--unless in your setting there's a mechanical reason they should care.

Does your setting--maybe a Silver Age one--care? Are there rules for isolation and distance from humanity? Do powers wane if the cheering stops? If the only downside to a bad rep is entities refusing to help the heroes, that's just a campaign switch the players have turned off, and then they can ignore it and solve problems another way and never worry about the reputation problem again.

"We're outsiders now," the players will declare. And that whole maintain-your-rep mini-game just ends. Arguably, now there are more opportunities for conflict--with the good guys!--than before, and in a superhero game, that's sort of awesome. You get to fight SHIELD and Hydra! Kobra and the Justice League! Bring it!

And if the GM just kills them with the Big Goods, then A) why haven't the Big Goods righted all the world's wrongs before moving on to Our Heroes? and B) the campaign ends.

So, yeah, why care? What does caring about one's reputation bring to the table?

Re: Supers: Trust & Reputation?
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2013, 03:06:46 PM »
That's convinced me: they should care, so there has to be a mechanical reason for them to do it. I've played in too many games where the 'heroes' stopped being heroic because, really, there was nothing to stop them and no incentive for them to be good. This is a game about being a hero, so it needs more than just player buy-in to keep that going: taking a life, or just standing by and doing nothing while someone dies, should always be a hard, desperate choice for a superhero.

I think rather than fiddle about with scales and measures, I'll create a fixed penalty for being responsible for a death, a real 'the world hates you now' deal, and let the 'Dark Avenger' have a move that makes them exempt from that penalty. There's already a model for it in the hack, a face death move which lets you decide whether you want to retire your character or keep playing them when they fill in their last harm segment. Maybe face judgement as the flip side, for when you do something truly anti-heroic?

Re: Supers: Trust & Reputation?
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2013, 04:45:17 PM »
A far easier and more elegant mechanic presents itself, though. Why the emphasis on punishment instead of reward? Dead simple moves for reinforcing in-genre behavior go like this:

When you rescue a bystander, mark XP. You can benefit from this move once per session. If improved you can benefit from this move twice per session.

...and...

When you investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding your parents' untimely murder, mark XP. If improved, when you solve the murder, mark 5 XP.

I am all for moves that reward players for embracing the genre.

Re: Supers: Trust & Reputation?
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2013, 06:18:08 PM »
The big question is, as I'm keeping the harm rules more or less as they are in AW, what happens when 'Superman' kills someone? And does the same thing happen to The Punisher?  Should heroes have to choose alignments? Or is it better to keep track of their actions and have the public respond to them accordingly?
In a world with Superman, why keep the harm rules the way they are?  A core principle of AW hacks is that the rules support the desired fiction.

If you want a game in which superman can and does act like superman, then I'd re-write the harm rules so heroes don't kill by default.  In my Nine Swords hack, for example, a PC or NPC that takes their full allotment of harm is simply unconscious.  Death comes only as a result of PCs spending edge (like monsterheart strings) or from playbook moves.

Re: Supers: Trust & Reputation?
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 03:35:44 AM »
I'd re-write the harm rules so heroes don't kill by default.  In my Nine Swords hack, for example, a PC or NPC that takes their full allotment of harm is simply unconscious.  Death comes only as a result of PCs spending edge (like monsterheart strings) or from playbook moves.

I think this is where I'm going, thanks: the fight foes move has 5 options when you get a hit, only 1 of which definitely causes harm to your foe, with one other presenting them with a choice of taking harm or surrendering. Heroes also have a power resource they can spend 1-for-1 to take +1 after their roll, so I don't even need to make it a separate thing: if you spent power to get your hit, but the villain fills their last harm segment as a result, then they die rather than being knocked out. Simples! :-D

I had considered giving XP for saving lives, but save bystanders is already one of the basic moves, so if that stat was highlighted, you'd be getting double XP almost every time you made that move. Also, there's a big difference between how the heroes interact with bystanders and how they do so with villains: being rewarded for saving the former won't do anything to stop them killing the latter.

Re: Supers: Trust & Reputation?
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 05:29:53 PM »
I'm leaning towards a two or three point scale like you describe; I'm undecided as to whether a zero/neutral point is necessary or if it would add anything to the game. I'd like to keep it simple, a straightforward Loved/Hated division, with a Superman-type character almost always being on the Loved side and The Punisher pretty much always on the Hated side. I probably won't use those exact words though as they're a bit loaded, so maybe Fame/Infamy or something like that.

See, I don't see Punisher on hate side. I see it like this:

Superman: 3
Batman: 1
Punisher: 0
Lex Lugor: -1
Joker: -3