I figured I'd follow Bill and Dave's example and noodle out some of Adam's situation in a thread. I await the questions, Doyce. Adam Real Name : Adam Amari Code Name : Concord An eighth-grader taking freshmen and sophomore AP courses at Halcyon High, granted powers and abilities beyond his own imagination by an alien intelligence he knows as the Universal Concordance. The Fam Mom and Dad : Kamala and Nassir Amari, struggling low-middle class parents just trying to make ends meet and do right by their kids. Of course, now one of them eats six or seven times as much as they used to and only just now figured out how to not to burn holes his clothes when he gets angry. The good news is he can apparently make his own clothes which is good, but he's a thirteen-year-old with control over his fashion choices and... Nassir's in-between jobs at the moment and using his extra free time to handle all the meetings with A.E.G.I.S. Kamala has a job at an auto dealership. They're still trying to figure out how to answer questions at the PTA meetings about Adam dropping out of most of his extra curricular activities. The Kid Sister : Jordan, age five. She's Adam's biggest fan and everyone in Jordan's kindergartner class knows her brother's a superhero. (Not that any of the adults believe it. There's always one kid who claims they're related to a superhero.) Adam loves her and they have a great sibling relationship despite the age gap. Many a super villain attack have interrupted a tea party or the rampage of the Jordansaurus Rex upon Jurassic Park. The Powers So the Universal Concord's given Adam power over the cosmic forces of Virtues, nebulous concepts for humans but apparently cosmic cornerstones. These manifest mostly as fiery blasts of energy, slightly more controlled energy constructs, and being able to "see" people's virtues via an a sort of aura reading ability. He also has a limited ability to enforce those Virtue upon people, but it 1.) feel weird and doesn't quite work all the time, 2.) is mostly limited to Truth, but that could just be Adam's limited experience, however, 3.) it's a massive invasion of free-will that caused that AEGIS agent he tried it on to freak right the hell out afterwards. His parents grounded him for that, after they finished freaked out that their son immolated himself in a multicolor conflagration after he got mad at himself for upsetting the AEGIS agent. The Virtues match to colors, making a lot of what he does a multicolored spectacle. The primary three (blue for truth/honesty, green for love/compassion, and red for courage/valor) mix into their component virtues (cyan for justice [truth tempered by love], yellow for sacrifice [courage to give oneself for compassion], and magenta for honor [courage to uphold the truth]) and when all six are combined, they become a brilliant white (for humility, or discipline to know how to follow the Virtues simultaneously). Usually, however, Adam can only manage to fulfill one primary virtue at a time and sometimes struggles to fulfill the component virtues. (One internet cookie for whoever catches the reference.) What Adam struggles with, however, is how the opposite of those Virtues interact with his powers. Feeling Deceitful, Hatred, and Craven cause Adam's powers to flare uncontrollably. It might be more powerful (or he might just have less control and isn't subconsciously limiting himself), but the effects are horribly unpredictable.
I can absolutely see this. Very cool.
I'm immediately struck by the fact mom and dad went for very anglicized names for their kids. Very interesting. Do they live in Halcyon City? Does Adam go home every night, or have they asked supers to sort of board him and help him? I have ... well, I have ideas/strong theory about what's going on with the Concordance in this case. Can't wait to play and find out what's really going on.
I figure they're like second- or third-generation Americans. Still some connections to the old country (mostly older relatives), but mostly fully integrated. I doubt anyone in the family speaks anything other than English. I figure they live on like the outskirts of the city, probably just within the school district lines. I figure he goes home most nights. I can just imagine him having a late mission and being on a cellphone, "Momma, <yawn> there's some bad guys moving something dangerous and <yawn> the team needs me. Harry said Mr. and Mrs. Gale would be fine if I crashed there because it'll probably be after one when I get home... ...I know the buses run until 2:30, but it's not like I brought my pass... ...where would I keep.... ...oh yeah, that's a good idea.... ...yes, momma... ...yes, momma... ...okay. Tell dad I love him too. <closes phone> What's everyone looking at?" I can't wait to see how the Concordance winds up being the worst thing that ever happened to Adam's life. :D
Based on the 2/3G families I know ... ... the parents (2nd Generation) know some of the home language, might even be able to drop into it clumsily to talk to a 1G in front of the kids. ... the kids (3rd Generation) know only the swear words they heard Grandpa use. While they might have the opportunity to take the language in school, they'd rather be caught dead than doing something so un-cool. Okay, I may be projecting there.
I bow to greater experience here.
Mike said: I can't wait to see how the Concordance winds up being the worst thing that ever happened to Adam's life. :D Having the Nova as the youngest character is really striking and fun. Reminds me a bit of the really strong mutant girl in Runaways who's like four or five years younger than everyone else.
One thing I think I'm going to do, however, is I'm going to slightly reskin one of my options in the playbook and use it to tell a more interesting story. So in the playbook, I have the option for a happy facade or a locked down demeanor. I think I'd like to go with a "mature facade." Adam has a lot of power and those powers require a lot of control. Also, he's a little kid and sees everyone else so cool around him. While he's going to act like he's calm, cool, and collected, he's really just wants to fit and hope he's doing the right thing. Mechanically, I'm going to go with the happy facade option of giving Influence to three teammates (before I was only giving Ghost Girl Influence). I think those three are going to be Link, Mercury, and Ghost Girl. I don't know why yet Adam doesn't give Quill Influence yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something.
Sounds cool. Remind me how old Adam is? 12 or 13?
13 and three-quarters. :D
Mike said: I think those three are going to be Link, Mercury, and Ghost Girl. I don't know why yet Adam doesn't give Quill Influence yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something. By my calculations, Link now has Influence over everybody. But connection and bonds are his strength, so. I don't know what you have in mind for Quill, but reading the interview posts, it sounds like he's got a pretty mature, almost jaded perspective on some topics. Can he see through Adam's facade, does Adam recognize that, and hence fear letting him in further? Quill as written would be an interesting big-brother type, and could probably benefit from connecting to this kid himself.
Actually, Jason would probably feel a lot empathy to Adam the more he put up that kind of mature facade. It's something he's had to do a lot of over the years (meeting foreign dignitaries, dealing with high government officials, standing around at science award ceremonies, that sort of thing). It could well be be that, in the right circumstances, he'd take Adam under his wing -- he understands, too well, having truckloads of responsibility shoved on one's shoulders -- but he's not likely to reach out on his own without something pushing him. (He's still pretty reserved in most ways about relationships at the moment, not professionally, but personally.) (I did consider the Star playbook for Jason as an option -- in some ways, though, he's is sort of the anti-Star. He can affect the jaded attitude, because he's had to as the next best thing to a child star. Unlike most child stars, though, not only was he not interested in being one, he currently doesn't need or want to be one now.)
Question about the Concordance. Is it some sort of body-inhabiting virtually-sentient energy... thing? Some item that's latched onto you?
I'm going to split the middle here and suggest the "Magic Feather" approach. I've been messing around with some visual designs (I have an art degree and have wanted to draw superhero comics since I was seven, don't look at me funny) and based on something you said about Adam actually "bleeding off energy," my current designs actually have him with a scarf (or a sash, I haven't decided yet) that actually ends with little sparks of energy coming off of it. I'm now wondering if I should make that his Magic Feather. Perhaps after he was visited by the Concordance and didn't know how to deal with what was going on, he created something to wrap around himself to help him feel safe (sort of like a security blanket). This shaped itself into the scarf and now he sort of thinks he needs it to use his powers. He absolutely doesn't, but that's a hurdle to jump somewhere down the line. It'll also make a nice visual queue when he's sort of learned to control his power later on: In the beginning he wears this awkward-looking piece of clothing that sparks and looks sort of out of place on him that he thinks he needs to control his powers. As he learns to use his powers, it grows smaller and smaller and begins to look more like it belongs until finally it stops sparking and actually just looks like the rest of his uniform because that's all it really is.
Mike said: I've been messing around with some visual designs (I have an art degree and have wanted to draw superhero comics since I was seven, don't look at me funny) Honestly, if these characters don't tickle your drawing funny-bone, I don't know what will, to be honest. :)
Also I really like scarf/sparks idea, though I'm not a hundred percent sure what the Magic Feather reference means. :)
Oh, that'd be Dumbo's magic feather from the Disney cartoon. Basically it's a confidence crutch.
Not 100% sold on this idea yet, but I wanted to put this to paper so I could see how it looked and got some feedback. Concord as the Janus Team Moves When you share a triumphant celebration with someone, ask
them if they see you as the person wearing the mask or the person underneath.
If the former, mark potential and clear a condition. If the latter, take
Influence over them if you reveal yourself.
When you share a vulnerability or weakness with someone,
tell them a secret about who you really are. Give them Influence, and shift
your Mundane up, and your mask's Label down. When you share a vulnerability or weakness with someone, tell them a secret about who you really are. Give them Influence, and shift your Mundane up, and your mask's Label down. ( Notes : I like these better than the Nova's team moves. I sort of like the Beacon's Triumphant Celebration move the best, but I still think I can work better with this.) Moment of Truth (locked) The mask is a lie, and some piece of you has always known that. Doesn't matter if others can see it. You're the one that can do the impossible. Mask off. Costume on. And you're going to save the damn day. Of course, you better hope nobody nasty is watching… ( Note : I like the Nova's Moment of Truth better, but then again who wouldn't? Fits the power of the Concordance more, but I still think this is a good move.) Moves The Mask : You wear a mask and hide your real identity. Choose what Label you try to embody while wearing your mask: Savior Once per session, you can affirm either your hero or secret identity to switch your Mundane with your mask's Label. The first time you reveal your true identity to someone, mark potential. ( Notes : Nice all around, really. As far at the Label selected, based on the text from the book “seeing yourself as defending, guarding, protecting, and stalwart” that sounds like what Concord wants to be.) I Am What You See : When you spend time talking to someone about your identity, you can ask them which Label they want to impose on you; their player will tell you honestly. If you accept what they tell you, take +1 forward and either mark potential or clear a condition. ( Note : This is probably what I have been doing with Concord the most this entire time. Not bad to get mechanical benefits for it.) I'll Save You! You're
willing to pay high costs to keep your loved ones safe. Reveal your secret
identity to someone watching or mark a condition to defend a loved one as if you
rolled a 12+. ( Note : Again, very fitting with the role I've been playing with Concord.) Secret Identity : Your mundane life comes with a series of obligations. Choose
a total of 3 obligations: Drama club, schoolwork, close relative (the Amari
When time passes, roll + your Mundane to see how you're
managing your obligations. *On a 10+, things are going okay—-you have an
opportunity or advantage thanks to one of your obligations. *On a 7-9, you've lapsed on one obligation, your
choice. *On a miss, you haven't given your normal life anywhere near the
attention it deserves; the GM chooses two obligations that are going to bite
you in the butt. ( Note : I love me those obligations. :D) Drives (taken with an advance): Choose four drives to mark at the start of play: help a
teammate when they most need you ; stop a fight with calm words ; earn the
respect of a hero you admire ; get a new hero name . When you fulfill a marked drive, strike it
out, and choose one: mark potential, clear a condition, take Influence over
When your four marked drives are all struck out, choose and
mark four new drives. When all drives are struck out, change playbooks, retire
from the life, or become a paragon of the city. ( Note : This is mostly just a place holder, but I do like those drives. I especially like that "get a new hero name." In the fiction, Concord so much didn't pick his name as get misunderstood while trying to explain his powers. I wouldn't mind a little arc where Concord finds his own hero name. The only alternative I could see is something I need to do with Doyce's permission: grab the Burn move and three flares [per the Doomed playbook's advance] and pick up Elemental Awareness, Move, and Moat [a.k.a., the three flares he's actually used so far] just to keep continuity. I don't think it's really needed, but maybe.)
I don't think we need to do the Flares thing. Moat is easy enough as a Defend. The teleport can be done as an Unleash to overcome a barrier (distance: it's not as reliable as a move flare, but still does it when needed). The move he did for Elemental Awareness is close enough to an Assess/Overcome-ish thing I can sleep easy at night. Basically he'd have constructs as a write-in ability, and the ... 'impossible movement' thing? I can't recall the name. Anyway, I think it works, and I think it's got a good chance of exploring some of the richest veins in Adam's situation.
The obligation to Drama Club reminds me of the netflix animated show Trollhunters.
All this sounds solid. I actually think the virtue theme of his powers fits the Janus better, since we get to see those more clearly in a mundane context. Drives make sense too. This feels like it has the best parts of Ms. Marvel going on.
Bill G. said: This feels like it has the best parts of Ms. Marvel going on. Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel), Jamie Reyes (Blue Beetle), and Sam Alex (Nova) were my inspirations for the character (hence Adam's mom's name), so it makes sense.
Instead of all the "yeah this is awesome", what aren't you sold on?
In practice, nothing. Doyce already assuaged most of my worries. On another read through, I don't think there's anything about the Moment of Truth move that I'm worried about. All said, it is a fair rebuild of Concord. Lesson learned: Don't get hung up on the powers, pick the playbook that fits the drama you want.
Mike said: Lesson learned: Don't get hung up on the powers, pick the playbook that fits the drama you want. A lesson I still need to remember. I mean, the author of the game spends a bit of time talking about how some powers don't... help with certain playbooks. Like the Bulls drama works ... not "better" but easier with more of a 'I have a hammer, so everything looks like a nail' powerset, for example. BUT, that doesn't mean you can't make different stuff work if you're mindful about it.
We need to look at those background Janus questions, because I have thoughts about who in your close family life do NOT know. Might need a tiny bit of retconning.
I remain impressed by a supers RPG framework that is far less concerned with the "powers" and "metahuman archetype Justice League assignment slot" stuff than who a person is, what they are concerned about, how they relate to the world and other teammates.
Doyce T. said: Might need a tiny bit of retconning. Do we? I don't mind changing anything that hasn't been played out in the fiction, but I don't think that the whole "hide your secret identity from your family for contrived reasons" is very interesting or reasonable given who Adam is and how his powers work. Now hiding your identity from everyone else so that you don't get mobbed or to protect your family? Sure, very reasonable.
I was brainstorming some thoughts about 'what if dad the cop didn't know' or 'what if they don't want you to tell your sister, so she doesn't get wild ideas', but if you'd rather not, that's totally cool. DO, however, take a look at the background questions for the Janus and see what you think.
Consider extended family, people not in the house but still in the picture. Reactionary aunt's, divorced ex spouses of one parent, married older siblings, anyone like that? For bonus points, they might not approve but their reasons are good, e.g. supers were persecuted in the old country.
Okay, that's an idea I can get behind: mom and dad decided Adam can no longer go around grandma because she dislikes supers and they're worried he'll spill the beans. I could also see keeping the little sister in the dark since she's young and might let things slip without understanding the gravity of it. I'll think about it when I get a bit of time.