Thursday, May 20, 2010

With Great Power...

Incarnadine Press' With Great Power

I have been away from the computer for a while, so when I meant to type this up we only had one game under our utility belts. Now, about a week and a half later, we've played it twice. The first session was really just a test drive session between Andy, Chri3, and myself. We liked it, loved it actually, so this week we went with a second installment, this time adding my somewhat non-gamerish brother-in-law to the roster as well as tabletop regular Chrispy.

The Red Son (my character) and Chri3' Life Bolt

WGP is a storytelling superhero RPG that uses some very cool mechanics. First of all, the superheros have no stats. That's stats! Your powers are defined by what they can do, and what level they can influence from personal scale all the way up to cosmic scale. Power equality doesn't really matter from a mechanics standpoint, how often did we see the Wasp and Thor side-by-side fighting the bad guys? It's the story that matters, not how many dice of damage you can deal out. Oh yeah, there's no dice in the game either.

Fire Bolt, Villain and Antagonist

Every hero has aspects of their character that fall under different category. Assets can be powers, origins, and/or identity. Motivation aspects include duty and conviction, and the last category, Relationships, can be family, romance, partner, or friend.

Your hero embodies however many of these aspects as you want, and can have any number of them. Spider-Man examples abound; he has a power asset (webslinging), he has a identity asset (secret identity, Peter Parker), he has a conviction motivation (fight crime), and he certainly has any number of relationship aspects (Mary Jane, Aunt May, Gwenn Stacy...)

You can only take six of these aspects with you into a game though, and here the game itself is called an issue. The six aspects you take with you can become imperiled throughout the course of the issue, and as they drop lower, your character actually becomes more powerful. It sounds a bit convoluted, but it works as you play along and is easy to grasp. There's a great review of the game over here on that does a much better job describing the system and how the game works than I could ever hope to accomplish, here's thy link.

Combat is resolved through playing cards, and play goes back and forth between the two sides of the fight until one side yields to the other. You're always looking to play the high card, but the suit also matters. There will be times you may have to yield because you have no cards left in your hand, could further imperil your character's aspects to gain bonus cards. When an aspect hits rock bottom it becomes devastated. When this happens, the fun really picks up and the bad guy now gets a hold of your devastated aspect, trying to corrupt it for good.

Again with the Spider-Man example: Spidey imperils his relationship with Aunt May to gain more cards in the fight with Venom. What happens though, he eventually devastates his Aunt May aspect and now Venom gets control of the aspect. If Venom can permanently change this aspect in some profound way (if Spidey can't get it back) Aunt May's changes are permanent. Maybe she ends up as a new symbiote, or maybe she ends up just plain dead.

Firestorm Prime defeats Life Bolt in combat

The game's success rests on the shoulders of every single player sitting around the table. If you've got a fun-loving group that's willing to be a little silly at times, can think on their feet, improvise with the best of them, and works well together, then this one is definitely for you. Since there are no power or level caps, the sky is the limit when it comes to the adventures you can have, and given the mechanics, really any genre is fair game.

We thoroughly enjoyed it, and where it may take a little extra work up front learning a very non-traditional ruleset, and coming up with a character concept and associated aspects, it plays fast and loose once the ball is rolling. One thing I did notice however is that it doesn't handle large groups of players very efficiently. It can handle them mechanically, but your time factor is going to increase greatly as you add more players. It seems two or three players may be the ideal number, but we still managed with four the other night.

I haven't plugged the Minions podcast lately, so here you go. In our latest episode we throw down with some actual play of WGP. It was fun, and I guess that will give you the best idea of what the game is like more than anything else. Enjoy!


  1. "One thing I did notice however is that it doesn't handle large groups of players very efficiently."

    Most games slow down when more players are added, but since WGP allows each player to have their own focus, game time can scale linearly with the number of players. If this is a concern, encourage players to have joint Enrichment scenes.

  2. Well, duh! WGP however exponentially slows to a crawl with each new player. Co-scenes are a great idea however, and I think we actually did more than a couple?

    Very fun game, can't wait 'til next week!

  3. No, it slows linearly-- GM and 2 players tends to have 3 enrichment scenes. GM and 4 players tends to have 5 enrichment scenes.

  4. Also, I never got the sense that anybody was sitting around, twiddling their thumbs. Everybody was contributing ideas for other players' scenes, and role-playing characters in those scenes.

  5. It's an observation for other groups out there looking at WGP. I can't assume everyone is lucky enough to have such a tight-knit, super-creative and unabashedly expressive group like ourselves!

    You are correct, the number of scenes does indeed increase linearly. I was addressing actual game time spent at the table, which seems to me as having the propensity of exponentially increasing for each additional player added to the group.

  6. Hi,
    WGP should be improved. Further enhancements needed. Love all related stuff.