Designer’s Log 3 – Testing, Testing…
At the time of this writing SuperSystem 4th Edition is into its third week of wide ranging open play-tests. You can download the current play-test doc here, and the accompanying SuperSheet needed to manage your characters here. I feel very positive about the way the play-tests are going, and our fans are providing brilliant feedback and proofreading. This will be good, because when the Kickstarter begins in early April, we hope to have a nearly complete PDF to distribute to anyone who pledges at the $5 or higher level. It won’t have all of the art assets the finished book will contain, but it will be mostly laid out and ready for prime time. This will give us the added benefit of additional eyes on the book, making sure everything fits in the layout, that tables are clear, and that any niggling errors from the initial round of play-tests get caught.
I like to think I can learn from the best, and I decided to go this route after backing the Fate Core Kickstarter and watching Fred Hicks masterfully work the process and succeed spectacularly. He did something very close to what we’re doing for our KS. I don’t know Fred, but he seems like a super-decent guy, and his patient comments to backers and alacritous customer service give me something to aspire to.
With wider public play-testing moving apace, I am now looking for creative ways to spur my own internal play-tests forward. A chance examination of my shoebox full of Heroclix figures got me to thinking about the Villain Mission Force RPG sessions I have run in the last two years. What the heck is Villain Mission Force, you ask? Villain Mission Force (VMF) is my love-letter to Marvel Comics of the 1970’s and 1980’s. These were the years I grew up reading comics. My comic book power alley, if you will. While I dearly love Marvel Comics, my favorite comic book of all time was DC’s 1980’s and 1990’s Suicide Squad, and VMF answers the question, what if Marvel also did a Suicide Squad style book during the year I love so much?
Since I am a miniature nut, any Supers RPG I run uses figures. So the villain characters available in my VMF games depend a bit on available Heroclix. Also, I have to like the sculpt. At least a little. Once I settle on my available pool of Heroclix, I move on to the next step. I love rolling on charts to set up story elements, and to give my VMF games structure, I created a whole mini system that allows players to randomly select a villain for a mission, or if they have someone in mind, to randomly select other elements that set up the character’s inclusion in the story. The document is systemless, and we’ll try to have it up on Play Unplugged in the near future.
So in a week or so I plan to run a VMF session using SuperSystem 4th Edition, and including the optional RPG skill system my co-writer David Lewis and I have tucked into one of the appendices. I am calling it Villain Mission Force: Special Missions #1. Did I mention that my sessions of VMF are always number one issues? Everybody knows that number one issues sell better than almost any other comics!