Kapow! Playtest by Guest GM

My friend Russell agreed to use Kapow! to run a short adventure for Elyssa and me, so that we could get some kind of sense of how well it would go with somebody else running it, and I’m pleased to say that from the point of view of the players it went very well indeed. Russell didn’t seem too traumatized by it, either.

The strength of the game continues to be in the ease and flexibility of the character generation: I was able to (re)create a character that I’ve been trying to play for years in other superhero RPGs, never to my complete satisfaction. He’s a kind of cross between Batman and Sandman, called The Nightmare, and in systems like Champions he always seems to end up being spread too thin as a beginning character. Clever abuse of the point-buy system can alleviate some of that, but he’s always lackluster compared to the more straightforward beat-em-up martial artist or gadget types, and almost gimped compared to the same tricks applied to a more specialized character. In Kapow! that pretty much goes away; he has different strengths and weaknesses compared to the more specialized characters, but I really didn’t get the sense playing him that it would require a bunch of XP before I could afford to have the kind of character I wanted him to be or that he was and also-ran compared to the much more Brick-like Namaste, super-yogini.

The system mostly got out of the way for the rest of the game. It was primarily an investigative scenario, with only two real combats, and neither one really required any of the rules for special situations. But they were quick, and they were satisfying, and that pleased me a lot. I think one thing that was missing, not system related, was at the end we didn’t get an explanation of the villain’s plot from his point of view. I’m hoping that Russell will leave a comment that fills in the details of why those particular victims and the odd calling card….

2 thoughts on “Kapow! Playtest by Guest GM

  1. Russell says:

    Uh oh, I thought I’d dodged the plot consistency bullet. Here goes:

    The Undertaker is the son of a mortician, at a funeral home that was patronized by mafiosi. Growing up helping his dad around the shop, he became inured to death, and found it comical that hardened gangsters were as sentimental and guilt ridden about the deaths of their loved ones as anyone else. He began hanging around the younger generation of mobsters, such as young Vito Carcieri, who gave him the nickname “The Undertaker”. Eventually, after a tour of duty as an Army sharpshooter, he became a hit man, specializing in causing seemingly accidental deaths, often hired by Vito and others to hit rivals without starting a vendetta.

    He’s recently decided that he deserves to be a capo, not just a made man. He approached Vito to support him, who just laughed him off. He then tried to threaten Officer Wallace, a corrupt policeman who’s been sabotaging police surveillance of Vito, to help him infiltrate Vito’s mob. But Wallace is an honest crooked cop, staying bought once bought, and reported this to Vito.

    The Undertaker decided that to get respect in the mob, he’d use their weaknesses against them. Since criminals are a cowardly and sentimental lot, he would adopt a m.o. of targeting the innocent friends and family, making it look like an accident to avoid police investigation but giving them a message making the death “their fault” for crossing him : ceremonial spades marked “My (father, son, partner, etc) dug my grave”. That leaves the real target alive and intimidated, ready to do his bidding to save other loved ones. The type of people he was targeting wouldn’t go to the police or publicize the message. Spookily costumed underlings, a mortuary themed base, and an armored hearse would complete the set to make a mob-intimidating persona. He’s a master of disguise and totally competent mortician, so its easy for him to bluff his way into funeral homes and gain access to the bodies.

    Two of his early targets (but not the only ones) were Vito’s daughter and Wallace’s partner, both otherwise uninvolved. He left Vito and Wallace alive, thinking they would now do his bidding to save their other loved ones.

    That’s all I really plotted out. I didn’t think out the details of the plan to the “Profit!” step, because I expected you to catch him before it became an issue. I doubt he’ll make a second appearance. It’s not safe in prison for those who target the families of mafiosi….

    Russell
    .-= Russell´s last blog ..You know how dwarves are! =-.

  2. Joshua says:

    That answers the questions I had, I think.

    Q: Any reason those victims in particular?
    A: No, they were just picked to upset the actual targets.

    Q: Why go to the trouble of undoing the presumption that the death of the cop was an accident in such a way as to ensure maximum involvement from the cops? Were there two factions, one that committed the murder, one that wanted to expose it?
    A: No, the villain was crazy.

    Q: Was there something about the ten minutes of missing footage from the security tapes that was particularly important, given that the disguised villain was seen in the rest of the tape?
    A: No.

    Q: Was the funeral home a front for something, thus justifying the (somewhat creepy if you ask me) security cameras and significant security on the morgue?
    A: No.

    I found it a very satisfying adventure; with your permission I’ll include it as an example.

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