Pioneering a New Domain

Exploring a nebula

Hubble Views Grand Star-forming Region. Image Credit: NASA

Exploring Infinity has a new home!

In an effort to better provide clear access to helpful, excellent, exploratory content, we’ve moved to a new domain, exploring-infinity.com, and redesigned the site to better connect you with the content you want.

I’m pleased that the new design offers more control over our aesthetics and better credit for my esteemed collaborators for the great work they’re doing serving the gaming and storytelling community through their creativity.

The site is definitely still a work in progress, so I’d love any feedback on usability, aesthetics, and content. Either leave a comment below, or send a message here.

Meanwhile, explore some of our most frequented pages in the new format:

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The Gang’s All Here – G.I. Joe

Introduction

In my previous The Gang’s All Here article, I presented the infamous reprobates of the terrorist organization known as Cobra for use in your Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game. In this installment, let’s look at their opposition, the highly trained special mission force known as G.I. Joe.

In certain stories the Joe team could serve as foes for player characters, but this group works best as allies for the characters or even as playable heroes. While the members of G.I. Joe are extremely skilled soldiers, they are still relatively normal people. Thus they may not be equipped for battles against cosmic threats or some super-powered foes, but they will always be real American heroes! Yo Joe!

G.I. Joe

Duke (from Real American Heroes - Image Credit: G.I. Joe Wiki)

Officially known as Special Counter-Terrorist Group Delta, the group better known as GI Joe was formed to help oppose the growing threat from more organized subversive groups around the globe. The nickname for the team was adopted from a popular term used by soldiers during World War II, and previously it was the code name for a special forces unit under the Kennedy administration.

The new incarnation of GI Joe gathered the best of the best from all branches of the U.S. military, and each member of the team had a specialized focus within the unit based on his or her particular skill set. The team also enjoys access to cutting edge military hardware and a top secret underground base hidden beneath the Fort Wadsworth base on Staten Island which acts as staging grounds for GI Joe operations.

The members of GI Joe pose as standard soldiers during their down time, but when duty calls they jump into action wherever they are needed. GI Joe’s perenniel source of problems is the infamous group known as Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization that will stop at nothing less than global domination.

Overview (Milestone) | General Characters | Paraphernalia | Named Characters
Copyright Disclaimer Continue reading

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The Gang’s All Here – G.I. Joe’s Cobra

I’m very pleased to welcome thetimejockey (@timejockey) as Exploring Infinity’s newest contributor. Please help me make him feel welcome. This excellent first post expands the villainous options for your supers game .     ~ Adam

Introduction

In the early 1980’s, Hasbro wanted to publish a comic tie-in for a new toy line in development: a squad of highly-trained soldiers called G.I. Joe. They approached Marvel comics to develop the story behind these fighting men and women, and the task fell to a young writer and artist named Larry Hama. Hama had previously pitched an idea to Marvel about a squad of soldiers led by the son of super-spy Nick Fury, and he adapted some of the ideas for that storyline into what would become G.I. Joe.

But G.I. Joe did not have a villain to fight, so Archie Goodwin and several members of the Marvel Bullpen came up with a terrorist organization akin to the evil Hydra to battle the Real American Heroes. That evil group was called Cobra, and they have been trying to take over the world ever since. Continue reading

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Action Scenes – Night of the Lizard!

Introduction

Amazing Spider-Man #631 cover (Image credit: Marvel Comics Database)

We’ve seen vengeful moloids assault the surface world, a classic bank robbery by Doctor Octopus, and a mile-high ninja assault. This time, the heroes face a scaly threat in the city’s sewers.

Spider Man villains are my favorite Marvel villains, and The Lizard is my favorite among them. He’s savage, menacing, and a tough opponent for Spidey. Yet Spidey has to pull his punches and protect The Lizard while defeating him because beneath the creature lies his friend Dr. Curt Connors. Plus, The Lizard just looks cool with his white lab coat and huge tail.

This Action Scene is best for one to three heroes. If you use more heroes, consider starting the scene with some of the Doom unlockables already in play.

That reminds me, this scene includes Unlockables that the Watcher can purchase using the Doom Pool and others that players can purchase with xp. Let me know in the comments what you think of these additions.

This scene can serve as the culmination of a larger storyline, or inserted easily into an ongoing event.

Dramatis Personae | Setup | The Scene | Action | Aftermath | Milestone OptionDoom Pool UnlockablesPlayer Unlockables

Dramatis Personae

The Lizard (Dr. Curtis Connors, World Renowned Herpetologist)

(Image Credit: Marvel Comics Database)

Affiliations:Solo d10, Buddy d6, Team d8

Distinctions: Dr. Curt Connors, Lairs in Sewers & Swamps, Savage Lizard

Lizard Serum Transformation
Superhuman Strength d10, Superhuman Stamina d10, Enhanced Durability d8, Enhanced Reflexes d8, Enhanced Speed d8, Wall Crawl d6, Leaping d6, Reptile Mastery d10

SFX: Tail. Step up or double Superhuman Strength for one action. If the action fails, shutdown Tail SFX. Recover on an opportunity.
SFX: Claws and Fangs. Add a d6 to your dice pool for an attack action and step back highest die in pool by –1. Step up Physical Stress inflicted by +1.
SFX: Regeneration. Spend d6 from the doom pool to recover physical stress and step back physical trauma by –1.
Limit: Cold Blooded. Add d6 to Doom and Shutdown highest Lizard Serum Transformation power if hit with a cold-based attack. Recover on an opportunity.
Limit: Antidote. Add d6 Doom and shutdown Lizard Serum Transformation Power Set if successfully force fed the lizard serum antidote. Recover by spending d6 Doom when Dr. Connors takes emotional or mental stress.

Specialties: Acrobatics Expert, Combat Expert, Menace Expert, Medical Expert, Science Master

Bio: Dr. Curt Connors is a world renowned herpetologist who lost an arm in an explosion. He created a serum to regrow his arm based on how reptiles regrow body parts, but the serum turned him into The Lizard. Spider-Man turned him back with an antidote, but now whenever he experiences stress he risks reverting to The Lizard.

As The Lizard he retains some of his consciousness and scientific knowledge, but he becomes savage. He desires to see reptiles rise and rule the world. Besides his own enhanced abilities, he also gains the power to psychically master and control all reptilian life in a two mile radius.

Use the Dr. Curt Connors distinction at d4 when the Lizard attempts to use his human knowledge and reason.

Alligator (Specialty Character)

Alligator d8
Solo d8, Buddy d6, Team d4
Bite d8, Thick Hide d6
SFX: Death Roll. Add a d6 to your dice pool for an attack action and step back highest die in pool by –1. Step up Physical Stress inflicted by +1.

Venomous Snake Swarm (Mob)

Team 3d6
Distinctions: Deadly Fangs, Slither
Snake Swarm: Swarming Mass (Intangible) d6, Bite d6
SFX: Poison. Add a d6 to your dice pool for an attack action and step back highest die in pool by –1. Step up Physical Stress inflicted by +1.
SFX: Area Attack. Add a d6 and keep an additional effect die for each additional target.
Limit: Mob Cohesion. Defeat Team dice (with d8 stress) to reduce mob.

Action!

Setup

The Lizard has built a lab in the sewers using items stolen from the labs at the school at which he works. He has created a lesser version of the serum that turned him into The Lizard and plans to inject it into the city’s water supply, thus creating a population of lizard people. To aid his efforts, he has used his reptile control powers to free venomous snakes and alligators from the city zoo. To make matters worse, Dr. Connors’ son Billy has recently gone missing!

The Scene

NOTE: Scene Distinctions are listed below in blue caps (LIKE THIS) and complications, resources, and assets are in blue with quotes “Like This.”

The Lizard’s sewer lab is near a pipeline feeding from the water treatment plant. The tunnel area is partially filled with (SWIFTLY FLOWING WATER). The sewer is (DARK), damp and smelly.

The Lizard’s (MAKESHIFT LAB) sits atop a platform and features a d8 Resource  “Explosive Chemicals” which he can use to inflict stress or complications.

The Lizard is near his lab injecting his serum into the water supply pipeline when the heroes arrive. He has two alligators and a venomous snake swarm protecting him.

Getting to the Action

The serum begins as a complication “Serum in the Water Supply d10.” At the end of each Action Order the Watcher can spend d6 Doom to step up this complication. If it exceeds d12, the serum has irreversibly entered the city water supply. Heroes can use actions such as turning valves or breaking pipes to remove or step back the complication.

Billy, Dr. Connors’ son, is trapped on another platform being menaced by one of the alligators. Treat (BILLY) as a scene distinction. The alligator uses him in actions against the heroes, causing the hero emotional stress if it wins. Heroes can rescue Billy and remove him as a scene distinction with an effect of d8 or higher on a rescue action. (However, see the Doom unlockables below for more possibilities with Billy.)

If things look bad for The Lizard, he spends an action ripping open a huge pipe and causing water to pour out. He then tries to escape through a ceiling hatch. The broken pipe causes a complication “Flooding Chamber d6” which the Watcher can step up by spending d6 Doom at the end of each player’s action!

    • If the flooding reaches d10 and Billy has not yet been rescued, he drowns and needs a Medical Specialty roll vs the Doom Pool to survive.
    • Once the water reaches d12, all heroes must make a roll including Stamina or some other resistance to drowning vs the Doom Pool + the d12 complication. Any heroes that fail this roll take the Doom Pool’s effect die as Physical Stress. (Watcher Tip: Make this “attack” like an Area Attack SFX to speed up play)

Aftermath

If The Lizard gets his serum into the water supply, the heroes suddenly have a huge problem on their hands. They’ll have to keep order in the city and find a way to apply antidote to the victims. In addition, if The Lizard escapes, he will gladly control this new army with his Reptile Mastery power.

Give all new lizard people the New Lizard Serum Transformation Power Set from the Billy Connors Doom unlockable below.

If The Lizard’s serum doesn’t reach the water supply but The Lizard escaped, the heroes will likely want to track him down before he carries out a new plan.

Milestone Option

Interested players may take the following Milestone to more deeply interact with The Lizard’s theme.

Student
Some heroes must balance their co-curricular activities with the pressure of homework, grades, and school culture. Can you save the world and get the grade?

1xp when you attend class during a scene.
3xp when attending class is the cause of conflict or stress.
10xp when you become the favored student/star pupil, or when you fail the class.

Doom Pool Unlockables

Spend the following dice from the Doom Pool to include these options in the Action Scene.

1d8 or 2d6

Large Constrictor Snake: (Specialty Character)
Snake d8
Solo d8, Buddy d6, Team d4
Fangs d6, Constrict d6
SFX: Immobile. Add a d6 and step up your effect die by +1 when inflicting Constriction complication on a target.
SFX: Swallow. Step up or double Fangs when target has a Constriction complication.

1d10 or 2d8

Huge alligator: (Minor character)
Solo d8, Buddy d6, Team d4
Distinctions: Primal Hunger, Clumsy Brute, Fierce Opportunist

Giant Sewer Gator
Thick Hide d8, Tail d8, Bite d8

SFX: Tail Sweep. Target multiple opponents with Tail. For every additional target, add d6 and keep +1 effect die.
SFX: Death Roll. Add a d6 to your dice pool for an attack action using Bite and step back highest die in pool by –1. Step up Physical Stress inflicted by +1.
SFX: Smashing Jaws. Double or step up Bite on an action against a single target, then shutdown Bite. Spend d6 doom to recover.
Limit: Huge. Can’t fit between narrow spaces, and other problems. Turn a Giant Sewer Gator power into a Complication and add d6 doom. Spend d6 doom to recover.

Specialties: Menace Expert d8

1d10 or 2d8

The Lizard has turned his son Billy into a miniature version of himself to test his new formula.

Billy Connors (Minor character)
Solo d6, Buddy d8, Team d4
Distinctions: Child, Ferocious

New Lizard Serum Transformation
Enhanced Strength d8, Enhanced Stamina d8, Enhanced Durability d8, Enhanced Reflexes d8, Speed d6, Wall Crawl d6, Leaping d6

SFX: Tail. Step up or double Enhanced Strength for one action. If the action fails, shutdown Tail SFX. Recover on an opportunity.
SFX: Claws and Fangs. Add a d6 to your dice pool for an attack action and step back highest die in pool by –1. Step up Physical Stress inflicted by +1.
SFX: Regeneration. Spend d6 from the doom pool to recover physical stress and step back physical trauma by –1.
Limit: Cold Blooded. Add d6 to Doom and shutdown highest New Lizard Serum Transformation power if hit with a cold-based attack. Recover on an opportunity.
Limit: Antidote. Add d6 Doom and shutdown New Lizard Serum Transformation Power Set if successfully force fed the lizard serum antidote. Recover by taking more New Lizard Serum.

Specialties: Acrobatics Rookie, Combat Rookie, Menace Rookie

Player Unlockables

Any player who defeats The Lizard by feeding him the antidote may access the following unlockables:

5xp – Gain Dr. Curt Connors as a “School Faculty d6” resource. A hero can also use Dr. Connors as a “Tutor d6” resource to support a recovery action for mental stress from school.
Limit: Dr. Curt Connors can be used once per session. At the Watcher’s discretion, Connors can be used a second time in a session, but an opportunity on the subsequent roll using the resource means that Dr. Connors reverts to The Lizard at a narratively appropriate time.

10xp – Gain Dr. Curt Connors as the resource above (with the same Limit) but as a d8 instead of d6. In addition, the resource implies the Connors’ family as family friends and can support physical stress recovery (by Connors patching the hero up).

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The Gang’s All Here – City of Heroes’ Trolls

Introduction

We’re back again with another post in our Gang’s All Here series offering thematic groups of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying datafiles, ready to drop right into your game. This time we’re presenting another group based on enemies from the City of Heroes computer game. Last time, we looked at the Outcasts, an elemental-powered mutant gang. This time, we detail one of the Outcasts’ long-time rivals: the Trolls.

Continue reading

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The Gang’s All Here – City of Heroes’ Outcasts

Introduction

The superhero MMOG City of Heroes can provide an excellent source of ideas for a Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game, or a whole setting for those looking for something with a little less “history” than the Marvel-verse. Under the new Gang’s All Here series, we’ll be writing up datafiles and tie-in options for some of the villain and hero groups from the game to allow you to run Paragon City-based adventures, or to just throw in a bit more colour to your own Marvel events.

Today, we’ll start with a fairly low-level group of thugs likely to be familiar to anyone who has paid a visit to The Hollows. Continue reading

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Sword & Sorcery Heroic Roleplaying – Adventures: “Rogues in the House”

After hacking character creation, tone, and offering some classic heroes and threats, it’s finally time to put all the pieces together a complete adventure  for Sword and Sorcery Heroic Roleplaying. (Rogues in the House)

Following the Event format of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, this and an upcoming adventure draw inspiration from two of Robert E. Howard’s Conan tales; Rogues in the House and The Tower of the Elephant.

If your players have read these stories, it is simple enough to change a few details and descriptions to disguise the source of your scenarios. At the end of each adventure, you’ll find some notes on making such changes.

  • Rogues in the House is an adventure suitable for a single hero. He or she starts the adventure in an unfortunate position, chained to a wall in a dungeon cell, convicted of a capital crime…
  • Tower of the Elephant is an adventure suitable for a pair of heroesContinue reading
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Heroic Locations – The Danger Room

Danger Room for the film X2

Danger Room for the film X2 (Image via Marvel Universe Wiki)

The Danger Room is a widely versatile training facility used by the X-Men. Controlled from a booth, either by an operator or by the computer AI, the room simulates scenarios, obstacles, traps, complications, enemies, and weapons to test the X-Men and train them to act as a team.

The Danger Room has a prime directive not to kill any trainees. Any stress caused by the Danger Room is considered to be with pulled punches (see OM24).

Training and Exercises

Heroes use the Danger Room for combat training and exercises: for simple training, heroes must cause the Danger Room to Continue reading

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The Gang’s All Here – Stryker Crusade & Purifiers

Introduction

Welcome to the first installment of yet another regular column: The Gang’s All Here. This column will feature entire sets of organizations, gangs, groups, etc. that you can drop right into your game.

This first set gives you the Stryker Crusade and the Purifiers. I don’t strive for an all encompassing history of an organization, but more a general set of my favorite bits. I hope you enjoy!

Here is the format this column will follow:

  • Overview
  • General Characters
  • Paraphernalia
  • Named Characters

(All images by Marvel via Marvel Comics Database)

Stryker Crusade & The Purifiers

The Purifiers serve the Stryker Crusade, a worldwide extremist religious group whose goal is the utter eradication of mutantkind. They like to Continue reading

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Expanding Fantasy Heroic Roleplaying: A D&D 4e Hack for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

Dave “The Game” Chalker recently made an excellent foray into a 4e D&D fantasy hack for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Simple, elegant, and iconic hacks like this really show how well and how easily Cortex Plus adapts to diverse genre and source material. This hack promises to fit my 4e group’s preferred playstyle better than even 4e does.

A warforged, as depicted in the 4th edition Monster Manual and the WOTC Daily Art Preview by Eva Widermann.

The following are my ideas for a few more of my favorite races and classes that Dave’s initial hack didn’t cover. Many are from Player’s Handbook 2 or 3, or campaign-specific player’s guides, so they’re a bit more involved than the core races and classes, but hopefully they’re just as fun to play.

New Races

New Classes

NOTE: Githzerai Limit edited based on good input from Danny Rupp (@bartoneus). Monk limit edited based on ideas from Dave Chalker.

Races

Genasi

From Dragon 366, "Ecology of the Genasi." Sep 9, 2008

Choose one of the following manifestations for your power traits and SFX. All genasi share the Limits Inevitable Flux and Elemental below.

  • Firesoul
    • Fire Influence d6, Blast d8
    • SFX: Fiery Body. On a successful reaction against a physical attack action, inflict physical stress with your effect die at no PP cost or step up +1 for 1 PP.
  • Watersoul
    • Water Influence d6, Enhanced Reflexes d8, Insubstantial d6, Swimming d6
    • SFX: Second Wind. Before you make an action including Continue reading
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