Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sandbox superhero campaigns (part 3)

(part one here, part two here)

Besides the various individual activities of the city's villainous types, and the smaller activities that a patrolling hero might encounter, a good sandbox superhero campaign will also have larger events occurring at the same time that can also be of interest to the city's heroes.  Such events can be similar in nature to the sort of things that a hero might encounter while on patrol, but will usually be larger in nature and scope, the sort of thing that the entire team could try to deal with; the former might involve an office building on fire with a half-dozen employees at risk, while the latter could be a high-rise building engulfed in flames with dozens of inhabitants threatened.

The Citywide Events table covers this sort of thing.  How frequently it should be used is campaign specific; once a week, twice a month, or monthly are all possible options; a good rule of thumb is to have said frequency roughly coincide with how much game time passes between gaming sessions (this should ideally be the same as the time block you use to determine activity by gangs, organizations, solo and group supervillains).  Whatever the frequency, roll 1d3-1 times on the table below for each block of time that passes during the campaign.  Such events can be caused by, or tie into, the various criminal NPC's already chosen for the game, but they don't always have to be. Note that, due to the flexibility of any given event, two completely different entries could yield similar results - this is deliberate.

(and of course, even if you have no desire to run a sandbox game, these tables can still be used to generate random scenario ideas for a more traditional superhero game)
1-2 Organizations, Gangs & Government
3-4 Solo Supervillains
5-6 Supervillain Groups
7   NPC Superheroes
8   PC's & Friends
9   Other Crimes
10  Weird & Unusual Stuff
Then roll on the indicated sub-table below.

1  Organization recruits supervillain (even odds as to whether this
   is a temporary or permanent addition)
2  Supervillain defects from organization (they probably don't take
   this very well)
3  Two organizations come into conflict (could be loud and messy,
   could be quiet and occurring in the shadows)
4  Internal power play in organization, coup d'état (could play out
   fairly quickly, or could be a protracted civil war - however 
   long it takes, the head of the losing side, assuming they're
   still alive, is probably now on the run from said organization)
5  Temporary alliance between street gang and supervillain (the
   villain has a temporary use for the gang; whatever happens, it
   probably won't end well for the gang) 
6  Two street gangs come into conflict (innocents are no doubt hurt
   as they get caught in the crossfire)
7  Terrorist activity (could be either foreign or domestic 
   terrorists, possibly superhuman)
8  Government group goes on strike (could be a group that affects
   the public safety, like police or firefighters, in which case
   the heroes may need to pick up the slack; alternatively, could
   be an organization of less obvious impact, which might have a
   more subtle and personal effect on one or more of the PC's, or
   it just might be brought up for more humorous effect -
   sanitation workers go on strike, and the garbage keeps piling up
   outside the PC's base)
9  Local government infiltrated (probably an organization taking
   control, although shapeshifting supervillains are also a
   possibility - will almost certainly make things more difficult
   for the PC's
10 Diplomatic visitor (possibly an elected official from another
   city, or perhaps from another country, and needs to be guarded
   from threats - optionally, not an elected official, but a 
   wealthy (and probably obnoxious) celebrity whose presence makes
   things difficult for the PC's

1  New villain arrives in town (might be here for a one-off job, or
   might be looking to make the city their new home)
2  Two villains team up (could be a one-time thing for a specific
   task, or could lead to a partnership - if the latter, the duo
   rolls a d8 instead of a d6 to see if they are active during a
   specific time-period in the campaign)
3  A new supervillain appears
4  Two supervillains fight each other
5  An incarcerated villain manages to break out of jail
6  An old villain returns (might be returning from the dead, or 
   just coming out of retirement)
7  Villain seeks aid from hero or hero group (might be pulling a
   scam, or might genuinely require aid for a good cause that only
   the heroes can provide)
8  Villain calls out hero for fight (possibly a trap, of course,
   but done with enough publicity that the hero looks bad if they
   don't show up)
9  Villain gets on bad side of organization (might become a 
   temporary ally of the heroes, depending on their feelings toward
   the organization)
10 Villain switches sides (could be part of a scam, might be a
   legitimate face-turn, although even if genuine the villain may
   eventually backslide into old habits)
11 Temporary alliance of multiple solo villains (probably to pull
   off some big score, Ocean's 11 style)
12 Villain pretends to be hero (probably to make the hero look bad,
   although possibly just to mess with their minds)


1  Villain group arrives from out of town (probably just for a 
   temporary task, but there's always a chance they might want to
   relocate on a more permanent basis)
2  Villain group recruits one of the local solo villains into their
   ranks (could be temporary, hiring them for a specific task, or
   they could be a permanent addition)
3  Villain group loses one of their members (could be a mutual
   decision by both sides, but probably not)
4  Villain group attacks a local solo villain (for pretty much any
   reason, really)
5  Two supervillain groups fight each other (the potential for
   innocent casualties and mass destruction should be huge here)
6  Villain group decides to target and attack the PC's (could be a
   simple ambush, or might take some time studying the heroes to 
   make sure to exploit any weaknesses)
7  Supervillain group clashes with an organization (the heroes may
   not know which side to support, if either, but things might get
   messy enough that the heroes have to do something)
8  Power play withing supervillain group (someone tries to be the
   new boss - the loser of such a struggle may or may not be ousted
   from the group, depending on the egos involved)


1  New superhero shows up (may want to join with the PC's, but is
   obnoxious/incompetent enough that the PC's probably don't want 
   to work with them - alternatively, the new hero may choose to
   avoid working with the PC's, for various reasons)
2  Superhero shows up from another city (probably on a temporary
   basis, although they might be setting up operation on a more
   permanent basis - may or may not seek to work with the PC's)
3  Hero group shows up from another city (may not want to work with
   the PC's, may even have to come into conflict with them)
4  One or more local NPC heroes goes missing (the PC's, of course,
   will have to investigate)


1  Player Character targeted for romance (this could be in either
   their secret or heroic identity)
2  PC's secret identity is targeted (PC may become aware of someone
   snooping, or someone may have already discovered the truth and
   is threatening/blackmailing them - alternatively, might not be
   someone hostile to the PC, but instead a friend or family 
3  Friendly NPC threatened (anything from a stalking ex-spouse to
   local gang members to a supervillain who wants to win their
4  PC's secret identity gets attention (their 15 minutes of fame,
   for whatever reason, not connected to their heroic identity,
   although the media attention may make slipping into their heroic
   guises unnoticed more difficult - if the PC doesn't have a dual
   identity, they get media attention for something besides their
5  Unusual will request (could be from anyone, from along-lost
   relative, to a NPC hero or even a villain - must perform some
   unusual deed or finish up some long unfinished bit of business -
   alternatively, might inherit an unusual device or odd bit of
   property (great for heroes without a base, especially if the
   location is haunted or otherwise quirky)
6  Friendly NPC or NPC's get mutated/altered in some way (probably
   temporary, but always a chance that there might be more
   permanent affects)


1  New designer drug show up in town (could just be the latest
   variation of crack or meth, or might also give the user 
   temporary super-abilities)
2  Multiple super-villains break out from the local super-prison at
   the same time
3  Kidnapping (possible high-profile enough that the PC's are
   called in to help, or perhaps a friendly NPC is abducted)
4  Public official targeted for assassination (the PC's have to
   provide protection, of course - the target might for good 
   measure dislike/hate the PC's)
5  Influx of guns/other weapons in the area (might just be a
   proliferation of real-world weaponry, or high-tech stuff might
   somehow be finding their way into the hands of local 
   organizations and/or street gangs)
6  Citizens endangered (anything from an arsonist setting fire to a
   high-rise building to a lunatic threatening to poison the city's
   water supply)
7  Robbery (possibly a heist audacious enough that it gets lots of
   media attention, or could be a local/friendly NPC whose 
   livelihood is being targeted for some reason)
8  Innocents targeted (someone is targeting victims based on some
   ethnic/creed/gender/profession/etc classification, i.e. 
   Hispanics, gays, Catholics, prostitutes, veterans, children, etc
   - may be killing them, or possibly kidnapping - probably for
   prejudicial reasons, or might may be using them for something
   more esoteric, such as to complete a magic ritual)


1  Unusual weather (could be something natural, depending on the
   location and time of year, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, forest
   fires, etc, or could be something caused by a supervillain or
   some unusual artifact)
2  Extra-dimensional being(s) shows up (someone or something from a
   non-earthlike dimension, could be an advance scout for an
   invasion force, could be fleeing some terrible oppression, could
   be looking for a new home, could just be lost)
3  Alien(s) show up (motives similar to extra-dimensional beings as
   above, may or may not have a starship with them)
4  Mass supernatural occurrences (outbreaks of vampirism, people
   seeing ghosts everywhere, people unknowingly casting spells
   based on their words or wishes, etc)
5  Dimensional rift opens (could be to another world, another
   dimension, another time, etc. - probably temporary, but a slim
   chance it might become permanent)
6  Temporary boom in superhuman activity (people gaining temporary
   superpowers, for both good and ill, with the chance that for
   some it might trigger a more permanent change - optionally, it
   doesn't create new superhumans, but rather something compels
   everyone with unusual abilities, including those who normally
   choose a more mundane lifestyle, to become more visibly active
   during this time period)
7  Science runs amok (any super-tech characters or organizations
   might do something inadvertently affects the area, such as
   creating an intelligent computer virus, temporary time-shifts,
   subsonic emissions affecting people's personalities, etc - this
   can also include more mundane failures of science, such as a
   citywide power blackout)
8  Space-related disaster (meteorites crashing into the city, space
   station astronauts needing to be rescued, etc)
9  Someone from a parallel universe shows up (could be refugees,
   invaders, multi-versal tourists, etc, may or may not have a way
   home, and for good measure could also be analogues of the PC's)
10 Time traveler(s) shows up (could be from either the past or 
   future, either controlled or accidental - if from the future 
   they are probably trying to prevent/ensure some event from
   occurring, which may put them in conflict with the PC's, if
   from the past they may be seeking insight into their own 
   futures, or may be wishing to acquire some advanced piece of
11 Prophecy (the PC's get some warning/vision of the future, and
   have to act accordingly - optionally, a NPC has to deal with the
   prophecy instead, and as a result is acting somewhat contrary to
   their usual nature)
12 Mass mind control (someone or something is controlling/
   influencing the local populace in some malign way)
13 Mass transformations (could be caused by an alien virus, 
   technobabble rays, demonic energies, etc, possibly enacted by a
   mad scientist or alien invaders, is probably temporary/
   reversible, but may trigger more permanent changes in a few 
14 Rampaging monster (said monster will almost certainly have high
   strength, nearly invulnerable to damage, probably isn't too 
   bright, and optionally may be several stories tall)
15 Mass amnesia (should ideally affect the local super-types as 
   well - PC's can have fun trying to re-learn their abilities, and
   villains can discover if their criminal behavior is more a
   matter of nature or nurture)
16 Animal life goes nuts (possibly being controlled by some 
   supervillain, or perhaps some alien/mystical artifact is causing
   the local wildlife to go wacky)
17 Social unrest (tensions flare over anything from racial strife, 
   gay-bashings, unpopular courtroom decisions or religious/
   political scandals - enough so that there will be riots/violence
   in the streets)
18 Media smear (the PC's - or perhaps someone close to them - takes
   a drubbing in the press ("threat or menace?")
19 Religious/cult activity (unusual or controversial edicts from a 
   major religion, possibly directed at or concerning the PC's -
   probably hostile, but also perhaps venerating a PC or PC's - or 
   perhaps a smaller cult makes things interesting, either through
   malign or merely secretive/unusual activities)
20 Superhuman tournament/competition (some sort of contest for a 
   grand prize, a la The Great Super-Villain Contest, could be more
   specialized, such as a martial arts tournament, or might just be
   seedy and sleazy, like an underground pit-fighting broadcast)

(to be concluded... eventually)

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