Smallville RPG

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<p>LEADS, FEATURES, AND EXTRASYour Smallville stories will be populated by all sorts of characters: heroes and villains, damsels in distress, plucky sidekicks, untrustworthy scoundrels, and everyone else who lives in Metropolis or wherever you set your story. Characters come in three flavors in the Smallville Roleplaying Game: Leads, Features, and Extras. Leads are the characters that your stories are about; a different player controls each Lead. Its the players job to tell an interesting and compelling story with their characters. Each Lead has a sheet of information and game stats that describes him: whats important to him, how he gets things done, and a few other details. Features are the characters that fill significant roles in the rest of the story. Features push the Leads to act, whether by hatching some fiendish plot or by falling prey to one. Each Feature also has a sheet, which looks a lot like a Leads sheet. Extras are the characters that mostly live in the background. Sometimes they have names, sometimes theyre just sort of there. While they may get the Leads to react, theyre almost always acting under someone elses orders. Extras dont have a sheet like Leads or Features; you can record any necessary details on an index card, sticky note, or whatever.</p> <p>categories of Traits are Drives, Assets, and Resources. Every character also has five Stress Traits that track how hes been hurt. Lastly, theres a space to keep your Plot Points, which are a game currency that you can spend to grease the wheels in your favor. Well take a closer look at each category in a little bit. This book calls out most specific Traits by using small caps, like this. Each Trait has a die rating. When that Trait comes into play, youll roll that die. Bigger dice tend to roll higher, but no die is safe from rolling a 1 (rolling a 1 is significantwell get to this later). Most Traits also have a couple other notes listed underneath the die rating. These give you tricks to keep up your sleeve and to push the story in interesting directions. Well discuss how these bits work later, too.</p> <p>DRIVES</p> <p>The first half of your Lead sheet lists your characters Drives: his Relationships with the people important to him and the Values that he holds dear. Each one has a statement (in italics) and a die rating. The statement describes his impression of each person or value. The rating scores how much he cares about that Drive.You roll in dice for Drives when your characters actions advance or assume the truth of the statement. So lets say you have Tess is playing with fire d8. You can roll that d8 when youre telling her that she doesnt appreciate the consequences of her actions. Or when youre working to bring down her firewalls and shut down that project thats about to go nuclear. Or when youre getting Clark to go confront her about the whatever-it-is that she decided to unleash on the planet this week.</p> <p>WATCHTOWER</p> <p>One player controls all the Features and Extras around the Leads. This player is called Watchtower. Watchtower knows all and sees all; she plays characters off of each other while remaining in the background; her influence is pervasive and subtle, inescapable in its scope. Watchtower makes everyone elses stories possible. Sound familiar? Watchtowers job is to give the Leads context for their stories, to present them with interesting situations, to see what gets them to react, and to press them to make big, important choices and reveal the depths of their characters. Watchtower controls the bad guys, sure; but she uses those characters as tools to provide the Leads with opportunities to tell a good story.</p> <p>PLAYERS</p> <p>Players choose what their Leads do, they choose how the Leads react to Watchtowers poking and prodding, and they make big decisions of great importeven when its just deciding who to go out with on Friday. Players also decide when what their Leads are doing is important enough to roll dice, not to mention when and how the Leads grow, change, and develop as characters and as people.</p> <p>Traits</p> <p>The character sheets that describe Leads and Features are mostly lists of Traits. The three big</p> <p>Occasionallyand by occasionally I pretty much mean all the timeyoull find that your characters understanding of a person or a value is not quite accurate. Maybe Tess is acting rationally and responsibly; when you defend Tess sensible action to Oliver, you can challenge your Relationship with her. Alternately, your Value of Truth I decide who knows it d10 might come up dry when you realize that Clark isnt going to save you from the monster stalking around the Watchtower because you didnt tell him about it until too late. When you call Clark frantic for help, you can challenge that Value. When you challenge a Drive, you get to triple its die instead of rolling one d8, you throw three. You also note the die size in your Growth pool on your Lead sheet, which is really important. Unfortunately, because youre questioning your Drive and arent so sure about it anymore, you also have to step it down one die size for the rest of the episode. After all, if you stand up for Tess plan, you cant really turn around and say shes</p> <p>acting reckless in the next sceneor at least, you cant do that and expect it to work quite as well.Whose Story Is It? When you play Smallville, youre telling each other stories. Those stories are about the Leads, and it is the Leads players who do most of the heavy lifting for those stories. Watchtower doesnt prepare a story for the Leads to play</p> <p>their way through, nor does she tell the story of her Features. What she does is create opportunities for the players to make their stories more interesting. She sets out challenges and obstacles, provoking the players into making choices both big and smallbut always significant. Watchtower is more gardener than conductor: shes there to encourage the Leads to bloom, not to direct them from the start of the story to its end.</p> <p>ASSETS</p> <p>The second half of your Lead sheet lists your characters Assets: a little bit of how he gets things done and a little bit of who he is. Each Asset has a die rating and one or more notes underneath it. The die rating shows how powerful that Asset can be. The notes beneath give you access to nice little bonuses. There are three kinds of Assets: Distinctions, Abilities, and Gear. Distinctions are the things that make your character unique as a person; no, not super-strength or hypersonic screams, but things like Clarks BigHearted or Olivers Smartass. If you stripped away all the super stuff, what would be left? Those are your Distinctions. Each Distinction has three triggersspecial things you can do in the gamethat unlock as your rating in the Distinction increases. You get the first trigger at d4, the second at d8, and the third at d12. Each trigger gives you a benefit and exacts a cost, and most of them allow you to add to the story in interesting and often unexpected ways. Abilities are things that you can do beyond normal human effort. Not everybody has Abilities. Abilities let you do all sorts of showy stuff, either as you roll dice or as a special effect you activate by spending a Plot Point. Super-strength, for instance, gives you a die to roll in when your massive muscles play to your advantage. You can also spend a Plot Point to pull off fantastic super-strength feats like catching a flying locomotive. Abilities also come with a Descriptor and a Limit. The Descriptor is a keyword that describes how the Ability manifests: heat, magic, psychic power, and so on. The Limit tells you what can stop your Ability cold. X-ray vision, I hear, aint got nothin on lead. If somebody uses your Limit against you, he triples the die representing his clever tactic. Gear Traits are similar to Abilities in a lot of ways. Their die ratings, Spend abilities, and Descriptors function identically. Where they diverge is their Limit. All Gear has the same Limit: it can get lost, stolen, or broken. Other characters dont triple their dice against you, but they can deprive you of your Gear and when you dont have your Gear, you dont get your die and cant use the Spend ability.</p> <p>situations. Normally, anybody can call on the help of an Extra or a Location; it just costs a Plot Point. When its on your sheet, its free for you to use; when other characters use that Resource, they pay the Plot Point to you. Extras are characters that dont have a whole character sheet of their own. They usually only do a couple of things, called specialties, and those things are rated in dice. So you might have Dr. Emil Hamilton (Science, Medicine) 2d10 or LuthorCorp Security Team (Security, Retrievals) 2d8. You dont roll Extras dice into your dice pool; instead, they can Aid you. The full rules for Aiding can be found in Chapter Four: Scenes on page 49, but the short form is this: their dice add a little to your dice. Of course, you can only use Extras when theyre in the scene with you. Youre welcome to spend a Plot Point to bring them into any sceneeven over the phone, if thats what works. Just beware: once theyre in a scene, theyre valid targets for Watchtowers attention! Locations are special places that provide a bonus to the people who control them. Like Extras, they are rated in dice. Chloes secret lair gives her Watchtower (Surveillance, Hacking) 2d10, whereas Lois would have Daily Planet Bullpen (Research, Publicity) 2d6. Also like Extras, the dice for Locations arent rolled into your pool; theyre rolled separately and their high die is added directly to your result. Now, you can obviously use Locations when youre in them, but you can also set yourself up to use their specialties in a later scene. Chloes hacking often reveals information that comes in handy later. The trick is that you need to play a scene in the Location getting ready. Then, later in the episode, you can let fly with those extra dice.</p> <p>STRESS</p> <p>Stress Traits keep track of how exactly youre hurting todayand how much. There are five Stress Traits: Afraid, Angry, Exhausted, Injured, and Insecure. As you take Stress, the die ratings start climbing.There are two reasons you dont want Stress. First, whenever someone rolls dice against you, they can roll in the die rating of one of your Stresses. If you have Angry d6, Tess wont hesitate to use your own anger against you, goading you toward aiding her goals. Second, though, if any of your Stress Traits gets to d12, youre in danger of being Stressed Out. Any</p> <p>RESOURCES</p> <p>Some characters also have Resources that they can call onExtras and Locations that can give them a hand in specific</p> <p>more Stress to that Trait takes you out of the scene.</p> <p>There are also two reasons you actually want Stress. First, you can pay a Plot Point to roll in one of your Stress Traits. Now, your opposition gets first dibs on this, but anything they didnt just use against you is up for grabs. Second, and perhaps most important, Stress is how you grow and advance. If you get somebody to tend to your hurts and reduce a Stress Trait, you add the old rating to your Growth pool. Additionally, when you get to the end of an episode, you can roll your highest remaining Stress Trait along with your Growth pool.</p> <p>does not help you impress the LuthorCorp shareholders, no matter how cool it is. Here are three examples of how to put together a Value, a Relationship, and an Asset:</p> <p> When</p> <p>DiceThe Smallville RPG uses dice to guide how events turn out in the story. Dice come into play in two ways: Contests and Tests. We elaborate on both of these in Chapter Four: Scenes on page 53.</p> <p>WHEN TO ROLL DICE</p> <p>Clark tries to convince Zod that maybe its for the best that the Kandorians dont have the abilities Clark does, Clarks player rolls Justice + Zod + Guilty. When Chloe reminds Clark about whats really important so hell stop worrying and go save the world, Chloes player rolls Duty + Clark + Big Sister. When Oliver shoots arrows at a thug trying to run off with Lois over his shoulder, Olivers player rolls Love + Lois + TrickedOut Compound Bow. The collection of dice you can justify rolling makes up a pool. You roll the whole pool and pull out the highest two dice. Add these two together for your result. A high result means you did well; a low result means you did not. Later well talk about what you do with this result, but for right now, thats all you need to know: roll them all, add the two highest, big numbers good, small numbers bad.</p> <p>A Contest is started when a character wants to make another character act. It could be plying him with honeyed words, hoping that he will help you out; it could be punching him in the face, hoping that he will fall to the floor. Whenever your character does something and you want to put dice behind it to make your action significant, youre starting a Contest. A Test is initiated when youre trying to do something risky, dangerous, exciting, or uncertain. Watchtower calls these. You might be going right along, talking about how you leap from building to building chasing after the mugger, when Watchtower interrupts you saying, How about you roll some dice for that, big shot? Then its a Test.</p> <p>TROUBLE</p> <p>Watchtower also gets access to the Trouble pool. This isnt a Trait so much as the standin stunt-double for when Watchtower needs to roll dice but doesnt have a Feature with Traits to roll. Trouble is a little (or not so little) stack of dice she keeps in front of her. At the beginning of each adventure, its just 2d6. Over the course of the adventure, though, it grows and shrinks. When things get worse and tension mounts, the Trouble pool grows. When circumstances get better and you can almost hear the audience sigh in relief, the Trouble pool shrinks. Watchtower rolls the Trouble pool in Tests and a few other things, and, you guessed it, well discuss this in more detail later.</p> <p>COMPLICATIONS</p> <p>HOW TO ROLL DICE</p> <p>You roll a number of dice together in a dice pool. To start with, you pick up a die for one of your Values and a second die for one of your Relationships. You may also be able to roll an Asset, depending on the circumstances (and yeah, well talk more about this later).</p> <p>Whenever you roll, set aside the dice that come up 1s. Those dice are Complications. You cant add those dice to your result; theyre dead weight. If youre so unlucky as to roll all 1s, you automatically fail and your result is considered zero.Rolling a 1 means something went just a little haywiremaybe not haywire enough to foul up what your Lead was doing, but enough to be a nuisance. Anybody at the table can say what</p> <p>Each of these dice needs to be pertinent to whats happening in the story. Your Composite-Graphite Grappling Hooks d8</p> <p>the 1 means: a Freudian slip in the midst of an interrogation, an overplayed hand in an argument, collateral damage in a superpowered fistfight. If there are a lot of ideas on how you screwed up (and there usually are), Watchtower picks the one she lik...</p>