View Full Version : "Gears and Geniuses"-- ideas for a mad scientist M&M-based kingdom building game

2013-10-24, 02:05 PM
For a while now, I've wanted to run/play a game in a similar vein to Girl Genius. A world owned and operated by super-geniuses and mad scientists, fighting over territory and prestige. I'm seeing something kind of like Rome: Total War, where you manage things in "strategy view," then zoom in and actually control your PCs for a specific "battle."

There are plenty of games that can handle the actual character mechanics, but I don't know of anything that deals with the conflict over resources so well. So, when in doubt, hack a system you know, I always say. I picked Mutants and Masterminds 3e (www.d20herosrd.com), as a flexible system I know very well.

M&M is a point-buy system, which offers us a nice way to represent gaining resources-- every time you capture a town, or a factory, or what have you, you get more points to spend on stuff. But what kind of stuff? As I see it, there are four avenues of improvement:

Your own skills, advantages (equivalent to feats in D&D), and other such human advancements.
Your own gear (devices).
Your own superhuman enhancements, be they new parts for your robot body or electric eel glands stapled onto your forehead.
Your empire.

The first three are handled without issue by M&M's standard rules. For the last...

Every session, you'd earn one or two power points as normal, to be spent on "human things." But every time the party captures a vital resource, they'd get one or more "resource bundles." One "bundle" would grant, oh, 5 power points to be spent on personal inventions and superhuman things, along with... let's say 50 "resource points."

Resource points would be somewhere between power points and equipment points. If you wanted to build, say, a robot army, you'd have to stat out the component robots, then buy each individually using resource points. High-speed trains to connect your various cities? Buy the Speed (Affects Others) power. Build a fortress? ...base it on the Headquarters rules, but kick the prices up significantly. (Multiply base prices by 50, and then buy features using base effect prices?)

Resource point based things could "regenerate" over time, as you/underlings build replacement robots, repair fortresses, and so on. If you subsequently lost resource-granting points, you don't immedietly lose empire elements, but you can't replace anything until you're down to the right number of points again. (Stuff destroyed in the interim would just be lost).

You'd have to make some pretty serious maps to run a game like this, obviously. You'd also, I think, need to do all the math for antagonists-- make them play by the same rules as the PCs, so you can calculate exactly how strong their forces are based on how much terrain they control.

Finally, you might need a way to run battles "off-screen," so players can send their armies out to fight while they do other stuff. The mass combat rules in the Gamemaster's Guide might offer a starting point there, I suppose...

Characters in a world like this would, I suppose, fall into three categories: badass normals, artificially made or altered beings, and the geniuses themselves. The first two would work more-or-less normally. But the geniuses...

As I see it, most of a genius' points-- at least half-- would be tied up in one "Mad Science" power: Variable (Technology), Very Slow, for a total of 5 points/rank. These points could be re-allotted as normal for a Variable power, but would take about one hour per 5 points to be re-allotted, in addition to requiring access to a lab.

In addition, each genius would choose a specialty-- one or two descriptors like "magnetism" or "mole-man technology." When building devices with the right descriptor, you'd get... some benefit. At the moment, I'm thinking of a -1 point/5 points discount (like Removable), but you might also play around with PL limits, build times, and so on.

That's about all I came up with while trying to fall asleep last night... thoughts? Suggestions?

2013-10-24, 02:08 PM
<reserved just in case. That's all I should need, though>