Grow a Spine!

This is the second game I created.  Still not published, of course.  I created it to help out my brother’s Mecha forum.  I’d played a lot of forum based RP by then and discovered that one of the most frustrating parts was that it was almost entirely story based.  There’s no rules.  That’s fine if everyone is on the same page, but sometimes, your character has got to punch another character and maybe that character don’t want to be punched.

This is my attempt to create a simple game that is still story based and can be used, I hope, without too much trouble by a forum GM.  Here’s the first half.  It’s actually probably enough to play with.  You know…if you feel like starting an RPG forum and want some rules.

Oh…and I called it Spine because its supposed to give a mechanical backbone to a forum.

Character Creation

Skills: Skills are measured as a percentile bonus. This bonus (along with several others) is added to the percentile roll to determine the total skill check. There are three skills in Spine.

Shooting: This skill involves the use of any ranged weapon whether beam or projectile.

Fighting: This skill is used for any melee attack and can be used to parry opposing melee attacks.

Evasion: This skill can be used to dodge ranged or melee attacks.

Notice: This skill is used to spot hidden objects and enemies.

Stealth: This skill is used to avoid being detected.

Persuasion: This skill is used to convince an NPC of the value of your argument.


Starting characters have 70% points to divide between these six skills in any way they see fit.


Qualities: While skills are purely mechanical, numerical descriptions of certain abilities, qualities represent more esoteric, descriptive aspects of a character. Qualities are special talents, knacks or personality traits of characters that can be used to increase checks. There is no standard list of Qualities. Players describe the Qualities of their characters based on their concept of their characters. Qualities should be a single descriptive word or phrase.


Examples include: Sharpshooter

Pearl of the Shoal

Metal Head.


Qualities can be used to increase checks (described below) but serve an additional purpose as well. Qualities serve as a sort of character durability. Each time a character takes damage, they must sacrifice one of their Qualities for a time.


Characters begin with 3 Qualities. Character Qualities add +10 to a roll when called



Variable Qualities: Basic Qualities reference only the special skills and abilities that an ordinary person can achieve. While Qualities are what set one character apart from another and while the combination makes them unique, there are other Qualities that can only be called supernatural. These Qualities do not have a set value like other Qualities. Rather, they have variable ranks much like skills. All Variable Qualities should have a supernatural aspect. These are not mundane Qualities that just anyone can have, these are truly special, even superhuman aspects of the character.


Examples include: Telekinetic Assassin

Fire Sorcerer

Visions of the Future


Each character can begin with only one Variable Quality, though they do not have to take one if they don’t want to. It costs one of the character’s starting three Qualities to buy a Variable Quality. This is not in addition to a character’s starting three Qualities. To begin with, a Variable Quality only provides the normal +10% bonus, though this can be enhanced later.


Other Qualities: There are a number of other types of Qualities but these are all based on equipment and will be determined by the GM.



Actions: Each character begins play with two actions per round. The actions taken can be any combination of skills. For instance, it could be a ranged (Shooting) attack and a melee (Fighting) attack or a ranged attack and a dodge, two ranged attacks or even two dodges.


Attacking: When attacking the player first declares his target then gathers all applicable bonuses. This includes the characters skill bonus (either Shooting or Fighting) as well as a +10 for each applicable character quality and any bonuses provided by the character’s mecha and other qualities. To use a quality, a player must describe how it is being used in his post. Once the total value is determined it is then added to a percentile roll.


This total or attack value is then compared to the target’s defense value.


If the defense value equals or exceeds the attack value then the attack misses or is not effective. If the attack value exceeds the defense value then the target loses one Quality. For each 50% the attack value exceeds the defense value, the target loses an additional Quality.


The target gets to choose which Quality(ies) he sacrifices.


When a character has run out Qualities, he is dead.


Defending: If a character does not want to use any of his actions to defend himself, he may depend upon his static defense. Static defense is simply a character’s evasion score with no modifiers for qualities and no roll. Any attacks made against the character must only overcome the character’s evasion score.


A character who wants to actively defend himself follows much the same procedure as an attack. He adds his evasion skill to a die roll and a +10 for each applicable character Quality as well as any other bonuses from other qualities. This result is his active defense value.


Each round a character needs to make only one active defense roll. This value is applied to all attacks made against the character that round, with one notable exception. Because it is far more difficult to evade several attackers at once, a character’s defense value is reduced by a cumulative 5% for each attack made against the character in a round. For example, a character with a +25% Evasion skill and the Slippery Devil Quality (worth +10% in this case) and a roll of 60% would have a total defense value of 95%. The first attack against this character in a round would have to beat 95% to hit the character. However, the second attack would only need to beat 90%, while the third would only have to beat 85% to hit. The weight of numbers can take down even the best ace.


Movement: Movement is quite simple. Each battlefield is broken up into a number of sections. A character can move from one section of the battlefield to an adjacent section freely. Special equipment might allow a character to move two sections or more. Additionally, a character can sacrifice one of his actions to move one additional area in a round.  A character can even sacrifice both his actions to move two additional areas. As usual for characters who take no defensive action, they must depend on their passive defense to protect them in a round when they do this.


Range: Fighting attacks can only be made against targets in the same section as the attacker. Most ranged attacks can only be made without penalty against targets in the same section as the attacker or any adjacent section. Ranged attacks may be made against targets two sections away but at a -10% penalty. Some ranged weapons allow attacks into areas further away or mitigate the range penalty or both.


Qualities: Qualities can be used to add a bonus to attack and defensive rolls with a few limitations. First, each quality can be used only once per round. The quality “Born in the Cockpit” can be used either as a bonus to an attack or a defense in a round but not to both. Second, only one quality from each category can be used for each action. A pilot can call upon a character, a mecha, a weapon and an area quality to add bonuses to an attack but cannot call upon two character qualities for an attack, for example. The pilot could call upon a character, a mecha, a weapon and an area quality to add bonuses to an attack and a different quality from each category to add bonuses to a defense in the same round, however.




Gaining Experience: Characters gain 2 experience point for each post they make. Additionally, they gain 15 experience points for each enemy they defeat that is the same or lower experience level. They gain an extra 10 experience points for each experience level higher that an enemy they defeat is. The gamemaster(s) may also give out additional experience points for exceptional role-playing or for completing an episode.


Spending Experience: Characters may raise one of their skill levels by one point by spending a number of experience points equal to their current skill level. For example, it would take a character ten points to raise their shooting skill from +10% to +11% but it would take 90 points to raise their shooting skill from +90% to +91%. There is no upper limit to Skill levels and Aces can easily have skills that exceed 100%.


Characters may also buy a new Quality for a flat 10 points. If the Character instead wants a new variable quality, this costs 15 points though it begins as a 10 point quality. This is to reflect that this quality can eventually become much more powerful.


Characters may upgrade a Variable Quality by one point by spending one half the value of the Quality in experience (rounded down) to raise the Quality by one point. For example, it would take five points to raise a character’s Fire Sorcerer Quality from +10% to +11% but 45 points to raise a the same Quality from +91% to +92%.

Each point must be bought in sequence. A character must increase a skill or Variable Quality from one point to the next before upgrading to the next point. A character cannot spend 20 experience points to upgrade a skill from +10% to +12% but must instead spend 10 experience to raise the skill from +10% to +11% then another 11 points to raise it from +11% to +12%.


Experience Level: This is a rough measure of how dangerous and/or skilled the character is and is based on his character points. Character points are determined by adding the character’s skills together and adding 10 points per Quality. Thus, beginning characters have an Experience Level Value of 100.


Newb: up to 100

Novice: 100 – 150

Soldier: 151 – 200

Veteran: 251 – 300

Ace: 301 +


Round Summary


Each post should end with the following round summary and what occurs in this summary should be reflected in the player’s post.


  • If damage was taken in the previous round, name the qualities sacrificed to offset the damage. Note that any quality sacrificed in this stage can not be called upon in later stages.
  • First action. The character should declare what his first action should be. If this is a defense, he should name which skill he will be using as well as any qualities he will call upon. If this is an attack, he should declare his target, then name the skill he will be using as well as any qualities he will call upon. In either case, the player should do his math, giving the bonuses for his skill and qualities and providing the total.
  • Second action. This action follows the same rules as the First action.
  • This can actually take place before, after or between the character’s two actions. The character simply declares where he will be moving on the battlefield this turn.
  • If your character uses both actions to attack and is depending only on his static defense to protect himself, then the player needs to post that score.


Each of these steps should be described in the post, though they can be written in any order in the post.


Round Duration


The GM should determine how long a round lasts based on the posting habits of his players and the speed he desires for his game. A total of one week is generally a good starting point. GM’s should allow themselves two days to calculate the results of the posts, more if there are a large number of characters involved.


The characters of any players who do not post or who are not able to post will take no actions that round. Additionally, they will have to depend upon their static defense against any attacks that are made against their characters.


If a player misses two or more weeks, and their characters are damaged, then the administrators will select the qualities that are sacrificed to overcome this damage. The administrators will follow a specific formula for this. Equipment qualities will be sacrificed first, starting with Duplicate qualities, followed by Grouped Passive qualities, followed by Passive qualities, followed by Grouped Active qualities and finishing with Active qualities then moving to the character’s qualities.



Between each combat, characters are allowed to regain a single quality that was sacrificed. GM’s can allow characters to regain additional qualities depending on how much time passes between battles and, for that matter, can declare that the characters do not have time to heal even one quality between one combat and the next.




Some areas are nothing more than relatively open patches of ground. Plains, hills, streets, even areas of low scrub are simply spaces that must be crossed before one combatant can get to another or that a projectile weapon must traverse to get to its target.


Other areas are a bit more complex. They are full of trees or debris or other objects that mecha and characters can hide behind or fires, radiation or other hazards that threaten the combatants that enter them.




Like characters and equipment, areas also have qualities. These qualities reflect the advantages and disadvantages available to characters who occupy them, including the hazards that can damage a combatant that occupies the area. Unlike anything else, areas cannot be attacked and thus, area qualities cannot be sacrificed. Under special circumstances and with particular actions, they can be removed but this is entirely dependent on the GM’s discretion. The GM defines any bonuses, damage and activation or deactivation requirements for each area. Normally, this is defined at the beginning of combat but occasionally, one will be activated as a surprise during a scene.


Passive Qualities: Passive Area Qualities are those that players can call upon to add bonuses to attacks and defenses for their characters. These include things like cover bonuses and elevation bonuses. These bonuses can apply to ranged attacks, close attacks or both or to ranged defenses, close defenses or both. “Heavily Forested” or “Cliff’s Edge” are common Passive Qualities for Areas.


Rough terrain is also a passive quality. An area that qualifies as rough terrain requires an extra action to move through just as though the character were trying to move an extra square in a round.


Active Qualities: Active Area Qualities are those that can damage a character. This could be something like excessive heat or a fire or a pool of acid or even some sort of defensive system in the area. Each area with an active quality has a corresponding attack value. The higher the attack value, the more dangerous the area is. This attack is the first attack performed in a round and is usually compared against the defense roll of everyone in the area. If a character has not declared a defense roll then this value is compared against his passive defense. Occasionally, an Active Area Quality represents a defense put in place by the owners of the area. In this case, they are not subject to the quality but attackers are. Defensive Qualities such as these might be a set of sharpened wooden stakes in the ground or an automated gun emplacement.


This attack is treated like any other and damage is dealt as normal if the attack roll exceeds the defense roll.

Exiles #13 Nimrod

I told you I would get to a robot, eventually.  Granted, he’s a very mutant-centric robot, but he’s a robot, nonetheless.

I, like pretty much everyone else who’s read a comic book, really enjoyed the Days of Future Past storyline and even though Nimrod was not in it, he is directly related.

I, unlike pretty much everyone else who’s read a comic book, was never that impressed by the original Phoenix.  Jean Grey never appealed to me, though, strangely enough, her clone Madelyne Pryor did.  Maybe it’s because, by the time I started reading, the Phoenix Saga had already been bastardized.

Who I did like was the second Phoenix.  In fact, Rachel Summers, more than any other character was the reason I picked up Excalibur.  And, she was one of the prime movers in what is one of the best miniseries ever.  X-Men Vs. Alpha Flight is a highly underrated book.  In fact, you should all try to get a hold of a copy of the Asgardian Wars TPB, right now.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Back?  Ok.  So, Before she was in Excalibur, Rachel was part of the X-Men…sort of.  She was in a sort of no man’s land between New Mutants and X-Men.  But her story in Uncanny and with the Hellfire Club was awesome.  And this guy played an important part, though only at the end.

What was most fascinating about him was the way he was slowly becoming…human.  Nimrod started to surpass his programming to become more.   This was a story explored even further when he got merged with with Master Mold…but this version comes from before that.



Nicholas Hunter


Fighting:     AM

Agility:      AM

Strength:     AM

Endurance: ShX

Reason:       RM

Intuition:     RM

Psyche:       EX


Health:        300

Karma:       80

Resources:   IN

Popularity: 10




Body Armor: Amazing Resistance to physical and energy attacks.


Disintegrator: Incredible rank.


Energy Beam: A variety of Monstrous intensity beams that can be fired from his eyes, hands, and chest. Maximum range is 4 areas. Known rays included Radiation, Light, Lasers, Magnetism, and Heat.


Force Field Generation: Incredible protection from physical and energy attacks.


Hypersensitive Senses: Class 1000 sight, hearing, and radio links. He does not suffer extra damage from sensory attacks.


Neural Manipulation: Upon contact, a target must make an Endurance FEAT or be stunned for 1-10 turns. If Nimrod grabbed them, they must make a Red Endurance FEAT or remain unconscious until let go.


Power Detection: Excellent rank and range.


Power Negation: The ability to temporarily negate all mental or psionic powers within 1 area. Affected people must make a Red FEAT to retain their powers.


Self-Repair: Good ability to repair himself if he has 10% of his Health left and enough time to make repairs (15 Health points are returned every half hour.) For each 20 points restored, the repairs temporarily lower at least one power -2CS.


Shapechange: Nimrod can transform himself into appearing human.


Shockweb: Remarkable Intensity energy field that can be created up to 2 areas away. The Shockweb has the equivalent of Amazing Material Strength and Remarkable Stunning.


Teleportation: Feeble range (5 miles)


Tractor Beam: Monstrous Telekinetic power to either repel or attract a target. It propels a target 1 area for each rank exceeding Good level. Targets suffer power rank damage.


Contacts: If it can make contact, Project Nimrod can supply aid. Modern Sentinels might assist Nimrod if they were convinced of Nimrod’s connection to them.


Background: After Project: Wideawake came online in the early 21st Century, the Sentinels were quickly able to overtake the United States and eliminate all resistance. Even an attempt by rogue mutant elements to travel back in time to stop the program before it was even started was thwarted.


International condemnation and even internal dissent was ignored by the Sentinels who had subverted their original programming and were keeping the human citizens of the US under their metal alloy thumbs. With their base country well in hand, the Sentinels turned their mechanical eyes out, following their programming to its next logical conclusion.


Mexico, Central and South America fell relatively quickly, as they had neither the super powered population nor high technology level necessary to stem the robotic tide of destruction. Pockets of resistance remain, though they are few and far between.


Canada would likely have followed suit but for one, surprising development. The mutant named Madison Jeffries was able to reshape and manipulate Sentinels as easily as any other machinery. Codenamed “Arsenal X” Jeffries not only stopped the Sentinel invasion dead in its tracks when they attempted to cross over into Canadian territory but, with the aid of various Flights (Alpha, Beta, Delta, Psi, Omega, etc.) pushed them back, steadily liberating pieces of America. Even the special metal free Sentinels created to slay Magneto were ineffective against Arsenal X.


Growing increasingly desperate, the Sentinels started Project: Nimrod in the hopes of killing the Canadian mutant and pushing their grip over the entire world. The Sentinel created by this program was easily the most advanced ever made. One of the innovations used was a disguise system that gave Nimrod the ability to appear human.


But the Sentinel itself was only half the Project. The other half involved theoretical physics. As Arsenal X made a final push to destroy the Sentinels powerbase, Nimrod was sent back in time. After all, what better way to destroy your enemy than to do it before he is your enemy.


Nimrod began hunting his quarry immediately, but, without knowing exactly where Jeffries was, it was a slow process. He used his disguise ability to blend in with the human society surrounding him.


But other aspects of his programming, namely the need to protect normal humans, came to the fore in the meantime. Nimrod actually became and adventuring hero and even joined the Avengers while trying to find a good angle from which to attack Jeffries.


As time passed, Nimrod started to think less and less about his primary programming and even began questioning his purpose. By the time he finally encountered Jeffries in one of those random meetings between super hero teams that involved the Avengers, Alpha Flight and the Exiles, he no longer believed killing the man was for the best.


Still, his primary programming was strong and the longer he lingered near Jeffries the more powerful it became. Desperate not to obey, he followed the Exiles as they returned to Otherworld. Not knowing that he was a potential timebomb and a danger to any Jeffries they encountered going forward, and knowing just how powerful and effective he was, the Exiles happily welcomed him to the Team.


Exiles #12 The Savage Beast

Ok, so I totally didn’t get away from the mutant thing.  But I am working on a robot…a robot closely related to mutants, I have to admit but still, a robot!

This week’s mutant came directly from one of the best crossovers Marvel has ever done.  It was also one of the first.  The earliest crossovers weren’t necessarily cross company but generally focused on the Mutants.  Honestly, in my opinion, they’ve slowly declined over the years with just a few bright spots.  The Mutant Massacre, The Fall of the Mutants, Inferno.  Best…Crossovers…Ever.  And ones that have repercussions that have flowed down to modern times.

I wasn’t actually reading X-Factor when the Fall of the Mutants came out and it would take years before I realized just how company spanning this character’s career was.  As far as I can tell, the only major Marvel Team he was never in was the Fantastic Four.

I was really fascinated by him at this point, too.  He’s gone through a lot of mutations, too.  This is one of my favorite versions.  The choice he had to make between having to use his boosted abilities and losing his intellect, which was basically another mutation was always interesting.

I also really liked Apocalypse.  Even now, if I was a mutant in the Marvel Universe, there is a not particularly small part of me that would want to sign up to be a Horsemen.  I’d flatline SOOO many flatscans.

The Infectia storyline didn’t last very long.  Just a couple of issues, not unlike Crimson and the Ravens.  I suspect they were just filler issues, though they both felt like they had a lot of room to run in.

Also, I want there to be a buddy cop style comic where the Beast and the Original Ant-Man team up and solve crimes with their scientific prowess.  It would be called “Hank and Hank.”

Also…I want to write a rap with the line “I’m a Beast, like the real McCoy.”

Savage Beast

Henry “Hank” McCoy

Fighting:     IN

Agility:      IN

Strength:     AM

Endurance: RM

Reason:       FE

Intuition:     EX

Psyche:       FE


Health:        160

Karma:       24

Resources:   RM (30)

Popularity: 0




Feet and Hands: The Savage Beast can use his feet as a second set of hands, giving him a +1CS when wrestling. Both are substantially larger than the human norm.


Climbing: The Savage Beast’s dexterity is so good and the muscles in his feet and hands are so developed that he can climb any wall or hang from any ceiling that can give him purchase (such as brick or concrete, but not smooth steel or glass) with Remarkable skill.


Balance: The Savage Beast’s balance is such that the can walk a tightrope automatically and a slack rope with an Agility FEAT roll. His sense of balance helps him to fall up to three stories (30 feet) without receiving damage, provided he lands on his feet (Agility FEAT roll). He can prevent damage from a longer fall by grabbing and swinging off protrusions in the fall’s path every 3 stories (flagpoles, lampposts, etc.), as long as the keeps making Agility FEAT rolls.


Leaping: The Savage Beast’s Strength is considered Monstrous for leaping purposes.

Hank has one power stunt he has developed with his leaping technique:

The Savage Beast can make a “banked shot” which allows him to bounce from several walls and stop his momentum by crashing into an opponent. When the Savage Beast performs this maneuver, he is considered to be Dodging with Remarkable Agility, and strikes on the Charging column with Incredible Endurance.


Lightning Speed: The Savage Beast’s ground speed should be considered Remarkable when sprinting. He must make a successful Endurance FEAT roll (modified by – 1 CS for every round of continuous sprinting) or suffer – 1 CS in all actions taken during the round in which he stops.


Bite: The Savage Beast’s elongated snout and razor sharp teeth allow him to do Incredible edged attack damage with a bite.


Talents: Though his intellect has been dramatically reduced, Hank McCoy retains much of his knowledge of Biochemistry, Genetics and Electronics. He uses Acrobatics, Tumbling and Martial Arts C in combat. His capacity for speech is highly limited but he understands French, Italian and Russian.


Contacts: The Savage Beast is a former member of the X-Men, X-Factor, the Avengers, and Defenders. His contacts with the Brand Corporation, his former employer, and with universities where he acted as a campus speaker, are tenuous at best.


Background: Henry McCoy is a mutant whose powers were in evidence since his birth. His oversized hands and simian feet were obvious even as a baby. As a youth, McCoy’s superhuman agility earned him recognition as a star football player. It was then that Professor Charles Xavier learned of him and invited him to join his School for Gifted Youngsters. As a member of Professor Xavier’s original X-Men, McCoy was given the code name “Beast.” Upon graduation from Xavier’s school, McCoy was hired as a genetic researcher at the Brand Corporation. There he isolated a chemical catalyst that triggered mutations and sampled the serum in hopes of changing his appearance enough that he could ferret out enemy agents at the facility. The serum caused fur to grow over his entire body, enlarged his canine teeth, and increased his already prodigious athletic ability. By remaining too long in this altered state, McCoy learned that he could not return to his former appearance. Over time, he learned to accept his more bestial appearance. Leaving Brand, he joined the Avengers and became a full-time adventurer. The Beast left the Avengers after a distinguished stint of service and joined the Defenders, which he decided to reorganize into a more formal and cohesive team. Still later he and the other members of Xavier’s first “class” of X-Men reunited to form the team known as X-Factor.

Early in his X-Factor career, McCoy was subjected to experiments by a former co-worker, Carl Maddicks, that inadvertently restored him to his original human form. As a member of X-Factor he also played the part of an “X-Terminator,” a cover identity that allowed the members of X-Factor to operate covertly as mutants. During a battle with Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen, the Beast was infected by Pestilence. As a result, his intellect decreased every time he pushed his strength.


Pestilence was slain in the conflict and Apocalypse took this as a sign of her weakness. He replaced her with another young mutant named Infectia.


The new roster of Horsemen attacked again, and Beast discovered the full extent of his affliction. In the course of the battle, he was forced to push his strength again and again, the virus steadily reducing his intellect until he was little more than a mindless animal. Infectia managed to touch him at this point and her own mutant ability further mutated him as well as placing him in her thrall.


The Horsemen were further augmented by Caliban and Infectia’s Antibodies as well as Apocalypse’s Alliance of Evil, and the heroes of New York were unable to stand against them. Apocalypse claimed Manhattan as his base of operations and began culling and experimenting on the human population in preparation for spreading his reign over the rest of the world.


The Exiles arrived and they and the native heroes made a final, desperate assault on Apocalypse and his minions. They narrowly managed to vanquish Apocalypse and, without his guiding vision, his followers fell into in fighting and disarray. Infectia was killed by Archangel in his guise as Death. His former friend viewed the Savage Beast with nothing but disdain and almost killed him as well. The Exiles managed to save him and swept them back to their headquarters in the hopes of eventually finding a cure for his affliction.