Power 19: Tokyo Heroes

The Power 19 are a series of questions meant to help guide game designers. I decided to take a stab at answering these for Tokyo Heroes, and later on other RPG projects I’ve been working on or contemplating.

1.) What is your game about?
Heroes that work together to beat up bad guys.

2.) What do the characters do?
Seek out, confront, and defeat bad guys.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?
The GM comes up with the Monster of the Week. The players try to do what they characters would want to do, building up to that episode’s final battle.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The game has a milleu of sorts, but the setting is left up to the individual group. From the source material, there is a notion that heroes are the same in every setting. Despite the similarities and the crossover movies, each year’s Super Sentai Series is a totally new setting.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Characters must be made as a group, with many important details decided by the group as a whole, and thus they have to be concieved as a team.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
Teamwork is strongly encouraged; going solo is difficult at best.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
Hero Dice and Karma are the most important form of reward in the game. Hero Dice contribute to the teamwork side of things — and are all but required to win battles — while Karma points reward individuality and thereby create a certain amount of tension.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
Mostly in a traditional fashion, except that at the end of each session players have an opportunity to give the GM input about what will happen in the next session/episode.

9.) What does your game do to command the players’ attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
The heroes in this game must participate and do things in accordance with their Keys in order for the group to gain enough Hero Dice to function effectively.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
It’s a dice pool system using six-siders. The base target number is 4 (so dice come up as successes half of the time), but this varies depending on the circumstances. Hero Dice can be spent on any given action by any group member.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
The resolution mechanics are intended to strongly encourage teamwork. Characters can almost always assist their friends in some way, even if the target gets pushed up to 6. Unlike previous attempts at the game, it lets each player roll their own dice and see their contributions to the whole.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Basic character competence is improved by spending Karma points, while new weapons, giant robots, etc., are handed out whenever the GM feels like it.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The fact that Karma is the basis of character advancement adds to the characters’ individual drive for achievement, and is meant to create tension. That the GM periodically plays Santa Claus draws in the source material’s tendency towards deus ex machina, but also frees players to spend Karma on improving their characters’ abilities over time.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
Primarily, I want to capture the fun, melodramatic, vivid, and cool style of sentai shows, and get them to play their characters to the hilt.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
The game is mostly about a genre, so the emphasis is very squarely on conveying that genre and why I think it’s cool enough to be worth the effort of roleplaying to the reader.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
Aside from the fact that it’s meant to bring what I consider to be a really fun genre into the realm of RPGs, I’m really excited to see how well the Keys/Hero Dice really work. To me it’s at the heart of the game, and a big part of what makes it feel like it’ll fit the genre.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?
The sentai genre has been almost completely overlooked by RPGs, even in Japan.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
My main concern is putting together a fun game to play with my friends, but if I can put together something that other people would actually be interested in, I’ll probably try to get it out there, on Lulu.com and RPGnow and such. I don’t have the personality or resources to really concern myself too much with it as a commercial venture, but from the beginning I was eyeing this game as possibly something to sell.

19.) Who is your target audience?
People who are fans of sentai, or at least curious about it. It’s a small niche hobby, but as I mentioned before there’s next to nothing for it in the realm of tabletop RPGs.

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