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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

My Life And Roleplaying: Countdown To V&V Relaunch...

To celebrate the forthcoming release of the new edition of Villains & Vigilantes this weekend, I've dug out the earliest surviving character sheets for The Acrobatic Flea to share with you lucky people.

The Flea was, of course, my most enduring Villains & Vigilantes character from back in the day when Steve ran V&V for us almost non-stop.

In July 2007, PMikey, of the Midnight's Lair forums, very kindly produced an "all-singing, all-dancing" updated Mutants & Masterminds take on The Acrobatic Flea, and his part-time sidekick Flea-Girl. It's interesting - and rather amusing - to compare the 20th Century version of the Flea to the snazzy 21st Century iteration!

I'm thinking this version of the Flea dates back to 1983/84, certainly early in his career - although he had already lost a leg at this stage (and had it replaced with a bionic version, courtesy of his long-time nemesis Doctor Bionics - there was a bomb hidden in it initially!).

Although the original intention of V&V was to play "yourself" with superpowers, I see from the sheet that this Flea was 26 years old (and seven months), although I was only probably about 18 at the time.

From faint scribbles on another sheet I can also see I'd rated myself (presumably at age 17) with the following statistics -

Strength: 9
Endurance: 10
Agility: 14
Intelligence: 12
Charisma: 12

This contrasts quite strikingly with the nine-year-older Flea (by now gifted with increased Agility through his superpowers).

Strength: 11
Endurance: 12
Agility: 27
Intelligence: 13
Charisma: 19 - I suspect this purely in his superheroic persona, and aided by his ultraloyal fan club!

Steve had us roll saves for the breadth of our fan adoration (lower the better, on percentile dice) and I rolled a '01'.

The Flea also, for some reason, had a souped-up car - The Fleamobile (ground speed maximum 400mph, capable to jet-powered flight to a maximum speed of 625mph).

I only remember using it in maybe one adventure.

We loved houseruling V&V for our games and so introduced percentage skills and a new combat system (borrowing heavily from Champions, Steve's second favourite supers games after V&V) that did away with the power vs power combat matrix in the rule book.

Combat, as written in the V&V rules, was too 'fiddly' - and therefore slow - for our tastes and so we got rid of the tables and introduced a system, as far as I can remember, of "Offensive Combat Values" and "Defensive Combat Values" for each character. I shall have to research this further and see if any of those notes are still in existence - especially now Villains & Vigilantes is making a comeback.

However, 'chatting' with game writer Jack Herman over on the game's new forums, he clarified one point for me: "V&V 2.1 is basically meant to restore the existing game back into print, not to be a from-the-ground-up kind of redesign. It is basically the same creature as the revised edition."

So no new combat system then!

Continuing on with the character sheets, the Flea was a member of a group called The Challengers, which included The Atomic Bull (Steve), Hurricane & Brutus (Pete's weather maestro and his robot sidekick) and Redfist. I have no idea who Redfist was, unless he was, maybe, one of Nick's characters, but I have no recollection of that character at all.

The Flea and the Atomic Bull also belonged to The Patrollers, probably our most enduring superhero group - certainly the one I have most records of.

The third leg of our milking stool of power, Pete, had a habit of changing his character with great frequency before he finally arrived at the partnership of Hurricane And Brutus. In the space of the first two issues of the HeroPress fanzine (when the game was still fueled by V&V and before it went postal), his character changed from Blackhand to Jaguar to Wildcat!

The characters I remember Nick playing were the android Ace Of Hearts and Nick Law - still one of my favourite characters to come out of the game, our world's answer to Doc Savage. Although Nick was never so into comics as the rest of us were, he had a name that simply lent itself to pulp adventure.

The sheet that listed the members of The Challengers also included this (see left) very unflattering self-portrait of how I saw myself aged 26 (and seven months).

I'm clearly no artist - but obviously slightly prophetic as I foreshadowed my actual tattoo (in reality a panther on my left upper arm, rather than these bizarre Popeyesque scrawls).

I think the only thing I got right was the hair cut and stubble...

According to various annotations around the sheets, The Flea (i.e. me) was 5' 5" and weighed in at 116lb (I've gained three inches of height and a considerable amount of poundage since then!).

The notes round off with the earliest sketch of the Acrobatic Flea costume, although - again sabotaged by my own lack of artistic talent - only the face mask design really bears any connection to the current incarnation, while the rest looks more like a boiler suit with a drawing of a small bird or a fairy on the chest!

However, what I really like about all of this, no matter how corny a lot of it was and how much was retconned out of later versions of the character, was the intense passion the game engendered in us all.

For those years we virtually lived Villains & Vigilantes and, as I have said many times before, without that game there would be no HeroPress.

Tomorrow I'll show you some art from our games by people who can really draw - Steve and Pete.

4 comments:

  1. Very cool. We had a long-running (7+ years!) V&V campaign from 9th grade and into college. Characters grew and moved on, new foes surfaced, worldwide threats averted. Glorious times. Wish I could track down my original PCs and NPCs stat sheets. Off the top of my head, our PC group consisted of:
    Brainwave - Telekinetic with solid energy illusions
    Sparrowhawk - Winged avian warrior
    The Arachnid Kid - Yes, someone really wanted to be Spidey
    Morph - Shapeshifter (animals only)
    The Apparition - Ghost-like guardian from the Afterworld
    Grav-Man - Gravity altering mutant
    Puzzler - NPC villain who became the longest-running foe of the group. Imagine Ambush Bug only much, much worse. Eventually reformed and became a NPC hero-for-hire

    Incredible times surfacing. Watching Brainwave make an Hail Mary speech and an impossible Charisma roll and being brought into FORCE's inner circle. (He was effectively a double agent, although the PCs thought he had gone rogue.) A trip to Tartarus to bring back the soul of the only person who could stop Armageddon. A televised brawl on Times Square with invading aliens. Even small moments such as the bank robbery hostage situation that ended with everyone save, but the bank in flames.

    Good times. I might just have to write up the old adventures for the new system.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Good times! War stories and 'bragging rights' such as these are the bread and butter of RPGs to me - they're what makes the whole thing worth while.

    Our games were a bit more haphazard than yours, I think, in that we didn't really have a single campaign for all that time, but a series of (sometimes overlapping) mini-campaigns that tended to stop and start sporadically as whims took us.

    ""I might just have to write up the old adventures for the new system.

    The new system is pretty much the old system, according to Jack Herman. But it's still got me totally fired-up to play the game again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember playing a fair amount of V&V but nothing organized enough to be called a campaign just lots of crazy superbattles. Unfortunately, I do not think anything survives of that era but I remain a true fan of V&V.

    We quickly moved to Champions for various reasons but I used V&V materials for inspiration throughout my superhero GMing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, seaofstarsrpg - "crazy superbattles" sounds about right.

    We 'dabbled' in Champions - mainly out some fetishistic obsession with rolling buckets of dice to resolve any single action ;D

    But V&V remained our first, true love - although I wish we'd kept better logs of our adventures!

    Of course, when you're a teenager you don't think about things like that! Mainly you're trying to calculate the Charisma score of the girl you fancy at the school across the road...

    ReplyDelete

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