They might look cute, but....

As promised, here are the pregen Hunters for Hinamizawa Syndrome, the Monster of the Week Mystery posted earlier. They’re all based on the main cast of the original story.

If you’re not familiar with Higurashhi When They Cry, it might seem a little strange that the main cast is all under the age of 18. The Mystery will work perfectly fine with adult Hunters. These are mostly provided if you want to run the Mystery as close to the original story as possible.

The biggest change that needs to be made with these is that if Rika is in play as a Hunter, she can’t be included as a Bystander for obvious reasons.

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The Infinity Gems are a set of near-infinitely powerful artifacts in the Marvel universe.  The purple Space Gem grants its user the powers to travel through and warp space to their whims.  It can alter the space between objects, especially when this contradicts the laws of physics.  In conjunction with the other gems, it can allow a person to exist in all places at once!

One of the earliest owners of the Space Gem was an Elder of the Universe known as the Runner, but it has since been in the hands of Thanos, Pip the Troll (who kept it between his toes), and Iron Man.

The power set provided below will allow you to use the Space Gem in your Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game.

The Six Infinity Gems

Further Reading: Infinity Gems on WikipediaInfinity Gems on Marvel DatabaseSpace Gem on Marvel Database

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There was an interesting topic of discussion over on Margaret Weis’ forums regarding the designer’s decision not to include a trait to represent Intelligence in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

To quote Cam Banks, the Design Lead for MHRP, on why Intellect was not included in the game:

I admit to being biased toward the physical in creating power traits.

Almost every power trait is a physical expression of powers, and if not physical, it’s a psychic or magical or energy-based kind of thing. There’s no super powered charisma, either, although there is Mind Control. I went for power traits that covered expressions or effects, and in almost every case Intelligence falls outside of that. Using Senses [for Amadeus Cho’s QUANTUM PROBABILITY AWARENESS power set] may seem like a cheap dodge, but it wasn’t – it’s a way to represent the expression of that kind of hyper-intelligence, much as Strength or Stamina are expressions of a powerful musculature or endocrine system…

He continues later on in the thread:

…I do want to underscore that I don’t consider Senses to be the universal power trait for super smarts. We didn’t give it to Reed, we gave it to Amadeus Cho. I believe it definitely belongs in a Hyper-Intelligence Power Set, but then I believe we should be talking about Power Sets anyway, not power traits. The game wasn’t designed to be about the power traits as standalone elements.

You can do a lot to represent certain uses of intelligence with the Senses power, or the Mimic power with a limit built around technology. Check out Forge in Civil War: X-men, or Amadeus Cho in Civil War: Young Avengers / Runaways for great examples of that.  There is a special place in my heart for the sort of raw brainpower intelligence that an Intellect trait might represent, and in my MHRP games, it would feel totally appropriate.

Luckily for me, Margaret Weis forums user Doc Hydrogen, who also writes for the blog overgeeked came up with a write up for an Intellect power trait that I think is spot on.


Intellect may be used in action or reaction dice pools.

Intellect covers reasoning ability and learning. A character with a high Intellect rank tends to be knowledgeable and well-educated.

Enhanced Intellect d8 represents two to three times the normal human intelligence, meaning you’re highly gifted or one of the smartest people in a nation.

Superhuman Intellect d10 indicates as much as ten times the intelligence of a normal human, meaning you’re one of the smartest people in the world or clearly beyond the normal range of human intelligence.

Godlike Intellect d12 indicates your intelligence surpasses even the smartest people in history, possibly bordering on the cosmic.

This is a common superpower, representing everything from mutation-enhanced intelligence to natural born smarts. As with many power traits, it’s often assumed to just work if there’s nothing challenging the hero, or if using Intellect is part of the description of an action (like figuring out the proper trajectory for a flight to take to minimize flight time).

Just as some other traits (Strength, Stamina, Reflexes) represent the raw ability but not necessarily the knowledge to use it, Intellect represents sheer brainpower while Specialties such as Cosmic, Medical, Science, and Tech represent the actual education, knowledge, and contacts represented by diligently studying those subjects.

So, how would I use these new intellect powers for good?  Below I present to you my datafile for Mr. Fantastic / Reed Richards, circa Fantastic Four #570 when he joins the Council of Reeds.

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It’s a half truth when I say that I’ve been only roleplaying since 2009. I got my start roleplaying in the weird and hodgepodge world of online roleplaying; a land of instant chats, journals and forum posts. Hours of late nights staring at text prompts and pondering what my characters would do next. Freeform RP, the most pure and honest form of roleplaying! Well, according to some.

Mary Sue - Dice

Dice or, as they are known in some circles,
“The Devil’s Plot Device”

I don’t buy the argument that the the biggest difference between freeform and structured RPGs is dice. It’s an easy comparison to make, but it doesn’t really say anything intelligent about the divide. All it does is set up the “roleplay and rollplay” puns that make freeform supporters feel clever until a tabletop support points out that Amber exists and the already weak debate breaks down into mudslinging.

The biggest difference I’ve found is the freedom for a female player to play whatever she wants without fear of repercussions. This might not mean much in the male domained ends of the RPG community, but it was a game changer for me.

A large part of the problem in Freeform RPG lies with the concept of “Mary Sue”. For those not familiar with the term, “Mary Sue” is a term from fan fiction that refers to an character based on an idealized version of the author. Mary Sue is promoted to Starfleet Captain, discovers that Force is strong with her and is sorted into all of the Hogwarts’ houses before her lunch date with that sexy boy who’s been staring at her in biology class.

Mary Sue is also a label tossed on every female character that rubs someone the wrong way. Too many flaws or too little flaws? Mary Sue. Too much success, to the point of being perfect, or too little success, to the point of ridiculous angst? Of course a Mary Sue! Too strong a character, too weak a character, a name that was just a bit too exotic…

Needless to say, I was paranoid about playing female characters in Freeform RP for the longest time. I tended to gravitate towards male characters as if playing a guy made me a better person and storyteller somehow. When I did play female characters, I ate accusations of playing a “Sue”. There was no escaping it.

Mary Sue - Streets of Fire

Really, Tabletop RPGs are about playing the cast of Streets of Fire in varying scenarios. This includes the ladies.

A couple of friends invited me to a tabletop game in 2009 and I discovered something marvelous: women gamers not ashamed to play badass ladies and who didn’t ponder if their characters were legit or not. They were too busy having a good time. It took me awhile to get used to the idea of playing a woman who chewed scenery, was larger than life and wasn’t a carefully-designed-to-be-as-inoffensive-as-possible, but I eventually got over myself.

The nature of Tabletop RPGs solves most of the Sue problem. Ideally, everyone is playing a character who’s over the top already. The character sheets and stats keeps the PCs mostly in line with each other, if not the rest of the world. The dice randomly determine success or failure. You can have a character who’s had a ridiculously bad go at it, but the assumption is that you had bad luck with dice rather than created a character for self wallowing. And, if you have a winning streak, the whole party cheers with you. That party support makes all the difference. You don’t have to be afraid of a stranger judging you for playing your gender “wrong”.

I miss some of those old Freeform games I was in, but I doubt I would ever make the switch back. A Tabletop session might only be a few hours every other week or once a month, but it’s worth the wait for a few hours of gaming glory instead of hanging out in a chat room and being ignored for daring to play a woman in a roleplaying game.


It’s Christmas, 1979.

I’m five years old, Pierre Trudeau is prime minister (again).  Tim Hortons doughnuts are 50 per cent bigger than nowadays, but 500 per cent more likely to taste like an ash tray.  Wayne and Shuster are on TV, and my teenage cousin is playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

I spent that Christmas in Brockville, visiting my grandparents and aunts and uncles on my dad’s side. I’m allergic to cigarette smoke and cats, but I don’t know it yet. The house has both smokes and cats in ample supply, leading to a frantic late night E.R. visit when my left eye swelled up and turned bright red. That’s pretty much all I remember about that trip, that, and the fact that my cousin was playing a strange game. Hours before bedtime (when my eye was still “just a little itchy”), there was a break in the game. I snuck into the side room where my cousin played, to investigate his strange game of toy soldiers with swords.

The room where they played was littered with miniatures and hand-built terrain, which did double duty as landscape for my cousin’s collection of 1:35 military models. I couldn’t read yet, but I was fascinated with one of the books. It depicted strange and wonderful creatures locked in combat, both above and below ground.

I was in high school before I saw that book again, and realized it was the first edition of the AD&D Monster Manual.


 It’s summer, 1983.

I’m nine years old. I know how to read and I’m reading voraciously. Fantasy, science-fiction and science-fact, military history, the Bible, trashy creation science books, equally lurid parapsychology paperbacks –  anything with blood and death or magic and mystery in it. I am devoutly religious to the point of paranoia, convinced of the physical existence of demons who imperil my immortal soul.

The Cold War is in its last hysterical spasm. Nuclear war by 1990, say all the grown-ups, right up to the U.S. president. Nuclear war, or the Anti-Christ, or both. It’s one of the hottest summers on record. We don’t have air conditioning, or a television, or a car. I spend a lot of time reading in a blazing hot living room.

A few times a month, I navigate to the library on my bike through a scar of undeveloped land that cuts through several neighbourhoods. We call it the Pipeline. In 1983 it’s a muddy dumping ground, haunted by angry dogs and bullies from the wrong side of the tracks. It takes the better part of an hour to get to the library, and I imagine it as a passage through the Mutara Nebula, my BMX a scout ship sent to bring back information from the distant repository of antiquity.

One day, I found a copy of an unusual book. It looked like a sword and sorcery novel, but it was also a game. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but better. It was called Warlock of Firetop Mountain, a Fighting Fantasy novel. These were solo roleplaying games. Using a basic system and six-sided dice you’d navigate a dungeon or city or haunted house or a space ship, and I was hooked. I built up a collection of them over the next few years. They were an escape from the anxiety and paranoia of the real world.


It’s January, 2013.

I’m 38 years old. I have two daughters. I’m acting as game master, running their characters through Warlock of Firetop Mountain. It takes hours, but their attention doesn’t waver. They managed to sneak past the sleeping orcs, reason with the raving prisoner, puzzle their way through the Maze of Zagog, slay a dragon and claim the Warlock’s treasure. They’re hooked, just like I was, 30 years before.

I generally count my formal start in this hobby sometime in April, 1987, when I received a copy of the FASA Doctor Who RPG for my 13th birthday. It was the first “real” role-playing game I owned, and within weeks I was playing with my friends in the library of our private Christian school. That means this year will mark 26 years of being a “real” gamer. In that time I’ve been a player, a game master, a play tester, and a paid game writer. I’ve earned more money writing roleplaying games than I’ve spent buying them, though not much more.

But although 1987 was the year I started playing, it seems clear that the seeds of the gamer personality had sprouted a long time before. There’s the escapism, the attraction to the fantastic, the macabre and wonderful. I’ve never grown tired of the hobby because it is a perfect outlet for my personality.

The author George R.R. Martin once wrote:
“Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy is habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. We read fantasy to find the colours again, I think. To taste strong spices, and hear the songs the sirens sang.”

I think we play games for the same reason.