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Friday 10 March 2023

Triumphant & Super

Triumphant! Super Heroic Role Play Game is a superheroes roleplaying designed to be simple, but at the same time cover most aspects of the genre whilst scaling up and down from street fights to cosmic confrontations and back again. Designed by the author of Barbarians of Lemuria and published by Beyond Belief Games it uses simple dice mechanics with a twist here and there to account for the genre, it has the heroes combat villains and supervillains as well as disasters—natural and unnatural, and is supported with example heroes and villains, rules for random character creation, and advice for the Game Master. If it is lacking anything, it is a setting, although the author has promised a setting in the form of The Sovereign City. Of course, an archetypal campaign based in the Game Master’s hometown or big city of choice is easy to create and run. Running a campaign on a cosmic scale will likely take a bit more effort.

Everything in Triumphant! Super Heroic Role Play Game is defined by die type. This runs from a D3 and D4 up to a D8 and D10 and beyond to DD6, DD8, and DD10. Together, these rate a Superiors’ or Player Character’s Priority (or initiative die), Conditions, Skills, and Powers, the structure, handling, speed, and weapons of vehicles or giant robots, and the threats of natural disaster, like the rising waters, sudden surging waters, or the cold of the water of a flood. And when it comes to the action, confrontations are handled as a series of opposed dice rolls, and when they fail, the Hero has a Triumph dice to help him save the day and the Villain, Villainy Dice to help him succeed or make a successful get away when needed! A Superior in Triumphant! has a Priority die and set of abilities—Conditions, Skills, and Powers. Conditions are passive and represent a Superior’s mental and physical state. They are divided in three, Ego, Health, and Mobility. Skills are broad, for example, Aircraft, Fighting, and Shooting, but can have Specialisations such as Helicopters or Jet Packs, Karate or Baseball Bats, and Pistols or Throwing Knives. The extensive Powers list includes Armour, Duplication, Flight, Immortality, Mind Blast, Precognition, Shapeshifting, Teleportation, and more. To these can be added Enhancements or Limitations, which Drop the die type down or Bump the die type up, respectively. Each Power has its own set of Enhancements and Limitations, but there are generic ones which can be attached to any Power. For example, Density Control, which enables a hero or villain to increase his body’s density to imperviousness or decrease it to intangibility, has the Enhancement of being able to alter the density of other people or objects and the Limitation of being able to increase or decrease the body’s density, but not both. Generic Enhancements and Limitations include Area Effect, Multi-Strike, and Ranged Touch Attack, and Burnout, Conditional, and Hard to Control.

To create a character, the player simply assigns dice to Conditions, Skills, and Powers. The default die type is the D4, representing the average person, but the number of dice, die types, Triumph dice, and Priority die is determined by the Power Level of the campaign. There are four options—Street Vigilantes, Local Guardians, Planetary Champions, and Stellar Defenders. So, a Street Vigilantes campaign might be similar to Daredevil or the Birds of Prey; Local Guardians to Batman or The Defenders; Planetary Champions to The Avengers or the Justice League; and Stellar Defenders to The Guardians of the Galaxy or Legion of Super-Heroes. Mixing these Power Levels up is possible, but difficult to do on more than an occasional basis as in a classic crossover storyline. The process is straightforward enough, a player assigning dice, adjusting the dice for Enhancements and Limitations, selecting Benefits and Drawbacks, and so on. The rulebook does not make the process that easy because there is no single step-by-step breakdown of the process and the player will need to refer to several chapters in the book to work out quite what to do.

Rat Pack
Sawyer Garrett is an ex-army dog handler who retired after several tours in Afghanistan. Preferring a life of quiet she now works with the city pest control dealing with issues in the city sewers. There she began hearing voices, squeaking voices and thought she was going mad. Even after the Veterans Association gave her a clean bill of health, she still thought she was going mad, but then a rat in the sewer actually spoke to her—in her head. Sawyer came to realise that she could communicate with rats, even control them. Soon she made friends with them and they in turn came to see her as a guardian. When members of the homeless began dying more than usual in the sewers and tunnels under the city, the rats told her what was happening and Sawyer discovered that a local gang was selling them a bad batch of drugs on the cheap and it was killing them. It was then that she decided to clean the rats off the streets, only with her better rats by her side.

Rat Pack
Name: Sawyer Garrett
Power Level: Street Vigilantes
Priority Die: D6
Triumph Dice: 5

Burrowing D4, Enhanced Senses D6, Mind Control D4/Limitation: Rats Only D8, Mind Read/Send D4/Limitation: Rats Only D8

Ego: D4
Health: D6
Mobility: D6

Animal Handling D6/Rats D8, Fighting D6/Boxing D8, Streetwise D6/Sovereign City D8

Companion, Hideout
Someone Needs Me, Flashbacks

Rat Swarm Companion
Burrowing D4, Enhanced Senses D6
Ego: D4
Health: D4
Mobility: D6
Fighting D4, Stealth D6

Mechanically, Triumphant! Super Heroic Role Play Game is simple enough. For a Superior to undertake an action, his player rolls the appropriate die for the Skill or Power, aiming to roll high. However, the Power always trumps the Skill and consequently, the Task Difficulty for the Skill roll is always higher than for the Power roll. For example, if Allen Barrington wants to run at thirty miles per hour, but uses his Athleticism Skill, the Task Difficulty for the Skill roll is eight, but if he wants to use his Powers of Super Speed as the Pacer, the Task Difficulty for the Power roll is two. Further, the Task Difficulty for the Power roll is two if he wants to run at sixty miles per hour, six if he runs at two-hundred-and-forty miles per hour, and so on—but these speeds are impossible unless the Superior has the Super Speed Power. In addition, Skills and Powers can sometimes be in sync, which means that a player can roll dice for both the Skill and the Power and the highest result counts.

A Superior also has Triumph dice to enhance his actions. These can be used to negate damage, bounce back if a Condition is reduced to zero, takedown more Extras, increase the roll on a die to its maximum, to protect nearby civilians, to Bump a die up and reroll it, and to temporarily add an Enhancement or remove a Limitation. All of these require the player to roll the Triumph die beforehand and the player can only chose one of these effects if the result is even. Otherwise, the Triumph die is returned to the Superior’s pool. Alternatively, a Triumph die can simply be used to perform a Power Stunt not usually related to a Power or the Superior can make a Spectacular Recovery if all three of his Conditions have fallen to zero. The Game Master has Villainy dice for his Supervillains and these work in the same fashion, except that the Game Master to roll an odd result instead of an even one for them to work. Villainy dice can also be spent to make Deadly Attacks, create a Meat Shield using an innocent bystander or not so innocent minion, and either make a Miraculous Escape or suffer a Mysterious Death.

Combat and action scenes use opposed rolls. For example, Torchlight with his Power of Energy Control (Light) D6 faces a pair of bruisers or Extras armed with submachine guns and a Skill of Shooting D4. To attack them, Torchlight’s player would roll for Energy Control (Light) D6, whilst the Game Master would roll the Mobility D4 Condition for the thugs to avoid the attack. When it comes to the thugs shooting back, the Game Master would roll Shooting D4 for the thugs, whilst Torchlight could attempt to blind them with his Energy Control (Light) D6. In combat, the Priority die is used to determine order action, and the rules cover aiming, delaying actions, taunts, offensive and defensive stances, teamwork—which requires that the Superiors practice during Downtime, knockback, mobs, minor Superiors, and more, all supported by an example of combat. Damage itself reduces a Superior’s Conditions, effectively limiting his capacity to respond. Throughout a combat, a Superior can only really use a Power, Skill, or Condition the once to defend or attack, but ideally, a Superior should have a decent array of options to choose from and a player should be inventive in deciding how his Superior uses them. Disasters are handled in a similar fashion which makes interacting with them as dynamic as combat.

Downtime covers the various options that the Superiors can undertake when not actively adventuring. These include Personal actions such as Charity, Patrolling, Publicity, or simply Work; Training which can be Solo or Teamwork; and Research & Development, which covers Devices, Investigation, and Team HQ. The latter is designed using the same number and type of dice as per the Power Level of the campaign, adding facilities such as a Secure Cell or a Magical Workshop. In this way, it becomes, at least mechanically, much like a Player Character with abilities of its own that the team members can work with to patch up a wound in the Medical Centre or gain alerts or the very latest surveillance in the Communications and Security Centre. Similar to how a Superior can grow and change, a team’s headquarters can also be improved and upgraded. Another Downtime activity is the design and building of gadgets, which requires time spent on raising funds and doing the design work before a device can be built. Gadgets built this way can also be upgraded. Alternatively, Triumphant! does suggest how a Gadgeteer Power could work in the game, enabling a Superior to build and devices on the go that emulate other Powers, have limited uses, or is simply just the once, for that exact situation. Either way, the gadget rules are designed with both simplicity and  flexibility in mind, much like the rest of the roleplaying game’s Powers. This includes Powers which can often be difficult to handle in superhero roleplaying games such as magic and summoning.

For the Game Master there is advice on running combat and disasters, handling NPCs from innocent bystanders to supervillains, and designing adventures. The advice is solid, but not extensive and nor is backed up with a scenario. There is though a handful of sample Superiors which the Game Master can use as NPCs or ready-made Player Characters. There are also tables for a player or the Game Master to create a Superior randomly.

Physically, Triumphant! Super Heroic Role Play Game is cleanly and decently laid out. The artwork is decent too, done in a mix of colour and black and white.

Triumphant! Super Heroic Role Play Game provides a comprehensive means to handle most superheroic situations and Powers in a relatively uncomplex fashion. There is still some complexity given the abilities and powers that the roleplaying game has to cover, but that is down to the nature of the genre and Triumphant! does a good job of making it as simple as possible. Where Triumphant! does come up short is in not making it as easy as it should be for the player to create a Superior and in not exploring the differences in the types of scenarios that can be run at the different Power Levels and thus campaign types. Consequently, Triumphant! Super Heroic Role Play Game very much assumes some familiarity with the genre upon the part of both the player and the Game Master, but get past that and what you have is a solid, medium-to-lightweight roleplaying game with the means to create and play a superhero game.

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