“He couldn’t take the PRESSURE!”


So! Chad Underkoffler read my books, liked them and contacted me through Twitter to ask if I wanted a free copy of an rpg he designed: Truth & Justice.

Now, while I am usually too uncomfortable to accept free things from people, this is a superhero game we were talking about, so I bucked up, said “Yes,” and dl’ed my copy.

I should mention that I used to game all the time. Back in Philly and when I lived in L.A., I gamed pretty much once a week, like any self-respecting gamer. Personally, I like horror and superhero games, but maybe you already guessed that about me.

In Seattle, not so much. My wife is not interested in gaming at all and I just didn’t have the time to find/make friends to create a new group. (I still don’t, really). But that’s why we have kids.

My son, looking over my shoulder as I downloaded the files, started to become a tad excited. We had tried gaming once before: When he was about…6? 7? and really into Scooby Doo, I designed a kid-friendly Chill adventure for him. It was basically a haunted house without a lot of actual danger.

He loved it. His favorite part was at the end, where I showed him the drawn-out house with the key numbers written inside, and the second page with the description of each room. He looked up at me with eyes as big as golf balls, and he said the 11 words I’d been dreading: “Dad, now I’m going to make up an adventure for YOU!”

What followed was two and a half hours of the most random, incomprehensible adventure I’ve ever played. He drew an elaborate castle with many numbered rooms, but (unsurprisingly) no second page telling him what the numbers meant. It was so weird I can only remember a couple of things: that he was very excited and happy, that I was stalked by a vampire, that he kept referring to the rooms by their number (which I couldn’t see) and that I had a lot of trouble with coyotes in armor wielding halberds.

Not coyote-men. They didn’t have hands. They were just coyotes. With halberds. (Our neighborhood had had a wild coyote roaming around in it a short while before.

Anyway, he became very interested in Truth & Justice and kept pushing me to make a character, read the rules, run a game. “Did you read chapter 2 yet, Dad?” “You should finish making your character.” “Would you work on your character, please?” “So what’s your character going to be like?”

I wanted to frickin’ scream.

It’s not like I don’t have a kid to home-school, chores to do, a book to write, etc etc, right? I am a Busy Man Who Doesn’t Have Time For This.

Anyway, my character is a minor prince/alien speedster who has been assigned to protect the Earth from alien influences (mainly as a way to get him far, far away from the throne). He’s making the best of things–he’s a happy-go-lucky guy, a little condescending to the pleasant but backwards Earth people, but too proud to shirk his duty.

My son, after much work, created a scientist who acquired control over air pressure. He builds gadgets, has a cool long black coat, knows Judo, and can use air pressure to blast objects at people. And when he defeats them, he takes out a card with the subject header of this post written on it and tapes it to their butt.

My wife explained to me that she had no interest in the games for themselves but would be glad to take part as Family Activity. This is a woman who has never held a 20-sider in her life: In high school she was a varsity jock and art phenom: she won a state-wide animation contest in NY when she was 14. In college she studied, variously, fashion design, sculpture, painting, etc, at the Cooper Union, Rhode Island School of Design, and some place in Nova Scotia I can’t remember at the moment. She lived in NY during the early 80’s and got physically thrown out of a Cramps concert for dancing too rough. She also spent years working in TV and film production: she build Chairy and Conky the Robot for Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

In other words, she’d never been near a character sheet, ever, and didn’t know why she would want to. It doesn’t help that her dyslexia makes puzzling out rules arcana a little challenging. Her character is a 12 yo girl possessed by an ancient Egyptian “god” anxious for another shot at life.

So far we’ve only run a couple of combat scenes, but the game works very well. The damage system in particular is startling, but I think it works really well, even if it does mean that Batman-ish “intensive training” types can soak more damage than supers. The game also does something that I’ve seen in other superhero-games–it privileges superstrength as an attack power. I’m planning to nerf it in our home rules when it comes up.

So far all we’ve done is play through a couple of combat sessions to get acquainted with the system. My wife was game for it but a bit… disengaged. At first, at least.

My son was estatic. He couldn’t sit still, kept saying “This is so COOL!” and he blasted the hell out of The Orange Ogre.

At the end of the night, I explained to him that, yes, we could definitely play more, but most people have a once-a-week Gaming Night, so the GM has time to come up with adventures, especially when they have books to write. However, if he wanted to play more often, maybe he could step up and try running a game.

At which point, my kid, who is smart as hell but hates to do anything that involves touching the business end of a pen to paper, grabbed a notebook and began scribbling away. It was after 10pm when he was ready, and he pleaded with us, pleaded for one more fight.

I had to get up early for work today, and my wife had gotten up at 4am that morning (not by choice) but he was so cute…

Boy, my speedster misses a lot.

Anyway, I’ve been away from home all day and offline to get some work-work done. However, I suspect I will be doing a bit more battling tonight. (Why do all my dice suck?)

At some point in the future I’m going to expose him to more of the games on my shelves. Supers are familiar to him, so I suspect that’s why he was so interested in this one. Once I get my hooks in, I’ll move on to Spirit of the Century or something similar.

::crosses fingers::

5 thoughts on ““He couldn’t take the PRESSURE!”

  1. I am so, so sorry. (Not.)

    Glad you guys are having a good time!

    I’d go next for TSR’s Marvel RPG. I believe it’s freely available on the Internets, and was a big design influence on T&J.

    From there, I think, you guys can go anywhere. Really depends on what genre you all wanna play in.

    (Oh, and give your son a Hero Point from me, for free. Just because he digs it.)


  2. If we move to a new game, it will be in a new genre. I have Spirit of the Century at home, and I had been planning to introduce it as a way of teaching my son about certain topics, esp. Geography.

    Then he discovered a global jigsaw puzzle and went nuts on it. He *loved* the subject and has pursued it on his own. Me, I have so much on my plate that it becomes easy to let something like this slide.

    But considering his disinterest in traditional fantasy, I’m planning Spirit of the Century for the future (in my Copious Free Time).

    And he’ll definitely get that Hero Point. :)

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