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Comic Hero Custom Creations Any comic book customs and the discussions surrounding them


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  #1  
Old July 31st, 2009, 12:28 AM
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On stats and Superheroes...

I've been doing a lot of super hero customs lately and so have been given to much reflection regarding them. They're definitely a different animal from classic HS figs. Here are some tips and random observations I've come up with:

1. Running out of room on your hero cards? This is pretty common, when trying to translate your favorite superheroes to 'scape. Still, a good custom should only have 3-4 powers, max. One thing you can do is combine two powers into one. I did this on my Deadpool's Bullets and Blades power. It gives him a ranged attack bonus and a melee attack bonus all in one. Another, more subtle example is my Killer Croc's Swim ability which combines Slither (figure doesn't have to stop in water) with a water movement bonus.
Don't get too ridiculously complicated with these types of powers and make sure if you want to combine 2 powers into one that they at least relate to each other. But if done right, this can save you a little space from time to time.

2. Use stats to represent powers. Examine the stats (life, move, range defense and attack (and even your hit zone)) carefully and see if you can't define your powers through stats rather than making a separate special ability for it (thus saving you space on the left side of your card). The most common way to do this is through range. Many of the original official Marvel Figures did this. Iron Man, Dr. Doom, Thanos and others all have a ranged normal attack (infering some type of energy blast type attack) without a single mention of repulsors, lasers or the like!
I had about 5 powers I wanted to give my Storm figure. Giving her a 5-range, 5-attack (which can represent anything from flying debris to Lightning) helped shave the list down a bit.
Matt Helm and Garada recently made a Phantom Lady with an all-gray hit zone (representing invisibility). Though I had a few things to say about it, it was a creative way to effectively give the figure invisibility without detailing it in the Special Abilities section of the card.
Be careful with these, though. Realize that if your card is "negated" (ala Morsbane), or "absorbed" (ala Rogue). The "stat powers" won't go away, giving your figure some advantage in these situations. Price them accordingly.

3. Defense can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes it represents thick armor (in the case of DW 9,000, for example). Other times it represents agility. Sometimes it's a conglomeration of several factors. My Psylocke has nothing but spandex (and very little of it) between her and certain death but I gave her a 4 defense representing her Ninja dodging skills, perhaps blocking some attacks with her TK Katana, and maybe throwing in some telekinesis from time to time.

4. Attack can also mean a lot of different things. In straight up Marvelscape (and even Classic HS to some extent) I tend to view 0 life as a character being subdued (not necasserily killed). Therefore, attacks aren't necasserily lethal. This explains why Spider-man's web "does damage." Captain America tosses his sheild around and knocks thugs unconcious in nearly every comic, but these poor miscreants don't "die."

5. Other factors go into attack and defense as well. Factors like intimidation. This explains why Captain America has a 6 attack. He's intimidating. You might be a little scared (and thus less-able to defend yourself) if you were a bad guy and all of the sudden the living symbol of Truth and Justice just busted you doing something naughty!

6. When it comes to "Personality" and "Class," try to use ones that have already been done. This will give your character more synergy with other existing cards (official and custom). You don't have to reinvent the wheel (and I suppose this applies to powers as well)! GreyOwl (in addition to giving us all his fabulous templates to work with) has compiled a list of species, personality and character traits that have been used. Check it out, it's a great resource.

There are lots of different traits that probably apply to your character. Is your Professor X a Professor, Mentor, Telepath, Teacher or something else entirely? In the end only you can decide which aspect of the character you want to focus on.

That's all for now. If I think of more, I'll add 'em later. Happy customing!

Brandon

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Last edited by The B.I.V.; July 31st, 2009 at 12:37 AM.
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  #2  
Old July 31st, 2009, 12:36 AM
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Re: On stats and Superheroes...

All good points - this should be helpful to new customs creators. Nothing more to add...
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  #3  
Old July 31st, 2009, 12:45 AM
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Re: On stats and Superheroes...

I would add a few things.

I would change your 3-4 abilities to 2-3. Just my preference, but I think a major weakness of some customs is just having too much on the card. This is intended to be a simple game and heroes with tons of powers/abilities, while perhaps accurate, aren't always good fits for the game. Sometimes I do get into the 3-4 range, but I only do it when absolutely necessary (and your advice on how to avoid that is sound). We want the game to flow and don't want to be constantly reading cards.

Rather than look at all the things they CAN do, I try to think about their 1-2 iconic powers. What do we think of them thematically? That makes a character like Superman or Thor difficult in some ways, but I think it is best when customizers show restraint.

I also like to look at how characters lose battles in the comics. Did they lose because they were arrogant and refused help? Did they lose because of some psychological flaw? Do they have a weakness against ranged weapons? Are they egomaniacal tyrants that are always facing loyalty issues? I think a lot of good customs have inherrent thematic weaknesses built in to the cards. The best custom cards have a great flavor to them...."Crap, Namor just turned on me" or "Man, there goes that Hercules off on his own thinking he is too good for everyone".

The end result might be a card in which I have 1-2 abilities/powers and 1 weakness/flaw, which brings us to that 2-3 power range.

The second thing I would add is that I like to look at a variety of skills. Maybe 1 d20 roll and one attack/defense modifier? Or, maybe one synergy ability and one d20 weakness. I think most people do a good job with this, but it is something to note.

Finally, I try to use the official cards as much as I can. I look at Iron Man at 240 points and in Marvel canon, there aren't that many heroes that are more powerful. While a 275 point Quicksilver might be cool, I don't think it is thematic. While it could be easy to make a Thor at 500 points, I think it is more accurate to put him in that 370 range (Hulk).

(The exception of course is villains, as I have talked about many times, at least if you want them to be able to take on hero teams.)
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  #4  
Old August 3rd, 2009, 03:13 PM
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Re: On stats and Superheroes...

These are some great ideas!

Quote:
Originally Posted by badgermaniac View Post
I would change your 3-4 abilities to 2-3. Just my preference, but I think a major weakness of some customs is just having too much on the card. This is intended to be a simple game and heroes with tons of powers/abilities, while perhaps accurate, aren't always good fits for the game. Sometimes I do get into the 3-4 range, but I only do it when absolutely necessary (and your advice on how to avoid that is sound). We want the game to flow and don't want to be constantly reading cards.
I somewhat agree with this, and I somewhat don't. I agree with the idea of keeping it simple enough that you don't want to be constantly reading cards while playing. But I don't think this really has anything to do with the number of powers on a card. You could have 4 very simple powers (like Disengage) without a problem. Or you could have 1 power only, but it takes up the whole card in a tiny font and has a whole host of complexities in it. So my opinion is, don't focus on the number of total powers, but rather focus on the overall complexity of the card. This usually takes care of the number of powers anyway.

My personal rule of thumb is "can I read through the card in one pass and understand everything this figure can do?". If the answer is yes, you're probably good. If you have to go back and keep referring to wording to figure out how it works, then it might be too complex (though sometimes you just can't avoid it).
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Old August 3rd, 2009, 03:54 PM
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Re: On stats and Superheroes...

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyOwl View Post
These are some great ideas!

Quote:
Originally Posted by badgermaniac View Post
I would change your 3-4 abilities to 2-3. Just my preference, but I think a major weakness of some customs is just having too much on the card. This is intended to be a simple game and heroes with tons of powers/abilities, while perhaps accurate, aren't always good fits for the game. Sometimes I do get into the 3-4 range, but I only do it when absolutely necessary (and your advice on how to avoid that is sound). We want the game to flow and don't want to be constantly reading cards.
I somewhat agree with this, and I somewhat don't. I agree with the idea of keeping it simple enough that you don't want to be constantly reading cards while playing. But I don't think this really has anything to do with the number of powers on a card. You could have 4 very simple powers (like Disengage) without a problem. Or you could have 1 power only, but it takes up the whole card in a tiny font and has a whole host of complexities in it. So my opinion is, don't focus on the number of total powers, but rather focus on the overall complexity of the card. This usually takes care of the number of powers anyway.

My personal rule of thumb is "can I read through the card in one pass and understand everything this figure can do?". If the answer is yes, you're probably good. If you have to go back and keep referring to wording to figure out how it works, then it might be too complex (though sometimes you just can't avoid it).
I agree, and there are certainly exceptions, but I think we are talking about the same thing really. My point is that you don't need to cover everything a character does, but you do need a card without too much on it. Generally (but not always), that means 2-3 abilities.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 11:44 AM
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Re: On stats and Superheroes...

I have started to put a Group symbol in the little corner space above the race on the card. If you are running out of space, you could alwase have a special ability that applys to members of that groop. Greyowl has some of them but they are dependedt on drafting certain figs. That would put some of the text on another card. I do think the ability should be something that applys to all of the people in that groop. Some of the Hero Clix special abilities got kinda silly.

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Old August 4th, 2009, 12:52 PM
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Re: On stats and Superheroes...

Quote:
Originally Posted by badgermaniac View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyOwl View Post
These are some great ideas!

Quote:
Originally Posted by badgermaniac View Post
I would change your 3-4 abilities to 2-3. Just my preference, but I think a major weakness of some customs is just having too much on the card. This is intended to be a simple game and heroes with tons of powers/abilities, while perhaps accurate, aren't always good fits for the game. Sometimes I do get into the 3-4 range, but I only do it when absolutely necessary (and your advice on how to avoid that is sound). We want the game to flow and don't want to be constantly reading cards.
I somewhat agree with this, and I somewhat don't. I agree with the idea of keeping it simple enough that you don't want to be constantly reading cards while playing. But I don't think this really has anything to do with the number of powers on a card. You could have 4 very simple powers (like Disengage) without a problem. Or you could have 1 power only, but it takes up the whole card in a tiny font and has a whole host of complexities in it. So my opinion is, don't focus on the number of total powers, but rather focus on the overall complexity of the card. This usually takes care of the number of powers anyway.

My personal rule of thumb is "can I read through the card in one pass and understand everything this figure can do?". If the answer is yes, you're probably good. If you have to go back and keep referring to wording to figure out how it works, then it might be too complex (though sometimes you just can't avoid it).
I agree, and there are certainly exceptions, but I think we are talking about the same thing really. My point is that you don't need to cover everything a character does, but you do need a card without too much on it. Generally (but not always), that means 2-3 abilities.
I've always found that if a custom is made well, you don't notice complexity because the figure acts as he would in the comics. In my opinion, it's okay to have 4 or 5 powers that are thematic as long as they represent the figure's capabilities. When you start reaching for obscure abilities that the comic book character displayed, the card begins to become complex.

Take Colossus for instance. You could give Colussus and ability that represents his metal skin, an abilitiy that represents his Invulnerablity, an ability that represents his protective nature over others and a Fastball Special ability and to me, he would not be over complicated. Because that's what Colussus is to me. It's how he reacts in any given fight.

When you're creating a character that is purly from your imagination, it's a different story. These characters don't have a back story. They don't have "character", yet. This is why complexity is often viewed at vastly differing levels. Someone who knows Spiderman sees the card as being fun and accurate. If you had no idea who Spiderman was, that card can seem very complex.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 01:05 PM
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Re: On stats and Superheroes...

While it may feel like the character, it also starts to get less "Heroscapey". There is a balance.

For a character like Colossus, you can represent his metal skin in his defense value. He is essentially a big tough dude that hits people. He is a very simple character in most respects, so I think 1-2 abilities on his card would fit well with Heroscape.

Wonder Man is a similiar comparison...a fairly simple character and his card should reflect that IMO.

A character like Prof X is a bit more complicated, and I would expect a more full card.

It is all just personal preference, but I think some folks get into trouble when just about every card they make has 3-4 abilities. I think a strong "custom world" has a nice balance by leaving the high ability cards for the complex characters. As noted though, if a creator prefers to jam every card with custom-goodness, have at it.
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