I've been lucky enough to finish playable content for my henshin hero inspired tabletop role-playing game Alter Arms, and am looking for people to try it out and provide feedback.
The materials include:
Game rules (character creation rules, in/out of combat gameplay loop, character advancement, etc.)
Pre-generated characters and blank character sheets
A one-shot adventure module
There are two groups I am looking to get feedback from:
Those who have played the game before at conventions and have signed up to receive play-test rules.
Those who have not tried the game yet and will be going into the game without any prior knowledge of how it's played.
In this second group, I hope to find individuals who have not played RPGs before and/or are fans tokusatsu henshin heroes
My hope is that they'll be able to tell me if the rules are understandable, they achieve my goal, and are overall fun to play.
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF ALTER ARMS?
My goal for this game is to make a system that captures the feeling of living through a season of a henshin hero series.
Characters deal with impossible challenges by refusing to back down and working together to grow stronger.
Characters’ growth earns them new abilities and forms that reflect how they’ve changed, while still making good use of all the powers that got them where they are.
Each player character (PC) takes a role in the party, mimicking a character archetype that helps make up a group of henshin heroes. These roles inform how the character interacts with their party, and also plays a crucial role in helping manage the stress that the PCs face in the game.
Instead of worrying about physical harm, characters must deal with how dramatic the situation is getting. If things become too dramatic, they will have to retreat into themselves and lose some of the development they’ve achieved until that point. This can be managed by characters playing to their archetypes in order to help one another, while at the same time aiding in their individual development.
Drama is a core tenant of henshin hero shows: when the chips are down and it looks like all is lost, that’s when our protagonists throw caution to the wind and transform to wield the power to defeat their opponents!
Heroes could transform at any time, but we know as an audience that it is most satisfying when the heroes use their best weapon at the right time it’s needed. They could go to their strongest form right off the bat, but the audience knows this is uncommon, and could backfire as they escalate the drama of the situation too fast. The villain defeating the hero at their strongest so quickly into the story arc could have serious repercussions.
I’ve developed the system to cater to character transformations, but at the same time I’m concerned about power creep (the constant escalation of a power curve that can leave characters behind if they don’t go with the single flow of the system) To this end, I’ve included several mechanics that allow for characters to develop in other ways besides simply stepping to the next level of the power curve. Instead, characters can raise their core attributes, and give themselves new verbs and tools that strengthen them regardless of their form.
On top of this, there are some advantages that characters in lower forms have against those in higher ones.
I like the narrative idea of characters growing stronger in ways that aren’t as oblique as changing visually. The first henshin hero shows featured characters who could only transform into their superhero identity, and developed by discovering new techniques, tools, or personal growth. I want to bring some of that classic thinking into Alter Arms alongside the current trend of multiple transformations.
Which brings me to the mechanical conceit of this game: It can’t be all things for all people. My intention is to allow for different types of henshin heroes to work alongside each other, but there are many ways they don’t fundamentally work the same:
Riders tend to have more transformations and tend to work alone
Sentai are made to function as a team, and forgo transformations for access to giant vehicles and weapons
Magical Girls have accomplished feats that dwarf anything done by the prior two thanks to existing mostly in animation for the majority of their history.
And this isn’t even counting characters with origins outside of Japan who could technically be classified as henshin heroes (I will always have a place in my heart for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future).
I want all of these types of characters to interact and make a world together; and while the system may not allow all of them to mechanically function identically to how they do in their inspirations, I believe that I have allowed them to approximate what makes them unique while still allowing them to interact.
Another reason I became interested in making this game was the setting it could facilitate: most henshin hero series are self-contained and make rare references to past entries in the series only when it serves something like an anniversary or off-hand reference. Each series is largely isolated from every other entry.
I got to thinking: what would the ramifications be if the consequences of each series reverberated out through the world?
Would the evil empire that was defeated by masked cyborgs simply fade away? Or would they try to make the best of a bad situation by selling their human-modification technology to the highest bidder?
What happens to all of the identical, faceless mooks who served as foot soldiers in schemes for world domination? They might not have been a match for the heroes, but they’re still stronger and have access to more advanced weapons than the average human.
After the alien invaders are defeated, what happens to the aliens who were unable to return to their homes?
When personalized weapon systems that fit in your pocket are revealed to the public, how does that change society?
And, most important of all: What do heroes do with all of their power after the bad guys have been beaten?
The world of Alter Arms is crawling with characters able to take on more powerful forms; what will they do with this power, and how will the world change in response?