Getting there

How does your adventuring party get from Town A to Dungeon B? How about from Earth to Planet X, or from Remote Secret Hideout D to Rampaging Villain K? Whatever your genre (or letter of the alphabet) your heroes will always need a means to get from one location to another.

If your game of choice happens to revolve around pseudo-medieval fantasy then your travel plans tend to be pretty level-dependent; your heroes walk until they can afford horses, then before you know it they’re teleporting hither and yon. In more esoteric campaigns (I’m looking at you, Eberron) we have the awesome Lightning Rail but unless your players enjoy messing about on the high seas or want to crew a Spelljammer the method of travel is scarcely mentioned at all. Most published adventures just assume that you’ve recently arrived at the tavern/town/cave entrance/island and take it from there. How you got there doesn’t matter – what counts is that you’ve arrived and are ready to bash the monsters.

My own group has wised up and prefers to pool resources and buy a wagon and four horses at the earliest opportunity. This gives them a ready-made base of operations when they’re on a delve – just add suitable magical protections (or at least, some fake magic runes painted on the surrounding trees to scare away the natives) and they’re all set.

Over in the realms of science-fiction gaming it’s a different matter entirely. The ship is as much a part of the adventure as any crewmember, and is just as likely to have its own quirks, mannerisms and personality. It’s a poor sci-fi RPG indeed that doesn’t include some form of starship generation (or at least a table of stock builds), and in many cases ship generation is even more complex and time-consuming than character generation. If the ship is large enough entire adventures could be set entirely within its confines. I must have run dozens of Classic Traveller adventures in my time where 90-100% of the action is aboard a Free Trader of one kind or another; it’s like a ready-made dungeon the adventurers bring with them. How cool is that? Just add Tribbles, borg, acid-blooded aliens or invading space pirates (yaaar!) to taste, and you’re ready to play.

Incidentally, Tribbles + Borg = Triblorg, and the biggest threat to known space since William Shatner started releasing albums. I’m banned from using them in my games again. Ever.

Then there’s Superhero gaming where Anything Goes. You can have heroes able to fly three times around the Earth in a single combat round mashing it up with Arcane Teleporters, web-slingers and guys who are basically really, really strong but have to walk everywhere or hitch a lift.

Very often getting the heroes from A to B isn’t the problem – the challenge is getting them there at the same time. There’s always one hero who can get on-site ahead of everyone else, and another who wishes that he’d spent some points to buy a pair of jet boots.

In the case of my own Seven Champions (a British-based NPC superhero group for our ongoing campaign) there’s an Iron Man clone (with a sword!) who can fly up to 500mph, a female Ghost Rider type (with a sword!) who can fly up to 250mph, one Earth-moving guy (no sword) who can fly on a mound of rock up to 500mph, and burrow up to 100mph and a Superhero Necromancer (I never get tired of typing that) who can take on a ghost-form and float at a sedate 10mph. The rest are decidedly stuck on the ground.

My solution is to give them all Jet Bikes that look just like this one (not my render – this is one vehicle firmly on my wishlist!). As we’re using Mutants & Masterminds building a vehicle is much like creating a character or HQ. The cost is in Equipment Points, and vehicles generally only have a Strength stat unless they’re Artificially Intelligent which these bikes ain’t. Taking the standard Motorcycle as a base, replacing Speed with Flight and adding a Communications feature so the riders can chatter whilst travelling at 250mph, we get this:

Jet Bike, 15ep
Str 15
Tough +8, Defense +0, Size Medium

Flight 5 (250mph)
Communications

That’s a mere 15ep which translates to a cost of 3 Character Points if a PC wants one too. There’s no armour or weaponry – its sole purpose is to get the superhero team to where they’re needed, more or less at the same time.

Here’s a quick extra bonus – meet Johnny Jet, star of the prime-time Holovid show “Johnny Jet Does Dangerous Things” and occasional low-powered hi-tech superhero investigator.

Johnny Jet, PL4 60pp
Str 13, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 17
Tough +2/+6 (Armoured Jumpsuit), Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +3
Attack +3, Defense +2, Init +3

Acrobatics +5, Computers +4, Craft:Electronics +5, Craft:Mechanical +5, Drive +9, Gather Information +5, Investigate +4, KS:Technology +6, Pilot +5, Profession:Performer +4, Sense Motive +2

Defensive Roll 1, Equipment 6

Jet Bike
Blaster Pistol (+3 DC20, 50’)

Anyhow. That’s my superhero travel problems solved.

How do your PCs get around? Enquiring minds want to know.

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7 Responses

  1. DarkTouch says:

    My current M&M game is a paragons of Freedom game.. putting Freedom City into the Paragons setting. The first adventure was them getting their powers when the airplanes hit Pyramid Plaza. The second adventure had them discovering the Scarab’s Lair and battling the villain who had just escaped from its holding cell and was attempting to claim the lair or himself. Their reward for defeating him was they each got 1PP’s worth of ownership of the headquarters. I used the official writeup that has the giant room filled with teleporters. Now they can go wherever they need to go.

  2. x-humed says:

    The supers game about getting there at the same time is so true. In our game there are like two waves those that fly/turn into birds/wear wings & those that walk. One of our group delights in charging off at a moments notice into the undergrowth. Jet bikes you say? Hmmm…

  3. Elton says:

    And if the players demand it . . . A thunderbike might be helpful. http://www.daz3d.com/i/3d-models/0/thunderbike?item=10052&cat=&_m=d

  4. by_the_sword says:

    In D&D it’s sailing ships. We really, really like ships. There is a running theme of piracy among our group. When not sailing, we walk or ride horses. I like mules myself as they are not as skittish as a hores and are less likely to throw you when the ankhegs attack. An oxcart is a fine way to haul around treasure. Oxen are sometimes in need of motivation though when you are being pursued, so a Scare spell might help them along (careful, it can also help them drive over a cliff!).

    I have been dying to run a sci-fi game. What I’d really love to run would be a mix of Traveller T20 and Dragonstar (orc space marines anyone?). Maybe with a little Serenity thrown in, though when I first saw Firefly on TV, I immediately thought of Traveller. I would definitely want my Players in an armed ship, even if it only has a “mining laser”.

    I haven’t played a super hero game in ages. Back in the day it was Villains and Vigilantes that was our SH-game of choice. It has been hard finding folks who like super hero games.

  5. Tourq says:

    I always liked the good old days, when it was important to know if we had enough rations for our trip, if we had a map, and if we had enough horses. Setting up a watch schedule was important, and who was actually sleeping in their armor (ick!). Back in the day, getting to the adventure was an adventure in itself!

    -Tourq

  6. CyberWere says:

    Snort. Triborg. I visualize a cascade of fuzzy tribbles with dominatrix leather straps and red laser eye. Well, maybe I’m thinking of a Borggle. The terror of old school, smooth headed Klingon’s everywhere.

  7. x-humed says:

    In D&D, actually we have a DM’s who love that ‘travelogue’ stuff. We’ve had whoel campagins based around a journey and our dragonlance campaign is usually planned by what route we take through krynn to get to out destination. We’ve never just ‘arrived’ we have to get there first.

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