Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Night and Fog Part 1

I'm going to take a look at a duo from the Worm-verse (an excellent super-hero web-serial you should be reading): Night and Fog.

Night and Fog are a supervillian team who are psychotics who sort of "play" at being husband and wife but are really ... something something (I'm not sure--they seemed personable enough if not exactly functional during their interlude). They compliment each other:

Let's see:

Fog is the "simpler" of the two. He can turn his body into a dark gas. If you inhale it, he can re-form and kill you. He can float around as a dark cloud choking or bloodily exploding the life out of you. Apparently his clothes turn too (I don't recall him being naked after transformation).

When she is not being watched--with human sight--she turns into a super fast, super hard, multi-legged spider-like thing which is, uh, super strong--and COVERED WITH BLADES. When she transforms from human to nightmare-form she heals all damage. Her change is automatic: if she is unconscious and you take your eyes off her? Poof--she's fine.

Questions About The Characters
Here are some things we're not sure of. I've put my answers in here--but they can easily be corrected if the Worm author, Wildbow steps in.

Fog Questions

  1. How susceptible is Fog to fire or other energy attacks? Will the fog "burn"? Would plasma bolts or radiation hurt him? My Answer: Somewhat--I would expect him to flee a really hot area--something hot enough to start breaking down other gases. I wouldn't expect "lasers" or something like the X-Men's Cyclops' blast to do much.
  2. How big does Fog's radius get. My Answer: Big enough to fill a livingroom. 
  3. Can wind-blasts disrupt him--can he re-form if he is being actively dispersed? My Answer: Yes--but they don't harm him. If he was caught in something that truly scattered him (a nuclear explosion) I would expect him to die, even if in gas form.
  4. What can he do if you don't inhale him? My Answer: Not much.
  5. Can he kill several people at once--or must he pick one to reconstruct inside? My Answer: One at a time--it's him reforming and I wouldn't think he could do that in "several places."
Night Questions
  1. If her night-form was badly hurt and and she was then seen, would she appear unhurt--or bloody. Clearly going the other way regenerates her. My Answer: I ... don't know. I think it is more interesting if her night-form's damage remained. I think the rule would be she always wants to be in night-form rather than going back and forth constantly.
  2. Just how hard is she to hurt? My Answer: Pretty tough--but not indestructible. Enough to stand up to an assault rifle but not a heavy machine gun (this is a pure guess--she might be nearly invincible for all I know).
  3. Would Night transform if she was dead? My Answer: No. If you shot and killed her 
Fog is straight-forward to a degree--although our examination of the rules found some holes that needed fixing. Night is much harder because of the absolute regeneration on transformation. We're still talking about that. If her night-form maintains damage it's much easier. If she insta-heals several times a fight ... much harder.

These are not characters you would want PCs to generally play--they make a very fearsome team for the right group but they are both incredibly one-sided when their approach works ... and very vulnerable when it does not. This is hardly idea for a PC Group. This doesn't mean their illegitimate -it just means playing them would have some ... challenges.

What is "Only when not being watched worth?" In JAGS terms it is probably either a LARGE (-30% cost) or VERY LARGE (-90% Cost). Right now those are the two big-league defect-levels and there's nothing in between (but you can have more than one LARGE).

Clearly for a ranged attack, VERY LARGE is too much: snipers always attack from parts unseen. But for hand-to-hand combatants it's a lot harder to get close without being seen. We are talking about the "totality of the circumstance" as a factor (i.e. she is teamed up with someone who makes it hard to see!)--but we don't really like that for most 'circumstances.' 

At 90% Cost Break, a "D&D Thief Back-Stab" (which, presumably, has the same defect) would turn 10 APs into 100 APs. That's ... a lot. By any measure it is enough to end a single target of any reasonable point-scale. So we have to think carefully about that. Perhaps VERY LARGE should be more like 60% or 70% instead of 90%.

After some more consideration, I'll post the stats.


  1. FQ1: Susceptibility to energy: Not really any. He won't explode if ignited. Lasers won't do anything substantial to him. HOWEVER, he's got variable solidity. He could turn a part of himself solid enough to hold onto something, but there's the flip side that this part of his cloud would be more vulnerable to harm. Not very, but more.

    FQ2: Radius: Roughly 2500 square feet. Again, depends on solidity/density of the gas.

    FQ3: Can wind-blasts disrupt him: They'd have to be pretty strong, because he can control his form/the movement of the gas, even pushing against winds. If it's strong enough to keep a person from moving forward or to knock a person over, it'd probably shift the cloud. In terms of destroying/eradicating him, I'd say it's roughly in similar terms - if it's strong enough to push a roomful of people clear out of the area, it's strong enough to disperse the cloud for good.

    FQ4: What can he do if you don't inhale him: He can hold people, though it's more about snaring them than about actively manipulating objects. He couldn't fire a gun or swing a sword, but he could keep you from picking the weapon up off the ground.

    FQ5: Can he kill several people at once: It's less that he's reconstructing inside and more that he's adjusting his solidity while within their lungs/bloodstream, and/or pulling himself through their systems to reconstitute himself. The effect is to burst the finer blood vessels, destroying many/most/all of the capillaries, causing massive internal bruising and bleeding.

    NQ1: If her night-form was badly hurt and and she was then seen, would she appear unhurt: Her Night form was taken out of action while fighting Leviathan, IIRC. She was considered 'down' and wasn't seen further into the fight. In this case, though, she didn't retain the damage - she was simply knocked out, overwhelmed in a way that wasn't repaired when she was returned to pristine condition. (Specifically, a strain to the part of her mind that handles the transition and positions her body so she can maintain a stride or avoid falling over due to momentum when transitioning between forms).

    NQ2: Just how hard is she to hurt? Heavy machine gun fire wouldn't quite do it, but that's more a question of the nature of her other form. Her blade-like limbs deflect most incoming fire, and she doesn't have a central body with organs to hurt (that is, she's mainly limbs). A bazooka wouldn't do it, a nuke would.
    As mentioned, Leviathan hit her with one (two, if you count his echo) substantial, direct blow while she was in her other form, and that did it.

    Q3: Would Night transform if she was dead? No.

    1. Thank you for the feedback. We're working on potential character builds. Even trying with these guys taught us things.

      Keep up the good work!

  2. I believe Night uses all kinds of gear to temporarily blind her opponents and thus use her power i.e. flashbangs, smoke bombs, her own cape. Then of course, there's her synergy with Fog (fog masks her visibility) and Purity (hard-light is still blindingly bright.)

    1. This is a very good point. A couple of things to note:
      1. If I were making a Worm Source-Book I would have to take a VERY hard look at how to handle paying for gear. I charged Oni for his assault weapon and Jack Slash for his blade. I have ignored the fact that, for example, Skitter carries a gun.

      These are important decisions and I'd have to either say that (probably) (a) everyone pays for weapons, armor, etc. (b) no one does--if you can get it, go for it! Or, possibly, (c) you pay for anything exceptional. You can have a handgun or a knife and I don't care unless you augment it with your super-power and ... then you pay.

      Grue with a sniper rifle would be much scarier than the Grue we see today.

      2. It is not *entirely* clear how JAGS would treat things like the cape. Flashbangs and Smoke we've got--as well as bright lights--but the cape would be harder.

      It's not too difficult to figure out (determine how hard it is to deploy and recover, it has a Grapple Score and there's a to-hit roll that needs to be made to get it over your face ... if she hits well enough--not too hard--you can't see too well until you get it off.

      JAGS doesn't demand that you pay APs for gear--but the decisions could have a great deal of impact on play. The Undersiders really need their body armor: otherwise they're one SMG away from a TPK.

      On the other hand, if they wore SWAT uniforms and carried AR-15s into battle they wouldn't ... feel the same. If I were running a You-Play-The-Undersiders game, I'd want to discuss that with the PCs before start up and determine what we wanted to happen.

      One more thing: We generally DO NOT have any "charge" for gaining an advantage from your partner's power (in other words, Night is smart to team with Fog and Purity as she gets the advantage of darkness generators without paying for it).

      We do, though, think that if a group is going to do that--build synergistic characters (especially ones that fight in the dark) everyone should be aware of that and on board with it.

      Good points.

  3. Faultline and her crew all go armed on missions. Pistols, shotguns, all that. Comes from having relatively limited powersets, I guess.

    Just a canon example that establishes precedent. I'm sure enterprising players wouldn't be so underhanded as to exploit this information ;)

  4. Reading this blog from time-to-time has been a lot of fun; watching how different ideas and philosophies and hypotheticals get translated into actual mechanics.