Fall of the Red Planet - Sci-fi Superheroes (Alpha)

Hey folks! I’ve been working on this game for a while, and it’s undergone several transformations, including me literally moving it to another planet. I’m currently working on a playtestable version, and have some fun previews to share of my progress. Expect a full document with everything needed to playtest sometime in the coming months - for the moment, i’d love to share my progress, and invite any and all feedback and discussion.

Fall of the Red Planet is a game about a daring and idealistic group of super-powered “undesirables”, working together to survive under the occupation of the Martian Empire in futuristic cityscapes, empty and lethal wastelands and dark and dusty tunnels of a Colonized Mars. There are high-stakes missions, hard choices, chases and escapes, burned relationships, powerful rivals and allies, spectacular fights, deceptions, betrayals, victories, and deaths. Above all, there’s the chance to make a name for yourself, and with it, the chance to make a difference.

Which comes first? The things that drive you, that make you who you are, or the way the world will see you for it?

We play to find out if our crew can survive and pursue their goals, without compromising their ideals, amidst the many dangers of the authoritarian occupying forces, rival teams, powerful corporations, criminal organizations, the uncompromising forces of the status quo, and each crew member’s own problems, past, drives and vices.

Game Features

  • Powers , customizable fictional abilities written by the players, who bring their own troubles, including mundane abilities, and artifacts, items that have power
  • Drives , customizable experience triggers written by the players, including one personal drive, and one for which the Crew choice provides context
  • Renown/Fame , the main resource, which combines social standing and material assets, functioning somewhat like reverse heat. Be rewarded for being seen and heard!
  • Trust & Rivalry , a system to track different levels of supportive and not-so-supportive relationships with the NPCs of the world, including mechanical benefits and penalties
  • Fluid Narrative Arcs: Longer or shorter; spend renown on experience, experience on important long-term-projects, and ‘prestige’ completed ‘blocks’ of actions to spend ‘dead’ exp.
  • Sci-fi Cohorts, A Starting Situation for each crew, and many factions…

10 Character Playbooks:

  • The Agent , a smooth operator, influential and informed.
  • The Charmed , a masked enigma, manipulative and dramatic.
  • The Demigod , a godlike being, learning to control their power.
  • The Firebrand , a passionate speaker, here to cause disorder
  • The Icon , a beacon of inspiration, standing tall in the face of adversity
  • The Mastermind , a power-suited center of attention, resourceful and brilliant
  • The New Kid , an empathetic do-gooder, new on the scene
  • The Possessed , a gifted scientist, who fights for control of their power
  • The Professional , a team-player stealth operative, always has a back-up plan
  • The Soldier , a talented fighter, pursuing a mission of their own

3 Crew Playbooks: (with 3 more coming)

  • Guardians defend and punch up against the giants of the status quo
  • Rebels destabilize the status quo, and fight the Empire
  • Hunters investigate cases or hunt down Supes
  • [Coming Soon] Operatives perform paramilitary operations and sneaking missions
  • [Coming Soon] Runners steal from and screw over the Corps
  • [Coming Soon] Thugs fight for the highest bidder, or enact villainous plans

I just took a look at your doc. There are a lot of details that I love!

I like the differentiation between Control and Unleash. It feels very intuitive to me.

I’m also impressed with the number of playbooks. Between 10 options and customizable powers, you have a lot of character options there. I also love the option to play a Mundane of comparable power. I’d be curious to see an Energy power example, though.

I didn’t feel like I got the best sense of what I can expect to do in the system, though, especially as Guardians. I know that there are going to be moral questions, and we play to find out whether the players can remain heroic or become the villains, but on a score-to-score scope, what is the action? I can imagine thwarting villains, but what are those villains’ goals, and how do I thwart them?

For example, the BitD blurb says:
“There are heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, and, above all, riches to be had — if you’re bold enough to seize them.”
So we know what kinds of scores are going on,and what they goals are (get money and power). BitD also has “hunting grounds,” which gives specifics for each crew. The Bravos are going to do “battle, extortion, sabotage, and smash & grab.”

We know that the Guardians want to protect, but this goal is akin to “maintain the status quo.” How are they protecting, what are they protect against, and what is the end goal? Maybe it would help to emphasize a goal like “strengthen the community so it can stand on its own.” Then it’s clearer that the types of scores would be gaining power for the community.


thanks for the feedback, that gives me a lot of stuff to consider. i’ve always found hunting grounds to be something that doesn’t come into play often, and may have underestimated its ability to point the players in a fictional direction. My main thoughts are that, as you say, the experience is customizable. Each PC will end up having a personal drive, and a drive chosen within the context of the Crew. My aim is that these drives in combination with the faction relations and exp triggers provide this ‘direction’ through play, in combination with the simple goal of becoming more renowned. But, more specific examples could certainly be helpful. Right now i aim to give every crew a starting situation, but i think you may have just convinced to write at least some kind of list of example jobs, or a table with them.

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I feel the same way about hunting grounds, and I haven’t included them in my have yet. I may include them less as a mechanical device and more as examples. But in my Blades games I’ve never really used them, or even limited scores to them.

It’s been a while, and i’ve been hard at work on all sorts of little bits for the game. Currently my focus is to get a playtestable version with some choices for Crews up and running, but i realized that the question i got the most was; what is this game, really? So i decided that an introduction and principles were important, and i’ve been working on those. Today i finished probably the most important part of the introduction; the setting ‘primer’, or really, the ‘you’re in a haunted victorian city’ bit.

i think it’s worked out pretty well, and i’d love to hear what folks think about it!

In another, relatively small addition that i expect to have a pretty big impact, i’ve made a somewhat simple system to track relationships between NPCs and PCs - character drama being a staple of superhero fiction. This was inspired, of course, by the faction status system, by games such as persona and dragon age, and particularly a conversation on an adam koebel stream about how not a lot of games do this sort of thing. Without further waffling, trust and rivalry:

For some small bonus material on what i’m working on, a preview of what’s quickly becoming my personal favorite crew, the rebels:

side note: these last two having the same chapter number is probably the best metaphor for game design on ADHD i’ve ever seen :joy:

After some good old late-night sudden bursts of energy, i actually have a great summary of my game, and why i think it’s awesome now, and i’m damn happy with that.

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In a small update today (and john kindly assisting with updating the topic at the top), a short but sweet section of rules to encourage more character drama and players throwing their characters into danger.

Hey folks! I’ve completed the playtest version of the game, and am gearing up for it. Right now, i don’t think it’s the best idea to just post it out here for everyone, but if there’s folks who would like to take a look, give some critique, or even playtest it themselves, i’d love to hear from you!

As a sneak peek, the procedure for creating Powers:


After some thinking and lots of tinkering, i’ve decided to post a preview version for all to see.
As mentioned in the document, the game is currently feature but not content-complete, and its aim is to be a playtestable experience for further refinement, and as such does no represent the finished game. Expect many things to change! Basically anything involving numbers, dice, effect, etc. will probably need some balancing, and can be seen as a work in progress. More setting content and several more crew types are also still to come.

I’d be happy to respond to any comments on the document itself or on here, and answer any question that may arive. I’d love to hear what you all think!

Without further ado, the link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1isy6lv8X3N80FozviS4re77QNxxNf4MMrJnnsV7sTKU/edit?usp=sharing

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It’s been a while, and i’ve been somewhat hard-at-work playtesting, which has definitely immediately lit a fire under me to write new rules to fill in places that folks often have questions about. This particular system is something i’ve thought about for a while, which comes from a place of wanting to not just mechanize something, but put it in the players’ hands. That “something” is the interactions of a Crew with Factions - specifically, how “much” it takes for faction statuses to change, and how much the players can call upon their allies, and their enemies interfere with them.

With all this in mind, i’ve created something that i like to think is somewhere between faction status, and something like lightside/darkside points in FFG’s star wars, or Fate points in Fate. The idea being that the crew “builds up” both bad and good “points” with any given faction, which the group as a whole then decide to “spend” - in this way it mechanizes and gives players control of several things in particular: when faction statuses change, when and how friendly facitons help the crew out, and when and how enemy factions interfere with the crew, and how much particular factions get involved in the narrative at all (since there are indirect “bonuses” and “penalties” as well).

Without further ado, here it is - and i’d love to hear some thoughts, critiques, or suggestions!