D.S. al Coda
Coda as the Cover Girl for The Wild Hunt 129
The artist is Jennifer Hawthorne
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Creating a truly original super hero character is hard. When I
first encountered the Hero System I was pleased by the freedom it
allowed in turning one's concept into a playable character in a
detailed rule set. For a few years I was part of a frenzy of
character design at the MIT Strategic Games Society. Before too long,
however, the ruts in the genre and the rules became clear. Character
classes began to develop. The bulk of the characters could fit neatly
into well worn patterns such as brick, flying zapper, gun nut, or
Coda was my last attempt to break the mold. On the surface she is
a martial artist, a lightly armored highly dexterous melee
specialist. The special effect, however, is the ability to see the
immediate future. She has danger sense on 27 or less, so most of the
time by the old rules she knew exactly what was coming. I defined an
N-Ray vision that would allow her to "see" inside closed spaces so
long as there is some way she could possibly look inside that space
in the next few seconds. Then the disadvantages started coming into
play. How could one possibly remember all of the possible things that
might possibly have happened? Her power generated too many memories.
Thus, every night Coda's brain dumps its contents, and Coda starts
the morning with a case of amnesia.
In order to play Coda I had to invent several new verb tenses for
the English language. The most commonly used was the
past-conditional-never happened. For the first several runs, the
group thought I had gone nuts. Nope. I was just in character. My
character was nuts. About the fourth meeting, one of the other
characters scared herself. "I'm starting to understand her."
Coda was my first really successful attempt at playing a truly
alien mind pattern. I'd played Vulcan or Spock level aliens before.
These just exaggerate human traits. They are just skewed versions of
humans, emphasizing a few things, eliminating others. Coda makes
decisions based on a sense humans do not possess. Her values are
warped by the idea that each day, and each alternate time line within
that day, is an entirely different person. At one level she is a
comic relief character, but at another she's... she's... well...
After playing Coda for several months, I developed a real world
theory that electrons only orbit atoms at certain frequencies because
they are interfering with alternate versions of themselves existing
in parallel alternate time lines. Until I'd run Coda, quantum
mechanics hadn't made sense. Since running Coda, I'm a big fan of
Many Worlds Theory. As I said, either Coda or I had gone nuts.
The Original Introduction : The bulk of these
pages were originally printed in The Wild Hunt 129 back in 1987. My
feature that month was on Coda, a super hero character from Glenn
Blacow's "Defenders" campaign. This is an off line game based on
Champions super hero combat rules.
Diary and Operating Instructions : You wake
up in the morning with a case of total amnesia. Fortunately, you do
this every morning. Your diary will explain what to do.
Coda by Champions : If you are familiar
with Hero System combat mechanics, this will make sense. It describes
how to purchase Coda for 300 points under version 3 rules.
Joy and Coda : Distinguishing story telling
games from role playing games, and the perils of running alien