D.S. al Coda

Coda as the Cover Girl for The Wild Hunt 129
The artist is Jennifer Hawthorne

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 combat system. 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 would fit neatly into well worn patterns such as brick, flying zapper, gun nut, or marital artist.

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 Klingon 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... Coda.

After playing Coda for several months, I developed a 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. Possibly both...

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 characters.