So, I have been thinking about what I could do with a MHRP game if I could sign up some players. As ideas fermented in my brain, the following elements blended: the super villain Arcade (see also here) (and various Murderworld stories, as well as the old MSH module of the same name); several Justice League Unlimited episodes ("The Cat and the Canary", "Grudge Match"), and episode of Wolverine and the X-Men ("Hunting Grounds") and throw in The Hunger Games and what do I come up with?
Welcome to The Murder Games!
Arcade, with a cross-dimensional distribution and syndication deal brokered with Mojo, has set up a new environment for the amusement of the masses and the murder of superheroes. This 21st Century Arcade is all about blending the time honored entertainment of built environments designed to kill you with the hot new trend of reality TV. Add to that, the hottest literary property about a dystopian future (now a major motion picture) and you have the ingredients for a show to hit #1 on the Mojo network and be terrifically amusing for the master of deathtraps.
And may the odds be always in HIS favor.
But wait, wouldn't people object to Acade trespessing on this intellectual property? Of course they would, so of course he has thought of that. And that's why he has the author and the main cast of the film detained and awaiting certain death, unless the heroes put on a VERY GOOD SHOW. Heck, he might also even have a few of the books biggest fans on hand, just in case there is one or two of the heroes who get stubborn.
So, what might be the initial set up?
The environment is going to be very manipulable, with Arcade's stats often providing the dice pools, and in other cases provided by the Doom Pool. Of course there are cameras everywhere and trackers on the heroes. Of course, clever heroes may figure out how to fool the cameras, lose the trackers, or turn the technology against the villains.
Of course, maybe Arcade has, for round 1, a set of villains, perhaps some who broke out of the Raft, to compete against the heroes. Whilte the heroes may have no moral problem beating the paste out of the escapees, at some point, Arcade is going to do something like put a gun to the head of a hostage and insist that the hero finish the job.
Now, to really mess with things, some of the hostages and some of the villains are probably Life Model Doubles, Androids, reprogrammed Doombots, or something. However, as soon as a hero feels like it is safe to kill an opponent or to allow a hostage to die, well then that is likely going to be a real person.
Of course the environment will also produce deadly challenges. Arcade has probably, inspired by the movie (he might not do much reading) recreated the Tracker jackers (cause, ya know, they're fun), as well as having things like velociraptors and maybe a T-rex or whatever seems fun to try to mess with the heroes. And Arcade can probably do things to help them on the fly, like make the T-Rex firebreathing or whatnot.
Round 2 may be not against villains, but instead against captured heroes (with a little Mojo brainwashing perhaps), and maybe or maybe not there are some androids, robots, whatnot interspersed, but heroes are going to have to worry not only about surviving and taking out the opposition, but also figuring out if they are fighting a person or a copy. And what to do with the real heroes, and what to do when Arcade demands a death ("or else the sequel won't get made with this actress . . . ")
WIth these first two rounds, heroes may be able to win freedom for hostages or other concessions by winning challenges (arbitrarily made up by Arcade) or perhaps be appealing to sponsors or the audience ("text interdimensional 662 if you want Captain America to get to choose a hostage to free").
Round 3, then is the single elimination round. Time for the heroes to fight each other (or the Girl Scout troop gets it, or some such thing). There the rubber really meets the road. Will Arcade demand death? Will Mojo insist that a contestant needs to be able to return for next season? Can the heroes phone a freind? Lots of possibilities.
Of course, what the players will be trying to figure out is how to get to where Arcade is, so they can beat the paste out of him. They may also want to try inflicting emotional trauma on him by facing him down, acting in a way that thwarts him, but wins audience approval. Etc. This is still unformed, but I would expect the arena is in a bubble in some controlled pocket of a dangerous environment (the deep sea, space, under the earth, in Antarctica, etc.) Breaking out is going to be hard and dangerous and possible fruitless unless the heroes can carefully manage things.
I am opposed to the idea of having the control room right next to the arena, cause that is just to easy. However, there might need to be interdimensional or teleportation portals, and there may by some physical conduit. I would be flexible in letting the heroes try to come up with a way to manage things without it being too silly.
I see this events milestones as something like as follows:
Welcome to the Murder Games
1 xp Inflict trauma on an opponent.
3 xp inflict d12 trauma on an opponent
10 xp agree to kill an opponent or refuse to kill an opponent allowing a hostage to be killed
This is a pretty dark scenario idea (really, I'm a very nice guy), but given the trend in Marvel (Secret Avengers, Dark X-Men, X-Force, etc.) it fits into a corner of that multiverse. The main thing that Arcade and Mojo want is a "good show." While Arcade would love to wipe out some heroes (and may have side contracts to do so), he is not above have subbed in a LMD or clone, or something to torture the heroes into thinking they have killed someone or allowed someone to die, but then, it was all just part of the twisted "fun house" that Arcade loves to create. After all, you have to bring people back to see next season!
Also, further plot hooks would involve tracking down Arcades ties, customers, and bases. Further, doing some dimension hopping after Mojo, his minions and "entertainment" holdings. It is likely that the heroes are but one of many teams being put through this hell. Maybe there are more people or heroes, or even villains to rescue? Maybe Arcade and Mojo are really diversifying. Heck with Sauron gone, maybe it's "And this week on Murder Games - The Savage Land, we have a mutate versus SHIELD grudge match. Who will emerge victorious?" or, "We've always wanted to know, who would win, Iron Fist or 500 Hand Ninjas? Well, this week, we find out on Murdergames, The Amazing Chase!"
Just a few ideas. Hopefully, I get to form them up and run with them. However, I throw them out because I'd be happy if someone beat me to it and got some play in with these ideas as well.
May the odds be ever in your favor.