The Endless Thread of Sub-plots and Adventure Padding!

Here M&M GMs can trade tips and seek inspiration. Look out for SPOILERS! Players, surf elsewhere or ruin your own fun.
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nighthunter
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The Endless Thread of Sub-plots and Adventure Padding!

Postby nighthunter » Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:47 pm

I've found that the adventures I run rarely last the full 4 hour session, partly because super hero battles tend to be climactic you don't need to have as many as a D&D session.
The lack of Dungeons also helps in this case.

With that in mind I've found that means I can really explore character histories, or just throw interesting side stories at the players to extend the length of the game and keep everything interesting. Yet I am just one man, so in with that in mind everyone hop on and start listing sub-plots people can add to their M&M games.

1. Papers Please
For: Alien Heroes or heroes with questionable status as citizens.
Premise: The Immigration Agency of the hero's country are beginning to wonder at the legality of the hero's citizenry status. Can a hero uphold law and order if they can't even obey immigration laws?
Outcomes and Rewards: If the hero starts the process of becoming a legal citizen of their adopted country they get a hero point. Elsewise if they avoid the complication (via hacking or some other trickery) then they don't get a hero point but don't get deported either.

2. It Followed Me Home!
For: Young hero or Irresponsible Hero
Premise: In the middle of a battle in the middle of the city a puppy is threatened by one of the villains. If the hero rescues the puppy he finds later that the little dog follows him home. The dog is in fact following him everywhere, to superhero fights, on dates even to the Bathroom!
Outcomes and Rewards: The dog is just a harmless puppy and a little training (aka Handle Animal check or appropriate power) might fix the problem, but its good for some Hero points in the mean time. Or perhaps the dog is a cybernetic spy created by the nefarious Dr. Zoo who plans on killing hundreds of people with his atomic death puppies! Either way should be fun.

3. I Can't Fight You Now! My Grandma is sick!
For: Any Hero with family.
Premise: A family member has a life threatening illness and just the hero comes upon the cure the climax of the main story occurs. Will the hero heed the needs of the city? Or will he take the time to try to save his loved one? Find out next time in YOUR GAME!
Outcomes and Rewards: If the hero decides to help his fellow heroes and hopes his family member will be fine then constantly remind him of the ticking clock, have someone close call him during the most dangerous part of the battle all to remind him of his responsibility to his family (then start throwing hero points at them for putting the needs of thousands of strangers in front of his own family). If the opposite occurs then amp the challenge to the other players up, cut back and forth between the violent and dangerous climax and the hero on the way to the hospital, then at the hospital, then trying to administer the cure, then hoping to see some result. Then throw the hero points around vicariously as the hero desperately tries to reach his team mates in time...
"What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!" -H.P. Lovecraft

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Postby Funkadelic » Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:47 am

4. And Who Do You Think You're Supposed to Be?

For: An adult hero that is well established in their city.
Premise: The hero discovers that a young person has taken up a similar theme as them and dubbed themselves "kid hero" (or whatever). The kid claims to be the hero's sidekick, and after beating up street thugs starts trying to get into the hero's major battles.
Outcome and Rewards: If the hero convinces the kid that a hero's life is to dangerous for an adolescent, the hero gets a hero point. If the hero acts like a jerk, or ignores the kid the kid gets hurt or killed based on the style of the game. The hero may also elect to train the adolescent in the responsible use of their powers. The adolescent can either become a sidekick straight out, or the kid could have to prove they "have what it takes" before becoming the heroes protoge.


5. Why Don't We Go Dancing Like We Used To?

For: Married or otherwise romantically involved heroes.
Premise: The hero's significant other is becoming concerned about the hero's frequent flakiness, disappearances, and lame excuses. After trying to put the spark back in their relationship, the SO believes that the hero is cheating on them and starts to follow the hero around secretly to catch him in the act.
Outcome and Rewards: If the hero successfully maintains the relationship (by coming up with a good excuse, or coming clean, or whatever the player thinks up) they get a hero point. If not...well...there are other fish in the sea. Or if the GM is feeling particularly spiteful, the jilted SO could find out the hero's secret identity and somehow use it against them (blackmail, going insane for being lied to and becoming a villain, or just teasing the hero with the idea that she/he might know to make up for all the lies).

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Postby Rubber Baron » Fri Oct 19, 2007 10:50 am

re #5

In a campaign I was running I had a PC who was a power suit hero who had DNPC, Wife (Champions game some years ago). Naturally, the wife never came up in the games. Until I had her poke around when he was off saving the world for a couple of months (interstellar adventure) and she found one of his earlier battlesuits.

Our Hero came home to find the newpapers full of the exploits of "Blaster Girl," his wife.

6. While you Were Out
A hero or heroes are taken away into another dimension, across the sea of stars, locked up in a supervillain cell, whatever, for several months. What is waiting for him when he gets home? What is waiting for the whole team? Has the mortgage been foreclosed on their homes? On their base? Has the landlord moved in another tenant? Have their loved ones stuck around, or moved on?
Something like that could keep a whole team of heroes busy for a year or two.
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Postby kipling » Fri Oct 19, 2007 11:03 am

7. But I thought you were dead!
For: An adult hero who has "died" or been away for a long time.
Premise: The hero has been declared dead.
Outcome and Rewards: There's a lot of paperwork in coming back from the dead. And of course there are all the relationships that the hero had before--they don't just magically reassert themselves...people move on, get grief counselling (and if the counsellor happens to be a supervillain in his spare time, heck), and find new loves. It can shake everything up.
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Postby Minister » Fri Oct 19, 2007 2:52 pm

8. Not you as well!
For: An established hero.
Premise: Not all vendettas are well timed. Whilst in the middle of an unrelated mission of great import, a past villain returns to wreak his revenge. He may be utterly ignorant of the main plot or have been duped into acting as a distraction, possibly in exchange for help in escaping and/or some sort of reward.
Outcome and Rewards: Getting side-tracked now may well give the main villain time to prepare a better reception for the hero(es) and/or progress with his diabolical plan. If the subject of the vendetta uses the phrase "It's my fight, leave him to me" or some variation thereof, he gets a bonus hero point.

9. No Quarter! No Survivors!
For: Any hero(es) worthy of the name.
Premise: During a sprawling battle the villain and/or his henchmen and/or minions start gunning down innocent civilians or brutally executing redshirts orother supporting cast members who have been knocked out.
Outcome and Rewards: Saving others at the expense of the mission gets a Hero Point, but allows the villain to complete his objective (which may well gain them enemies in high places and/or disdain for not being able to make the tough choices. Completing the mission while ignoring the surrounding slaughter does nothing for the heroes' image, but similarly ruthless characters (whether government or vigilante) may approach them. Those who both stop the villain and complete the mission get Hero Points, an improved reputation for themselves and possibly a bonus power point at the end of the mission, while those who fail on both counts get nothing but ridicule.

10. Unexpected Help
For: Any world with more than one group of heroes.
Premise: Another hero or hero team arrives on the scene. Depending on the GM's whim these may be either capable reinforcements for a team that's starting to look likely to loose a big fight, grandstanding jerks who steal the glory or hopelessly outmatched amateurs in need of rescue.
Outcome and rewards: Saving amateurs gives an extra hero point. Having another team steamroller over them may either bring the PCs down a notch or leave them embittered. Taking the intervention in good grace and working together with the newcomers should give help to call on if things get desperate in the future.

11. But we did it standing up!
For: A hero whose morals and precautions are not what they should be.
Premise: A previous romantic liaison has generated an unexpected outcome. The character or the character's partner/ex/one-night-stand/whatever (as appropriate) is pregnant or appears after a long absence (at least nine months barring altered or inhuman biology) with child in tow. The matter may be complicated if the parents' mutant/magical/alien powers have resulted in a child that isn't quite (or at all) human.
Outcome: Depending on how this plays out one or more of a whopper of a new Complication, legal hounding, a screaming row which leads to the hero's identity and/or other secrets being splashed all over the papers, new adventures as Super Tyke begins causing problems...the possibilities are endless

12. Turncoat (A)
For: Heroes involved in long-running battles with an enemy organisation
Premise: An enemy agent wishes to defect. His motives may vary (fear of his superiors, fear of defeat by the heroes, attack of conscience, greed) as may his status (from paper pusher to trusted lieutenant),but he has valuable information/technology/other to share in return for safe extraction.
Outcome and Rewards:A full-blown rescue mission makes for an episode by itself, and should be treated accordingly. Rescuing the turncoat during another mission is good for a hero point reward. The benefit of what he takes with him is up to the GM.

13. Turncoat (B)
For: Heroes with extensive support behind them
PremiseOne of your followers has gone over to the enemy willingly. No, it's not mind control, an alien shapeshifter or an alternate reality doppelganger.
Outcome and RewardsIf not stopped in time the traitor can leak all sorts of information, potentially activating any number of Drawbacks or complications.

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Postby JackGiantkiller » Fri Oct 19, 2007 3:25 pm

I'm afraid i'm just going to have to steal these ideas,a s I don't feel very inspired, right now.

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Postby Minister » Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:15 pm

14. Vendetta
For: Established heroes
Premise: An old foe has returned, the foul villain who dropped your girlfriend off a bridge/threw a building on you and left you for dead/kicked your puppy/whatever. Either the villain is a part of the main plot (henchman or mastermind) or he/she is a complete tangent to what you should (by all rights) be doing.
[Outcome and Rewards: The first option adds a little extra motivation to a fight scene, but if the hero ends up going off alone to face a past foe this could effectively be handled as a short adventure of its own.

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Postby Funkadelic » Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:17 am

15. Join Us At Eleven...

For: Established heroes with some privacy.
Premise: Ripped from the pages of Superman. An enterprising scientist develops robotic cameras that are able to follow the hero around even at super speeds. Selling them to the Papparazzi the cameras follow the hero at every super battle, meetings, the bathroom, and you can just forget about a secret identity.
Outcome and Rewards: The hero either accepts the new status quo or finds a way to maintain his privacy. A hero point for the complication, and whatever public relation change happens depending on how the hero reacted.

16. Leave Me Alone!
For: Established Heroes
Premise: Inspired from a Spiderman story, an average citizen is convinced that the hero is stalking them and has decided to stop taking it. A restraining order has been filed, a lawsuit is in progress, and the media is all over it. The hero of course hasn't, but the civilian has some compelling evidence. All this, with the villain of the week terrorizing the city.
Outcomes and Reward: Hero point is the hero deals with the complication. Maybe a restraining order, it really depends on how the whole thing is handled.

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Postby mattador » Sun Nov 11, 2007 3:54 pm

17. Black Death
For: Regenerating Heroes
Premise: After exposure to radiation or a radioactive villain, the hero has contracted cancer, and because of her accelerated cellular regeneration it is rapidly spreading through her body. The only way to treat the hero is to nullify her regeneration powers, then undergo massive surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, then restore her powers hopefully before she dies.

Outcome: Lots of opportunities for follow-up hero points in later adventures. Villains could get hold of the method for nullifying her regeneration. Or the power loss could last for a few adventures. Or, the cancerous regenerative tissue forms into a new life form that looks like the hero, but exists only to mindlessly attack her (new arch-enemy).

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Postby Soul of Memory » Sun Nov 11, 2007 5:22 pm

Re: #11

There's a fanfic I found which details something like this.

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3486673/1/
Evil never dies, but neither does good.

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Postby kipling » Mon Nov 12, 2007 1:24 am

18. I knew him, Horatio...

For: Any hero with a secret identity and a good reputation.
Premise: Someone the hero has never known has died, and left the hero (in his or her real name) $1 and other effects. After the oddly-attended funeral, the hero discovers that the dead person was a superhero or supervillain, and other effects means hideouts, costumes, trophies, and probably enemies.
Outcome and Rewards: It's one way of giving stuff to a hero, and it can lead to a host of complications. Suppose someone was at the funeral and gets interested in the hero or heroes that went--or someone is interested in the dead super, and wants something; the trophies might be a link to something interesting too--perhaps an old cell-mate wants a bit of information hidden there. Old (retired) supervillains may be planning to steal trophies to sell the technology involved, hoping to get the money for the inventions to live off (it's hell being old!).
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Postby Conor » Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:39 am

19. New Buddy, or new Problem?

For: Any hero or heroes whose methods aren't terribly extreme/bloody.
Premise: The hero/heroes are fighting a tough battle and they are helped out by a new arrival in town. The new arrival uses far bloodier methods and depending on your themes in the game this new person may even kill.
Outcomes and Rewards: Do the heroes want to try to redeem this possibly unstable "hero"? Or do they want to bring him to justice? A hero point if they bring him in. Possibility for continuing hero points if they persist in trying to help this new hero get it together and take on more reasonable methods.
If the heroes ever manage to help this character to become a more reasonable, together hero, they should each get a bonus power point too.

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Postby mattador » Wed Nov 14, 2007 8:13 pm

20. Precog Vs. Postcog

For: Any hero with postcognition

Premise: The heroes are investigating a serial killer that is targeting heroes/metahumans. When the postcog arrives and uses his power to witness the crime, he sees an incredibly powerful killer rending the meta to pieces. Immediately after finishing him off, the killer looks and points directly at the postcog and says "You are next..."

Outcomes: Well, this never got resolved in my home game (in which it was Centurion who had his spine ripped out...) Ten adventures later, when the killer re-emerged and apparently possessed the postcog's daughter and attacked him, he immediately teleported away leaving his daughter behind. Even a precog serial killer couldn't see that one coming...

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Postby nighthunter » Wed Nov 14, 2007 8:40 pm

Man Precog vs. Postcog is just pure awesome, it'd make an awesome film or limited series concept. *brain burst*

Not Just A Dream
For: Any Character with an official Archenemy.
Premise: The Character has recurring dreams with bizarre imagery, that apparently makes no sense. The dream always ends the same with their arch-nemesis strapped into an electric chair, bleeding from the eyes crying: "Save Me"
Outcomes: Depends on how you want to play this out.
Option 1: The dreams are sent by The Powers That Be, they require that the hero's archnemesis be rehabilitated. Heroes who attempt to do so will gain a hero point every time they make a positive step towards rehabilitating their enemy.
Option 2: Someone is screwing with the hero, the archnemesis has hired a powerful psychic villain to throw the hero off balance. Each time the hero faces their archnemesis they have psychic flashbacks resulting in a -3 penalty to attack rolls and opposed skill checks vs the villain. They receive a hero point each time this complication comes into effect.
Option 3: The villain is in actual danger, and is literally asking the hero for help, its up to the GM how the villain got into the hero's dreams but the villain knows that unless the hero shows up their goose is cooked. This might be an excellent way to set up a more dangerous and powerful archnemesis for a hero.
"What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!" -H.P. Lovecraft

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Postby mattador » Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:32 pm

Just wanted to bump this up because I really like the idea of this thread. One of the things I love about M&M is because combat tends to run faster you can spend more time on character development and sub-plots. Unfortunately I've got nothing to add right now, it's been a while since I ran M&M, but if anyone has some adventure padding to throw out there I'd love to mine this thread for nuggets of gold....


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