On Über in Gaming

I bought some comics.

I haven't bought comics in a long time, because the books are heavy and take up a lot of space. Comixology to the rescue.

Some interesting tidbits, before I get to the actual gameable content of Über. My vision has made reading actual real comics difficult lately. I had trouble on my recent Sandman re-read, and am having a hell of a time making it through Fire Upon a Velvet Horizon (which I am still reading, slowly but surely).

Guided view is a savior. The panels are huge and presented in a cinematic manner. I can see the damn text. It's like reading a movie. The only paper comics I'll every buy again are those I wish as coffee table books or want to read with my daughter.

I also learned that there was a "Huge Controversy!" over the leading online comic retailer and their decision to remove in-app purchasing on iOS device. The response from the public was astoundingly hostile. This was fascinating for me for several reasons. The decision was really the only option for the company, and yet they completely failed to consider how it would feel to anyone who hadn't been sitting in meetings with them for six months.

I mean, it makes sense. 100% sense. They don't produce content. They are a literal storefront that has to give 30% of their profits to apple if they sell anything via itunes. The decision, based on when it happened and how long these things take, must have been in place long before Amazon finalized their purchase of the company. There really weren't any other choices for them as a merchant.

Their spectacular inability to have anyone even consider what this looks like to a customer outside their ecosystem is also telling. There are fewer people involved in creative projects (books, comics) then in other fields (say, Healthcare or Government) which makes it more obvious that everyone involved is a unprofessional f---up.

Every field is primarily composed of minimally competent people. You have to reach a certain threshold of people involved (i.e. movies) to present the appearance of stability. At this level you can slightly prevent everyone recognizing that no one in the whole world has any damn idea what they are doing. Most people are too dumb and self-centered to notice. No. I mean that literally, the average I.Q. is 100, and half of all people are below that, by definition.


You see that U with the umlaut? That's what I'm talking about when I say professionalism.

First, Über is good. It holds a place in my mind as a structural description of a real weapon. It rests, solid, and unmoving. The reality it presents has weight in my mind. The conceit is that Germany didn't lose World War II, but got a superhuman program running in time to stop the allied advance.

It's written by one Kieron Gillian. He writes a page or two at the end of every issue. I find it notable that until the runaway success of his comic, he had a day job. I think people are pretty ignorant of the fact that everyone but the very most successful creatives has to work a day job. Vernor Vinge worked as a professor nearly the whole time he was writing books, and he was one of the most popular and influential writers of the last decade. Very, very few creatives aren't supported by a significant other or work a day job. This is why Patreon is such a revolution. (ahem).

The other fact I found interesting is that he spends an awful lot of time vexing about whether it's "moral" to write the story. Is there somewhere in the world a Nazi cheering the fact that germany didn't lose? What would happen if there was?! Can I tell this story? What if someone gets the wrong idea?

First, I'll say that the portrayal of the principles is brilliant, accurate, and complex. Hitler is crazy. Gobbels is craven and arrogant and apocalyptic by turns. Churchill is a functioning alcoholic. War is presented as senseless, massively violent, and surreal. As an artist (in the sense of creator, Caanan White draws the comic), Kieron glorified nothing and no one.

And yet, at the end of every chapter, there he is, spending 1,000+ words trying to defend his representation of World War II.

Look. If someone out there is a Nazi, and they cheer because the germans developed an Übermensch in some comic, then that person is an idiot because they are a fsking nazi. Fascism is the worst.

The Worst.


Where does this leave us for our role-playing game? Somewhere pretty awesome.

So alien crystals react with 1 in 5000 people to produce a superhuman. A superhuman basically has two slots. A standard activation produces a Hero with improved height, strength, toughness, speed and endurance, along with a halo effect that functions as an energy weapon. They discover during the course of their research that the activation can be tweaked. Both glasses can be filled with halo focused energy, producing a normal strength human with a vastly more powerful halo, or both can be filled with strength, producing a vastly more strong, tough, and large unit with limited to no halo energy.

There are also more rare individuals (called Battleships) that contain 24 activations, and there are only 5 so far in the entire comic. Later they discover people with 6 and 12 activations (called cruisers and destroyers). We aren't concerned with that right now.

The three types of troops, The Panzermensch with one activation of each, the Blitzmenschen with two energy activations and the Tank men with two physical activations. These form a rock-paper-scissors relationship within the story. The Panzermensch can destroy the non-physically enhanced Blitzmenschen, the Tank men can tear apart the Panzermench, but the Blitzmenschen can blast a Tankman to shreds.

You can, of course, introduce these strange red crystals, a pile of dead owlbears, and one very angry super owlbear to your players for a great encounter, or use the introduction of this to change the dynamic of your campaign. Much like magical drow weaponry, it is useful as a tool that can power up your opponents, but give nothing of benefit to your players.


  • Double the hit dice of the creature (for all purposes, including to hit). 
  • Grant AC 4 or +4 to AC, whichever is better. 
  • Grant +2 hit points per hit die. 
  • Gain DR 2/—
  • Evasion: Target takes 1/2 damage from a successful spell or attack (such as a halo blast, lightning bolt, or fireball) and no damage on a successful save.
  • The dice of the targets melee attack are doubled, and it gains a +2 bonus to hit and damage.
  • Increase speed by +50%
  • At will the creature can activate a halo. While active, the creature can make a 6d8 energy attack against any targets within 30 feet. They can split this attack between as many targets as they wish, assigning as many dice as they wish to any target, not to exceed 6d8. Save for half damage.


  • Gains no physical enhancements. 
  • At will, the creature can activate a halo. While active, the creature can make a 24d10 energy attack against any target in line of sight. They can split this attack between as many targets as they wish, assigning as many dice as they wish to any target, not to exceed 24d10 total. Save for half damage.

Tank Men

  • Quadruple the hit dice of the creature (for all purposes, including to hit).
  • Grant AC -2 or +8 to AC, whichever is better.
  • Grant +6 hit points per hit die.
  • Gain DR 4/—
  • Double land speed.
  • The dice of the targets melee attack are quadrupled and it gains a +4 bonus to hit and damage.
  • At will the creature can active a halo. While active, the creature can make a 3d6 energy attack against any target in melee range.

Any target who has an active halo, and suffers a called shot to the eye (-10 to hit head AC) must save versus death or die. After the first turn (10 rounds) of activation, the halo has a 1% cumulative chance per minute while active of rupturing and killing the user. This can only be reset by a full 12 hours of rest.

Hack & Slash 
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  1. You Courtney, if you are having trouble with the FotVH text then if you like I can send you the original files. You can put them on a reader and enlarge as and how you wish. Drop me a line non G+ or emal me if you want them.

    1. That was meant to read 'Yo Courtney'. Now it just sounds like an accusation.

    2. That's okay. If your avatar is any indication, you were clearly suffering from a splitting headache.

  2. Comixology knew about and suffered the 30% since day 1. I suspect it didn’t hurt them that badly, and it brought them a lot of business they would not have otherwise had. Although it probably isn’t 30%, they had and still have similar deals with brick & mortar comic book shops to provide them an online store-front. I believe some of their competition still have in-app purchase as well, so it seems there is enough margin to make it doable.

    Not that I think that justifies the outrage. It is what it is. If I was going to complain about it, I’d be saying that Apple needs to find a way to charge resellers less.

    I personally find it a very positive change because it means I go to my FLCS’s online Comixology store-front to buy. So the cut, whatever it is, goes to them instead of Apple. Which I think is a good change.


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