Friday, December 28, 2012

Prototype - Part III - My Dear Sister

Screenshot of Dana Mercer, from the Prototype Wiki.
This is the third in my Game Story Reboot series regarding Prototype (2009).

Here's Part I -  Missed Opportunities, and Part II - King Of The Gods.  Remember the goal - to take the framework of the story in Prototype and make it actually worth experiencing.

Dana Mercer, in the original Prototype, is a major missed opportunity.  She is the first sympathetic person Zeus comes across.  She says that she and Alex hadn’t spoken in five years when he turned up a few months previous to the events of the game and asked her to start looking into GenTek.  She provides some leads for Zeus to follow up on. She’s then kidnapped by Elizabeth Greene and rescued by Zeus, but remains unconscious and out of the picture for the rest of the game.


We’re going to keep only  one thing: Alex and she hadn’t spoken in five years. From there on, what we have is new.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jason's Bookshelf - The 19th Century Year By Year

If you want to do your own year-by-year trek through the 19th century, Wikipedia has a good timeline, but the real delight is in seeing how people saw the 19th century just immediately after it ended. So here's A History of the 19th Century, Year By Year by Edwin Emerson, et. seq. It's free on Google Books.

#WoDHistorical - 1801-1850

On my twitter feed, I've been doing a #WoDHistorical hashtag that gives one campaign idea for every year in the nineteenth century. You can follow me there if you're interested. So this will be the first of two blogposts where I collect and summarize these campaign hooks.  Enjoy the first fifty.

And remember, these are 140-character ideas. If they involve marginalized people or sensitive subjects, please treat them with way more research, involvement and respect than 140 characters can convey, right? Right.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Prototype - Part II - King of the Gods

Promotional image of Alex Mercer
So it's been over a year since I started looking at my Prototype story reboot. Whoops!  These posts do take a while to put together. Hope you haven't forgotten what I said earlier.

In our re-imagining of Prototype, we have to begin with the progenitor, Alex Mercer.  Mercer, who released the virus, is the template for Zeus, the viral being that the player controls throughout the game and the cause of the crisis in New York City.

The Prototype Wiki, and several reviews, attempted to convince me that Alex was the antagonist of the game, and Zeus the protagonist. This is a mind-blowingly good idea - it would have made a great game.  But it just isn’t true in Prototype as-it-is.  Alex's plans are not still in motion. Alex's actions do not have any particular consequences during the game other than the spreading of the plague, which is more a biological inevitability than part of something Alex wanted.  To make Alex Mercer an antagonist, he has to have a goal that’s still achievable even in the event of a viral outbreak, otherwise he's simply not a threat, nor even really relevant to what Zeus is trying to do.

Let's remake Alex.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some Black Seven Play Aids

Split Screen mode of the Co-op campaign. Arche...
Snake? SNAAAAAAAoh, it's not Snake. It's Archer and Kestrel from SC: Conviction's awesome co-op mode.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Are you playing the amazing Black Seven from Zero Point Information?  Probably not, you aren't that cool.  It's a stealth action game based on exceptional games like Splinter Cell, Thief and Metal Gear Solid. I've talked about it on the podcast before and finally put a game together of it on Friday. Woot!

In preparation, I created a character sheet, some status cards (which can and will be flipped numerous times during the game), and a Threat Level sheet that reminds players what happens at each threat level. I'm going to use a playing card to vividly display the Threat Level. Of course, I'll use the techno-thrill-filled cyberpunk card deck The Grid, which I recently got from Kickstarter.


The Black Seven Character Sheet.

The Black Seven Status Cards.

The Black Seven Threat Level display page.

All sheets are in PDF.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A new campaign begins! CHIMERA and Champions Villains

Champions Villains Vol. 2 CoverSo my last campaign never really caught fire. I didn't have a clear picture of the setting and didn't really know where the game was going to go.  I did a mini-campaign of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, which was a disaster in some interpersonal ways (though it accomplished what I selfishly needed - to learn the system well enough to write for it (woot)), and then we took two months off because we were missing some players and I needed a break. In that time, I put together a new campaign, then we sat down and made characters for it.

It's interesting what my group picks up on.  Everyone was excited by the Avengers movie this summer, and I felt it was exactly the sort of entertainment I wanted an action game to have as the center.  Yet when I tried to push them to think of their characters' backstories as "origin movies", complete with a change to their character and internal and external difficulties that were faced, the reactions ranged from meh to resistant.  "Let's just do that in the game." said one.  The problem with that approach is that we needed to have stronger character connections to keep the team together, and that only really happens with strong characterization.  My group is very creative and is "up for anything", any crazy idea Jason has, they're willing to jump in on, but it didn't really catch fire the way I hoped it would.

In order to get the game on track quickly without overwhelming them with re-learning the system in a dire situation, I used one of the villain teams from Champions Villains Vol. 2: Villain Teams.  The Brain Trust.

The Brain Trust is created by a brain in a jar, consists of a giant gorilla, a cat-girl, a ninja and a zombie. We literally are talking about every possible cliché that could exist in a comic book.  And the nice thing about the Brain Trust is that they can be anything from serious dangers to, as I used them, slightly offbeat weirdos.

Champions has been a game I've never really enjoyed.  Calculating the exact amount that a superhero can lift has always seemed pointless to a long-time comics fan who knows that everything about a character can only last until the next artist and writer and editor.  (This is also why I don't mind superhero movie reboots/reimaginings and think the worst thing about comics is a slavish adherence to the "continuous story that lasts literally forever" model.)  However, with thirty years of development behind it, Champions has created a world that's exceptionally thorough and has an enormous amount of creativity.  One of the greatest superhero supplements of all time, San Angelo, began life as a Champions supplement.  (Though its current version is much more, and will be the subject of a future tongue bath, I MEAN REVIEW, from me.)  Many other exceptionally good materials have been produced for this line over the years, and even if, like me, the whole concept of sitting down and writing not just a Champions character, but a whole Champions campaign, fills you with dread, it has some amazing stuff.

Villains Vol. 2 contains upwards of 300 individual villains, but also goes into their team resources, goals, gives a few example capers, and details their often tangled internal politics.  (But don't ask me to explain why Mind Slayer dresses like that.)

I've had a good time with Champions Online too, a MMORPG that's been free-to-play for a few years now.  It certainly made me smile when I mind-blasted some characters that I recognized from the books.

The opening scenario was a bank robbery that threatened to turn bad, as Ape-Plus and his mini-gun were in the main lobby with most of the hostages.  Fortunately they had not counted on the forces of CHIMERA arriving to save the day. I made it easy and straightfoward, and only threw in a couple of twists at the end.

Hero Games' electronic offerings are expensive, but to be honest, I feel they're of a quality that might very well justify it. They're all searchable, indexed, bookmarked, and exceptionally thorough.  

And here's some Milestones related to the Brain Trust that you might use in your game!

1 XP - When you battle, investigate or otherwise oppose the Brain Trust.

3 XP - When you wreck one of the Overbrain's laboratories or significantly drain them of important resources, including ending some of the more catastrophic plans.

10 XP - When you break up the Brain Trust team by breaking the loyalty of an underling, taking that loyalty for yourself, or turn one of the Overbrain's technologies into a new consumer good.


5 XP - Overbrain's previous personality comes to the fore and provides you with some assistance in trying to defeat his own plans.

5 XP - Lynx's conscience causes her to struggle with her genetic loyalty, giving her the complication Chemically Uncertain at d8 for any Action Scene of your choice.

5 XP - The animal (or undead) side of various members of the Brain Trust begin to come to the fore.  This causes them to go off-plan and attaches the It's A Zoo In Here! Scene Distinction to the chaotic scene.

5 XP  - A member of Lynx's family begins to suspect what happened to her and comes forward with the information.

5 XP - Mr. Zombie's family recognizes him from TV and comes forward.

10 XP - Mr. Zombie turns on the Overbrain after his investigation into his life is put off one too many times.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Arizona Initiative

Whoops - I forgot to update here with my last Cinco de Marvel setting, the Arizona Initiative.  This playset came about because I was trying to come up with a modern politically conservative superhero who wasn't a parody.  It was hard!  But I think I did it.  I also did a "How to Use" post that you can access from the top of the tumblr. Enjoy!

The Arizona Initiative.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinco de Marvel: What's So Great About SHIELD Anyway?

For Cinco de Marvel weekend, I have created five campaigns for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.  Enjoy.

What's So Great About SHIELD Anyway?

The Church Committee investigated intelligence agency
corruption in the United States in 1975.
Although we are always attracted to the superspy mythos, in the real world, intelligence organizations are often unaccountable and poorly supervised, leading to corruption and resistance to reform.  We imagine that we would be James Bonds and Nick Furies - in reality, we create Aldrich Ameses, take advantage of mentally ill informants and stumble into UN conferences with exaggerated photographs.

So let's create an adventurous way to question the superspy approach, within the context of the Marvel Universe.

Cinco de Marvel: The Montesi Files

For Cinco de Marvel, I'm creating five complete campaigns for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

Dracula (Marvel Comics)
Dracula (Marvel Comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Montesi Files

For a considerable period in Marvel history, there were no vampires - they had all been destroyed through the use of the Montesi Formula, an occult ritual that eliminated all vampires from Earth.  The exceptions were weird hybrids or near-vampires, but true vampires like Dracula were gonesville.  These days, of course, vampires are returning, but this campaign is set during the days when no vampires walked the earth - in fact, it is set right after the Montesi Formula was used.

In the real world, the comics involving the use of the Montesi Formula were in the 1970s, and setting it then would be fine, and very stylish, but I want to urge another possibility.  The game should be set in the late 1980s, as perestroika and glasnost sweep the setting of the campaign, Eastern Europe.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco de Marvel: The War At Home

For Cinco de Marvel, I am writing five full-sized campaigns for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. They can all exist inside the normal Marvel universe and they all support between 3-6 characters.

The War At Home

During World War 2, Los Angeles experienced a massive surge in population as hundreds of thousands flooded the city to work in wartime factories or the booming film industry.  African-Americans specifically emigrated in record numbers, although restrictive housing covenants kept them crammed into the increasingly segregated South Central area of the city.  While Captain America fought the Nazis and HYDRA overseas, on the home front Jewish gangster Mickey Cohen tightened his grip on organized crime throughout the city, monitoring visionary but lunatic mobster Bugsy Siegel for mafia interests back East.

The City of Los Angeles preferred a tightly controlled flow of vice, legalizing card, slot and bookmaking operations in limited areas of the city - particularly in areas dominated by African-Americans and other minorities.  They were willing to turn more control over racial minorities to organized crime in return for tax dollars.  And after the war when the wartime industries started to close up shop or return jobs to the white men they believed deserved it, times got very tight for many Angelenos.

At the same time, Los Angeles underwent a cultural renaissance, as West Coast jazz began its ascent and African-American radio began to lay the groundwork for what would become the rock and roll revolution.

The characters are crimefighters in this deeply divided time and place, championing the justice and equality America promised and fought for overseas but didn't quite bring back with it to its own shores.

If you liked L.A. Confidential or L.A. Noir but thought you might have more fun if there were with laser beams, HYDRA sleeper agents and communist robots, this is the campaign for you.

Cinco de Marvel: The Future Ain't What It Used To Be

Someone thought giant death robots were
a good way to deal with a serious social
issue. Good thinking, everyone.

For Cinco de Marvel, I am writing five full-sized campaigns for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. They can all exist inside the normal Marvel universe and they all support between 3-6 characters.

The Future Ain't What It Used To Be

Marvel has established many dire possibilities for its futures, from being conquered by the evil mutant Apocalypse, to living under the iron boot of Doctor Doom (and his many robot duplicates) to having humanity's population controlled by Sentinels.  A common plot in Marvel is that someone comes back from one of those futures (often someone we already know from the present) to warn the present of the possibility, or to prevent it happening.

Well, what exactly happens when they succeed?  They end up staying here, often becoming the worst characters in Marvel continuity. (Hi Cable. Hi Stryfe.)

The concept for this campaign is that all the characters are from one of Marvel's dark futures, and they've teamed up to make the future a better place.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jason's Google Bookshelf: The Influence of Sea Power on History 1660-1783

One of the most influential books ever written - it was used to develop military and social planning for a hundred years after it was published.  Although some of its conclusions are questionable (and certainly technology has invalidated much of the thinking presented here), it is ideal for the gamer who is trying to approximate how a military or political leader will be making their decisions in peacetime and in wartime - through deciding how their navies will be used.

As always, the e-book is completely free through Google Books.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jason and Ron Randomly Generate - Part 3

The Mastermind Affair(You can read Part 2 at Gamer: The Blogging.)

Nice job, Ron!

I agree with you that the early Marvel Superheroes game’s random character generation, as fun as it is, rarely produced characters that were balanced on their own - balance in that game was achieved in other ways. As much as I adored rolling up character after character in high school and putting them into a giant sheaf of characters that I could pull from for various things, most people just want to show up and play their character. This is not a real draw for most players.

What's interesting to me is that Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, balance is primarily achieved through the limited number of dice that can be rolled and the Plot Point economy. The choice of a single die between d12 and d10 really isn’t that significant - it does make a difference, but only at the margins. The typical die pool is large enough that the alteration of one or even two dice isn't crucial to your expected outcome. The differences that the stats create are created over a long period of time rolling a very large number of dice.

Plus, I like a guy who lives on the sun, little darlin, it’s all right. Great hero, Sunray. He and my Animal Master guy would make a great team.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jason and Ron Randomly Generate

I was chatting with Ron Blessing the other day on Google Talk when the topic came up of random character generation in supers games.  Random character generation has a long pedigree in fantasy gaming, but less so in supers, whose roots are typically found in the ultra-detailed point buy system of Champions.  Nevertheless, random generation of heroes was tried pretty early on, in Villains and Vigilantes (DNA forever, DNA supremacy), as well as the original Marvel Super Heroes game.

I thought a good way to share our thoughts on random character generation was actually to do it, and talk about it as we went through.  And we’ll comment on each other’s work as we go too.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Xavier's Academy Hack for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying's Random Datafile Generation

Earlier this week, Margaret Weis Productions put out their random character generation download for the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying system.  Because I'm completely addicted to random character generation and also the Xavier's Academy milieu, here's my revisions!

Welcome to Professor Xavier's Academy for Gifted Stuents.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Flux Hack: The Fringe

(This is a hack of John Wick's The Flux, available for download for only $5 and soon to be in print in the Big Book of Little Games, available from his website.  It's named the way it is because the best Fringe episodes are those dealing with the two universes battling each other.  "Are there are lot of Fringes in this movie?" - Stuart Wellington never said this.)

(You are just not going to understand this without reading The Flux.)

Many scientific theories posit that there are an infinite number of universes - as each particle's quantum states simultaneously fall one way and the other, branching the universe into an uncountable number.  Perhaps true, perhaps not.

It's not the whole story.

JDC's Google Bookshelf: The Opium Trade

As always, the public domain contains some of the greatest stuff imaginable to help you design your roleplaying game campaign. Here's a pamphlet about one of the most interesting and conflict-laden periods in history, The Opium Trade, including a sketch of its history, extent, effects, etc., as carried on in India and China by Nathan Allen.

The opium issue was highly complicated - central governments either turned a blind eye to it, or took abortive efforts to stamp the opium trade out.  Covertly, efforts were made by various parties to enhance the opium trade for reasons of international intrigue, or naked greed.  Unintended consequences both political and social spread across the world during the 19th century as a result of this very complicated drug war.

This pamphlet is a revised edition of what Allen (a medical doctor) had originally written in 1850.  It is interesting because it contains both medical and financial descriptions of the opium trade, while containing the paternalistic and racist attitudes of concerned English citizens of the time.

Any Victorian-era game can take on a new dimension when we look at the opium wars, one of the longest-standing and most complicated drug wars ever to be conducted.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Do It Live!

One thing that often annoys me about fantasy novels and books is when all the really cool stuff has been done ten thousand years ago or whatever.  Dammit, if things back then were so great, how come I'm reading about these yahoos ten thousand years later doing god only knows what nobody cares blah blah blah

Roleplaying games have often had this problem as well.  The grand age of magic and sorcery is never the age that the player characters are in - it was something a long time ago whose insane ruins and bizarre monsters litter the countryside.

During its AD&D days, TSR had some inkling that this was a problem for its Forgotten Realms series and came up with the Arcane Age series, in which characters would adventure during the height of elven magical prowess and super-magical cities and explosions and hot dudes and girls were everywhere.  The characters could even take part in the battles and excitement related to the Fall of Myth Drannor, the famed mega-dungeon that had attracted adventurers for years.

It was a grand scheme, but never really incorporated into the designs of the various other settings, and today we're still puttering around in ruins of things that would have been SO AMAZING to be in if they were, well, done live.

It's not just fantasy.  In superhero games, the origins of the villains and heroes are often in the past, not played out.  I've found that players take much more of a personal interest in villains that they were directly connected to.  Buffy St. James, a sorority girl human supremacist, was the roommate of a young woman who was secretly one of the X-Men.  The conflicts between the two of them were epic - enhanced because of their connection outside of their conflicts.

Here's some ideas for Doing It Live:

Scenes of the Embrace, pretty sweet

  • In Vampire games, don't skip everyone's Embrace, even if the game is not really about personal horror and is more about politics or action.  Make what is coming personal for at least one or two people.  Don't feel like you have to play out every explanation of every little Vampire thing, but break down the group's Embraces into several parts. Say you have four players. Player 1 plays the scene where they first encounter their vampiric sire. Player 2 plays the scene where they are manipulated, seduced or stalked by the sire.  Player 3 plays the scene where they become a Vampire.  Player 4 plays their first hunt.  This way, everyone gets to experience at least a nibble of what it was like without slogging through it for everyone.  And characters and situations you introduce during these four scenes will be heightened, of extreme importance throughout the rest of the campaign.  Scenes of the Embrace has 14 standalone Embrace-related scenes with various themes and tones that you can mix and match for each character, I highly recommend it for brainstorm material.
  • In superhero games, don't make every villain already established (a mastermind who has extensive resources) or already villainous (born bad).  Have at least one up-and-comer, preferably one who is starting out at about the same time/in the same way as the least experienced member of your player characters.  Let the characters see how this character turned to evil and have them grow in power and influence as the characters do.  I've mentioned the Green Ronin Threat Reports before, and there are many other excellent villain supplements out there to help you.  Just take their origin and have the player characters play through it - the raid that splashes the mutagenic chemicals on the bad guy is a raid led by the player characters - the evil criminal that injects the helpless test subject is someone the player characters are pursuing - etc.  The WatchGuard series has a lot of simple-origin villains that are easy to use "in the moment".
And in fantasy games, consider - what is different about a party of characters who steal from living empires instead of dead tombs?  They may be freedom fighters, or  privateers, or slavers and pirates.  Robbing and adventuring in living, breathing worlds makes for an extremely vivid and immediate experience - and it fits my own personal methods of organizing campaigns by NPCs. 

More on that another time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Threat Report Update - Junkpile

JunkpileThe Mutants and Masterminds Threat Report series from Green Ronin gives a solid character with stats, Hero Lab files, an adventure hook for Mutants and Masterminds Third Edition. In the Threat Report Update, I give you some alternate views on, alternate versions of, and supplemental material for these great reports.

Threat Report #2 concerns "Junkpile", an animated pile of garbage/trash that was accidentally brought to life by castoff alien technology being struck with mysterious energies during a super-fight.  Powerful but naive, it is easily tricked into serving more serious antagonists.
Junkpile's Origin
I often wonder why in the world origin stories of various villains and problems happen offscreen or in the background.  Why not have Junkpile be created as a result of something the player characters do?  Let them be blowing up alien invaders - the city helpfully hauls away the debris, not realizing that alien power sources and generators are in it.  Let them be the ones who punch whatever mystic in the middle of some cult ceremony that unleashes bizarre energies into the junkyard.  As with all good comic book antagonists, Junkpile is an example of the damage that can be innocently caused by the player characters' actions, so make it literally that!  This will draw the PCs in and give them a personal connection to the havoc Junkpile causes.
Junk From The Stars
If the aliens whose mysterious technologies which created Junkpile return, maybe they need their engine parts back, to repair their ship and get home, or to fuel their Earth-shattering weapons.  Chasing down Junkpile might be a priority for the aliens, and as he flees, the chaos he causes would be exceptional.
In My Current Campaign
Since my supers campaign recently ended, I would look to Junkpile primarily as a spiritual entity of some kind.  He's been cast off by human society, sort of a pool of rejection and despairing energy, with a sulking desire for revenge.  In a glossy cyberpunk world where attractiveness is available in pill form at your local mallplex, something truly ugly and perverse stands out dramatically.  I certainly think I'll be using Junkpile at some point...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's On The Stove? - Breaking Quarantine

Official Seal of Rutgers University
Image via Wikipedia
Rutgers University Evacuation Zone - NOTICE

All able-bodied persons must take a shift on the walls.  Deposit all unused ammunition in one of three depots.

All food must be deposited in the central repository when obtained.

Clean water is currently available.  Wash your hands regularly and shower daily.  This may not stop the infection but it will assist in the maintenance of the Evac Zone.

Do not waste ammunition on infected beyond the fence.  Do not display lights or make loud noises in the quarantine zone.

If you must leave the quarantine zone for any reason, when you return, approach the quarantine zone slowly with your hands held in the air.  Use a radio countersign.  Speak in a normal voice.  This will assist in differentiating you from the infected.

Radio communication with National Guard evacuation centers is for official use only.  No information is currently available outside the evac zone.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Prototype - Part I - Missed Opportunities

Prototype (video game)Box Art, via Wikipedia

Prototype is an Activision game that was released in June 2009.  The reason I’m picking it for my first Game Story Reboot is because it has several really intriguing ideas that don’t quite hit the mark.  Prototype has good voice acting - especially for the protagonist, voiced by Barry Pepper.  It has excellent production values, and was critically well-received.  There are a lot of good things about Prototype, which is why when the story missed the mark for me, it really felt jarring.  So let’s fix it!

By the by, you really shouldn't be reading these things if you care about story spoilers. We have to look at the whole story, including the ending, in order to see what went wrong and what went right.  Ready?

The Medium Doesn't Excuse The Message

I don't find the arguments that games are not art at all credible, but this isn't because there are a lot of artistically successful games, but because art is broad and inclusive. I grew up with teachers and spent a good deal of time with art and music teachers as a youth. Art, to them, is not just stuff that sits in museums while we talk about it with our pinkie extended, though those may be extremely important works of art. Art is the conveyance of emotion from artist to audience, and the provocation of thought and reflection, and anyone in the world can and everyone in the world should be an artist at various times in their life. The growling death metal band and the experimental dance troupe are all artists. The guy struggling with how to propose marriage is an artist. If toys are works of art, and anyone who has seen a child play with a toy will readily admit they are, then games must be too. Once we reach that conclusion, we have a basis on which to critique games as art. My own particular area of interest is in critiquing story elements of games.

Threat Report Update - Pack-Rat

The Mutants and Masterminds Threat Report series from Green Ronin gives a solid character with stats, Hero Lab files, an adventure hook for Mutants and Masterminds Third Edition. In the Threat Report Update, I give you some alternate views on, alternate versions of, and supplemental material for these great reports.

Threat Report #1 is about Pack-Rat, an uplifted rat who has become a thief on, and under, the streets of the city, and assembled a "guild" of other thieves to replace the other rats that were experimented on who didn't escape.  He is pursued by an evil organization called the Labyrinth.  Somehow it avoided even making a "rat in a maze" pun!

Wah-Wah They Hate Us Supers: Interestingly, Pack-Rat simply doesn't identify with human beings.  He doesn't "get" them and all their weird behaviors.  So if you're a deformed mutant who is struggling with feelings of rejection and alienation, meeting a deformed superbeing who just doesn't mind living in the sewers and doesn't expect anything more could be either empowering or terrifying.  Once the death robots start hunting your kind in the street, maybe Pack-Rat is what you see as the inevitable result - scrounging for scraps and living with criminals.

Get Dat Rat! - A cool adventure hook might be that Pack-Rat, while digging into the activities of the covert evil agency pursuing him, picks up an item or piece of information that other people want - a brutal law enforcement agency who doesn't care about collateral damage, an international terrorist organization, or maybe the player characters.  Or the item is inherently dangerous - a sample of a terrible bioweapon, for example.  Recovering something he not-so-"innocently" picked up is one thing, but what if lawyers turn up and demand that it be returned to the shady original owner?  Will the players back the law over the thief even if it means giving the terrible device back to the evil organization that had it?

Pack-Rat The Mastermind - This character was made smarter and better by science - what if he keeps getting better, or finds some way to improve himself?  He could reflect the desire for power or, more positively, the desire to improve your station in life?  The player characters' attempt to stop him could be perceived by him as a desire to put him "back in his place", whether that be in the sewers or in the Labyrinth.  Labyrinth might even share information (in a sinister way) with the player characters in order to keep Pack-Rat from evolving to a state where he could take effective revenge on his former captors.

Pack-Rat The Comic Relief - Let's not forget the comedic possibilities inherent in the character, as he messes up human interaction and runs off with shiny things the big bad villain really needed.

Using Pack-Rat in My Current Game - As with always, the main question I have is "can I use this in my game right now?"  And the answer is yes!  Obviously Pack-Rat will fall in with the Omegas. But what happens when it comes out that he's not a mutant after all?  Sentinels will pass him by, people won't be existentially threatened by him (although of course he's still a monster.)  Might he be separated from the only people who have identified with him?  What happens then?  Will he seek a new pack, attract new followers who might have avoided him thinking he was a mutant?  He might even become a Toad-like figure, always loitering around the outside of this fringe group or that, trying to find someplace he fits in.