Playtesters needed: Better Angels

Playtesting has closed for this game. Watch for news of it soon!

Esther Minges was driving home from work in her Honda Fit, trying to figure out how to stretch her maintenance budget across five line items when there was really only money to do one of them properly. She was paying sufficient attention to the road, but not to the sky, which was why she was profoundly surprised when something swooped down, picked up her car, and wrenched open the roof like a hungry teen tearing into a bag of Fritos.

When she saw the distinctive mask of Desecrator Dread, well-known as the most forthright and direct of the Villainous Nine, she screamed, and she kept screaming as the razor spurs on the heels of his costume sliced through her seat belt. The car fell with a thunderous crash as he plucked her out of it (like a single curled chip, to continue the Frito metaphor, though corn chips don’t scream) and swooped out into the night.

“AAAAIGH! NO, PLEASE, I WANT TO LIVE!” Esther shrieked.

“You’ll live,” Desecrator Dread replied.

“Let me go put me down please please please…”

“Not even a ‘thank you’? Clearly I caved too soon on letting you live,” he said, and then they’d arrived.

They were in the mountains, somewhere. A campfire burned before her, and as her eyes adjusted she took in the bulk of the infamous Cat O’ Nine Tails, the air/sea/land assault craft of the Villainous Nine. She swallowed, hard, and then recognized the distinctive profiles of the seven figures emerging into the red glow. Ripperclaw. The Mess. Violator. The Big Shot. Guts and Brains, always more dangerous together than apart. And then, arising from the fire itself, their leader: General Null.

“Hi,” Null said.

“Please let me go this must be some mistake I’m nobody important oh God please don’t kill me…”

“No one’s going to kill you,” Null said, and she noticed that his frightful fanged faceplate was unsnapped on one side, dangling loose and revealing a slight double chin and chapped lips. “Look, calm down. Violator, d’you mind…?”

“Right.” The Nine’s premier psychic nodded his peculiar helmet and said, “Hey honey, mellow out, it’s fine.” Esther found herself clear headed, so calm it was almost eerie.

“So,” Null continued. “We’re bad guys. You know this, you’ve seen us rob banks, hold various nations hostage, kidnap heads of state, threaten to blow up the moon and so on…”

“Everyone knows you,” Esther said warily.

“Ever wonder why we do it?”

Better Angels is a new take on superheroes — or really, supervillains — by Greg Stolze, creator of the One Roll Engine and co-author of Wild Talents, Godlike and Unknown Armies.

In Better Angels, the players take the role of supervillains who got that way by letting themselves be partially possessed by demons.

Why volunteer for it? Sometimes it’s because the host is a real jerk who loves the power and doesn’t mind letting the demon play.

But for some of them, it’s because that way they can keep the demons under control. They can let the demons do just enough evil to satisfy them without letting them commit true atrocities. They can work up the sorts of grandiose supervillainous plots that their demons love but that are sure to be foiled by angel-haunted superheroes.

At least, that’s the plan.

It doesn’t always work out.

Better Angels is a standalone roleplaying game that uses the dramatic mechanics of A Dirty World with an all-new new systems for superpowers to represent the temptations and internal struggles of heroes and villains charged with powers from above and below.

It needs playtesters.

If you sign up, we’ll send our standard playtester agreement so you know the ground rules, as well as the manuscript and further instructions.

To sign up, please email

Better Angels by Greg Stolze. Illustration by Todd Shearer.

Better Angels is by Greg Stolze, (c) 2011. Illustration is by Todd Shearer, (c) 2011. Not the final art.