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First Champions Now Character Attempt

After an abortive attempt or two that went off the rails due to trying to build a 4/5e character, I think I got my eyeballs recallibrated enough to make a credible first cut at a CN character as it was intended.  I'm posting it here to get feedback, especially on remaining 4e/5e assumptions that may be leading me off the rails.  This isn't precisely actual play yet, but it's intended as a pregen for an experimental "hello, Champions Now" game and, perhaps someday, a convention game.

I didn't write Disads...Complications...uh, Situations because that will need the least callibration, and because I may leave those to be filled in by the player.  Right now I just want to be sure I'm setting power levels reasonably and generally using CN as CN and not as the BBB lite.

This is also a mental exercise in pervasive concept-theft from existing characters, just like the book encourages. :-D

Nike (Nike Pteron, I suppose)

Thumbnail concept: Nike Smash!

What if Thor and the Winged Victory of Samothrace had a baby who changed forms like Shazam! and used a divine, magical weapon like Mjolnir to smash stuff like Hawkgirl in the Justice League cartoon?  A lot of stuff that needs smashin' would get smashed, that's what.  No one would guess that with a grasp of her necklace and a word to Athena, mild-mannered Victoria Blake changes into a living statue of a goddess (well, demi- at the moment) of smite.

Appearance: as Victoria, very ordinary.  As Nike, *exactly* like the Winged Victory of Samothrace looked when new (i.e. not missing a wing, head, arms, etc.) right down to the (perhaps painted?) marble skin.  Except, you know, flying and smiting stuff, the actual Winged Victory statue in the Louvre probably didn't actually do that.  Though come to think of it, it would be awesome if it did (excuse me, I need to make notes for an entirely different convention one-off now).

As Nike, whenever she wants (no limitation) she normally wields the great adamantine chain that she and her siblings bound Promethus with at Zeus' command (Heracles freed him, so nobody else was using it).  It morphs somewhat within limits to suit her purpose: the length is variable, and as a weapon or tool it tends to have a heavy spiked ball or grapple on one or the other end.  By exerting herself she can temporarily grow to heroic stature (1 lvl Growth) for extra brawn and commanding presence, very much like Athena's blessing of Odysessus during the contest with the suitors except considerably prettier.  When she isn't Nike, Victoria always seems to wear the this odd silver-gray necklace with a spiky ball pendant....

Special rule: Aeschylus' "Promethus Bound" is the authority for all matters of pertaining to this myth.  Hesiod didn't get everything right.

Characteristics:

Str: 4d6      10

Pre: 4d6     10

Def: 15/5r  5+20  |  "The Waters of Styx": tough because her mother, Styx, dipped Nike in the

Body: 14    40        |  river..wait for it..Styx as a baby so she'd have a bit of Achilles' invulnerability

Spd: 3         20

Int: 10           0

Ego: 12       20

Total: 125

Powers:

20 "Winged Victory is Winged": 10" flight

35 "Promethus' chain": 4d6 str and +3" stretching, based on attacking, entangling, grappling

                                              and whatever with the chain

10 "Athena's favor": 1 lvl Growth to Heroic Stature (TM)

15 "Will to Victory": 3d6 luck, -1/2 only in combat or other conflict situations (all or nothing,

                                        but bought at -1/2 rather than -1 because it isn't so very limiting)

10 "How do you say 'Shazam' in Classical Greek?": instant change into the Winged Victory of

                                                                                                Samothrace

Total: 90

Notes:

I wrote her up to have a decently commanding presence attack, as befits a goddess.  A player who wants to play her more low-key could drop that and the concept would work just fine.  I also put some points in ego to go with her Will to Win power, but that could also be changed without altering the core concept.

Along with her appearance and flight, the chain is her signature motif and begs to become a multipower (erg...multiform...aagh, that means something else...) as she learns her powers and gains a wide variety of smiting options.  We can do a lot more than that with it:

Maybe she develops more control and buys an entangle slot for throwing, at the price of not being able to use it until she drops it (the pool has to remain allocated until she drops the entangle and calls it to return like Thor's hammer).  Since I can't get points for OIHID in CN anyway, I think it would be neat if Victoria can use her necklace like a miniature version when in normal ID.  It can't really smite stuff, but probably could choke an assailant like nobody's business.

To develop further control, she can buy a Telekinesis slot so her chain (big as Nike, small as Victoria) can manipulate things, choke those who need choking, etc. quasi-independently.  Again, the multipower naturally makes her unable to smite with it while it's off doing telekinesis things, though she's not helpless without it (and it returns in the wink of an eye when she calls it).  At this point, it's starting to gain some of the powers of Merlin's living garrote in the Second Chronicles of Amber, and could be developed further in that direction (Force Wall at least).

I didn't start with the multipower because it's a nice upward growth path, but it might be better to start with it at a lower power level and grow her damage with time.  That way even as a starting character she has the non-combat possibilities available.

Department: 
Actual Play

Comments

Forgot to add: I haven't settled on the campaign's two sentences yet, but "no gray hats" and "some things just need clobberin'" capture the general intent.  Nike is supposed to be well-suited for the clobbering role.

Ron Edwards's picture

I am totally good with those provisional/draft statements! On board.

Gordon C's picture

First of all, my superhero comics and Champions familiarity is pretty low, so I love seeing this process, getting to understand the details of the math and calculations, and in general learning everytime I look at how a character is built. But based on my reading so far in CN and watching Ron develop it here and at the patreon and comics blog ... it's good that you have ideas about the two sentences. But the outcome to "sentences are still shaky" predicted/expected by my reading of the book is "character is still shaky."

Gordon C's picture

Well, that's embarassing - obviously, go with Ron's thoughts rather than mine. I (and only I) would still want to firm up those statements at some point, but I have only the TINIEST stab at doing this myself so far ...

@GordonC

Yah, I agree, the character is by no means firmed up, but it isn't meant to be.  I'll turn that character over to the player for whom it is intended and help them make it what they want, and at that point we'll start by trying to follow Ron's path starting with the triangle (in general, the plan is to go "by the book" before screwing around too much, otherwise it's not a fair test).

For your review, here is the current draft:

  • "When Earth is caught at the crossroads, powers are for clobberin' what needs clobberin''."
  • "There are no grey hats--but it's important to be sure who the black hats are!"

I think now they're a little more pregnant with ideas for the players to run with.  But we won't know if it works until we see how the players interpret them, which I think is what Ron intends.

alanb's picture

You seem to have missed Dexterity in your characteristic section.

As written, she would have 10 Dex, which isn't good.

Also, your point cost for Luck looks like it's off.

alanb's picture

Sorry, 11 Dex.

Argh, sorry, it's dex 12 on the sheet.  I'd like more, but she's a bit over cost anyway.  That's normal for me for a first cut a first cut and I might let the player choose where to cut points.

alanb's picture

Your Int and Ego are off as well, which is why I got your Dex wrong.

Dex, Int and Ego have a base of 11, not 10. (They are 11- rolls.)

Right botched that, didn't I?    I know how they're calculated if I remind myself this is CN, but did 4/5e calculations on autopilot as I typed.  So once more carefully, what I wrote down was:

Dex: 12 @ 10

Int: 11 @ 0

Ego: 12 @ 10

I think I get screwed up most often when I'm going down the list in the order of the book, because once I go past Body defaulting to 10 I'm right back in 4/5e mode.  And I don't see the mistakes because, well, that's what I'm used to seeing. :-p

Ron Edwards's picture

This or that misplaced point is fine, but it's more important to examine the philosophical or creative-priority side.

First, let's set aside all this business about preparing for a convention slot game. That's a different topic and I see the current goal as directed toward you. So let's really make this hero, not multitask with making her and not making her.

Second, you should bust it back to the three corners method, not just flicking up and down lists and picking this and that like you were at a restaurant. I am pretty serious - the three corners thing is not an affectation, gimmick, or soft/optional filler, and anyone who says "oh, well, I don't need to do that," is wrong. I've seen it be wrong, every time, exactly from people who have internalized later Champions exactly as you have, so I'm being stern about it. Go back to the three cornders.

  • Person
  • Powers
  • Problems

Actually make the triangle, please.

Now, all that said, I really like what you've presented about the character and she would be a wonderful hero to play. But right now it's like you are scribbling more and more details into the parts you know to do, and are missing completely whole big swathes that must be done before any more details get scribbled.

Here are some things to consider after you do the triangle. Please don't venture into them until then.

  1. There is no Multipower. Multiform is an entirely different concept. What's left of the old Multipower (the minor application of Multiform) does not work the same as the old way and does not do what people "want" from it. Eliminate the old assumption that your Multipower is your battalion of attacks and applications.
  2. Don't concern yourself with costs as you go along. In fact, there are not "costs" - get out of the entire mercantile "buy/purchase/afford" model. You will note, I hope, that the game text is very careful about this, in that the language of "costs" is reserved strictly for Endurance. Points, by contrast, are always discussed as use, not cost. You have 200 points, and now we find out how you use them. Again, this is not a gimmick or touchy-feely stupid language, it's the rules for a reason.

So let's see those corners and move from there.

 

 

Ross's picture

Laurence, I was rather taken with the statements and the Winged Victory of Samothrace and accidentally made a character. Doubt it is, but should it be any use to you feel free to use (and bend / fold / spindle etc.) 

Ron, making this raised some rules questions if you are interested - especially about the multiform. I think its an actual legitimate example of one and I think I applied the rules correctly, although I was a bit unsure about including characteristics, especially Speed, in the slots themselves. Also I wasn't sure about the limitation I applied being as per the rules, although I think it looks fun.

Anyway in case anyone is interested here is...

Selentine, Princess of the Moon

Princess and heir to a Lunar Empire but now a mystically displaced person on earth! Fleeing the destruction and death as the empire fell to internal treachery and hostile subjects, orphaned and endangered Selentine found herself in the presence of relics of the famed Earthling Astronaut and defender of the Empire, Natalia Gibbons. And then was somewhere else – on earth, inside the tattered spacesuit and in the lounge of Natalia’s widowed husband Richard.  An “interesting” relationship developed – is she actually a distant descendent of his wife? Why does he resemble her murdered betrothed? Who’s turn is it to wash up? And what life will she make for herself on Earth. With all the skills of a Lunar Princess, Carataur breeding, sky yacht sailing, Lunatic Law and Ceremony, she now has a string of minimum wage jobs behind her, although her friend Grant Gable says he can fix her up with something.

Situations
Unusual Looks, Alien Features – possibly reptilian and haughty demeanour, 8-   5 pts
Dependence, Moon-bathing nightly. Ordinary, 10 pts
DNPC, Richard Gibbons – housemate and...?

  • Psych, still grieving for Natalia, sometimes, meltdown, 15 pts
  • Psych, prove he has the “Right Stuff” (he met Natalia in flight school, but he flunked out), sometimes, irrational, 10 pts

DNPC, Grant Gable – friend and workmate

  • Secret Identity, he’s a werewolf! 15pts

Hunted, Hectracia the Torturer, treacherous alien princess / scientist, powers, manipulative, 15 pts
Psych, expects adoration and worship, sometimes, irrational, 10 pts
Psych, “a Princess needs no assistance”, sometimes, irrational, 10 pts
Unluck 2d6, 10 pts

Total situations 100pts

Characteristics
Strength 4d6 (End 4)                       10 pts
Presence 3d6                                     5 pts
Defence 14 (tattered spacesuit)         4 pts
Body 13                                            30 pts
Recovery 13 Stunned 13Knockout 26 Endurance 39
Speed 3                                             20 pts
Dexterity 13                                      20 pts
Intelligence 11
Ego 12                                              10 pts

Total Characteristics 99 pts

Skills
Martial Moves                10pts
2 Skill levels with Silver Scimitar attack    10 pts
Luck 2d6                 10 pts

Total Skills 30 pts

Powers

Silver Scimitar, her ancestral blade.
      Razor sharp - 2d6 Blast, Severe, Strike adds to Punch    (END 2)    22 pts
      Dazzling riposte - 1d6 Flash, reactive on Martial Block (END 2)    15 pts

Waxing and Waning, she rises like the moon, changing after being knocked down!
       Multiform pool 35 pts
       Constrained – assign / change slots only after a recovery action    24 pts
    Waxing, full and shining
      Density Increase x 2 levels, +10 DEF, 20 pts (END 4)
       +2d6 STR 10pts, +1d6 PRE 5 pts
      35 Active Points in Slot, Constrained as above    7/ 1.5 =    5 pts
    Waning, silvery and illusive
      Forcefield +8 Resistant defence (END 4) 20pts,
      +10 SPD 10 pts, Special Defence EGO 5pts,  
     35 Active Points in Slot, Constrained as above    7/ 1.5 =    5 pts

Total Powers 71 pts

Starting Points (100pts) + Situations (100pts) = 200 pts
Characteristics (99pts) + Skills (30pts) + Powers (71pts) = 200 pts

Ratio 215 / 200 * 100 = 107.5

Ron Edwards's picture

That’s a great Multiform! Here are some details.

Characteristics are perfectly OK to include in Multipower slots. The only constraint on that is whether a given Limitation applies to everything in it somehow. Since your Limitation applies to the use of the slots, there’s no intrinsic constraint against putting anything in there.

The Limitation makes more sense as Conditional. Constrained is about narrowing a given textual “block” or about defining something’s use as tied to something else you’re using. Think of it as an intrinsic property. Whereas here, the slot change is permitted (“works”) based on extrinsic, situational details that are not under her control or those of an ally.

For a ½ Limitation, that’s defined as “partial,” which is most literally conceived as, if she shifts voluntarily, then the resulting slot is at half power.

Ron Edwards's picture

I was intrigued enough to copy-paste and to review a bit more. I want to stress that what follows is not criticism or a call for revision. It's an observation of what I'd do or say as GM.

She's a handful! Not just her personality, but specifically that all the Situations are fanciful (moon, alien, occult) rather than real-world, so it's like a bag of crazy dropped into play.

Which is fine. Crazy is fun to draw.

So given that, for my own sanity, I'd ask the player, "what does she do, what does it look like when she's heroic?" Not 'heroic' in her own mind which obviously is rife with backfires, but in the player's. (This is also where I deliver my standard speech about "how she eventually decides to be a hero" is already finished by the time we start play, i.e., she cannot be all confusion and self-inflicted conflict.)

Ross's picture

Good question and it highlights how important the last bit of the two statements a location - which sadly Laurence didn't include. I was definitely aware while making her up that this was missing and that made situations a bit unanchored. I had a vague idea of south west US but didn't get more specific.

Also I've maybe conveyed the wrong emphasis in places - I really saw most of the alien stuff as in the background so there's no situation linked to wanting to get back home for example and I pictured the relationship with Richard as more Mork and Mindy and less deep mystical mysteries.

But the big question is about hero status - as a player I'm seeing a combination of clear, if alien, sense of right and wrong and no boundaries so she sticks her nose in were a sensibly less heroic person might not. So when she finds the other waitress in the diner is being threatened by a loanshark she's going to try and fix the problem. And I get a bit of a spiderman trying to reform the sandman vibe, so she might wonder if there is sometimes other options than clobberin' someone. Obviously I haven't given her many tools to solve problems other than fighting which is mean of me really. Does that sort of work as an answer or am I missing the point? 

Ron Edwards's picture

I knew this would be hard to communicate. I'm not seeking an answer; you don't have to reply with one. My point is that "a GM" would be interested in that question, and of course, in a real play situation, you would have a location and perhaps even a good idea of where the diner is, et cetera.

I hope to keep the exchange in this extremely non-performative mode. It's not a Socratic exercise, but me musing over things, in hopes that you muse over things too, so no "response" in the technical debate or rhetorical sense is required.

I've found that many players are blocked - hard! - when I ask for a one-image-stop verbal portrait of "my hero being voluntarily, proactively heroic." Since I started insisting on the three corners, I've found the answer has emerged and I don't need to ask, but sometimes, I think I do need one last little nudge to see what would be located, now, at the center of that graphic image.

When I ask for it, the usual response is to explain, justify, and psychologize the hero, sometimes at considerable length with many re-phrasings, and sometimes going way off the beam about how the characer is conflicted about it, and significantly, with no depiction or presentation at all. Another is to start storytelling in a hypothetical way, first they might do this, then they do this, then this might happen, and so on.

Even when I say, "wait, just describe one single moment, as an artist and blurb would present it, like a promotional ad you might see for the upcoming launch of the character," I practically have to armlock the player and walk them through the reply that I need. And it's critical too - without this image from the player, I am forced to protagonize the character for them, during play. You saw this during our own game, I'm sure.

Therefore I'm not asking you for any such thing here, but saying that if I were the GM and if this is what I was presented with, my first statement would be "This is great!" (because it is) and the second would be to ask that question, and sadly to be ready to apply the armlock.

Ron Edwards's picture

In the sole interest of no-threat review:

Luck is not a Power and cannot have Modifiers.

The two new Limitations Conditional and Constrained break out different subsets of the older "Limited Power," but there are certain things that were considered standard for Limited Power that neither includes.

In other words, a variety of familiar Limitations from other versions of Champions are now completely booted into special effect territory. "Only in hero ID" is probably the most obvious one, but "only in combat" is similar.

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