Talk about backlogged. Both Champions Now and Cosmic Zap are booming through the first couple sessions of their respective first playtests, and then there were all those videos for the Kickstarter. I’ll be putting them up for public viewing after the campaign’s done, probably at the blog.
And three Monsterhearts sessions behind. I know what you’re saying! How’s Dagny, is she OK? No, no she isn’t. Oh – well, Piotr, he’s fine, he would be, isn’t he? Wow – no. Alastor’s the one I really like, so he must be doing all right, at least. (level stare) No indeed he is not.
Anyway, here’s the prep session for Champions Now. Technically it’s not far at all from the St. Louis game with Mark (Agent One) and Jay (ARC), as that’s 3rd edition by the book with two or three aesthetic preferences enforced by me. The point of the Champions Now development is to start there, or a bit further along from preferences to rules as evidenced by the playtest document, and then adjust-adjust-change-adjust to hit the breaking point where it’s really a new design.
Not that anyone actually understands that, for which I do not blame them; as usual, I’m defying all sensibilities and expectations for what RPG crowdfunding is for and how it should be presented. Probably not the best strategy, but that’s what happens when people say “you be you,” they usually end up going “um, that, uh, well, it’s you, yeah, but …”
OK, to the point. You can see the not-very-optional sequence in the video with me, Rod, and Ross.
We started with the two statements, one about supers and powers, and the other about what sort of drrrrrama including the location. I said, “powers are proprietary in the most transnational corporate sense possible,” and I also specified out of sheer inspiration that all characters had to include Instant Change.
I opened up the second statement to them, yielding “young adults trying to work,” which resonated hard with the modern economies of London (Ross) and San Antonio (Rod). Rod really wanted it to be in San Antonio, so there it is.
Then wholly independent, non-consensual character creations, and please note the glaring absence of anything to do with powers explanations or justifications. One result is Michael Solis, the Oblate, an idealistic young Catholic and an occultist legal scholar whose magic is based on access to all the whacked texts in history (maybe beyond?). He’s associated with St. Mary’s College of Law and is enmeshed in all manner of hassles with Immigration and related social justice.
The other is Finn Walsh, a former rising-young-star in scholastics and athletics, flash-forward five years to find him a bitter drop-out slinging biscotti and latte … yet also brewing many chemicals from a bootleg batch of a military super-serum. They’ve turned him into a formidable brute of a tentacular jellyfish, with all sorts of scary senses and stretchy durability. He quite likes that and is figuring out what to do, as off-the-license superpowers are deeply frowned upon.
You’ll see some differences from the outcome of the video and the eventual sheets. That is common and very OK; the typical sequence for Champions involves a spitball session of concepts and powers and suggestions, but then it kind of bubbles privately for a while, and the exact process of point-mongering that can look so daunting turns out to provide a very nice method to arrive at what you are happiest with. So the Oblate ended up with a Variable Power Pool after all, and for some reason, despite Rod’s apparent coolness to the jellyfish notion, and all our assurances that we really didn’t mean “jellyfish,” he embraced it and took it up to 11.
The suggestion to make the Vulnerability, Susceptibility, and Dependence all concern the same substance, the serum, was mine. It is also totally insane and will make that serum into Plot Bait from Hell.
The supporting cast is awesome, including Jennifer, Finn’s friend whom he helped with his funky chemicals when health insurance wouldn’t (granted, she has to spend a couple hours in a tank in his garage every so often, but she’s OK with that); Father Ochoa, soft-spoken but terrifyingly intense priest and immigration rights activist; Finn’s brother who can do no wrong; Michael’s successful girlfriend Amanda, and many others.
Our first session concerned ICE turning to the tender and helpful outsourced capabilities of Xe (formerly Blackwater). You’ll see how that went in the next video. For the second session next week, we’ll be joined by Santiago and his character too.
But for this post, let’s talk about character creation. For something that initially resembles a tax audit, Champions characters have a way of catching fire halfway through and all the funky math options turn out to be just what you need, as in that one and that one, scribble scribble. Look them over. Ask questions. If you never saw this game before, ask the the most basic ones you can.
The playtest document can be found (free, for anyone) at the Champions Now Kickstarter.