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Now or later or much later? [Champions Now]

When Champions was first published, most people involved in role-playing accepted, or even expected, to put in extensive effort before play. Today, plug-and-play is widely recognized as a virtue, whether justified by playing in convention situations or by citing friends who reasonably do not commit to complex nonsense before doing the thing they want to do.

Is plug-and-play possible for Champions Now? I don't think so. I'm increasing the customized, personal, undirected, canon-free features of the first-generation version of the game. But I also think there are some ways to get past the expected, even overblown play-before-play features. Some of them come from playing the textual game, and some of them are specific to this project.

Brian and I work through some of these ways in this video.

Actual Play


Santiago Verón's picture

I'm preparing my first GMing of Champions and this was all really useful. I'm thinking on meeting to make characters, and have the first session on a different day. I was planning on making up villains from there, but now I'm wondering about coming up with some on my own. Ron, that's what you did with Ghost, right? What about Mirmidon? Did they come from Michael's character? 

I found the advice for dealing with snarky players most useful, since one of my two prospective players is, I think, very much prone to that. I'm also on board with the idea of letting them change the characters after the first session, and plan to let them know that if I see them obsess too much when making characters.

Ron Edwards's picture

Ghost and Myrmidon were both examples of "the middle" in a spectrum of villain design. I'll try to describe it.

  • Almost entirely player-driven, e.g., a player describes a given super-NPC in his or her character's back-story, by name and in some detail. Typically that character is listed as a Disadvantage, either DNPC or Hunted. In this case, the GM designs the character's mechanics but is pretty much adopting the concept as it's been given.
  • At the other, entirely GM-driven, for a super-NPC which no player mentioned or thought of, and who is not represented by any listed Disadvantage.

The super-NPCs in our game are somewhere between the two. Ghost and Myrmidon were not made up or described in any way by Rod, but they only exist, i.e., I only thought of them, because Rod included the disadvantages, one by Immigration Customs & Enforcement and one by Noldo Rivera, the creepy humanitarian billionaire. Given these prompts, which included the requirement of super-characters, I thought up Ghost based on what kind of people I thought would be super-goons for ICE, and I named Myrmidon the company, and conceived of Myrmidon the character, on my own.

Man o'War is similar in that Ross named AmyBiota as a Hunted disadvantage, and I filled in what seemed to me to be an inspiring gap in that concept - the bio-hackers that Ross had conceived of needed some raw material, after all. This one differed slightly in that it arose more directly from our pre-play dialogue. (Disclosure: the name Man o'War and the idea of a jellyfish superhero came from a long-ago discussion with JE Shields when we were talking about doing comics together.)

Other places on that spectrum include:

  • The player putting down a super-NPC as (for example) a Hunted, by name, but not having much idea beyond the name, i.e., willing to see what the GM does with it.
  • The GM having a concept in mind for a super-NPC that they want to play, and suggesting to the player to include the name somewhere in the Disadvantages.

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