Champs Now beta – Actual Play of M-Hero the Victors – Session 1

Talked through our Session 0 (world build character build) in previous post. Had our first game. Storn took great notes throughout. Long post summarizing game play and notes on rules questions, some analysis at the end.


Timeline of Champs Now, M-Hero, The Victors. (Notes by Storn during play, edits from Neil afterwards)


We spent time refining the timeline so that the players had a sense of place when we started rolling dice.

14 months ago, the Hack attacked.  


Some visual notes:

Eric = Mike Reilly.  Mechanix. Use blades as feet.  Techno morphing. Helmet, face plate, no eye holes, cameras.  

Rick = Paul Knight. Rally.  Goggles. Navy Blue and White. Big smile, the “face” of the team  

Joe = Dean Johathan Maclaine.  Blackout. Black tendrils of energy is his sfx for teke.  

Storn = Darius Driver. Flanker.  

After 6 months from theHack Attack Event;

Start exploring powers.  Darius jumpstarts his “career” after saving Carlos.  Paul starts to get tested from family money and that rubs up against Dean Mclain. Knight family starts to help fund M-Hero    


Dean Maclaine runs M-Hero but is also a member of Victors but must keep that really secret. Has to balance political and social issue of M-Hero with superheroics.


First supervillain deal:  Master Control sent drone/robots to attack the Victors during ½ time show at UofM/Ohio State football game.  Very public in the Big House.


Now:  Rumors of an powered individual in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti.  Fires set. A car was blown into a ditch to stop it. Only comes out in the evening.  


Summer break (now, 1st session).  

A guy on fire, metal mask, no eyeholes.   appears near hospital. SAFETI (Securing America’s Freedom (from) Extra-Ordinary Terrorist Insurgents) is on the scene and seemed to have pre knowledge that this fire guy would show.  They are not fans of ours. . Fire guy calls himself Burning Man. Seems frantic, looking for something.  Sez; “Target” over and over. We try to reason with Fire Guy, but he doesn’t respond. After several warnings, Blackout telekinetically grabs him.


SAFETI’s helo moves into counter BlackOut’s restraint of Burning Man  who tries to flambeau Rally. Blackout warps towards the Huron river while carrying Burning Man and dumps him in the Huron River.  In the meantime, Flanker has moved across the river, trying to find FireGuy’s “target”. He spots a shadowy figure along the river side, trying to move away from all them.  


The helo is hovering over the site barking out how “the Victors are interfering with a government operation”… Which pretty much all of us are ignoring.  


The shadowy figure is a girl and she has lightning powers, she seems a bit uncontrolled, scared of the SAFETI guys and takes a shot at the helo.  Putting us in a hard place. She misses the helo. When confronted by Rally, she bolts, using static energy to quickly leap. Rally cheekily asks for her number.  This seems to distract her and she smashes into a tree. Flanker runs up to her to see if she is okay. “Who are you?” he exclaims… She replies; “I’m Zap Girl!”.


Blackout chastizes Burning Man as they are hip deep in the river.  Burning man is temporarily doused, pulls his helmet off, while the water in the river starts to get very hot and he seems to be in total panic about the SAFETI helo.  Mechanix tries to ward off the helo by throwing a rock in the general vicinity. (PRE attack). Zap Girl and Flanker boogie out of there, trying to get to get her away from SAFETI.  She seems to be very concerned that they are on her tail and the idea that she is Burning Man’s target.


Blackout continues to deal with Burning Man, who keeps muttering “got to get to the target” (more PRE attack use to try to calm him, but what works is getting him to think they will help him get his target), seems to slow him down a bit, but he is still very intense.  The Helo swings around and starts to track Mechanix and Rally. SAFETI Helo asks them to stop or force will be authorized… Patriot Powers Act etc. etc.


Rally and Mechanix don’t want to fight SAFETI, who is just looking for an excuse to take out the Victors.  Blackout (an expert in the law) starts to coach Rally on what to say in response over the radio. Mechanix starts to record the whole scene.  “We are lawfully licensed officials of Ann Arbor and University of Michigan.’ (Moar PRE attacks, using them a lot this session).


Zap Girl is 18, comes across as a freshman.  Her costume is the real deal. Money is behind her.  She basically wants to join up after Flanker talks about the Victors agenda.  Which is keeping paranormals rights from being trampled.


Meanwhile, SAFETI tries to corral “Agent 451” as they call him.  He doesn’t seem want to comply. Blackout is hidden and watching the interaction.  Blackout starts recording with his cell phone. Agent 451 starts to run away and is desperately seeking the target, Zap Girl, who is long gone.  Agent 451 really starts to get angry/frustrated with the SAFETI agents trying to pick him up in their car. He is starting to burn brighter and hotter, becoming a clear threat. Blackout makes his move and takes Agent 451 up into the air with TK.  Agent 451 blows up. Big fireball in the sky. The SAFETI helo is damaged and starts to spin out of control. The Victors move to help.


A few miles away, Flanker apologizes to Zap Girl and asks if she is ready for her first “try out”… “Go back to the helicopter?” she asks incredulously.  “Its what heroes do” Flanker sez apologetically and they turn to run.


Despite the other Victors on hand, Rally and Mechanix are bit too far away.  Blackout chooses to catch Agent 451. The helo crashes. Mechanix manages to get to it keep it from rolling more.  The pilots are badly hurt. The chase car agents jump out and pull guns. They accuse the Victors of attacking the helicopter.  Rally counters with “you know full well that we didn’t launch that attack and you have hurt people in the helicopter.”

Agent 451 finally breaks out from Blackout’s teke.  But Agent 451 is pretty high up in the air. At the same time, the 2 agents dither and one decides to take a shot at Rally.  The bullet impacts Rally. Then Agent 451 hits the ground (much to many chuckles by the players). Blackout continues to pull out the helo crew.  Flanker arrives in time to disarm the SAFETI agent who fired.


Blackout continues to try and desculates the situation.  But Flanker has seemed to make an enemy. The agent he disarmed is fuming… but the other agents are calling for medical help.  One of the helo crew is very badly hurt.


Agent 451 staggering up and injured then spots Zap Girl and growls “Target!”.  Blackout decides to try and take him down and winds up with a Teke enhanced kick;  (15 body, 50 Stun, Agent 451 does have a vulnerability to physical attack, knockback sends him flying away, another 15 dice:  Agent 451 is taken out!)… Agent 451 is then arrested by Blackout.  


M Hero Project supposedly is working on paranormal retention…. Flanker takes Zap Girl away, back to the M Hero Project. The other follow, bringing Burning Man/Agent 451 with them.


Meta discussion about super powered prisoners.  What will be the M Hero Project political fall out after taking Agent 451.  


Joe:  The system felt like Hero.  Didn’t feel that different from other editions.  


Neil:  As GM, I really struggled with the Speed Chart. It has been so long since we used it that keeping track of phases and segments was difficult. Also, the combat was very theater of the mind. We had overhead 3D google map projected of the fight zone near the U-M hospital, but did no measuring, even though there was a lot of ranging up and down the river bank and roads.

As GM, I fell back on a tack of moving in and out of combat time… which normally feels natural and easy (moments of intense action followed by pauses shifts, etc.) but this really messed up END tracking… recoveries, etc. That is something I’ll really have to focus on and test.


Really enjoyed the consistent use of Presence Attacks by the PCs in moments of trying to persuade/push/redirect the scenario. We’ve always used it, but something about the scenario, and maybe the stripped down ruleset made it very appealing… each player using it uniquely in a way that defined their personality. Rally as the charmer/face/wise acre (this will clearly become more of his character). Blackout as the stern, commanding, using psychology to push. Mechanix as the aggressive, threatening, “Back off or else!” Flanker as the persuasive. “It’s what heroes do!” moment.  In a stripped down Champs, I like that PRE becomes the “social combat” stat, pure and simple, and we like to readily use it as a group.


Villain: Burning Man/Agent 451 (took the players a while to get that one, heh) I made mistakes with his build, because I hadn’t thought through how to build KAs… used to the old rules. I made a couple attacks too weak, and put extra time on his big blow-up attack, but this really, really is a big disadvantage with the Speed Chart. I also missed the difference between ED and PD. Had to figure out a way to make him tough vs. energy type attacks, but not as tough vs. physical. Gave him higher defenses (30) but x1/2 vulnerability to physical… which was too much, as he got creamed pretty easily when they decided to attack. I can balance villains and PCs in my sleep in normal Hero, but just don’t have the feel for it in Champs Now, yet.

Overall, this wasn’t a straight up fight, so it didn’t really test the mechanics and END tracking and all that fully. It was fun, but more in a general “fun characters, fun session” than really testing the rules.


Rules Questions:

Movement is undefined, so we felt we had to fall back on 3rd Ed. Is there classic non-combat movement or not? Is END cost for movement based on active points of power or number of inches moved in a phase?


Teleportation… 15” for 30… is that a one time buy. Do you buy more Teleport in 15” chunks only? Is there non-combat movement for teleport?


Multipower… just really need to clarify when you can change a slot. Only at the beginning of a phase? Can you abort to it?


KAs… tough to judge when used to old system. Is a 6th Ed Assault Rife (2d6 autofire) strictly translated to 6d6 Piercing autofire? Such attacks seem to do more stun than body… what’s the intent?


Martial Arts: So much value for 10 pts. Just getting +6d6 0END to STR attack is insanely good. Let alone block, dodge, etc. We didn’t test “And Out” but does it provide for ½ move, attack, and out… or attack and out, if you didn’t half move first?


TK seems really efficient as well. Same price as STR, but you get range up to line-of-site, indirect for no extra cost. That’s really, really good.


Blast with Reactive just feels… awkward as Missile Reflection. The “I have to declare I’m using it at point of being attacked, roll to block it, but still take damage, calculate how much I take, what if I’m stunned or unconscious… THEN blast?” feels weird. Not really sure what is wrong with classic 3rd Edition Missile Deflection/Reflection, especially if you take out all the SFX, thrown/arrows/bullets part. I get that it is better vs. bigger attacks for no more points, but it is a very intuitive buy/build/use process.


KB roll: We did one house rule… KB is body rolled vs. resisted STR roll. For every 1 you make STR roll buy, you subtract from KB. Simple, easy, but will likely mean more KB is done in general, except against really strong characters. Burning Man failed his roll and went flying into a giant tree and took a ton more damage. Makes KB more damaging, assuming there is something to hit (it was a hellacious damage roll).


14 responses to “Champs Now beta – Actual Play of M-Hero the Victors – Session 1”

  1. Questions list!

    Rules answers! (I’ll chat about some of the other stuff later)

    Movement: stay with 3rd edition Hero. I’ll re-orient the wording so that people are thinking and speaking in real-world terms (the inch to hex to meters to feet is very strange despite feeling “normal” to me), but all the principles stay the same. I thought I listed all the Endurance costs per movement power in the list at the end of the file, but will double-check.

    Teleport: I still have to provide a menu for its components and options the way I did for a few other things. At the moment I’m still using the slightly clunky original options; since a hero in my new game is a “blink fighter,” I have a reason to get to work on that. But yes, the plan is to build faster/farther and more flexible versions through a bunch of options. I’ll probably use 10 point units.

    Changing multipower slots: as in 3rd edition, this is merely an ordinary 0 Phase action, no special rules about it one way or another. If the power you’re shifting to is defensive, it’s eligible for aborting to it. (I’ve noticed people seem quite concerned about this and sometimes quote rules that I’m not familiar with; it might be a bigger issue for post-3rd editions.)

    Guns: see, there’s the problem – you have to give up all this talk about guns as if they were point-bought powers. Guns aren’t built with points in this game, they don’t have “Killing Attack Power,” and there is no more Killing Attack, so the whole idea of translating them is junked. The system deliberately does not model activity below a certain power level, and ordinary objects like cars and guns are not “bought with points.”

    I can hear all the sputtered questions already. Stay with me so we can talk about the single issue you’re dealing with in this session: facing a bunch of agents or soldiers or anyone like that, armed with completely ordinary weaponry.

    The eventual rules will have a nice friendly table for what do with shotguns vs. AKs vs. slingshots, never fear. But you don’t have to worry about making them up with powers, or making powers correspond to them. At the moment, think of any such things as if they were just hazards, like a car exploding, that happen to have Speed, with whatever aborts or powers or maneuvers one might use to deal with them, with whatever damage you feel like, defined as you feel like. It might even be helpful to use fixed damage values for them rather than rolls.

    What this means for heroes who characteristically use guns is a different issue, and what it means for a hero who picks up a handy gun to use as a momentary tactic is another one. I have answers for those too, but they’re not very important in this case.

    Martial Arts: I’m still testing this version, but in my current game, I like it so far. The point was to go entirely the other way from my alpha attempt in which they were lame. Make sure not to forget the CV modifiers, including -1 for move+attack and similar stuff, as we’ve seen a couple of exciting misses and hits based on single pips on a roll. Note too that Acrobatics no longer requires a roll, that’s on purpose.

    “And Out” is supposed to provide a unique opportunity to move after making an attack, but it doesn’t allow move-attack-move in a single Phase. You still have to think a little to maximize it for timing, e.g., hold your action until just before a Phase when you go first, move in and attack (ordinary maneuver), then start the new Phase by attacking and moving out.

    The whole package may be over-powered due my “tip it the other way” approach, so we’ll have to see if it needs a wee bit of adjusting back. I’ll try it and you try it, then we’ll know. I’d like to keep it at 10 points, but maybe 10 points buys different sets of maneuvers, so for all of them, you need 20 points, and therefore it’d be 30 points for everything + Find Weakness.

    Telekinesis: the intention was to stay with 3rd edition exactly, so 10 points gets you 10 Strength at 10” range, using the ordinary range modifier for grabs, but maybe my text was too sparse – unfortunately, there’s no notation for “just use 3rd, I’ll fill it in later” in there.

    Missile Deflection: we disagree about the textual rules, which I think are terrible and humpbacked (referring to Champions II). I’ll try out my current version myself with a couple villains and see what the players think of it. As for how it feels, your described sequence isn’t any different from Champs II Reflection, so, well, as I said, you play with this new thing, and so will I.

    I must say in passing, one of the guaranteed things about playtesting New Version with devotees of the Old is that they complain when it seems just the same and when it seems different …

    Here's my new Knockback rule: just roll 1d6 to accompany the attack. 1 means no knockback, 2-5 means the value = inches of knockback, and 6 means you use the Body of the roll as Knockback. Taking the High Impact advantage means you don’t have to roll for it, it’s like getting a 6 every time. I think you’ll like it; the effect is almost identical to the classic results but with much easier handling time.

  2. Martial Arts seems to be too much bang for its buck

    I very seriously considered taking Martial Arts for my speedster brick.  Being a world class athlete before powers and the ability to tackle and grab seem like a no brainer for someone who is on the NFL track…. But the combo of high strength, high mobility and Martial Arts would have made my character unbalanced…waaaay too strong.   

    Movement:  Here is where I found some dissonance from playing Hero 6th… which is meters/yards instead of inches.  Despite playing many years of Hero with inches as the measurement of movement… I very quickly got used to meters in Hero 6 and MUCH PREFER it.  Inches is a byproduct of RPG roots in Skirmish wargaming and Chainmail precursor to D&D.  It is for minatures.  There is no reason there can't be a little call out box somewhere saying if you are using minatures and a ruler, here is how meters/yards of distance and movement translates to inches.  But please, for the love all the gods of gaming, for anyone new coming to the game, let's use real world measurements.  

    I think 15 or even 20 pts for Martial Arts would be reasonable.  


  3. Missile Reflection

    I'll go back to Champions 2 and look. I wasn't referring to that, but how Missile Reflection is done in 3rd Edition. I haven't cracked the cover of Champions 2 since the 80s. The issue that seemed weird to us was that "I reflected it, but still took damage" which, at minimum, brings up the "Do I resolve the effects of damage I took before, same time, after I resolve attacking with the Reactive power?"

    I shan't speak for Joe, but his comment about "It feels the same" didn't seem to be a complaint to me… more of a positive. He can comment if he likes.

    For KAs, I just messed up… thinking 3d6Killing… without realizing that I really needed that to be more of a 9d6 Piercing… so a "bought" power was too weak.

    I'll be interested in what you do with guns, because the simple fact is that they are a very big part of "the world outside our window" especially a world where powered combat can break out anywhere, any time. In old Hero, I've long since tossed the "must pay points for normal equipment" from supers under the logic, "Hero allows Heroic (much more normal) level characters to simply 'have' a really powerful assault rifle as part of their equipment which is often the baddest attack in that game… but we make supers, who are a lot less likely to actually worry about assault rifle damage because of super defenses, pay points for this stuff?" In my game, equipment is like the environment, part of the internal logic of the imaginary space. It tended to play out, just fine. Just like the group wouldn't really be okay with the heroic player who always insisted that his character had the most powerful weapon on the chart "because if it is on the chart, I can have it!" it wouldn't be allowed by the group in supers.

    As for "defining normal" I will simply state my philosophy. "Super is relative. You have to know what normal is, to know how super you are." I've lost my instinctive knowledge of what is normal, to really grok how super the PCs or NPCs are. Guns are just one place where that comes out in play. Should figure it out with more play.

  4. Oh… forgot a rules question… Recovery of Body?

    Recovery allows you to recover body damage you've taken? Body is already something unlikely to be taken at all, but does this mean everyone regenerates automatically? I get 13 body back in a recovery if I take one?

    Also… at one place it says there is an automatic Post-9 recovery… but another place it says after Segment 6. Which is it? Both?


    • Ok… just read this…

      Ok… just read this…

      "Body damage does recover, in which case the perceived injury isn’t as bad as it seemed at first, or is simply treated unrealistically in terms of permanent harm. If Body is taken to 0, it operates similarly to Knockout: the character may recover, but if Body is reduced to 0 a second time, they are rendered helpless. Furthermore, they are nominally dying."

      Which baffles my mind completely. What does Body damage represent then, if not destructive damage that doesn't easily recover? What is the point of Body damage when it will rarely happen, and when it does, is easily erased? Separating out the "Destructive" nature of Body damage makes it seem kind of pointless.

    • You caught me on a space-time

      You caught me on a space-time bounce! To address this and other great topics you've raised, but probably won't be able to post well-written / filmed answers until Monday. Apologies to you and Storn for that, but I am on it.

    • Mind Scan has shown its true

      Mind Scan has shown its true colors in both of my multi-session alpha playtests. It's now considered a subset of Awareness. I'm still refining the options under Awareness: right now Perception is the default roll and it doesn't mention Endurance. The questions are:

      • Whether 0 Endurance or spending Endurance should be the default; either way it's a big cost difference
      • Whether Ego can be substituted freely or with the expensive Ego-based Advantage (the latter would seem to provide little benefit, e.g.)

      The important point for this type of mechanics decision is that I am not using how Champions used to play as the touchpoint, but rather what happens in the comics of this sort. This power covers a wide range, from Daredevil's use of his radar sense in combat, to his high-effort use of it to locate a single person in a pretty big city area, to Spider-Man's significantly more meta spider sense, to Doctor Strange seeking a thing throughout multiple metaphysical membranes, to identifying a person or their recent presence by smell …

      The idea is to build a particular one as its own power via the menu of options.

      As far as I can tell, it's OK to leave out the Ego-based issue entirely – finding the cosmic whatsis is merely a Perception roll after all, once the issue is understood as concerning Awareness at a significant Expanded Scope. Nothing says "magic" or even "psychic" has to be based on Ego.

      So Mind Scan as construed in the original rules is pretty easily made in these terms, "here's a frantic nightclub dance situation, and where's Bob" becomes default Awareness with Analyze. It's also much more customizable to different purposes, ranges, scopes, and types of senses, so the mind scan as strictly construed that way is just one option.

      The Endurance question is a little trickier, but I'm leaning toward the default being 0 Endurance with Endurance giving a good cost break. I'm thinking of it this way because the typical "sense" is clearly no-effort, and conceiving of it as a Limitation allows cool Awarenesses to crop up more easily in Frameworks.

  5. Joe’s comment

    Neil, I'm pretty sure Joe said his comment was a positive thing, not a negative criticism. It's different enough from 5th/6th (which I think he started with) that it doesn't feel exactly the same, but still close enough that he knew the basic gist of the mechanics so it felt familiar.

    One issue I'm not sure I like is the Multipower slots being all-or-nothing, and that the cost of a slot cannot be less than 5 points. With how I built Mechanix, I've essentially wasted about 25 points because the power costs are way less than 5 (just 1 level of Density Increase or Growth, with the limitation on the MP and the /5 for the slot, they come out to 1 or 2 points); this doesn't seem in keeping with the advantage of having a Multipower in the first place.

    After this play session, I think I need to revisit the build. I wanted a somewhat modular build, but VPP didn't quite fit as there are powers he shouldn't have, but it does kind of fit better with my concept of being able to incorporate technology into himself. But some powers are 0 END by default so an EC didn't fit either.

    • I’ve junked the Multipower as

      I've junked the Multipower as we know it. If you'd like to see how to work up your character through the "Now" methods, please let me know. I'm pretty sure that will only work via screen time.

  6. My initial concept idea was

    My initial concept idea was sort of Warlock/Magus from New Mutants, and similar to the scene in Akira when Tetsu builds himself a metal arm after Kaneda blows it off. I saw him as being able to incorporate machinery into himself as needed or change the design of his body on the fly (and Neil, the blades for feet was just an image for when he was running fast, it could just as easily have been roller blades or whatever; he can have "normal" feet).

    I used the style in the writeup you provided Neil. Basically I built a large pool (70 points) with a limitation about needing a source of metal/machinery to change the slots. I then built a number of small powers so I could use several at once; it just strikes me as odd to build two slots for a boost to STR rather than one slot with a lot of STR and just use a smaller amount of Active Points. Likewise building 1 slot that can allow for multiple extra limbs should I need/want them, but also able to use only 1 without taking up the entire Active Points of that slot. As you've designed it, I'd need to buy two slots, and the slot with only 1 limb would be wasting 4 points; that seems overly punishing for a bit of versatility. As the Extra Limb power doesn't require END itself, I didn't think it was allowable in an EC.

    Now I'm thinking that a VPP with a limitation of what kinds of powers can be used would work better for the concept (and to save time at the table, I'd plan on writing out a series of powers beforehand). I guess I'm just not understanding the reasoning behind the new Multipower concept. Which is fine, I just need to rethink my build if I'm way off from what you envision or if there's a better way to go. I am very fond of the 4th-6th Ed version of Multipower and may just be having a hard time letting go…

    I didn't see anything about the cost of increasing a skill, just the initial 5 point buy-in. How much does it cost to increase that skill? In particular, the skill for a VPP?


    • I like that concept and in

      I like that concept and in this schema, the VPP does seem ready-made for it. Most of the functions of the old Multipower can be found in there, within the options. Also, although I fear an argument if I say this, many of the powers concepts I'm seeing in your game would do well in my version of the Elemental Control.

      For skills, they can't be increased internally, but instead, you can buy levels with the skills as if they were Maneuvers. It's pretty similar to the old version, using a single track and cost structure. I've also junked 3-point costs throughout the texts, so they'd be +1 to a skill for 5 points (you'll notice the costs for more general levels have gone up accordingly).

  7. Did I mention?

    No, I did not,and I should have. Storn, I love this art. You've always been amazing, but these seem special: very dyamic, the characters look like they're going places or shifting position, and as if they have opinions.

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