What lies beneath

A new Champions Now Beta playtest! With Jason and Rick. I told them, “powers are dark, ancient, and secret,” and “crimes are moral, not just legal,” and we set it in Los Angeles, where Rick lives. (lots of west coast going on in play … I’ll have to keep an eye on that, and make sure of a wider range. I’d really like to set it in Sweden some time!)

This one’s using rules that are pretty close to finished. As I’ve found, however, this is exactly when the not-quite-right ones really stick out and screw up play. Keep an eye out for that.

I was curious to see what they’d come up with, and sure enough, the heroes are kind of odd.

  • The Curator, Iraqi-Mexican antiquities professor who discovered ancient ritual secrets in a Mesopotamian tomb – Rick describes his powers as kind of Green Lantern like, but always with an ancient-warrior motif, thus invoking the original Hawkman in that regard, to me anyway.
  • Carhartt, undocumented Mexican construction worker, who was experimented upon or ritualized upon or something by the coyote squad that brought him over the border, a highly physical character with disturbing glowy tattoos.

At the moment they’re established to be acquainted, but we haven’t quite “felt” the way they’re a team or duo worthy of a title. I want to get to that a lot faster in play than playtests have done so far.

We’ve talked about how new variables appear during this step, as further or extended specializations of the baseline concepts for play – I described it as me pointing at one door with my two statements, but the players discovering a door that comes after that, via their choices in play.

In this case, there’s a really strong cultural-ethnic component which seems to contrast with the notoriously modern, even stereotypically artificial SoCal urban landscape. I think it’ll be the good kind of contrast, and I’ll probably delve a bit that way in thinking about “what we do, why we’re together, who do we fight.”

Anyway, I hope to share some character sheets sooner or later, and now it’s time for me to go through that door.



3 responses to “What lies beneath”

  1. Veterans!

    Great video! It interested me to see you guys working not only with the game, but with its history, plus modern interfaces. All three around the same age, with perhaps similar backgrounds. I'm curious about whether you know each other from a long time ago, or just recently met because of the Kickstarter, or something else, etc.

    It's really useful to see these "zeroth session" videos. Especially this one where you guys take the time to go through so many of the rules, and Ron himself does a bit of a presentation of a lot of portions of it. A lot becomes clearer and even exciting – makes me want to go back to finish a few characters me & some friends were doing to try out the Beta rules.

    The characters the players came up with are… intense. Well, I guess the two sentences are as well, right? I liked seeing that they both went for Hispanic heroes, independently – makes me think of what we were commenting on the Legacy posts, about how the players came at "energy plus technology". As a Hispanic person myself I gotta say Israel Cruz is, like, the coolest name ever. Hats off to the real life guy's real life parents. Again, intense – to me it suggests a contradiction, or even better, a rather powerful synthesis. (Kinda makes me wish the guy had an Islamic middle name, so it'd include all three Abrahamic religions ^_^ )

    I will also be looking forward to The Curator – the last few years I've thought on and off about the similarities, differences and links between Latin America and the Middle East, so it'll be nice to see a character that deals with both identities/traditions. And in the US, no less! I'd definitely check out your comic, guys.

    Ron, it's interesting to see you focusing more and more on the "how are we a 'team'" question. I'm very convinced of its status as a missing, essential piece of the game.

    • I’m glad you liked it. The

      I'm glad you liked it. The religious and dual qualities of the characters, as people, have led me to a decision in preparing that first session that I'll be happy to talk about after it's played and posted.

      As an ongoing preference, and from much experience of not doing so, I tend to avoid reining players in, because you never know what's "too much" and what's "rich with potential." If I'd been making the Curator, I might have chosen one or the other cultural background, but Rick seems pretty certain and I'm willing to see how he plays and responds to things.

      I've been reviewing the prep sessions and related video dialogues to see when I do get assertive about content. It seems to be when I think the player is spitballing out of desperation or missing the potential of what they've already said, adding more layers of paint just because they think they're supposed to keep going. I also do it when I think the person is mining tropes, in the negative sense of pre-writing because the tropes are locked down in general understanding and expectations.

    • Forgot to reply about this:

      Forgot to reply about this: the three of us have not played together before. Jason and I have been friends via GenCon for about fifteen years, but otherwise there's no connection.

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