The Göteborg Depths

Here is Ola’s portrait of the Kosmonaut, his hero in our Champions Now game set in Göteborg (Gothenburg) in Sweden. The other hero is Havsmannen (“man of the sea”) played by Ulf.

We began with a very exploratory chat about the game and its design, as at least one person had little interest in any system where you waited for your turn to act and tracked some kind of fatigue in little points. I’ve preserved only a small part of that discussion in the video presentation, but I think you will clearly see the transition from polite tolerance to rabid enthusiasm.

I am extremely into this game and have gone a little berserk with the emergent properties that arose from their separate character creation results. I talk about it in my framing videos for the sessions, so I won’t go into those here, but so you know, the initial framing statements were:

  • Powers reach into outer space and the inner space.
  • The greater good and the greater evil – which is which?

Things have been rather trippy at the game table for a couple of months, including this game, the current events in the ongoing RuneQuest game, and a session of Cosmic Zap.

Given preparation and three sessions of play to see here (I’m editing the third and will add it soon), there’s an immense field of discussion topics and game system questions, or at least I think so. But perhaps more importantly, it’s a great creative romp as you can see plenty of familiar tropes turned into both new, possibly actually resonant forms, and superheroic action charged with immediate entertainment value as well as drama.


11 responses to “The Göteborg Depths”

  1. Session 5!

    Pretty damn epic – this is how the players say what a hero is. Starting within the playlist here.

    Oh! I finally remembered the thing I'm visibly struggling to recall at the end of the reflections section. The Kosmonaut's Flight is on an Obvious Focus, which is a big deal in this game – it's very vulnerable to an attack or grab. That hasn't come into practical play yet in our game, e.g., the only opponent who would have gone for it was Greyface, who was caught in the grip of his own Situations and too freaked out to fight rationally during their confrontation. However, given its extreme potential, I should have been emphasizing it during play as a feature of his Flight, which he does use a lot, to establish that it's controlled by a visible, very "this is how I fly" device on his suit.

  2. Starting off in the shallows

    Starting off in the shallows some things I've enjoyed watching this game include: the casual inclusion of live after COVID as one of the many things making the Now seem very real; seeing Havsmannen's social position on the islands appearing in the fiction and letting him do some investigasting; obviously I like big squishy bruisers who should have stealth (like Crawl); Iran-Contra as usual!

    I thought the Hazards were particularly interesting, in particular the way these examples seem to offer some opportunities to travel / to find things out rather than just being a threat to be overcome or avoided.

    Meanwhile I understand the thinking regarding presence attacks not applying  to you own DNPC's and Hunteds – but it was kind of painful seeing the Cosmonauts impassioned entreaties to Greyface just hang there. As the GM would you always have the NPCs ignore these as a principle – obviously Greyface was melting down and in no position to respond cogently anyway – or will they sometimes be something an NPC might consider, just without the backing of the Presence attack forcing it mechanically?

    • That’s an important point

      That's an important point about the Hunted/Dependent NPCs interaction. My thinking is to lead with and be guided by their Psychological Situations (which is why it's good to give the DNPCs one or more). For example, Greyface is also irrationally sentimental and could be reached that way, or perhaps his nationalistic view of Sweden could be brought into some overlap with the Kosmonaut's contemporary view in terms of an external threat. "Just this once, Richards, we fight on the same side. Be grateful until the day I crush you for good."

      You're right that in this particular instance, however, he was way 'round the bend and would probably have had to undergo Stunning or Knockout 0, or something else similar like a powerful Telepathy result, in order to "reset" enough to consider differently.

      That happens in session 5 with Rune, Havsmannen's grandfather, who is basically berserk at the start of the situation – although in his case he was neither a Hunted nor Dependent NPC, so both heroes could employ Presence. The "reset" in his case permitted different modifiers to be applied, so that Kosmonaut's Presence Attack was much more effective than Havsmannen's.

      Back to the Hunted/DNPC feature, I find that you can't use Presence to get there to be very satisfying in a heartbreaking way, and consistent with some of the better villains who seem to have one final unbreakable quirk or knot in their thinking which the heroes simply cannot overcome through force of (good) will.

  3. I love the Hazards

    I'm not quite caught up with all of the videos yet, but am really enjoying what I have seen so far. The story is completely compelling as its own thing — which is to say, while watching, I am not thinking "I'd like to see a comic of this" but rather "this is already in a perfect form for me to enjoy".

    From a game/system perspective, I find myself really digging the psychic Hazards from session 3. They are pushing me to be more creative with my own hazard creation, although I find myself juggling some conflicting ideas/impulses: (1) wanting hazards to be creative, (2) wanting them to be actually hazardous and present real challenges, and (3) feeling that it is maybe somewhat unfair to build them so that they are laser-focused at the players' weaknesses (although maybe it's just that I need to get over this, as Dr. Doom wouldn't think that way).

    • As long as you build the

      As long as you build the Hazards fully – attack/effect + conditions or roll to cope with it + conditions or roll to negate/solve/get through it, then they'll work wonderfully. Also, don't forget to keep hitting anyone who remains or is caught in the area that the Hazard affects, either "again" in the abstract if you're not using the Speed Chart, or at Speed 2 if you are.

      Finally, I urge everyone to examine any of the comics that I clearly favor in inspiring this design. You will be amazed at how often heroes are knocked out or rendered helpless, briefly or otherwise. I have personally been unhappy with my failure to slam our Depths heroes harder, and I intend to keep trying.

  4. Where the bench hit in session two

    In episode two, in the first encounter with the frog guy, one of the heroes is blinded and throws a bench at the frog guy who is on top of a building. It misses and you narrate the bench hitting the building itself. (Working from memory here, it was days since I listened to the relevant video.) Conceivable it could have gone over the enemy, to the side, etc.

    How did you choose where the bench hit? In general, I could see several ways of making such a decision, depending on the game and purpose to playing it, such as GM inspiration (something is the first thing to come to mind), heightened drama or realism/genre emulation.

    Does Champions now specify something here or is there a best practice?

    • Believe it or not, I play

      Believe it or not, I play Champions using a mental battlemat, in three dimensions. You may have noted the care with which Ulf and I confirmed the type and look of the building. As I conceived it when he stated his action, the hypotenuse for the throw went through the boundary of the building’s roof, and probably would have done so even on a successful hit against the target.

      I cannot attest to whether this method is sound in some deterministic way or merely a rationalization for imposing “what I want,” i.e., Gromit railroading, into play. It’s the same question that any creative person is often asked, “what did they mean” or “what were you thinking” when they did something, and it’s unanswerable.

      I do know that I consider rolls in Champions to be very straightforward, so that regardless of the result, the action does everything it should do based on what’s stated and known. I don’t use a failed roll as a method for introducing new things or conditions – the game has Luck and Unluck mechanics that cover that aspect of fiction very well.

  5. Itsekehu haisee

    The title is a Finnish saying, something to the effect of "praising oneself stinks". Not quite Jante-lagen, but not completely unrelated. This is to say, I think I get the concepts of these villains from the last session, even if the stench was supposed to be that of EU's, not just the character's. I probably miss the symbology of Skiva.

    They look like quite explicit political caricatures.

    (I am still to listen to the final reflections.)

    • Political caricature is my

      Political caricature is my middle name, while playing Champions Now.

      Not the entire EU, but definitely the economic priorities of one of its core elements, the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union that dates back just over a century.

      ndaj në pjesa  ("Skiva" "Slice") is a veteran of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Her background is linked to Stench's, who operated out of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, supporting Hashim Kaci.

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