For our second arc of Champions Now, we’ve added a new writer-artist, Sam, and moved the action to the island city-state of Ierendi. As with Karameikos, I’ll leave explanation of the backdrop and lore to Rod, but suffice to say that Singapore has been a strong inspiration, and gaudy phantasmagoria abounds. You can find our initial character sheets attached. 

Sam and I are finding it fun to flex our Tunnels and Trolls muscles with multiple characters. Between us, we have an entire soap opera cast. Over the first couple sessions, I think you can see us figuring out exactly how to play them. Sam has focused on the very different priorities of Shala or the Naga, one at a time, with the ‘off’ character serving as a kind of chorus to the actions of the other. The Naga’s ‘otherwordly city’ powers have given a unique texture to Ierendi and are the kind of trippy, surprising Special Effects that Sam makes look as easy as breathing.

I’ve been enjoying the zany, bounce-house quality of the collective Gobbos. But I really appreciate how Rod used his authorities in the first session to explore their separate social and emotional circumstances.What you’ll see me realize over the first three sessions is that I’m not really interested in contriving emotional conflict between the Gobbos. With the pressures of their Unusual Looks pressing in from all sides, they’re committed to each other by virtue of being the only solidarity available. I’m more curious about whether they can overcome and find value in their differences during the moment-by-moment resolution of crisis. I think it’s likely that if deeper conflict arises, it will be at the crossroads of authorities (for instance, Jumbo’s conversion to the Naga religion in session 2).

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10 responses to “Ierendi”

  1. From an outsider’s view, I’m negotiating the swerves: two players, multiple heroes per character, shift in location.

    Sam is playing Shala and the Naga, but they are also pretty closely connected, because Shala is dedicated to the Naga temple, or have I confused myself?

    Are the Gobbos separately-created characters or an application of Multiform? (the latter is maybe me being overly invested in the system, when playing separate characters would be fine) [fixed! I’d missed the attached file; it’s added now]

    Anyway, this whole thing is crazy and brilliant.

    • Glad you’re enjoying it, Ron! Hopefully Shala and the Gobbos’ character sheets are helpful in keeping our five (!) Heroes straight.

  2. Sessions 2 and 3 of Champions Now Ierendi are live!

    Session 2:
    Session 3:

    The final actions of session 2 were a breakthrough for me in how the Gobbos’ Situations and Tricky (Ego) Disadvantages could be played during crisis. The realization in session 3 that Lola is the Paladin’s ace pilot made me smile, remembering how my mom discovered all kinds of rewarding interests and activities after deciding to retire early.

  3. Noah hasn’t posted yet, but session 4 is visible on his channel, so, uh, it’s time for some damage control. This session features a villain with gobs of Strength and quite a bit of Speed. Characters like this can burn through Endurance very quickly if they’re not careful, which is something I knew intellectually beforehand — but with little experience actually playing such a character, I got my poor ogre pirate in deep water. I was well on the back foot by the time I made the single worst combat decision I’ve made in this or possibly any other game. I tried to post-mortem what I was thinking (or not thinking) immediately afterwards, but ultimately it was a total short-circuit of common sense and there’s not much I can do to explain it. Watch the video!

    • Watching now. I totally get what you’re saying, and I’ve done it a lot too. In our mutual defense, one may point to any number of opponents in the comics who demonstrate the same phenomenon, and for whom I know some creators say the same thing: “what was I thinking? why didn’t someone stop me?”

      As an aside, just watching Sam play is its own remarkable enjoyment.

  4. I like how the multiple characters are linked in a thematic way for each player (or literal way). I’ve been looking at the way some games suggest multiple characters and most of them are without too much in the way of direction or suggestions as to linking those characters. Are the various subroutines (characters) treated as different aspects of the same “character” or as abilities? I did read the sheet but I am not that conversant in Champions (Now) to understand the framework.

    Very much enjoying these sessions.

    • From a numeric perspective, the Gobbos are a single character, having one sheet, one set of Characteristic scores, and one Endurance score. Some elements (three of the Psychological Situations) are owned by a single Gobbo, some (their Unusual Looks) belong to all of them, and some are more situational (for instance, I imagine that if Poppa and Jumbo are piloting the Paladin, they still get the benefits of Combat Awareness, minus Lola’s ability to detect ‘malice’). While quite nuanced and dynamic in play, the whole mess is simpler than it looks because the Gobbo’s only have Powers (and associated Body/Endurance reserves) when one or more of them is in the Paladin. I intentionally kept their Dex/Ego/Int Characteristics at 11 because I knew they’d be shared by all of the Gobbos. Any further differentiation in Characteristics will likely be handled as situational Skills.

    • Sessions 5 and 6 see the relationship between the (many!) Player Characters really start sizzling, and they have some of my favorite play between Noah and Sam (and between Sam and himself). Unfortunately, I think it’s also the nadir of my prep and play effectiveness, owing to a lot of factors:

      1.) I discuss this a little in Session 6, but Sgt. Roki is just not functioning. When I played the previous Champions Now/D&D with Noah, I had a couple of enemies who used Separate powers as their minions and got really charmed by the idea. So when I decided to make a bird forever-warrior and his squad of bird G.I. Joes, I went back to the same well. In retrospect, I recall that alarm bells went off early — the mechanics were kind of an odd fit for the concept, and the points on the squaddies got bloated really fast, leaving Roki himself looking pretty threadbare. But I was infatuated with the idea, so I went ahead with it, and ultimately the results were unsatisfying, with the alleged hard-bitten commando just a guy who points and says “Get ‘em boys!” and then teleports away as soon as danger ruffles his delicate feathers. Blech. It’s especially a shame since he’s the only villain who comes from a hero’s Hunted, and I really enjoy his situations (or would, if he were forceful enough to prosecute them). He’s due for a full rewrite within the timeframe of the next few sessions.

      2.) A tale of two DNPCs: Tiri (on Roki’s villain sheet) and Ababa Sa (on the Naga’s). With both of them, I wrung my hands over whether they were going to be full villains and ultimately decided against it. But, I thought to myself, they’re not just regular ol’ people either, right? So in defiance of the rules I gave them both diminished point-based stats in the manner of, say, agents in Champions 3rd edition. The few times they’ve come into play in combat, the results were ok, but hardly different than if they’d participated as Hazards — so this was just a pointless and regressive exercise. From now on they’re back to being regular old NPCs (who can be hazards when appropriate).

      3.) Interestingly, a physical factor: When I played the Pool with Sean and Jon last year, I kept my notes, backstories and maps in a charming little hardbound notebook. I was so fond of it that I did the same thing with my Champions Now games — but this has turned out to be a dumb idea, for the obvious reason that Champions Now prep involves creating play implements that need to be ready at hand, to be referenced, marked up or altered as the game demands. Anyone who watched the last couple of videos from the earlier Karameikos game saw plenty of me griping as I flipped back and forth through that notebook looking for something I scrawled on a forgotten page. Hopefully, that’s enough of that — this evening I went and bought a binder, some looseleaf paper and sheet protectors.

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