Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

HERO System, M&M and assessing incoherence

Started by buzz, April 18, 2006, 02:26:09 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Ron Edwards

Hi Buzz!

1. Here's another thing to reflect on based on previous posts. You wrote,

QuoteM. and his wife can also get pretty deep and put on a good show. AFAIK, a lot of the backstory and NPCs from the current campaign are previous PCs of theirs from years past.

and, after I basically paraphrased that,

QuoteFWIW, when the group was first coming together via email discussion, what kind of HERO campaign we'd be playing was up in the air. I.e., Mike did not say "I'm looking for people to join my Champs campaign." It was, "I'm looking to put together a HERO group, and here are some ideas for the kinds of campaigns I'd be happy to run."

See? You backpeddled. Also, I hope you can see that whatever Mike "said" or "didn't say" when organizing the game is not data, whereas Bart's and Steck's actual behavior during play is indeed data. Talking about the former isn't going to mean a thing regarding the content of the latter. Somewhat more pointedly - I mean, why do you think Bart and Steck favored "standard Champs," man?

2. Storn's points probably do bear some thinking on, for you, but I thought of a good way to do it concretely.

Make up a character. I'll give you parameters: mid-80s Marvel, right about the time Byrne was kicking ass on the Fantastic Four and Stern was kicking ass on Spider-Man. Pre Secret Wars, but post-Phoenix's death. Got it? Now, don't set it in the Marvel setting, but think of a game like that, and leave out all the mutant-menace crap. We're making up a superhero team which is going to be a big deal, a great fucking series. Um ... my only parameter is that all the characters are new to superheroing and have teamed up with good will and good hearts, i.e. no hidden traitors, no dickweeds.

OK, here's more - he or she has to have some Code vs. Killing, at least 10 points, preferably more. And no Damage Reduction, because it suxxorg, and no Killing Attacks. I'm deadly sick of powered-armor heroes too, so do something else. You have 250 points, i.e. 150 points in Disadvantages.

Go!! Make up a totally new character, nothing to do with any Champs or supers character you ever played before. Post it all here. (Hey Storn! You too! That'll help a lot, I just realized.) I'll show you what I mean about prepping and building expectations for play in the fashion that Storn and I favor.

Best, Ron


Quote from: Ron Edwards on April 29, 2006, 04:21:55 PM
Somewhat more pointedly - I mean, why do you think Bart and Steck favored "standard Champs," man?

It's what they're familiar with? It's the genre they enjoy the most? (And, technically, Bart & Steck joined one session after we started the Champs campaign.)

Quote from: Ron Edwards on April 29, 2006, 04:21:55 PMOK, here's more - he or she has to have some Code vs. Killing, at least 10 points, preferably more. And no Damage Reduction, because it suxxorg, and no Killing Attacks. I'm deadly sick of powered-armor heroes too, so do something else. You have 250 points, i.e. 150 points in Disadvantages.
100+150 in disads? Okay. Does it matter that current 5th ed. Champs is 200+150? (FYI, Mike's campaign started at 125+125).

Anyway, okay! I'm heading off to D&D group right now, but will get to this tomorrow. Thank you very much for pursuing this with me.
A.k.a., Mark Delsing


And just to be clear, you literally want me to post the character, stats and all, right?
A.k.a., Mark Delsing

Ron Edwards

Yup! Post it all here.

I'm a little out of date regarding point levels. Use the current 5th-edition standards, which I think were built to make sure you had enough for all those skills and things that weren't a big deal in 3rd edition. I have my 5th-edition rules so I can catch up on the fly.

Storn, you're in, right? Doesn't matter whether you or Buzz posts first.

Best, Ron


I'm in.  Might be tomorrow... but I"m in.


Like so many of my characters, art comes first.  I thought of this old pic that I had done:

Bianca Donatello was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.  A bright young woman, she was thrown from a horse at a young age.  Her leg has never fully recovered.  Her parents were almost always away and she discovered a secret room in the family manse.  Books of enchantments, spells and cantrips became her closest friends.

Upon her 21st birthday, her father was killed by Black Paladin in an apparent random killing spree during the cruise celebrating the occasion.  Bianca's mystic powers sprung into full life, but alas too late to save her father.

Her mother once again has disappeared, this time searching for Black Paladin?  Bianca has vowed to protect her city from such evil magics with her own abilities, to be a Beacon against the Darkness!

STR 10 DEX 14 CON 14 BODY 10  OCV 5
INT 18 EGO 20 PRE 14/20 COM 12/20  DCV 5
PD 5 ED 5 SPD 3/5 REC 5  ECV 7
END 28 STUN 22 Phases: 3, 5, 8, 10, 12  Mental Def. 8
Char. 64 Skills 27 Powers 159 Total 250  PD/rPD 14/9
Base 100 Disadv. 150 Exp. 0 Total 250  ED/rED 14/9

Points Powers END
22 Armor: Cloak of Protection (9 PD/9 ED); Only in Hero ID: -¼   
!4 Mental Defense (8 pts)   
8 Detect Magic (+0 to PER); Time Required: Half Phase, +0   
5 Discriminatory Sense on Detect Magic (Normal Sight)   
4 Instant Change; Clothes: One Set, 5; Incantation: Instant Power, -¼   
5 Ultraviolet Vision   
5 +6 PRE; Only in Hero ID: -¼   
16 +2 SPD; Only in Hero ID: -¼   
3 +8 COM; Only in Hero ID: -¼   
7 EC: Mystical Movement (9-pt reserve); Only in Hero ID: -¼   
a-7 6" Flight (NC: 12"); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Reduced END: Zero, ½  0
b-6 10" Teleportation (Long Range 10"); Increased Range: ×1, +0; Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Fixed Locations: 0; Floating Locations: 0; Ranged (2 lvls of Megascale): +½; Limited Power (Only within confines of City X's Ley Lines, not outside of City X.): Half, -1; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1  3
10 END Reserve (60 END, 6 REC/turn); Only in Hero ID: -¼   
36 Multipower (65-pt reserve); Champions Advantage (Powers may draw from END Reserve or Personal END): +¼; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼; Incantation: Instant Power, -¼; Activation: 15-, -¼; Side Effects (Appropriate to spell attempted and around 30 active pts): 30/Half, -½   
u-3 10d6 EB: Mystic Light Blast ; Versus: ED  6
u-3 3d6 RKA: Lightning Bolt  6
u-2 3d6 Flash (Normal Sight, Sight)  5
u-2 Images (Normal Sight, Sight, 2" radius); Observer PER Penalty: 3, +9  4
u-3 Force Wall: Wards of Light (10 PD/10 ED); Width: 12", +0  6
u-3 8d6 Suppress Dark Magics; Affect: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼  6
u-3 3d6 Entangle: Bonds of Mystic Light (DEF 3); Affects Desolidified: +½; Champions Advantage (Stops Tport): +¼  6
u-2 Desolidification: Spirit of Light; Immune to Mental Powers: No, +0  5
159 Total Powers   

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
5 Money (Well Off)   
2 Area Knowledge  11-
6 +2 level w/Tight Group: Spells   
3 High Society  13-
3 Knowledge Skill: Magic Theory  13-
2 ks: Occult  11-
3 Italian (Completely Fluent w/accent); Literacy: Standard, 0   
3 Riding  12-
27 Total Skills, Talents, Perks   

100+ Disadvantages
5 DNPC: A demon snitch who is trying to go straight (Normal, 8-); Skills: Useful, -5 
15 Hunted: Black Paladin (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0 
20 Hunted: Demon (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0 
5 Phys. Lim. One knee never healed right, walks with cane -2" running (Infrequently, Slightly) 
15 Psych. Lim. Code vs. Kill (Common, Strong) 
15 Psych. Lim.Blindfully upbeat, LOVES being a hero, in a team, can't see the bad in people close to her (Common, Strong) 
15 In Love with GM's choice, but it will be irrational, passionate and strong... someone dark (Common, Strong) 
5 Rep: Donatello family, rich, old money, politically connected (8-) 
5 Rivalry: Mystic based Hero of GM's choosing; Situation: Professional, 5; Position: Equal, +0; Rival: NPC, +0 
15 Secret Identity: Bianca Donatello 
15 Strange Destiny: Unbeknownst to her, Father was in Council of Mages. She is a leagacy hero (Common, Strong); Situation: Common, +10; Intensity: Strong, +5 
10 Watched: Council of Mages (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Harsh, 0 
10 Vulnerability: Cold Iron (1½× STUN and BODY); Attack: Uncommon, +5 
150 Total Disadvantages

Notes:  Bianca walks with a cane, but Beacon does not.  The staff is not an OAF, it can be reconsituted by Beacon in an instant.  This might be a gamist idea, but acually, I just wanted a staff of light that just fades if swiped and springs back to life as a cool style thing... so I went with Only In Hero ID.  Note, she can cast spells in her civilian guise, but it comes out of her minuscule END.  Her END Reserve is in Hero ID.   Beacon is not a front line fighter, far from it.  She is supposed to be support. 

I envision that her Father and Mother are part of some secret organization, Council of Mages (stoopid name, but it serves).  Bianca/Beacon is a legacy hero with close ties to "her" city.  She has teleport with megascale to move around said city at pretty fast clip... but only in that city.

I think the roleplaying aspects of dual personaes is interesting... and I chose to make Beacon more beautiful, charismatic and glamourous than Bianca.  While that is not in the disads column, that would be something, if this character was to be played, that I would be interested in exploring.

So, Ron, does this set any warning bells off?  <g>

Ron Edwards

Waitin' for Buzz. This is going to be a long-term thread ...

Best, Ron


Quote from: Ron Edwards on May 02, 2006, 10:09:09 AM
Waitin' for Buzz. This is going to be a long-term thread ...

It's been a busy week so far. :) I am not giving up on this thread! The Canadian-in-exile hero Polestar will be posted... soon.
A.k.a., Mark Delsing


Okay, this is not as mechanically interesting as Storn's, but I like the guy. Your genre touchstones made me think immediately of the early Alpha Flight issues for some reason, though that may be a bit later than what you're asking for.

Aidan Moseley's father, Carter Moseley, was career military. Early on, his meritorious service to the Canadian Army warranted his selection for the top secret Weapon Mega project. Their super-soldier experiments on Carter proved fruitless, and he was eventually transferred back to regular duty. Later, after he had married and had a son (Aidan) with his young wife Sarah, Weapon Mega became interested again. Aidan's blood work had proved unusual, and, being born in a military hospital, word soon reached the project. Whatever they had done to Carter's genetic makeup had affected his progeny.

Flash forward seventeen years later. Aidan, trained under close supervision by Weapon Mega since he could walk, is asked to use his powers to covertly "liquidate" a suspected terrorist. He can't do it. On top of this, Carter is made aware of the fact that Weapon Mega has been operating as a rogue agency for the last three years. Carte and Aidan demand the project get out of their lives immediately. Weapon Mega insist that they "own" Aidan. The Canadian government insist Aidan is stolen military property. The end result, Sarah is killed in a suspicious car accident. Carter resigns his commission, and he and Aidan flee to the US.

Insisting that some good come from his abilities, Aidan christens himself "Polestar" and sets out to "do good in the world." Initial attempts earn him the enmity of VIPER... and a Champions character is born! ;)


Val   Char    Cost
10   STR    0
25   DEX    45
13   CON   6
10   BODY   0
13   INT          3
10   EGO   0
10   PRE          0
10   COM   0

5/15   PD          3
5/15   ED          2
4   SPD          5
5   REC     0
34   END          4
22   STUN   0

6"   RUN          0
2"   SWIM   0
2"   LEAP   0
Characteristics Cost: 68

Cost   Power
55   Graviton Manipulation: Multipower, 55-point reserve
4u   1)  Graviton Wall: Force Wall (11 PD/11 ED) (55 Active Points); Concentration (1/2 DCV; -1/4)
4u   2)  Graviton Blast: Energy Blast 11d6 (55 Active Points); Beam (-1/4)
4u   3)  Graviton Well: Entangle 3d6, 3 DEF, Takes No Damage From Attacks All Attacks (+1/2) (45 Active Points); Concentration (1/2 DCV; -1/4)
4u   4)  Graviton Command: Telekinesis (30 STR), Fine Manipulation (55 Active Points); Concentration (1/2 DCV; -1/4)
35   Flight 15", x4 Noncombat
30   Graviton Field: Force Field (10 PD/10 ED) (Protect Carried Items)
Powers Cost: 136

Cost   Skill
6   +3 with Graviton Blast
3   Acrobatics 14-
3   Breakfall 14-
10   Defense Maneuver I-IV
3   KS: The Military World 12-
6   Penalty Skill Levels:  +4 vs. Range Modifier with Graviton Blast
9   Power 15-
3   Stealth 14-
3   Teamwork 14-
Skills Cost: 46

Total Character Cost: 250

Pts.   Disadvantage
10   DNPC: Carter Moseley, father:  8- (Normal)
15   DNPC: Shelley Black, girlfriend:  8- (Normal; Unaware of character's adventuring career/Secret ID)
15   Canadian Government is watching:  11- (Mo Pow, NCI, Watching)
15   Hunted:  Teleios 8- (Mo Pow, Capture)
10   Hunted:  Weapon Mega Project 8- (As Pow, Capture)
20   Hunted: VIPER:  8- (Mo Pow, NCI, Harshly Punish)
15   "A regular Boy Scout" Psych Lim:  (Common, Strong)
15   Code v. Killing:  (Common, Strong)
15   Secret ID:  (Frequently, Major)
20   Vulnerability to Electrical Attacks:  2 x STUN (Common)

Disadvantage Points: 150
Base Points: 100

A.k.a., Mark Delsing

Ron Edwards

Hi Buzz, hi Storn.

I find myself remembering why my groups and I spent so much time on pre-prep standards in my Champions games. Both of those characters would be considered marginal at best. That means my response has two related angles of attack: first, to discuss the original point, how I'd prep and play a game with these characters in such a way that the players' decisions would drive conflicts to necessary resolution parts; second, to pull on my canvas gloves and chainsaw both of these abominations into chunks. And since of course they are only abominations to my way of looking at Champions, the real reason for that latter part is to show just how much tuning of one's own mind-set (and hence interpretation of the rules) is necessary to play this game.


She's a "magic rich-chick with her mysterious family gone missing - Storn, you're slacking. This is pure no-beef cliche right down to its toes. All right, I'll put that aside for later evisceration and check out the Disadvantages.

The Council of Mages, ah geez, whatta pain ... if they're such a big deal, why don't they solve the world's problems instead of Bianca? Fucking no-account pompous Jedi Council, that's why. Erase! Beef up the Donatello family instead. That serves the story role of "Council of Mages" ten times better

Grab that wonderful demon snitch and rack him up to 25 points worth of Disadvantage, pronto.

The Black Paladin bites - gotta be transformed into a character whose POV toward Bianca makes arguable sense, which means think, think.

The Rival, Strange Destiny, and Boyfriend all left up to me?? What? No way!! This is like serving up a stuffed pizza and telling me I have to stuff it.

All right, there is some serious tell-my-story-for-me and avoid-conflict-I'm-just-the-magic-user situation here. I'll get back to this in a bit.


I hope you will indulge me in a certain brutality of tone ...

In order:

1. Active-to-Real point ratios
2. Power framework justifications
3. Specific/local Advantage/Limitation combinations
4. Actual concept - is this a superhero? is it pastiche?

Well, no surprise here, given Storn's long history with Champions. The Real Points add up to 339 over 250, for a ratio of 1.36. It might interest you to know that I always disallow ratios of over 1.2 or so. Why? Because after a certain accumulative point, Limitations are so much trouble to keep track of, moment by moment in play, that the degree to which they're ignored hits a crucial level.

Add to that this combination of both Elemental Control and Multipower, and points are being saved at the Real Point level to an absurd degree. The easy and typical solution is to see whether the Elemental Control is really unified in any particular way, or whether it's the equivalent of Next Generation technobabble, or in this case, powers-babble. And glory be! "Mystic Movement," which is to say, no unity at all. I mean, we already know the character's powers are "mystic," and "movement" only describes effect, not anything in the SIS. I call bullshit, and thus the nickel-dime point-savings there go away too. I kind of go back and forth on the teleportation altogether, because at worst, it's just a "get me to the scene" power, and if its Limitation were to be applied meaningfully, I'd be expected to map ley lines all over my city map ... and fuck that, you know? But on the other hand it's at least interesting, if I were to think about other cities with their "attuned" mages.

Ron's rule: whenever point-saving devices in the Champions rules make more work for me in moment-to-moment play, in terms of limiting the character's options, then they're outta there.

(Psychological corollaries to all this now start to appear. For many Champions players, 12d6 is the effectiveness cutoff they simply must reach in offense, defense, movement, and "other" or else they cannot imagine playing. All the little tricks above are involved in reaching this. My solution is simply to bitch-slap the other players until they see that I can build a wonderful, playable Dr. Strange or Spider-Man at 250 points (3rd edition) with ratios at about 1.15-1.2, with no fucking little Champions point-tricks, and sticking with reasonable uses of power frameworks. Sure, they hit for about 8d6, and a solid hit from anything bigger will knock them ass over teakettle. But it just so happens that these characters' best and most seminal stories appeared when they were right at that level of power in the comics, and in the ensuing comics which took them up to about 300 points.)

I won't even go into the optimization of rounding. That's so classic for Champions that it doesn't bear mentioning except to shoot Storn a disgusted look. I mean, a couple of attributes, sure, but every last single one?

Where were we? Oh yes, local Advantages and Limitations. I already stomped on the teleportation; what else? OK, I'm fine with the Hero ID stuff, because we have the Thor reference to work with, and I already presented my thoughts on how to use it constructively. But that Multipower ... huh, color me old-school. I never thought Gestures and Incantations meant a God damn thing in play, in terms of limiting the powers. The only way for me to get decent limits onto them during play is to contrive such bogus situations that (a) players would call me on the contrivance and (b) I'd have to railroad to set them up. Nope, not gonna do it. That'd bring the Real points up by 20% of its points, which are not to be found, and thus the Active points of the Multipower pool drops by 13 points to 52. Better.

Other details ... wah! A Killing Attack, snuck in right under the radar of the parameter "no killing attacks." Big black sharpie slash, outta there. And then there's that END reserve, which is one of those 4th edition rules that can bite me. Why so much effort was expended in that edition to make sure that characters would never be limited by END, I'll never know. If you're going to go to all that trouble to make END ineffective, why not just abandon that rules-feature entirely. Nope - in my games, END hurts. The only reason we use it in play at all is because it's likely to run out in a fight. Oh, and even if it were allowed, "only Hero ID" is totally bogus in this case, because it's there to power spells, which are mainly going to be cast in Hero ID anyway (even if they're not designated as such, that's the reality of the situation).

Finally, looking it all over and taking Part One into account, is Beacon a superhero? Barely. She fits in the debased sense that any of the Teen Titans were superheroes, with the possible exceptions of Jericho and Nightwing who had their cool moments. She's neurotic, needy, vague, optimized for generic fighting (every basic attack in the book: hold, wall, zap, blind, negate, etc), and magical in the fantasy-fic sense rather than the cosmic-cool Dr. Strange sense. She has no unique style in the visual sense, nor any passion-driven combination of outlooks that make her do stuff, rather than just react. Goddam Mercedes Lackey character, all over.

Storn, your comment that she's "support" is an alarm bell, as if any were needed. She makes perfect sense as a tactical D&D character and might as well be one, wandered in from another game. She ain't no superhero worth my time as GM.


Go with the rich-girl vs. hero dichotomy in a much bigger way. Decide which of the two is the "real" Bianca and set up the Psych Disadvantages accordingly.

Get rid of the stupid parents - if they're mages, why aren't they being the hero instead of her? Similarly, bring up the Donatellos like I mentioned earlier.

Rack up the Cold Iron to 2X, and back it up with some other dangerous stuff - maybe darkness kicks off ruthlessness, or something. Get that physical handicap linked up to a psychological Disadvantage - not feelings of worthlessness, far from it - think Donald Blake and Thor, and recognize that his game leg was a source of determination. (This is an instance where "disadvantage" is a historical artifact.)

Beef up all that romance! The Rivalry should shoot up to 20 points, as should the Love; get rid of DEMON (which is a stooooopid enemy group from the word go). Whip up the demon NPC to 20 points too, 'cause he looks fun.

Fix all the powers, obviously, and give them a unique bite, as "glowing" just isn't enough. Pick powers for the Multipower that are perfectly suited for the conflicts inherent in the Disadvantages, as well as having a rocking-fun-to-draw visual effect.

I haven't recalculated all the Disads in detail, but that's the direction Beacon would have to go in before I'd have her set foot in a game of mine.

.... continued ...

Ron Edwards


Well, OK, he's not such an abomination. But he really isn't flashy enough for the beefcake he should be. Here's where I do my Secret Sacred Wars Roach impression and shake my fists at the sky, shouting "Conflict! Praise conflict!"

The father and girlfriend are too vague, really.

Viper's just weak; if this guy's busy dealing with the Canadian government all the time, why bother with international bad guys on a personal level?

His Psych disads need beef. If he's such a boy scout, why can't he suck it up and work for the government, killing their enemies?


In order:

1. Active-to-Real point ratios
2. Power framework justifications
3. Specific/local Advantage/Limitation combinations
4. Actual concept - is this a superhero? is it pastiche?

Talk about the total opposite in ratios. Polestar clocks in at barely 1.01, having saved four whole points. Yeesh. Now, if everyone in a group were like this, it'd be no big deal, but the chances of everyone doing that in a Champions game are miniscule to microscopic. So I'm thinking we should look at some interesting special effect of his powers which acts as a blanket pain in the ass - not an energy-runs-out thing (the whole "impotent uberman" thing is way overused), but maybe some kind of effect he has on others. Dunno. Something. Perhaps it would be fun to see his stuff have Side Effects too, as a mirror of Bianca's Side Effects for her spells.

(A lot of you might be getting the impression that my concern with the Active-to-Real point ratios is about "game balance" of some kind. It's not. It's about the effort to manage the content of the character in the SIS, and the degree to which the baseline abilities are entertainingly limited vs. boringly complicated. Plus about not getting shit for free; not even Storn had the gall to "limit" his Multipower using Charges.)

Multipower ... ah, this is Green Lantern, basically. Pretty decent, but boring. I'd suggest changing it to a 40-point Variable Power Pool, which given the rules I was most familiar with, and laying stuff like Concentration over the whole thing, would put it at about the same total cost. That way you get the massive versatility and they're a lot of fun in play, especially when they're relatively low-powered.

Is Concentration really all that interesting, though? I mean, "he has to squint." It's ultimately just color. I'd poke around for some others.

Is Beacon a superhero? Yeah, he's in that end of the pool. Definitely a little boring, but the modifications in the Disadvantages and some complications for the powers should get him up to speed.


Not much to write here about the powers other than my recommendations embedded in the above points. He ain't broken, just dull.

As for the disads, it looks pretty easy to call for improvements.

First, drop VIPER and gratuitous empty-point-bags like Teleios, whoever he is, and instead, focus on those military/government conflicts, especially whoever it was who he was supposed to kill! There must be all sorts of major NPCs for use in there.

The father and the girlfriend should get written up or otherwise made interesting and Kicker-like.

The Psych disads are the real place to work on him, though. This guy needs some rage, some righteous power. He wants to "do some good?" Well freakin' define that in a specific, goal-directed way and point him in that direction with 20 points.

.... continued ....

Ron Edwards


Well, one thing jumps out right away: light. Bright, shining, glowing, gleaming, burning light. Huh. That should be interesting or utilized in some way.

Another - the total mismatch of the implied setting between the two of them. On the one side, magical covens and mystic relationships, hinting at how any moment now the ancient prophecy will be fulfilled and the very gates of hell or Dormammu's dimension or whatever will crack open, rahhhhh; on the other, government dudes in suits with sunglasses, hinting at black ops and secret projects and international deals that one dare not name, culminating I'm certain in a doomsday weapon going missing somewhere in the Kurdish mountains of Iraq and showing up in, yes, your own city.

That kind of mismatch can be fun! In fact, it can be the very basis for devising scenarios and whole uber-conflicts - not the fact that they have to do "Clancy thriller" one week and "mystic shit" the next, while the off-hero whines about it, no! Instead, find ways for a given conflict to kick off all the right stuff for both. We need a villain like Doctor Doom, who does magic using science, and science using magic. I love that shit, too, and jump at the chance to see it starin' at me in the potential connections among the Disadvantages.

Now for a list of the NPCs. Given my recommendations above, we have ...

Carter Moseley who obviously wants to run his son's life for his son's own good, just as the Weapon Mega goons do/did.
Carter's dead mom, who's obviously way more important in all this than appears, because why bother killing her instead of Carter?
Carter's girlfriend, who needs to be more than a querulous, suspicious wench who wonders why Carter shows up late to the date, with radiation burns and a terrorist neatly trussed up for delivery to whoever collects them.
The Canadian feds, and I need to come up with what they really want - stop Weapon Mega? Get them back under control? Suppress the whole thing? What?
The Weapon Mega dirtbags
Bianca's love-interest and Bianca's rival - work on these, get me something real here
"Black Paladin" or whoever we get with a name that doesn't make me squirt beer out of my nose, and obviously he's gonna be the science/magic, magic/science dude that I mentioned above
The Donatello family in general, with their cool contacts
The demon snitch, lovable little fucker that he'll be

Well, if you can't see the love, then I'll just have to spell it out for you. All this is just Weaving and Crossing, you realize.

1. Put Carter's mom into the Donatello family.
2. Make the girlfriend damnably interesting, quite likely a strong-minded and reasonable political activist of some kind - a good moral compass for Aidan and alternative to his father, for instance.
3. The soon-to-be renamed "Black Paladin" is obviously running Weapon Mega.
4. That love-interest and rival business with Bianca has to be a big deal, and put all kinds of bite on the kinds of scenarios going on
5. The Donatello family is in like Flynn with the Canadian feds in some way.
6. The demon snitch will write himself especially if his background makes his very presence a thumb in the bad guys' eyes, and if he's snitching on government stuff.

All right, there's a limit to this sort of thing, because sooner or later you get to the point where Beacon and Polestar are actually twins separated at birth and every single Disad on each sheet is intertwined across the other's sheet, and it all becomes stupid. But I'd certainly use some of these Crosses and Weaves, especially the bit about linking up the big mystic villain with Weapon Mega, because it solves the thematic mismatch in a fun, interesting way that would challenge me as a GM, too.


Despite how much fun it was, the structural chainsawing I did above really isn't as important as looking at the Disadvantages as the real meat of the entire play-experience, for prep, for actual in-play conflicts, and for messing with once a few EPs are available.

I think now's a good time for your responses and for setting up the next part of the dialogue - scenario preparation and in-play attention to key decisions, so the players become the drivers via their characters' actions.

Best, Ron


Mulling this over, and will comment soon. Good stuff!

BTW (and not to derail), but where the heck does "Strange Destiny" as a Disad come from?
A.k.a., Mark Delsing


This is pretty fascinating stuff, helps me with a gurps campaign I was thinking of running in a similar manner.  Just for the sake of clarity though Ron could you say which agenda the way you've used Champions is facilitating.  I'm pretty sure I know but I want to be sure.

Ron Edwards

Well, so far there's not much Creative Agenda here except in terms of a distant, collaborative goal or expectation. At the moment, it could really be any of the three, although I've cut out about 75% of the most common Gamist approaches to Champions via a number of my pre-character parameters and post-character comments. Point-mongering to stay ahead of the difficulty curve (pretty much a me-vs.-GM, my character is tougher than what he's got) is outta there at this point, for instance. And you can probably see that I've booted most of the Psychological Disadvantage into an active, rather than reactive state, which in tandem with a few other things is at least sort of Narrativist-directed.

But the real point is not to hone Narrativism into a knife-edge that forces the players in any fashion; Creative Agenda is something we do together, not something that gets imposed as a fundamental feature of the Techniques involved. I hope instead to show that a certain approach to Disadvantages, and an eye toward minimizing certain Champions-specifics habits of optimization, is inspiring for both GM and player. Inspiring toward what? Toward developing Kickers and Bangs, rather than pre-planned scenarios.

Yup, Champions taught me Kickers and Bangs. Or maybe it's the other way around, playing and interpreting Champions's vague-ass but meaty rules made me utilize its features to invent Kickers and Bangs (using "invent" strictly locally, meaning our group, not for the whole hobby or some shit like that).

To be clear: Kickers in this case means a series of tags and interlocking pieces of the character which demand action on my part, in terms of creating NPCs, back-stories, and introductory features of a given session. Bangs in this case means continuing to do so as play progresses, particularly in terms of my playing those NPCs like the fascinating active beasts they are.

Now turn to the players. What the characters decides to do in the face of this opening and constant input is utterly up to them. Playing in this fashion means that the second half, at least, of any given game session is totally, totally up for grabs, and I as GM cannot and should not pre-plan it. I can, for instance, decide what the villain Rip Razor's hideout is like, and even build it with points by the rules. But that doesn't mean I know they're ever going to see it. For all I know, we'll never see it in play. Or Polestar will lead a team of Canadian commandos to take it down. Or instead, Beacon will end up there because in her secret ID she's sleeping with Rip Razor in his, and he decides to show the spoiled rich chick his secret life. Or whatever.

Best, Ron