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Reboot the CU Uuniverse, WWYD?


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If we were to reboot Champions Universe what changes would you like to see. My choices:
-Change Dr. Destroyer. A previous thread mentioned making him a female but I would drop the Nazi WWII story and make him/her a time traveling villain from the future who came to conquer the past. Destroyer is big enough in points and resources to already represent a major threat so why not a temporal threat as well.
-Bring back Seeker. I think he needs a greater number of martial art skills and weapons. Maybe give him a beard give him more character.
-I think it is time to have Leech cured. He did not ask to be what he was so I think maybe some mystical hero might change him back. Have him back to drive a cab again :)
-Drop Millennium City as the default setting. I think it would be nice to not be pigeon-holed in one city. Many individual villains (and organizations) have a global reach so why not pick and choose different cities for villains instead of one.

 

I have some more but I think that these are good starting points.

 

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I get the desire for representation, but I'm not sure we need to make a point of transgendered characters for a setting like this. I remember Steve Long being asked about gay/lesbian characters in Cha

Burn down the too-big threats.  No unusable "can wipe 4-6 PCs with half his AP tied behind his back" Mary Sues like Destroyer.  No globe-spanning too-large-to-defeat organizations like VIPER.  Set the

I like the CU. I played in it A LOT.    I'd keep EVERYTHING. I'd keep the history the same. I'd incorporate old storylines that have been overwritten by newer incarnations, and try to unify

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I honestly don't feel like the CU needs a hard reboot. I'm quite happy with the way it is, at least overall. Certainly I would, and have, made many tweaks, shifted stuff around, filled in what I thought were blank spaces, but overall I consider it a solid framework for four-color supers gaming, which is my personal preference.

 

For my part, I don't feel pigeonholed in MC. It's nice to have a developed city as a home base if you want one, but there's plenty of super activity in many of America's major cities. We also have Vibora Bay as a completely fictional alternative city. There isn't much of a bar to moving many people and groups from those cities to whatever location you prefer. I've also noticed that most of the official published villains aren't tied to a specific location -- there's no reason they can't show up wherever you want to base your campaign.

 

The only thing I would like to do is continue to advance the time line. It's getting to the point where some older characters should be retiring, and new blood needs to be introduced. I know that would have happened if Hero Games had continued to publish CU setting books.

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I was thinking about the timeline in the universe. I would also remove the "with magic gone supers will go". I would also like to see how superheroes and villains would interact eras like the Terran Empire.

 

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You could restore the cybernetic Supreme Serpent from 4E VIPER, perhaps changing its motivation to something more clearly malevolent. Two available routes I see to that: 1) Keep the space probe origin, but make it Malvan as per the current CU. The age and advancement of the Malvan civilization, and its more recent decadence, should fit the background of the probe well enough. Perhaps it sees potential in humanity to become the "new Malva," but believes it needs to take direct control to guide our development, and chooses VIPER as its instrument. 2) VIPER's AI, Serpentine, could be the secret Supreme Serpent. Serpentine is programmed to be loyal to VIPER, but not to any individual member of the organization. It may have decided VIPER's goals could best be served by taking leadership itself. In either case it would almost necessarily work through a figurehead/puppet as with 4E VIPER.

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I don't have a problem with the concept of Doctor Destroyer (duh, just look to your left ;) ), but as presented he's more of a cliche than an actual character. All he amounts to is intellect, arrogance, and power. There's no depth, no layers, no shadings. Apologies to Steve Long, whose writing I admire for many of its strengths; but I feel he really missed a great opportunity to put some role-playing meat on DD's megalomaniacal bones when he wrote Book Of The Destroyer. Albert Zerstoiten's past as outlined there is full of people and incidents that should have been elaborated to show how he became the man he is today, but they were almost wholly bypassed. Destroyer's personality seems to have emerged almost full-blown, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus.

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2 hours ago, Dr. MID-Nite said:

I would get rid of Doctor Destroyer and get rid of VIPER's mystical elements(we have DEMON for that).

 

 

Yes to both.  

 

 

As far as the good Doctor, make him closer to his namesake (Doom).  Doom is tough, but there is no way he could take on multiple hero teams.  Make Doc D. similar in that regard.

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Burn down the too-big threats.  No unusable "can wipe 4-6 PCs with half his AP tied behind his back" Mary Sues like Destroyer.  No globe-spanning too-large-to-defeat organizations like VIPER.  Set the world up so the PCs have the opportunity to pick a thing they don't like and let the campaign be how they get rid of it.  Anything outside that scope has no business being in a superhero TTRPG setting. 

Do the same to the good guys.  Nobody wants to play a game where the GMPCs are just around the corner being better than the PCs.  Gut PRIMUS, UNTIL, all the other hero groups so the PCs can be important. 

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I like all the glorious messiness of the CU.

 

I might have some more of the big world-beater threats (individuals and maybe organizations) actually conquer their own countries to help explain why they aren't out there trying to conquer the world every day. Once you get busy running a country, it probably dawns on you how much of a drag that trying to run a world would be. A couple of countries in Africa, a couple of countries in South America, a couple of countries in Asia, and a few island nations would cover it. Heck even with moderate power levels, you could conquer an island nation that no other country cares enough to defend. You could even have some nations invite in some powered person to take over to try to straighten out their messes.

 

I might suggest something like that in wikiworld.

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  I see in the other comments on this thread a lot of concentration on including everything that’s happened before and what the future history should include.   There seems to be not enough consideration on what’s happening NOW.  
   IMHO the most successful reboots in comics were the first ones. The beginning of the Silver Age with the Flash and the one that took place after the original Crisis on Infinite Earths.  In each the main focus was on what was being used now, not what was being left behind. Things became too complex only when every story idea of the past had to be made a part of current history.

  It’s more important to decide what fits in today, what makes sense for a new group of characters who exist currently. If a character or organization doesn’t make sense now then it has to be sacrificed.  UNTIL, PRIMUS, VIPER etc. must be shaped for the world as it exists not how it was in the ‘70’s & ‘80’s when they were introduced in Champions or the ‘60’s & ‘70’s when their archetypes appeared in the comics.  The Marvel Movies versions of SHIELD and the origin of Iron Man are good examples of updating for the current day.

  If this is a serious conversation about new product for a new audience you have to be willing to “kill your babies” in the writers parlance. Meaning if something doesn’t fit into the world as it is it must be laid aside in favor of new ideas that will.

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On 7/21/2020 at 5:10 AM, archer said:

I like all the glorious messiness of the CU.

 

I might have some more of the big world-beater threats (individuals and maybe organizations) actually conquer their own countries to help explain why they aren't out there trying to conquer the world every day. Once you get busy running a country, it probably dawns on you how much of a drag that trying to run a world would be. A couple of countries in Africa, a couple of countries in South America, a couple of countries in Asia, and a few island nations would cover it. Heck even with moderate power levels, you could conquer an island nation that no other country cares enough to defend. You could even have some nations invite in some powered person to take over to try to straighten out their messes.

 

I might suggest something like that in wikiworld.

 

We have had some examples along those lines in the Champions Universe, revolving around fictional countries on Champions Earth. Poor Guamanga in Central America was hit with both a coup attempt by ARGENT, and Menton manipulating them into voting for him as their president. Both of those were only temporary, though; for my use of the CU I kept Menton in charge, hiding his true identity. But ARGENT is closely allied with the Middle Eastern kingdom of Awad, and from behind the scenes effectively rules the nation of Chiquador in South America, and the city-state of Larisagrad in the Ural Mountains. Of course Doctor Destroyer is master of the hidden valley of Javangari in the Himalayas, where he's worshiped as a god. And Joseph Otanga is the superpowered dictator of Lugendu in West Africa. A few more such invented countries are ripe for takeover by the right villains: Costa Azul in the Caribbean, Lurranga in Central Africa, Taqiristan in Central Asia. (All of these are described in more detail in Champions Universe, Champions Universe: News Of The World, and Champions Worldwide.)

 

In the previous incarnation of the CU we had the Malachite Islands, dominion of the master geneticist Malachite (analogue to Teleios in many ways). I think it was implied that he raised them up around the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, giving himself more territory. He also had IMO one of the best rationales for why the world community didn't just kick him out: he threatened to release deadly pathogens into the atmosphere if he was attacked.

 

The 4E The Mutant File also gave us the West African country of Unadai, a kind of anti-Wakanda utilizing both advanced technology and mysticism, whose king, Manadu Ayawan, is the product of eugenics and a vision to bring all of Africa under his "perfect" rule. He was one of the leaders of Genocide, but the pretext for him joining it always seemed rather flimsy to me. More recently I transferred much of that concept to Lurranga, mentioned above. (Lurranga is given little detail under 5E/6E, leaving it open for development; but much more in 4E.)

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4 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

We have had some examples along those lines in the Champions Universe, revolving around fictional countries on Champions Earth. Poor Guamanga in Central America was hit with both a coup attempt by ARGENT, and Menton manipulating them into voting for his as their president. Both of those were only temporary, though; for my use of the CU I kept Menton in charge, hiding his true identity. But ARGENT is closely allied with the Middle Eastern kingdom of Awad, and from behind the scenes effectively rules the nation of Chiquador in South America, and the city-state of Larisagrad in the Ural Mountains. Of course Doctor Destroyer is master of the hidden valley of Javangari in the Himalayas, where he's worshiped as a god. And Joseph Otanga is the superpowered dictator of Lugendu in West Africa. A few more such invented countries are ripe for takeover by the right villains: Costa Azul in the Caribbean, Lurranga in Central Africa, Taqiristan in Central Asia. (All of these are described in more detail in Champions Universe, Champions Universe: News Of The World, and Champions Worldwide.)

 

In the previous incarnation of the CU we had the Malachite Islands, dominion of the master geneticist Malachite (analogue to Teleios in many ways). I think it was implied that he raised them up around the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, giving himself more territory. He also had IMO one of the best rationales for why the world community didn't just kick him out: he threatened to release deadly pathogens into the atmosphere if he was attacked.

 

The 4E The Mutant File also gave us the West African country of Unadai, a kind of anti-Wakanda utilizing both advanced technology and mysticism, whose king, Manadu Ayawan, is the product of eugenics and a vision to bring all of Africa under his "perfect" rule. He was one of the leaders of Genocide, but the pretext for him joining it always seemed rather flimsy to me. More recently I transferred much of that concept to Lurranga, mentioned above. (Lurranga is given little detail under 5E/6E, leaving it open for development; but much more in 4E.)

 

That's more than I had remembered.

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I'm using the San Angelo universe, the original of which was written while the fourth edition of Champions was in use.  There are no aliens in it, so no "Blue Boy" technology.  I'm leaning to making VIPER an international criminal organization instead of an international paramilitary organization, and I might even change its name.  DEMON's future is still up in the air, along with UNTIL.  PRIMUS, however, does exist.

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I would make Until more of a investigatory/ support organization.  They have agents, but they are few in number (but extremely well trained)  Think more Man from Uncle with some supers type equipment.  Thus they develop links to heroes for those time they need the firepower or that particular piece of equipment.  

 

SO Until agent would be about 150 pts (like current)

 

Viper would be 100 pts at best (thugs with guns more like they were back originally)

 

Of course YMMV!

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8 hours ago, Mr. R said:

I would make Until more of a investigatory/ support organization.  They have agents, but they are few in number (but extremely well trained)  Think more Man from Uncle with some supers type equipment.  Thus they develop links to heroes for those time they need the firepower or that particular piece of equipment.  

 

SO Until agent would be about 150 pts (like current)

 

Viper would be 100 pts at best (thugs with guns more like they were back originally)

 

Of course YMMV!

VIPER uses street gangs for muscle and commits street crimes with a high-tech twist.  The gangs wear dark-green jumpsuits with yellow stripes on the outsides of the arms and legs, and add leather gloves, ski masks, and suppressed weapons while committing their crimes.  Only the gang leader gets orders from "the next level up".  The gang leader is, unknown to the leader, watched at all times and his phone can be remotely detonated, killing him.

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On 7/21/2020 at 7:29 AM, Tjack said:

   If this is a serious conversation about new product for a new audience you have to be willing to “kill your babies” in the writers parlance. Meaning if something doesn’t fit into the world as it is it must be laid aside in favor of new ideas that will.

 

It should be noted that DOJ Inc. did just that when it took over the Champions IP. For example, VIPER's history, structure and personnel were greatly redefined, while DEMON was rendered nearly unrecognizable from its previous incarnation. Genocide was replaced by the smaller and less provocatively-named Institute for Human Advancement, and the whole "anti-mutant" dynamic in the CU was significantly reduced. Many long-standing Champions groups and villains were excised, e.g. Terror Inc, VOICE, Raven, Sanctuary; while many new ones were introduced, often to fill specific genre niches, like ARGENT and the Trismegistus Council. The present-day CU was given a much more thorough and coherent historical and social context. And on and on.

 

Some of these changes were controversial to the Champs fan base when they were introduced, and I guarantee that any future rebooting of the CU would be met with the same degree of criticism and resistance, even if folks participating in this thread reached a consensus. ;)

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I would probably throw in a few more Cosmic Heroes and Villains. Expand the outer space superheroics and the interdimensional scientists or interplanar wizards stuff, so as to have the chance to add a whole bunch of weird new stuff (including lots of alternate variants of the same things) without actually getting rid of anything. Classic Doctor Destroyer is in Earth Y, but female Nazi general Doctor Destroyer comes from Blue Earth, and Doctor Destroyer of Earth Gamma-9 is a superhero from the Andromeda Galaxy.

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I think DEMON as it's written up in 5th Edition is absurd, both in having this regimented giant MLM organization of evil occultists and in pretty much everything about Luther Black, his goals, and his over-the-top trio of henchmen/avatars. (Its dedicated supplement and the whole Shadow Destroyer storyline had a bad case of "Look kids, QLIPPOTHIC! Boo, scary stuff!" going on.) I do like the members of the Inner Circle though, and could see having Black be the long-dead founder who brought them into contact with each other as more sadistic rivals to the Circle of the Scarlet Moon. Just, make them the people in charge of an alliance of various cults and secret societies working toward common goals, not a 20,000+ cookie cutter Satanist supervillain army that's completely in the dark about its true purpose.

 

I've also leaned toward gender-flipping Firewing, as nothing about his origin or modus operandi strikes me as needing him to be male. Having a female top-tier powerhouse supervillain who's honorable, a bit noble, deadly, and NOT built around the concept of being a seductress or some powerful guy's manipulative girlfriend pulling his strings has a lot of appeal to me. Plus, then you get to use these images for the visuals:

 

 

153383_1_468.jpeg

tilda-2.jpg

tilda-3.jpg

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For "top-tier female powerhouse supervillain who's honorable," I favor Kayli the Destroyer, from Mike Surbrook's 5E Ninja Hero; whom he revised and upgraded even more in Digital Hero #35. That article also brought along her people, the Nekhojin (an homage to the "Saiyajin/Saiyans" from the Dragonball anime/manga); and integrated them into the Champions Universe, should one want to use that setting.

 

Kayli.jpg

 

As far as 5E DEMON goes, of course you have the right to feel about them, and govern your use of them (or not), as you choose. For my part, I found Luther Black's story quite compelling, and his apotheosis scheme one of the grandest villain master plans in the comic tradition. Because of the compartmentalized structure of DEMON, I determined a variety of ways one could use them, almost as if they were several discreet groups each with their own style and focus. OTOH I found the Inner Circle often rather limited as opponents for PCs, so I made several modifications to them which IMO were consistent with their history and the way DEMON functions, and with the setting as a whole.

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Excellent point from Tjack about a hypothetical reboot being more centered on now, rather than locking in treatments of tropes as they were in past decades. Take VIPER, for instance: Sure, the CU needs a SPECTRE/HYDRA homage, but what's cool and meaningful in 2020 is not necessarily the same as it was in 1970.

 

For reasons of parsimony (and for historical campaigns) it's best to keep one VIPER that has operated for a long time, but the organization can have undergone drastic changes.

 

(I'd write out the giant magic snake, though. LL's idea of the Serpentine network as the true Supreme Serpent seems most suitable to me, to go with the contemporary anxieties about systems and organizations that run out of control, no longer serving even their creators and supposed masters.)

 

Dean Shomshak

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Also, more master villains from outside the Western world. CV! has more master villains from other dimensions (I'll include Takofanes here, as the Turakian Age is effectively another world) than from non-Western cultures. It's just a feature of the world we live in now.

 

It's why in my now-on-indefinite-hiatus Millennium Universe campaign, the nuclear-powered mega-menace Professor Proton comes from India, the robotic hive of the Monad first appeared in China, the Warlock is South American, etc.

 

For an updated CU, it would not be too difficult, I think, to relocate some of the master villains and heavy hitters, or to create new characters. First on the list? A second master villain for China. As much as I like Doctor Yin Wu, there's more to China than martial arts, magic and Victorian stereotypes.

 

Dean Shomshak

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"In 2003 and 2004, a powered armor-wearing villain calling himself Fāndăo Jūnzhŭ (“the Overlord”) attacked China with the declared intent of conquering it. Although extremely powerful, he wasn’t dangerous enough to earn the sobriquet of “the Chinese Dr. Destroyer” that several reporters applied to him — in both cases the Tiger Squad thwarted him with overwhelming force, though he remains at large and will undoubtedly threaten China again." (Champions Worldwide p. 74) Ripe for development, I'd say.

 

India's not doing too badly on the master villain front, having the Black Tiger (and his Society), the powerful demon Survalesh (both in Champions Worldwide), and the Dalang of DEMON's Inner Circle (DEMON: Servants Of Darkness).

 

Sometimes being a master villain is more about resources and schemes than points and combat capacity. For example, the demonic Marmoo of Australia is the closest thing that continent has to a master villain in the magnitude of harm he's caused, despite not being built on that many points.
 

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1 hour ago, DShomshak said:

(I'd write out the giant magic snake, though. LL's idea of the Serpentine network as the true Supreme Serpent seems most suitable to me, to go with the contemporary anxieties about systems and organizations that run out of control, no longer serving even their creators and supposed masters.)

 

Dean Shomshak

 

I used the Serpent Queen, from Blackwyrm Games' The Algernon Files, as a template for Nama. She's literally Apophis, Echidna, and Tiamat. Her snake-form, and human form (with snake Multiform), each came to 2400 CP under 5E Hero.

Serpent-Queen.png

SerpentQueenSnake.jpg

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