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I was going through some of my old paper work, cleaning my room and found a sheet of Champions Campaign ideas from years ago, ways of starting up and structuring a new Champions game.  So I figured it might be handy for GMs in coming up with a new fresh game from the start.  Sometimes its tough to come up with a good reason the party is a team rather than a bunch of individuals who work together for no reason other that "its a game!"

 

  • PCs are part of an official state task force, drawn from various official sources (law enforcement, emergency services, military, etc)
  • PCs are all children of a powerful father or mother, related (like the Blood) and either coordinated by the parent or drawn together to oppose them
  • A dying alien/extradimensional creature with extraordinary powers grants them to the PCs so they can work to fight against its people or its sibling, etc (Power Pack)
  • PCs waken in an underground laboratory with no memories of their past and no idea how they got their powers.  The laboratory is functioning at emergency power level and deserted save for the PCs.  They come out of the lab into a post-apocalyptic world and have to find out who they are, what happened, and how to survive and fight to protect others (Next Men, kinda)
  • Ordinary people -- maybe even play yourself as a PC -- who gain the ability through some device to leap into another dimension where they gain superpowers.  The person who stays behind is the GM for that session and their character isn't in the game. 
  • PCs are members of a superhero team that split off over a disagreement over tactics, approach, membership, etc.  Rivalry and even conflict with the old team, but has some contacts and even a base
  • PCs are people who are terminally ill and diseased, then given an extremely experimental, dangerous treatment which gave them powers.  Is the doctor evil (even Dr Destroyer?), is it a good guy who acts as the team elder and teacher, dies from an attack?
  • PCs are recruits for an old superhero team that is retiring, and looking for replacement members.
  • PCs are brought together by being captured by a powerful bad guy or team of bad guys, to keep them from interfering with the villain activities in the city, have to escape and are bonded together through the experience
  • PCs are kids with newly emerging superpowers who are collected to a school where they learn to control their powers (New Mutants)
  • PCs are brought together by a powerful benefactor who is trying to make up for his past evil deeds, and to fight against his former allies
  • (EDIT add): PCs are police recruits at the academy who reveal powers and are placed on a special cop team for the city.  Probably low powered characters

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Useful, I tend to make this a problem for the players rather than me.  I ask that each character has a reason why they would want to team up/ help at least two other members of the group and I do not allow a closed loop of three players.  This would help them think about ties that would work for two or more characters in the team.

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Every time I try to GM a common background/origin, I get met with a look of "Meh.".  Unless it allows for a wide variety of characters and backgrounds, things like "You are all mutants.", "You all get your power when <BLAH> happens." doesn't seem to sit well.  I think a part of the problem is that all the players tend to have character play styles which tends to not sync up with each other (ex: one person only plays mystical characters, one does all tech, one does silly, one brooding, etc.)

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I've found that telling the players "you are, so far as everyone knows" works a lot better.  It lets people make their "mutant" a gadgeteer or wizard or alien or whathaveyou but still keeps the general tone consistent. 

Another good alternative is "Years ago X happened and everyone was there, then your personal Y happened (you make his up) and you got superpowers, then recently Z happened and everyone got together to do something about it".  By letting players write their own middle, they get to define their origin and source of powers.  By defining some history, you ensure everyone's got enough in common to make plot hooks and team cohesion easier. 

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I started a campaign once where I asked the players to come up with some common origin for their characters. What they ultimately came up with was this: They were all VIPER agents that the organization considered troublesome and/or expendable and left to die in a major multi-Nest operation, only they all got super powers instead.

 

The first adventure involved them deciding to rob a bank, only when they got there, another super villain group was already robbing it. So they beat down the other villains, and everybody assumed that they were heroes. So they decided to try being heroes.

 

It was a fun dynamic.

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Another one I have thought about, but never done anything with, was the super-powered Breakfast Club. In other words, our heroes are all a bunch of students serving a Saturday detention for whatever reason, and they have a common radiation accident. Voila, instant hero team!

 

The twist I intended to introduce later was that this hadn't been the first time this happened, and there was another group of students at that school with superpowers, only they were the villains.

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I once co-ran a game where everyone had a common origin much like the Fantastic Four (accident gave them powers).

 

It was a lot of fun but everyone bought into the idea from the start...I think it's the only way to get a common origin story going.  Also, we had a player join us later in the campaign and he was kind of the odd man out unfortunately...he broke the vibe of the story through no fault of his own.

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I would agree that giving the players a narrow common background tends to stifle their creativity and they end up having less invested in the game.

 

I think Doc Democracy has an excellent idea in having the players come up with a reason they would want to be on a team.  That gives the PCs a more organic reason to stick together rather than being forced into it.

 

One twist on the police force team I enjoyed was a group of reformed criminals, organized by the government into super team as part of their restitution to society.  The one caveat the players had was their characters couldn't be overtly violent or casual killers - they wouldn't be chosen for the team in that case.  The policy argument was that it was cheaper than imprisoning them or trying to fund an additional government super team - better to put nonviolent supers to work helping others both for their own benefit and that of society.  This set up led to lots of good backgrounds, conflicts with past associates as well as other super teams, and plenty of role-playing discussions over what made a hero a hero.

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On January 17, 2019 at 5:33 PM, Pariah said:

 

The first adventure involved them deciding to rob a bank, only when they got there, another super villain group was already robbing it. So they beat down the other villains, and everybody assumed that they were heroes. So they decided to try being heroes.

 

It was a fun dynamic.

 

My daughter's very first character (the one she based on the artwork of Titan in the 2e rules book) had that as part of his origin, too. :lol:  I posted his origin on the previous version of this board.  Can't find it since I've been back.  

 

Common origins are hit-and-miss, like most anything, really.  I recall having a GM many years ago who had built and entire campaign world, maps, characters, plot seeds, etc...  He had spent the best part of fall and winter building it.  Excited at our first session the next spring, he pulled out _four_ huge binders of material, opened one, unrolled a map, started spilling page after page of lore at us, and thirty minutes later, we were ready to begin.

 

We'd played for just over an hour, with him looking more and more dejected.  Finally, he closed the binders, pushed them off the table, and announced "so much for that!"  (we kept playing, of course, it's just that other than the maps there wasn't anything he had prepared that was going to be useful, at least not for a _long_ time).

 

It _wasn't_ that we didn't like what he had given us.  It wasn't that we were trying to break his game.  It was simply that we hadn't interpreted it the way he had.  More precisely, we _were_ motivated by what he had given us, just not at all in any of the ways he had expected.  It wasn't until he pushed his work off the table that we thought "are we doing it wrong?"

 

Somewhere-- again, on the old version of the board, we discussed a similar notion of how to get folks to form a cohesive team.  I was running sci-fi, and was tired of a table full of people holding themselves hostages, and finally assigned them all relationships to each other.  Most were really pi- -- upset about it, but over the next four sessions, would have absolutely killed for each other.   I was _delighted_ at how fast they came together!

 

Sadly, it was the _only_ instance in which doing that was really successful. :(

 

There may not be a perfect solution.  It may lie more in establishing, ever before character generation, that a cohesive relationship with each other is so central to the campaign that it is an absolute _must_.  It might even _help_ to get that established before char-gen, before the players have fully-formed ideas for characters.  It might help guide them to creating actual team members.  I can't say for sure, as most of my groups have gamed together so long they just understand instinctively the need for a functional group that respects each other in order to make the adventure _go_ somewhere.

 

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I’ve had common backgrounds work for me. Part of it I think is I let the players know that this is something that makes the GMs job easier. And you can still be flexible and creative creating characters.

 

That's been my experience as well, as long as the players know in advance and everyone is in on it.

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