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PamelaIsley

Should Villains Be More Powerful Than Heroes?

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Most of the villains in Champions are not built to fight starting characters.  People gain XP, and a lot of them dump their points into combat levels pretty quickly.

 

One thing that Champions is lacking is a solid power scale.  How powerful is powerful?  How good is a 10 OCV, really?  Because benchmarks that are established in the genre book aren't followed by most published characters.  And then you've got the occasional extreme outlier that really skews things.  Gravitar was mentioned earlier.  Remember that she's basically a Magneto analog, designed to take on entire teams and win.  So she's powerful enough to smash the Brick, and accurate enough to hit the Speedster.  Some of her numbers are really high, but I don't think she's really supposed to miss at all.

 

I've always thought that Champions could use some established superheroes in the Batman/Superman category.  Show them as starting PCs at the normal beginning point value, and then have an "iconic" character sheet where they've got their full power.  Build the villains with that in mind.

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Yeah, I'll be honest  - Cateran's  stats are too high for starting heroes.


When I used her in the last Champions campaign I ran I didn't have her fighting anyone, she was too tough for  the starting heroes.

 

As an aside - I was recently flicking through Nobles, Knights, and Necromancers. Almost all the characters in that have OCV and DCV that are in the 10-14 range. WAY beyond anything I could hope to use in a fantasy game. Even the supposedly "low level" villains.

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Just now, massey said:

One thing that Champions is lacking is a solid power scale.  How powerful is powerful?  How good is a 10 OCV, really?  Because benchmarks that are established in the genre book aren't followed by most published characters. 

 

I agree with this statement 1000%.  It's what originally started me down this path.  I was building 6E characters as practice based on Champions 6E (and what it said to do), and the villains book (where I looked for a lot of examples) was completely out of whack.

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1 minute ago, massey said:

Most of the villains in Champions are not built to fight starting characters.  People gain XP, and a lot of them dump their points into combat levels pretty quickly.

Sure, but what about the tables where people don't start ignoring campaign guidelines two sessions in?  Where do we get our premade villains? 

 

2 minutes ago, massey said:

One thing that Champions is lacking is a solid power scale. 

Very firmly agreed.  This gave me no end of grief when I got started until I had my GM give me firm benchmarks. 

 

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Just now, Steve said:

I wonder, other than Foxbat and Pulsar, who else would you classify in the CU as "Starting-Level Supervillains" that could be placed on the low end of the sorting algorithm of evil that are good for beginning 400-point PCs?

There are a few: Snowblind, Bulldozer, Exo, Vixen, and Alchemica all come to mind off the top of my head.  But it's a very small percentage of the villains in the books.

 

A few "starter" villains have been promoted right out of that range.  Talisman is a big example of this.

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Well this thread as turned onto the Paradox of Champions RPG. Iirc there was no “official” Universe and they didn’t want it that way so you could build you own. And also why they were wary of builds cause again the same thought of “official” versus RAW.  Yet people wanted both. So really the idea is to take what is presented and choose what you want. Steve once remarked to me that he wouldn’t send the Game Police after me for another question 😁. Anyways the real paradigm should be how is the official Champions game in my game? Iow you don’t like Snowblinds new past? Then change it to the old one. It’s not wrong to do so.

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For published Champions villains at the power level it sounds like you prefer, you might look at Dark Champions: The Animated Series. It's a 5E book providing a roster of colorful villains intended as foes for Batman/Daredevil/Punisher "street-level" heroes.

 

Hero website store listings: https://www.herogames.com/forums/search/?q=animated&type=nexus_package_item

 

A couple of reviews of the book:

https://rpggeek.com/thread/1568628/dark-champions-animated-series-allen-thomas-does-i

https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/12/12630.phtml

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2 hours ago, massey said:

I've always thought that Champions could use some established superheroes in the Batman/Superman category.  Show them as starting PCs at the normal beginning point value, and then have an "iconic" character sheet where they've got their full power.  Build the villains with that in mind.

 

This is how I've been doing things for about 15 years now, give or take.  

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

For published Champions villains at the power level it sounds like you prefer, you might look at Dark Champions: The Animated Series. It's a 5E book providing a roster of colorful villains intended as foes for Batman/Daredevil/Punisher "street-level" heroes.

 

Hero website store listings: https://www.herogames.com/forums/search/?q=animated&type=nexus_package_item

 

A couple of reviews of the book:

https://rpggeek.com/thread/1568628/dark-champions-animated-series-allen-thomas-does-i

https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/12/12630.phtml

Thanks!

 

I actually have this book.  I love DarkAngel.

 

The villains though . . . are not my favorite conceptions.  But it was a really great read otherwise.

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3 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

I forgot to ask Pamelaisley do you consider the Champions Team beginners or seasoned? Either way, I’d use them as a Benchmark.

The 400 point Champions presented in Champions 6E (or the versions in Champions 5E) are my benchmarks for most everything.  I also use the Champions 6E recommended ranges.  Unfortunately, as an astute poster above pointed out, the villains books don't use either.  :)

 

In my head canon, I would have just assumed that each of Champions would be more powerful than an individual villain (like a Batman, Spider-Man, or Flash would be in their individual books).  Champions published materials takes the opposite approach.  I just wanted to see how people felt about that.

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2 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

Well what's the fun (or the need for a team of players) in overcoming someone less powerful than you?  Or equally powerfuL, for that matter?

 

 

I sort of outlined in the first post that it all depends on your understanding of a superhero adventure.  If the point is tactical combat, then I understand why people want more powerful villains -- demographics and suspension of belief be darned.  Everyone has their own definition of fun.  

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Oh; my apologies:

 

I wasn't asking rhetorically.  I was suggesting that you (and your group, whether you are GM or not) sort of sit down and muddle through this:

 

What do you _like_ about taking down villains of higher power?  What do you like about equal footing?  Or better-than-equal footing?

 

Study what appeals to you, and why, as well as what does _not_ appeal, and why.

 

It's likely you'll get a real good measure of where to benchmark a truly memorable villain.

 

 

Sorry for my lack of clarity.

 

 

 

Duke

 

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On 2/27/2019 at 7:48 PM, PamelaIsley said:

Leaving aside points, villains OCVs and DCs are just out and out outrageous in many cases. 

 

That's because they're still created with DEX/3 DVC rule.

 

The way CVs were figured changed in 6th but none of the prepublished characters did.  Most of them were just copy/pasted from earlier editions and those that were rewritten or given a power boosted just maintained the old CV values.

 

6 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Friendly I read Taknofanes and he is absolutely ridiculous! When I finished reading him, I was like why the bleep didn’t he conquer the world! I don’t have C:NW but any answer I feel at this point would be stretched thin.

 

Hm, have you happened to look at The Harbinger of Justice from Dark Champions?

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Just now, Vanguard said:

That's because they're still created with DEX/3 DVC rule.

 

The way CVs were figured changed in 6th but none of the prepublished characters did.  Most of them were just copy/pasted from earlier editions and those that were rewritten or given a power boosted just maintained the old CV values.

But why were they given the DEX needed to get those CVs in the first place? 

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It might be helpful if some villains had a more defined role, as far as how they operated.  These would just be examples of course, for illustrative purposes.  Characters would not have to fall wholly into one category, it's really just a suggestion for how GMs might want to use them

 

--Thieves are there to steal stuff.  Their superpowers are focused on getting away.  They can't stand up to the heroes in combat, so the challenge is in preventing them from escaping.  Teleport, Desolidification, and Invisibility are common powers.  Example: GRAB.

--Planners use traps, gadgets, and minions to oppose the hero.  The challenge lies in getting to the villain, not in beating him up.  Followers, Bases, and Gadget Pools are common.  Example:  Arcade (X-Men) and many Bat-villains.

--A Nemesis is designed to fight one particular hero.  He's an even match for his chosen foe, whether it's because his powers are exactly the same, exactly the opposite, or maybe even just a philosophical opposition.  Against other heroes, he may be completely out of his element (alternatively, an unprepared hero may find himself completely outclassed by what he assumed would be a "weak" opponent).  Example: Joker, Metallo, Lex Luthor, Red Skull.

--A Rogue's Galley Member is not quite a Nemesis.  These guys are built to fight an individual hero, give him a tough fight, and lose.  In many ways, they're the ideal Champions villain (and what I think the OP is talking about in this thread).  Example: many Spidey-villains.

--Villain Teams are designed to match up to the heroes as a group.  Individually they can have strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately they are supposed to take on a number of heroes at once.  Example: Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Wrecking Crew, Injustice League, Eurostar, Ultimates.

--Master Villains are designed to take on a group of heroes, and potentially win.  They will have serious stat-inflation, often with a 7 or 8 Speed, Damage Reduction, and 80+ Stun.  But they normally enter battle by themselves, as the final opponent for the heroes.  They didn't become master villains by losing, so they'll often bug out as soon as the fight starts to turn against them (say, when they get to half Stun, or if their latest giant gadget is destroyed).  Example:  Dr Doom, Magneto, Thanos.

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25 minutes ago, massey said:

 

--A Rogue's Galley Member is not quite a Nemesis.  These guys are built to fight an individual hero, give him a tough fight, and lose.  In many ways, they're the ideal Champions villain (and what I think the OP is talking about in this thread).  Example: many Spidey-villains.

 

Yep, you're exactly right about what I envisioned.

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6 hours ago, massey said:

It might be helpful if some villains had a more defined role, as far as how they operated.  These would just be examples of course, for illustrative purposes.  Characters would not have to fall wholly into one category, it's really just a suggestion for how GMs might want to use them

 

--Thieves are there to steal stuff.  Their superpowers are focused on getting away.  They can't stand up to the heroes in combat, so the challenge is in preventing them from escaping.  Teleport, Desolidification, and Invisibility are common powers.  Example: GRAB.

--Planners use traps, gadgets, and minions to oppose the hero.  The challenge lies in getting to the villain, not in beating him up.  Followers, Bases, and Gadget Pools are common.  Example:  Arcade (X-Men) and many Bat-villains.

--A Nemesis is designed to fight one particular hero.  He's an even match for his chosen foe, whether it's because his powers are exactly the same, exactly the opposite, or maybe even just a philosophical opposition.  Against other heroes, he may be completely out of his element (alternatively, an unprepared hero may find himself completely outclassed by what he assumed would be a "weak" opponent).  Example: Joker, Metallo, Lex Luthor, Red Skull.

--A Rogue's Gallery Member is not quite a Nemesis.  These guys are built to fight an individual hero, give him a tough fight, and lose.  In many ways, they're the ideal Champions villain (and what I think the OP is talking about in this thread).  Example: many Spidey-villains.

--Villain Teams are designed to match up to the heroes as a group.  Individually they can have strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately they are supposed to take on a number of heroes at once.  Example: Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Wrecking Crew, Injustice League, Eurostar, Ultimates.

--Master Villains are designed to take on a group of heroes, and potentially win.  They will have serious stat-inflation, often with a 7 or 8 Speed, Damage Reduction, and 80+ Stun.  But they normally enter battle by themselves, as the final opponent for the heroes.  They didn't become master villains by losing, so they'll often bug out as soon as the fight starts to turn against them (say, when they get to half Stun, or if their latest giant gadget is destroyed).  Example:  Dr Doom, Magneto, Thanos.

 

This is a good breakdown.

 

I would include a separate category for "Disaster Masters" which are villains that create situations the heroes have to deal with. In some cases its a literal natural disaster, in other cases its bombs, in other cases it's mass destruction, etc. Even if the villain is taken out early, the disaster they've created remains and must be dealt with.

 

Another category are "Emo" villains, ranging from classic Black Cat / Batman fare, to situations where the "bad guy" is misguided and the heroes are supposed to try to redeem them, or the hero was responsible for the villain's situation, or the villain is a mind controlled or coerced good guy, or whatever. 

 

A subcategory of Nemesis and  Villain Teams is the "Mirror Match"; its a thing that appears in the fiction periodically...whether literally as versions of the heroes from another dimension, or just as a villain or a group of baddies which are analogous to the heroes in abilities and / or organization. 

 

Another category is what I think of as Comic Relief. Villains that just aren't a serious threat, and get used to let a hero show off or because they just become a running gag. Batroc the Leaper or MODOK from various cartoons for instance. Or Foxbat.

 

 

 

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Could you raise the starting points your PCs are built on, to allow them to match more of the published villains? After all, there's no requirement for your campaign's starting characters to match the books' suggested points.

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29 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

Could you raise the starting points your PCs are built on, to allow them to match more of the published villains? After all, there's no requirement for your campaign's starting characters to match the books' suggested points.

 

You definitely could.  It's just as easy, though, to modify the villains down.  I think most people would probably enter any villain they intended to use long-term into HD (the condensed blocks in the books aren't that convenient for actual play; as I've learned doing sample combats with friends).  Once it is in there, it's a piece of cake to modify them.

 

Strengthening heroes is the opposite approach I would take. In fact, I think heroes should start at 300 points in order to make sure that "normal" people and weapons remain lethal and threats.

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One of the main things that causes players to build things that make GM's cringe is GM malfeasance.  If you keep throwing enemies at the players that their characters have a hard time hitting, they're going to stack OCV.  If you keep throwing villains at players that their characters have a hard time hurting, they're going to stack damage or get attacks that bypass defenses.  Players don't like to feel weak or worthless, they want to feel like... champions.  

 

That doesn't mean nobody should ever have a challenge, but it does mean you should watch how your players react and what they do, to make sure you aren't annoying or frustrating them.

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