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The Generational Campaign

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So I've got plans that my friend calls 'ambitious' and they probably are. Think I might be going too far?


A little background: I recently changed jobs and moved to an entirely new city. I do have friends here, and several game. We are going to be doing a Gloomhaven game on Fridays. But this is about HERO, because they want me to run a game.


Players will be small. No more than 3-4, not including myself. I have a ton of game systems available, but I hit upon an idea I've always wanted to try but never got around to it.


So the concept: In 5th Edition HERO, the various setting books(Turakian Age, Atlantean Age, Alien Wars, etc) all covered a different era in human history. My idea is to play through them all in short(ish) arcs, with the players making new characters of the same bloodline as their old ones, though maybe technically just inheriting their spirit or something. Point is, it's a generational epic to tie all the games together, starting with an ancient nemesis being thwarted in the Turakian Age and going to its eventual defeat in the Galactic Champions era.


Currently the plans are to include:


Turakian Age

Valdorian Age

Atlantean Age

Tuala Morn(maybe?)

Pulp Hero


Alien Wars

Terran Empire

Galactic Champions


So questions: Any ideas for glue? Any that I should or shouldn't include(for example, should Post Apocalyptic Hero be a thing?) Is this too ambitious?  And finally, this is the 5th Edition stuff, should I try to convert it to 6th, or is that going to be an even bigger project? I didn't have a problem with 5e, but I do tend to prefer 6th.

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That is ambitious! 


Well as for the "glue", the most obvious one that comes to mind is the Elder Worms. They are already present in all of the settings, even in times of "low magic" where they are dormant and it is more about the cultists trying to waken them (say during Pulp, Alien Wars, Terran Empire settings). So that is probably your best bet.


In each era the PC's are somehow involved in containing or stopping the rise/return of the Elder Worms until the "final battle" in Galactic Champions where they are unleashed, but the heroes of that time are powerful enough to stop them. 


If possible I would add a Post Apocalyptic arc to it, maybe an alternate future where the Elder Worms return early and "win", conquering and destroying most of the Earth.  Tie this in with the present day Champions arc and have the players either transported to this dark future, or  be given a "very detailed vision of" of that fate. Ie) a mystic sends the PC's minds into the Post-Apoc future and they inhabit the bodies of people there, have a full story arc in that setting, then coming back to their real bodies in the present and having to stop it from ever happening  (This would allow the players to play in the post-apoc world without having the advantage of their superpowers to make things too easy for them and not fitting into the atmosphere/mood of the genre). 


If this makes the over-all campaign too big, then I would drop the Alien War part of it for the Post-Apoc. Alien War has the least to do with the Elder Worm storyline as the PC are mainly military and sent on missions and under strict orders, plus it takes place over 70+ years. Unless you maybe make the Xenovores Elder Worm minions or created by Elder Worm worshipers or something. 


Another idea would be to save the character sheets of all the players during all the settings/arcs, and then maybe during the final Galactic Champions arc/battle a rip in space/time opens and all the past characters come through to help out in the final battle. Players would get to play all of their past characters all at once. Even the Pulp ones, etc... because even they might be able to help out like how Hawkeye and Black Widow are able to help out in battles involving Thor, Captain Marvel, etc... Sure, maybe in this final battle most of them will die quickly, but they will die heroes helping out in the final battle to end all battles. 

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Wow. That is ambitious.


Well, you will have to make sure that each adventure arc in each "generation" is short and focused or else you will never finish this.


If you're going with the single enemy be careful not to make things too same-y.  If you go with a single BBEG make some adventures against their minions. You can always "retcon" that a seemingly unattached scenario was actually a front for a BBEG plot. (Although if you plan for it, is it a retcon?) Options for BBEG include: Elder Worm. Istvatha Vhan (immortal time traveler, she can appear anywhere.) Takofanes. (I hate the character but YMMV.) Erm... Oh the fallen Eternal... mentioned in Hidden Places? Or the Atlantean guy who is basically exactly the same character. And the guy from Champions Beyond who is basically Darkseid. The Galaxars (also in Champions Beyond.)


The glue could be some sort of continuity between the characters. The obvious option being PCs being descendants of previous PCs. But you could have the PCs working for an era spanning organisation (The Star*Guard?)  that is facing off against a similar bad guy organisation. You could have the same character(s) being re-incarnated into each generation. Maybe the PCs Quantum Leap into new hosts. Maybe they're all incarnations of the Eternal Champion. Time travelers in a strange blue box. Unaging immortals.


You might also want to consider character advancement. Success in previous generations giving benefits to the new one. Maybe in the form of straight up XP. Maybe in the form of an artefact that re-appears and gives the heroes a much needed power bump when required. ("Hey guys, I just found Excalibur!" " What, again?") This latter cold also be a glue.


Phew. Just a few thoughts from my fevered brain.


Good luck and keep us informed.

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Yeah, this will be a weekly game, but with we'd still be looking at 5-10 session arcs. It'll be a pretty big tour de force that I plan to run for maybe 18 months, which is my typical campaign runtime(excepting my college years when I ran the same campaign twice a week for 4 years, whee)


I really like the Post Apocalyptic idea, actually. Or maybe some kind of time travel thing where they prevent the apocalypse at the end.


I'll reread(or in some cases, just plain read) those suggestions for big bads, but the Elder Worms is closest to what I'm looking for. It'll be a campaign about various people awakening them etc.


As for continuity, I did consider Bloodlines, but I was thinking something sort of like a curse meets up with Exaltations from Exalted, for example. Basically the next generation inherits the 'spirit' of  the last even if they aren't blood related.  If anyone has played Record of Agarest War, there's also that sort of Generational Epic to consider.


Some good ideas here. I'll probably be starting this in about 2-3 weeks so I'll keep some updates posted. Going to go all out and 3d print some hex terrain for minis and everything.


Thanks for the suggestions!

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I posted this on a thread looking at alternate takes on the CU's Institute for Human Advancement, but it has obvious potential as a multi-epoch through-line if one wanted to adapt it.



Thanks for starting this, Dean. This looks like fun. :)


For millions of years, the incredibly advanced alien race named Kelvarans, whom some have called "the Progenitors," have sown the seeds of sapience in life across the Milky Way. Experimenting with the genes of many primitive races, they have covertly promoted the rise of intelligence and guided the development of civilizations. More than that, they imbued their experimental subjects with the potential for infinite flexibility in evolution, to manifest radical mutations granting them wondrous powers, as steps to the next stage of their existence. For what purpose remains unclear: pure altruism? To serve or assist the Kelavarans in some way? To take up their role as Progenitors so the Kelavarans can evolve to their own next state? Whatever the reason, the seeds of mutant power the Kelavarans planted in humanity have begun to flower and bear fruit, a development which alarms and frightens "normal" humans.


But the Kelvarans have enemies, would-be rivals. The Sleynu, a race almost as old and advanced, view the Kelvarans with jealousy. They seek to discover ways to destroy the Kelavarans so the Sleynu can become the dominant civilization in the galaxy. To that end they study all the Kelavarans' works, and attempt to thwart them wherever possible. The Sleynu have discovered how far the experiment on Earth has progressed, and fear what the Kelvarans might make of humanity's burgeoning superhuman population. But they can't simply destroy Earth -- the planet's super protectors would make swift action difficult, and protracted conflict could draw the Kelvarans into intervening to protect their experiment. So the Sleynu have attempted to exploit the envy and fear in some normal humans over the rise of super-powered mutants. They found an organization of such people, calling themselves "the Institute for Human Advancement." The Sleynu have covertly manipulated the IHA to fan the paranoia among their membership, while also supplying them scientific expertise and technological resources to make them a serious threat even to superhumans. With luck the IHA will either wipe out the mutants, or leave them so decimated that the Sleynu can move against Earth practically unopposed.


Mutant PCs in a campaign like this will eventually find that they and the IHA are only the tip of a vastly larger iceberg, which may eventually lead the human race out to the stars to become part of an ancient conflict for the fate of the whole Galaxy.


(Before anyone asks: Yes, I'm drawing inspiration from E.E. "Doc" Smith's classic Lensman sci-fi novel series, heavily filtered through the official Champions Universe.)

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This is something I've wanted to do also, but I'm sure I never will.  One suggestion I would make it to have the heroes' efforts in each age contribute to the eventual ultimate victory.  To give an example in basic, generic terms:


In the Turakian Age, the heroes stumble upon the evil machinations of the bad guy, and search for any clues as to how to defeat him.

In the Valdorian Age, the heroes find the Book of Prophecy (written by the heroes in the Turakian Age) which reveals the means to defeat the bad guy.

In the Atlantean Age, the heroes gather the necessary materials to construct the MacGuffin (the instructions for which were left by the heroes in the Valdorian Age that will defeat the bad guy.

In Tuala Morn, the heroes have to take the MacGuffin and store it somewhere where it will be unharmed until some point in the distant future when the right heroes will come along to find it and use it.

By the time of Pulp Hero, all the previous knowledge of the Bad Guy and his plan and the MacGuffin has been lost - but the MacGuffin still exists, so the heroes discover it and must protect it from the (unknowing?) servants of the Bad Guy.

In Champions, the scientific means exists to thoroughly investigate the MacGuffin and the whole story around it, and the heroes have to figure out exactly how to use it, and how to insure that it works.

In Alien Wars, aliens make war,threatening to steal or destroy the MacGuffin.  The heroes must make sure their long-term plan succeeds, even if they personally are defeated.

In Terran Empire, the heroes must transport the MacGuffin to the place (in space?) where it will be able to do its thing.

In Galactic Champions, the heroes activate the MacGuffin and finally defeat the Bad Guy.


Or something like that.  Season to taste.

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I already have some ideas for the overarching plot, but these suggestions are great, because I never solidified my plans. I'll definitely be using some of what you're suggesting, Phil and Liaden.  I especially like the idea of the Pulp heroes uncovering the lost legacy, that's basically perfect for Pulp tone.


I'm still gathering players, too, so I'll probably also adjust things due to their actions and preferences anyway. I have plenty interested people, but you know how schedules work in the horrifying realm of adulthood, yeah? :(

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On 7/14/2019 at 12:20 AM, Hamshrew said:

I'm still gathering players, too, so I'll probably also adjust things due to their actions and preferences anyway. I have plenty interested people, but you know how schedules work in the horrifying realm of adulthood, yeah? :(


Adulthood sucks.

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