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Tryskhell

What does a Champion campaign really looks like ?

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I'm having the  hardest time wrapping my head around this, but I can't for the life of me imagine what a Champions campaign looks like in action.
I'm coming from D&D 5e where there's a clear path, clear maps, there's a dungeon and if not, at least the party sticks together...

But I can't see this working with super heroes. Maybe the clear path part works, but clear maps ? I don't know, of lairs, maybe, but clearly not as much as in D&D, modern cities are much harder to map out... Also, the secret identity stuff really messes with my ability to visualize a "party" of super heroes.

 

So far, I'm imagining it more like a west marshes game, where people join in with their characters if the characters are free and interested, and where there's a lot of one-on-one DM/Player short sessions, or sessions with much less people.

 

But I don't know, I never actually played the game (I'd love to, though) and the books aren't very good at explaining it either (but overall I must admit I love them, theorycrafting powers is one hell of a hobby). So I come to you guys asking what your actual sessions look like, how do you manage the civilian/super dichotomy ? How do you manage a much more complex world ?

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Heroes in Champions don't party until after the bad guy goes to jail. They're a team.

 

Bad guy does a thing. Heroes get wind of it. Heroes engage bad guy. Bad guy gets away after saying how great his plan is. Heroes prepare for round 2. Heroes track down the bad guy and stop him just in time.

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Have you ever read comics? Or superhero movies? Ideally a campaign works like that.

 

Or, to put it in a rather trivial fashion: The Nefarious Plot of Dr Nefarious requires the PCs to do a few things in order to prevent it. Along the way, they encounter the Red Herring's plot in its early stage. So when the PCs have defeated Dr Nefarious, they still have to deal with the next villain.

 

And so on and so forth.

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6 hours ago, assault said:

Have you ever read comics? Or superhero movies? Ideally a campaign works like that.

 

Indeed. I am sorry if this sounds snarky, but it's hard to play in a genre game if you have no experience of the source genre.

 

Assuming you're familiar with the genre but are having trouble seeing how it looks translated to the gaming table... Aaron Allston's Strike Force gives a superb portrayal of what a good campaign looks like. I learned more about running a campaign from that book than anything else I ever read. And not just Champions.

 

As games go, D&D is actually kind of freakish in its use of set-piece "dungeons" that are all mapped out, with every monster defined and placed waiting for the PCs to show up and kill them. For most games I've been in (not just Champions), the antagonists react to what the PCs do as much as the PCs react to the antagonists. Specific locations may be loosely mapped out for particular scenes (I just sketch them on notebook paper), but there's no need for a big "campaign map." Especially since I usually set Champions campaigns in real cities so the players already know the landmarks.

 

Heck, we kept a chronicle of my "Keystone Konjurors" campaign. I'll dig it up and post the log of an actual adventure.

 

Dean Shomshak

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Hey, Tryskhell! Welcome to the world of superhero gaming. :)  I realize that if a gamer is coming from a fantasy background, the conventions of superheroes may seem a little foreign. Particularly if you don't have much experience with comic books, which are the best examples of what playing as a superhero should be like. But it's really not that much of a stretch to go from one genre to another. I'm going to give you a few bits of general advice, before directing you to more detailed sources of info.

 

To start with, a team of superheroes is really not that different from a fantasy adventuring party: a group of like-minded individuals united in a common cause. Although in the supers genre, that cause is usually more altruistic than the "kill things and take their stuff" attitude that still pervades a lot of fantasy games (unless the whole group are playing mercenaries or outright villains). Their perspective is more "knightly" or "paladin-like" -- a dedication to promote justice, protect the innocent, uphold the law. For beginning superhero PCs, the area they protect is typically their local city, the campaign's base of operations. Their foes are criminal groups (sometimes costumed and using gimmicky weapons, if that's the tone of a particular campaign), as well as the heroes' opposite numbers, the supervillains. As the PCs gain Experience and become more powerful and versatile, that area may expand to a state or country, the whole world, even other worlds.

 

Regarding the campaign world, the commonest convention -- which is followed by the two mainstream comics companies, DC and Marvel, as well as the official universe detailed in Champions source books -- is that the world is, for the most part, the same as the one we live in. History, society, and geopolitics are mostly unchanged. The only significantly different factor is the existence of superhumans, but by convention they haven't changed the world to the point of being unrecognizable. (The likeliest explanation is that the heroes and villains tend to balance each other, cancelling out most of their net influence.) ;)  That means you don't have to create everything -- you can just look out your window, or watch the news, or search the Internet for particular subjects. Maps? You can mostly use any present-day building floor plans, modified for who you want to be in it; or search for maps of any city you plan to adventure in. That said, various books, like ones published for Champions, include maps of specific locations, or entire fictional cities. We can direct you to some examples if you're interested.

 

The "secret identity" is merely one convention of the genre. It's for characters who want to have as normal a life as possible outside of their hero role. When Clark "Superman" Kent or Peter "Spider-Man" Parker want to spend time with their family and friends, without looking for crime to fight or over their shoulder for enemies attacking them, they put aside their costumes and give themselves the appearance of normalcy. You might consider equating it to a police officer or soldier taking off their uniforms so they can blend into civilian life and do everyday things. OTOH many superheroes don't have a secret idea; being a hero is their full-time profession. Some of those may actually be very well known to the public, so they're treated like celebrities, unable to go anywhere without drawing fans (or critics), photographers and autograph hounds, etc. (Champions calls that a "Public Identity," kind of the opposite Complication to "Secret Identity.")

 

Now, Hero Games has published books specifically devoted to exploring all the conventions of the supers genre: various types of campaigns, character archetypes, scenarios and plotlines, tone and style of games, common issues a Game Master may encounter, and so on; as well as the Hero System mechanics most appropriate to those games. Foremost among those books is the Champions genre book, delving into all those areas and more in great detail: https://www.herogames.com/store/product/52-champions-the-super-roleplaying-game-pdf/.

 

A different approach is taken in the book titled, Strike Force, written by the late great Aaron Allston, best-selling author and game designer, and one of the major early influences in making Champions and Hero System the game it is today. SF is written as a chronicle of Aaron's campaign, not just from the events within the game world, but also by what was happening among his real-life game group, what challenges they faced and overcame, and how Allston evolved as a superhero game master as a consequence. Although written for an earlier incarnation of Hero System, SF's place as one of the seminal influences in subsequent GMing across the entire hobby can't be overstated.

 

You may also benefit from another specialized Champions book, Villainy Amok. It describes in detail a number of classic comic-book scenarios, and summarizes quite a few others. It outlines how to run them, vary them to suit your purposes, and integrate them into a larger campaign.

 

I hope all that was of some help to you. Feel free to post followup questions on any point. :)

 

 

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Well here's how one of my campaigns worked (this was a Golden Age game, set in the WW2 era)

 

PCs started out as pulp characters like Indiana Jones, getting into adventures.  However, this world has superpowered bad guys, so they keep running into low powered bad guys that kick their behinds.  They end up getting superpowers -- the first heroes in the world -- and begin fighting back against the villains.  They set up a "base" of sorts in a warehouse, and start wearing costumes to disguise themselves so they are safe from the enemies while "not at work."

 

Each session, the PCs get some news about what is going on, are faced with a challenge, and have to go out and deal with it, or it comes to them.  For example, the Hindenburg is in town and the PCs learn of a plot to blow it up and burn the empire state building down.  The PCs get to the top where the mooring is (no, for real, they had a zeppelin mooring on the building then) and start evaucating people and try to stop the bomber.

 

Or they go to the New York World's Fair and terrible things start happening!  Triffids attack!  A huge robot goes berserk!

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The way I run a Champions campaign is:

  1. I almost always set it in an actual real-world city, because I don't want to have to come up with maps, decide what's where, etc.  (Caveat:  I haven't yet tried to run in San Angelo, which looks to be a pretty completely laid-out city designed for a Champions campaign.)  I also really, really like using Google Maps satellite view, both for setting up the combat maps with fun details, as well as to let the players get a view of what everything looks like. 
  2. As to secret IDs, I don't follow reality too strictly, or it would make it practically impossible for the heroes to maintain one.  (Though one can make a case that there are enough unsolved bank robberies and other crimes, many of which involve the robber not wearing a mask of some sort, to make keeping a secret ID feasible.)  Sometimes, you have to roll with the genre conventions.
  3. Regarding civilian / super dichotomy, I try to include stuff related to the person's secret ID as well as the super side.  To this end, I've given 5 extra points at character creation if the player provides me 5 family / friends / acquaintance NPCs (important note:  these are not to be used as DNPCs, just people to add to the campaign world).  The players will find ways to use their characters' powers / abilities to help people around them, whether in costume or not.  Over time, PCs often start interacting with other PCs' friends / family / etc. in very fun ways. 
  4. As far as I'm concerned, the players have a responsibility to find a way for their characters to participate in the adventure.  They should know their skills / powers and find ways to use them in a given adventure.  As GM, I try to provide plot hooks and usefulness for each of the PCs, but they have to pick up the ball and run with it.  If someone doesn't want to, well, he can sit on the sidelines all he wants. 
  5. More recently, I've tried to have an overarching plot, in addition to a (often unrelated) plot for a given night's adventure.  (I call this the Veronica Mars model, though I'm sure it's been used elsewhere prior to that show.)  I'll run the adventure plot itself, usually with something happening (maybe something major, though usually something minor) to move the overarching plot along.

To illustrate the above:

  1. My current campaign is set in Boston.  In one adventure, a new supervillain group (the A-Team, a for-hire group of villains whose names all start with the letter "A") was hired to pull a series of crimes to make the Boston supers (Just Cause) look bad.  They did this by leaving clues (released later to the media) as to their next crime, which would seem fairly obvious after the fact.  After three separate encounters (where I showed the players aerial view maps of the locations), we had the big fight.  It was then that I pointed out to the players that in each case, three streets came together to look like an "A".  (The look on their faces was priceless.)  In another case, rooftop features took on great tactical value, both for the villains as well as for the heroes.
  2. Secret IDs work both ways.  (Supervillains can have them too.)  My players are willing to accept that they may not be able to use hacked traffic cameras and other security cameras to figure out who's hiding behind Dr. Nefarioius's mask (to borrow assault's example), since that also means that VIPER can't do the same to figure out exactly who the heroes are.  I mean, they still have to make an effort to maintain the secret identity, but as long as they're making a fair effort, it will work out okay for them (after the requisite amount of dramatic tension, of course).
  3. In past campaigns, several female PCs (in secret ID) had a spa day with the NPC friend of another PC.  When one PC heroine was dating a PRIMUS agent, several other PCs (in secret ID) went along with her to hear his garage band play.  When you give one player the spotlight, you'd be surprised how the others want to contribute too, whether with background suggestions or directly joining in.  It can be a lot of fun to see how things morph over time.
  4. Last Sunday's adventure involved the PCs setting up a trap for the Empress of a Billion Dimensions, with said trap to be sprung on a world she already controls, sending her to a world they had to visit to set up something to keep her from escaping.  Of the 7 heroes, the scientist (Pops), gadgeteer (Maker), and engineer / mage (Malarkey) had skills useful for setting up the MacGuffin to trap her on another world.  The detective (Shadow Boxer) had a counterpart (Shadow Man) on the controlled world who could help draw away some of the Empress' forces.  The mentalist (Circe) used her mental powers to cover the actions of Pops, Maker, and Malarkey.  The necromancer (Nexus) used a summoned spirit to scout out where they needed to go.  And the brick (Honey Badger) used his incredible sense of smell to figure out guard patrol routes.  There were other plot hooks and possibilities as well, some of which they didn't take advantage of.  But the point is, there was enough to involve everybody.
  5. The Empress's plan to draw super-forces away from the campaign world and soften it up with Cthulhu-esque menaces before her planned invasion has been this campaign's overarching plot.  The heroes uncovered how she drew many superheroes off-world (using modified blasters and other energy weapons given to groups like VIPER, Genocide, etc.) in one adventure where they needed to "borrow" some equipment from one of the missing hero teams.  They discovered her connection to the Cthulhu menaces while investigating a supervillainess team (the Valkyries).  They discovered how she was keeping the missing heroes from returning to their world in a different adventure.  Each was a step along the way to (hopefully) resolving that campaign-wide plot.

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  Ideally a good campaign will look a lot like the animated series Young Justice or Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes.  A nice mix of simple scenarios balanced against long term plot lines.  For what I consider the best reference material on starting and running a long term campaign read “Strike Force“ by Aaron Allston. It can be ordered on this website.
   It tells the history of the Hero game he ran for many years. Besides being a great sourcebook it tells how the game dealt with a number of different types of players, what to do when real life takes people out of the game, and too many other incredibly useful pieces of info for me to go through.  The only flaw in the book I’ve ever heard was that longtime GM’s found some of the advice too basic. That was because this is where those suggestions came from. Like someone saying E.E. Smith’s Lensman series was too much like Green Lantern.

  I’ve recommended this book so many times to so many new GM’s that I joke I should start getting kickbacks from Hero.  But I’ve never heard back that it wasn’t very helpful.

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Bolo's given a good description of what a Champions campaign should look like: a blend of single character bits, short scenarios, and ongoing subplots that may blossom into main plots and climaxes of story arcs. I can still post a detailed example of how an adventure worked out in play, if you want. Would you prefer a thrilling, epic adventure in which the PCs had their final confrontation with a foe they'd clashed with a few times before? Or -- to show the sort of things that can happen at the gaming table -- a comedy of errors in which the PCs' bad judgment derailed the plot and left me, as GM, scrambling to catch up?

 

Dean Shomshak

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1 hour ago, DShomshak said:

Bolo's given a good description of what a Champions campaign should look like: a blend of single character bits, short scenarios, and ongoing subplots that may blossom into main plots and climaxes of story arcs. I can still post a detailed example of how an adventure worked out in play, if you want. Would you prefer a thrilling, epic adventure in which the PCs had their final confrontation with a foe they'd clashed with a few times before? Or -- to show the sort of things that can happen at the gaming table -- a comedy of errors in which the PCs' bad judgment derailed the plot and left me, as GM, scrambling to catch up?

 

Dean Shomshak

 

Both??

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21 hours ago, Tryskhell said:

I'm having the  hardest time wrapping my head around this, but I can't for the life of me imagine what a Champions campaign looks like in action.
I'm coming from D&D 5e where there's a clear path, clear maps, there's a dungeon and if not, at least the party sticks together...

But I can't see this working with super heroes. Maybe the clear path part works, but clear maps ? I don't know, of lairs, maybe, but clearly not as much as in D&D, modern cities are much harder to map out... Also, the secret identity stuff really messes with my ability to visualize a "party" of super heroes.

 

So far, I'm imagining it more like a west marshes game, where people join in with their characters if the characters are free and interested, and where there's a lot of one-on-one DM/Player short sessions, or sessions with much less people.

 

But I don't know, I never actually played the game (I'd love to, though) and the books aren't very good at explaining it either (but overall I must admit I love them, theorycrafting powers is one hell of a hobby). So I come to you guys asking what your actual sessions look like, how do you manage the civilian/super dichotomy ? How do you manage a much more complex world ?

What kind of D&D adventures have you played? 

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Tryshkell, what specifically did you like about your D&D games? Did you have a Campaign goal or not? Did you have subplots or not? Was it combat heavy or skilled or mixed? I’ll be the heretic here and say that really most of the game elements are the same between both games. So instead of going through a lair, you go through a VIper’s Nest (villain group). Which by the way have traps too! Go figure. Champions has combat but instead of killing foes you typically KO them. But this really has to do with which specific genre you going for. Pulp heroes and Golden Age heroes have been known to kill people. I always have a hard time getting a party together “realistically” in either game.  Just go with coincidences, it’s easier. Write down what you want out of the game, and that will be your campaign. Play your game not what others think it should be.

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Welcome Tryskhell.

 

Here is my penny’s worth.

 

About cities.

I will use real world cities and city maps, but my hands down go to city is Hudson City.  The book is a highly detailed modern city.  You can use as much or as little as you want of what is written.  The best thing is you can buy a separate high-resolution modern style map of the city which in itself is worth getting.  I have used HC in many games from Champs/Hero to modern horror with CoC or GUMSHOE. 

My secondary choice for a city is Vibora Bay.  VB would be perfect if it had a map like HC.

 

About Campaigns.

I haven’t run many sword swingers (D&D, etc) in the last 10 years or so barring a short run of the Modiphius 2D20 Conan RPG.  My games have mostly been investigation games using Call of Cthulhu, Nights Black Agents, Delta Green, Fall of Delta Green, Fear Itself and multiple thriller/spy games using the rules sets mentioned. 

 

My campaigns expect to be fairly open, but not quite a full sandbox like D&D.  Since there isn’t a “party” the players are usually all members of something.  A special Law Enforcement, private investigation company and so on.  In a non-super game, the players still maintain a “secret ID” to split the day job from the hero work.  In a super’s game I may layer on another Secret ID. 

 

For example:  The PC’s family have been part of the Order for centuries.  The Order exists to protect the world from extraordinary threats (1st secret ID).  The PC is a Hudson City Detective in the special crime’s unit (the PC’s public ID).   If it is a super’s game the PC’s in costume appearance is the 2nd secret ID. 

 

I structure my campaigns by building plot lines.  For me a plot line is a series of scenes/encounters arraigned in a timeline.  The scene can be investigative, flashback, action or combat, or a combination. 

I use two kinds of scenes, required scenes for things that have to happen or clues that have to be found and contingency scenes that are not required but all me to adjust for players.  If the players investigated the scene of the crime and managed to miss a major clue, I will use one of my contingencies to give them a second chance.  The timelines are not generally tied to an actual calendar, they are more about order of appearance.  Crime B needs to happen before Clue C can be found. 

 

I’ve found that a plot line of 5 scenes and 2 contingency scenes is sufficient for 6 or 7 sessions. 

 

For a campaign I like to build three plotlines, one major and to lesser ones plus 4 or 5 independent scenarios.   

 

I’ll usually lead with one of the independent scenarios and then one of the lesser plot lines.  I’ll then inject the next plot line.  I like to have a minimum of two plot lines active at a time, and sometime all three.  By mixing things up it means the players cannot just assume ever encounter is linked to the pursuit of Villain X. 

 

The key is to add just enough detail to be usable to a scene, but not to go overboard.  Generally, my scenes are mostly where, why, clues and who.  And a sketch/map of the location.  Players NEVER follow the script so changing on the fly is the norm.   I also like to plug PC disadvantages/complications whenever possible.   Running the players through a “normal criminal investigation” in parallel to a superhero “super crime investigation” can be a lot of fun as the players try to make progress while maintaining two lives. 

 

The biggest thing is to remember that no campaign survives contact with the players, so make sure every scene is very very flexible. 

 

For threats I prefer to start with mostly non-lethal villainy to give the players time to get into the swing of the game.  Then slowly build the threat as the players settle in and get XP.

 

I also have a couple “reset” points in my campaigns where the players are able to do character rebuilds if they discover that their PC’s are not want they intended. 

 

Anyway, good luck with your game. 

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Damn, this is A LOT of excellent advice, and not only for HERO games either, most of it is actually applicable to my D&D games, thanks a thousand times guys! 

 

I'll try to give Strike Force a look, and I'll follow your advice, Spence and start writing plot lines. 

 

Since this has been asked multiple times, I generally have more combat-focused campaigns in D&D, but combats that matter. I'm also a sucker for very personal motivations, generally the foes are very close to the characters, or the characters have a DNPC on the line. I also like more mundane, less flashy and more nuanced campaigns, and my current HERO setting kinda reflects that (I'll probably post a thread about it shortly, because I might need a more expert opinion).

 

My first campaign ever (also the only one I've finished so far) was in a completely homemade setting, where the party was a group of people who hunted a dragon cult for a while. As they fought the Gold Tooth, the lieutenant they encountered again and again, they started discovering that the Dragon Cult was working with alien technology. The final fight was against the Gold Tooth, in a wrecked spaceship that he was aiming at the planet to completely glass it.

 

My current D&D campaign is set in a fantasy China, a world set on the skin of a huge sleeping dragon. The dragon is covered in mist that is made of his dreams and filled with spirits, and humans disperse the mist as they build and bring civilization. About ten years ago, the big human empire collapsed (a collapse that was at least 30 years in the making) and now it's a world of petty wars. The party is a duo (I have just two players) of "demon warriors", warriors that have a shard of evil spirit in them and exist to hunt demons and monsters, but were used like super soldiers during the collapse war. 

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If you aren't that familiar with the superhero genre, I'd suggest reading some classic comic books to get a feel for what superheroes are all about.  My own tastes lean towards the late 70s through the 1980s, but it kinda depends on what you're going for.  There's a website called Read Comics Online that has a huge storehouse of comics.

 

https://readcomiconline.to/Comic/The-New-Teen-Titans-1980

 

The early 1980s Teen Titans storyline is a great team adventure.  It's got a mix of "woe is me" teen angst, characters balancing their super lives with their secret identities, one-off fights with villains, and overarching plots that the characters will encounter again and again.

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3 hours ago, massey said:

If you aren't that familiar with the superhero genre, I'd suggest reading some classic comic books to get a feel for what superheroes are all about.  My own tastes lean towards the late 70s through the 1980s, but it kinda depends on what you're going for.  There's a website called Read Comics Online that has a huge storehouse of comics.

 

https://readcomiconline.to/Comic/The-New-Teen-Titans-1980

 

The early 1980s Teen Titans storyline is a great team adventure.  It's got a mix of "woe is me" teen angst, characters balancing their super lives with their secret identities, one-off fights with villains, and overarching plots that the characters will encounter again and again.


  You may also look into the X-Men books of the same era.  Claremont, Byrne & Austin were an amazing combination of storytelling strengths bolstering weaknesses each would show when they each left the book a decade later.

 

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In a fantasy setting clear maps are more important than in a modern setting because the players are not familiar with a lot of the places.  How many players have been inside a fully functioning castle?  Chances are none of the players have especially if the game is America.  On the other hand who has not been inside a McDonalds or Bank?

 

A lot of Champions games that I have been in take place in the city that we live in.  This also makes it easier to deal with because everyone is already familiar with the layout so less explanation is needed.  Detailed maps are not needed because we know the area.  When a battle takes place at the local mall chances are we know the location well enough that we just need a quick map drawn out of the actual area.  It does not have to be exactly correct.  If the hallmark shop is a little off in size it is not a big deal. 

 

Another thing that also helps is that there are actual maps of the area.  You can even just open up google maps and use the satellite view for a pretty good map of a lot of areas.  There are also a lot of other maps available so this aspect is often easier in a Champions game than a fantasy game.  A lot of the work has already been done for you all the GM has to do is to make a few maps for things he is changing.  So if the villain has a secret lair I may need to draw that, but the map of the city is already done for me.

 

Keeping the party tougher is also not that big of a deal.  A lot of characters have movement powers that allow them to cover distances quickly and easily.  A common tactic is to have a flying character in the air over watch mode.  Also unless the group is overly large most of the time the characters stick together.   

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2 minutes ago, Alverant said:

BoloOfEarth, can I join your campaign? You sound MUCH better than my old GM.

 

I'm in eastern Michigan, so it'd be a bit of a commute for you, I'm afraid.  :winkgrin:  But thanks for the compliment.  To be honest, some weeks' adventures are better than others.  But it helps that all of us have been playing together for years, in some form or another, so a lot of stuff gets forgiven.

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1 hour ago, BoloOfEarth said:

 

I'm in eastern Michigan, so it'd be a bit of a commute for you, I'm afraid.  :winkgrin:  But thanks for the compliment.  To be honest, some weeks' adventures are better than others.  But it helps that all of us have been playing together for years, in some form or another, so a lot of stuff gets forgiven.

  If you’re in eastern Michigan, how did you happen to choose Boston as your campaign location?  My old campaign was set there but we were all from there so it made things easy....kind of.
  During a combat in the downtown streets a player needed hydrogen peroxide to make an explosive and when I as the GM said “Well where are you gonna get that?” She smiled and told me exactly where the pharmacy was....she blew a perfectly good 10 ft. Death Drone all to hell.

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8 hours ago, massey said:

If you aren't that familiar with the superhero genre, I'd suggest reading some classic comic books to get a feel for what superheroes are all about.  My own tastes lean towards the late 70s through the 1980s, but it kinda depends on what you're going for.  There's a website called Read Comics Online that has a huge storehouse of comics.

 

https://readcomiconline.to/Comic/The-New-Teen-Titans-1980

 

The early 1980s Teen Titans storyline is a great team adventure.  It's got a mix of "woe is me" teen angst, characters balancing their super lives with their secret identities, one-off fights with villains, and overarching plots that the characters will encounter again and again.

 

Completely agree with Massey. In addition to the amazing Wolfman/Perez run on New Teen Titans, I would also recommend the following trade paperbacks:

 

- Uncanny X-Men: Dark Phoenix (Marvel)

- Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past (Marvel)

- Infinity Gauntlet (Marvel)

- New Warriors Classics v1(Marvel)

- Avengers Assemble v1 - 3 (Marvel)

- Avengers Forever (Marvel)

- New Teen Titans v1 - 10 (DC)

- Justice League: The Darkseid War (DC)

- Justice League (2018) v1 - 4 (DC)

- Justice League Dark (2018) v1 - 2 (DC)

-  Young Justice (2019) v1 (DC)

- Legends (DC)

- Invincible (Image)

- Dynamo 5 (Image)

 

As far as worldbuilding goes, I always suggest History of the DC Universe, as well as The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe and Who's Who in the DC Universe (the latter of which is available on Comixology). Welcome to the game and hope you have fun with the system.

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Hm. For an example of an actual Champions campaign, maybe the best place for me to start would be the list of adventures and with plot summaries I did after my first Supermage campaign. (It became called the Keystone Konjurors because so many adventures were derailed by Activation Rolls with hefty Side Effects --  this was 4th edition, so people took *lots* of Limitations to bring PCs in on 250 points -- or by hefty Psychological Limitations that were played to the hilt.)

 

Many villains will be familiar to Herophiles, as this was the playtest campaign for writing The Ultimate Supermage.

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In case anyone is interested, here is the complete list of adventures from the Ultimate Supermage playtest campaign (AKA the Keystone Konjurors). This includes summaries of the last 10 adventures, even though Jeff has chronicled them at length.

 

MAJOR PCS
ARTIFEX: Obnoxiously cocky, disturbingly ruthless practitioner of the Great Art of Magic.
JEZERAY/ZONTAR BOK: Young psychic who channels the spirit of a long-dead warrior-mage.
IAN: Lunatic chaos mage with little control over his awesome and destructive powers.
REDEEMER: Half-mad heir to a family legacy of white magic, in serious denial concerning his own death some years before. He is advised by his Uncle Terence, also dead and rightly blaming Redeemer for it. Redeemer later changed his pseudonym to Apostle, and still later to Wrath.
TALBOT: Ian's true self, an incredibly brilliant theoretician of magic who became Ian after he Knew Too Much.
VICTOR: Thousand-year-old, body-switching alchemist.

(A few other PCs appeared briefly as players tried out characters, or played only a few sessions.)

 

1. A SERPENT IN THE BOSOM. The mysterious Mr. Smith gathers Our Heroes and sends them to the little town of Garland, WA where the Ouroboros cult is breeding half-human spawn of the Dragon.

 

2. COME TO ORDER. Bromion kidnaps a bunch of hapless humans from a New Age expo, and Our Heroes must rescue them.

3. THE RICH ONE. A series of deaths by transmutation leads to Dis, the powerful Plutonian spirit, and its loathesome human minion Mr. Jukes. Jukes becomes the first defeated enemy killed by Artifex.

 

4. TRICK OR TREAT: THE NEXT GENERATION. Our Heroes must penetrate layers of recursive hallucination before Tappan Arkwright III sacrifices them to the Kings of Edom. First time Artifex kills Tappan Arkwright III.

 

(Note: In the previous Seattle Sentinels campaigns, every year I did a yearly "Trick of Treat" Halloween adventure. New campaign, so new name.)

 

5. REVENGE OF SIMON MAGUS. An ambush by demon-possessed teens and Matachin (one of the Sylvestri clan) leads to Simon Magus, who is possessing the body of a California teenager. Simon wants revenge for their foiling a plot which to them, hasn't happened yet...and the time-puzzles begin.

 

6. AZTLAN RISING. At first it seems that Jezeray's friend has merely been seduced by a ghost in her new home. Our Heroes soon find that beneath the house is the last temple of Aztlan, the bloody Empire of the Dragon from whence the Aztecs came -- but which was erased from history through a mighty spell. Our Heroes battle the Aztec god Xipe Totec, his monstrous minions, and (briefly) their comrade Redeemer before Mr. Smith sends them to fetch the parts of the spell which can unmake the temple and stop Xipe Totec from bringing Aztlan back. Along the way, they meet a golem created by Albertus Magnus and see their possible futures in a Hall of Mirrors in the palace of the Emperor of Babylon. Jezeray learns there may be a lover called Andrew in her future.

 

7. OTHER SIDE STORY. Lojan and Thyrsia, warrior-mages from opposing factions of an endless war on an extradimensional world, come to Earth because they've fallen in love. Both sides send mightier wizards and warriors to retrieve them. Our Heroes are caught in the middle.

 

8. TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT. Dis returns, controlled by Jukes' will, by possessing the unwary psychic Shirlee Teapot. Catching Dis proves easy. Getting rid of him does not. Eventually Our Heroes consult Sebastian Puddleby, the Wizard (a master of transformations, an old PC), who solves the problem by creating a new pocket dimension in the Astral Plane.

 

Incidentally, Artifex also got seduced into a one-night stand by a disguised Perrenon Sylvestri, AKA Astralle. Oops.

 

9. ON THE EDGE. With a little unexplained help from the Dragon, Bromion captures the astral-travelling souls of dreaming villains and sends their enslaved bodies to attack Our Heroes. He meant this to distract them from his program of enslaving humanity through its dreams, but instead it led them to his base in the Astral Plane.

 

10. DREAMS THAT MONEY CAN BUY. Zeta Krafft unwittingly sold her soul to become a great artist. As a result, her sculptures became portals that let demons come to Earth. Our Heroes track the demons to their source and decide to save Zeta's soul by contacting a greater power: Palamabron, one of Artifex's patrons among the Sons of Los. But first they must reach him...

 

11. CROSSING THE VEIL. To reach Palamabron, Our Heroes must pass through psychodramas built from their minds by the Upper Astral Plane. The ever-shifting scenes stabilize into the Western town of Astral Springs and the nightmarish City of God. Artifex and Redeemer face twisted doubles of themselves, while Jezeray learns the confidence and the power to let her face down Thaumiel, the two-faced Lord of Good and Evil.

 

Palamabron reveals the chink in Mephisto's apparently ironclad contract with Zeta Krafft: he and the demon Mulciber may have given Zeta Krafft her techniques, but great artistry depends on inspiration -- and that comes from him and Los. Zeta owes Mephisto nothing because what Mephisto promised was never his to give. It works, and Artifex gives Mephisto the finger.

 

12. THE COMING OF SKARN. The awesomely powerful and quite mad dimensional conqueror Skarn the Shaper is coming to Earth, drawn by a spell cast by the Hierophant. Our Heroes skirmish with minions of both Skarn and the Hierophant, bop (confusedly) through dimensions, including the Congeries, meet Skarn's daughter Brell, and finally save the world by challenging Skarn to a race through the dimensions. Artifex also gets the Forge Sutra, a powerful text of Art Magic, from the Hierophant.

 

13. IMPLOSION! The Imp of the Perverse has followed Our Heroes back to Earth. Soon the neighbors are acting funny. Apollyon (of the Devil's Advocates) changes from a violent, megalomaniac destroyer to a violent, megalomaniac altruist. And then the Imp zaps Artifex, Redeemer and Jezeray. Oy. In the end, though, Our Heroes manage to trap the Imp in a Solomon bottle and leave it in another dimension.

 

Also, Jezeray gets a boyfriend: a shy, sensitive clerk called Andrew who works really hard to hold his temper -- because when he doesn't, he's dangerous.

14. THE HORROR FROM THE CRYPT. Tappan Arkwright is back, trying to liberate a powerful Edomite horror from its ancient crypt on Sakhalin Island. He succeeds, but Our Heroes manage to defeat the monster and cast it into the deeps of space. But how did Arkwright return from the dead? Artifex finds that Arkwright has no memory of dying in their last encounter. No matter; Artifex kills him again.

 

15. HELL RIDES IN. Hell Rider and some Wrath Demons attack and destroy Our Heroes' house, trying to kill them and steal the skull of Redeemer's Uncle Terence. Redeemer, Jezeray and Zontar capture Hell Rider, and discover he has NO SOUL AT ALL. Hell Rider doesn't know who took it or why, but he took this job from the Sylvestris in hopes that they could find it and put it back.

 

16. FEAST OF BLOOD. In another long story arc, Our Heroes go to the war in Bosnia. They find zombies, werewolf commandos, Mob Ruler atavisms and a massive plot by the Sylvestris and Ouroboros to resurrect Tiamat, a powerful avatar of the Dragon. They also meet Count Nemesis, an Edomite-powered hero (!) who has whatever power hurts you the most, and new PC Ian Malcolm. Artifex gives his life to slay Tiamat from the inside -- but during a visionary journey to Golgonooza in which he confronted the ultimate author of the plan, the Spectre of Urthona, Los let Artifex create a new version of himself to be activated after he died.

17. INTERLUDE: JUST ANOTHER MONSTER. On their way back to Tacoma, Redeemer, Zontar and Ian fight and destroy a giant, glowing Flumph that appears in Oslo for no reason that is ever adequately explained.

 

18. SPECTRE OF ART. Artifex is dead. Artifex is alive again. Artifex is wanted by the police for a series of robberies and murderous assaults -- only the other PCs know he was in Bosnia, or dead, the whole time. It turns out Artifex has a double, a version of him that lost the test of the Veil of the Temple and became a villain. While Our Heroes pursue this "Anarchitect" through Earth and Babylon, the cosmic entity Chroneval tries trapping them all in a deathly prison dimension. They finally confront Anarchitect in Babylon, stop him before he plunges the city-dimension into murderous anarchy, and bring him back to Earth just long enough to show the authorities that yes, Artifex really does have an evil twin. And then Chroneval sucks Anarchitect into his prison dimension.

 

The PCs also get to take over Anarchitect's base, Wetchley House, to replace their destroyed house.

 

19. MADHOUSE! Our Heroes explore their bizarre new house. Andrew shows what he can do when he's angry. A magical blunder turns him into Black Fang; he is subdued with difficulty.

 

20. VEIL II: DARK MIRRORS. So where did Anarchitect come from? Our Heroes think the answer lies in the Veil, or beyond. Since Ian is with them and he's never crossed the Veil before, everyone has to go through new psychodramas. Artifex meets Anarchitect's rebel underground in the City of God, the Gothpunks, and finds a supposed "cosmic artifact," the Aenigma Temporis. This turns out to be a Chinese puzzle-box holding a fortune cookie that says "It is always later than you think." Redeemer confronts Thaumiel, who claims to be God, but who turns out to a little man behind a curtain. Jezeray and Ian have their own problems. Our Heroes also fight the Magus, a might-have-been version of Redeemer who serves Thaumiel. Once past the Veil, Palamabron explains that someone on or near Earth is doing things to Time. All sorts of might-have-beens are appearing. This is bad and someone had better stop it.

 

21. DIVIDED WE FALL! A treasure hunt through Central Asia and decaying dimensions for the Loom Sutra, a powerful text of temporal and dimensional magic. Our Heroes split up in disagreement when Artifex cold-bloodedly kills the Hierophant, who also seeks the Sutra, but end up together at the ancient monastery which held the scroll. And a good thing: qliphothic monsters have invaded. Our Heroes follow the monsters back through a Gate to a pocket dimension created using the Sutra. Faced with overwhelming odds from the monsters, they leap through another convenient Gate -- into the deathly dimension of the Pale Cathedral. Its inhabitants, the Harab Serapel, reveal that they manipulated the PCs into bringing them the Loom Sutra in hopes that it could give them and the Pale Cathedral further eons of existence. The PCs try to build a new dimension for the Harab Serapel, but Ian's chaos blows it up and throws them outside of Time. Before they re-enter Time, the others prevail on Artifex to reverse his murder of the Hierophant.

 

22. FIGHT AGAINST TIME. A demonic incursion draws Our Heroes to a meeting with the time-travelling Cult of the Doomsday Clock in Tulsa. The sorcerer-priest Father O'Herlihy foresees a demonic attack on his church, so he calls on the Champion of Light -- Redeemer -- for help. The PCs go, and fight a squad of demons led by the lord Shax and one of the Sylvestris. They also clash with some mysterious Men in Black who teleport using pocket-watches, and an even more mysterious Chronstable. Our Heroes trash the demons. Julian Sylvestri unwittingly gives Shax permission to kill him and take his soul. The church's wards are damaged, however, letting the MiBs enter and steal Father O'Herlihy's soul using a crystal spear. Then they vanish.

 

Also: Ian first mentions Talbot. He says he's Talbot's imaginary friend. Apparently Talbot can do things by himself. Wut?

 

23. DAMNED IF YOU DO... A fight with a man who sold his soul to become a demon and take revenge on Artifex -- whom he blames for Anarchitect raping his girlfriend. Mephisto also kidnaps Jezeray's boyfriend Andrew to Hell.

 

24. HARROWING HELL. A quest into Pandemonium and several Hells to rescue Andrew before Mephisto can force or trick him into selling his soul -- as himself or as Black Fang. Our Heroes find that Hell really is as bad as they thought and barely escape from Pandemonium with their lives. While Redeemer tries to Gate them out, the Lords of Art snatch Artifex for their "War of Infinity," [the player had to leave early and couldn’t make it to a few sessions] disrupting the Gate and scattering the PCs through Hell. Ian persuades Minos, the Judge of Hell, to reunite them just so they (especially Ian) will leave. While caught in Baphomet's Hell of War, Jezeray loses her virginity to Black Fang and enjoys it. Oh dear.

 

25. IN THE SHADOW OF THE BOMB. Our meet Stalker, one of the original Seattle Sentinels, while investigating some peculiar deaths by radiation in New Mexico. The trail leads to the Astral Cyst of Trinity Village -- and Simon Magus, who is trying to open a gate through time using the power of the sleeping Avatar of the Infinite, a cosmically-empowered lunatic (and another character from the original Seattle Sentinels campaign). They thwart his attempt, which prompts Simon's revenge scheme back in adventure #5.

 

26. FALSE GODS. Reports of strange doings draw Our Heroes to a small town. They find that the Hierophant has taken over the town using a powerful Art spirit as a beachhead for the War of Infinity. While under the spirit's power, the townsfolk get to live in private dreamworlds...but if the dream turns bad, the nightmare can kill them. Victor the alchemist first appears. Our Heroes defeat the Hierophant. When they explain to the spirit how its "gift" has caused harm, it releases the town and the PCs help it go home.

 

27. LIEBESTOD. Artifex returns from the War of Infinity. Helping the police with a hostage situation (though the police don’t want it) leads to a meeting with a House Haunter atavism. It mind-controls Redeemer into trying to force himself on Jezeray. Our Heroes prove more of a threat to each other through their impetuosity than the House Haunter is through its malice. But they find that many local ghosts are missing.

 

28. THE PLOT CONGEALS. Continuing the investigation into the missing ghosts leads to Lola Queerduck: exorcist, ghost-eater and employee of the Doomsday Clock cultists. Our Heroes also suffer another encounter with the Imp of the Perverse, which Ian accidentally summoned. The Imp reverses the curse on Andrew: most of the time it's his mind in Black Fang's body, but when he gets angry Black Fang takes control, but in Andrew's body. Lola Queerduck dies in an ambush the Doomsday Clock cultists set for the heroes.

 

29. WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? Jezeray psychically tracks the kidnapped ghosts to the Astral Cyst of the Cult of the Doomsday Clock. Our heroes improvise a way there and get thoroughly trashed by the Cult before destroying the Doomsday Clock. They learn, however, that the Cult is a posthumous plan by Archimago to destroy the Universe. They also rescue the souls of Father O'Herlihy and Hell Rider. To save Hell Rider from his pact with Mephisto (which he now greatly regrets), they give him Father O'Herlihy's saintly soul, while Father O'Herlihy's takes Hell Rider's.

 

30. HARROWING HEAVEN. Redeemer's Uncle Terence has finally thought of a way to cure Andrew of his curse, but they must invade Heaven for the ingredient -- an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Since none of Our Heroes can open Gates to Elysium, they start by going to Chinese Hell. The Yama-Kings test them and find them worthy, so they get passage to Chinese Heaven and the lab of Lao-Tzu. From there they go to the Heavenly Jerusalem and Albertus Magnus, patron saint of both science and sorcery, who obtains the apple for them and processes it into the cure -- a magic applesauce that will let Our Heroes enter Andrew's mind and help him confront the Black Fang personality. Jezeray realizes that instead of destroying Black Fang, Andrew must reconcile and merge with him, and she convinces them to go through with it. Everyone returns to their bodies -- and to a final surprise which ends the campaign proper.

 

31. BACHELOR PARTY. (One-shot special) When Jezeray and Andrew get married, the other Keystone Konjurors take Andrew on a wild bachelor party through Babylon. One of the toasters they receive as a gift turns out to be a trap sent by Simon Magus. Ian has resumed his true (?) personality as Talbot, the ultimate super-genius theoretician of magic.

 

32. THE RETURN OF SKARN. (One-shot special) Petty dimension lord Chasaash of Iselmere invades Tacoma (?!) with his monstrous minions. Our Heroes discover that Skarn "helped" Chasaash so he could more easily invade Iselmere. Chasaash gives up his invasion of Tacoma to swear vengeance on Skarn.

----------

Dean Shomshak
 

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On 11/2/2019 at 3:19 PM, Christopher R Taylor said:

Well here's how one of my campaigns worked (this was a Golden Age game, set in the WW2 era)

 

PCs started out as pulp characters like Indiana Jones, getting into adventures.  However, this world has superpowered bad guys, so they keep running into low powered bad guys that kick their behinds.  They end up getting superpowers -- the first heroes in the world -- and begin fighting back against the villains.  They set up a "base" of sorts in a warehouse, and start wearing costumes to disguise themselves so they are safe from the enemies while "not at work."

 

Each session, the PCs get some news about what is going on, are faced with a challenge, and have to go out and deal with it, or it comes to them.  For example, the Hindenburg is in town and the PCs learn of a plot to blow it up and burn the empire state building down.  The PCs get to the top where the mooring is (no, for real, they had a zeppelin mooring on the building then) and start evaucating people and try to stop the bomber.

 

Or they go to the New York World's Fair and terrible things start happening!  Triffids attack!  A huge robot goes berserk!

 

I’m curious, since they started as pulp heroes, I’m assuming they all gained their powers at the same time.  What was the event that spurred the introduction superpowers into the world?

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What was the event that spurred the introduction superpowers into the world?

 

Its a bit complicated but basically necromantic energy from Nazi death camps were used to wake up the old Norse gods and put them on the side of the Axis.  Except Loki, who is for whatever side the other gods are agin'.

 

So he stole some of the Iðunn Apples which grant the gods their everlasting youth, and began distributing tiny slices to thugs, mugs, pugs, ruffians and Methodists of all stripes, creating supervillains.  Some of them got more power than others (a bigger slice, etc).  Through a case of mistaken identity, the heroes ended up being offered the power, but before they could decide... Thor shows up in the skies to take the apples back.

 

Now, none of them have any idea this is Loki or for that matter what the heck is going on, just that the sinister looking charmer at the table suddenly went pale white and rushed out side, then there's this big flashing thunderstorm and explosions in the sky.  Mjolnir hits Lokis bag of apples in the fight and blammo, pieces and whole apples are showered all over the globe, and the people at ground zero -- the PCs -- all gain superpowers.

 

If you've ever played the computer game "Freedom Force" the apples were going to act like Energy X cannisters, once in a while someone could find one for a temporary powerup, heals, etc.  Plus, they were the reason for superpowered people popping up all over the place.

 

I got the inspiration for the Norse Gods thing from a short story, I cannot remember who by, that had the same essential premise (minus the apples).

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