Friday, March 20, 2015

The Shuffling Madness of Locomotive Breath

All Players in the Champions of Atlanta Campaign-

  I just tricked superhero team one (Crusader, Gale, Alien Hunter, Nova, Mandible, Skywave, Ellipses, and Dierdre) into boarding Prof. Impossible's 1970's era spaceplane and being sent, on autopilot, to the north pole of the Moon.

  But that is for another time.

  In the meantime team two (Flaming Hammer, Tombstone, Forest Warrior (actually Ghost-like Warrior of the Celestial Forest), Kaleidoscope, Thunderclap, Nighthawk, Bone, and Bob Perkins-Defender of the Universe) are investigating the strange disappearances around Oakland Cemetery. The homeless report to Bone (King of the Good Hobos) that homeless and petty criminals have fled the vicinity after several of each have gone missing, including one memorable incident where a minor drug dealer was dragged, screaming, into the sewers by something Bullets Couldn't Stop.
  The team is has hints that these things are related to the mysterious phrase uttered four months ago by the dying StarRnager Url/Matosk who said 'the Riders are coming' just before he died and his Power Rod selected a new StarRanger.
  What is going on?
  The Necromancer, an evil mystic, is conducting experiments, that's what! He is trying to fuse living flesh with both undead flesh and machinery in the hopes that the result will be something as new, a controllable minion that cannot be stopped by machine or magic! He has called in several favors and taken out a third mortgage on his soul to 'lease' the services of a powerful evil spirit who calls himself Baron Cimetiere - this dark loa inhabits the bodies of the recently dead as a sort of super-zombie: tough, fast, and terrifyingly smart. The baron is behind the recent disappearances.
  The Necromancer, though, is almost finished with his creation. he has taken Mean Ron, former King of the Hobos (a foul tyrant who lost power when Bone arrived), and transformed him into something rather odd.
  The Necromancer was never very stable; his new pacts have driven him even further around the bend. In addition to never wondering why only Mean Ron has survived any of his procedures (unknown to anyone but Mean Ron's late mother he is the illegitimate son of 1970's supervillain Iron Ron) he has grafted Ron with the machinery he had at hand - an abandoned train from the 1860's, formerly of the Southern Railroad History Museum.
  While Ron survived the transformation his mind isn't doing so well. When he realized the extent of the changes and the reality of his new existence he went even crazier. Now he spends his time wandering the sewers and drainage tunnels during the day, haunting back alleys and lonely lots at night, and humming to himself. And it is always the same song...

  If the party gets past the Baron they will face the transformed Ron who now calls himself Locomotive Breath

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Champions: Flashback to William, the Strongest Man in the World

  Earlier I wrote about the very creative character from the first Champions campaign I played in. Another very creative member of the party was my buddy Gregg. Gregg liked what I called 'simple, yet extreme, characters'. He had a tendency to make characters so over-the-top they were terrifying and yet so simple, direct, and interestingly flawed you wanted him to play them and play alongside them.
  The character of his I remember best was William. I have recreated him here in 6th edition HERO as I remember him as a beginning character.

  Background/History: William's parents were simple, rural Kentuckians. They didn't have a great deal of money, but they were devoted to their children. When their son, William, was born he was a typical, healthy boy. He grew abnormally quickly and was freakishly strong. Concerned at how others treated him his parents moved to as remote an area as possible and raised him in near seclusion.
  Eventually a rabidly anti-mutant terrorist group attacked his family. Despite his great strength William was unable to save his family and fled before the terrorists and their anti-mutant robots. He chanced across the Victory Squad who helped him defeat the robots and sheltered him. He soon joined their team. In his 'secret identity' is is, effectively, a ward of the hero Crimson. While most of the world believes the huge superhero to be a grown man he is, in fact, barely 15 years old.
  Personality/Motivation: William is a typical 15 year old boy; he is rambunctious, emotional, easily distracted, and sometimes forgetful. But he was raised to be honest, just, courteous, and respectful and he honors his slain parents by doing his best to be a good person. He is essentially illiterate and knows little of television, the internet, etc. but he is a good judge of character and is no fool, no matter how many think him to be one.
  His parents were very careful to teach him to control his strength so he is usually very careful not to break things (he has no limitations based on his incredible strength).
  Because of his youth and the loss of his parents seeing innocent people, animals, etc. harmed can cause him to lose his temper and attack someone with all him might.
  Quote: "You shouldn't ought'er have done that." clobber!
  Powers/Tactics: William is strong and tough. Very strong. He is very resistant to physical damage. And he is very, very strong. He can also leap fair distances. But mainly he is very, very, very strong. On the other hand he his defenses against energy attacks are fairly low and he has no unusual defenses (like flash defense, etc.) or life support. But man is he strong!
  He is an unsophisticated fighter; left to his own devices he will simply close with the foe that looks toughest and swing until they go down. Of course, this is typically very effective. He does take instructions well and the Victory Squad is very good at setting up foes for William to take down quickly while also protecting him from energy projectors and mentalists.
  Appearance: William stands 7' 2" tall and is massively built with broad shoulders, a deep chest, and huge muscles everywhere. He has brown eyes, sandy brown hair, and weighs about 500 lbs. He typically dresses in bib overalls and heavy work boots.

  William has a very respectable PD 35/30 and, of course, a 20d6 punch!! During play villains would far rather engage anyone to avoid getting hit by him. On the other hand anyone with a taser could, in time, bring him down.

  Next time: the energy projector.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Champions: Flashback to Granite

  I got a copy of the Champions RPG for my birthday in 1983 and I am forced to admit I read it once and put it down.
  The shame I feel about this is tempered by the fact that at the time I was still in high school as well as working a job 20-40 hours a week, running two different AD&D 1e campaigns, playing in a Traveller campaign, and trying to make my girlfriends happy. Regardless of how much the single read-through impressed me, though, I didn't do anything with Champions for years.
  Flash forward to the Autumn of 1985: I have finished Army Basic and have reported to the Defense Language Institute. I have struck up great friendships with my classmates already. And a guy in a different class invites some of us to a game of Champions he had started.
  Williams' game was a ton of fun. He had us start on a 200 base/100 disads point build and if we could explain why the active point caps could be flexible. he also let us all make characters, play them for 3 sessions, and then re-write or replace them. Before long Chuck, Brian, Gregg, and I had a team we called the Victory Squad or the Victorians, we never really agreed.

  Those first groups we are in are very influential. I remember the first session of D&D I played and the first party I DM'ed for still influences how I GM everything to this day. The amazingly creative, fun, and nuanced characters from that first, year-long campaign meant a lot to how I see and approach the superhero genre, and I would like to share some of that.

  This flashback is to Chuck's character, Granite. I am recreating him in the newest version of Champions (HERO system, 6th edition) as I remember him when he was a new character and using the point allocation from my own campaign. I am beginning with Granite because he was my favorite character concept from the campaign - I was a bit annoyed with myself for not being as creative as Chuck!

  Background/History: In his civilian identity Granite is a prominent geologist with a number of well regarded papers on his CV. He makes his living with a mixture of teaching positions and consulting jobs.
  While it is known he did not always have super powers the time and manner in which he gained them is a bit mysterious; he asked he gives vague, sometimes contradictory, responses and ignores any further discussions. Mutant scanners do no register him and there are hints his powers may be mystical.
  Personality/Motivation: Granite is the personification of 'cool in a crisis'. A good friend with a dry sense of humor in battle he is invariably cool, calculating, and focused.
  He is a staunch foe of crime and injustice and will sometimes focus his attention on those whom he thinks takes advantage of children or the poor.
  Quote: "Perhaps you should cool down."
  Powers/Tactics: Granite can transform himself into living stone, greatly enhancing his toughness and strength. While in his stone form he can also increase his size, further enhancing his strength and toughness. He can also travel through rock, stone, and earth at high speed.
  Granite is a brick, but a smart one. He will take advantage of his growth powers to attack foes that felt they were out of combat due to distance or to 'crowd' enemies, reducing their room to maneuver. His ability to see through dirt and rock and his tunneling ability give him a great deal of mobility on the battlefield and few things are as surprising as a fist striking from a wall of solid granite.
  Appearance: Granite looks like a living statue of black granite ranging from 6'6" to 13' tall and weighing between 1,750 lbs and 7 tons. In his normal form he is a well-dressed Black man of 6' 2".

  As you can see, at full size Granite will have a 12d6 punch and a very impressive PD34/ED34.

  Granite was a tremendous resource for the team and a really good scout. But, oddly enough, he wasn't the top brick!

  Next time  the Strongest Man in the World.