Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hard Hitting Supers

One thing interesting about running a Champions game is that combat is pretty brutal. I mean really brutal. Like, almost not quite like a comic book brutal unless your preferred reading of choice is Marvel's Ultimates or Image's Invincible.

I ran the first session for my new Champions campaign and it was both incredibly fun and not exactly what I was hoping for.

The Good

I realize that as much as I don't love the math needed to make characters, Champions makes awesome characters. You can play exactly the kind of hero you want, with exactly the type of powers you want to have and even get rewarded for complicating your character's life with exactly the disadvantages and limitations you want. I am spoiled by this concept I realize. I think it was Champions that killed my interest in rolling random stats, abilities and such. I play to enjoy myself. If I roll up a dumb fighter type and want to play a wise cleric or intelligent magic user why shouldn't I. It's my free time, I paid money for this game and I want to play what I want to play. Champions is all about that.

Once you've made up characters, my players and I were surprised at how fast and easy everything else in the game is. All your info for your abilities, powers, to hit (OCV), defense (DCV), etc. is on your sheet. No real need to look up anything, except the occasional damage adjustment if you throw a car or get knocked back through a wall. Luckily I have the Champions 4th Ed. screen which is full of cool records sheets and quick reference charts should they be required.

The Bad (Sorta)

The adventure itself went a I was hoping for. Not by much and not in a way that we didn't enjoy it but one of my players took his character in a direction that leaned a little toward villainy. I think he was just blowing off the steam of a tough week but I'd be lying if I said it didn't irk me a bit. I've decided not to be so stiff on what constitutes a hero though (for this game at least) and I'm eager to see where this story goes.

The Ugly

As I mentioned in the opening of this post, Champions combat is very dangerous. Is it me or is Champions combat remarkably brutal for a Supers game? Damn but my boy J got hurt. You may be able to throw lightning bolts and absorb flame but if a punk with a gun shoots you with a 4D6 Killing Attack you could die son. It was like crazy deadly out there for these two heroes. Not to mention the damage they inflicted on the crooks doing nothing more elaborate then some martial arts moves and a few well placed sonic attacks. Wowzers.

Anyway...all this Superhero gaming talk has put me in the mood for more Superhero gaming talk. I'm going to recap an old game, some old characters and some new art coming up. Be here in thirty! 'Nuff Said!

Barking Alien


  1. Any idea where I could get a copy of this? Amazon is... recalcitrant when I try to search for it.

  2. If you're looking for 4th Edition, my advice is to search Noble Knight Games or try to get the PDF of the 4th Edition Hero System from DriveThruRPG or some similar outfit. I'm not certain DTRPG still carries 4th now that I think about it.

    I've seen fan and supplemental stuff still up on the net all over the place. Otherwise, 5th is still very cool and close enough to not make a major difference in play.

    6th is just not my cup of tea.

  3. Ebay is another good place to look for 4th. Local used bookstores are handy too.

    Deadly combat was a problem in my games too, usually early in the campaign more than later. Limiting those RKA's and HKA's helps a lot, but even then if someone goes for a particularly nasty move thru things can get ugly, whether its a normal or a killing attack. Some kind of warm-up exercise, test combat, or danger room type scenario can help calibrate expectations - or at least cause everyone to consider raising some defenses a bit higher.

  4. I actually like that idea a lot Blacksteel but in the end I think the deadliness of the combat, jarring as it was compared to what my guys were used to, helped to establish the feel of the game and the setting.

    Plus, my current group of players has been requesting I kick their butts a bit more, claiming I've been soft on them. Maybe I have been a little but I certainly wasn't this time around.

  5. I'm loving your H4 campaign, Adam. But it's no wonder you're having a problem with deadly combat. "...if a punk with a gun shoots you with a 4D6 Killing Attack you could die son." No kidding! That's a crazy amount of damage. An AK47 only does 2D6K. 4D6K is the equivalent of an anti-tank weapon! You might want to give those goons smaller guns.

  6. Holy cow your right JC! At the same time...wait..

    I think I was thinking Autofire or Multifire. Still, I did go a bit overboard on the weapon damage. I correct my error or make the game more deadly by uping the damage output of normal weapons?

    Nah, I think I just cover my ass by saying he was firing semi-auto and that the damage was the total from multiple hits. I'll update my notes and use more accurate damage from now on. Problem solved. ;)

  7. Long-time Champions guy chimes in with questions/comments....

    ) Do the PCs in question have appropriate Resistant Defenses? While the STUN lotto on a standard, non-Advantaged 4d6 RKA could certainly knock any hero for a loop, the BODY damage should just bounce right off. (This is a subject close to my heart, as I learned this painful lesson the hard way. Back when you had to squeeze everything into 250 points, I spaced on Resistant Defenses; neither the GM nor I noticed for about 6 months...until my PC got impaled and died, that is. Even more embarrassing, it was at the hands a fellow teammate who had stolen the weaponry of yet ANOTHER teammate and went stab-happy. Not. Fun.)

    ) Damage from the Autofire Advantage doesn't stack; each attack is applied individually against the defenses. (A standard complaint over the decades about Autofire: "What's the point?")

  8. Thanks Justin for piping in actually. It helps me to have a place to note...

    1) No not really. They have decent normal defenses (Physical Defense - PD and Engergy Defense - ED) but only one of them really had much in the way of Resistant Defense (rPD and rED respectively). This made sense for the nature of the characters. One was a super soldier/Batman type with body armor and the other a rookie energy absorber, manipulator, blaster.

    The former was conceived as having some gear, support (allies and funds) and experience. The latter was pretty new to superheroing and was actually in his secret/civillian identity when he encountered the criminals.

    2)It doesn't stack but each attack is an attack. What I mean is...If you have a rPD of 6 and my first shot does 6 you take no damage. My second shot hits for 7, you take 1. My last shot does 12 points you take 6. Sure, it not like I do 25 (6+7+12) minus your rPD of 6 and you take a whopping 19. Still it adds up.

    Or did we house rule that and I got so used to it I'm thinking those are the regular rules? lol

  9. 1) makes perfect sense now. Your players aren't going with the typical every-hero-needs-60-Active-Points-of-Defenses model (which invariably turns into a 20rPD, 20rED, 0 END Force Field that fits snugly into the obligatory Elemental Control).

    Yeah, light body armor will take a pounding from a 4d6 RKA.

    2) No, you're exactly right in how you calculated it. Just see #1--I assumed they had more Defenses than they actually did.


    This is fun. I haven't talked Champions in ages.