It's Not Easy
That is pretty much the word that best describes the most recent session of our Champions campaign, 'The New Age of Champions' (based on my friend William's 11 year tour De force Champions game, 'The Age of Champions').
To begin I would like to note that our friend Corey, who has participated in a few weak and false start games with us, finally got to be in one that rocked. Fitting and ironic, since now he is moving away, out of state, and it will likely be the last time we play together.
His moving wasn't a surprise. We knew a while back (way back when we first met actually) that this would eventually be the case. Now, having had running a game that included him and was pretty darn awesome, I am feeling a bit of sadness and regret that as a friend and GM I didn't figure out how to make his inclusion work sooner. Oh well. Life goes on and an open invite to our table remains should he ever find his way back to the Big Apple.
Corey, it was a blast. Good luck and godspeed.
The game as a whole keeps on trucking and keeps getting better. The successful inclusion of Corey's character Ballistix to the continuity puts a very interesting and somewhat powerful Superhero in the Philadelphia, PA area which it kind of needed (the other two or three PA heroes are cool but not overly mighty).
Thanks to some quick thinking on Corey and my part we found a way to insert Ballistix in flawlessly to what was going on in the story.
If you'll recall (and even if you don't), Marcus' character, The Power, was recently fired from the superhero division of the United Nations SHIELD type organization UNTIL for insubordination, recklessness and, well, generally acting like a nut. His last recorded position was a train station outside Philly. Ballistix, a Philly based hero who works with UNTIL's Project: UNITY is sent to bring The Power back to base. It's one part apprehension, one part rescue and the powers that be at UNITY New York think that maybe, just maybe, The Power didn't come right back because he might be in some kind of trouble. Maybe he even ran afoul of some or all of the escaped super-criminals who recently broke out of Stronghold (the Super-Max Super-Bad Guy prison).
Pocket Full of Krytonite
Now sometimes players have these plans that seem, y'know, a little bit crazy. Occasionally, they're crazy like a fox. Sometimes they aren't. No, sometimes they're just batsh*t crazy. We're talking crazier then Sh*t House Rat.
Ninjette: "Don't you mean, "Crazier then 'A' sh*t house rat?"
Thugboy: "No, I mean what I said..."
Marcus had a plan. In his head, it was a great plan.
Basically, it involved capturing the currently on-the-loose AI of the arch-villain Mechanon, who is essentially an evil machine god, and trapping it in a new body that the team could then shut down. This is a good idea. Difficult to be sure but a good idea. It's been part of Mechanon's M.O. in the past to build a new, more advanced body to inhabit each time he returns. The idea of baiting him by letting it be known that someone recently developed some awesome new robot would be pretty enticing to someone like Mechanon.
He's where is starts to break down...
His first thought was to contact the evil technological conclave called ARGENT and get them to do it. Hmmm...I guess if you're pretending to be a villain making the request and offered them a lot of money or resources it might work. But then how do you know they won't double cross you or worse yet, make an awesome robot body for Mechanon that he will then possess and use to kick the crap out of everyone.
His second plan was to find one of the escaped criminals, a villain called Think Tank, and get Mechanon to possess him. Think Tank is a telepathic human brain inside a large robot body. Marcus' theory was that is Mechanon tried to enter Think Tank, the two consciousnesses would be locked in conflict and the heroes would be able to capture them both. In a single body no less!
Again, nice idea but waaay too chancey. Think Tank is a upper mid-level villain. Mechanon is, did I mention 'evil machine god'? 'Cause yeah, evil machine god. Do we want an Ultron with telepathic and psychic abilities kids? No we do not.
I Am Superman And I Can Do Anything
So the other problems with his plan(s), aside from those issues mentioned above, were that he saw the end results but had not clearly thought out how to achieve them.
He didn't take into account the fact that Think Tank had escaped with 4 other villains, one of whom was basically Superman with Captain Atom's nuclear powers.
He decided to get himself fired in order to go it alone, hoping to investigate and spare his allies the dangers of the plan, when in fact they could have helped immensely. A lesson learned early in the campaign by another PC apparently fell on deaf ears..."This universe is tough. Heroes are not guaranteed to win. You need friends and you sometimes need their help just like they need yours."
I had one NPC say, "The team isn't called The Champions anymore. It's not the Freedom Force or the Justice Avengers. We're called UNITY. There's a reason."
Really, I think he just wanted the glory, a win that said, "I, The Power, captured this major mojo, bad guy Mechanon."
Somebody Save Me
In the end, The Power found that the villains who escaped Stronghold were on a freight train bound for Upstate New York. They had commandeered the train, attaching a series of Inertial/Kinetic Energy Field Generators to their conveyance that enabled it to travel much faster on much less fuel.
When The Power snuck onto the moving train, he passed a conductor/train worker fellow who was terrified, saying that the villains were in the front car.
When The Power entered the engine car he was immediately attacked by a villain called Mako, a shark themed, underwater Wolverine type. The Power's psychic force field barely prevented Mako from biting his shoulder off. At this point, Endurance wise, The Power is running on fumes. He is down to the very bottom of his Endurance Reserve, not having rested since a battle with villains the day before and flying all over the USA all morning trying to track these criminals down. Also, he has a weakness that his Flight takes more Endurance then Flight normally does.
The Power asks Think Tank and the other villains to call off Mako in hopes of talking, when he is hit with a stun beam from behind. The Conductor. In truth he was a shape-shifting villain (a former hero actually but that's another tale) called The Outsider. Ya'see...
How did 5 villains escape Stronghold without anyone busting in, busting out or any alarms going off? Why spring only these five dudes? Who was behind it all? Well, as it turns out, some mysterious head honcho villain hired Outsider to do it. He shifted into one of the Stronghold guards after knocking the guy out and taking his security access card. He used devices supplied by his employer to mess with the Stronghold security cameras and speed up the train. He got the drop on The Power.
Luckily, help was on the way whether Power wanted it or not. Ballistix, having found no sign of The Power at the coordinates provided, figured the train barrelling through at well over two to three hundred miles an hour might be a clue to something suspicious...
To Be Continued...