The latest session of our rejuvenated 4th Edition Champions campaign (simply titled, The New Age of Champions*) was also one of the best sessions of anything we've had in a while.
Although there was not a bit of combat and no direct adversary, the game felt more meaningful and full of activity then the two previous ones, which were chuck full of hero vs. villain full-contact craziness.
What made this session so special (And it was special. There is no other word for it.)?
First, and perhaps foremost, it featured a slight change to the Player roster. Ray and Conrad were absent and Jeff made a return guest appearance. This changed the dynamic considerably. Jeff was there at the beginning of the campaign and he had a big impact on the story and style of the game. Also, Jeff is a very unusual type of player. He is the kind I grew up with but don't see a lot these days. Jeff gets into his PC's head and his PC lives in this campaign setting. He is not merely going on the adventures and fighting the bad guys and seeing how much xp he received. Jeff, and by association his PC, cares about the people, places and events as if they are a part of him and he them. It makes even minor actions and activities seem to have weight. It's extremely refreshing to see that mindset return.
The other thing Jeff's presence seems to do if spur on one or more of the other players to get proactive and appreciate the campaign the way Jeff does. This meant we saw a lot more interaction between the PCs and the NPCs, the PCs and each other and the PCs and the various organizations that make up the setting.
Secondly, without a direct threat, the PCs have the chance to explore the consequences of their recent actions in previous sessions. Honestly, after saving an international space station full of astronauts of varying accents, the rest of the "adventure" was mostly talk and investigation.
After congratulating the team on a job well done in saving the astronauts and the station, Night Force (Major NPC) dropped some intel on some new situations that developed while we were occupied averting the aforementioned potential disaster in orbit. This was immediately followed by a one-on-one with three of the PCs.
Night Knight (Dave) was confronted about the somewhat excessive use of force during the the group's previous outing on an opponent who didn't really warrant it (in Night Force's opinion). Night Knight agreed it was regrettable and a bit excessive. This somehow turned into a philosophical debate between the two characters (Dave as Night Knight, me as Night Force) about the differing mindsets of the Captain America or even Superman hero (highly moral boyscout with a black and white world view) and the stop-crime-by-any-means-necessary mindset of a Batman or Daredevil type character. Neither was advocating a kill-them-before-they-kill-us/Punisher approach but Night Knight came close a few times. The two men came to an understanding but only time will tell if they can hold on to their compromise.
Next, The Power (Marcus) was called in by Night Force, who was joined by Omni (another Major NPC and a mentor like figure to The Power). A session or two ago, The Power went on a solo mission that he didn't tell the team about. In addition to the mission being unsanctioned, The Power decided to contact Superhype!, a 24 hour TV and Internet cable channel that covers anything and everything Supers, from news to entertainment, etc. A film crew from Superhype followed him in a ride along a la' COPS as The Power tried to uncover and capture a ring of high-tech weapon smugglers. In the process, he threw a couple of cars, a small truck and managed to set part of a city owned housing project garage on fire. The two higher ranking heroes simply approached Power with a nice, calm, "WTF! What the hell were you thinking? Who is paying for the vehicles and the building damage. Don't think we are. It was an unsanctioned mission meaning no government help to cover damage to public property. What's wrong with you man?!"
Now Marcus, the player of The Power, is normally pretty good at bluffing or getting himself out of tight spots be they physical or verbal. Yesterday however, something bizarre possessed him and he just started having The Power act like a total as...jerk. He went on mouthing off to the veteran heroes, getting all egotistical and just generally making himself out to be a glory seeking loose cannon. So...Night Force discharged him. Yep. He was made to turn in his supergroup ID and hand in his communicator. Fired.
Upon being escorted out of the secret base, Power flew skyward and went to investigate some of the recent reports of trouble on his own. At this point he believes there may be a connection between several seemingly unrelated incindents. He hopes to prove he can solve these mysteries on his own and then, quote, "They'll be begging me to come back to the team".
Finally, Arcane (Lee) is approached by Night Force and Omni and thanked for all he's done so far. He has had an excellent track record in a short period of time. A new addition to the team, he was nonetheless very helpful in defeating several pretty tough villains and saving the space station.
The two veteran heroes think Arcane can help undo some of the public relations issues The Powers activities might have caused. Also, since he is a former 'graduate' of the Scaramangler Foundation, he is the perfect fellow to strengthen ties between the superheroes of Project: UNITY and that organization. Omni hopes that by carefully handling their public image and maintaining the public's current approval rating of superheroes, he may be able to reinstate 'The Champions', the premier super team that disbanded some 20 years ago in disgrace.
But wait! What about Jeff's character Revenant? Where is Dave's other (alternate) PC, Silver Sun! Who is Makeshift?
Find Out Next issue...