Monday, May 21, 2018


I was able to run the second session of my group's new Champions campaign, Champions: REVIVAL, this past Sunday, the 20th of May.

I was excited. Really, really excited.  The feeling of potential this one has is hard to describe. It's off the charts.

It's like I've discovered a door in a house I've lived in for many years that I've never seen before. Upon opening this door, I see an entirely new floor, with dozens and dozens of rooms that seem familiar though I've clearly never visited them. I can not wait to investigate further!

Since the world I'm using is one I previously played in and used with prior campaigns, much of the material is well known to at least three of the players. They love the setting and are looking forward to 'seeing' familiar faces, locations, and discovering in what direction their favorite plot lines have gone.

At the same time, the campaign needs new material as well. This is a world they once knew, now about four years on. It has to have changed, grown, and suffered loss along the way. It should be easily recognizable and yet totally surprising at the same time.

For the other two players who are coming in cold, how do I introduce over 10 1/2 years of backstory without losing their interest during the telling? They'll be right there for the new but will they be overly confused by the old?

Going through the campaign development process for this bad boy is therefore less about Campaign Construction as it is Campaign ReConstruction. 

I had to take everything I knew about the campaign up to the last point in which I was a participant and say to myself, 'That's not the end of the story. That's the beginning of it'.

This was followed by contacting several of the players and getting their accounts of the game post-me. I did some research into the canon of Champions as per the official products, the canon I could recall or get an account of from the old players, and then cross reference my own personal notes from previous games I'd run in this setting.

Finally I mapped out the logical (to me) progression of various character journeys, plots, and subplots, as well as throwing in a few surprises. 

Next, and perhaps most importantly, I took at look the Player Characters my group and created and got a handle on their various backstories and particulars. Using these write-ups as a base, I envisioned how the PCs would interact with the world I'd built, and vice versa. Modifications were made to the setting - nothing huge, a nip here, a tuck there - and I was able to organize what I believed to be a working replica of the game universe as it would be some six months after the final session of the original campaign.

Luckily, another element I remembered to include was room. I left room for new heroes, new villains, unexpected turns of events, and additional player input. 

The results have been awesome so far.

They say you can't go home again. Maybe that's true, but you can recreate your old house and start a new life there from that point forward. 

More as it develops.

Barking Alien

Friday, May 11, 2018


I originally planned to post this entry on May 4th, for reasons that will be obvious in just a moment. Life got in the way and here we are. Where is that? Well, at least while you read this, it's a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

After the disappointing outing that was The Last Jedi, I wouldn't fault anyone their skepticism about the future of the franchise. It's enough to curb your enthusiasm something awful. At the same time, the finale of the animated series Star Wars: Rebels was absolutely excellent.

For me, it's hard to resist getting excited about anything Star Wars. I can't help it. I love that universe. Done well it's so much fun, and it's easy to do well. I'm actually amazed when the powers that be don't get it right. When they do...well when they do it's magic.

I already have my tickets for Solo: A Star Wars Story (for my girlfriend and I - Opening weekend, though not opening day). I am pretty excited.

The film has a lot going against. It's production has been wrought with directorial changes, acting challenges and issues, and it's lead actor has some very big boots to fill. All in all, things don't seem too promising. So why am I so jazzed?

Well first, I've watched the trailers and the films looks great! Funny dialogue, amazing visuals, and just the kind of story you'd expect from a movie that focuses on everyone's favorite space pirate and smuggler. 

Second, Chewbacca! It shouldn't come as any surprise to my readers that I am a BIG Chewie fan. I do it all for the Wookiee, you feel me? Having another film where Chewie gets to do his thing - his thing being, ya'know, being Chewie - is pretty awesome in my book. 

Lastly, I've noticed a number of references and homages to the Han Solo and Lando Calrissian novels of the late 70s and early 80s. It might just be me, but the Millennium Falcon's droid pilot reminds me of Blue Max and Lando's strange pilot robot from the books. In addition, one of the characters not shown on the poster above (aside from said Pilot Droid) is an alien named Rio Durrant, who greatly resembles a Ph'Pheahian, a species first introduced in the novel Han Solo's Revenge.

Left, Rio Durant, an Ardennian Pilot and Gunner from Solo: A Star Wars Story
Right, an illustration of a Ph'Pheahian from Han Solo's Revenge.

Separated at birth?

To me, this just looks like a fun movie. That's all I hope it is and all I need it to be. 

We shall see...

I'm even more excited for...

The Star Wars powers that be have announced another animated series! Following the excellent Star Wars: Rebels - which in turn followed the amazing Star Wars: The Clone Wars - the Disney Channel will be producing a brand new show set just prior to the events of The Force Awakens. 

The story focuses on a young Resistance pilot named Kazuda Xiono who, along with her fighter squadron, undertakes a secret mission to scout out the growing threat of the First Order. Much like its predecessor Rebels, Resistance will primarily feature new characters, but well known characters from the new sequels will make guest/cameo appearances. 

There are several things I love about this premise. 

I think there is a lot of untapped potential in the Sequel Trilogy setting. I foresee this series doing for the Sequels what Clone Wars did for the Prequels.Just as Clone Wars fleshed out the characters and situations of those terrible films. This new series will likely turn the First Order, Snoke, Captain Phasma, and the Resistance into actual, full formed concepts (unlike the films, which had a vague set up and very little follow through so far).

I also think making the main characters fighter pilots is brilliant! Starfighter pilots and dogfights in space is so specifically a Star Wars thing I'm amazed its taken so long to devote an onscreen story to such a group. I can hardly wait to see their fighters in more detail (assuming the fighter in the logo is the basic design concept).

In conclusion, the Force is still very strong in the entertainment world and our fandom. I may be labelled a die hard optimist, but I'm got a good feeling about this.

Green Leader, standing by.

Barking Alien

Friday, May 4, 2018


With the exception of a single, personally significant post, I decided to take the month of April off from blogging. 

It hadn't been planned ahead of time and I'm not sure at what point during the month I made that formal decision, but I am very glad I did. Things were especially busy and hectic and I really didn't know what, if anything, I wanted to say regarding the hobby. 

It's a new month and I've had experiences that I want to discuss. I took a break and now I'm born anew, ready to talk about my new campaign, TV shows, movies, and my ideas for the future.

Praise the dice and Hallelujah!

The Gospel According to Champions

We have returned once again to the universe of my old friend William Corpening, whose epic 10+ year Champions campaign was as deep and layered with mythology and pathos as anything Marvel or DC Comics has created. 

In the past, when I have adapted Will's Champions Earth-Wilco Charlie-1 to my own games, I designated it Champions Earth-Alpha Delta-1, a variant timeline/parallel world in which the story continued after I left the original campaign along a different path. 

Since my last major event in the game was an alien invasion (The Invasion: Earth War crossover to be exact), I usually start my campaigns six months after that occurrence. It should be noted however that while that was the last time I was in the game, the original campaign continued for another two and a half years. 

My newest campaign is set in yet another universe, Champions Earth-Alpha Delta-A, with the idea of being a direct sequel to the original. Our story begins not six months after my last time playing Will's game, but rather six months after Will's game actually ended. The status quo is quite different. The major NPCs are different, with some heroes and villains gone, some returning, and many new ones entering the arena. 

It is a world many of the players find familiar and yet this take on it is almost equally surprising and fresh. Win-Win!

Preaching to the Choir

One thing that has been reinforced to me time and time ago over the past few years is that you need to have the right people for the right game and vice versa. Sometimes matching the group up with a game such that we're all on the same page feels like a monumental task. Other times, it just works. The parts all fit together with hardly any effort. 

Champions is that game for this group.

After such false starts and failed attempts, we have returned to the game that four out of six of us love. The remaining two are new to the setting and the system, having never partaken in them before.

My girlfriend is just learning to play RPGs in general, but she is clever, creative, and gets the general idea of Superheroes. She is a self-proclaimed problem solver, so she gets jazzed by the idea that figuring out a crime or defeating a villain is simply an obstacle to be overcome. 

Our other new addition also gets Superheroes and is well versed in Anime, Movies, and things that can easily be tied in. He represents an area of the game universe that hasn't been explored very much, but it's out there just waiting to be investigated. 

Basically, this is a group that understands the genre and is primed to be immersed in a campaign that embraces it. Those who know the setting really enjoy it. Those that don't are curious to find out about it. 

Since I tend to focus my games on the Player Characters, the universe they live in, and how they interact and relate to it and one other, I'm over the moon to have players with solid character ideas that link into key aspects of the setting. 

All in all this is looking very promising largely because of the people involved. 

Amazing Grace

To this very day I'm stunned that I love this crunchy, math-heavy system as much as I do, but Champions (specifically Hero System 4th Edition) is by far my favorite Superhero RPG. 

I've been playing (as a player) a rule-light Supers game over Google Hangouts for a few years now and while I have been enjoying it, the system is starting to get to me. It feels flat. The characters are not mechanically different from each other as powers have little variation in how they apply to the situations in the game. Skills are an after thought. There really isn't a feeling that one particular attack is better than any other in a given moment except you might have higher dice. My 10 Power is better than your 8 Power for example, but what power it actually is seems inconsequential. 

Champions not only gives you options, it gives you variety. It allows you to play the character you want to play the way you want to play it. It lets me, the GM, dial up or down the detail, the difficulty, and the scope based on my preferences and the story I want to tell. 

Every ability, every power, every situation or condition is able to be translated into the games mechanics. In it's crunch and rules-heaviness there is a certain elegance, a beauty in its complexity. . 

I love that it works, that it works well, and that my players get it. 

As the month goes on I will include more details regarding this campaign including information on the Player Characters, the plots and subplots, and anything else that seems interesting enough to share. If anyone out there has any questions about the campaign, please feel free to ask.

Can I get an Amen?

Barking Alien