Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Big Game Wednesday - Enter the Matrix

Some time went by after that disastrous first Champions game. We were probably playing Bushido, though it's hard to remember so far back now (how far back? oh, you'll see most vividly soon enough).

Gary was still talking about running Champions, but maybe starting over with a new campaign now that we'd had an introduction to the system. And maybe not starting off brand new characters by taking on Dr. Destroyer (who was basically the Doctor Doom of the Champions world, a ludicrously powerful villain who just gets more ludicrously powerful with every new edition of the books).

So I started thinking about what kind of character I might want to build and came up with a crazy concept. Both Gary and I were pretty avid Uncanny X-Men readers, so I came up with this character called Matrix. The idea was the classic Marvel snake eating its own tail.

See, in the early 80's, Chris Claremont and John Byrne had put out an X-Men storyline called the "Dark Phoenix" saga, in which Jean Grey, Marvel Girl, had died and been resurrected as Phoenix, a much more powerful hero. And at one point she got brainwashed by a bad guy, which had the end effect of turning Phoenix into Dark Phoenix, an immensely powerful and destructive force who flew off and destroyed a planet before coming back to battle the X-Men.

There's much more to that story, but it doesn't really apply here. My idea was, what if that planet full of aliens that Dark Phoenix killed came looking for her? I mean, take the idea of ghosts being souls that have unresolved anger, who are unable to move on until their issues are resolved. Now multiply it by a few billion and have all those ghosts move en masse to Earth, searching for revenge against Phoenix. They find a pretty young woman at random, someone they can possess and empower to facilitate their vengeance.

That was Matrix, a young woman who possessed by the souls of x million D'Bari (or "asparagus people" as John Byrne described them) looking for some payback against Phoenix, who destroyed their planet. Most of the time, she's just plain Sandra Dobyns, an aspiring dancer. But she hears voices in her head, lots of them, and when she's under stress, the voices get louder until she loses control and explodes into Matrix, who can fly and shoot power beams and read minds and wants nothing more than to kill Phoenix, if she can ever find her (of course, what she didn't know was that Phoenix had already been killed off by this time--irony!).

This is her pencilled in over the character silhouette from my old character sheet, with a hastily-inked version underneath to give a better idea of what her costume looked like.

How 80's is that? Big ol' feathered hair (huge hair, like Starfire from the Teen Titans, but even bigger, anticipating the whole Power Makes Your Hair Grow thing from DBZ by over ten years), glowing eyes, Kirby dots, and freaking leg warmers! What the hell was I thinking?

Anyway, Gary was torn over the idea. On the one hand, he was like, "Finally, somebody puts some thought into a character concept instead of just throwing together a bunch of random powers or else making a straight clone of a Marvel guy." But on the other hand, the fact that my character concept came straight out of Marvel canon didn't thrill him, since he wasn't really running a Marvel universe. But he allowed it and we started to play.

Problem was, Matrix turned out to be a pain in the ass once the game started. The idea was that she would start out not knowing about Matrix, and once she did, she'd be kind of like Bruce Banner, afraid of her other self and reluctant to change. Which made getting her into the action a big hassle. I only played her for a few weeks before Gary came to me to talk about retiring Matrix and bringing in somebody else.

His suggestion: Matrix gets a big heroic death scene, sacrifices herself to save the rest of the group, and then I could use what little experience she'd gained in building a new character, one who would fit the group dynamic better. So that was what we did. And all things considered, it was for the best. And it was a demonstration of good GM'ing on Gary's part, a valuable lesson to me.

My third try at a Champions character would finally be the one that stuck. You know who I'm talking about. Stay tuned...

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