Thursday, September 19, 2013

Return to Champions, Session 2

So we finished out the combat from last week's Champions session, which once again took a little longer than I anticipated. One problem: the scenario just had too many NPC's, or I should say, it was designed for a more gradual progression. Taking on a couple of enemies at a time [ETA: with the entire party working together] would have been more doable and probably progressed a little faster.

As it was, things degenerated into a huge brawl featuring everybody fighting at once almost immediately when the party got to the location. With 4 PC's, 5 super NPC's and a big pile of agents, it took a long time to work through the phases. If I hadn't held back most of the agents (with good in-game justification, though), things would have gotten unmanageable.

As it is, I think I calibrated the difficulty pretty well. People were flagging by the end of the long combat, but there was some genuine peril and triumph in there. Two of the supervillains ended up being pretty easy to beat, and the third, Ripper the Tank, proved himself to be durable and extremely strong. When he set up for a haymaker on one of the characters (a move designed to inflict maximum damage), the party got genuinely worried. But one of the other characters was able to come to the rescue just in the nick of time (which, I'll admit, I timed so that it would be possible).

But because Ripper's defenses were so high, he was able to last through several attacks with just three Stun left. It finally took a character pushing her attack so hard she actually did Stun damage to herself in order to penetrate his defenses and finally put him down, which proved pretty dramatic, I think.

All in all, a mostly fun two-session scenario, I think. However, as much as I still love Champions, I may be just about done with it. I used to think I would love to run Hero System for any genre--I've got the Fantasy Hero and Justice, Inc. and Ninja Hero and Super Agents game books, none of which I've actually played--but outside of superheroes, I'm thinking Champions is just too much work for too little reward. The Speed Chart and the rolling of tons of dice gives superhero combat a really unique flavor, though, so if I ever decided to run a Diggerverse campaign (unless I finally get off my ass and finish the stripped-down rules I was trying to write), Champions would be the choice, I think.

But for my pulp-era campaign, I'm currently leaning toward Fate, with a greater emphasis on role-playing and faster combat resolution. I will probably try putting something together for a test run in November, after I've gotten Halloween behind me.


Anonymous said... more Champions?

TheyStoleFrazier'sBrain said...

I don't want to say never, but here's my dilemma with Champions. It's a lot of work. Statting NPC's is a major time sink and drawing detailed hex maps takes a lot of time as well. And it's a lot of work for players to make characters.

I'm not sure that that level of work on all sides is something I would want to do too often, but then, I would want to run the characters fairly frequently if the players put in that much work to make them. Otherwise, it feels like the work is wasted or something. Plus, I'm not sure how many people would want to put in the time to play semi-regularly.

It's why I'm looking at Fate for the pulp adventures. It feels like a less scary commitment of resources, easier to learn and play and run. At the very least, switching systems has freed up my mental horsepower to actually make real progress on the setting again, without worrying about the hours I'm going to have to spend statting all this stuff I'm coming up with.

But with all that being said, if we were to try Fate and not like it, I would probably switch back to Champions, or else take another run at my Champions Lite variant. I really do like playing it. It's just the prep that gives me the yips.