Tag Archives: champions

The Return of the Reverb Gamers Master List, items 21-23

These are fairly short answers, so I’m combining them since I’m ten days behind.  Yes, I’m feeling much better, but a rush project came up that had to be addressed which further slowed things down.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #21: What’s the best bribe you’ve ever given (or received as) a GM? What did you get (give) for it?

Never offered one to a GM, never had one offered to me as a GM.  But let me modify that statement slightly.  In our multitudinous Champions campaigns and characters, whenever we created new characters, we wrote moderately extensive character backgrounds and origin stories.  These were by no means required, but the GMs always rewarded such with usually 5 XP.  Is this a bribe?  The player gives something with the expectation of getting something in return, in this case an origin for XP, the GM gets something that they can use to flesh-out the campaign or character introduction and gives XP.  I don’t consider it a bribe, even though there is an element of unfair advantage over someone who doesn’t turn in a background and doesn’t get the XP reward.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #22: Describe the worst game you’ve ever played in. What made it so bad? Did your fellow players help, or make it worse?

Two stories.  Story the first: The game was a GURPs Supers at one of the L.A. Gateway conventions probably 15-20 years ago.  The GM was local and provided pre-gen characters.  I’ve always liked martial artist characters as they are fairly simple to run and quite flamboyant, and I wasn’t deeply familiar with GURPs, so I went with a martial artist.  The GM then proceeded to throw powered armor against us.  My martial artist character couldn’t do a thing to the goons in armor, and the goons couldn’t hit me.  I was frustrated at my ineffectiveness until I decided to try Nerve Strike.  At that point I became effective.  I did not enjoy the game because I felt that the GM made a poor choice in the selection of pre-gens available to the player.  It is possible that if I had been more familiar with the rules system that I could have been more effective and had a better time, but that’s as may be.  It was not a good experience in my effort to learn more about a game system that I wasn’t very familiar with by playing a con game.

Story the second: Champions campaign run by a friend, I’m running a brand-new character.  The mission is part of a series and I was not a player or attendee in the previous missions, and tonight is the island assault on the villain’s base.  Island assault = boats streaking across the water just before dawn.  Myself, along with other player characters, are in the hold of the boat and not really knowing what’s going on.  The boat’s pilot, apparently having a little bit of chaos inside him, decided that he could get a tactical advantage by ramming the docks and thus surprising the guards.  Unfortunately he did not alert anyone as to what he was doing.  The others in the hold were able to get their defenses activated in time, I was not.  Before the combat started I was knocked to GM unconscious.  After the boat hit, everyone sprang out into the melee and no one checked on me for quite a while.

The worst part of this was that I did not drive that night, I’d ridden with others, so I was stuck.  I sat in the corner and read a book for most of the evening until someone decided to revive me.

I partially fault the GM for this.  In Champions, if you’re knocked to GM unconscious, the GM decides when you wake up.  With this happening at the start of the combat due to a bad die roll and taking me out of combat, it would have improved things (for me, at least) if later in the round I’d slid in to the water and woke up or something like that and been able to get in to the fight and done something.  As I recall, that character didn’t last long in that campaign before I retired him.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #23: Have you ever experienced Total Party Kill (TPK), or been close to it? What effect did that have on you personally? On your group of players? Have you ever used retroactive continuity (retcon) to save yourself? Why or why not?

Champions?  TPK?  It is to laugh!  A character death in Champions is a pretty rare event, I’ve never heard of a TPK outside of GM fiat.  Now, ask me that about World of Warcraft, and I’d give you a slightly different answer!

Reverb Gamers Master List #6

Describe your all-time favorite character to play. What was it about him/her/it that you enjoyed so much?

I’ve played I don’t know how many characters over the years.  In the case of Champions, having played in three campaigns that ran for a combined total of probably 40 years, that’s a lot of characters.  It’s rare that a Champions character dies, but sometimes you get an interesting idea for a new character or want to take the spotlight off of your old character for a while, and you introduce someone new.

But here are some of my long-term favorites:

Captain Indigo Jones, Star Wars d6.  Based on a character from the Fusion comic published by Eclipse in the late 80’s and designed off of the smuggler template, Captain Jones piloted The Tsunami, the same class of ship as the Millennium Falcon.  Lots of fun!  My friend Bear Peters ran a Solustan named Bob who was an explosives expert who loved crewing with Indigo because exciting things happened when she was around.  Over years of play and avoiding using the bonus wild dice that she’d earned, we ended up in a situation where we were surprised and surrounded by something on the order of 40 Stormtroopers who ordered us to surrender, and I had something like 10-15 or more of these bonus dice accrued.  I told the GM that I was going to spend all of them.  We won.

Buckaroo Banzai, Champions.  Yes, I designed Buckaroo in Champions.  There’s obviously no way to fully do him, so I came up with the story that he had been exposed to a nerve agent and suffered brain damage, explaining the reduction in skill ability.  He still had lots of skills available, was your basic martial artist/gadgeteer.  It’s fun (and challenging) to run speed 4 Champions heroes.

Johannes-Dane Thorvaldson Bertel, AKA Dane the Dane/Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes (MSPE).  MSPE is a 3d6 characteristic system with attributes the same as those in Tunnels & Trolls (similar to D&D), both are published by Flying Buffalo.  In MSPE, your skill in martial arts is determined by your dex, and I happened to roll insanely well on dex and pretty good on strength, so I made him a kung fu expert.  The campaign was a time travel game and we went literally all over creation.  One of my favorite moments was when we were in the Man From UNCLE universe, and I punched out Illya Kuryakin with one blow when he inadvertently snuck up behind me after a combat.

Kim Van Lo/Champions.  Kim was an interesting character, her father fought with the South Vietnamese Army during the war and was MIA, the rest of her family was able to resettle in America.  Thanks to Champions encouraging alternate reality, Kim joined the Army and became a Ranger, retiring as a Master Sergeant after 20.  She could teleport short distances, was a skilled martial artist (see a theme here?) and also a gadgeteer, specifically what you might call a gun bunny.  She carrier a custom cut-down 45 ACP magnum with a 2″ barrel, as she was also a gunsmith she had no problems replacing the barrel every 500 rounds or so.  On her first encounter with the heroes, before she was sort of coerced in to joining their group, she was attending an air show taking photos when villains attacked.  She was not a superhero, per se, and hid: she found a convenient bush and kept still with her gun out.  A “hero” who was classically obnoxious and overconfident spotted her, thinking she was a normal, came up and announced “You should get to safety, citizen!”  A villain noticed that, and now that he had a civilian target, menaced her, saying “You can’t hurt me with that little gun!”  Well, I rolled max damage, did enough stun to get his attention, and I think I got an inch of knockback or knock down.  He then said “I guess you can hurt me with that little gun!”  She earned enough XP over the years that I bought off almost all of her disadvantages, she also has a lot more capability and can carry MUCH bigger guns.

I’ve had so many great characters over the years: a brain-washed assassin sent to take out the hero group, a Scotland Yard inspector, a Chinese martial artist who was very weak but could still punch through block walls, a talking fox with her pet human, a cowboy who had invisible/spectral guns and horses and stuff.  And I still have most of them in spreadsheets.

The Atlas Games/Reverb Gamers Master List for 2012

I have a great admiration for Atlas Games.  They’re one of the bigger companies and release a lot of good product.  On January 1 they released a list of 31 questions about your life as a gamer.  It’s a list to encourage reflection and some exploration and exposition.  And though I’m two days behind with little or no intention of catching up, here’s #1:

What was your first roleplaying experience? Who introduced you to it? How did that introduction shape the gamer you’ve become?

I don’t have a clear memory of my first exposure to gaming.  I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy as a kid, and they were in different sections of the book store at that time, and probably had my first exposure to gaming via Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker books, published in the late 60’s.  He worked with Flying Buffalo which included berserkers in the Star Web play-by-mail game (that’s postal mail, not email).  Though I did not drive at the time, it listed Flying Buffalo as being located in Scottsdale, Arizona, maybe 15 miles or so from my parent’s house.  A friend who had a driver’s license was getting in to this stuff, and we went out there and were amazed.  My initial purchases were TSR’s first edition white box D&D, the one with three books, along with GDW’s Traveller and TSR’s Top Secret.  And, of course, Flying Buffalo’s Tunnels & Trolls.

At that time, in the late 70’s, about the only fantasy role-playing games were D&D and T&T.  I like simplicity (a strange thing to hear from someone who played Champions for 25 years), and I did not like the complexity of D&D.  Too many tables and dice, and flipping through more than one book to play a game just isn’t for me.  T&T was a lot easier and only used d6, but it had one huge advantage: solo dungeons.  Buffalo published A LOT of solitaire adventures over the years, along with several campaigns.  They were a lot of fun because you could buy the box set, which came with a couple of solos, and you didn’t need a group, which was good, because there were no groups in my area.

So I was largely self-introduced to roleplaying.

How did it shape the gamer that I became?  I’ve always been a fan of simple systems, and I think T&T was a major influence in that regard.  I’ve played I don’t know how many games over the years of varying complexity, and I’ve always trended towards simpler systems.  It might be that certain games, and certain styles of games, appeal more to my internal logic, and this lets me make the statement that I think Champions is a simple system.  It’s a very logical structure, and if you understand it, pretty much the only time that you need the rules is to design new characters or gadgets.  It has its problems with physics and the like, but every game system has problems like that.

When I design games, I try to keep them simple, and normally I use a d6.  I try to follow the Cheap Ass Games model of a single sheet of rules (when I can) and everything fitting in a 6×9 envelope.  I know it might not work for every design that I have, but I think it’s a good model.  And following that, d6 are a lot more available than d12’s.


The Reverb Gamers Master List can be found at http://blog.atlas-games.com/2011/12/reverb-gamers-master-list.html and on the Atlas Facebook page.

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