Friday, January 21, 2022

Champions 2E (1981) in the 2022 Character Creation Challenge

 I'm taking Ron Edwards advice and doing an OSR take on Champions 

Champions holds a weird place in my heart where V&V and MSH are right in my style, DC Heroes has its quirky charm, but HERO/Champions is the one I come back to when I need something jigsaw-puzzle like to occupy my attention. The game of character creation on Champions has taken up infinitely more of my time than the playing of Champions. I had 2nd edition Champions as a kid, abandoned it for the Big Blue Blook of 4th edition, and at the time I didn't process how large the change was from the 1E/2E skills to 4E integrating the skill system from the other, more granular HERO games, along with the much tighter engineering focused ethos that makes up later HERO character design.

I found out about Ron Edwards "Champions Now" after it kickstarted, and I love the concept behind taking Champions back to its Old School roots where the disadvantage system could be rightfully seen not (as I and my teen friends saw it) as things to take to offset powers and then hope they never come up, but as what we'd now call Flags to the GM of directions you as player want this character's story to go. I doubly loved the stance that early Champions didn't have a "pay to play" ethos as much as "this is the stuff you know you can do, but we can extrapolate off that, everyone really has a Variable Power Pool around a concept" style. It's a shame that the finished product for Champions Now is so ill organized – I've yet to see even positive reviews that don't list that as a huge stumbling block. 

But I'm carrying that ethos into this character, and the idea of taking Champions 2E RAW to build an open, fun character. Champions always works best when you have an idea, and this one goes way back to High School when one of the guys in our group had a Marvel Super Heroes character whose only power was Invisibility. Inviso had good stats and skills in the Marvel sense, was a former spy, and could now turn him (and other things, including his car!) invisible. I wanted to recreate him in Champions 2E 

First up, do the Spy Stuff. I used Crusader in the rulebook as a baseline for stats, but trimmed things back a bit. I know the character isn't a powerhouse when it comes to damage, but 2E doesn't have nearly the optimized math and huge point numbers as later Champions. Besides, with a 23 DEX he's got a great DCV, and when he's invisible his foes are at half OCV, so he's much more into the dodge damae than soak it. 

For skills I snag Disguise, Stealth, Martial Arts, and Detective. I pencil in Security Systems if I have the points, but I more like the idea of Inviso not just turning invisible, but also being a disguise expert. He was a spy before the invisibility and could pull off the Mission Impossible mask trick. That's the first real thing that jells about his background: something happened to give him invisibility, but he was already in espionage. 

Next, the powers. All the rules for Element Control and Mutlipower are NOT what I remember from 3E, and the math is… weirder. Less formal, anyway. I fiddle with an Element Control for my invisibility powers – what I would have done in 3E – but drop it in favor of the single Invisibility with the add ons of being no fringe, 0 endurance cost, usable on others, and usable at range. Inviso can not just turn himself invisible, he can turn other things invisible! If this is his only power, I'm going full on Invisible Girl style here. The usable on others is so much easier because it's no where near as technical – no pages of rules on line of sight, mass, usable as attack, etc. This is easily his biggest cost sink at 60 points, but it really does cover the basics of the character. 

Then add a 15-point multipower to do Invisibility Tricks. This sort of design – one reliable big power and then a smaller multipower of VPP for tricks – is my go-to for Champions. In 2E it's weird because taking limitations doesn't reduce the cost of the multipower slot after the framework rules are applied, but it instead INCREASES the value of the points in the slot. Weird, and very much to my advantage. Inviso can use his powers to make things invisible to make whole areas invisible to everyone in them (Darkness), to target opponent's heads or eyes with invisibility without the bandwidth shifting that lets invisible people see (Flash with a -1 limitation) and an acknowledgement that dealing with an invisible person has to make people super jumpy and see things that aren't there as their pattern recognition runs amok (Mental Illusions with a -1 limitation). The design of the 2E multipower rules means that each of these gets MORE dice rather than lower cost. So we have 3 full dice of Flash and 6 of Mental Illusions inside the Multipower. 

Finally, I add Ultravision because there's no "personal immunity" power and I want to make it clear that Inviso can see invisible things. But I don't want him to have full Ultravision, just the power to see invisible things. So a limitation. Which since I'm at 207 points out of 200, I have to expand to only being able to see through his own invisibility (with a need for 2XP to get the full power back) and drop that Security Systems skill. Ah well. 

Inviso's birth identity is gone, and for years he worked as Agent 1138 for the Trans Human Executive, a cold war era relic sub directive of the CIA to track metahuman creation projects. 1138 was deep inside the likewise remnants of the once Soviet, now Russian Rainfall Project that had some success with human invisibility (although the EM warping produced a background noise like static). 1138 disrupted a key experiment, ruining the Rainfall remnants and giving himself a perfected level of invisibility – as well as albinism. He got back to the states, disguised himself to hide the albinism and went back to work. There someone high above the THX team took an interest in him as the ideal assassin. 

1138 wasn't interested, and vanished, leaving only a series of drop boxes with his trusted THX handler, named Handler. Using his skills he created a fake identity, John Anatoly, and started making a life for himself as an in house investigator for a large law firm. His mucking with their systems gave him decades of longevity with the company and tons of PTO and freedom to operate, and he's been using that to sideline in super-heroics as Inviso!

I like this. Yes, lots of the background are cribbed from spy fiction and cliches, but that's the point. He's a clean and straightforward hero who is a good team player. 

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