Thursday, April 28, 2016

Flashback: Reign of the Paragons!

This post originally appeared in March of 2005. I don't know if I'll have anything to add about it at the end or not, so you'll just have to wait and see!

This group of four characters came out of my old Champions campaign, and I'll warn you in advance, this'll probably be a rather lengthy post!

When running Champions games, sometimes the player characters would get some bad breaks in combat runs, and come very close to being defeated... or even seriously injured or killed off! (For the uninitiated, in role-playing games, dice are used to determine the results of combat... and bad rolls can turn the tide of the game very quickly)

Well, that's no fun... I mean, as a game master, one can create villains as powerful as one likes, right?

But no matter how experienced you are, sometimes you'll create a villain who's just too much for the players to handle.

So what to do, what to do?  Well, I created the non-player character of Paragon!

Paragon was basically my version of Superman, and he had pretty much all the Superman powers, as well as the Superman cast -- including the female reporter and the cub reporter pal!

Paragon was too busy with his own responsibilities to join the hero team, but promised he'd help out when he was needed... which would be when the player characters were being beaten badly, and the scenario notes didn't have any plans for what happens if the villains won!

Of course, after I created him, I didn't need him.  But in the context of the game, I still made mention of his current activities.

And then, I was starting a new multi-part scenario involving a villainess I'd created called the Witch, who was the single most powerful villain ever... she was a multiple personality, and in her everyday persona, she was an average housewife... but when she said or sang anything resembling magic words (i.e., "abracadabra," or whatever, she's transform to her other persona, the Witch, a sexy blonde in a miniskirted version of traditional witch's wear.

The Witch was devoted to causing fear and terror... and when she first came forth, her plan was to transform normal people into monsters, and let them loose... the heroes would be busy fighting the monsters without trying to hurt them (because they were really innocents, y'know), she'd hang around to watch the mayhem, then fly off to perform other mischief.

The first meeting with the Witch, I prepared extensive notes... because the first time around, she turned a dozen people into werewolves! I didn't know for sure which characters the players would choose for that scenario, but I knew some of them had vulnerabilities to the werewolves' attacks... so I worked out what would happen if they were so badly injured that they fled...

...I figured how long the heroes' airship would take to get from the scene of battle to their headquarters, and then I figured if they had to flee, Paragon would show up to try to clean up the mess.

Of course, Paragon, being like Superman, was vulnerable to magic-based attacks... and werewolves created by the Witch's magic qualified!  So I ran through the entire battle... and Paragon actually lasted longer than I figured he would.  Thanks to my notes, and a play-by-play announcing what was happening the heroes could listen to on the radio as they ran, I knew if they waited too long... they'd be too far away to get back in time to help, and then Paragon would be dead, dead, dead!

I also worked out notes for the remaining chapters of the scenario, in which the Witch transformed people into vampires, zombies, and golems!  The final chapter, even after the Witch was defeated, was a situation where a running B-plot involving a Godzilla movie festival from a previous scenario became an A-plot, as the heroes had to battle somewhat scaled-down versions of Godzilla, Gamera, King Ghidora, Mothra, and Rodan!

Back to the present, briefly. I should mention here that I was pretty deluxe in my preparations for these games. All of the battles took place on detailed maps I created on my computer and then printed out and pieced together. Whenever possible, I added 3D elements as well, such as buildings, cars, etc. to add some verisimilitude to the proceedings. For this scenario, I planted an item early on, an article I mocked up from the local newspaper they found at one scene which talked about the movie festival. I made miniatures for each of the characters by doing drawings which were scanned and printed out, and then cut out, making them into triangle-shaped pieces that stood up. The kaiju I used were Bandai figures I used to have back then. Now, back to the original story.

With all those notes prepared, I started the scenario... and wouldn't you know it?  The players picked characters who could deal with standard super-villain attacks, but not with dextrous werewolves with sharp claws and pointy fangs!  

Two of the heroes were injured badly, and another was knocked out... the last of the heroes gathered his teammates up, and fled!

And as they fled, and the heroes regained consciousness, they heard of Paragon's arrival on the scene... and the subsequent battle...

...and they never turned back to help.

Paragon died!!!!!

What to do?  What to do?

Well, if you're going to run Champions scenarios, it really, REALLY helps if you're a major comic book geek.

So I decided, since I had "The Death of Paragon," I'd take my cue from "The Death of Superman," and add that as a continuing subplot!

The following week, I created new characters, reworked my notes, and added new sections... and when we reconvened, it was for the Funeral of Paragon!

I think the characters were begining to take over, because I had a few supervillain groups try to cause trouble at the funeral (LaserAvenger was one of the pallbearers... he and Paragon had a friendship already established).  The Falcon Force (remember them?) showed up at one point and killed off my version of Jimmy Olsen before the heroes took them out!

If you don't remember the Falcon Force, it's because you don't remember the early days of this blog. Basically, the Falcon Force were like a villain version of the Battle of the Planets/G-Force characters.

It was after the funeral that things really began to take off... first, the heroes met up with Kid Paragon (the guy at the lower left), although I forget which monsters he helped them with. Kid Paragon was all attitude... and he claimed to be a clone of Paragon... but what the players never found out was that he was a clone created by Rex Ruthless, Paragon's arch foe (and imagine my surprise when reading SUPERMAN/BATMAN a number of months ago when it was revealed that Lex Luthor was a partial donor to Superboy's DNA!)!

There was also Paragon the Avenger, the guy in the lower right.  He claimed he was Paragon reborn, and was as ruthless as his inspiration.

Another battle with the Witch's monsters (I think it was the golems) led them to meet up with Lady Paragon, whose powers were psionic in nature (like the Matrix version of Supergirl), but she had no memory of who she was, or where she came from, other than knowing she was Lady Paragon!  Lady Paragon's the woman at the upper left.

The final battle with the Witch came when she created vampires, and joining the heroes for this battle was Paragirl, the teenager in the upper right!  Paragirl had been around for a while, operating as Paragon's secret weapon, her existence a secret from everyone but Paragon and LaserAvenger.

Paragirl had the same powers as her cousin, and since her powers were solar-derived, that made her abilities very effective against the vampires!

And no, there was no equivalent of Steel in this scenario... I just couldn't come up with a good look for a character, so never created him!

The Witch defeated, it was time for the wrap-up of the entire storyline... remember the Japanese monsters from before?  Well, they appeared all over the Puget Sound area, and different groups of heroes had to battle them, with the Paragon Family helping them out (although I don't remember who helped them fight who... I remember the teenage hero team that Blaze was a part of fought Mothra, and I think Kid Paragon helped them... or it might've been Paragirl).

The heroes managed to defeat the half-sized Kaiju easily enough... until the battle with King Ghidora, who emerged from underneath Lake Washington!

The heroes who met up with the three-headed monster were very much outclassed... but suddenly, there was a burst of energy... and in the midst of the battle, from the energy came...

...wait for it...

...Paragon, alive and well!

With his help, Ghidorah was defeated.

So, how did Paragon survive his death?  Where did Lady Paragon come from, as well as Paragon the Avenger and Kid Paragon?

Well... like I said, it helps to be a comics geek!  A situaton like that is easy to resolve!

You see, in the not-too-distant future, Paragon is revered, and his descendants help keep the peace of the future world.  Thanks to breeding with humans and other super-people, not all the descendants of Paragon had the same powers as he did.

Take for example the case of his great-grandson and his great-granddaughter.  His great-grandson had the same powers as Paragon did, and even looked like him, while his sister, Lady Paragon, had psionic abilities.

Going through historical archives, the current Paragon read of the death of his great-grandfather's death in the past... there was a big gap in the history, thanks to an event that remained a mystery, but the current Paragon decided that something had to be done... there was a paradox to be resolved!

Using an experimental time travel device, the current Paragon traveled back in time, sending his great-grandfather to the future, so he could take his place... so it was Paragon's great-grandson who had actually died!

But in the future, since their current Paragon had not returned from the past, his sister went after him... despite the warnings that if the machine didn't have enough time for proper calibration, there could be side-effects of the trip... in this case, amnesia!

By the time the machine could be properly re-calibrated so Paragon could return to his own time, enough relative time had passed that he didn't return for some weeks after his "death."

Paragon had no idea where Kid Paragon came from, as he didn't know where the cells could have come from... and Paragon the Avenger was another mystery, although he had his suspicions.  Lady Paragon would return to her own time soon.

Whew!  As long as this entry was, you can imagine how many pages long the detailed notes were!  

As a postscript to this... after this scenario was done, one of the players in the group was short of characters that he was happy to play, and we tried to get him to take over playing Kid Paragon (who had been written up so that he could be a player character).  The Kid's personality would've been easy for that player, Anthony, to play... because their personalities were so similar to begin with!

The scenario was a lot of fun to run... and I was very pleased with myself for taking what could've been a bad situation, and make it appear as if I'd planned this thing all along!

Back to me again for the wrap-up. I still have fond memories of this group, and sometimes wish I could find a new group to game with... but when the heck would I have the time?

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