As promised by prophecy the next installment of how things are going – this time for the current most long-running campaign in Aeon: The B-Team.
Additionally, since I’ve had a few folks ask me about why I demarcate game sessions into “Seasons” and want an explanation I wanted to give one. Basically, the way I typically frame campaigns is the way most script writers write movies or TV shows. My process is pretty simple: I create a story arc that goes from start to finish and then I “hang” smaller plots from it with the idea that eventually the PCs are going to get from the larger plots onto the smaller ones (which I call “mini-arcs”). Each mini-arc is from 2 to 5 sessions long and each story arc is composed of 3 to 5 mini-arcs. Related, but not needed is the “over arc” – the overall theme of the story I’m trying to tell. Story arcs are 2 to 5 seasons long. Campaigns last between 1 to 3 over arcs. Thus each season is 6 to 25 game sessions long, each over arc is 18 to 125 sessions, and each campaign is 18 to 375 sessions long.
Framing a campaign in this way is highly advantageous for several reasons, but key among them is the ability to quickly tell players how long a campaign might last, explain extended breaks (if needed), and, more importantly create holiday-themed campaign sessions. Because you gotta have your Christmas episode! (Actually, this is something I might talk about in a another blog post because it is something I think other GMs might find useful.)
State of the B-Team
The B-Team have had a rough spell recently. Their first villain of Season Two, Oblivion, was a super-smart, constantly over-prepared, revenge-drive madman. It started with a “simple” bombing and led out from there. The players just kept jumping into the deep end of the pool without looking to see if there were sharks and this hurt them badly. I’m not the kind of GM to pull punches in most cases: If I tell you something will happen if you do X and you do it anyways I’m going to do it. This isn’t me being an antagonistic GM. It’s not about me “winning.” It’s about me establishing ground rules literally months before play begins an then following through. I don’t coddle my players for the same reason I don’t really use “rails” – it’s much more interesting for everyone involved if what happens in game play is somewhat unpredictable. That said, I really dislike killing PCs if I can help it and I’m pretty forgiving most of them time. So what happened when most of the B-Team lept for looking? Bad things. They kept trying to chase the bad guy down like they would any other and he kept outwitting them. It was only an eleventh hour plan that stopped Oblivion from destroying half the city. Oddly enough, it was Arc Light’s player who figured out Oblivion’s one weakness (forcing him to calculate what someone might do next who is emotional and unpredictable), while The Commander actually created the plan to beat the bad guy. That mini-arc was brutal on the players as failure after failure pummeled them downward. I wasn’t trying to drive any particular point home or anything, but I did follow through. The second mini-arc of the season (the one the B-Team is working now[just finished up]) has gone much better: the players are working together and being more proactive than reactive. I like this. I hope the trend continues.
The B-Team is still working on their team tactics, but their characters and personalities are very well defined. Their place in the campaign world is equally defined. Overall, I really love the characters that my players have made – they are unique, exciting, and wholly interesting.
You can read about the B-Team’s current exploits from this page..
Scale: Broadly local (the B-Team works out of New York City’s Bronx for the MAPS program).
Basic Campaign Concept: Metahumans working for the local government to deal with criminals, rogue metahumans, and other threats to the city and their territory.
Point Range: 300 points to 1,200 points (starting point tolerance of ±25%)
The B-Team consists of 5 players.
Luca Damini aka Arc Light (played by +Christian Gelacio): It’s no secret that Chris is a fan of Iron Man – it’s his favorite Marvel character – so when he suggested playing an armored hero I was already somewhat prepared. What I wasn’t prepared for was his addition of metahuman electrical powers (which he later lost stopping the Indian Point Energy Center from going sky high). His character in a way is “reverse Tony Stark.” He’s not flashy, keeps his tech mostly to himself, and works as a low-key (but highly paid) “Security Consultant to the Stars.” After his second near-death at the end of Season 1 he’s gotten a little more broody and morose. Death does that I guess. During the Oblivion storyline he had some information that could have helped the team, but he kept it to himself. While this was bad for the players it was amazing role-playing. The character was so conflicted about everything he just didn’t know what to do.
Eamon Finnegan (played by +Kyle Norton): When Kyle came to me and said “I wanna play a gravity user” I was all for it. When he said “I’mma be the face and like, a lawyer” I was understandably “???” That lasted for about three game sessions before The Ultimate Fighting Lawyer brought out some legalese that saved the day. And then just kept doing it. Kyle rolls so well on Roll20 that he’s being (teasingly) accused of hacking the platform’s dice roller. Seriously, recently he rolled a double-crit (3 and then a 4) and pulled out the key evidence for tracking down Oblivion. He originally started out with both Density and Gravity manipulation, but neither of us were really happy with how it was working out in game. So we swapped it to just Gravity. Still trying to convince him to take Lawyer! (since he is one in game). Overall, Eamon has been the break out character. I was dubious of his skills and that was at my own peril. Never underestimate the players.
Ian Owari aka The Commander (played by +Douglas Cole): An interesting (if predictable) character concepts. Like Chris, I knew Doug was going to either go for a Cap-clone or a Thor-clone. We’ve had some bumpy starts with this character, but eventually we figured out how he should be played. He’s not Captain America. He’s freaking Batman with a sword. Seriously. He’s got the patriotism of Cap, but is bat-sneaky with his bat-katana (batana!). He’s also got kinetic control powers (which he keeps forgetting to use). Moreover, he’s the team leader and is very good at it – especially after he purchased Foresight. Ian went through some hell at the beginning of Season 2 (Doug was going to be absent for several sessions) and his exit and reentry was extremely well done. Currently, his handling of Singleton was masterful. His planning out-of-game to get that handling (perfectly) done was also appreciated. I hinged a lot of my campaign background on Doug’s character and he hasn’t let me down yet.
Pontikia Paroni aka The Rat Queen (played by +Emily Smirle ): My favorite character concept of the bunch (a shapeshifting rat mind hive with super-strength? Yes, please). Emily’s character went from “I’m a brick!” to “Oh, I can do other stuff – never thought of using my powers like this.” Seriously, she’s been instrumental in gathering information, protecting people, communication, and even bodyguard work. Emily has missed a couple of sessions this Season due to illness or emergencies, but I’m hopeful that’s past because I’d really like to see where she goes with the Rat Queen.
Murui Ao aka Zephyr (played by +GodBeastX): A former criminal turned hero, Zephyr is a speedster with criminal skills and a complicated past. More than that he’s got some magic and chi skills (the only character so far with chi skills and number two for magic stuff). His jack of all trades approach to powers has been useful to the team more ways than one. In Season 1 he picked up a magical kris knife (which he still doesn’t know what it does) and has been trying to get rid of it for a while now (it’s a teensy bit cursed apparently – it likes to stab, stab, murder, murder people).
Picking Over the Bones
The B-Team’s success even when my A-Team game switched up so many times kept me going as a GM. The B-Team’s players helped me when I needed it and their near-spotless record of showing up every Monday to play kept refilling my creative tanks. Overall, I’m happy with the line-up and I hope the players are happy with the game. The A-Team might be the heart of Aeon, but the B-Team is it’s backbone.
My overall impression of the season has *not* been failure after failure after failure. As far as I can tell, we *never* failed. What we had was a series of (self-inflicted) setbacks and complications.
Failure is the *end*, it's a nonrecoverable state, your goals are unachievable.
I suppose that's true enough.