Character background is up to you, but should make sense within the canon materials of the setting. Keep it logical, don’t dive into rampant munchkinism, and we’ll probably be fine. If you play a session with the character and just don’t like ’em, we can talk about changing out (within reason) until you have a character you are happy with that works within the parameters of the campaign. Be sure you’re happy with what you settle on – remaining true to the source material, advancement is incremental, done slowly and gradually, as opposed to the jumps in levels and abilities that happen in some other systems.
This is a group game. Come up with backgrounds and personalities that will work well together. No pathological lone wolves, no brooding borderline psychos, and no characters with backgrounds designed to screw with other players and/or their characters. None of those are open to discussion. No … really.
The system works just fine. If your intent behind a character build is simply to see how far you can push the system till it breaks, we will quickly have problems with one another. The object is for everyone to have fun, including the GM. When in doubt, refer to the universal Rule of Wheaton.
You are required to have a minimum of three complications as part of your character background, one of which must be a Motivation.
We can use email to do a lot of blue-booking, which will hopefully alleviate some time concerns and let us get some things accomplished without taking away from other players during our limited face-to-face meetings.
Campaigns are not easy. They require work, not just from the GM, but also from each and every one of the participating players. Player buy-in is absolutely essential to any prolonged campaign play. Player buy-in comes in three levels: (1) Investing in player character background; (2) Investing in the series (M&M’s name for a campaign framework); and (3) Investing in the setting (Emerald City, the DC Universe, whatever). What does that mean?
The first is fairly direct – build a background that works and gives you plenty work with …a history, a well-thought out set of complications, sub-plots, a supporting cast and so on. Think of your character as the star of his own individual comic book title. The game is the team title that he shows up in, but you define what’s happening in his own book. Who does the character interact with there? Why? How? What backstory is going on while the character is involved with the team? Legacy ties to canon material are always open for consideration (we can discuss). What kinds of enemies has the character made/fought? There are literally hundreds of existing NPCs that can fill out a Rogues Gallery, or you can make-up your own. Are those enemies just background detail, or do they rate their own inclusion in your complications (i.e., you want and expect them to pop up now and again)? Not every NPC is there to get punched – think about friends, allies, loved ones, etc. Sub-plots are actual large scale story elements that are happening in the background – they’re important to you character but not necessarily pivotal enough to take up a lot of team time at the game table; think of them as the major and minor plots in your own series that are ongoing there while you are doing whatever it is that’s involved you in the team title.
Investing in a series is a matter of laying out what you want to see in terms of plots, themes, and adversaries. As an example, let’s just say that Player A has a PC who is the modern inheritor of Horus’ legacy complete with carrying around the Ankh of the Avenger. Son of Set is a villain in the setting but is already included as an enemy complication…what else is there? Player A makes it known they expect to see characters and elements taken from different mythologies showing up now and again. Also, they want to see interplay with the media attacking the PC as delusional or a charlatan (“A god? Really? You expect people to believe that?”); also plots including elements about coming to grips with how they feel about being pulled into the madhouse of what should be just stories of gods and heroes and such, the fall-out and personal that comes from playing in both mortal and divine worlds, and so on. On a side note, the player tells the GM that redemption and duty are elements that should pop up in stories revolving around “Horus, Jr.” – a compilation of lists like these from every player at the table goes a long way in helping plot out a number of adventures and keeps players involved in their character’s development.
Probably the most problematic investment is investing in the setting. This means fine-tuning or adding to the people, places, and history all the characters get to see and play with in the game. Adding NPCs ranging from street-informants to recurring authority figures to whatever else works for the group. Adding companies, favorite gathering spots, and so on – in other words, making the play environment mesh with the players and the characters better. Don’t feel like you have to come to the table with a set of NPCs statted out or locations; but adding stuff over time should stem from play experience. Player B, for example, doesn’t have his character spend time mulling around the old HQ when off-duty…instead, he spends a lot of time in his civilian ID at a mom-and-pop coffee joint named “The Grindhouse” where he flirts with the twin Baristas Ramona and her sister Olive while listening to newsstand owner and part-time street philosopher Sunshine St. Croix talk about why only a Rasta life is worth living. Bam. Instant color with the added bonus of giving Player B a spotlight for role-playing. Again, material like this coming from multiple players quickly colors between the lines presented in the basic setting stuff.
This is an M&M 3e game set in the new Emerald City section of the Freedomverse. For our purposes, Emerald City is located in Washington State, approximately where Aberdeen, WA, is in the real world. The Atlas Mountains are part of the Cascades. The town of Black Pines (Threat Report #23) is due south of Mount Stanley about 22 miles. Other neighboring (fictional) towns added to our area (i.e., not detailed in the EC sourcebook) are Cedar Wash and Pennywise Falls to the north, as well as Stockington and Ironbrook to the south (Ironbrook being situated on the coast). Seattle is only a couple of hours north and Portland a couple of hours southeast, but neither are really neighboring in that respect.
For our purposes, the following is considered canon:
• Background material in the Emerald City Boxed Set.
• Background material released in the Emerald Knights adventure path.
• Background touched upon in the Threat Reports.
• Background from: Freedom City 2e core, Freedom’s Most Wanted, Agents of Freedom, and Worlds of Freedom, as well as the Freedom City chapters in Golden Age, Silver Age, Iron Age, Book of Magic, and Warriors & Warlocks.
No other sources are to be considered canon unless and until the material is introduced at the table.
Do not assume that any real assumptions can be made from the 2e game statistics given on NPCs – in addition to the mechanical changes in editions, it’s also been five years in-universe since the reference points of the core 2e setting book were completely accurate. Things can change in a comic-book universe mightily in five years’ time.