Power Dreams

by Bob Greenwade

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Power Dreams

Tired of the same old superhero scenarios where some brilliant mastermind villain has devised yet another clever scheme for incredible power or world conquest, and the heroes have to apply every contact, every investigative Skill, every sneaky tactic, and in fact every resource at their disposal in order to defeat him?

Me neither. But there sure are a lot of those, aren't there? And doing something completely different every once in a while is kinda neat.

So let's go bash some supervillains.

Toward that end, here's a scenario featuring one of the most unimaginative villains in the Champions Universe -- Power Crusher -- in a scenario where he can be defeated simply by making a frontal assault and beating the snot out of him. Since he leads a group called the Crusher Gang, other villains who are members of the Crusher Gang are also used here.

The scenario is for an established but inexperienced group of 4-8 standard Champions superheroes, with 100 base points, up to 250 points in Disadvantages, and probably no more than 50 experience points each. Of course, the scenario can be adjusted upwards for larger and/or more powerful groups (there's not much room to go downward). There's even an option here for using this scenario to bring the PCs together for the first time.

Typically, this scenario should be playable in a single sitting, not counting the "introductory" scenes. If the main body of this adventure takes more than one session, either your sessions are too short or you need to find some way to speed up combat.

This adventure includes a few surprises and secrets to which players should not be privy. If you are a player and have a character who might be involved in this adventure, stop reading now. If you continue reading, your GM will come over to wherever you are and torture you mercilessly for several days. And I'll help!

This scenario also assumes that the GM owns a copy of Classic Enemies as well as the Fourth Edition Champions rulebook. After all, not only is Power Crusher himself in Classic Enemies, but so are most of the members of the Crusher Gang (those that aren't, are in the Champions rulebook). If you don't own Classic Enemies, this scenario will be, on the whole, both useless and meaningless to you.

Note: The book Champions Universe, which introduced the Crusher Gang as a group, lists the membership of the Crusher Gang as follows (though not in this order): Power Crusher (leader), Esper, Howler, Lazer, Lightning, Oculon, Panda, Powerhouse, Raccoon, Ripper, Shrinker, Thunder, and Vibron. In my own campaign, Thunder and Lightning have left to join Castle Security Inc. (in Adventurer's Club #22), while Buzzsaw and Wallbanger (from Champions Presents #2) have joined. This situation is also assumed in the text of this adventure, though the use of Buzzsaw and Wallbanger should be considered an option for those who own Champions Presents #2. I also tend to use Panda and Raccoon very little, and these two are not used here -- though of course as GM you may choose to add them if they seem to fit.

Disclaimer: This adventure is intended to be dry, silly, and mindless. Any resemblence to actual creativity, whether living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The Gathering

If this is the PCs' first adventure, and you need a way to bring them all together, set aside some time before the first meeting to run a little solo encounter for each hero. Each encounter should be against some lower-powered member of the Crusher Gang (Buzzsaw, Howler, Lazer, Powerhouse, Pulsar, Ripper, Shrinker, Vibron, or Wallbanger) who is performing some relatively minor crime such as robbing a convenience store or starting a riot at a tavern.

It does help in this case if two PCs already work together as partners; in this case, two Crusher Gang members can team up for a larger robbery (such as a bank instead of a convenience store). If one of the two characters is Hunted by a solo villain -- especially one who is a member of the Crusher Gang, but not necessarily -- then that solo villain should show up in this event. However, there should always be a member of the Crusher Gang present; otherwise, what's the connection?

In any event, some comment will probably be made by each villain about the events coming up. Possibilities can very from, "Well, we can't have you showing up a KRAP Monday morning, can we?" to, "If you think I'm something now, just wait until after we handle the governor next Monday!" or, "Good thing you didn't show up Monday, or you'd be costing me a million bucks!" or even, "Sheesh! Gumbel would just love you if you showed up next Monday!" Tailor the comment to fit the Crusher Gang member in question, the hero he (or she) is facing, and the situation at hand.

While none of the comments should give the hero (or heroes) the full picture, all should give enough that the PCs will be able to get an idea of what's planned. On the other hand, they should be able to piece together the Crusher Gang's whole plan if they get together and compare notes.

The Real Deal

The governor of the state is going to be interviewed from a local television station on a "hot topic" political issue that he (or she) has been doing a lot with recently, or which has been of particular controversy in the state lately. If the campaign city is not the state capitol, then the governor's in town for a statewide (or possibly regional or even national) conference on the issue. The interview is for the morning show on one of the major networks; the governor is being interviewed by satellite (unless the campaign is set in New York, where all the morning shows are broadcast from, or northern New Jersey, or in an area where the show is doing a special remote broadcast, in which case the governor is in the studio).

Power Crusher's plan is, like the man himself, simple. He and his Gang will storm the building, take the governor hostage, and demand a ransom of $1 million per Gang member present ("How many of there are you?" "There's seven of us. That comes to... uh..." "Seven million dollars." "Yeah, right.") plus free passage out of there. (They already have a chartered jet set to go to the Caiman Islands, though they'll be changing their destination en route to San Muerte.)

In addition to Power Crusher, there will be one Gang member present per PC (so whether the total actually is seven will depend on whether or not there are six PCs). If the "opening scenes" described above were used, the use any Crusher Gang members who escaped, and replace any who were captured.

Because of technological limitations, no map is provided for this scenario. If you have Shadows of the City, you may use the maps on pages 113 and/or 115 if you wish; otherwise just make up something appropriate. Power Crusher (Mr. Center Stage himself) will be next to the governor, with Powerhouse and Ripper (or two similarly appropriate Gang members) standing guard. The other Crusher Gang members are scattered around the room; those without ranged attacks will be posted at the entrances, while those who can attack at range will be standing in the corners. Some may even be posted outside (splitting up the Gang, which is Mistake Number One).

Let the PCs meet at the studio and devise whatever kind of plan you want to. If they already have a good reputation with the police, they will seek the PCs' help, give them the benefit of professional background and experience (that is, provide the PCs with suggestions from the GM), and back them up wherever possible. If the heroes are new and inexperienced at this (that is, in this for the first time), the police will actively recruit their help, since no other local superheroes (if there even are any) are showing up to help, and may even come up with the attack plan for the PCs if they're stuck. (This is to keep things simple; uncooperative police call for role-playing, and this is supposed to be a break from that stuff.)

On the whole, whatever the PCs come up with should succeed. They're outnumbered by one, but they have the element of surprise (to reflect this, the Crusher Gang should not get an action on the initial Phase 12).

Stupid Villain Tricks

Even as low-powered as this adventure is, and even with the element of surprise on their side, the PCs may become overwhelmed by the Crusher Gang in the final battle. However, while Power Crusher has (supposedly, at least) been teaching the others teamwork, they still have their foibles, and they still make mistakes. Here are some suggestions on how to peg down the members of the Crusher Gang on the fly -- that is, besides the obvious tricks such as having their DNPCs and Hunters show up.

Power Crusher: He's pretty single-minded in his combat tactics -- he goes to the nearest brick, transfers Strength as far as he can, transfers Dexterity, and then beats his opponent senseless. When he does this, however, he tends to forget about other opponents in the field. Also, if he misses that initial Strength drain, he can leave an opening for his target to turn him into a target.

Buzzsaw: If he was pasted in an initial encounter (and, of course, rescued by a teammate), he'll be itching for a rematch with whoever beat him, even though he'll probably get pasted again. It also wouldn't do for him to irritate a mentalist, and certainly not someone with sonic powers.

Howler: She's probably the smartest person in the Crusher Gang, but that won't keep her from making some mistake such as begging the PCs to not take away her amulet (which, of course, guarantees that they will do exactly that). Also, don't forget that she's superstitious; she won't do such things as attacking a character made of mirror (unless she Pulls her Punches), crossing behind a character whose form is that of a black cat, go under a ladder, etc., meaning that her actions can be directed.

Lazer: He'll be mostly competent in the course of this fight, but he is just greedy enough to go diving after any lost loot.

Oculon: Doesn't he complain an awful lot? Doesn't it get on your nerves? It gets on his teammates' nerves too. In fact, one of them may decide to punch his lights out just to get him to shut up.

Powerhouse: He's egotistical and overconfident. Let any PC -- especially one with sonic powers -- goad him into a fight he cannot win.

Pulsar: If one of the PCs is an attractive female, this goon is just arrogant enough to take a moment to try to ask her out on a date. With his luck, she'll turn out to have a physical hand-to-hand killing attack as a primary attack power. (And him with his guard down, at half DCV!)

Ripper: Since he frequently goes berserk in battle, he's the Gang Member Most Likely to Attack a Comrade By Mistake. When he gets to any point where he'd change targets, just make sure he picks some unlucky colleague.

Shrinker: Anybody who insults or taunts here will become an immediate target. Even if this doesn't happen, her urge to humiliate her opponents will be a distraction for her; she'll put humiliation above defeat.

Vibron: As soon as he thinks he's outnumbered or outclassed, he'll turn Desolid and run away (much to Power Crusher's irritation).

Wallbanger: You want stupid? Let Wallbanger try to attack someone with close-range energy powers, and he's toast. One blast from a regular 12d6 attack and he won't wake up for weeks. Now, that's stupid -- especially considering that he should know better than to do that!


So the PCs have flattened the Crusher Gang. Power Crusher will probably Transfer some of the governor's Strength to himself, and then use the man's (or woman's) limp form as a shield. The PCs will have to figure out how to stop Power Crusher without hurting the governor. ("Wait a minute! You said we wouldn't have to think tonight!") If they fail to do so, Power Crusher will escape, and dump the governor as soon as he's sure he's away. This will be the only complication in this story, and the only part that requires any appreciable thought.

The Champions, the Protectors, or UNTIL may show up at the last minute to provide help if the PCs get beaten (even with the Stupid Villain Tricks listed above). None of the other Crusher Gang Hunters -- especially VIPER -- will show up. Any involvement by PC Hunters, other than that described earlier for "solo villain" Hunters, will be "behind the scenes" (information collection, equipment sabotage, and stuff like that).

The PCs will be hailed as heroes, though this may be muted somewhat if Power Crusher got away with the governor -- though if they rescued the governor, they'll probably get a medal. Any villains who were defeated will be taken into custody by PRIMUS and hauled off to Stronghold to await trial.

That's it. They PCs didn't exactly save the world on this one, but they did rescue an important government official, and they did it on national television (which ought to be good for public relations). And, hopefully, you and the players had a nice diversion for the evening.

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This adventure is © 1996-2000 by Bob Greenwade. E-mail me if you have any comments or questions.