I'm still in the early, early planning stages of this thing. I don't want to dive in head-first until a couple of things happen. The first being a stabilization in the question "Where will I be living next year?" and the second being a scheduling issue of "When could we begin playing this game?"

Once these two things get settled, I'll be more than ready to get my hands dirty with all the details.

That having been said, I have some thoughts about the game that are crowding around trying to get out. So I'll share some of them with you here.

1. Transparent Design. With so many detail-oriented and HERO-savvy folks in the gaming group, it didn't do me much good last time to get sloppy with rules calls or character designs. Why not take advantage of all the experience at the table and use the players as a resource to keep things working better? Thus, I'm strongly leaning towards involving the players from the start in the game/campaign design along the way. This post is in fact the first good example of it's kind. :)

2. Build to Concept. When you roll randomly for your stats, you end up with the character the dice allow you to make, not the one you WANT to make. With point-limited characters, you end up with the character the point total allows you to make.... Thus, I am thinking of doing away with point totals for initial characters. Build to your concept. Naturally, as GM I retain veto power and I'm thinking of putting all the character sheets up for group review before we begin to iron out any potential imbalances, but I'm excited about the opportunity this presents to fully realize the character in your head.

3. Goals and Schticks. I'm combing through some other game products for some interesting metagame additions we can use for Angelus 2. I really like Gestalt's "Goal" setup where every character begins play with an achievable goal, and the GM can track progress towards that goal as play goes on. Once the goal is achieved, a new goal begins. That kind of thing. I'm also charmed by the Buffy RPG's method of issuing extra XP for doing something appropriate to the character's schtick once per session (such as the tough female lead required to participate in at least one girl-to-girl conversation).

4. Go With The Flow. At first I was opposed to the idea of legacy characters, but as more and more people seemed to want to do that, it became clear that I had two choices. Either oppose a popular idea that wasn't all that crucial to me or to support it. Supporting what the players want seems like a good idea to me, so the theme is shifting a bit to work with the legacy of the previous campaign.

5. Expectation and Communication. As the discussions around HeroCon (and the panel) explained, making sure everyone is on the same page from the start is VITAL. Thus, I plan on taking great pains to explain what it is I expect from the campaign, and to listen to what you guys expect. This means that you're probably going to hear me go over this material more than once, just to be sure, so I warn you in advance. But I think the end result will definitely be worth it.

6. Game Anchors. No, not something to drag the game down—rather, the core building blocks of what the campaign IS. To me, Angelus has the following Anchors.

Anchor A. Horror & Suspense. It's a dark cyberpunk future with magic, espers, high-technology and creatures from beyond. I think that it's a natural fit for so called "cosmotist" horror. I know it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I rank Stephen King and Lovecraft quite highly on my influences list for the game. Silent Möbius, another huge influence, was chock full of personal and cosmic horrors from betrayal and possession all the way through to gross tentacle monsters in the shower. The above having been said, Angelus is not Call of Cthulhu—the characters are heroes, and as heroes, have a chance to Do Something about these problems.

Anchor B. Niche Protection. Perhaps not in the classic sense, but from the very start I've always imagined Angelus as a place where one's abilities and role are clearly defined. Not exactly realistic, per se, but it fits the FEEL of the game I am trying to build. One of the elements from the mid-nineties when I was first coming up with all this was the statement: "No cyborg esper mecha pilots." Ultimately it worked really well, IMHO, for Angelus 1. As GM I was able to craft story-lines based on those niches fairly easily and weave them into the overall plot. Jama was the magician, so she had magic stuff to do. Yiska was the esper, Carpenter the paladin, and so forth. "Half this and half that" types are strongly discouraged, not the least of which because I would have trouble coming up with stories and hooks that work with "blended" niche characters.

Anchor C. You Can Change The World. I don't think I need to get into this too heavily, I think all of the Angelus 1 players understand what I mean here. Angelus isn't some huge metaplot that goes by while the character stand around and watch. It's a tapestry that is meant to INVOLVE the characters and the choices they make.

Anchor D. High Risk—High Reward. I don't plan to stop rolling in the open, and thus, character death is still a possibility. I'm not nearly as worried having thrown so much at the group last time with no casualties. I'm still a firm believer that without any meaningful risk, victory carries little meaningful reward. Even more so, the idea that a character's survival is not guaranteed is very central and fitting to a horror-themed campaign.

Anchor E. Outgunned But Never Outclassed. A theme of Angelus (at least as XSWAT members) is that the enemies are better equipped, better funded, or possess lots of mooks. I don't see this changing much at the start of Angelus 2, considering the outcome of the last campaign. But then again, most of the 9th Squad's victories came through using your wits and choosing your battles wisely rather than raw firepower.

Item 1: Rookie Cops. Based on the characters I've seen so far, what we have is a group of mostly rookies with only one, perhaps 2 veteran officers. This is actually just fine and works really well for me as a GM.

Rookies mean that the power level of the game would start out relatively low and work up from there. I'm imagining the typical bad guy would be a Yakuza enforcer with some martial arts, maybe a 4 1/2D6 (normal) attack, maybe up to a 2d6 killing gun, figure average CV of 4-5, SPD 3-4. And work up from that point. Not to say that bigger or more powerful enemies won't be present or involved, just not your typical opponents.

I'm not opposed to going a bit higher than this, though, depending on how people build their characters or what kind of challenge they're looking for.

Item 2: Cops versus Heroes. This time around I am tempted to merge more with a "cop drama" feel to the game, perhaps having more investigation and less globe-trotting, as one example. Having recently watched The Dresden Files miniseries, there's some really good ideas for supernatural themes in a cop drama setting. Plus, I think one of the small failures of Angelus 1 is that you didn't really get to FEEL like cops often enough.