My friend Russell agreed to use Kapow! to run a short adventure for Elyssa and me, so that we could get some kind of sense of how well it would go with somebody else running it, and I’m pleased to say that from the point of view of the players it went very well indeed. Russell didn’t seem too traumatized by it, either.
The strength of the game continues to be in the ease and flexibility of the character generation: I was able to (re)create a character that I’ve been trying to play for years in other superhero RPGs, never to my complete satisfaction. He’s a kind of cross between Batman and Sandman, called The Nightmare, and in systems like Champions he always seems to end up being spread too thin as a beginning character. Clever abuse of the point-buy system can alleviate some of that, but he’s always lackluster compared to the more straightforward beat-em-up martial artist or gadget types, and almost gimped compared to the same tricks applied to a more specialized character. In Kapow! that pretty much goes away; he has different strengths and weaknesses compared to the more specialized characters, but I really didn’t get the sense playing him that it would require a bunch of XP before I could afford to have the kind of character I wanted him to be or that he was and also-ran compared to the much more Brick-like Namaste, super-yogini.
The system mostly got out of the way for the rest of the game. It was primarily an investigative scenario, with only two real combats, and neither one really required any of the rules for special situations. But they were quick, and they were satisfying, and that pleased me a lot. I think one thing that was missing, not system related, was at the end we didn’t get an explanation of the villain’s plot from his point of view. I’m hoping that Russell will leave a comment that fills in the details of why those particular victims and the odd calling card….