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CHAMPIONS Question and Answer

Updated on July 15, 2016

CHAMPIONS (1st Ed.)

Courtesy of Champions Online. Property of HERO Games.
Courtesy of Champions Online. Property of HERO Games. | Source

So, you're wondering what the heck would I know about CHAMPIONS? I've been playing and running it since 1981. I recall when the core rules were typed out on a typewriter and had its iconic cover in black and white. I hand-copied those rules, memorizing them in the process. When the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe came out, I began translating those characters to CHAMPIONS. For fun. I don't know how many game sessions I've run over the years, or how many characters, but I can tell you this: I've mastered the game.

Now it's time to offer the next generation of superheroes the wisdom of the ages. So, comment below and let's get started!

Me, at the gaming table, 1986
Me, at the gaming table, 1986 | Source

My History of Champions

As I've stated, I started playing CHAMPIONS at very nearly the beginning. I was playing AD&D before then -- and hating it. I could never create a character I wanted to play. I didn't care if my characters died because I didn't want them anyway. The "roll up a character" system failed me. So when my friend Rodney showed me this new game, where you build characters using points, I was hooked. I dropped AD&D like a bad habit.

This was, I suppose, Version Zero of CHAMPIONS. It wasn't pretty, that I can tell you. They used an old typewriter. The art was primarily line drawings, and were really small. The cover would become one of the most recognizable in RPG history -- but at the time, it was black-and-white. The First Edition we all know and love was, I believe, produced in 1983. By that time, I had already created over two dozen characters and played in nearly twice as many games.

The point-based character creation system was a game-changer. No pun intended, of course. CHAMPIONS had hit the nail on the head. Players wanted to create characters, not game mechanics designed to goose-step through campaigns. The "kill 'em all" mentality of Dungeon Masters was getting very old, very quickly. And, I should add, this was the beginning of comicdom's shining moments during the Eighties. The Phoenix saga. The Dark Knight Returns. The Wolverine limited series. This was the best time to introduce a superhero RPG, and CHAMPIONS was the best thing out there. V&V players from that time might disagree, but they were still into random character creation in the first place.

We created the heroes we wanted and played in comic book universes. What could be better?

CHAMPIONS Expands

CHAMPIONS wasn't done with us just yet. The first edition changed a number of things that just didn't make sense in "zero" edition. Swinging flip-flopped from Power to Skill. Martial Arts were expanded as a Skill. Creating the characters we saw in comic books cost a lot of points -- 800+ for a decent Wolverine? They got the message, as they always do, and not only gave us the first edition, but CHAMPIONS II.

CHAMPIONS II is all over the current version, by the way. It expanded the creation process and background information. Whenever you buy a Science or Professional Skill, thank C-II. Combat movement was redesigned to make more sense. Mental combat was likewise re-tooled to closer resemble the comics. The guys were hard at work. Shortly thereafter, we got CHAMPIONS III. New Powers such as Multiform and Duplication were added. The expansion birthed the Variable Power Pool. Combined, these three books gave us the best chance of creating the characters we loved.

Then, the worst happened.

Courtesy of Terapeak.com. Property of HERO Games.
Courtesy of Terapeak.com. Property of HERO Games. | Source

The Dark Times

CHAMPIONS dominated the superhero RPG scene for nearly two decades. Something had to give, eventually.

I was running games before and after school. We had an RPG Club, where I first served as VP and finally President. It's been calculated that, in terms of 8-hour sessions, we played 31 years worth of games. I'm not sure about all that, but we did play a whole helluva lot. Even after graduating high school, we started meeting daily over the summer and eventually on weekends.

CHAMPIONS came out with the Fourth Edition, combining 1-3 into an all-inclusive book. Wonderful. But then they decided to come out with CHAMPIONS: New Millennium. Not so wonderful.

The concept should have worked. Combine the two most successful systems - R. Talsorian's Interlok system and the HERO system (as it was now being called) and start counting the millions. It was a disaster. It set us players back nearly twenty years. Character creation was devastated by the change. And, as I've mentioned often right here, that was the best part of the system. CHAMPIONS died that day. But, like all good comic book characters, it wouldn't stay dead.

HERO Reborn

There were so many different HERO games produced one's head would swim trying to count them. The system was refined, and became highly specialized and custom-tailored for each new genre. What astonishes me is that the rules were still, for the most part, interchangeable. You could, for example, play a space hero in a fantasy campaign with virtually zero changes required to either the character or the game.

So, obviously, HERO slammed all of these genre-specific tweaks together and created HERO. One RPG to rule them all, as it were. And CHAMPIONS came back swinging. By this time, I had run thousands of hours of games and created hundreds of characters. Due to some necessary changes to the system, many of the characters were rendered obsolete.

Well, good. It meant I could get back to creating characters again. And now, with HERO's Sixth Edition, I'm that kid again. I'm back in 1981, poring over the rules and making my ideas as real as those rules would let me. So, that's my story. What's yours? Let's hear it! Share it with us below.

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    • William Corpening profile imageAUTHOR

      William Corpening 

      17 months ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Wanna know something weird? The boys and girls up at HERO GAMES are really very slick. I haven't found a single legitimate rules "rape" in 5e yet.

      Doesn't mean I'm done, however... *GRINZ*

    • William Corpening profile imageAUTHOR

      William Corpening 

      24 months ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Fun Fact: Mental Illusions is a great magic-based Power. Any effect can be simulated, as long as the user believes it. This reminds me of MAGE: The Awakening, in many respects. I would create such a character with a VPP dependent upon the illusions generated in order to support the magical effect. If, say, an opponent believes he's being attacked by a dragon, the VPP would take on the appropriate effects -- fear, tooth-and-claw attacks, breath weapon, and so on. I hope you get the idea...

      ...otherwise, this is gonna be a really LONG post!

    • William Corpening profile imageAUTHOR

      William Corpening 

      24 months ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      So, here's my question for all of "yous" -- do you add up the Advantages and Limitations and THEN make your calculations, or do you do it one at a time? I ask because the math they showed in the HERO 6th Ed. seems wrong to me. I've always added and subtracted the Advantage and Limitation numbers before making the calculations for Real Cost.

      There is a big difference between using a +1 Advantage, then calculating a -1 Limitation, and letting them cancel each other out.

    • William Corpening profile imageAUTHOR

      William Corpening 

      24 months ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      It's great to have another "OG" chime in here on this humble hub, BBTumey!! So, what I saw wasn't typed on a typewriter? I'd never have known!!!

    • profile image

      BTTumey 

      24 months ago

      I moved from San Jose to San Carlos in late 1979. The kid they choose to show me around my new high school was Kirby Laurence. We bonded over a love of Science, Sci-fi, and Comic Books.

      At the time I had only played D&D a couple of times, and they weren't what I would call pleasant experiences. Kirby convinced me to come with him to Glen Thain's Tuesday night gaming group by showing me a five page set of Super Hero Role Playing rules.

      Glen's house was packed with about 30-40 poeple, some playing role playing games like, D&D, Traveler, others playing board games like Diplomacy and Panzer Leader. It was there that I met George MacDonald and Steve Peterson.

      After about a year of non stop playing and GMing, George and Steve approached me, asking if they could use my computer to create a published version of what was now called Champions.

      We created that first version of the rules using a Commodore PET, and a SpinWriter printer. We would sneak into my father's office at the California Water Service Co. in San Mateo, where the printer was, from 8pm-3:30am, printing, cutting and pasting the book together, then cleaning the office up so that no one would know we were there.

      It was at Dundracon 1981, that we introduced Champions the world. I think I ran the prepared intro scenario about 24 times in three days. It was a wild time, my misspent youth.

      My all time most famous character was Rose, the teleporting psychic member of the Champions. She made the back cover of Champions II and got her own comic book, which is still sporadically published under the title Psyche.

    • profile image

      TashaG 

      24 months ago

      I was brought kicking and screaming into playing Champions. I was quite happy playing my highly modified version of AD&D. Our gaming club pretty much abandoned D&D and were only playing Champions. We played with a mix of 2nd ed and 1st edition as they were nearly the same thing. First Ed being the Color Covered Book and 2nd ed (or Revised) came in a box set with the color artwork on the box and a greyscale cover on the Rule book. Also the box included Viper's nest and a Town Intersection, where we fought many a supervillian. Once I learned how to make characters we never looked back. I have played Pulp (Justice Inc), Action Adventure (Danger International), Fantasy (Fantasy Hero) and of course Supers (Champions). The Rules are very adaptable to any genre. I was in a very successful Stargate SG1 game that used Hero. I tend to convert pretty much any other RPG into Hero Stats.

    • profile image

      TashaG 

      24 months ago

      I do superRegen with high resistant Defenses Hardened. This reflects damage that the PC just heals instantly. Regen picks up the slack on any body that gets though that. Much easier build than Damage Reduction and more likely to be approved by a GM.

    • profile image

      Michael Satran 

      24 months ago

      I loved Champions so much I kept playing it, and now, shockingly, I write for it. Check out my latest successful project, Journey to the Center of the Earth! If you haven't already backed it, you should look to pick it up sometime in August.

      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/blackwyrm/mic...

    • profile image

      Michael Surbrook 

      24 months ago

      Actually, you can buy 9with GM's permission) Desolid that stops damage (usually of a certain special effect).

    • William Corpening profile imageAUTHOR

      William Corpening 

      24 months ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Fun Fact: My "unstoppable" character from those bygone days had Desolidification that only canceled damage. To be fair, I also bought the Advantage "Affects Physical World" with his STR. Food for thought.

      Most GMs won't allow this now, and I don't think the rules will, either...

    • William Corpening profile imageAUTHOR

      William Corpening 

      24 months ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Fun Fact: Most folks spend tons of points on Wolverine's healing factor. A cheat around this is ramping up his defenses in the first place. A 75% physical/energy Damage Reduction goes a long way to explaining his adamantium skeleton and his ability to begin healing the second he sustains damage. Couple that with a high REC and a reasonably low STUN, and the Old Man will be back on his feet in no time. Oh, and spend some extra points on Resistant Defense.

    • William Corpening profile imageAUTHOR

      William Corpening 

      24 months ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I was the same way. Art school didn't help -- I had art pads filled up too!

    • profile image

      Antonio 

      2 years ago

      Somewhere, in a crate or on a bookshelf, I have dozens of composition notebooks filled with characters written in the Hero system.

    working

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