Front cover of Heroes Unlimited, Revised Second Edition, illustrated by Jim Steranko
|Designer(s)||Kevin Siembieda, Carmen Bellaire, Wayne Breaux, Jr., Bill Coffin, Kevin Long, et al.|
|Publication date||August 1984 (1st edition)|
April 1987 (Rev. edition)
January 1993 (rev. 9th print)
March 1998 (2nd edition)
Heroes Unlimited is a superhero role-playing game written by Kevin Siembieda and first published by Palladium Books in 1984. The game is based upon the Palladium Books Megaversal system and is compatible with other games that use the Palladium system.
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The game features superheroes fighting supervillains in a comic book-like world. The game's introduction states that the game was designed to be a "thinking man's" superhero role-playing game where the characters were vulnerable and could not amass an incredible number of skills or abilities. The experience point system of the game gave great awards to novel thinking and heroic sacrifice, in addition to defeating one's enemies. Characters in the game are defined by their ability scores, skills (dependent on education level), and class, which allows the selection of certain powers or enhanced skills or equipment. The classes allowed for a wide range of play-types, from super-powered beings to aliens to technology-based or special-training-based characters.
However, the character creation system was widely divergent – some classes such as robotics allowed intense customization, while others were extremely random. Some classes and super powers (such as the ancient master class or the invulnerability power) started very powerful but hardly matured, while other classes and powers had effects strongly tied to character level.
The revised edition added new powers and minor rule changes, allowed many classes to take "minor" superpowers to slightly expand play options, introduced the option of "crazy" heroes, and most notably added magic-powered characters to the game at the request of the players. The revised edition also included a short rules summary of the Palladium game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness, adding mutant animal character rules and a shortened selection of animals for character creation. However, mutant animals make characters that are in general much weaker than standard heroes, as the TMNT supplement Turtles Go Hollywood noted.
The second edition of the game saw something of a renaissance in the line's production. In addition to the options previously provided, and updates of the previous supplements, Palladium Books produced several supplements for the game.
Heroes Unlimited was first published by Palladium Books in 1984.
- The Justice Machine first printing in 1985
- Villains Unlimited second printing April 1993
- Aliens Unlimited first printing in 1994 (revised third printing December 1999)
- Gamemaster's Guide first printing June 1999
- Century Station first printing February 2000
- Gramercy Island first printing November 2000
- Aliens Unlimited Galaxy Guide first printing May 2001
- Mutant Underground first printing February 2003
- Powers Unlimited first printing June 2003
- Powers Unlimited 2 first printing February 2004
- Powers Unlimited 3 first printing August 2006
- Armageddon Unlimited (first printing February 2011) ties in with the Megaverse-wide Minion War.
- "Ninjas & Superspies" includes rules on buying martial arts forms with Heroes Unlimited characters
- "Rifts Conversion Book" includes notes on modifications to Heroes Unlimited characters
- "Skraypers" a Rifts (role-playing game) Dimension Book (the 4th) was co-designed as a Heroes Unlimited sourcebook.
William A. Barton reviewed Heroes Unlimited in Space Gamer No. 72. Barton commented that "if you desire hero-types like Batman, Captain America, Robotman, or Wolverine, Heroes Unlimited is a superbuy, even if you use it as nothing more than a sourcebook for an existing game."
Heroes Unlimited was ranked 40th in the 1996 reader poll of Arcane magazine to determine the 50 most popular roleplaying games of all time. The UK magazine's editor Paul Pettengale commented: "Superhero roleplaying for the Palladium player, but not all that easy to pick up."