And here's my personal sandbox so I don't forget about it.
Champions (role-playing game)
|Designer(s)||George MacDonald, Steve Peterson, Bruce Harlick, Ray Greer|
|Publication date||2002 (5th edition)|
Champions is a role-playing game originally by George MacDonald, Steve Peterson, Bruce Harlick, and Ray Greer, published by Hero Games, designed to simulate and function in a four-color superhero comic book world.
Champions, first published in 1981, was the first role-playing game in which character generation was guided by a point allocation system, as opposed to random dice rolls. A player decides what kind of character to play, and designs the character using a set number of "character points." The allowed number of points to be spent generally defines how powerful the charcter will be. Points can be used in many ways: to increase personal characteristics, such as strength or intelligence; to buy special skills, such as martial arts or computer programming; or to build superpowers, such as supersonic flight or telepathy.
The system emphasizes the development of a well-rounded character. In addition to a hero's powers, players are encouraged to select skills, perks, traits, disadvantages, and other personality details. Therefore, Champions characters typically include friends, enemies, and/or weaknesses along with their powers and abilities. Players are regularly rewarded with character points after play, which are then used to increase the capabilities of their heroes or to lessen or remove disadvantages.
What has made this system so enduring is its flexibility and balance. Instead building a character by choosing from a menu of abilities, the player can design just about any superpower imaginable. The Champions rulebook includes rules governing many different types of generic powers which can then be modified to fit the players idea. While this flexibility is amusing and powerful in a gaming environment, first-time Champions players often find the rules confusing and complex. It also lends itself to some abusive min-maxing, such as buying only strength with character points or buying a super-powered suit for an incredibly weak character.
This allows players to simulate situations found in superhero stories. Like most comic book heroes, characters and villains are frequently knocked out of the fight but seldom killed. There are special rules for throwing absurdly heavy objects, such as aircraft carriers. A drawback is that the system has a reputation for crunchyness and tedious power construction. Neophytes often have trouble sorting through the very large ruleset for the correct combination of powers. A classic example is small spheres (like marbles) which are placed on the ground to make a victim lose their footing. An experienced player can handle this quickly with the Change Environment power, but this is not always obvious to a new player.
History and revisions
The Champions system was adapted to a fantasy genre under the title "Fantasy Hero" (the first playtest edition of Fantasy Hero appeared before Champions was published ), with similar advantages and disadvantages to the original Champions game. More recently (in 1984), Champions was incorporated into a generic role-playing game system called the Hero System. Champions now exists as a genre sourcebook for that game. Books for other genres have also appeared over the years, including Star Hero, Dark Champions, Pulp Hero, Ninja Hero, and others.
The most basic mechanics of Champions (the costs of attributes and powers, the calculation and use of combat attributes, the effects and means to resist character damage, and so on) have remained largely unchanged since the first 1981 edition, but many subsystems have been altered and significant material has been added. Martial Arts, for example, has changed radically, evolving from a simple system where a player could purchase access to a fixed set of special 'martial' combat moves to a complex system where the moves themselves are created via a point balancing system. Many powers have seen changes in costs or effects.
The addition of ever more options has led an increase in the starting points a new player must deal with -- from 200 points in the first edition to 350 points in the fifth. Experienced players point out this has resulted in more well rounded beginning characters, as well as more powerful characters which better reflect the power of current comic books. The degree of change over the period is less than that of Dungeons & Dragons, about on par with GURPS, and somewhat greater than Call of Cthulhu .
Champions is one of the most complex games which has a thriving player base. While new players are often intimidated by the complexity, it is considered a feature by the game's fan base. Hero Games now sells a computer program called Hero Designer which allows characters to be created much more easily. This has eased the burden on new players greatly.
While Champions is the name of super hero genre for Hero System, "The Champions" is also a team of superheroes provided by the publishers in the fourth and fifth editions of the game as a model of a balanced team dynamic, a ready-made team of non-player character allies, or pre-created characters to allow players to skip the lengthy character creation process. A similar team named "Champions 3000" is included in "Galactic Champions", a sub-genre book for the Hero System 5th Edition.
Starting in June 1986, a comic mini-series was published by Eclipse Comics based on characters from the first Champions campaign. After the initial mini-series a regular series was published by Hero Comics (later Hero Graphics). Like the Villains and Vigilantes comic mini-series, the early issues printed character sheets which allowed readers to incorporate characters used in the comic books in their own Champions campaigns. Strangely, this was even true for characters packed in with the core rules, such as Icicle, Pulsar and Mechanon.
The Champions product line has won some awards for its adventure books:
- Silver Medal 2005 ENNies: Best Adventure for Villiany Amok 
- Gold Medal 2004 ENNies: Best Non-D20 Adventure for Champions Battlegrounds 
- Silver Medal 2004 ENNies: Best Non-D20 Adventure for Shades of Black 
- Inducted into the Origins Award Hall of Fame (1999)