Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pleading The Fourth

Why 4th Edition Champions?

If you're going to run Champions why not the current edition? If not the current edition why 4th? That's two editions ago.

I'm not entirely sure I can answer the question reasonably. It's largely a personal preference. I do think 4th was the last edition the had that special balance between single, honking huge rulebook and still within reason. 5th's book was a hernia causing monster and badly marketed in my opinion. Three books or is it two? And Champions, the Superhero parts of the Hero System, are in another book? Way too expensive and confusing.

Plus, fourth edition had a cover by George Perez. I know I mentioned that in a previous post but seriously now...GEORGE PEREZ. As much as I love M&M it does not have a George Perez cover (though DC Adventures has Alex Ross. Touche' Green Ronin. Well played).

Barking Alien


  1. I just dug my Champions book out from the bottom of a long dis-used bookshelf. I was curious to the edition number. Long ago it shed it's cover as the glue gave way in the binding. It's been living in a binder for - geez - since a few months after I bought it. I was pissed.

    It's fourth edition. From all indications, it's a first printing.

    Champions was one of the few game systems I was introduced to AS A PLAYER. There was already a GM.

    I had a lot of fun with this game. Champions was everything I had wanted GURPS to be, except, you know, REALISTIC. Screw realism though, it was fun.

    The 'Hero' system became my go-to rpg for at least 8 years. I ran supers games, fantasy, sci-fi and lots of anime with it. It was wonderful. I forget why I stopped playing it. I think it had to do with regular sex.

    Recently I looked back into Champions/Heros, intent on picking up the system again. what I found was a bloated MONSTROCITY which cost the annual budget of the city of Dallas. I ran screaming.

    I still sneak up on the HERO books at the FLGS. I touch the cover - pop the sucker open - flip through - sigh - and set it back down. I'll never run it. I'll never even read it. I've found I like simple too much.

    Now this fourth edition I'm holding in my hand - hmmmmmm. Gosh this was fun.

    - Ark

  2. Precisely. Somehow 4th Edition, while way more complex than anything I would normally want to go near on my own, is just the right level of complexity for my players' tastes while not being so bad it makes my eyes explode.

    Yay for compromise. :)

  3. I played and ran Champions in some form or fashion for over 25 years, from 2nd-5th Editions (with 5th being my favorite), but 6th left me cold. I haven't bought a HERO book in over 2 years, and that hasn't happened since, well, ever. I don't mind revisions; I just don't like that many in 6th seemed absolutely pointless. They're making the system bulkier and clunkier, and that doesn't appeal to me.

    Not only that, but in recent years, I've GM'd for HERO rookies, and the combats always come to a screeching halt. I love everything about the system but combat; I think it must have something to do with getting older.

    And while Steve Long is a helluva nice guy, he has the superpower of being able to suck the joy out of the material. He writes almost everything for the company, but it's always so very, very dry.

    (Darren Watts' and Jason Walters' Lucha Libre Hero is arguably the best book they've released that doesn't have Aaron Allston's name on it. I highly recommend it.)

  4. For myself I decided to skip 6th Ed after seeing some changes I didn't really care for. I get the desire to go with full color (cool) but I'd like to see more time between editions too. 4th was good for about 12 years but somehow 5th was only good for about 8? Really? I was also a little burned by buying up damn near everything for 5th and then never playing or running it once. If I can go for a whole edition without rolling dice then I don't need to buy another one.

    Continuing with the material theme another plus for 4th is that it's widely and cheaply available on eBay and in used bookstores, which makes it easy to set players up with their own copies of the main book.

    For actually running it I think "normals unbound" is the single most useful book I know of, so if you don't have it BA that's the one I would locate and acquire.

  5. What is "Normals Unbound" about? I don't think I've ever heard of that book.

  6. It's writeups for a bunch of "normals" - cops, thugs, elderly aunts, etc. A lot of lower level background characters and candidates for dependent NPCS. I don't have it with me but I'll be able to lay hands on it tomorrow and I'll share some more details.

    The bestiary is also quite useful - bunch of normal animal stats plus a section in the back for zilla, kong, the aliens from Alien(s), the predator, etc. They can be a lot of fun

  7. Took a while but I located a post I did on it (among other things) awhile back:

    If you have that and the Hero System Bestiary you're in good shape for on-the-fly "normal stuff".

    Of course looking at some of those statblocks reminds me of why I'm all aflutter over M&M3 too. In spite of that if I ran Champions again it would probably be 4th, just because it's easily available and I have a ton of stuff for it.

  8. I completely admit to delving into a game that is something of a paradox for me. I much prefer M&M 3E but I feel I have to give Champions 4E a try since it may be what's best for my current group.

    Time will tell.

  9. It is kind of funny to see you touting Champions but it is a great game and despite the common complaints against it it's quite playable once you get going. I've found the refresh curve can look a little intimidating but after that first session it gets a lot easier. I've found a prequel prologue session with prebuilt characters (perhaps specially built simple to run characters) can help with the mechanics warm-up and show new players which numbers matter the most in combat

    Nothing wrong with a little crunch. With all of the things you've run I don't think it will be a problem. Once you get going I'll be looking for the Galaxyquest Hero conversion PDF that I'm sure you will be working on soon.

  10. Galaxy Quest in Hero? That seems morally wrong somehow. ;)

    While there is nothing wrong with a little crunch I agree, a lot of crunch rubs me the wrong way. Still and all, this game (Champions) is the exception.