Jump to content

Top 5 Champs books of all time


fletch137
 Share

Recommended Posts

I’m a long-time fan of Hero Games, with an RPG book collection dating back to Marksman, Flare and Gyro Jim. With so many Champions books in my closet, I thought I’d chime in with what have been my favorite books in the game’s history. Who knows, maybe this will influence the kinds of books to be published for 6th Edition.

 

And because I go on for a bit about each one, I put my comments in spoiler blocks just to go easy on the page.

 

Normals Unbound

 

Subplots are really hard to play in roleplaying games, but they’re so critical to the source material of a superhero game. Normals Unbound was priceless for inserting plots and complications that would affect the people around the heroes beyond just getting zapped by Charger. The way the different NPCs’ stories intertwined with each other made the world completely three-dimensional for even deeper verisimilitude. For some reason, 5th Editions “Everyman” didn’t do it for me. Probably a lack of that interconnectedness that added so much depth to NU.

 

 

Villainy Amok

 

Superhero games have been around for decades, but none have ever made such an attempt at capturing the basics of superhero adventures. The adventure frameworks in the first half of the book are good, but what makes this book golden is the tables in the back. Everybody has a DNPC or a Hunted or a Secret ID. Pages and pages of ideas for using those disadvantages is worth the cover price alone. In fact, the entire book is dedicated to getting mileage out of the ideas, presenting each adventure idea with a number of variations so it can be used over and over again. Really perfect.

 

 

Bay City

 

I’ll use this setting book in any superhero campaign I run. Unlike other supersettings (San Angelo, Freedom City, even Millennium City), this book introduces the city in the broad strokes players will likely encounter it in, only going into specifics for people and places that will inspire an adventure. You can see it in the way the city government works. Other settings go to great lengths to list the political bodies and secretaries and commissioners and other office holders. Bay City says “you know what, they got a mayor and he does it all”. No player is going to care about the licensing director, he’s going to want to talk to the mayor. Done. As an added bonus, Bay City was recognizable enough to be welcoming to players, but fictitious enough to allow for any kind of story you wanted to tell there. I love Bay City. Really.

 

 

CLOWN

 

Okay, not all the members of CLOWN belong there (Skate Kate? Really?), but all of them were clever enough to at least warrant use as solo villains. Sure Tag didn’t really seem like a fun-loving villain, but who couldn’t have fun siccing him on the PCs with an innocent “you’re it”? But that aside, CLOWN is one of the most memorable villain teams in the games history, mostly because they were so unique. I’d seen nothing else like them before, and can’t think of anything similar I’ve seen since. Where CLOWN really shined as a villainous group, though, was in the timeline presented for the group’s history. Personally, I don’t like a lot of history in my Champions games, preferring my PC heroes to be the ones to participate in all the world-shaping events, but I do like reading the histories for the ideas it gives me on what kind of world-shaping events to introduce. CLOWN’s history was chock full of adventure ideas that, if I chose to have them not have happened yet, would make perfect adventures for my heroes to face. And, if nothing else, the timeline was a laugh riot. I mean it. They painted a dotted line across Florida with the words “cut here”. It only got better when aliens showed up from space to try do it.

 

 

Strike Force

 

Even if I never used any of the characters presented in this book, reading the actual campaign notes of a successful Champions game did nothing but improve my own game. Oh how I wished I had a GM like Aaron Allston. Although many of his campaign events were unique to his players and their characters, and thus not as stealable for my own players as some other Champions timelines, it was still inspiring to see how much effort he put in to actually making his campaign shape to the players and not the other way around.

 

 

 

And there you have it. My Top 5 Champions Books of All Time, but that’s only because I arbitrarily decided to stop at five. I could’ve gone on and on about how great Champions 3-D was, what an absolute hoot Golden Age of Champions is, or why the New Millennium Champions team was my favorite version, but then I wouldn’t have had room to offer my all-time *least* favorite Champions book.

 

Viper

 

Not the current version, which I never bought thanks to the hate I have for the previous version, but the 4th Edition one. While Viper as a group is an iconic part of the Champions Universe and fills the role of “evil agents” very well, the sourcebook did a pretty good job of undoing everything that made Viper cool to start with. From its silly origins (Viper was created by a sentient computer as a wargame with the PRIMUS computer) to the litany of senseless supervillains, the writers seemed to not get what it is that made Viper Viper. Superpowered henchmen have been a longstanding tradition for the group, but there were, like 35 supervillains in that book. Who needs hordes of gun-toting enemy agents when you can field 5 divisions of super-mooks? I wouldn’t even use these villains as solo enemies apart from Viper just for sheer lack of originality. A good portion of the book was spent upgrading the group’s armory as well, presumably because they thought 50pt agents weren’t *supposed* to be easily beaten by superheroes. Man I hated this book. It’s not completely without use, though. The list of top 10 goals (like the construction of an orbiting base) were instant plot ideas, and all that new technology did fit well if taken in small doses.

 

 

Thanks for listening. Anybody else have any most or least favorites?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Top 5 Champs books of all time

 

For the greatest Champions book of all time? I have to give it to the original. Yes, the very first edition of the Champions RPG.

 

I can already hear the complaints, but I have a very simple reason for this. Without the first one, and it's groundbreaking new system, none of the rest would ever have existed! :eek:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Top 5 Champs books of all time

 

As a Dark Champions lover, Underworld Enemies, Justice, Not Law, and Hudson City Blues are the most kick@$$. J,NL had a city for Gygax's Sake! And HCB helped a newbie GM plot out a ginormous multilevel game with hints, handouts and tie-ins to almost every Hero Product you could use for Dark Champs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Top 5 Champs books of all time

 

5) The Island of Doctor Destroyer. This adventure pointed out that not every adventure was based on a direct assault, or your PC's might fail to survive it. If you snuck in, you stood a chance, if not...well...fight Doctor Destroyer and eat it.

 

4) To Serve and Protect: Scott Heine's classic adventure where you have to battle other corrupted Superheroes.

 

3) Ultimate Martial Artist: This book has seen so little editing between editions that I fully expect it to be an instant classic every time.

 

2) Strike Force: Aaron Allston's classic Champions Game

 

1) Champions 1st Edition: Because it started it all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Top 5 Champs books of all time

 

Wow!!! Some nice selections, but every selection we are going to make is based on a bit of biased perception. That said my top 5 are....

 

1. Strikeforce (Complete with helpful hints on structuring your campaign)3rd edition

 

2. Teen Champions (Hold on to this one it's sure to be a classic)5th Edition

 

3. The Great Super Villain Contest(Inspired work and compatible with SUPERWORLD:thumbup:) 1st edition

 

4. Deathstroke (A must have) 1st edition

 

5. The Mutant File 4th edition

 

Note: Those just missing the cut.....

4th edition Dark Champions, while not moved to tears. It was the first Champs book I had honestly read cover to cover....TWICE!!

Normals Unbound gave helped restate the importance of people without powers and the relationship between man and super man.

Last, but not least the 4th edition champions rules book. It was a collection of the previous six years of random articles and supplements streamlined and (to an extent) worked out in a hard cover catchall book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Top 5 Champs books of all time

 

The great thing about Champions and Hero games in general is their encouragement for breaking convention if it suits your needs or just because it suits your fancy. Deathstroke was the first Champions supplement to broach the ground rules for PCs playing villains and other PCs playing the heroes in the same session. It was the first truly multi session(meaning it couldn't be completed in one session unless the session was a 12 hour marathon). It deals with sub plots and deception. It also crosses over to the idea of villains as characters and not just antagonist. It seems a lot less impactful when we look at it now, but rol eplayers are far more enlightend than we were 26 years ago. Nowadays everyone's afraid to give advice on gming or role playing because we figure everyone already knows. This book is great because it didn't assume you knew, just like Strikeforce. The info is outdated and looked at as extraneous, but I remember when it was one of the most important books I had ever read.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Top 5 Champs books of all time

 

For me hm. Excluding the original books (hero rules, Champions, etc):

 

1) Strike Force

2) Justice, Inc

3) Fantasy Hero (5th)

4) Viper (4th)

5) Ninja Hero

 

Mind you I haven't been able to buy many 5th edition sourcebooks etc, so I don't know some of those might be better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Top 5 Champs books of all time

 

tellus some more about why you like golden age of champions

 

 

I think it's the timeline that sold me. In addition to giving the actual history of WWII, it gave a side-by-side timeline of how that history could've included superheroes AND a timeline of "uh-oh, the Nazi's won" for those pesky parallel timelines.

 

And while I think the heroes and villains provided were a tad too tongue-in-cheek, they were all solid characters. If you wanted to take your WWII campaign a bit more seriously, you could drop the "Doberman" angle and still have a pretty sharp Anubis-empowered villain. Aside from that, they were awesome, top to bottom. Dr. Bonsai and Origami Girl, the Ex-Patriots, Veltro... They've all stuck in my mind as iconic as Grond and Foxbat. All from just one book.

 

As an added bonus, it was a nice primer on life during the war too, just for education's sake.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Top 5 Champs books of all time

 

And for those of you keeping score at home, the Top 5 so far are:

 

Strikeforce (6 votes)

Champions 1st Edition (4 votes)

Villainy Amok (3 votes)

Deathstroke (3 votes)

Ultimate Martial Artist (3 votes)

 

Of real interest to me are the two votes that went to the 4th Edition Viper book that I despise so much. Can I ask those two voters to tell me what I missed? What was I doing wrong that made me hate this book?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Top 5 Champs books of all time

 

And for those of you keeping score at home, the Top 5 so far are:

 

Strikeforce (6 votes)

Champions 1st Edition (4 votes)

Villainy Amok (3 votes)

Deathstroke (3 votes)

Ultimate Martial Artist (3 votes)

 

Of real interest to me are the two votes that went to the 4th Edition Viper book that I despise so much. Can I ask those two voters to tell me what I missed? What was I doing wrong that made me hate this book?

I just liked the way things were done. The info reminded me a lot of Cobra (as in vs. GI Joe) and I had a hoot with it back in the day :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...