So a little game history here… and a little sadness for fellow gamers who love this game.
Champions Role Playing Game.
I was introduced to this game back in high school by a guy named Arron Shue (gods its been so long I may have misspelled his name, if that’s the case Arron and you are out there reading this I am sorry dude but I have not heard from you since junior year 1989), he had a copy of the game that was a photo copy that was all set up in a three ring binder. I was hooked at once on the point based system as he never told me there was a limit on the characters and the rules stated that such a limit was to be handed down by the GM. I found out later that there were certain standards but he had left that out of the copy he loaned me to read. So my first character was basically a ‘What if the Hulk had been trained by Captain America kinda thing. I think I used something like six hundred points to build that guy out (just for reference starting characters were supposed to be 250 points total at the time).
So anyway the quest goes out and rule books, adventures, game nights and so on. When I was working in a book store my junior year in high school I got copies of the fourth edition rule book (The Big Blue Book) for myself, Arron and my other amigo, let us just call him D as I don’t know if he wants his name revealed in my blog. 🙂 And more game were had, and the meeting with Mr. Agents was had, and more fun.
And then it got put on the shelf for a while. Occasionally to be pulled out and played for short sessions, or used to define characters in stories and some other things. It got pulled out for a short lived kung fu style game I ran and then onto the shelf again. Sort of a cycle thing going on there with my history with the game. Until recently though I thought that the BBB was going to be my cream of the crop for Champions. Then there was the team up with R Talsorian with the Fuzion version, and then I tried to get into fifth edition but the expansion of the rules and the fact that the base character points went up to 350 kinda put me off a bit. The BBB was about 350 pages total the big Black Book was about 550 or so if I remember right. And then came the MMO, and then came sixth edition which, oh my gods two 400+ page books just to get the full ‘Basic’ rules. Anyway I abandoned sixth edition without looking back, until recently that is. Just got ahold of a PDF of what they call Champions Complete which is a simplified set of the rules for sixth, well not really simplified just it does not have all the details and examples and options that are in the two monster books. And I have to say there are some improvements that will make the game easier to learn for new players and get rid of at least a portion of the issue that some had said for years that there is too much math in making a Champions character O_O.
Anyway, so that’s me and Champions in a nutshell. So why am I talking about all this in a post labeled ‘Oh where are you Champions?’ Well for that let me get into the history of the makers a little. Please note that the following is a half assed summary at best and you can get more information by going to Wiki and looking for Champions RPG, or Hero System and then following up more with other entries there and maybe getting a little on what is left of the Hero Games web site (mostly just a forum now).
- 1981 – Champions first published at a con. Sold out. Decided to make more.
- Between 1981 and 1984 (not sure on date) Hero Games and ICE (Iron Crown Enterprises) team up to publish Champions and all of the Hero spinoffs (Fantasy Hero, Space Hero, Robot Warrios and more)
- 1986 Comic book versions of the characters come out from Eclipse comics
- 1989 Big Blue Book published
- 2000 ICE Hero team up is over Champions New Melinium is published in the Fuzion rules as a team up with R Talsorian. Later reprinted by Cyber Games
- 2001 Hero picked up and dusted off whole sale by new owners. Fifth edition published
- 2007-ish Fifth edition materials getting PDF treatment on sites like RPG Now
- 2008 (this one gets weird) Cryptic Studios buys the intellectual property of Champions so they can make the MMO but they also sell/lease the rights back to Hero Games so they can create and publish sixth edition
- 2009 MMO and sixth ed released (MMO is still sorta out there… kinda)
- 2012 Champions Complete released
- 2013/2014 Hero Games website becomes little more than a chat posting with some notifications coming up as to products other companies are publishing in the Hero System
- 2013 a Reorg is announced at Hero Games
- 2015 Kick starter campaign to get Fantasy Hero Complete up and running
So really, what happened? I honestly don’t know. What I can tell you is that the modules, rules and adventures from the earlier editions are not available online save for two of the early modules, and they are under the publisher name Heroic Publishing, not Hero Games. The Hero Games website, which was at one time full of books, ideas, talk about the game. Well it sort of dried up when the MMO went bust. And now they have to run a kick starter to put out their first new book in a couple of years, even though it is just a revised version of something they already published. This game once had a big enough following that stores like Barnes and Noble or Boarders (yeah you remember them) used to carry their books right there with D&D stuff in their tiny little gaming section. As the MMO came out they got even bigger. MMO dies and they all but disappear… makes you wonder.
Personally I am hoping that this is a down time like the gap after the alliance with ICE went south. Or that due to the title purchase by Cryptic there is an issue in the authors being able to publish anything new, or maybe even the remnants of ICE and the companies that bought out their properties to publish, R Talsorian, Cyber Games, and others are all fighting over the property and we just cannot get word on what is going on because its all under legal hold.
I really do like this game engine, in all its editions, even the over detailed fifth and sixth. Fourth edition will likely always be my favorite and I would love to get a group together to play again. I would also love to see the publishers come back and get more going, because it is always awesome to see someone who makes good, fun , and interesting creative materials make it big.
Welcome to the history of a game… and a player…
Now gimme the dice… I need 36d6 for Dr Destroyer’s main energy blast