Champions (role-playing game)

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For other uses of the term "champions", see champion (disambiguation).


Champions is a role-playing game 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.

Description

Champions, first published in 1982, was the first role-playing game in which character generation was guided by the player's imagination, as opposed to random die rolls. Players decide what kind of character they want to play, and design the character using a set number of "points." The limited number of points generally defines how powerful the character 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.

What has made this system so enduring is its flexibility. Instead of requiring characters to choose from a menu of abilities, the player can design just about any superpower imaginable. The result is a role-playing game that runs very much like a comic book. 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.

Emphasis is placed on development of the character. Players are required not only to design a hero's powers, but also the hero's disadvantages. Thus, Champions characters are built with friends, enemies, and weaknesses, along with powers and abilities. This approach tends to make Champions characters more well balanced than those of other RPGs.

The Champions system was adopted to a fantasy world under the title "Fantasy Hero", which has similar advantages and disadvantages to the original Champions game. More recently, Champions was incorporated into a generic role-playing game system called Hero System. Champions now exists as a genre sourcebook for that game.

The Champions rules have remained essentially unchanged from the very early 1980s. No other popular role-playing system has been as enduring without a major revision. The reason given is generally that the system is extremely flexible for character generation and combat, and is very well balanced. Its very endurance has given it the benefit of years of play-testing.

In comparison to some game systems, Champions can seem byzantine and open-ended. However, its enduring fandom testifies to its robustness and elegance.

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