01 October 2013

On Champions

The ancient and hoary know it as Champions.

Implacable yutes will think of it as The Hero System.

I remember making oh so many characters.

I read comics, I played RPG's, so of course making a super-hero character was a perfect fit.

I was a super fan of the Byrne/Claremont days of X-Men, so I wanted to do something like that.

I was not very good at realizing my ideas so none of my "mutant" characters ever gelled.

Because I was a Byrne fan, I picked up Alpha Flight.

Guardian really resonated with me.  So I started making "dudes in suits".  The obvious inaccessible focus limitation also gave a point break on the powers, so it was a win.

I liked speed, strong defense, moderate attack strength and flight.

This was the Tomcat suit.  Like Iron Man, the Tomcat suit had numerous marks (named after Grumman planes).  Some of the parallels with Iron Man were interesting since I didn't actually READ Iron Man at the time.

Things that never changed.  Force field for defense.  Energy blast for attack.  Flight.  And a hand to hand killing attack (claws).

The relative ratios of those things changed a lot.  A teleport was added in quite often.

The suit enhanced the wearer's physical attributes (again with the OIF focus making them cheaper) and I always bought more Speed.  Speed was your number of actions per turn (up to 12) and I always took at least a 6.  I realized early on that it was effectively a multiplier for all of your powers.  Doubling your speed doubled the number of attacks and doubled how far you could travel.  It made me more effective.

That was the niche in the team I preferred.

Nothing underlined it more than when I made a brick.

Bricks are strong, tough and slow.  S-L-O-W.

Speed of 3 tops.  But all the points I wasn't spending on movement and speed went into defense.  Super high PD and ED (no so much on defense from mind control).  A hand to hand attack that was nearly unstoppable.  But I had to walk up to whom I was going to hit and then hit them.

I was OK with the character until I realized that with a speed of 3, you sit at the table and do nothing most of the time.  Since the bad guys with a 4 or 5 speed went more often they definitely made sure they used a bit of move to stay out of reach.  Yeah.

Group politics meant that the Brick slot was the only one open on the team.  The GM's policies ensured that a brick would not move out of the defined mold.  Bricks don't fly!  Bricks don't have ranged attacks.  Bricks don't have high Dex or Speed!

If you want me to keep playing in your group I have to be enjoying myself, and I wasn't.  The capper with this group is they're the ones who taught me to never tell anyone if you're carrying.

I was polite about it.  Informed them there was a gun in my bag.  They insisted that it be stored in a cabinet, but that's OK you know where it is.  When we got done I went to the cabinet to recover my pistol and it wasn't there.  They'd moved it while I was in the bathroom.  Perhaps I was paranoid and there was no need to carry.  But if the need had arisen, the gun was not where it was promised.

That's not about Champions at all though.

One thing about Champions that I am happy about is that it got me used to building a character with a point system.  That left my mind open to the idea of trying GURPS.  Honestly, I've never looked back since I started with GURPS.

Time and again I've made worlds where there's a genre mix.  Or someone wants to use a weapon that's outside the present genre (like a sword in Twilight 2000).  GURPS is the first RPG where I could have that Walker Colt on my belt with a katana.

But GURPS fell the fuck apart when you tried to make a super hero!  The way to make a kick-ass super in GURPS 3e was levels of wealth and levels of high TL.  Then buy a TL10 battlesuit from Ultra-Tech.  I still played Champions to scratch the comic hero itch.  GURPS 4th Edition addressed the problem and you can now make super heroes that don't make you look for ways around the rules.

It's a little ironic to me that when GURPS hit third edition it was considered overly complicated and cumbrous.  Fourth edition simplified and unified the powers.  Current edition Hero is a mess, every bit as bloated and cumbersome as GURPS was purported to be.

I am Angus, and I am a geek.


  1. Where did they move your gun, why did they move it, and what kinds of holy hell did you raise for it?

  2. GURPS 4e is the best system, very few things I've found that I want/need to actually try to homebrew in the rules. Only thing I've really been trying to do that for is shots vs. multiple targets with an RoF 3 or less firearm, as you might get in a gun competition. So far what I've come up with is treating it like spraying fire, with the gun's bulk as a penalty each time you switch targets, and a -2 for having to repeatedly refocus to a new target.

    Only real problem I've found with GURPS is the vehicles and the builder for them. Basic Set devotes multiple pages to melee weapons, yet they have barely half a page of pre-made vehicles for use, and even High Tech doesn't provide all that many, and no rules for upgrading them without resorting to the horror that is GURPS vehicles. I appreciate their focus on being able to build anything, but I like being able to build a basic vehicle in 10 minutes, without needing calculus.

    1. Tactical Shooting gives the rules you want for spreading the love.

      When I started converting my Twilight 2000 conversion from 3e to 4e I discovered that if you have real world numbers you don't need full designs, or rules.

    2. Ah, tactical shooting is on my "to buy" list, as it seems to come up rather often in my games. I think I need to pick up SteamTech as well, since the various "tech" books usually have a few more cars and other relevant gear. Although I don't think High Tech includes a single pickup truck, which is bad when you need period vehicle stats that might not be readily available. Trying to build steampunk and dieselpunk worlds requires a lot of nailing down exactly where the tech advancements are, made even more fun with magitech.

      Need to go back and look to see if there's a converter for handling stats and such, I know acceleration, top speed, and price are pretty easy to take care of.

      Anyway, always nice to see I'm not one of the last remaining people to still use GURPS. Nobody but my flatmate and I use it around these parts.


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