Thursday, March 18, 2010

So I was at the Used Book Store the Other Day...

...and picked up a copy of Champions 4th Edition for $9.95. What a deal!

Kind of.

As I've mentioned before:

1) I am a sucker for superhero RPGs, and
2) I have never owned, read, or played Champions (or any of the associated Hero systems).

Why, I don't know. I've ever only known one person to play Champions and she was SO annoying about it (basically, her gaming group adapted Champs to EVERY game they played...including Amber! Doesn't that kind of defeat the whole dice-less purpose thing?).

Of course, I am fully aware that Ron Edwards (my personal game design hero) cut his teeth on Champions, but even THAT was not enough to go out and buy a new copy of the game (I recall looking at the most recent edition of Hero a year or so ago and being bored by what I saw).

However, this copy with it's dirt-cheap price and somehow-familiar-cover (I think I must have drooled over it sometime in the past, perhaps in a magazine ad, I just don't remember) got me to finally fork over some ca$h. After all, if one is going to be a "sucker for superhero RPGs" than one should have at least a copy of Champions, right?

Well, that's what I was thinking anyway. That and I figured it would be of historical value from a design perspective to see how a game REALLY infamous for it's "crunch" stacks up against other RPGs. could kill someone with this book.

I don't mean figuratively...this weighty tome would make a hefty bludgeon, let me tell you. I have a copy of a high school geometry text book (don't ask) and Champions totally dwarfs it. And that's a text book that is supposed to be studied over the course of a year! How the hell long are you supposed to spend familiarizing yourself with Champs before you can sit down and play a game.

A long ass time, it would appear.

Well, anyway, there is some good stuff in the book, but not nearly enough to keep me from getting bored to tears. Any game with 8 or more basic attributes and a large set of derivative ones is...well, it's too much for me to give a gosh darn about. I'm afraid that the only use I see for Champions in the foreseeable future is as a ten dollar doorstop. That is, unless I need to ward off a burglar or something.

; )


  1. I know you meant it as a joke, but you make a good point about the textbook. A lot of modern rpgs are massive hardback things which dwarf the average textbook, and yet there is an expectation that the reader process the data within in a much shorter time; you're not supposed to spend the weekend before the exam reading the chemistry book for the first time. And yet, for all that, that's exactly what we do with rpgs. There's an interesting point in there somewhere! ;)

  2. One of the more compelling Sci-Fi RPGs I've read in a while is Starblazer Adventures (based on a British comic, not the Japanese TV series of the same name). It's a wonderful book with lots to plumb, unfortunately it's also 600 PAGES.

    Granted, it's much more fun than a trigonometry text! ;)

  3. I started playing Champions in it's slim 2nd edition (64? pages? Something like that). It was relatively easy to pick up, although more cumbersome to play. I can't imagine actually learning how to play it these days.

  4. I spent A LOT of time playing Champions in my youth. I actually had the chance to learn using the original set of rules (looked like it was written up using an IBM Selectric Typewriter) and then moved on to 2nd edition and then to the book you describe above. The rules didn't seem cumbersome then, but, of course, I had much more free time.

  5. I used to own that very tome, sir. I bought it with saved allowance cash the summer after eighth grade. (Circa 1994) Somehow I had it up and running well before the end of summer. I can still rattle off that huge list of attributes by heart, and I know their point costs and everything. In fact, I could probably construct a "Champions 4th Lite" entirely from memory.

    ...I have no freaking idea how, nor do I think I would be able to learn that system so easily if I were introduced to it (or something with a similar level of crunch) now.