Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Helltainted HEROs

John Ritter on the Cover of Champions

In preparing for the Helltaint  campaign, I sat down and read through the Hero System Basic Rulebook, a sort of Cliff Notes version of the 800 pages that make up the Hero System Sixth Edition Volumes One and Two.

I must say, it was a lot like happening upon an old girlfriend in the mall that you never quite got over.

I ran into Champions Fourth Edition in the late, late 80's, after a decade of searching for that 'perfect' role playing system that would do everything I wanted it to.  While not a huge fan of Superhero RPGs, I fell in love with the system mechanics.

Champions was like GURPS - a point buy character generation system.  I always liked the *idea* of GURPS, but Champions was actually fun the play.  (Sorry Steve Jackson.)  And by 4th Edition Champions was morphing into HERO, which was pretty much a universal RPG system.

It's funny, I come to the OSR to rediscover simpler, easier game systems, but it leads me back to more complex ones.  Fickle much?

Well, much like all of my ex-girlfriends, HERO is bat shit crazy.  This Saturday I sat down to teach the guys the system.  Two hours for character generation.  Five hours to go through FIFTEEN SECONDS OF COMBAT.

Of course, when you are familiar with the game system, things go a lot faster.  But the fact that it took seven hours of groove in time is no surprise.

Still - I love the system.  Those five hours of combat were very fun.  There is something about the game that brings big, vivid, four-color images to mind while the PCs and NPCs duke it out.  And with the particular players at the table, I think we laughed straight through one of those five hours.

Purestainhuman gets into what the game a bit more here.  I'll just sum up the characters that the players whipped up for now:

Sir James - The Boy created a knight from King Arthur's time that was teleported by Merlon to modern day North Texas to fight the evil demon incursion.  Sir James has magic rings and sword, but also was dipped in magical water (like Achilles) that makes him a power to be reckoned with.  The Boy is finding that a Code of Chivalry is a tough ruleset to follow, though.

The Brain, Jr. - Crazy Ass Tim is playing an baby that looks remarkably like Stewie.  The Brain has off-the-chart psychic powers and uses a mind-slave to pose as his mother and carry him around.  As is typical with Crazy Ass Tim, he has not let the rest of the party know that he exists - he just follows them around and stares at them creepily while breast feeding.

Pyotr - Merwyn's character, Pyotr is an escaped KGB operative that is actually a Frankenstein monster stitched together during Stalinist times from the body parts of patients at an insane asylum, mixed in with a Russian circus bear. Considered a failed experiment, he was frozen in a facility in Siberia until the interdimensional rifts bursts through the fabric of the universe, mutating Pyotr and waking him up with an unquenchable thirst for vodka. Despite being permanently drunk, Pyotr is lighting fast (Speed 12,) and is an expert marksman - a combination that allows him to uses pistols as if they were heavy machine guns.

Hyperion - Kaye made Superman.  Superman; from another dimension that was destroyed by the Helltaint so he came to Earth.  Superman; but no other powers than to punch really hard.  Really hard.  Did I say really hard?  Like, the ability to punch someone and and them flying through fifteen meters of asphalt?  Yeah.  He can punch people too.

Okay, yeah, the players are bat shit crazy too.  If you may have guessed, normal people bore me.

So, Its been fun so far.  The campaign will probably have a limited run, but it should be memorable.

- Ark


  1. OSR=Old School Roleplaying

    No reason that school can't have Mathletes, Debate Team and Science Club.

    1. SAROE - I generally consider old school games as any rpg from the 70s or 80s, which more than includes Champions. YMMV, of course. What I was referring to above was the fact that what initially drew me to the OSR was its emphasis on earlier, simple games. Well, to be specific D&D, and I was looking for a refuge from the complexities of D&D 4e. :)

      Oh, and my stint in the Chess Club during 3rd grade was VERY old school. :)

      - Ark