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Of course, not every group that pulls a caper has to be criminals. Sometimes spies, vigilantes, or other characters get involved in caper-like adventures. Team Effort: Unlike many Dark Champions subgenres, Caper Hero lends itself well to team play. Pulling o a caper requires a group of skilled professional thieves, each with his own specialty. For example, maybe one characters an expert at defeating security systems, one is the teams best safecracker, a third is an ace getaway driver, and so on see page Hey, Big Spender: Despite the fact that they pull o crimes that may net them millions of dollars, Caper Hero characters always seem to be in need of money.
Some of this is ordinary business expenses: But beyond that, the PCs often seem strapped for cash. The in-game reasons for this vary: The meta-reason for it is that it gives the characters a reason to keep pulling capers if they ever got so much money they could retire, they probably would.
This gives players enough points to build characters who are pretty good at one or two aspects of thieving, but not enough to become criminal polymaths which reduces their need to work with other characters. Regardless of the starting point total, Caper Hero characters usually must follow Normal Characteristic Guidelines as a campaign ground rule i. If they want a unique piece of equipment, one thats particularly powerful, or one thats not so easy to take away from them, they may have to pay Character Points for it.
Because getting just the right gear for a particular crime is a feature of Caper Hero stories, the GM may require characters to obtain some types of equipment in-game.
Variations On A Theme: TAS characters often develop codenames, costumes, and gadgets based around a theme or concept of some sort. For example, the crimeghter DarkAngel has an angelic theme to her costume and weapons her throwing darts are shaped like tiny aming swords, her blunt throwing weapon like an angels golden halo, and so on. Her adversary Serpentine has an ophidian motif to his costume and weapons. In the case of the villains, who tend to embody the theme element more strongly than heroes, the concept or theme also inuences the crimes they commit.
The supervillainess Anagram uses wordplay and puzzles as part of her crimes, often deliberately leaving clues for the police and crimeghters Her sometime comrade-in-crime Rhapsody not only uses music in her crimes, she tends to steal things related to music: Stradivarius instruments; rare antique sheet music; the box oce receipts from concerts; all the members of the rock group Firebreak.
Superpowers And Supertechnology: Unlike standard Vigilante Crimeghting costumed characters, who are usually limited to more or less realistic abilities and technology, DC: TAS characters sometimes verge into the superhuman.
This is much more common for villains than for heroes, but its not necessarily forbidden for PCs. For example, Rhapsody might have musical instruments that emit brain-altering waves when played so she can take over peoples minds or make them fall asleep; a character with insect-themed powers might have the ability to walk on walls Clinging or to call and control insects Summon. However, even in campaigns that allow this sort of thing, the superpowers and technology tend to be relatively low-key; characters still dont y, walk through walls, or re beams of energy from their eyes.
Regardless of the starting point total, DC: If they want an item of supertechnology, or some other piece of equipment thats unique or unusually powerful, they may have to pay Character Points for it. The Animated Series DC: TAS subgenre is a sort of cross between a standard Vigilante Crimeghting game and traditional four-color Champions.
The characters are costumed vigilantes, but ones whose attitudes tend to resemble traditional superheroes, and who may have minor superpowers. The name of the subgenre comes from the way that Dark Champions-style costumed vigilantes are often depicted in modern animated television shows. TAS subgenre: Dark Champions M.
While they look, ght, and sometimes even act like typical Dark Champions costumed vigilantes, DC: TAS characters usually dont share all their attitudes and beliefs. In particular, theyre much more inclined to subscribe to traditional comic book morality: They also tend to act more like traditional superheroes, with a penchant for bombastic speeches and grandiloquent gestures.
Black And White: Even moreso than standard Vigilante Crimeghting campaigns, DC: TAS games have a black and white moral tone. The PCs and their allies are obviously the heroes, the villains are obviously the villains, and no one has any trouble telling the two apart except for the inevitable my.
But the uncertain world of the s and early s also makes for great Espionage campaigns. The level of realism can vary tremendously from one Espionage campaign to another.
Most GMs and players favor a style of play inuenced as much by James Bond and other ctional spies from novels and movies as by real-life intelligence agents. In these games characters use lots of high-tech gadgetry, visit exotic locations, and ght villains who are often as much like comic book villains as spies see Cinematic Masterminds on page Gamers preferring greater realism run lower-powered characters and adventures drawn more from historical accounts of intelligence-gathering activities than from adventure ction.
Exotic Locations, Exotic Activities: In many Espionage games, particularly those in the James Bond style, characters travel around the world, visiting all sorts of thrilling locales. These range from the relatively mundane glittering cities like Paris, Monaco, or Hong Kong , to luxury resorts, to the truly unusual a villains hidden headquarters behind Victoria Falls, an experimental space station, or a drug dealers private Caribbean island.
While in these places, they participate in equally glamorous activities casino gambling, skiing, attending lavish parties as a way of drawing their quarry out of hiding or nding out what they need to know. High Stakes: Many Dark Champions characters work on a relatively small scale: Espionage agents, on the other hand, often play for very high stakes particularly in more cinematic campaigns, where the villain of the piece may threaten the world with his latest super-weapon. At the very least, the outcome of their activities may save or take hundreds of lives and sometimes what they do in the shadows can determine the fate of entire countries or regions of the world.
High Tech: Espionage adventures tend to involve the latest technology the newest weapon or vehicle designs, the most advanced computer chips currently available, and so on. The race for world supremacy or at least predominancy depends on technology, so stealing and protecting technological secrets is one of a spys most important activities.
Dark Champions Chapter One Similarly, spies tend to use high-tech weapons and gadgets in their work. Even in the real world, spies often have unusual tools of the trade: In a James Bond-style Espionage campaign, these gadgets verge almost into supertechnology: See page for some examples of spy-tech.
Shades Of Grey: Its often hard to tell whos a friend, and whos a foe, in an Espionage game and the more realistic the game, the harder it becomes. Trusted, long-time friends turn out to be double agents, loyal operatives betray the agency when oered enough money by the enemy, and an agents own government may lie to or manipulate him to accomplish its goals. An Espionage PCs life often becomes a complex web of conspiracy, lies, and doubt.
On the other hand, for a James Bond-style campaign, you need characters who are extremely skilled and competent, with lots of personal resources to call on. Regardless of the starting point total, Espionage characters usually must follow Normal Characteristic Guidelines as a campaign ground rule i. They get their equipment or at least standard equipment for free, without paying Character Points for it.
However, they may have to go through the agency they work for to get any unusual equipment or spy-tech gadgets, giving the GM a way to control their access to gear he can also use the Resource Points rules on page As always, they have the option of paying Character Points for a piece of equipment to ensure they always have access to it, or because its unique or dicult to take away from them permanently. Police Procedural: Since the characters are cops, they have to act like cops.
Unless they work for a national law enforcement agency like the FBI , they can only work within a dened jurisdiction such as a particular city or county and national agencies usually only have jurisdiction over certain types of crimes. When they deal with suspects and crime scenes, they have to follow departmental regulations and the law. For example, they have to read arrestees their rights, limit themselves to reasonable use of force, and so on.
Renegade Cops: Despite the above, one staple of police ction is the renegade cop the ocer whos not so good at obeying the regs. He thinks results matter more than procedure, so hes something of a maverick within the department and often holds a much lower rank than his accomplishments merit. Only the fact that he gets those results, and possibly the tolerance of an understanding superior ocer, keep him from getting thrown o the force.
A team of Cop Hero PCs might all be renegade cops, grouped together because no one else wants to work with them. Red Tape And Intolerant Commanders: A Cop Hero PCs most persistent enemies arent necessarily drug dealers or thieves theyre departmental bureaucrats. In his eorts to get his job done and keep the streets safe, the heroic cop runs afoul of Internal Aairs, equipment ocers who want him to sign for everything he takes from the equipment locker, and so on.
His worst adversary is the Uptight Commander a by-the-book superior ocer who thinks the heros renegade ways are nothing but trouble, and whos looking for any excuse to re him. Usually the characters immediate superior a lieutenant or captain , who understands how he works, has to run interference and put his own career on the line to keep the brass o the characters back. Unusual Criminals: Cop Hero characters dont usually spend their time dealing with ordinary street crime or run-of-the-mill investigations.
They pursue, ght, and capture highly-skilled robbery crews, terrorists, serial killers, organized crime groups, or other adversaries worthy of their time. Thats enough to make a Cop Hero PC stand out from the rest of the force, without making him unrealistically skilled and powerful. Regardless of the starting point total, Law Enforcement campaign characters usually must follow Normal Characteristic Guidelines as a campaign ground rule i.
However, they may have to go through the department to get some types of unusual equipment, giving the GM a way to control their access to gear he can also use the Resource Points rules on page Regardless of the starting point total, Monster Hunter characters usually must follow Normal Characteristic Guidelines as a campaign ground rule i.
If they want a unique piece of equipment such as an enchanted weapon of some sort they may have to pay Character Points for it. The heroes ght to protect society from a menace most people dont even believe in, and often the only thanks they get is to be shunned by an ignorant populace. While in many Monster Hunter games the PCs are just ordinary albeit well-trained and -equipped characters ghting decidedly extraordinary menaces, in some campaigns the PCs tend to be as unusual as the beings they ght.
One or more of them may be a chosen one fated to fulll some important destiny, the descendant of an ancient line of monster hunters, a person who has sorcerous powers of his own that he uses for Good instead of Evil, or the like. This may allow PCs to download abilities such as Danger Sense an ordinary human wouldnt have. Prophecies of various sorts crop up frequently in Monster Hunter campaigns.
The PCs are fated to protect the world from a specic menace. A few lines in an ancient tome foretell the coming of the latest threat the PCs have to defeat.
Sensitive mystics vaguely warn the PCs of dangers to come later in the scenario. Many of these prophecies seem nonsensical or contradictory at rst; its only as the story unfolds that the PCs can understand their full signicance. In this particular subgenre, all the characters have military training and in most cases theyre still active duty members of their nations military forces. As the subgenres name indicates, this type of campaign most commonly takes the form of a special ops game in which the PCs all belong to some elite military unit, such as the U.
Armys Green Berets or the U. Navys SEALs. As a squad of best of the best soldiers, the PCs get sent on missions no one else can perform Elite soldiers isnt the only option for a Military Action campaign. Some other possibilities include: Regular Joes: Swords For Hire: The Wild Blue Yonder: Special Ops characters often nd themselves pitted against terrorists and similar threats to world peace and security.
It may be intelligence agents who gather and analyze the data on terrorists, but once theyve got concrete information its the Special Ops troops who go in and capture or kill the enemy. Globetrotting Action: While many Dark Champions campaigns focus on a single city or country, Special Ops campaigns almost never do. The characters could nd themselves in just about any location even the remote wilderness as they pursue the enemy.
In fact, one of the things Special Ops characters train for is conducting military operations in unusual environments; theyre more likely than other Dark Champions characters to download Skills like Animal Handler, Riding, Survival, and Tracking. Military Hardware: When they need it, Special Ops characters can get their hands on better equipment than most Dark Champions characters have access to. In addition to the best personal weapons and body armor, they may have artillery, state-of-the-art combat helicopters, militarygrade computers and software, third-generation nightvision goggles, shoulder-red weapons like Stinger missiles, and the like.
Special Ops games are more likely than any other type of Dark Champions campaign to fall into the Technothriller meta-subgenre see below.
Special Ops PCs tend to be highly competent, and this starting point level reects that. Regardless of the starting point total, Military Action characters usually must follow Normal Characteristic Guidelines as a campaign ground rule i.
However, the GM may restrict what they can take based on operational parameters, their militarys budget, and other factors after all, its not much fun if the PCs can simply go down to the quartermasters building, pick up a truckful of heavy ordnance, and blow the scenario to smithereens with a few well-placed missiles or artillery shells.
The GM can also use the Resource Points rules on page to restrict characters equipment. If a PC wants a unique piece of equipment, one thats particularly powerful, or one thats not so easy to take away from him, he may have to pay Character Points for it. The novels of Larry Bond and Tom Clancy are perfect examples of this subgenre. Actually, its really a meta-subgenre rather than a true subgenre, since any of the Dark Champions subgenres could also be technothrillers: Technothriller campaigns are sometimes difcult to run and play in.
Since thats more eort than most gaming groups want to go to or have the capacity to go to , Technothriller games usually simplify things by just having the characters go after technological targets.
If theyre elite soldiers, they have to blow up new weapons in the hands of the enemy, steal a prototype combat helicopter from a rival nation, or eld-test their militarys new weaponry. If theyre spies, they have to get the blueprints for new technologies being developed by the enemy and keep him from doing the same to their nation , or gather information so that their own nation can respond to new technological challenges.
Most Weird Conspiracy games are Law Enforcement or Espionage games to begin with, but soon the characters nd themselves enmeshed in a web of eerie events whose full outlines they can, at best, glimpse briey. They may even verge a bit into the Monster Hunter subgenre, encountering foes like vampires and lycanthropes or perhaps just beings who seem to be vampires and lycanthropes Their foes arent run-of-themill criminals instead, theyre serial killers who have visions of the future or past , cultists mutated by strange alien viri, and the like.
But by the end of the scenario, the loose ends have been wrapped up one way or another As mentioned below, Weird Conspiracy sometimes means mingling elements of Fantasy Hero or Horror Hero into a Dark Champions game but theres nothing wrong with that. As long as the GM and players are having fun, get as weird as you want! But beyond pure expressions of the modern-day actionadventure genre there are many types of stories and game campaigns involving the use of meta-genres, or which combine Dark Champions and some other genre.
Enforcement games. Otherwise, it becomes dicult for players to get into a humorous mood, since theyre always going to be wary for the double-cross and the moral dilemma neither of which are ever very funny. Bruce convinces Steve to run a Law Enforcement campaign premised, in part, on the Lethal Weapon movies: Steve decides the PCs all belong to the Special Violence Task Force a group of renegade Hudson City cops so dangerous, unpredictable, and violent that the brass has organized them into one unit it can easily keep its eye on.
The players create appropriate characters, including a unit commander who dislikes guns and doesnt know how to drive, a sergeant who thinks explosives are the solution for just about any law enforcement problem, a constantly-on-suspension detective who moonlights as a cab driver, and a tough-as-nails DEA liaison who serves as the straight man for some of the jokes. The players run their characters as much for laughs as anything else, willfully misinterpreting orders and getting themselves in over their heads In a gaming context, the GM can often rely on the help of the players to establish a comedic or at least whimsical mood.
Players rarely do quite what the GM expects them to, and if placed in a ridiculous or absurd situation, frequently just dig themselves in deeper, with hilarious results.
The trick to this is not to always use the PCs as fall guys, patsies, or the butt of jokes; no one likes to be made fun of all the time. Instead, put them in the drivers seat sometimes, letting them take advantage of the other guys pratfalls. Just about any type of character works for Comedic Dark Champions, though such characters should rarely, if ever, be powerful or competent. Examples include a cop who drops his gun every time he draws it, a costumed crimeghter who approaches every task no matter how trivial with deadly seriousness and deadpan dialogue, a gun-toting vigilante whos allergic to gunpowder, and so on.
Much of that advice is general, and could certainly work in Dark Champions campaigns as well. Similarly, you might want to look at pages of Star Hero, pages of Ninja Hero, and pages of Fantasy Hero. Comedy, horror, romance, and tragedy are all meta-genres, whereas Dark Champions, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Westerns are genres. Thus, you could have a horror Western, or horror Dark Champions, or horror Fantasy horror isnt a genre, its a meta-genre. A metagenre can apply to an entire campaign, or just to specic adventures or story arcs within an otherwise normal Dark Champions game.
In most cases, a campaigns or scenarios metagenre evokes or is intended to evoke a particular mood in the characters: The GM should do his best to enhance the mood by encouraging players to have their characters engage in dramatically appropriate actions such as deliberately putting them in situations where theyll look ridiculous in a Comedic Action campaign. In some cases, this may involve granting Skill Roll bonuses or the like for actions which t or improve the mood; in others it may mean giving the players advance warning about whats expected and letting them concoct a proper response on their own.
Comedy Comedy and whimsy denitely have their place in the realm of Dark Champions, provided you treat them with caution.
Many of the subjects covered in modern-day action adventures are extremely serious ones, and joking about them may seem insensitive or cruel. Murder, crime, drug abuse, terrorism, serial killers, and the like generally arent humorous subjects.
However, when you treat the Comedy element carefully, often by spoong or parodying character types, it can add a lot to the game.
After all, a touch of humor sometimes helps to relieve the tension, keep the characters focused, and build bonds between the PCs. Comedic Dark Champions works best in subgenres where the morality is relatively black-andwhite, such as in a DC: TAS campaign or some Law.
Howdunits, in which all of the suspects had a motive, but it appears impossible that any of them or possibly anyone else could have committed the crime this includes the classic locked room mystery. Solving the mystery involves guring out how the crime was committed; this in turn tells the investigator who did it.
Whodunits, in which all the suspects had a motive, and the method of committing the crime is obvious. Solving the mystery involves guring out who committed the crime. This is the most common type of mystery. Whydunits, in which none of the suspects seems to have had a motive, and the method of committing the crime is obvious.
Solving the mystery involves guring out why someone would commit the crime; once the investigator knows that, he knows whos guilty. Of course, some mysteries combine features of two or all three types. For example, a whydunit might reveal that more than one suspect had motive; at that point the mystery converts into a whodunit. The elements of fear and suspense factors into both genres, though theyre less prominent in Dark Champions.
Horror stories take place in the real world, but often involve dark secrets, hidden terrors, and lurking evils the average person knows nothing of. In most of them, ordinary, and usually sympathetic, protagonists begin investigating some strange situation, only to discover the true horror behind it. One by one, the main characters die, go insane, become corrupt, lose loved ones and possessions, and suer other disasters and terrors as the story wends its way to a conclusion usually, but not always, a happy or hopeful ending, as the heroes stop the threat and restore normalcy.
The primary disconnect between Horror and Dark Champions is that Dark Champions characters tend to be tough, skilled, and proactive. Theyre not likely to sit meekly and wait for their fate to come upon them; they take up weapons and go out to confront it. The GM has to arrange the situation so the players think theyre making progress opposing the enemy at rst The rst is isolation.
If characters can radio for help, or escape, that lessens their feelings of terror. A proper Horror story traps them somewhere a deserted island, an isolated mansion during a driving thunderstorm, a prison and keeps them there until they resolve the situation.
The second is ignorance. People tend to fear the unknown, so Horror stories often place characters in situations where theyre unaware of the true facts. As the story unfolds, the characters slowly learn whats going on The third is powerlessness.
Characters who have the ability to cope with adversity often also have the condence to confront that which scares them. It creates a better Horror eect if they have to struggle against the lurking terrors instead of just attacking them as if they were any other adversary.
Its dicult to achieve Horror eects in a gaming context, with the lights on and plenty of snacks at hand, but it is possible. Even the toughest of Dark Champions character becomes less cocksure when stripped of his weapons and put in a deadly situation he cannot control.
Just about any type of character is appropriate, though the characters should never have the power to confront the lurking horrors eectively at least, not at rst. Mystery Mystery is one of the most suitable metagenres for Dark Champions.
In many of the subgenres, characters spend a large amount of their time investigating serious crimes and trying to gure out who committed them.
The forensics information and rules in Chapter Three are used primarily in mystery-solving. Its even possible to run a mystery-oriented Dark Champions campaign. In this sort of game, the PCs are all investigators possibly private eyes, possibly detectives on the police force confronted with a new mystery every scenario.
This sort of campaign tends to require a lot of work on the part of the GM. First, he has to concoct a new, plausible mystery for each game, and that can be dicult despite the plethora of mystery novels on bookstore shelves, good, solid mysteries that work as gaming adventures arent easy to come by. Among the things the GM needs to know and be prepared to reveal to the PCs at the appropriate time are: The GM has to deftly manage the release of information, dropping sometimes blatant hints to the players What Bob just suggested really seems to make sense to you , the use of die rolls, and the pacing of the story to keep the suspense alive and prevent the players from reaching the right conclusion too early or too late.
Romance Romance as a meta-genre refers to campaigns or storylines involving, or focusing on, the romantic attachments, entanglements, and relationships of the main characters. Most Dark Champions campaigns are romantic in the broad, dramatic sense of that term theyre lled with adventure, excitement, and appropriate but unlikely actions but thats not quite the same thing.
Romantic Dark Champions campaigns generally require two things. First, the characters have to stay put in one location. If theyre in an Espionage or Special Ops campaign that features a lot of travel, creating good, long-lasting Romance subplots may prove dicult, if not impossible. If the GM wants to emphasize Romance, he should base the campaign in a single city or other static location.
Of course, the GM can always introduce a minor romantic sub-plot or two without making the whole campaign revolve around Romance, and that even works in campaigns featuring lots of travel. Second, and more importantly, the characters must have potential romantic partners to choose from and perhaps ght over.
A Romance campaign wont go far without enough sh in the sea for the characters to take an interest in. For example, perhaps DarkAngel, a female NPC costumed vigilante, nds one of the PCs, Shadow, attractive but they dont see eye-to-eye on all aspects of their jobs, creating strain between them.
After all, what fun is a Romance story if the romances are smooth sailing all the way? Romance works well in conjunction with the Comedy meta-genre. What makes people look more foolish, or more likely to do things they ordinarily wouldnt, than love? Doing so can create fascinating campaigns and stories.
Champions Dark Champions obviously relates closely to, and mingles easily with, the traditional superheroic action of Champions. Many Dark Champions characters, particularly costumed vigilantes and DC: TAS heroes, are largely just superheroes in an unusual setting or viewed from a dierent perspective. Mixing the two genres usually leads to one of three results. The rst is the Dark Champions: The Animated Series subgenre discussed on page Its dening element is the addition of traditional superhero attitudes and sometimes powers to costumed vigilante-type characters.
Iron Age Champions, which could in many ways be described as the addition of Dark Champions attitudes and sometimes methods to true superpowered characters. Iron Age heroes often sco at the truth, Justice, and the American Way philosophy of earlier superheroes; they live in a darker, deadlier, more cynical world, and oftentimes they ght re with re when it comes to the use of deadly force.
In addition to that, the dening elements of most Iron Age Champions stories include: If a Champions game or story addresses, refers to, or otherwise involves the realistic implications of having superpowers, using superpowers, or the existence of superpowered beings, its probably an Iron Age Champions game or at least Bronze Age Champions. Similarly, superhero stories dealing with realistic or dark issues, such as drug abuse or date rape, usually fall into the Iron or Bronze Ages.
The Deconstructed Hero: Another aspect of realism is to challenge the entire concept of the Superhero. If a Champions campaign tries to change heroes to make them more realistic, to show that theyre not really all that heroic, to demonstrate that they have lots of all-too-human aws, or the like, its denitely getting into Iron Age territory.
In short, Iron Age Champions often takes a cynical worldview of superheroes. Compared to Golden and Silver Age audiences, Iron Age audiences dont really have many heroes anymore the modern mass media has made modern people all too willing to think the worst of heroes and leaders, and this leads to the idea of re-examining superheroes and making them seem as dirty, corrupt, or awed as everyone else.
Tragedy Traditionally, a Tragedy tells the story of a hero or heroes, doomed by some personal aw or circumstance to loss, diminishment, or death.
Most action-adventure stories, modern-day or otherwise, feature happy endings that arent compatible with Tragedy at most, they contain a minor note of Tragedy related to the death of a beloved character or the passing of a way of life.
In a gaming context, Tragedy works even less well as a campaign theme, since most people want to have fun when playing a game. However, a GM can easily introduce a few tragic elements or subplots by using a characters Disadvantages against him. Choose a Disadvantage Psychological Limitations such as Proud, Greedy, or Overcondence; an undeserved Reputation the character cannot overcome and bring about the characters downfall by exploiting it.
For example, perhaps a character whos Proud comes to a tragic end because he cant walk away from a situation where his enemies bait him into a trap by insulting him. In short, have the characters aws lead to the tragic ending. Street-Level Champions Third, mingling Champions and Dark Champions can lead to street-level superheroes games where the PCs are low-powered superheroes who use their powers more to ght street crime and low-powered supervillains than to take on the world-threatening menaces fought by more powerful superheroes.
In most cases, the PCs in Street-Level Champions campaigns dont show the full range of superpowers typical superheroes do.
Theyre less likely to have ashy powers like Energy Blast and Teleportation, and more likely to have personal powers such as Enhanced Senses, augmented DEX, Clinging, lowlevel Healing Regeneration, minor super-Strength, and the like. Theyre unquestionably superhuman, but their powers arent so overwhelming or impressive that they can ignore the attacks of ordinary human opponents.
In particular, Street-Level Champions PCs shouldnt have so much Resistant Defense that they can ignore gunre; otherwise they wont regard street thugs as a threat. The Normal Characteristic Maxima rules do not apply, but most characters will have few, if any, Primary Characteristics above 25 STR is sometimes an exception.
Characters do not receive equipment for free; they have to pay Character Points for any equipment they want to have and use regularly. This isnt dicult, but the GM should consider several things.
Potential Problems Several potential problems can arise when you include Dark Champions and four-color Champions characters in the same campaign.
The rst is personality. Unless your Dark Champions characters are all of the DC: TAS variety, their viewpoints and methods of crimeghting probably dier from those of the four-color superheroes.
This can easily create conicts between the characters, which may even go as far as outright ghting if the superheroes attempt to capture the Dark Champions vigilantes. This sort of inter-character conict upsets some gamers, and often results in bruised egos on one side or the other. Some gaming groups can roleplay this sort of conict without having it aect real-world relationships between the players, and they enjoy it; but others cant and hate it.
Unless the GM and players can deal with this sort of conict maturely and responsibly, its best avoided. However, it does have its rewards opportunities for roleplaying and exciting scenes so dont be too quick to dismiss its possibilities.
One way to deal with this sort of clash of personalities, if the GM is up to it, is to separate the group. This means the GM shifts back and forth from the Champions superheroes to the Dark. Dark Champions Chapter One Champions action heroes, as each group or character attempts to deal with whatever happens in the scenario in its or his own way.
However, this requires the GM to do a lot of extra work when running the scenario. Another possible solution is to give each group something the other needs or wants such as crucial clues , thus forcing them to work together even if they despise each other.
A second problem with integrating Dark Champions and Champions campaigns is power levels. Even if all the characters are built on the same amount of Character Points which is unlikely , four-color superheroes will probably be more eective at some things such as combat because of the way they spend their points.
The GM can deal with this in two ways. First, he can direct his eorts at the lowest common denominator. That means he must devise ways to limit the superheroes so they can be challenged by NPCs who are already a challenge to Dark Champions characters. The second, and perhaps better, way to balance power levels is the smorgasbord approach something for everybody. This means the GM has to tailor the scenario so each type of character has something meaningful to do especially in combat, because many players will be upset if their character fails to keep pace with the other PCs in a battle.
For example, maybe the Champions PCs take on the superpowered guardians of a secret military installation, while the Dark Champions vigilantes sneak inside, disable the guards, and nd the information needed to defeat the master villain and save the day. Potential Benets There are two major benets to mixing Dark Champions and four-color Champions characters. The rst is character development. By seeing the way the other half lives, both types of characters can learn how their characters react to dierent situations, and perhaps alter their characters personalities to take these new experiences into account.
Superheroes might learn something from being brought back down to earth for a while; Dark Champions characters could learn new ways to ght crime, or might soften harsh and sometimes irrational attitudes. Similarly, each group of characters will probably have the opportunity to learn new Skills and abilities from the other. A second benet is the roleplaying opportunities presented. The clash between Dark Champions and four-color points of view provides some of the best opportunities that exist for complex, in-depth roleplaying.
Elements of both debate and diplomacy combine as both types of characters try to convert the other without provoking a major fracas. Sure, your character knows what to say to Dr. Destroyer when he begins yet another world-conquering scheme, but could he talk the Harbinger of Justice out of killing some anonymous gangbanger? Would he be willing to risk his life, and the punks, to try to capture Harbinger at the same time? How would he defend his views on crimeghting against Harbingers?
Does he even have a dened philosophy of crimeghting? Why not? These are the sorts of things you can learn about your character when the two genres are properly mixed. In fact, the Monster Hunters subgenre described above is essentially that a form of Urban Fantasy with a generous helping of Dark Champions elements.
Other possibilities abound. For example, a group of vigilante PCs might use their mystic powers be they spellcasting, vampiric or lycanthropic abilities, or enchanted talismans to ght traditional crime.
If you make the PCs a group of government agents investigating mystic events, youve got a game something like the television show The X-Files. If theyre espionage agents or military personnel using mystic powers and recruiting Fantasy-type beings for use in covert operations, your game becomes something like Brian Lumleys book Necroscope or the Tim Powers novel Declare. For a slightly dierent spin on the two genres, create a vigilante crimeghting campaign set in a Fantasy world.
The characters, armed with the best weapons and magic they can obtain, take on the Thieves Guild, assassins, renegade wizards, and corrupt government ocials in a Fantasy city like Lankhmar or Minas Tirith. If you make the setting a Low Fantasy swashbuckling sort of place, you can use The Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro as inspiration for your game.
Another possibility is to focus on the Espionage subgenre as it would exist in Fantasy settings. Spies, codes, and assassination were a fact of political and military life for millennia before James Bond, and an espionage-oriented Fantasy Hero campaign has a lot of potential.
When you add magic into the mix to take the place of Bondian gadgets like laser watches and sportscar-mounted concealed rockets, the heroes adventures can become really wild! Ninja Hero Dark Champions campaigns frequently feature martial arts and martial artists everyone from costumed vigilantes, to spies, to special ops soldiers receives training in the combat arts.
By emphasizing that element over others, the GM can create a hybrid Dark Champions-Ninja Hero campaign that mixes action-adventure with martial arts mayhem! When theyre not ghting crime, gathering intelligence, or ghting their nations enemies, the heroes participate in martial arts competitions and help keep the streets of Chinatown safe.
Even if the GM doesnt want to go that far, he can easily incorporate Ninja Hero elements into most Dark Champions campaigns. For example, any setting including Asian organized crime such as the yakuza will certainly feature characters with expertise in the martial arts. The GM can add a great deal of color and depth to such groups with a judicious application of certain genre elements.
Realistic and Cinematic martial arts campaigns often have heavy Espionage ties, and dashing spies usually receive some hand-to-hand combat training. On a team of PC spies, one may serve as the martial arts expert, using both his ghting skills and knowledge of Asian cultures to help the group complete missions. Hero System 5th Edition can simply be a matter of setting the campaign a few decades in the future.
This lets the GM rearrange international politics without worrying about next weeks headlines, and allows the agents to visit Earth orbit or even Mars. Most of the weapons and gadgets are present-day tech, but a few next-generation prototypes like chemical laser ries or remotely piloted combat vehicles can liven things up.
On the other hand, the GM can take things a step further, setting his Great Game of spycraft and assassination in the distant future. This presents some of the same problems as SF crimeghting high-tech gadgetry may make some forms of spying too easy, or too dicult, which spoils the fun.
The campaign may need to fall back on the Human alien? The characters might be a special force of space marines as in the movie Aliens , the crew of a warship assigned to patrol a dangerous border, or the like. Pulp Hero On the surface, at least, Pulp adventures and modern-day action adventures have a lot in common. They both feature fast-paced action, gunghts, car chases, travel to exotic locations, and so on.
Some subgenres of Dark Champions, such as Espionage and Vigilante Crimeghting, are alive and well during the Pulp era. On the other hand, the two genres have some signicant dierences. At its heart Dark Champions tends to be relatively grim, gritty, and realistic.
Pulp Hero is more lighthearted and fantastic. Where Dark Champions characters tend to distrust the government and authority gures, Pulp characters regard them much more favorably.
Even the darkest Pulp campaign tends to seem bright and open compared to most Dark Champions games the morality is starkly black and white, with few if any shades of grey. And while many Pulp heroes ruthlessly gun down the evil foes they face, others prefer merciful attacks or other methods to capture and reform criminals.
Thus, while the two genres can inuence and inform each other to some degree, in the end their dissimilarities typically prevent them from fully mixing together. Its possible to have a sort of Pulp-style Dark Champions campaign featuring the sort of serialized adventures and over-the-top heroes common to the pulps just with a Dark Champions tinge.
For example, serial adventure novels such as those about Mack Bolan the Executioner, Phoenix Force, and their ilk are, essentially, modern-day pulp adventures.
But in this case, the heroes of those adventures are Dark Champions vigilantes. Victorian Hero Victorian Hero and Dark Champions tend to mingle in the same ways, and to the same degree, as Pulp Hero and Dark Champions there are plenty of similarities, but just as many dierences. Once again, Espionage is a good crossing point. Danger Intercolonial characters could be Kiplingesque spies trying to ferret out the secrets of rival Great Powers.
For a more military bent to things, maybe the characters are soldiers posted to a restless colony and instructed to maintain the peace by any means necessary. A Victorian Vigilantes game might take place on the foggy streets of London and pit the PCs against eerie criminals like Jack the Ripper. Marshal and his deputies, and its their job to track down and capture or kill notorious outlaws and gunslingers like Jesse James and Butch Cassidy. Another possibility for campaigns set a little earlier than the classical Western period would be an Espionage campaign set during the Civil War.
Both sides had plenty of spies ranging from grizzled frontier scouts who watched troop movements, to society matrons who used their social skills and feminine wiles to wheedle information out of enemy ocers, to the rst electronic warriors who tapped into telegraph lines and the whole situation is rife with scenario possibilities.
Star Hero The stereotypical Dark Champions grim vigilante may not have much place in most Science Fiction settings, but the Espionage subgenre is denitely an appropriate one to cross with SF. Call it Danger Interstellar. Spy stories and Science Fiction blend seamlessly into one another. Often the distinction between an Espionage technothriller and near-future or cyberpunk SF is nothing more than a matter of marketing.
Certainly James Bond has spent an awful lot of his career facing villains with secret bases and superweapons straight out of Science Fiction. The crossover goes the other way, too: Bond would surely have approved of.
Crossing Star Hero with Danger International. Heres a brief review of some of the most important ones. Occasionally its the hero who has to escape from unjust imprisonment or the clutches of a villain.
Car chases combine the excitement of speed, danger, and often the most advanced automotive technology in one sleek adventure package. Sometimes you can vary the scene by including unusual vehicles tanks, dump trucks, buses The Ultimate Vehicle rules include a system of tables for randomly rolling the events and obstacles of a car chase, Hit Location tables for cars and other vehicles, and a lot of other information that will make your car chases even more exciting.
In some cases, the slightest amount of damage to a car, even if its nowhere near the gas tank, can cause it to detonate like a large bomb. Sometimes it seems as if the only thing the character can rely on is that nothing is as it seems! Just when he thinks hes got a particular scheme gured out, he discovers theres even more to the vast web of crime and treachery than he thought.
From a gaming perspective, the wonderful thing about conspiracies is all the roleplaying and scenario creation opportunities they provide. What the characters rst think is a relatively straight-. A clever GM can turn that one conspiracy into half a dozen adventures of various sorts.
As the PCs negotiate this morass of shadowy relationships and secretive conduct, they come into contact with a lot of people, many of whom are very close-mouthed. Getting information out of them requires both tactical planning and skilled roleplaying. In some settings and stories, no matter how unusual the location or bizarre the circumstances, at least one protagonist knows someone who can help out. They give him a way to provide information to the characters when he needs them to have it The heros relationship with the Contact is a hook the GM can use to draw the PC into an adventure and of course the Contact has his own background, personality, and relationships, and these might generate stories as well.
The Die Hard movies are classic examples of this sort of adventure. From the GMs perspective, the benet to this sort of scenario is that its largely self-contained: Even better, its probably a situation where they didnt go in heavily armed.
For example, they might be vacationing on a cruise ship when terrorists take it over, trapped in a shopping mall when a costumed criminal locks it down and threatens to kill everyone inside, or someplace.
All the GM needs is some detailed maps of the location, a way to keep the PCs from leaving, and some opponents for them to ght, and hes got a tense and intriguing scenario ready to go.
Similarly, some Dark Champions scenarios draw in the characters by establishing that theyre the only ones who can get to the scene of the action in time. For example, a group of special ops PCs training in jungle warfare in Honduras may suddenly get sent to deal with a crisis in Managua because there are no other forces who can reach the city before deadly events unfold.
From a dramatic perspective, this serves two purposes. First, it motivates the character hes determined to get revenge on whoever killed his loved ones, or perhaps on the general class of people who killed them. Second, it cuts his ties to the civilized world, freeing him to act without restraint when he has to and to develop a romantic relationship with an NPC during the course of the story. From the easily-concealed pistols carried by spies in the eld, to the precisely-manufactured ries used by snipers, to the assault ries issued to soldiers and the silenced weapons employed by assassins, guns are omnipresent in the genre.
They can survive falls, gunshot wounds, and other injuries that would easily put any normal man in his grave. And just when the hero thinks theyre dead, they stir to life for one last attempt to kill him In game terms, you can simulate this in several ways. Another possibility is to provide him with a dramatic healing ability dened as Regeneration such as the Rapid Healing Talent on page Last but not least, the GM should be willing to ignore the damage and Recovery rules when necessary for the antagonist to make a nal, dying attack against the hero.
Gun-toting vigilantes want the latest rearms tech to improve their pistols and ries, spies need all sorts of gadgets to accomplish their missions, and cops have to stop high-tech thefts.
Hero System 5th Edition In addition to making the game more fun to play who doesnt like to have his character tricked out with the latest gear? Possible technologyrelated adventures include: Much of the technology that factors into Dark Champions scenarios falls under the rubric of militaria. This denitely includes guns and military vehicles, but it can also include less obvious military systems: Its not uncommon to nd a somewhat clumsy or unskilled character in Fantasy or Science Fiction as comic relief if nothing else , but such characters are mostly unheard of among the ranks of Dark Champions protagonists.
In some subgenres, this extends to ghting prowess as well; many a Dark Champions vigilante or soldier is a deadly combatant no matter what the circumstances. This high level of skill presents unusual challenges for the GM. Stopping Dark Champions characters with obstacles to their abilities Skill Roll penalties, in other words often fails to work unless the penalties are severe. Establishing realistic severe penalties involves carefully tailoring the circumstances of a scene to do things like force the PCs to perform Skills more quickly than normal, deprive them of their equipment or its benets , injure or inconvenience them, and so forth.
The typical wrongs include the murder of a friend or loved one, the humiliation of themselves or someone close to them, or the theft of something valuable even if the values only sentimental. Of course, the PCs arent the only people seeking revenge.
Villains may be out for vengeance as well, typically against one of the PCs or someone they have to protect. The heart of any Dark Champions game is why the characters do what they do, not how they do it; once you establish that, you can build a richer, fuller, more enjoyable character.
While this does involve guring out things like where he was born and raised, for character design purposes often the most important thing is to decide how and if necessary, where and by whom he was trained in the skills and abilities hell use in the game. Here are some of the most common backgrounds for Dark Champions characters, but this is a non-exhaustive list of suggestions feel free to change them, mix them, or come up with your own.
Typically this means the agency recruited him as a spy and sent him to an appropriate training school. He probably has one of the Espionage Package Deals from pages However, he might be the child of an espionage agent who learned his skills at his parents feet.
Or he could be a talented civilian who somehow got involved in an intelligence operation and received some quick training or even on the job training to supplement his natural abilities. He took classes at a police academy or the FBIs academy at Quantico, or the like , practiced on the shooting range with other trainees, and developed his skills through drills and simulation exercises. Eventually he made it onto the force and got some actual street experience using his new abilities.
He probably has one of the Law Enforcement Package Deals from pages Hes spent years studying the martial arts either a specic ghting style, or multiple styles , and hes learned his lessons well.
Along the way he may have picked up other useful skills an intimate familiarity with the streets and people of Chinatown, KSs pertaining to Asian organized crime, various Asian languages, and so forth. Theres no specic Package Deal that represents martial arts training; the character simply downloads a selection of Martial Arts maneuvers and any related Skills he wants.
Depending on character conception, he may have done a regular tour of duty as an ordinary soldier, or he may have been a highly-trained member of an elite force such as the U. The Military Package Deals pages are set up so that a character can take as many as he needs to represent the extent of his military training. In the genre source material, characters who once served in the military often go on to civilian careers in law enforcement, the intelligence services, or security work.
Thus, its perfectly appropriate for a character to take both a Military Package Deal and a second Package Deal reecting his civilian career. He could be a grifter or hacker who learned the tricks of the trade from veterans in the eld but has gotten tired of taking money from suckers, a terrorist whos seen the light, a former freelance assassin who no longer wants to kill, a street punk whos grown up and wised up, or any of dozens of others.
Of course, in a Caper Hero campaign or the like, the character may not actually be a reformed criminal. Alternately, he may have reformed, but only because hes forced to, which makes for some interesting group dynamics among the PCs. For example, the cops might blackmail a skilled thief into becoming a hero with threats of revealing his doings to underworld compatriots whom hes cheated, or sending him to jail.
In that case the character goes along as much as he has to, but he might still commit crimes on the side, and hes almost certainly looking for a way out of the dilemma As a result, his skills and information may be sketchy at best he probably has a lot more Familiarities than most characters , and eclectic when compared to the focused training of someone whos attended a spy school or belonged to the military.
He probably doesnt have any Package Deals; instead, he downloads his Skills and abilities individually. For whatever reason, hes spent time training with all sorts of experts.
Usually this means he had the time and money to devote himself to such training i. Like the Self-Trained character, a Student probably doesnt have any Package Deals unless maybe a general one, such as Vigilante [page 57].
He either downloads his abilities separately, or he downloads bits and pieces of the Package Deals possessed by the people who trained him. SURVIVOR One of the few Dark Champions backgrounds that doesnt focus on training, the Survivor is a character whose enemies left him for dead, but who survived, retrained and regrouped, and is now ready to get revenge and correct injustices. Typically he also has some other background, such as Military Training or Intelligence Training it was the skill and perseverance with which he did his job as a spy, cop, or the like that attracted the attention of the enemies who tried to kill him.
Listed below are some of the most common, with suggested Disadvantages appropriate to each one; see the Disadvantages section beginning on page for further discussion of some of the suggested Disadvantages.
If you want, you might even get to be in one! PDF Plus More! Different backers get different characters chosen at random. Clutched In Your Hand! Triple Threat!
Team Up! Four copies of the book and a PDF to preview. We will cover the shipping costs in the United States.
Not available to international retailers unless you have a US freight forwarder, sorry! Into The Danger Room! These will be conducted in groups of backers. Heroes Assemble! Ron Edwards is a wanderin' Californian who has wound up in Sweden. He is the co-founder of the legendary website The Forge, a creator-owned-game publisher site, and the author of some notions about role-playing.
He won the second Diana Jones Award for "excellence in gaming" in , and is the author and creator of this project. Steven S. Long is a role-playing game author and one of the owners of Hero Games. He has written, co-authored, edited, or developed over RPG products.
Steve will be assisting in the development and playtesting phase of this project. Jason S. Walters is an author, essayist, and publisher best known for running Indie Press Revolution IPR , a distributor of micro-published roleplaying games.
He is also one of a small group of investors that downloadd Hero Games in , and serves as its CEO. Jason is the publisher for this project. Ruben Smith-Zempel was made in Oregon.
He showed his creativity at an early age, charging his 3rd grade classmates 25 cents for paper and cardboard army vehicles for the G. Thus was born an artist who would never shy away from creating things important to his hobbies.
Ruben has served as head graphic designer on dozens of RPG projects and will be handling layout and graphic design for this project. Risks and challenges I've published a lot of books over the years, a bunch of them here on Kickstarter!
So I know that crowdfunding projects are hard and a lot can go wrong. Artists don't turn work in, budgets don't work out, printers make mistakes.