Continuing with RPG Impact. The fifth RPG that had a big impact on me was Champions / Hero System. In my first Vampire group, one player was obsessed with Champions and arranged to run a game. At that point I hadn’t played any Supes RPGs yet, nor looked at GURPS, so I was delighted to skim through the densely packed Champions rules and contemplate all the possibilities. Character creation was slow but fascinating, different to the simplicity of the games I’d predominately been playing: Cyberpunk & Vampire. I was somewhat reminded of Warhammer’s Realm of Chaos books, the key difference being those powers were random and unbalanced by design.
I made a few characters, then settled on a character inspired by Eldar Harlequin Solitaires. I thoroughly enjoyed the character creation process; I vaguely recall pondering solo RPG ideas, again somewhat inspired by Narrative Wargaming from the Realm of Chaos.
How was the game play? Well, the first session was messy, silly premise, and mostly it was one big team fight. It was fun, even a nice change from the serious sessions I predominately played. Sadly, the game faded away, it was a few years until I returned to the system.
In the mid-90s, I run a short campaign with the group I’d been playing with since high school. It was fun, but the players didn’t quite gel with the system. Roughly they felt that whilst it was fun, it was too much work, and that they could have fun more easily with other games; not helped that 2 players were not keen on Supes genre. We discussed whether they thought things would improve as their system expertise grew. They thought even if they thoroughly read the rules, that they’d still prefer other games. By this stage I had Marvel Super Heroes and D.C. Heroes, plus I had a lot of experience with Palladium games, none of which appealed to them. Instead, we returned to the World of Darkness, primarily Mage and Changeling.
One of regular players loved GURPS, they convinced me to look in to it, using the Hero System as a comparison; awesome, another system I liked yet didn’t do much with for years 😉 Some time passed… I managed a mini-game of Champions using the new Fuzion system; although easier to play, the players gave similar feedback to before. In the 2000s I ran Aberrant a lot, resulting in multiple chronicles, plus some smaller chronicles with other groups, so I eventually got some long-term Supes gameplay 😉
I have met people that played Hero for years. Whilst the system is dense, I’d argue that it is not much denser than various D&D editions. Did I pitch the game in awkward ways? Or was it simply a case of player preferences amidst an option rich field?
For me, Champions/Hero System is ‘the one that got away’.