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Along with Villains and Vigilantes, this groundbreaking game published by Hero Games essentially created the genre of Superhero roleplaying in the late 1970s/early 1980s; and unlike many of its contemporaries is still going strong, with its publisher recently releasing a new edition of the core rules.

In addition to spearheading support for an entire genre, Champions has also been influential as the first and most well-developed Tabletop Game to use point-based character creation, allowing players to precisely define their characters using a budget of points which were spent on powers and attributes whose costs were play-balanced against each other. It specifically introduced the concept of acquiring character flaws in order to gain extra points. It was also the second RPG to do away with character classes (after DragonQuest), and was the first RPG to do away with character levels. These innovations heralded what is sometimes called the Second Generation of RPG design; few modern roleplaying games rely solely on random character generation (Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games specifically credits Champions for shaping and guiding his thoughts when he began developing GURPS). Champions itself went on to become the skeleton to two other universal systems by the end of the 1990s: the Hero System, and Fuzion.

By the middle 1990s, Champions faced a fair amount of competition in its genre -- while V&V seemed to have faded (mostly) into obscurity, there were other challengers: Mayfair Games' DC Heroes RPG and TSR's Marvel Super Heroes RPG were both licensed properties which allowed players to run familiar comic book characters, and GURPS Supers was already in its second edition, as was Palladium's Heroes Unlimited. In 2001, a group of investors led by Dark Champions developer Steven Long bought out the rights to the game and published a fifth edition of the Hero rules, which remains in print as of 2009. A sixth edition of the rules was released at GenCon in August 2009. While many earlier games have fallen by the wayside, Champions continues to thrive, and continues to inspire new games, like White Wolf's Aberrant.

The intellectual property rights to the Champions setting are now held by Cryptic Studios, the original developers of the MMORPG City of Heroes. They bought the setting outright rather than licensing it, and it is now used as the setting of their new game, Champions Online. The IP is licensed back to the original developers (who still own the underlying Hero System) for the pen-and-paper game.

Also, in 2008, Hero Games brought out a licensed supplement for the PS238 setting. It contains a simplified version of the Hero System rules for players just starting to use Hero System.


The Hero system, and the Champions Universe provides examples of the following tropes: Edit

  • Adaptive Armor
  • The Ageless: "Longevity: Immortal" is an option for the Life Support power.
  • Alien Invasion - The Gadroon and Qualaar have invaded earth several times, most recently in Champions Online
  • Alternate Company Equivalent - by the Truckload. The Champions Universe used to be described as "Silver Age Marvel with the numbers filed off" adding "Not that it's a bad thing". Specific examples include:
    • Doctor Destroyer is Doctor Doom, only without any mystic elements or sense of honor, and with his origin story switched to 'ex-Nazi mad scientist'.
    • Defender is Iron Man, or at least Iron Man before he was an alcoholic Jerkarse
    • Nighthawk is Batman, only without a reasonable motivation
      • The first edition of Champions II gave the Destroyermobile as an example for its vehicle rules; it was driven by "the Darkknight Destroyer".
      • Early editions of Champions also had a sample hero character named Crusader, who was Batman without the arsenal of gadgets.
    • Mechanon is Ultron; however, in the current edition he has moved away from his directly copied origins. Mechanon also share similarities with Brainiac, particularly the Silver-Age skeletal one. His powers may also be based on Amazo.
    • Grond is the Abomination or perhaps the Hulk
    • Meteor Man is the Green Lantern, both in terms of powers, elements of his origin and being a "Legacy" character. The Russian villain Cosmo shares some similarities with Guy Gardner.
    • The Infinity Man is clearly based on the Beyonder.
    • While he has a very different origin, Amphibian has similar powers and costume to Aquaman.
    • Eurostar were once described as "Evil X-Men" due to several mutant members; Durak (Colossus), Mentalla (Jean Grey) and Bora (Storm)
    • VIPER is largely inspired by HYDRA, but its current version draws a lot of influence from Cobra, including the uniform design of its soldiers.
    • ARGENT is similarly inspired by AIM; the older RAVEN from 4th Edition was more so
    • GENOCIDE is similar to Marvel's various anti-mutant groups, complete with Sentinel-like Minutemen Robots. The IHA that took their place is less transparantly evil and opposed to Superhumans in general, not just mutants.
    • PRIMUS is rather similar to S.H.I.E.L.D.; similarly, its leader, Robert Kaufmann is a former super-soldier much like Captain America.
    • Tyrannon has qualities of both the Anti-Monitor and the Dread Dormammu, while having enough differences to remain unique.
    • Icestar/Frost is Iceman without the shiny coat.
    • The Brain Trust is rather like DC's Brotherhood of Evil, being led as it is by a disembodied brain in a tank whose chief henchman is a gun-packing gorilla.
    • Subverted some with Orion, whose origin is so close to Green Lantern's it's almost satirical...up until the point where a two-bit thug knocks him out and steals his cosmically-powerful weapons.
    • Dr. Silverback draws obvious inspiration from DC's Gorilla Grodd. Except for the whole head-of-an-evil-Gorilla-army thing.
    • Although he started as a parody of Batman (with a face mask resembling Wolverine's), Foxbat now has an awful lot in common with Deadpool.
  • Ammunition Backpack: The Gadgets! supplement had several weapons with these.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Buying a power through an Obvious, Accessible Focus can cut its point cost in half.
  • Anti-Villain - Several "heroic" villains such as Bluejay, Lady Blue and Floodgate. Who are all blondes who wear blue costumes. Hmm.
  • Auto Doc: Often found in bases belonging to organizations with superpowered members. Frequently operated by the base AI.
  • Badass Normal - Numerous examples throughout the world, such as Nighthawk, Green Dragon, Seeker, Utility and Thunderbird. Binder is a particularily noteworthy example; he gets his badarse points for taking on superheroes with a Glue Gun - and winning
    • To be fair, Binder is on a team with a couple of very powerful energy-blasting types. He sets the heroes up and his buddies fry them.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail - Ankylosaur
  • Bilingual Bonus - Dr. Destroyer's civilian last name, Zerstoiten, is very similar to the German word for "destroy", zerstören.
  • Black Knight - the aptly-named Black Paladin
  • Boisterous Bruiser - Ironclad
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall - Foxbat thinks he's in a comic book. In Champions Online, he asks the player to talk to the GM about changing his spawn point.
    • Also in Champions Online, one of the loading screens rambles on about how Foxbat is the 'best supervillain ever', with a bit at the end about how he's smart enough that he could hack into an online game's database and change around the profile information... "Not that he would ever do so, of course."
  • Butt Monkey - Several villains who existed mainly for laughs and to get beat up, such as Bulldozer and Power Crusher
  • Canon Dis Continuity - Champions: New Millennium. Also European Enemies (a.k.a. "Plan 9 From Hero Games").
    • And then Floodgate from EE appeared in Champions Online. Continuity Snarl, anyone?
  • Canon Immigrant - Despite being rendered Discontinuity, three C:NM characters, Cateran, Hummingbird and Tungerak, were incorporated into the Fifth Edition Champions universe. Also Floodgate above.
    • The Millennium City Eight from Digital Hero, and by extension probably the Choir.
    • Quite a few characters from Champions Online have been added to the tabletop game, the most prominent being the Shadow Destroyer, and the Qularr and Gadroon being expanded from what were originally only passing reference in previous editions.
  • Cavemen vs. Astronauts Debate - The system is built to resolve these. Of course, the outcome depends entirely on your particular interpretation of the characters' abilities.
    • A common complaint against 5E and FRED was that, because of the way the point-costs of most powers worked, Bricks could be made much more efficient at what they did, much more cheaply, only having to pump strength (one point per level, assuming you weren't forced to take a disadvantage restricting you to human norms, and then still only double that after 20) and buy a couple defense powers (defense powers being, as a rule, cheaper than attack powers), thus tipping this argument heavily toward the Caveman end. And that's not even taking into account the fact that Bricks don't have to contend with the range modifier (although they do need a means of closing with their target).
  • Captain Ersatz - C:NM featured several older Champions characters under new names; Icestar became Frost, Rose became Orchid and Flare became Blaze.
    • In a more bizarre example, when Hero Games and Eclipse Comics, then publisher of a licensed Champions comic, parted ways, Eclipse retained a number of the Champions characters; however, many of them were renamed: Marksman became Huntsman, Rose became Psyche, Foxbat became the Flying Fox, Pulsar became Power Pulse and later Impulse, and Mechanon became the somewhat un-threatening Meka. Professor Muerte is still Professor Muerte.
      • The main reason these guys were still used is that the 1st through 3rd edition characters were mostly owned by the creators of the characters. That is why Icestar, Psyche, Flare, Huntsman, Flying Fox, and the like still appear in Heroic Publishing's Champions comic books to this day.
  • Catgirl - Lynx; a rabid anime fan and lover of Cat Girls turned supervillain after she got a genetic upgrade. She always wanted to be one and this being a super heroic world there was somebody who could make her one...pity he was evil.
  • City of Adventure - Millennium City
  • Cloudcuckoolander - Foxbat. Dear god, Foxbat. Described as "an evil version of Adam West Batman".
  • Continuity Reboot - The Champions universe was rebooted in 5th Edition
    • Said Reboot also ignored the Dork Age that was the Champions New Millenium Reboot.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive - Feature in many, many orign stories
  • Cyberpunk - The CyberHero sourcebook.
  • Darker and Edgier - Dark Champions
  • Dark Magical Girl - Talisman
  • Deadly Doctor - Doctor Destroyer; also Professor Muerte
  • Deadly Training Area - The supplement Champions II had rules for Danger Rooms. If the PCs wanted to, it was possible to set the level high enough to kill the person (or people) inside. If super villains invaded the base, one suggested tactic was to lure them into your Danger Room and turn it on full power.
  • Death Dealer - Card Shark from Dark Champions, Blackjack from European Enemies
  • Demoted to Extra - Jaguar who not only doesn't have a 5E counterpart in the Champions, but was also often omitted from the older team's lineup. And artists would often draw him as a werewolf, despite his name making it rather obvious that he's a Were Jaguar.
  • Dimension Lord - the Trope Namer, with Skarn the Shaper and Tyrannon the Conquerer (who are both also Multiversal Conquerers)
  • Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: The Berserk disadvantage/complication.
  • Doppelganger Spin: The Multiple Image Projector in the Gadgets! supplement.
  • The Dragon - Gigaton and Rakshasa for Doctor Destroyer. Professor Muerte also served as this for a while.
  • Drop Pod - In the Gadgets supplement.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys - Dr Silverback, genius scientist, celebrity, superhero contact... and Gorilla.
  • Evil Albino - Siberia from Murder's Row, Darkling from Underworld Enemies
  • Evilutionary Biologist - Teleios. Also VIPER's Timothy Blank
  • Expansion Pack Past - Mechanon's origins started off straightforward; however, over the years, they became convoluted and contradictory. With the 5th Edition Reboot, Mechanon's past became a mystery, with theories referencing all of his previous origins and more. (The Book of the Machine does at last give 5E Mechanon an origin.)
    • Grond has every possible origin story at once.
  • Expy - besides the ones equivalents mentioned above, the Champions team have effectively served as expies of themselves over different editions.
    • There have been five different versions of the Champions team, the first to third edition versions, the fourth edition version, the fifth and six edition versions and the C:NM version. Each has included a male leader who uses technology (Defender, Marksman), a female mutant energy projector with light-based powers (Sapphire, Quantum and Flare), an alien brick (Ironclad and Obsidian; Behemoth was part demon, but close enough), a female mystic/mentalist (Witchcraft, Solitare and Rose) and a Badass Normal (Nighthawk, Seeker and Mercenary).
    • Additionally, there are a number of groups in the 5th Edition universe that directly replace ones in the older continuity, such as ARGENT for RAVEN and the IHA for GENOCIDE
  • Fan Nickname - FREd for Fifth Rules Edition, and 5er, pronounced fiver, for Fifth Edition Revised. Fred is a backronym, it was originally adopted by members of the discussion boards from a comment made by Steve Long the he ". . . didn't care if they called it [the fifth edition] Fred . . ." as long as they bought it. Thus it was dubbed Fred and only later was this turned into an acronym.
  • Five-Man Band - The Champions team of Defender, Witchcraft, Ironclad, Sapphire and Kinetic or Nighthawk
  • Freak Lab Accident - Probably the most common origin for powers in the Champions universe.
    • In at least the Fifth Edition rulebook, the term for an in-story event that lets you redesign your character from scratch was the "Radiation Accident". (Even if it had nothing to do with radiation.)
      • The term "Radiation Accident" dates back to Champions III.
  • Freeze Ray
  • Fun with Acronyms - While the names of "good guy" organizations like PRIMUS and UNTIL have meanings, even the members of evil organizations like VIPER and DEMON generally don't know what the names of their groups stand for.
    • In 5E, that's intentional for DEMON, since founder Luther Black doesn't want his minions knowing that his organization isn't merely a worldwide Satanic cult, but are tools to his goal of becoming a King of Edom; DEMON is an acronym formed form the first letters of the names of five Kings of Edom as written in a pre-human language.
  • The Gambler - Card Shark
  • Game Master: Not the first game to use this term -- generic knock-offs of Dungeons and Dragons began using the term almost immediately -- but perhaps the most well known, thus making Champions the Trope Namer.
  • Genius Bruiser - Dr Silverback
  • Go-Karting with Bowser - A large part of the Neutral Ground supplement.
  • Heel Face Turn - Almost the entire Redeemed team from Allies are reformed supervillains, except Scarlet Saber/Blue Wind who is a Civilian Villain using his second costumed identity to play both sides of the fence.
  • Heroic Albino - Foresight from Allies.
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform - VIPER troops have their symbol prominently displayed on their uniforms. Older UNTIL uniforms had the same problem.
  • Hit Points - Most characters in the HERO System have two kinds of hit points: STUN, and BODY. When you run out of STUN, you're knocked out. When you run out of BODY, you are dying. Automatons can be built with the "has no STUN" power, which means they cannot be knocked out, only killed. In both cases, having 1 point left means you're just fine.
  • Hot Mom - Flare from the comic series is supposed to be one of the most beautiful women in the world. If you see Golden Warrior it's easy to understand where she got it.
  • Hulk Speak - Grond and Ogre
  • Humongous Mecha - IHA (or GENOCIDE, depending on the editon) have the Minutemen robots. Also, Mega-Destroids, and Red Doom which gave us 1980s Soviet Battlemechs.
  • I'm a Humanitarian - Cannibal from Murderer's Row.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover - In a bizarre and unique example, the module Reality Storm produced a crossover between Champions and Guardians Of Order's Silver Age Sentinels. The plot featured the two worlds crossing over in a manner that referenced virtually every Crossover Crisis to date, complete with characters from both Game Universes meeting and fighting. As a bonus, the book also included a guide to converting characters from one system to another.
    • This event is considered a part of the Champions continuity; the result is a lot of Writing Around Trademarks where the event will be discussed, but none of the SAS characters or places involved will be explicitly named.
  • Killed Off for Real - Long time villain Professor Muerte was sealed inside his armour which was melted shut, then thrown into the ocean. Of course, No One Could Survive That.
    • He is dead for good in official continuity, but there was an article in their online newsletter detailing ways to bring him back as undead.
    • A number of other old characters were killed off for real in a self-admitted housecleaning, such as most of the old villain group Deathstroke.
  • Klingon Promotion: Often used to move up in rank in the VIPER organization.
  • Knight Templar - Invictus, Thunderbird, and Witchfinder
  • Kukris Are Kool - Gurkha from Kingdom of Champions
  • Large Ham - Many villains, Doctor Destroyer especially.
  • Legacy Character - Meteor Man (Currently up to the third incarnation) and Black Mask (Tenth)
    • Doctor Destroyer's magic-using counterpart from another reality has arrived. Cryptic's idea of him already looked like Dr. Fate...
    • Different editions of the game will also have completely different characters with the same name but completely different origins, such as Vibron who either got his powers from an accident, is a mutant or is an alien from the Andromeda Galaxy.
  • Lego Genetics - Teleios' creations live off this trope. Who knew you could get so much use out of Squirrel DNA?
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: In 6th Edition, the core rules got so voluminous that they had to split them into 2 separate bound volumes. Volume 1 is devoted entirely to character creation.
  • Mad Scientist - Doctor Destroyer, Doctor Timothy Blank and Doctor Draconis, just to name a few.
  • Magic Versus Science - Until being updated in News of the World, Defender's "thing" was that he refused to acknowledge the existence of magic, despite having a sorceress for a teammate in both versions of the Champions (and a love interest in one of them).
    • Taken to the max in the ultra crossover adventure outlined in Allies where villains are trying to establish one over the other as the dominant rule of the universe.
  • Mecha-Mooks - Doctor Destroyer's Destroids
  • Mighty Glacier - "Brick" heroes with superstrength and durability
    • Literally in the case of the supervillain Glacier, a massive monster composed of ice and rock.
  • Mind Rape - pretty much the Modus Operandi of Menton and Mentalla. Bonus points to Mentalla who routinely does this to her own teammate Scorpia.
    • Well, Scorpia did used to be a member of another villain team and killed her boss before quitting...
  • Mirror Universe - Backworld
  • Misery Builds Character - In the adventure "Deathstroke," the villain group decided to make their agents monitor the base's surveillance cameras instead of letting a computer do it because they felt that the boring duty would "build character".
  • Monster Clown - Black Harlequin
  • Most Common Superpower - The comic based on the game came out when comics were starting to include racier imagery, which is definitely on display in the early stuff. That the majority of Heroic's characters are hawt women (as evidenced by the relatively deep digging they did to come up with enough male characters to match the assembled females in the recent relaunch) indicates their strategy hasn't changed much over the years.
  • Multiversal Conquerer: Several. The way this is accomplished is actually given an overview: Most magically merge their native dimensions with conquered ones, but a few (like the technologically-inclined Istvatha V'han, the not-exaggerating-at-all Empress of a Billion Dimensions) install provinces instead.
  • Mythology Gag - Flavour text in 5th and 6th Edition will often make references to earlier editions of the setting
  • The Needless: Anyone with the "Life Support" power.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party - Forms part of Cannibal's origin story in Murderer's Row. The experience pushed him into I'm a Humanitarian territory.
  • Not Just a Tournament: In The Great Supervillain Contest, the Crimson Claw sets up a competition among the Earth's greatest supervillains to determine which one is the most powerful. The prize is the Emerald Eye of Azog, which will increase the winning villain's already great abilities. What the villains don't know is that once the winner bonds with the Eye, it will take him over and turn him into a gate that will allow dangerous demons to come to Earth.
  • Omnicidal Maniac - Mechanon, who wants to destroy all organic life. Not that he's a jerk about it, it's just what his programming says to do.
    • Which makes it kind of strange how in the comic, he had his own Igor.
  • Orphean Rescue
  • Our Vampires Are Different - Stalker, Mexican Vampire lord.
  • Pirate Girl - Synthre, one of the Galactic Marauders.
  • Phlebotinum Battery - Powers can be defined as drawing power from an Endurance Battery, which can be recharged through various means (electricity, sunlight, radiation, and so on).
  • Psychic Children: PSI (Parapsychologial Studies Institute) kidnapped children with psychic powers and brainwashed them into loyal minions.
  • Point Build System - the basis of the Hero system; in fact, Champions was the first point-buy system released.
  • Power Parasite: Characters can obtain this ability by purchasing Power Transfer.
  • Power Strain Blackout: Normally Endurance is used to fuel a character's power use. If a character runs out of Endurance they can use Stun instead. If their Stun runs out they fall unconscious.
  • Progressively Prettier - Mind Slayer, who went from this in 5th Edition to this in Champions Online
  • Psychic Block Defense: Mental Defense (called "Ego Defense" in early editions of the game)
  • Psychic Powers: Mental Attack, Mind Control, Mind Scan (the ability to locate a specific mind in a wide area), Telepathy, Mental Illusions, Mind Link (a cheap version of Telepathy that two people have to purchase as a set), and any power bought with the "Based on Mental Combat Value" advantage.
  • Punch Clock Villain - Armordillo and Ankylosaur who are mainly supervillains to pay for battlesuit upgrades
  • Quick Draw - Normally, drawing a gun is a Half Phase action, but if a character has the "Fast Draw" talent it can be done instantly. This talent is extremely popular in the Western Hero genre book.
  • Rhino Rampage - Ironhorn, who is basically a Captain Ersatz of Marvel's Rhino.
  • Saving the World - Because you're Big Damn Heroes
  • Scary Scarecrows - Pumpkin Jack
  • Sealed Evil in a Can - The origins of the Crowns of Krim and Black Paladin, amongst others.
  • Shrink Ray: The Shrinking power with the advantage Usable On Others.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism - The Champions universe, as depicted, is very much on the Idealism end, but the setting is also set up so it can be depicted as a lot darker and grittier. Dark Champions is on the other end, albeit still in the same universe. Its like comparing Metropolis to Gotham, really.
  • Space Pirates - The Galactic Marauders from Alien Enemies.
  • Spikes of Villainy - In a few 5E books this is a quick recommendation on how to come up with an evil Mirror Universe version of a hero in your game. Spikes and skulls.
  • Starfish Robots: In the adventure "Deathstroke", the super villains' base has small robot drones that resemble insects.
  • Story-Breaker Power - The rulebook uses a stop-sign icon to mark some powers that can seriously derail plots or be Game Breakers if misused, including things like time travel, psychic powers, and duplication.
  • Stripperiffic - Pretty much expected in the Superhero genre, but the really awful costumes in New Millennium deserve special mention here. The centerpiece of the C:NM cover was Quantum's exposed cleavage.
  • Stupidity-Inducing Attack - The Drain power (and in older editions, Destruction and Transfer) can be used to lower another character's Intelligence, either temporarily or for a considerable time.
  • Super-Hero School: Ravenswood Academy.
  • Super Human Trafficking
  • Super Reflexes: Martial artists are especially prone to have this.
  • Super Registration Act - Optional for heroes, with no compulsion to publicly reveal identity.
  • Supervillain Lair - The Island of Doctor Destroyer!
  • Swiss Bank Account - In Red Doom, when Colonel Vasalov hires some supervillains to attack the heroes, he promises to pay each of them with $100,000 in a Swiss bank account.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: In the course of the original comic mini series, Foxbat, the goofball villain who thinks he lives in a comic book, is able to sashay into both the home of a veteran mage hero and the headquarters of a major hero team with ease.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Deliberately codified into the rules. When laying out the number of Action Phases various activities take, it is explicitly stated that Soliloquies take no time.
  • Teleport Interdiction: There's an Advantage for Force Fields (Barriers in 6E) that allows them to block teleportation.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet - Grenedier from Kingdom of Champions
  • Tragic Monster - Mechanon is all but stated to be such in his character PDF. He was originally created to save humanity, but a glitch in the Time Travel process completely wrecked his programming. He now seeks to destroy organic life, even though he isn't actually sure why.
  • Trick Arrow - multiple characters including Crossbow and Rainbow Archer.
  • Tunnel King - The Mole from Golden Age of Champions
  • Valley Girl - Hummingbird, Supervillain Valley Girl
  • Vaporware: The never-released computer game adaptation from the early 1990s.
  • We Don't Need Roads - Vehicles can fly, swim, tunnel and even teleport.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome? - Seeker is pretty much a Ninja Steve Irwin.
    • Which is sorta creepy as Seeker's first appearance predates Steve Irwin's rise to fame by about 10 years.
  • The Worf Effect - The covers of a good couple supplements for 4E showed members of the Champions, especially Defender, getting their butts kicked by the menace contained within its pages. It was probably to make buyers go, "Wow, these guys are so bad they took out the Champions!" but it ended up making the Champions, especially Defender, look like B-listers.
    • There was a running gag amongst the fandom that if Seeker appeared unconscious on the cover, then it was a good book. The cover European Enemies (widely considered the worst Hero supplement ever published), conversely, featured Seeker kicking one of the featured villains.
    • In a possible tribute, the cover art for 5E's DEMON: Servants Of Darkness featured Defender chained to an altar about to be sacrificed, and Witchcraft charging to the rescue. Almost justified in that 5E Defender is sorta clueless on this whole "magic" thing ... and he and Witchcraft have feelings for one another.
  • You Got Murder - Death's Messenger from Murderer's Row.