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Friday, February 26, 2021

My Verdict on running/playing Champions

Don't do it. 

I found the biggest liability for running this game is something called Fred. My definition for the anagram is full rules equal disaster. It is too stupidly big (over 500 pages) with no option to "use what you want and leave the rest." Because someone at the table is going to get butthurt that rule a,b and c (found on page 5, page 36 and somewhere past page 200) isn't being used.

The next liability arises because players think/want/insist? all the rules of the game are in force all the time. You will never get a chance to make a quick adjudication at the table because someone will say "Wait, I think it explains it on page black hole suck of time. In essence people play Champions because they want to play Champions and this is not the same as playing a supers role playing game. You play Champions you just do that. Combat is a slog. The Speed Chart is a cluster fuck of "wait no its my turn." or "Is it my turn yet."

You will never be able to get on with the action of adventuring and campaigning because you will be looking up rules every time someone wants to do something. Or watch someone else at the table do it. Really impractical when your game should be faster than light supers action.

As a game master I believe making rulings on the fly just to keep the action moving along is an important skill. What I mean is, once I understand the internal logic of the game I can make snap decisions which will never be far off the mark from a "by the book" figure. In a game of Champions this becomes a discussion with people flipping through the book to make sure the situation is totaled up "by the book". It doesn't make sense. And none of the subsystems mesh. Damage has no relation to how you calculate attacks. Speed doesn't track with distance, you can't figure out say if a bomb is going to go off in 4 seconds can you get out of blast radius. Or you can figure out yes you could do it if we are not in combat time, but not if in combat time. Very opaque. There is no base mechanic. You just can't say you need an 8 or less to hit, or a 15 or less to hit on 3d6 (i do like a 3d6 bell curve) because someone at the table will dive into the book to make sure everything is figured correctly. 

New players are generally lost and experienced players generally play a rulebook instead of interesting supers with fucked up situations forcing drastic action from a list of nothing but bad choices. And all these details seem to drive players to expect specific details when in combat. How far away is something, how much can I carry, does it weigh as much as, how long will this power last... Things which in real comic action would have to be guessed at in split second action times. I stand by my earlier statement anything past 3rd edition (2nd edition repackaged) is awful. 

But now I know. I got a good run at the system with my original setting and some decent PC concepts the players came with and I threw my shoulder into it because I wanted to know can a good supers campaign be had with this system. As far as I can tell the answer is no. I have run and played now the classic Marvel supers from TSR, The Hero Instant, Prowlers and Paragons, and Icons. I have read and built characters with Mutants and Masterminds, Supergame, Superworld, Blood of Heroes (MEGS) and Villains and Vigilantes. When you include Champions (which I have the most familiarity with) that is 10 different systems (that I can recall there are probably a couple more) exhaustibly examined and understood and don't care for any of them except DC Heroes/Blood of Heroes, Mayfair Game's MEG system and the Marvel supers game released by TSR. I will most likely  do a blog post for both these systems and why I find them attractive for running supers games, but for now I have to give Champions a big thumbs down. 

Parting shot, Champions has always claimed you can make any superhero you want with their game, and this is true. But it is also true you can do the same with all the other games I listed above! I have translated the same few superheroes of my own in each one of the above listed systems and low and behold I would come up with the same character. Yes, I can build anything I find in Champions with any of these other games - and quicker! Most people who play Champions seem to be married to a piece of character creation software. If you need a computerized spread sheet and custom programmed software to build a character, I don't know. A superhero is an intimate creation and pencil to paper is a strong way to come out with a strong character concept.

Pace. Pace, pace, pace! Like real estate is location a supers game is all about pace. And it should be brisk. And that is why I will not use or play Champions and prefer the old Marvel system and the old DC Heroes MEGs.

Blood of Heroes Form-Fillable Character Sheet

 The character sheet found at the back of the Special Edition rulebook has nice fat form fields, so Acrobat converted without a fuss. I may spend some time tinkering with fonts and font sizes as I have yet to learn this function on the software.

BOH Character Sheet PDF

Blood of Heroes Special Edition was Published in 2000. Many consider it to be the 4th edition of the original DC Heroes systems from Mayfair Games. It has added content and many tweaks and improvements but does not stray far from the third edition rules.

Pulsar Games, the publisher of Blood of Heroes, offered to sell the intellectual property pertaining to the game system. It was bought in 2004 by a fan community. The current head moderator of the DCH mailing list and administrator of the site is easily reached if you have any further interest in the system.

The project of publishing a new, improved edition of the game system was stalled by unexpected legal difficulties that arose after the sale. 

The current edition of the rules thus remains Blood of Heroes Special Edition. It can still be bought in mint state from mainstream resellers, for instance at , so it is not entirely out of print.

The original owners of Pulsar sold the company to its current owners in late 2003. The new owners stated their intention to continue the Blood of Heroes line back in 2007 but DC Comics say they own the rules Mayfair Games came up with as well as the IP.

From Write Ups; "Ray Winninger, author of the DC Heroes RPG Second Edition and editorial director for Mayfair‘s DC Heroes line, summarized his understanding of the ownership question as follows:

“Our contract with DC specified that DC Comics holds the copyright on every product we released. If you check the indices, you‘ll note they all say ‘Copyright © DC Comics Inc.’
The contracts didn‘t specify anything like ‘Mayfair owns the copyright to the actual game rules, while DC retains the rights to its IP’ or anything similar, just ‘all DCH products are copyright DC Comics-period.’ This would suggest that DC actually owns DC HEROES. I know for certain that DC *believes* they own all rights to the game and everything produced for it and I suspect they‘re probably right.

“Greg Gorden believes that his contract specified that he retained ownership of the DCH game system once DCH was out of print. When I was at Mayfair I looked for this agreement and couldn’t find it – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  One potential problem is that it’s unclear that Mayfair could have made such an arrangement with Greg in the first place. Remember, the DC licensing agreement specified that DC would retain full and perpetual copyright over everything we released.

“Pulsar licensed DCH from Mayfair but it’s not 100% clear that Mayfair ever had the necessary rights to grant such a license in the first place. I believe that Pulsar later made a separate arrangement with Greg.”

John Colagioia, one of the new owners of Pulsar Games, commented on their current status in March 2007:

“We‘ve been dealing frequently with the owner‘s legal team to try to get a handle on who owns what, who licenses/can license what, and how much room there is to change things. When I have an update of use, I‘ll relate it here, because it‘ll mean big things are coming on Pulsar‘s side, too.”

Colagioia also stated that “While I‘d like it to be otherwise, this is about all I can say on any of these (and related) topics, and would very much appreciate keeping any further questions/speculation off-list, since such has the potential to damage our position at a sensitive time. I can‘t stop you, of course (and wouldn‘t if I could), but it‘d be appreciated.”

And that was back in 2007! So this game, this system actually, will never see a reprint. Copies can be still had cheap and I recommend a copy of the rules for gamers who are fascinated with superhero roleplaying games. Two caveats; the art in BoH's is terrible and tone deaf in its portrayals of female characters (can you find the worst of the bunch). The second, and more relevant is a complaint MEGS does not handle low-powered supers well and that is absolute rubbish. The system is solid from one end of the power scale to the other. I think some people feel small numbers mean less granularity, but the scale goes up to 100 and most powerful heroes have top attributes in the 23-28 point range. Lot of top end for sure, but the lower end is plenty rich with clean-playing crunch.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Final Version PDF Black Book of Sorcery

 Is uploaded to Drivethru just now. This version is not at the "early-bird special" price, the final work (minus typos I catch here and there) is appropriately priced at $6.66.

The print version of The Black Book of Sorcery is going up right now on I received my proof, made the appropriate revisions, and am now uploading the file. You should see it available for purchase soon after! I'll update this post with a Lulu link so anyone who wants a physical copy (and why wouldn't you) can sell their soul for $16.66 77-page softcover. I'm producing a hard-cover. I'm going to price this nocturnal gem at $666.00 so I become the only one with a hard-cover edition! I am an evil son-of-a-bitch.

As you can see from the pictures I'm giving you a clear, two-column layout with original b/w art. 11 point font size for body text at 15 point line-spacing. Its A4, nice presentation size. I like the way it looks in your hands. 

Also please note the amount of white space on the page. This is intentional on my part and I'd like any feedback you may have on adding in good amounts of white space. Here is why I did it. I don't know about you, but any adventure, any RPG print product really, I get my hands on I mark up. Professional print products use up as much space as they can in their stuff so I always end up scribbling vertically in the margins with arrows pointing to the actual text I am changing. And then resorting to notebooks as information takes the all-to predictable voluminous written pages. And then I got to track this down before game time. Grrrrr.

And I want to mark up my books. Especially adventures. Well, the BBoS is not an adventure, true, but it is a magic supplement and in game utility. Therefore I have given plenty of space in the margins. I've included blank lined sections near spell descriptions so notes can be added that can be used during the game! I have added headings to some of the note-taking spaces anticipating common uses the book will see in a fantasy game. There are even hints of the Mass Combat Rules which will be going into the next, ultimate, deluxe edition of USR Sword & Sorcery, as well as a generous casting of words and names hinting at what will be found in USR Sword & Sorcery official campaign setting, the World of Xoth. Exciting times.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

SUPERGAME Character Sheet 3rd Edition

 "To this end, there there are no special sheets on which characters must be written and described. All that is needed is a simple index card." claims the designer Brett Bernstein. And his claim is demonstrated with the individual character examples found on the pages of this little, old, reborn? supers rpg. 

But I like character sheets and truth be told a decent character for Supergame is necessary to hold all the info you want for regular play. So I made one. If you are a Supergame fan this is your luck-e day! Here is the link to the PDF version of the sheet. I have it hosted on google drive. If you get a chance to use it let me know how it worked for you in play!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Black Book of Sorcery PDF Drops Tonight!

Like a curse laid on a restless soul it looked like there was no end in sight to my suffering and anguish over the completion of this diabolical tome.,, but it is done.

I will post the PDF in the wee hours of the night, proper summoning time and all, and it will be found on Drive Thru. The POD is done, it is going through the "artist proof" stage. When I'm sure all the graphics print correctly it will be available in softcover, perfect bound.

The Lulu POD softcover edition with the completed bad ass red cover has been ordered!