Friday, December 2, 2011

OSH Thoughts

So, if I’m going to retro-clone Champions 3e into a house-ruled 4e of my own devising (which I think I’m going to call “Old-School Hero,” or OSH).  I guess I should have some plans and design goals in mind.  Or at least some ideas of what I want to accomplish.

First up, I need to combine all of the Skills, Powers, Advantages, Limitations, and Disads from Champions, Champions II, and Champions III into a single document.  Along the way, I plan to make some initial decisions about powers that might not make the final cut, particularly stuff from Champions III (Mental Paralysis, I’m looking at you).

Once that’s done, I need to make some decisions about the values of some of the items.  I plan on keeping Skills on the original Champions scheme, where a Skill that has a lot more applicability to superheroic combat, like Acrobatics, costs more than something like Science or Streetwise.  But, I’m still not sure what I want to do with Martial Arts. 

In pre-4e Champions, the cost of Martial Arts was equal to the character’s Strength score.  Later editions turned it into a series of maneuvers which could be purchased individually.  The latter allows for lots of customization (there have been three different 200+ page books devoted to statting out real-world and fictitious martial arts in the Hero System), but the former feels more appropriate for me in terms of a purely superheroic game.

In his awesome Strike Force supplement, Aaron Allston took a route that was sort of a middle-ground approach by importing the Martial Arts packages from Danger International (Hero’s modern action adventure game).  Those packages consisted of a basic and advanced set of maneuvers, each costing 10 points to purchase.  Of course, since Strike Force was written years before 4e’s release, it’s actually more of a precursor to the later system.  All in all, I think I want to cleave as closely to the original as possible, so I’ll probably go with the Cost = Strength approach.

I also need to figure out how I want to value Disadvantages.  In the original rules, the character gets maximum value for his two most expensive Disads of the same type, the return then diminishes by half for each successive pair.  So, a hero with three Hunteds worth 20, 15, and 15 points, would actually get 20, 15, and 8 Disadvantage points for them.  In later versions of the game, characters got the full value from each Disad, but were limited to a total from each type.  While the latter is a cleaner approach, it is also rather inextricably tied to the notion that a character consists of X base points plus Y number of points from Disadvantages, something that really didn’t come into the game until 4e and something I actively disliked about it.  So, I think this is another place where I’m going to go Old-School and dirty rather than clean and new.

After I make those decisions, I need to look at the other stuff from Champions II and III.  Vehicle rules, base rules, optional combat rules, stuff like that.  If this is going to be an inclusive volume, they need to be in there if they’re worth keeping.

Finally, I plan on opening my later edition rule books to see if there’s some useful stuff in there that I want to port over to OSH.  Things like Hand to Hand Attack (at least the 5e version) and Damage Negation are worth considering, even if I don’t include them in the final cut.

After that, I need to look at the combat rules, though I don’t think they need much attention.

Back at the beginning of this, I mentioned design goals.  I guess I should state some:
  • To create a unified version of Champions that includes all the optional materials I want from Champions II and Champions III.
  • To clean up the rules a bit where possible while keeping the original feel of the game (less character bloat, easier to remember character creation).
  • To have fun doing it.


  1. This is a really awesome project.

    And I'm all for anything that removes the "character bloat". Part of what irritated me about 6th Ed was the whole, "Eh, just throw more points at it" model.

    While I lamented back in the 4e days that you really couldn't afford more than two or three skills on builds of 250, the 6e idea that you need 450-500 points for a rookie character isn't really helping.

  2. Sounds great. I agree with leaving martial arts as is. A superhero game doesn't need a sophisticated martial arts system; characters having more detail in their combat options than in their powers would feel kind of weird. It would also be pretty simple to drop 4th edition style martial arts in if you want.

  3. @Justin: My thought is, before 4e, the Champions skills list was a lot shorter (even adding in those from Champions II). As a result, skills you paid points for were much more significant, and a lot of things characters ended up with skills in from 4e on were really trivial.

    @Caduceus: The other benefit of the 3e system is that Cost = Strength is much less of an incentive for a Brick to have Martial Arts maneuvers than a flat cost of 10 points for a group of them. I never liked that aspect of 4e and later editions, as it made Martial Artists less special.

  4. How do you plan to do END cost? 1 for 10 or 1 for 5?

    For that matter, how are you going to do buying it down, as a straight Advantage or as the sort of "meta-Advantage" it was in 3E days?

  5. @Chris: I suspect, since this is my own stab at a 4th edition, I'll take the BBB route of 1 per 5 and the straight Advantage buy-down. I always preferred that approach.