Along with Villains And Vigilantes, this groundbreaking game published by Hero Games essentially created the genre of Super Heroroleplaying in the 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 one of the first RPGs to do away with character classes, and the first RPG to do away with character levels. These innovations heralded what is sometimes called the Second Generation of RPG design; most modern roleplaying games use a variation of character points in defining their characters (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 and TSR's Marvel Super Heroes 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 MMORPGCity 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. (Cryptic themselves are now owned by Perfect World Enterprises.)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.See the Global Guardians PBEM Universe for one of the longest-running and best known campaigns using this game as a base.
The Hero system, and the Champions Universe provides examples of the following tropes:
Doctor Destroyer is Doctor Doom, only without any mystic elements and a much-reduced sense of honor and nobility, and with his origin story switched to 'ex-Nazi mad scientist'.
Defender is Iron Man, before the Bronze Age developments of addiction to alcohol and smug.
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 Bronze-Age skeletal one. His powers may also be based on Amazo.
Empress Istvatha V’han's appearance, personality are similar to Majestrix Lilandra of the Shi'ar, while her powers of time and dimensional travel and modus operandi of conquering entire dimensions makes her similar to Avenger's foe, Kang the Conqueror.
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.
UNTIL was also similar to SHIELD, right down to the I in both names standing for International.
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 for his origin, but in personality and temperament he's more like the X-Men's beast. Note that in the video game, he most commonly appears as a blue hologram.
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.
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 badass points for taking on superheroes with a Glue Gun - and winning (specifically, he's on a team with a couple of very powerful energy-blasting types—he sets the heroes up and his buddies fry them).
Bewitched Amphibians: In the 5th and 6th editions, the superheroine Witchcraft is built as a standard superhero-mage ... but has a spell to turn people into frogs. One of the "cure" conditions is even being kissed.
Bilingual Bonus - Dr. Destroyer's civilian last name, Zerstoiten, is very similar to the German word for "destroy", zerstören.
Breaking the Fourth Wall - Foxbat knows he's in a comic-book based roleplaying game. 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."
Burn The Orphanage: The supervillainess Bora in Enemies II blows down the orphanage she grew up in.
Butt Monkey - Several villains who existed mainly for laughs and to get beat up, such as Bulldozer and Power Crusher
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.
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.
Captain Ethnic: In some of the older sourcebooks, like Red Doom and European Enemies (especially European Enemies).
Cat Girl - 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.
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.
Everybody Hates Hades: Subverted with the villain Anubis, who's actually an agent of Set. As well as the actual Hades in the 4E book with sheets for the Greek gods, where it says Hades himself isn't evil and isn't really interested in anything at all besides running the underworld.
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.
The Face: A character with a high Presence score and lots of Presence based skills.
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 affectionately dubbed Fred, and only later turned into an acronym.
Feather Flechettes: The villain Goshawk in the adventure V.O.I.C.E. of Doom can fire knife-like feathers from his suit's wings.
Five-Man Band - The Champions team of Defender, Witchcraft, Ironclad, Sapphire and Kinetic or Nighthawk
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 (and then presumably transliterated into the modern alphabet).
Gamemaster: Not the first game to use this term — generic knock-offs of Dungeons & Dragons began using the term almost immediately — but perhaps the most well known, thus making Champions the Trope Namer.
Golem - Enemies: The International File included a villain called Kabbalah; a Jewish mystic who commanded a traditional style golem.
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.
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 even one point left usually means you're just fine. (One important exception: if you take enough STUN damage in one go, you're briefly, well, stunned — with lowered defenses, non-persistent powers turning off, and forced to lose your next action to recover — regardless of how many points you may have remaining.)
Home Field Advantage: From the supplement Enemies III. The villain Red Rapier knows he isn't really powerful enough to take on superheroes by himself, so he tries to even the odds by luring them onto his own turf. He tries to trick a hero (or heroes) into entering a building he has filled with tricks and traps.
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.
Horn Attack: Several animals in "The Hero System Bestiary".
Intangible Man - For 40 character points, you can buy Desolidification, which lets you walk through walls and ignore the physical world at will. Of course, for a +1/4 Advantage, your enemies can buy any offensive power with "Affects Desolidified Objects."
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.
Large Ham - Many villains, Doctor Destroyer especially.
Legacy Character - Meteor Man (currently up to the third incarnation; appropriately, the origin is more or less a straight lift of the Golden Age Green Lantern) and Black Mask (tenth, dating back to the American Revolution)
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). (This makes him an interesting mirror of Doctor Destroyer, who acknowledges its existence but is skeptical of anyone who claims mystic powers.)
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.
Literally in the case of the supervillain Glacier, a massive monster composed of ice and rock.
Mind Over Matter - Telekinesis can be bought as a Power. Grabbing someone or something telekinetically works just like grabbing someone with your hands, except it can be done at range.
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...
Min-Maxing: At least to some extent built right into the system, given the presence of purchaseable traits (like Skill Enhancers or Power Frameworks) whose entire or at least obvious primary purpose is to simply make others cheaper to buy in turn. Characteristics also have certain "optimal" value breakpoints which the point-based nature of character generation guarantees can be hit as desired, and the highly flexible effect-based power creation system arguably turns getting a certain desired effect for as few points as possible under the rules into something of a legitimate art form.
One long time gamemaster, writing a review of the game in Dragon Magazine, explained it this way: "Sure, the players are going to use Min-Maxing to construct their characters. Its expected. Just keep in mind that the GM is encouraged to do the same thing for his villains! Turnabout is fair play, after all.
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".
Most Common Super Power - 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.
Multiarmed And Dangerous: Grond and a mutated bear in the Adventurer's Club #2 adventure "What Rough Beast" had four arms.
Multiple-Choice Past: When he first appeared in Enemies II The Monster was given an extremely vague backstory about how he appeared one stormy night and started murdering people. In later editions of the game the lack of detail became the character's entire hook: what is he really (a mutant, a demon, a robot, an alien?), where does he come from, why does he do what he does?
Multiversal Conqueror: 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
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. The reason he's holding a contest is the more powerful the villain to hold the Eye, the more efficient the portal will be.
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.
One Super One Powerset: Champions has specifically advised players not to significantly change their PC hero's powers. Champions has also advised players to not get rid of their PC's weaknesses, because they help to define the character.
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.
Razor Wings: Adventure V.O.I.C.E. of Doom. The villain Goshawk can attack with the slicing feathers on his suit's wings.
Rainbow Motif: The supervillainess Spectra's attacks are color coded.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: '"Enemies II''. Played straight with the villain The Monster and averted with the superhero Gargoyle on the back cover.
Second Super Identity: The supplement Champions III. After a hero named Revenant killed a gang member and was indicted for 2nd degree murder, he continued operating as a hero under the name Kestrel.
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.
Small Steps Hero: A hero is expected to save civilians even if it means the villain makes a clean getaway.
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.
Notably, this will have little actual game effect other than to lower Perception and Intelligence-based skill rolls until Intelligence actually hits 0 or less — at which point the character will suddenly have to make (by then actually challenging) Intelligence rolls in order to take any deliberate action at all.
Superhero Packing Heat: Dark Champions is all over this trope like a rash. The series signature character, the harbinger of Justice, takes so far as to almost be a parody of the trope.
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.
Tailor-Made Prison: Stronghold is a prison designed to house supervillains. Every prison cell must be tailor-made to nullify its occupant's powers.
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.
This Was His True Form: The Coriolis Effect. The Black Enchantress changes several people into monsters. If the PC heroes kill them, they change back into their (dead) human forms.
Timmy in a Well: The Hero System Bestiary. Not only is the Communication ability for Animal Companions this trope, but its explanation specifically references it.
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.
Universal System - One of the earliest examples, if not the earliest. The HERO system underlying Champions was used as the basis of Justice Inc., Fantasy Hero, Espionage!, and Robot Warriors even before 1989. (It was in 1989 that 4th Edition came out, which was the first edition to codify the HERO system in a truly universal manner.)
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.
Year Outside, Hour Inside: The Coriolis Effect. Doctor Arcane seemed to spend only a prolonged instant in Ch'andarra's realm, but when he returned to Earth five years had passed.