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Tabletop Game: Champions
aka: Hero System
Segment twelve.

Along with Villains And Vigilantes, this groundbreaking game published by Hero Games essentially created the genre of Super Hero roleplaying 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 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. (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:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Martika Duquesne, evil mother of the heroine Witchcraft, is described as being able to pass for her slightly older sister instead of her mother. Being a fairly powerful sorceress is undoubtedly part of it.
  • 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 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 smugness.
    • 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.
    • Grond is the Abomination or perhaps the Hulk.
    • 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 the 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 transparently 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.
    • Galactic Conqueror Xarriel in Champions Beyond has qualities of both Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor.
  • 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.
    • About the only Master Villain like this, genuinely, is Istvatha V'han, out of sheer force of Affably Evil: She seems to regard being a Multiversal Conquerer as a public service more than anything-though she's still rather vain and temperamental. This has proven to be an overall plus to her schemes, since her subjects genuinely like her.
      • Book of the Empress has since revealed that she's more of a Villain with Good Publicity than she is Anti-Villain, in that if push comes to shove she's entirely willing to rationalize almost any atrocity if its really necessary for her own benefit up to and including destroying her entire original timeline, so that she can no longer be attacked by time travellers aiming at her origin. On an everyday level she still largely functions as an Anti-Villain, due to her being in a secure enough position that she doesn't usually need to get really dirty to survive.
  • Auto Doc: Often found in bases belonging to organizations with superpowered members. Frequently operated by the base A.I..
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: The villain Retrograde from High Tech Enemies dresses like an early Victorian dandy. This fits as he has a hatred of modern technology and possesses the power to transform high tech devices into low tech, non-functioning equivalents.
  • Awesomeness-Induced Amnesia: In the supplement Champions III, Mystery Powers was an optional rule that allowed the game master to spend some of a character's points on a power that neither the character nor the player knew about. The example given was of a character with a power that would activate whenever they were in great danger. It would hopefully deal with the threat, but would also cause the character to have no memory of what happened.
  • Badass Normal: Numerous examples throughout the world, such as Nighthawk, Green Dragon, Seeker, Utility and Thunderbird. Binder is a particularly 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).
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: Ankylosaur
  • 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.
  • Black Knight: The aptly-named armor-wearing super villain Black Paladin.
  • Blob Monster: The Living Jelly creature in the Hero System Bestiary. It could grow up to 128 meters high and used acid to dissolve its victims.
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: The Block combat maneuver would prevent any hand-to-hand attack from succeeding against the user.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Ironclad
  • 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.
  • Burning the Ships: In the history of the Tuala Morn setting, the ancestors of the Tualans were refugees hunting for a new homeland. Once they decided to settle in Tuala Morn, their leader scuttled their ships as a sacrifice to the sea gods, thanking them for their aid.
  • Butt Monkey: Several villains who existed mainly for laughs and to get beat up, such as Bulldozer and Power Crusher.
    • The Destroyers (later Deathstroke) started out as a fairly generic villain team, but as the setting was developed they devolved into an entire team of Butt Monkeys, at one point even hiring an image consultant in an attempt to turn their reputation around. After the continuity reboot they were brought back, but they'd lost two-thirds of their membership in an especially disastrous stroke of bad luck. The survivors have been in jail so long hardly anybody remembers them anymore.
  • Canon Discontinuity: 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.
  • 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.
  • City of Adventure: Millennium City
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Foxbat. Dear god, Foxbat. Described as "an evil version of Adam West Batman".
  • Cold Iron: The Coriolis Effect. Ch'andarra and her daughter the Black Enchantress both take damage when touched by raw (cold) iron.
  • 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
  • Dash Attack: Move Through and Move By attacks in the main rules and Stampede attacks in the Hero System Bestiary.
  • 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).
  • Disco Dan: The villain Beatlemania from Dark Champions: The Animated Series.
  • Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: The Berserk disadvantage/complication.
  • Doorstopper: The Fifth Edition rulebook can stop bullets.
  • Doppelgänger 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.
  • Egopolis: When Malachite conquered a set of islands and established them as his personal fiefdom, he named his new kingdom the Malachite Isles.
  • Emotion Eater: Supplement Teen Champions. When the villainess Jeepers Creepers causes other people to feel intense fear she gains nourishment from the fear.
  • Emperor Scientist: Malachite
  • Enemy Mime: Almost a throwaway joke in UNTIL Superpowers Database. An illustration shows a mime-themed supervillain battling two superheroes. The accompanying text includes this statement:
    The villain defeated both heroes and escaped the confrontation. Our efforts to identify and locate him continue, since the mime motif of his costume indicates a particularly high degree of evil and depravity.
  • 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 specifically says Hades isn't evil and isn't really interested in anything at all besides running the underworld.
    • Speaking of Anubis, in Golden Age Champions we got the Doberman, a goofy dog-themed villain who was previously an incompetent tomb robber before getting trapped in an ancient temple and being resurrected after calling out to Anubis for salvation. Why'd Anubis, "your basically good god," do that? Well, because it means Doberman gets to live, Anubis gets a worshiper, and rookie heroes get an easy villain to build experience on. Everybody wins!
  • 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
  • Evil Luddite / Evil Reactionary: This is the shtick of the villain Retrograde in High Tech Enemies. His power allows him to transform high tech items into low tech, non-functioning equivalents, such as transforming a suit of powered armour into a suit of medieval knight's armour.
  • 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.
  • Extranormal Prison: Stronghold, a prison specifically designed to hold super-powered criminals. Exceptionally powerful inmates are kept in Tailor-Made Prison cells.
  • The Face: A character with a high Presence score and lots of Presence based skills.
  • 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.
  • Fighting Fingerprint: The ability to do this is called "Analyze Style."
  • Five-Bad Band:
    • There are a few villain teams from various supplements who can be said to fit the trope if you squint hard enough. The original core membership of Eurostar probably come as close as any.
    • The The Iron Five, from The Sands of Time, fit the trope fairly well.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Fortune Teller: In the supplement C.L.O.W.N. a Gypsy befriends an orphan named Lisa.
  • 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 (and then presumably transliterated into the modern alphabet).
    • No-one knows what UNITY stands for.
  • The Gambler: Card Shark
  • 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.
  • Gang Initiation Fight: In the Tuala Morn setting, anyone wishing to join a King's warband must challenge a current member to a fair and non-lethal fight. Winning doesn't guarantee acceptance, but losing guarantees rejection.
  • Genius Bruiser: Dr Silverback
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: A large part of the Neutral Ground supplement.
  • Golem: Enemies: The International File included a villain called Kabbalah; a Jewish mystic who commanded a traditional style golem.
  • Harmless Freezing: Supplement Gadgets!. The Ice Sprayer weapon freezes its target but does only Stun damage. When the target defrosts they're alive and unharmed.
  • 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 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.
  • Horn Attack: Many animals in "The Hero System Bestiary" such as buffalo, caribou and triceratops.
  • 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.
  • Husky Russkie: In Red Doom, the leader of the Soviet superteam is a hulking brick who embodies almost every Russian stereotype. His codename is 'Ivan'.
  • I Know Your True Name: Hero System supplement Fantasy Hero Companion. All six types of demon (Demon Lord, Fire Demon, Amorphous Horror, Deceiver, Hordling and Hell Hound) had to obey anyone who knew their true name.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Cannibal from Murderer's Row.
  • 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.
  • Island Base
    • In the adventure The Island of Doctor Destroyer the title island Destruga holds the secret base of Doctor Destroyer, from which he plans to launch a Hypnoray satellite and Mind Control the entire world.

      In Classic Organizations, after being destroyed in its original location Neutral Ground relocates to this exact island, turning from a fairly posh club for supers of all kinds into an island resort in the process. Doctor Destroyer's legacy is brought up in the relevant chapter and used as a plot point in at least one example adventure outline.
    • The Champions II supplement has rules for constructing superhero bases. When choosing a base's location, one option is to build it on an island.
  • Jet Pack: Multiple examples
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Organization Book The Circle and M.E.T.E.. In the adventure "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream", the PCs must enter the mind of a comatose superhero and convince him that he's dreaming and needs to wake up.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Between the U.S Government agencies PRIMUS and SAT, and between the U.S. government and UNTIL.
  • Just Between You and Me: The Coriolis Effect. After the Black Enchantress captures the heroes and takes away their powers she explains her plans to them.
  • Kaiju: Hero System Bestiary. The Hach-U-Rui are giant Japanese reptiles (minimum of 100 meters tall) that can survive hits by howitzers and may have an energy breath weapon.
  • 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; 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?
    • Squirrel Girl knew.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Cosmo from "Red Doom," who lacks the attention span, creativity or killer instinct to be a truly effective combatant, yet has vast cosmic powers that make him one of the most powerful heroes in the world.
  • 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.
  • Mama Bear: Organization Book The Circle and M.E.T.E. adventure "The Hatching". Any superhero that gets between the alien mother and its baby is going to be in a world of hurt.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Doctor Destroyer's Destroids
  • 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.
  • 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 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: Multiple examples, including a supervillain, a monster, and several aliens and Real Life animals.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • My Brain Is Big: In the adventure V.O.I.C.E. of Doom, the supervillain Le Maistre has a bulging head, is highly intelligent and has psychic powers.
  • 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.
  • Non-Combat EXP: PCs gain experience points for things like how long the adventure lasted, how tough the opponents were and how well the players role played.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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).
  • Planet of Hats: It's possible to invoke this by giving a physiological complicationnote  to a racial template. However, the rulebooks strongly recommend against this, stating that it makes them too much alike.
  • Playing Card Motifs: Supplement C.L.O.W.N. (Criminal Legion Of Wacky Non-conformists). One of the "villains" of C.L.O.W.N. was the Trump Knight. He had a sceptre that could change to Club, Diamond, Heart or Spade form, with each form having two powers usable in combat.
  • 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.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Enemies III. Stronghammer the Dwarf's warhammer returns to him after being thrown.
  • 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: Armadillo and Ankylosaur who are mainly supervillains to pay for battlesuit upgrades.
  • Punished for Sympathy: Supplement Red Doom. Yuri "Sputnik" Kamonov is a superpowered member of the Supreme Soviets. He won't use lethal force against opponents unless it's absolutely necessary and there's no other alternative. He also tries to avoid conflict and resolve confrontations by negotiation or non-lethal force. This has caused him to get in trouble with Colonel Vasalov, the leader of the Supreme Soviets, on multiple occasions, and Vasalov has punished him by denying him any promotion.
  • 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.
  • Radiation Immune Mutants: In Adventurer's Club magazine #2 adventure "What Rough Beast!". A GENOCIDE laboratory mutates a bear into a monster that needs a continuous supply of radiation to maintain its special abilities. It is, of course, immune to damage from radiation. The PCs can most easily defeat it by shutting down the laboratory's malfunctioning nuclear reactor, which is releasing a high level of radioactivity.
  • 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.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Lionslayer
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Two supervillains: The Monster in Enemies II and Doctor Death in Deathstroke.
  • Religion Is Right / Religion Is Wrong: Played somewhat oddly in a 4th edition adventure featuring DEMON kidnapping a number of brilliant scientific minds and setting them to work on a series of ancient equations that supposedly either prove or disprove the existence of God. DEMON could actually care less about the exact result — their aim is for the proof to eliminate faith once and for all and thereby release a demonic eldritch abomination with the apparent power to remake all of reality from its cage, and consequently it's up to the player characters' to make sure that the scientists don't complete the proof either way and the question remains unanswered.
  • Rhino Rampage: Ironhorn, who is basically a Captain Ersatz of Marvel's Rhino.
  • Romani: In the supplement C.L.O.W.N. a Gypsy befriends an orphan named Lisa.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shout Out: Questonite (Jonny Quest) and starships firing cream pies (Fred Saberhagen's Berserker short story "Mr. Jester").
  • 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. It's 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.
  • 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. 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 it so far as to almost be a parody of the trope.
  • Superhero School: Ravenswood Academy.
  • Super Human Trafficking
  • Supernormal Bindings: Several adventures had superpowered devices that were used by villains to prevent captured heroes from escaping. One applied a backlash attack to any character that used their superpowers to try to escape it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Telephone Teleport: The supplement Enemies III. Due to an industrial accident Dr. Howie Reeves' body was changed into electricity. As a result he can teleport long distances along phone lines.
  • Teleport Interdiction: There's an Advantage for Force Fields (Barriers in 6E) that allows them to block teleportation.
  • Thinks Like a Romance Novel: The villain Tenderheart from Dark Champions believes in the delusion that life works like a romance novel and her criminal career is based around the idea that a superhero will fall in love with her.
  • 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.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Grenedier from Kingdom of Champions
  • 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.
  • Trigger Happy: Dark Champions included a villain called Trigger Happy who certainly lived up to his name. Several other Dark Champions villains also qualify.
  • Tunnel King: The Mole from Golden Age of Champions
  • Two-Faced: Classic villain Halfjack.
  • 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.)
  • Valley Girl: Hummingbird, Supervillain Valley Girl
  • Vapor Ware: The never-released computer game adaptation from the early 1990s.
  • Weakened by the Light
    • Multiple villains in early edition products such as Wrath of the Seven Horsemen, V.O.I.C.E. of Doom, The Circle and M.E.T.E., The Great Super Villain Contest and Enemies I-III.
    • The comics also had a couple villains who were extra vulnerable to light attacks because of the "darkness of their souls." That is they're so completely evil physical light's become extra-damaging to them.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: In the supplement Champions 2, the vehicle construction system allowed a vehicle's exhaust to do normal or even killing damage to anyone standing behind it.
  • We Don't Need Roads: Vehicles can fly, swim, tunnel and even teleport.
  • When Dimensions Collide: When Skarn or Tyrannon conquer a dimension, it is added to their kingdom.
  • A Wizard Did It: The Galactic Champions Sourcebook reveals that a high amount ambient magic is required for superpowers to work, otherwise their abilities are really impossible. This also reveals that an experiment by Nazi wizards caused the boon of Superheroes that exist in their universe.
  • Wizarding School: Organization Book The Circle and M.E.T.E.. The Circle is a group of superheroes who are being trained by The Master in magical techniques.
  • 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.
  • You Got Murder: Death's Messenger from Murderer's Row.
  • Your Mime Makes It Real: An Illustration in the UNTIL Superpowers Database sourcebook showed a supervillain with a mime motif doing the 'glass box' bit to set up a force wall between himself and two superheroes.

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alternative title(s): Hero System; Champions; Hero System
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