Champions Complete: Mechanics

Much of the mechanics feels very familiar, regardless of what edition you learned on. 6th Edition marked the most radical departure, eliminating figured characteristics (and with them one of the areas where a point-optimizer could abuse the system) but the powers themselves are all handled pretty much the same way they were in the first editions.

Champions Complete goes a little further in streamlining things, but only in a few areas, and most of those are cosmetic. It's amazing how much space you can save when every instance of "Power Limitation" is replaced with just "Limitation" - It may well be that a sizable portion of the page count reduction came from such legerdemain.

Because it's really still the same system underneath, something that was true back then remains true today - character creation should not, under most circumstances, be handled by the player alone in a vacuum. Strict controls need to be implemented by the GM to suit his game, including caps on capabilities. I think this may be even more true in Hero-based games than even other point-based systems.

Combat is of course going to be front and center in a game designed around super heroes, and the combat system definitely feels, in this default configuration, like a comic book. Hit locations, long term injuries, that sort of thing is stripped out (originally presented as optional rules as well), but still maintaining a very over-the-top knockback rule that has heroes and villains blasting one another all over the map.

The lack of a default map system is a bit of a surprise to me. Former editions (5th Edition or before) used hexes and measured things in 2 meter "inches" which led to more reliance on a map and minis play style. CC (and 6th Edition before it) eschewed this model in exchange for simple units of meters and area effects measured in radii instead of hexes.

The combat is also typically less deadly, though this is more a side effect of the style of story being told. You can easily build firearms or explosives that are truly deadly (using the Killing Attack power), but most heroes and indeed most villains focus their powers on standard attacks (using the Blast power). Combine this with separate stats for fatigue (Endurance), consciousness (Stun) and mortal wounds (Body), and you get plenty of opportunity to recover on the fly from exhaustion or unconsciousness.

If the fighting system falls down, it may be in the use of Martial Maneuvers - bonuses applied to specific kinds of attacks based on training. These can turn a normal guy with a little training into someone who can drop a similarly normal opponent in a single blow. It's less of an issue in super hero games, but it definitely is an interesting situation when you start to get to the lower-bounds of power - almost the opposite effect from my experience with GURPS, where power levels above around 400 points start to become absurd and fray a bit at the edges.

I'm still a fan of it all, but I definitely think that it fits best with the comic book style it was first intended for.


  1. You forgot to mention that combat takes forever to resolve. Roll to hit, roll a kajillion dice to add up Stun and Body separately, roll for Knockback...this can happen a dozen times in 12 segments, then do some more math for recovery, then start all over again...that's the main failing of a system intended for super hero action: fights should be fast-paced, not a test of one's patience.


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