A: All of these books came from the Champions Fourth Edition line (1989-2001); if a book exists in multiple editions, these offers presented the 4E version.
The first offer, Champions 4E Essentials, presented 28 core rulebooks and major supplements. If you’re new to Champions 4E, start with these books. The Essential offer’s spectacular Core Collection included the complete Champions 4E core rulebook (The Big Blue Book) and the Hero System Rulesbook extracted from it, plus Allies, Classic Enemies, Classic Organizations, Corporations, Creatures of the Night – Horror Enemies, the Hero Bestiary 4E, The Mutant File, Normals Unbound, PRIMUS, VIPER 4E, and the 4E GM Screen and Accessories (See below about the standup figurines missing from the GM Screen.) Yes, that was all in the starter collection — 13 titles, total retail US$97.50!
The Essential Bonus Collection had 15 more titles worth an additional $105. In alphabetical order: Challenges for Champions, Champions Presents #1 and Champions Presents #2, Champions New Millennium and its two supplements (Bay City and Alliances), Dark Champions: Heroes of Vengeance 4E, Golden Age Champions, Hero System Almanac 1 and Almanac 2, Mystic Masters, The Super Mage Bestiary, The Ultimate Martial Artist 4E, The Ultimate Mentalist 4E, and The Ultimate Super Mage.
The second offer, Champions 4E Universe, included the rest of the Fourth Edition superhero supplements and adventures — 37 books! The Universe offer’s Starter Collection (total retail $98.50) had (in alphabetical order) Alien Enemies, Atlantis, Blood Fury, Day of the Destroyer, Demons Rule, Denizens of San Angelo, The Dragon’s Gate: San Angelo’s Chinatown, Enemies Assemble!, Enemies for Hire, Enemies of San Angelo, European Enemies (plus “European Enemies Debugged” by Michael Surbrook), High Tech Enemies, Invaders From Below, Invasions: Target Earth, The Olympians, Pyramid in the Sky, Road Kill, San Angelo: City of Heroes, and The Zodiac Conspiracy.
The Universe offer’s Bonus Collection (worth an additional $110) gave you Champions Universe 4E, Champions in 3-D, Champions of the North 4E, Dystopia, An Eye for an Eye, Heroic Adventures Volume 1 and Heroic Adventures Volume 2, Hudson City Blues, Justice, Not Law, Kingdom of Champions, Mind Games, Murderers’ Row, New Bedlam Asylum, Shadows of the City, Underworld Enemies, Watchers of the Dragon, and Widows & Orphans.
Both offers consisted entirely of DRM-free, non-watermarked .PDF ebooks.
Q: How good are these .PDFs?
A: These are all brand-new scans made especially for this offer by Jason Walters and his hard-working team at Hero Games. With two or three exceptions, these ebooks are image scans from the hardcopy originals. The text is sometimes light but always legible. Tinted sidebars read fine. Illustrations are always clear, but not usually crisp. In the three Champions: New Millennium books from R. Talsorian Games, the text font is lighter than in the standard Hero line, and a few pages show bleed-through from images on the other side. If you know our past offers of image-scan .PDFs, the quality here surpasses the April 2017 Heavy Gear books, but isn’t as good as the March 2016 PARANOIA Classic collection.
Q: Did you leave out anything?
A: These offers were strictly Champions-only (plus Dark Champions) and didn’t include non-superhero titles in the HERO Fourth Edition line (Fantasy Hero, Western Hero, the Rolemaster Classics, non-superhero Fuzion System, various third-party firearm compendia, etc.) But if it’s superheroic, it was here — even the licensed San Angelo books from Gold Rush Games and the Atlas Games adventures.
The GM Screen and Accessories in this offer lacks the color sheet of stand-up figures. We’ll add that sheet to the .PDF once we find it.
Our copy of The Olympians is missing eight pages — as in, they were blank in our copy. We include the partial copy as a placeholder, and we’ll replace it when we track down an intact version.
Q: Are these books available on DriveThruRPG?
A: Yes! They all went up on DriveThru when these offers launched. You can buy any of these individual .PDFs for US$2.50-$20 apiece, depending on page count: 30 pages or less: $2.50; 31-100: $5; 101-200: $7.50; 201-299: $10; 300+: $20. These Bundle collections were discounted about 80% off the retail price.
Q: What about European Enemies?
A: We include the missing page 35 and both errata sheets, plus Michael Surbrook’s “European Enemies Debugged” with corrected character sheets (using Fifth Edition rules) for all the villains.
Q: Sixty-five books! Where should I start?
A: From the Essentials Core Collection, you’ll enjoy Classic Enemies, Classic Organizations, and Normals Unbound. In the Bonus Collection, Dark Champions: Heroes of Vengeance 4E and Golden Age Champions are excellent.
From the Universe Starter Collection, fans speak highly of Alien Enemies, Day of the Destroyer, and the entire San Angelo: City of Heroes line. Denizens of San Angelo was an early work by R. Sean Borgstrom (Jenna Moran), designer of Nobilis and Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine.
In the Universe Bonus Collection, Champions in 3-D was the centerpiece. Many of the Dark Champions supplements (such as Underworld Enemies and Dystopia) were written by Chris Avellone, later famous for his work on the computer games Planescape: Torment, Knights of the Old Republic 2, the Fallout series, and the recent Torment: Tides of Numenera.
Q: If I’m new to Champions in general or the Fourth Edition in particular, where can I learn more?
A: In its 35-year history the HERO System has spawned a loyal and long-lived fandom, who in turn have spawned a tremendous number of fan sites. But to be honest, you can just start with Surbrook’s Stuff, a giant repository that will keep you busy for hours.
As for the unique attractions of the 1989 Champions Fourth Edition, try Ross Watson’s charming reminiscence at his blog, Rogue Warden.