Hero Games published Champions, one of the first superhero RPGs in 1981. Champions quickly went through two more editions and grew beyond its roots into modern-day espionage, pulp action, fantasy, science fiction, and giant robots. Hero later licensed the property to Iron Crown Enterprises. In 1988 Rob Bell, the Hero editor at ICE, initiated an ambitious project to reconcile all the diverse approaches of the past as one universal rules set, the all-encompassing HERO System. This led to the landmark 1989 Champions Fourth Edition, known to fans as the “Big Blue Book” for its splendid George Perez cover.
Over the next decade, Iron Crown and two licensees (Gold Rush Games and R. Talsorian Games) published more than 60 superhero RPG supplements and adventures for Champions. These books, though uneven in quality, shared a brio, a sense of imagination and excitement, that fans still recall fondly.
These two offers — the largest in Bundle of Holding history — collected all 65 of the 4E books from Hero and its licensees. These offers’ original April 2017 runs marked the debut of many titles in .PDF, fruits of a heroic effort by Jason Walters of Hero Games. These titles are also sold individually on DriveThruRPG, but these two super-sized Bundle revivals were Hero fan’s best chance to acquire, at one stroke (well, two strokes), a whole virtual shelf of Champions Universe ebooks.
Questions? Check our companion post on this blog, “About the Champions 4E Bundles of Holding.”
1. CHAMPIONS 4E ESSENTIALS
The April 2017 Champions 4E Essentials Bundle, with all the rulebooks and the vital supplements, provided the ideal starting point. This Essentials offer’s jaw-dropping Core Collection presented over 1,900 pages of top-quality superheroic roleplaying material — the 354-page Big Blue Book itself and the HERO System Rulesbook, plus Classic Enemies and Organizations, PRIMUS and VIPER 4E, Normals Unbound and Allies, the Hero Bestiary, and more. With just these books, Champions Gamemasters have run campaigns lasting decades. AND THAT’S JUST THE START.
[rules and major supplements]
Those who paid more than the threshold (average) price also got the entire Essentials Bonus Collection with fourteen more titles worth an additional $102.50, including Dark Champions: Heroes of Vengeance for 4E, Golden Age Champions, the 4E versions of The Ultimate Martial Artist and Ultimate Mentalist, The Ultimate Super Mage and Super Mage Bestiary (plus Mystic Masters), Challenges for Champions, and both Champions Presents collections. And we didn’t forget Champions: New Millennium and its two supplements.
2. CHAMPIONS 4E UNIVERSE
After getting the Essentials, our customers made a high-speed Move-Through to this stupendous Champions 4E Universe companion revival that added the rest of the 4E product line — thirty-seven supplements and adventures. There were nineteen titles in this revived offer’s Starter Collection (retail value $97.50), including five Enemies books of supervillains, ten adventures, and the complete San Angelo: City of Heroes line from Gold Rush Games.
[settings and adventures]
This Universe revival’s Bonus Collection added eighteen more titles worth an additional $110, including nine Dark Champions books, two collections of Heroic Adventures, Kingdom of Champions and other location books, Foxbat Unhinged, and — yes! — Champions in 3-D, the dimension-roaming campaign book that holds pride of place in every HERO fan’s satellite headquarters trophy room.
Ten percent of each payment (after gateway fees) went to these two offers’ pandemic-related charity, Heart to Heart International. Heart to Heart delivered medical equipment to health care workers on the front lines in the Covid-19 pandemic.
- 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. Start with Surbrook’s Stuff, a giant repository by Michael Surbrook.
- The 322-post RPG.net forum thread “Let’s Read: The Big Blue Book” is an exhaustive section-by-section analysis of the Champions Fourth Edition rulebook.
- As for the unique attractions of the 1989 Champions Fourth Edition, try Ross Watson’s charming reminiscence at his blog, Rogue Warden.