If you got in on both of the recent Champions 4th Edition Bundles of Holding … you got a LOT of books! You may be wondering which ones to start reading, and which ones you want to download onto your tablet or laptop first. Or maybe you missed the Bundles, and you’re buying the PDFs on DriveThruRPG and in print on Amazon. So, which books are best?
First and least important, the really nice thing about 4th Edition is, you don’t need anything more than the core rulebook.
Champions 4th Edition Core Rulebook:
My favorite two supplements other than the core are Dark Champions: Heroes of Vengeance and Ultimate Martial Artist, both by the inimitable Steve Long. If you want additional options for your non-powered heroes, these are some great books to have.
So what do you get? In particular, Dark Champs explores the street/vigilante hero sub-genre, typified by heroes like Punisher, Daredevil, and Batman (and The Shadow, as seen above). You get discussions of various real-world organized crime syndicates, a lot of stats on guns, and some discussions about the legal ramifications of vigilantism.
Ultimate Martial Artist gives you a discussion of various real-world and imaginary martial arts. It also talks about martial artist characters in general, including martial arts culture and various secret societies. Related products (that aren’t quite as useful, but still cool) are Watchers of the Dragon and the standalone game Ninja Hero.
Curiously, something I’d forgotten until looking the PDF over again, is UMA also has conversion rules for “Level-Based Systems” (to include both editions of AD&D1), GURPS, Shadowrun, and Storyteller/White Wolf.
Ultimate Martial Artist:
From there, there aren’t a lot of must-haves for me; or rather, it depends heavily on the kind of campaign you like to run. I really like dimension travel, so Champions in 3D is a must-have. I never had a copy back in the day, but after reading the PDF I found one in print, and it’s a wonderful read. Weirdly, DriveThruRPG’s search function is failing me right now, But it’s up on the HERO Games site.
Champions in 3D (HERO Games): http://www.herogames.com/forums/store/product/625-champions-3-d-pdf-4th-edition/
It was never available in print, I don’t think, but The Ultimate Super-Mage is great for those Dr. Strange types. It’s easy to just slap a VPP on these kinds of characters and call it a day, but there’s a lot of flavor and personalization that can go into a mystic hero.
So for other books, I’m just reading over Aaron Allston’s Strike Force and San Angelo: City of Heroes for the first time, but I think I’d almost unhesitatingly call both of these books must-haves. They both deserve their fame and are part of made Champs 4E so famous. I don’t know that I will use anything directly from either book, but both are just pure inspiration. (YES, technically Strike Force first came out for 3rd Edition, but it still works fine and is still awesome.)
San Angelo: City of Heroes:
Finally, a book that’s not really a necessity in most campaigns, but really a nice-to-have, is the HERO System Bestiary. What if your heroes’ dimensional jaunt goes astray, and suddenly you think, “what if they end up in someplace like the Savage Land?” Or what about that player who can shapeshift into any animal, like Beast Boy, or gain the powers of any animal, like Vixen? Or what if the bad guy sorcerer succeeds in summoning a dragon from some other realm, to tear apart the modern day? Again, just a handy book to have nearby, plus fun to see how some critters are modeled, to help with your own character creation.
HERO System Bestiary:
That’s it for now. I will probably think of a dozen more books that are cool and useful, but I think these are the best Champions 4th Edition books to have in your arsenal.