HERO · Kickstarter

Punch Hitler!

Toy Soldier.jpg
Toy Soldier“.  A surprising number of superhero comics of the late 1930s and early 1940s star a child who lacks any actual superpowers, but who can summon some sort of magical or supernatural friend.  The “Toy Soldier”  was a PC of this kind in our Golden age campaign.  He was a brave little boy with no special abilities at all – except for a magic army helmet, inherited from his grandfather, which he could use to make his plastic army soldiers come to life…

Darren Watts, one-time owner of Hero Games, is running a Kickstarter for his new Golden Age Champions RPG book.

The basic idea: you play superheroes fighting Nazis during the WWII era, in the style of the “Golden Age” comic books of the late 1930s and early 1940s.  Fun stuff.  As Darren says in the Kickstarter video:

The core activity of the game is “superheroes punching out Nazis,” and pretty much everybody agrees that that’s one of the most fun things you can do at a table. 

I can heartily endorse that.

I wouldn’t normally call out to non-GURPS Kickstarters on this blog, but this is a special case: this particular RPG project has a very important place in my heart, and I can personally attest that it’s going to be a damned good book.

Q: But how can you be so sure this will be any good, Collaborative Guy? 

A: Well… erm… foot shuffle foot shuffle…  I don’t usually reveal personal details on the blog, but this time it really is in the service of a good cause… gulp… if you must know, I was one of the playtesters.

The Streak.jpg
The Streak.  One of the landmarks of the Golden Age of comic books was the first  publication of The Flash in 1940.  “The Streak” – another of the PCs in our Golden Age campaign – was modeled pretty closely on the Flash, except that he had a background in the circus and (like his player) had a penchant for terrible puns.  Good times. 

And let me tell you, we playtested the hell out it this.  In fact, we playtested the hell out of it every Tuesday night for seven years.

I kid you not.

Every Tuesday night for seven years (barring a few missed due to travel, sickness, or scheduling) I rocked up to one of Darren’s playtest games, dice in hand.  And man, it was fun.  Fun in the way that only an extremely long-running RPG campaign can be.

We started out playtesting Darren’s ideas about how to run a Golden Age superheroes game.  As the years passed we took our band of heroes all the way from the pre-war period, through WWII, and into the late 1940s.

Then, since we were all having so much fun, we just carried on into the Silver Age, now playing in the style of comics of the 1950s and 1960s (if you’re not sure what that means, think “Fantastic Four,” and the “Wow, Science!” spirit of the US 1950s).  We had a new cast of characters, but we were playing in the same fictional universe – thus plotlines continued on from the Golden Age game,  villains recurred, and our new characters all had some kind of relationship to our old ones (thus, for example, for a while I ended up playing the super-powered daughter of one of my Golden Age characters.)

Am I managing to communicate how much fun it was?  Probably not.  But wow, it was fun.  And it was fun again, and again, and again, and again, on a weekly basis, for seven years.

Side note: lest I seem to be praising the GM at the expense of the players, let me observe in passing that, at mark 4:43 or so in the first interview video on the Kickstarter, Darren mentions our campaign, as well as others he was running at the time.  What does he say about them?  He says that those campaigns involved “some of the best players that I’ve known.”  That’s totally me, right?  Totally me, I’m sure of it.  🙂  In any case, the fact that many of his players were in the room with him when he said that definitely shouldn’t lead you to doubt it 🙂

As I said, I don’t normally promote stuff on this blog (except of course the GURPS DFRPG Kickstarter!  Woot!) but I just wanted to draw attention to this Kickstarter, since I really do feel very confident in recommending it.

I can say with all the vast, incalculable authority of my personal experience that Darren Watts definitely knows how to run a brilliant Golden Age superhero campaign – I’ve seen him do precisely that, in depth, over a long period of time.  In this book he knows exactly what he’s talking about.  The system is HERO, but if you’re a GURPS fan thinking of running a campaign like this, then Darren’s campaign advice is alone is worth the price of admission, in my view.  Plus HERO and GURPS are both 3d6, roll-low, point-buy, universal systems, of a similar vintage (and indeed have been worked on by the same people at various points in their history), and thus share a lot of DNA.

Summary: if using superpowers to punch Nazis sounds at all fun to you, then this one really is worth a look.

The other moral to the story: if you ever get a chance to participate in a long-running weekly campaign, don’t pass it up!  .

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6 thoughts on “Punch Hitler!

  1. I heartily approve of stumping for Hero stuff. I began playing Champions when it was originally released (yes, I’m old), and the Hero System is always on my mind as an alternative to GURPS when I want something more flamboyant and cinematic; I feel it does that better. Definitely still my choice for superhero gaming.

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    1. Thanks for that. HERO *is* a great system for superhero gaming in a cheerful comic-book style- its foundations in Champions really show there. GURPS *can* do superheroes, but unless you’re willing to turn a lot of dials, it’s really much too gritty for four-color supers. Plus there’s the ST scaling issues, etc etc. But HERO does four-color supers brilliantly right out of the box.

      Now, I didn’t grown up as a comic book fan (horrors!), and if offered my choice, I tend to go for a slightly grittier, more realistic style of play. And in fact, when I first considered joining Darren’s playtest, I hesitated, because supers really isn’t my thing. But man, I’m glad I decided to take the plunge. Today, I still tend to run things in my favorite genres, but if someone serious specifically asked me to play in (or even run) a face-to-face supers campaign, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

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  2. I have to admit I’ve never role-played in a Supers setting but Golden Age Champions does sound great fun and I certainly remember the enjoyment to be had from regular gaming sessions and an in-depth campaign. I hope the Kickstarter does really well.

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