Grade the Hero System

How do you feel about The Hero System (any variant)?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 17 17.9%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 18 18.9%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 23 24.2%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 4 4.2%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 3 3.2%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 27 28.4%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 3 3.2%


Limit Break Dancing
Have you used the Hero System (or one of its variants) for your tabletop roleplaying games? If you've ever played Champions (any edition), you're already intimately familiar with it. This is the core game system used by Champions, sure, but also Danger International, Justice, Inc., Robot Warriors, Fantasy Hero, and Star Hero. Wikipedia has the following to say about it:

The Hero System is a generic role-playing game system that was developed from the superhero RPG Champions. After Champions fourth edition was released in 1989, a stripped-down version of its ruleset with no superhero or other genre elements was released as The Hero System Rulesbook in 1990. As a spinoff of Champions, the Hero System is considered to have started with 4th edition (as it is mechanically identical to Champions 4th edition), rather than on its own with a 1st edition. However, the first three editions of the game are typically referred to as Champions, rather than the Hero System, as the game for its first three editions was not sold as a universal toolkit, instead largely focusing on superheroes.
The Hero System is used as the underlying mechanics of other Hero Games role-playing games such as Fantasy Hero, Star Hero, and Pulp Hero. It is characterized by point-based character creation and the rigor with which it measures character abilities. It uses only six-sided dice.

As I've said before in the other threads, the D20 System is the undeniable favorite for tabletop RPGs today, but there are plenty of options out there for those who don't like D20 or might be looking for something different. My goal in these little surveys is to highlight the different systems and options available to tabletop fans...I certainly don't want to bash anyone's favorites. So! If you've used the Hero System (in any game or edition), I'd really like to hear about your experience. What did you like/dislike about it? What games did you play? And if you've never played it or one of the many successful games that use it, what's holding you back? I'll collect everyone's votes and give the system a "grade" from A+ to F, just for fun.

Grade: B-
Of those who voted, 97% have heard of it and 67% have played it.
Of those who have played it: 27% love it, 26% like it, 35% are lukewarm, 6% dislike it, and 3% hate it.

The "grade" is calculated as follows:
  • Votes from people who have not played it will not affect the grade.
  • "I love it" votes are worth 4 points. The highest score, comparable to an "A" vote.
  • "It's pretty good" votes are worth 3 points. The equivalent of a "B" vote.
  • "It's alright I guess" votes are worth 2 points. This is your basic "C" vote.
  • "It's pretty bad" votes are worth 1 point. This is considered a "D" vote.
  • "I hate it" votes are worth 0 points. The lowest score, considered an "F" vote.

The grading formula:
GPA = Σ(PiVi)

GPA = "grade-point average," the grading score used in the Key below.​
Vi = percentage of votes in each category (Love, Like, Meh, Dislike, or Hate)​
Pi = corresponding score for that category (4, 3, 2, 1, or 0)​

Over 3.75 = A+
3.51 to 3.75 = A
3.26 to 3.50 = A-
3.01 to 3.25 = B+
2.76 to 3.00 = B
2.51 to 2.75 = B-
2.26 to 2.50 = C+
1.76 to 2.25 = C
1.51 to 1.75 = C-
1.26 to 1.50 = D+
1.01 to 1.25 = D
0.75 to 1.00 = D-
Under 0.75 = F
Grading the Cypher System
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Grading the Modiphius 2d20 System
Grading the GURPS System
Grading the Powered by the Apocalypse System
Grading the D6 System
Grading the Hero System
Grading the Storyteller System
Grading the Megaversal/Palladium System
Grading the Basic Role-Playing System
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Limit Break Dancing
Sorry this thread is so overdue. I'm working out in the field all this week and next (and by "in the field" I mean that I'm standing on a barge in the middle of the Columbia River, fussing over bolt patterns and check valves and diffusers.) I have precious little access to internet, and even less free time. Such is the glamorous life of a civil engineer...

It might take me a while to post the "grades" for this survey, so bear with me. Things should return to normal once I'm working on dry land again.
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Limit Break Dancing
I regret to say that I've never played a single Hero System game. Superhero games really aren't my thing...the closest I ever got to one of them was the Immortals set of D&D (the "I" in BECMI), and I care so little for it that I've been known to drop the letter from the acronym. It wasn't until I read the Wikipedia article that I even knew there were more Hero System games than just Champions, and had I known that, I might have tried a little harder to branch out. Alas.

But don't let my genre preferences put you off. If you've played any of the games that use this system, chime in and tell me about them. I'd love to change my mind, especially about roleplaying games.


No apologies necessary @CleverNickName - thanks for running these polls!

Hero system is very impressive in terms of the flexibility and fine-tuning it allows. But when we tried to get in to it last year we found the system heavier and more fiddly than we liked. The extra detail didn’t equate to a more fun game for us at the table.

So it gets an ‘alright’ in my book. 20 years ago I might have been all over it.


I've been playing Champions since its inception and most of those other Hero System games. It's a point-buy system. Hero System is the ultimate toolbox for building characters. If it looks challenging, that's because it is, but only when building a character. If you are handed a pregen, you should be good to go except with a martial artist. That will take some learning.
It has a large skill list -Dexterity, Intelligence, and Presence skills, plus General Skills unless you bind those to a characteristic. (I advise against that.)
Some downsides, of course. The 3d6 roll has a tight bell curve, so you have to constrain attack and defense values (OCV and DCV) to a reasonably tight range. The GM has to scrutinize characters, because unrestrained players can build some wildly unbalanced characters. Originally designed for superheroes, it doesn't do as well at low power levels. GURPS is probably better at that (and the two systems have obvious similarities).
You can design pretty much any superpower or spell. Some like tactical time travel or precognition have meta-implications that make them difficult to implement for other reasons. it is, however, a toolbox, not a setting. If you want to run Fantasy Hero, you will have to use a published setting or design your own magic system. (Does it use gestures? Is there a specific spell list?)
6th edition (the latest) made a major break with prior editions. It corrected a big math problem, introduced IMO some unnecessary changes, and split the fanbase. Such is life.


I played Champions many years ago, and although I had fun, I wouldn't go back. Way too crunchy. I found making characters a trial and I usually love making characters. All those points and ways to combine powers to reduce the costs! It was too much.

Actually playing worked better, but I prefer light systems for super heroes. I think it fits the genre better.


Champions is a great supers game, although it is the absolute epitome of what a min-max character generation system is.

When generalized into Hero, though it is not nearly as successful. Fantasy Hero is probably the best (worst?) example. What works well for superpowers works poorly when translated into spells. The other variants succeed or fail, basically depending on how flexible their characters' powers/tech/specialness is.

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