RPG Review: Golden Age Champions (1994)

The version of Golden Age Champions that I have dates back to 1994 and was published by Iron Crown Enterprises for the 4th edition of the Champions RPG.

The first 30 pages deal with the campaign premise. It discusses possible campaign lenses such as a more Dark Champions campaign (with characters more like the Spider, the Phantom, etc.), super-patriotic games, and something in-between. It gives a brief history of the Golden Age of comic books, different types of package deals for characters of the period, a discussion of draft deferments for those characters who will not be participating in World War II, etc.

Next up is a large section of historic source material. It covers people and organizations of the period, a glossary of WWII and homefront terminology, and three parallel timelines - the real world, the Champions universe, and and "Axis Victory" universe. Regretfully these timelines only cover up to 1946 - it would have been interesting to see them go a bit further to the end of the Golden Age. There are also Hero stats for equipment of the era and a nice bibliography for Golden Age Champions campaigns - comics, history, movies, etc. Its obviously a bit dated by this point, twenty years later, but still rather handy.

A gamemaster section gives advice on running Golden Age Champions games, with thoughts on issues like the chronology of the game (assuming the game follows real world history, American entry into World War II will shake up most games).

There is a long section covering heroes and villains of the era, with the necessary Champions stats. Axis villains, patriotic heroes, independent baddies, etc. 

Finally there are a number of brief scenarios, ranging from pre-war adventures (including a fun War of the Worlds Martian invasion) to a number of World War II era adventures in a variety of theaters - the homefront, Europe, the Pacific, etc. Some concepts such as protective fields around Japan preventing Allied superheroes from invading are introduced and some some of the adventures take place in parallel Earths and alternate futures. They are all fairly brief but serve as great adventure seeds.

Overall, the 1994 version of Golden Age Champions is very well done. It's got a lot of ideas and a nice library of NPCs that can easily be used in adventures. One thing I'd have liked to have seen (and will apparently be part of the new version should the Kickstarter be funded) is more advice on building a full campaign. You're not left high and dry, but more would have been welcome. Also, I'd really liked to have seen some discussion of what to do after World War II ends - the Golden Age continued for another five years, though superhero comics rapidly diminished in popularity.

Even with those reservations, it's a very useful and inspirational book, even if used as a system-agnostic sourcebook. It certainly is of the greatest use in a Champions (4th edition) game. I'm really hopeful the Kickstarter for a new edition will meet its funding goal.

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