The early days of Superhero themed role playing games are a case study in innovation and collaborative design. A couple of years ago on my Advanced Dungeons and Parenting blog I demonstrated some of the influence that Superhero 2044 influenced the Champions roleplaying game’s combat system, but the Superhero 2044 rulebook wasn’t the only thing to influence the Champions system.
A key influence was Wayne Shaw’s point build system. The first clue as to Wayne’s influence on Champions is in the first edition of the game. Toward the end of the rulebook there is a brief discussion of how the game came to be designed. The basic story is that George MacDonald “had some good ideas for combat and characteristics, but the problem of assigning powers was a difficult one. George met Wayne Shaw at a convention, and saw his point system for distributing superpowers. The current system looks almost nothing like Wayne’s original work, but owes much in spirit to Wayne and his group’s pioneering work”
Those rules were published in issue 8 of the Southern California based fanzine Lords of Chaos, and we were lucky enough to talk with Wayne about how those rules were designed and get a glimpse into pre-internet era collaboration and innovation that was fostered by a vibrant APA community.
While there were already some point build role playing game systems, The Fantasy Trip and Superhero 2044 itself, they weren’t as complex as the system that Wayne designed. Additionally, Wayne added a concept that would shape many games published in the future…the disadvantage.