Updated Wed, Dec 16, 2009 by Ethec
"Another thing to remember is that the Champions Online MMOG is not a 'HERO System MMOG.' It doesn't use the HERO System rules, and the full rights to those rules are still owned by DOJ, Inc. Players of the MMOG won't be able to use the HERO System rules to design their characters, for example. But once the MMOG is available we'll publish a book that shows how to build Champions Online powers and abilities in HERO System terms so you can easily re-create your MMOG character for your tabletop RPG game if you want."
First and foremost, character creation in CO seems to be destined to be great. While Champions Online will not have the exact same system as the Hero System for making characters, Champions Online’s designers have committed themselves to making as much versatility as possible for character creation.
If Cryptic Studios says that they are committing to versatility and
customization, and they are talking about CO, then we are talking about
the most fun, versatile and customizable system for character design
you could ever want. That sort of statement is similar to Cthulhu
being said to be "a little grumpy when he first wakes up".
Cryptic’s last endeavor, the City of Heroes and City of Villains games had the best character appearances I have ever seen from a versatility standpoint. Making a character for these games were so much fun that it was almost a game itself, because of the vast combination of choices you could make. I know people who complained that they had so much fun making characters that they had a hard time getting to higher levels, because they kept remaking out of pure enjoyment.
Now add in the commitment that Cryptic has made toward versatility and customization. As mentioned in the quote from HERO Games, there are plans for you to be able to translate a character from CO to the original pen and paper rpg. This implies that a some of the abilities (while administered “under the hood” in a different way) are going to be the same, and admits that some abilities may be lost. This is actually understandable, for example, certain abilities (such as time travel) just cannot be abjucated by a MMOG in a free-form basis. However, the sheer number of non-special abilities (that don't require a live GM) imply that, if even a fraction carry over to CO, then there will be many, many abilities available.
Comments from the developers of Champions Online talk about this in more detail. While necessarily hedging (since the game isn’t close to finished), they say that all powers will be available to all characters. Within the old pen and paper system, there were archetypes, similar to classes. These archetypes were predictable, energy projector, brick, martial artist and so on. However, like the stated plans for character development in CO, in Champions you could have any power for any character. You could have all sorts of fascinating characters, combinations of melee fighters, energy projectors, mentalists, and so on.
In CO, they intend to allow anyone to have these same abilities. That is, you may have an archetype, such as a brick, but you also will be able to choose to have a mental ability, or a martial art attack, or ability drain, or any of the many abilities which are going to be part of Champions Online. These will be more powerful for the archetype that traditionally has this ability (i.e. energy blast for energy projectors), but you still can have these fun and versatile combinations.
Overall, with Cryptic Studio’s history of beautiful and almost unlimited character appearances, with their commitment to character versatility, and with the level of versatility being carried over from the HERO System to Champions Online, the different characters you can make should be absolutely amazing. In all honesty, I almost regret the game being announced now. I have a year to wait!
But you won't have to wait long for Part 2 of Darkgolem's look at the game behind the game, where he'll discuss the innovative organizations and nemesis system proposed for Champions Online, how cell shading will define the next generation of the comic book MMORPG, and much more.
In the meantime, discuss Champions Online in the Ten Ton Hammer Forums!