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Dark Champions
Stock #: DOJHERO600
ISBN: 1-58366-036-4

256 pages, Trade Paperback, Perfect Bound
Retail: $31.99
Author: Steven S. Long
Artists: Storn Cook (cover), various (interior)
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Dark Champions for the HERO System 5th Edition is an excellent genre book with detailed and comprehensive coverage of many aspects of game play that are of incalculable value to a GM and playgroup interested in playing a MetaCyber campaign, and it is assumed that this setting would be implemented using the rules and content provided therein, adapted as necessary.
Though it has some influence from the superhero and science fiction genres, MetaCyber is principally a gritty action adventure game, and is most ably expressed as a Dark Champions campaign. This document simply describes how the information contained in Dark Champions can be used in the context of a MetaCyber campaign chapter by chapter.
Though excellent material, this section is high level genre concepts and is of minimal direct use to a MetaCyber campaign, though the Elements section starting on page 23 is handy for GM's as useful things to keep in mind.
The basic information in Chapter 2 is very relevant to a MetaCyber campaign, though some adjustment might be necessary to suit the setting. Any section not noted below is assumed to be used completely unchanged.
All of the character backgrounds listed in Dark Champions can provide good fodder for MetaCyber character backgrounds.
  • Intelligence: Most Security Forces (Sec Forces), almost all government military organizations, security consultants, and industry thinktanks employ and in some cases train people for Intelligence roles in the MetaCyber setting.
  • Law Enforcement: In the PacFed region Law Enforcement is privatized in the form of security companies and Sec Forces, while other nations such as the New Confederacy, still have state funded Law Enforcement. Many military and paramilitary organizations also have some equivalent to Law Enforcement roles.
  • Martial Arts: Fighting arts of all sorts are commonly practiced, particularly in the Pacific rim.
  • Military: As noted previously there are a multitude of military, paramilitary, Sec Forces, privatized armies, and merc groups that could produce characters with some form of Military background.
  • Criminal: Reformed or not, there is a good deal of organized crime, particularly Asian themed groups such as the Yakuza and the Triads.
  • Self Trained: There is a good deal of latitude for characters that are either self-trained or fell into a line of work by circumstances and fate.
  • Student: Education is not as automatic of an assumption as it once was and it is quite expensive; most people get their advanced educations via a binding contract with a sponsoring corporation. However failed students are fairly common, and at least some fall into exciting lives filled with danger and adventure.
  • Survivor: This background is as feasible as it ever is and can work especially well for characters that start play with a lot of Cybernetics; they survived some ordeal at the cost of their humanity.
The Package Deals in Dark Champions are largely usable with some logical adjustments in a MetaCyber campaign. Packages requiring special consideration are mentioned below:
  • Cat Burglar: Electronics and general computing knowledge would prove useful.
  • Hacker: Almost always will have some variation on the "What a Cool Laptop" ability, which will often represent some kind of NET terminal. Many Hackers also have some cerebral Cybernetics, particularly a data link.
  • Terrorist: change name to Corporate Saboteur; modify Knowledge Skills to suit.
  • Police Officer: change name to Sec Force Grunt; modify Knowledge Skills to suit.
  • BATF Agent: change name to Gunrunner; modify Knowledge Skills to suit, drop Law Enforcement Perk.
  • DEA Agent: change name to Drug runner; modify Knowledge Skills to suit, drop Law Enforcement Perk
  • FBI Agent: change name to Senior Security Consultant; modify Knowledge Skills to suit.
  • Secret Services Agent: change name to Corporate Financial Security Consultant; modify Knowledge Skills to suit, replace Law Enforcement Perk with Corporate Stature and replace Professional Skills with PS: Accountant and PS: Collections Agent.
  • Various Special Forces Packages: Usable for a broad variety of character backgrounds; simply rename as appropriate to the role they are being used in.
  • Vigilante: rename to Street Talent, modify or drop Psychological Limitation. This Package does a good job of simulating a Runner that got their start on the streets without some more formal background training to call on.
  • Any Package not specifically noted is basically usable as is or with minor tweaking which should be obvious.
Dark Champions gives good coverage to various skills that are of particular use to MetaCyber characters. The Expert Skill Enhancer is allowed, with GM approval. Specific information regarding Skills that are given special handling in the MetaCyber setting are available in the Character Creation document.
Perks play a major roll in MetaCyber campaigns. Of particular note is the Business Rank table under Fringe Benefits for use by corporate NPC's. Of special note, Reputation is a very important ability to Runners.
All of the information given in this section is directly applicable in a MetaCyber campaign. Further, it is expected that Rapid Healing will be very common.
All of the information given in this section is directly applicable in a MetaCyber campaign. Particularly notable it is assumed that Floating Hunters, or Organization Hunters are the norm and specifically named Hunters are the exception.
Baring GM Veto, all of the abilities in this section are usable in a MetaCyber campaign.
However, access to Super Skills is limited by Origin. Only Adepts and Tubers are allowed to have them, and there are caps based upon total character points, which are described in the Adept and Tuber documents.
Resource Points work very well in a MetaCyber campaign and are assumed to be in use.
This chapter is full of incredibly useful information in generaly, but none of it is particularly useful in most MetaCyber campaigns.
All of the general guidelines given in this section apply to MetaCyber campaigns; some notable options that are assumed to be in effect follow.
All of the combat maneuvers specifically noted in this section of Dark Champions are assumed to be used in a MetaCyber campaign, though individual GM's as always have complete control over which Maneuvers are in use in their campaign.
NOTE: the "TARGETING WEAPONS AND GADGETS" table on page 181 is particularly useful to MetaCyber campaigns.
If there is one thing you can be sure of, its that characters can be expected to take damage in a MetaCyber campaign. There are several ideas relevant to this that are expanded upon in Dark Champions.
Hit Locations are used, as is the Additional Hit Location chart, and the Adjustable Hit Locations optional rule.
NOTE: actually the Adjustable Hit Locations rule has been my house rule since about 1998; not sure if its just a case of concurrent innovation or if one of my ideas made it into the game. Either way, glad to see it in.
I recommend that AoE damage simply use generalized damage rather than rolling for a Hit Location for logical reasons, but no harm is done by using the official version.
Wounding is a matter of personal preference on the part of the GM; personally I find that in small groups using the Wounding rules stacks the deck versus the PC's since if the group all take damage in close segments, it can cripple their ability to react and make a bad situation unrecoverable. In a larger group this isn't as likely to happen and in fact provides another good reason to have teammates -- to cover you when you get shot.
A good middle ground I've found is to force a Wounded EGO check when a character takes BODY damage to the head, stomach, or vitals. This makes a certain amount of logical sense and keeps characters from cowering every time their arm or leg is grazed.
Disabling is used rather than Impairing, and in fact plays to a certain facet of the setting; characters taking a lot of damage that suffer a disabling wound get pushed into using Cybernetics to offset their injuries. However, this should be used with some care by the GM unless they want every character to end up as full conversion borgs.
NOTE: if a GM does not want to play up the Cybernetic aspects of the campaign as much, or do not think their playgroup would appreciate having their characters getting permanently maimed, the Impairing rules on page 416 of HERO System Fifth Edition Revised (5ER) should be used instead of Disabling.
Knockdown is used, but personally I wouldn't allow the "Does Knockdown" Advantage to do an automatic Knockdown as suggested on page 186; the usual means of determining if a character is knocked down or not should be used in my opinion.
Bleeding is not recommended for use in MetaCyber games for the same reasons noted on page 186; however characters will still "bleed out" if below 0 BODY as described on page 413 of 5ER.
Critical Hits can be used at the GM's preference. Personally I have my own "Critical Success" rules which I use that I call the "Rule of Three".
if a character (PC or NPC) rolls a natural three on a 3d6 roll under type of check then they have the option of either taking "max effect" or an "epiphany".
If the three was made for an Attack Roll max effect is the maximum possible damage or effect with that attack (treat all effect dice as having rolled 6's).
If the three was made for a non attack roll, not only does the character win any opposed roll (even if the opponent made their roll by more) or succeed at their task, but they do so in a stylish looked-cool-doing-it fashion which is also justification for gaining a "Display of Power" bonus to a Presense Attack made sometime within the next few actions against anyone that observed them.
The character has a flash of insight regarding the skill or ability that they rolled a three for and their competency with that ability is expanded. The character gain +2 character points to allocate towards a bonus with that skill or attack. For attacks this translates into a +1 OCV Combat Skill Level with that attack. If a skill this translates into either a +1 or +2 with that skill depending on whether the skill is on the 3/2 or 2/1 costing model. If the three was rolled for a familiarity, the familiarity becomes a full skill instead.
This can not be used to upgrade existing levels; for example a character could not opt to bump an All Combat level to an Overall Level with the 2 free points gained in this fashion -- the 2 pts must be spent specifically for the task they were gained from.
However, levels gained in this fashion can themselves be upgraded later with experience. For example a 2pt +1 OCV level with a specific kind of pistol could be upgraded to a 3pt "Pistols" tight group level later on.
Due to the higher point levels and high lethality of a typical MetaCyber campaign minions (also known as mooks, agents, grunts, chumpions, or similar terms), which is to say nameless, generic opponents of substantially less skill than the PC's, are not as prevalent as they are in some campaigns simply because they don't represent any form of threat unless used in high numbers or are equipped with gear that makes them more dangerous. Personally I use this house rule to deal with the KO'd vs. STUN issue that can occur in the HERO System for MetaCyber and other similar violent settings:
Any minion reduced below 0 BODY or below -30 STUN is assumed to be dead unless it serves the story for them not to be. Any minion reduced below half their BODY or below 10 STUN take x2 Effect from Presense Attacks related to making them stop fighting or to run away.
Healing and Recovery is a key element in MetaCyber campaign. Characters should keep track of not only their total BODY loss, but also each wound that they took. In general Paramedics and skills related to being a surgeon or doctor, and the normal process for recovering BODY over time will be the most common means of healing. Some high tech equipment listed in the equipment section uses the Healing Power, but that should be the exception. The Enhanced Healing and Minor Wounds options given on page 190 of Dark Champions are both recommended as well.
The Gunfighting section given in Dark Champions is very relevant to MetaCyber campaigns, but not all of the options are equally appropriate.
Personally, I do not alter the Range Modifier; I've found that it just causes confusion with more experienced players that are used to thinking in terms of the existing increments, and it slows down combat for no real gain. Characters wanting to be particularly good at long range have a variety of options for overcoming the penalties. Also, there are already too many advantages to sniping in a campaign like MetaCyber to further encourage it by making range modifiers less restrictive.
I allow Blowthrough, but due to the extra time of calculating the damage to determine if it is successful, I would only allow it when a character specifically declares that they are attempting to do it.
This optional rule is highly recommended for MetaCyber campaigns. Especially bulky weapons not shown on the list such as miniguns and rocket launchers should have even greater initiative penalties. Some Cybernetics and gear can make a character so bulky and heavy that they have similar issues shifting their bulk around in close quarters. A GM can use the adjoining chart as an extension of the Close Quarters Combat rules.
Type of Cybernetics DEX Penalty*
Cyberarms -1
Cyberlegs -1
Dermal Plating -1
Heavy Dermal Plating -2
Exo-skeleton -2
Hard Points -1 each
* This penalty applies only for purposes of determining when a character's Phase occurs.
This optional rule is not recommended for MetaCyber campaigns.
This optional rule is not recommended for MetaCyber campaigns.
This optional rule is recommended for MetaCyber campaigns.
This optional rule is not recommended for MetaCyber campaigns.
The optional rules detailed in this section are generally not recommended for MetaCyber campaigns. However, individual GM's could certainly implement some or all of them and find a balance that worked for them if they wanted to.
All of the options listed in this section except Unlimited Ammo are in the spirit of the kind of feel and action a MetaCyber campaign is all about.
MetaCyber campaigns use this chapter in its entirety, though many of the actual weapon names should be changed to terms and manufactures appropriate to the setting. Additionally, with the exception of a few "futuristic" weapons, the new weapons given in the Equipment section of this site use the firearms and ammunition charts detailed in Dark Champions.
Select Real World Manufacturer:
MetaCyber Manufacturer
The adjoining translator gives a manufacturer equivalency from real world to the MetaCyber setting for major brands.
Simply proxy the MetaCyber company for the one given in the weapons charts starting on page 242 of Dark Champions. For added style a GM might also want to modify any obvious monikers.
For example a Colt Anaconda would be a Gallo Anaconda in the MetaCyber setting, or perhaps tweaked to be a Gallo Puma; similarly a Colt King Cobra might be a Gallo Roaring Lion in the MetaCyber setting.
The content provided for "Other Weapons" is all assumed to be in use in a MetaCyber campaign.
The contents of this chapter are recommended for use in a MetaCyber campaign.
Due to the nature of a MetaCyber campaign being set in the future and having an altered timeline from the real world, most of the material in this chapter is not directly relevant; though some is such as the information on the Yakuza. However GM's can still use the content provided as is and just assume that all or most of the forms of organized crime described exist in the MetaCyber continuity too, or else as fodder for similar organizations in the MetaCyber campaign.
With relatively little adjustment to suit the idiom, this chapter provides a lot of good material and ideas that are as usable in a MetaCyber campaign as they would be in any other Dark Champions campaign.
This chapter contains numerous characters which can all be translated into MetaCyber versions.
This group of Vigilantes can be used as the basis of a Runner team quite easily; adding an extra 25 base points to bring them up to the campaign assumed starting point of 125 + 100.
Full conversions of all five members of LIBRA are provided here collectively.
Character Sheets:
All of the provided sample villains are easily adapted to be used in a MetaCyber campaign.
This guy is pretty tough as is. Just switch out some of the gear in his Equipment Pool for higher tech versions and he works just fine.
Another perfect fit for MetaCyber as is. Tweak his background to make him more of a Runner than a criminal, and there you go.
This character isnt a very good conceptual fit but could be tweaked around to more of a MetaCyber character if a GM wanted to use him. He might be a candidate for a meta with animal affinity / control powers, which would at least make his use of "pets" more feasible in the context of the campaign. Alternately or in addition to he could be more of a Cybernetic type, and his "pets" could be Cybernetically enhanced (and controlled) animals.
This character works well in a MetaCyber campaign, but instead of a drugrunner make him a former Runner that sold out to start his own company, FENRIS Security Consulting, a firm that specializes in contract reprisals on Runners. Though he seldom does fieldwork himself anymore, he built his company by investigating Runs, hunting down Runners, and killing them or otherwise exacting a punishment upon them according to his employers wishes. He's virulently hated by Runners across PacFed, but few Runners want to face off against him or his company thanks to the messy "pro bono" reprisals he's undertaken versus those who have messed with him in the past.
The following upgrades bring Fenris up into the high 500's, more than a match for most Runners one on one.
Change his contacts to corporate contacts, his Criminal Rank to CEO of a small company Business Rank, up his Equipment Availability to the 10 point version, change Spanish to German.
Upgrade his 2 All Combat CSL's to Overall Levels and add +1 Overall Level (+14 points)
Increase Vehicle/Base Points to 200 (+75 points)
Make him a Tuber with the following abilities:
Explosive +20 STR; No Figured Characteristics (-1/2), Increased Endurance Cost (x2 END; -1/2)
Manic +10 DEX; No Figured Characteristics (-1/2), Costs Endurance (-1/2), Increased Endurance Cost (x3 END; -1)
Clever +5 INT
+5 PRE
Impressive +20 PRE
Accelerated +1 SPEED
Brutish +10 PD
Tireless +20 END
Tough Damage Resistance (8 PD / 8 ED), Hardened (+1/4)
Strong-legged Leaping +5" (Accurate)
TOTAL COST: 100 Points
Give him the following BodyTech:
Low-Light Retinal Filters: Nightvision (+5 points)
Auto-Polarizing Retinal Filters: Flash Defense (Sight) 5 points; (+5 points)
20/10 Correction: +2 PSLs to Offset Range Modifier All Attacks (+6 points)
20/10 Correction: +2 PER with Sight Group (+4 points)
Synthetic Muscles: +10 STR, No Figured Characteristics (+7 points)
Synthetic Muscles: +3 DEX, No Figured Characteristics (+6 points)
Distinctive Feature: BioWare Enhanced; Detectable with Special Equipment; Not Distinctive In Some Cultures, Not Concealable; -5 points
TOTAL COST: 33 Points
This character works perfectly as a Gunner/Boomer as is. Just make a minute twitch to his background (not even much of one), and he's perfect as a Runner known for his utter ruthlessness.