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Golden Heroes- anyone played it? 
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Ulthal
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Post Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
I recently became aware of a game from the mid-eighties called Golden Heroes. It was a superhero RPG published by Games Workshop. I love old, odd and obscure games, and had never heard of this one.

It was originally self-published in 1982 by Simon Burley and Peter Haines. GW picked it up and published a slightly revised and expanded version in 1984, featuring awesomely genre-appropriate art by a slew of artists known for their work on Britain's seminal 2000 A.D.

I have seen it written that the game was intended to be a licensed Marvel property, but I doubt it. Simon Burley, who has remained active in the RPG community, has never made mention of that, anyway.

GW released two modules for the game, and it recieved a fair amount of attention in their house magazine, White Dwarf. Articles and adventures (some written by Burley himself), appeared in the magazine with some regularity for a couple of years. The adventures were statted for Champions as well as Golden Heroes, which I found interesting, because the games share little mechanical similarity. GH characters also seem underpowered compared to Champions, IMO. In any event, GW seemed to stop supporting the game shortly after that.

The game retained (and retains to this day) a devoted following. Its fans often proclaimit the best superhero RPG ever, and speak of long-running campaigns.

In the mid-2000's Simon Burley self-published Squadron UK, billed as an "updated, revised" version of GH. Burley, believing that the rights to GH had reverted back to him, began to sell Squadron UK and produced several supplements. He had sent Games Workshop notice of his intent, and heard nothing back, so he figured all was well. But, when he sought professional publication , the company involved wanted to use the Golden Heroes name. Burley again contacted GW. This time, however, GW responded- with a "cease and desist" order. It turned out that Burley had been wrong about the rights to GH reverting back to him, and Games Workshop was of the opinion that Squadron UK was definitely infringing on their IP. Squadron UK and all of its content were pulled from publication and sale.

More recently, Simon Burley has produced a new version of Squadron UK, at a safe distance from GW's intellectual property. The game, like its predecessor has its adherents, and a dedicated forum, The Eagle's Nest.

Golden Heroes looks to me to be both fun and maddening. I'd love to try it out. There are only four stats, but the game packs a surprising amount of crunch. Not too much, but more than you'd expect from four stats.

One way in which the game differed from many "supers" games is chargen. Which is almost completely random, all the way down. Stats, number of powers, type of powers, all random. There are ways that a player can "fine tune" the character, but not get rid of the randomness entirely. It is intended to foster creativity. After powers are rolled and developed (they can be improved, once rolled, right at the start), the player has to devise an "origin" that makes sense of the powers. Anything that cannot be suitably explained or justified has to be forfeited!

Combat attempts, successfully from what I can see, to emulate the four color super brawlls of 1980's comic books. Each character has a certain number of "frames" in which to take actions each round (like the panels of a comic book).

There are two types of damage, Hits to Coma (stun), and Hits to Kill. Most attacks will do an amount of each type of damage. Hit points are also random, but are at least based on the charactor's "vigour" stat.

There are rules for character advancement, and players may even, if they wish, save some of their power rolls at the start to use for it later.

There is also a somewhat ungainly looking system of "Campaign Ratings" to keep track of the character's public status, overall efficacy as a hero, and their self-image. These are largely awarded by the referee (known as the Script Supervisor, or SS, an apparent attempt at gallows humor that would probably go over like a fart in a spacesuit these days) after adventures. The first two scores also affect the hero's interactions with the public, as well as attempts to discover clues amd other information. I can't tell how the Personal Status (self-image) rating affects the game.

Overall it looks like a hoot, warts and all (there is no number 49 on the powers list, just to name one mistake I spotted). Does anyone here have any experience with this game? Anyone played it? I'd love to hear some experiences with and thoughts about the game.

Edit: I completely forgot to highlight one of the standout features of the game. The random chargen has one interesting effect: it makes rolling up characters a fun, even "addictive" process, something I have also heard said of classic Traveller. This is an oft-mentioned feature of the game, and many tell tales of rolling up tons of characters that never saw the light of day, simply for the fun of it! I've been messing around with it, and I can attest that it is indeed a very fun way to pass time. The different combinations are really cool, and if you follow it through to its end, the results can be quite entertaining. My favorite so far is a wealthy industrialist/chemical genius (two of the background I rolled) who turned to meth manufacture (had to explain the "criminal contacts" background somewhow, didn't I?). Now, due to an unfortunate meth lab explosion, he has tough, scaly skin, heightened senses (paranoid, you see) and the ability to explode at will. I call him... HeisenBOOM.

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:44 pm
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Unkbartig

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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
I never played it, but I did own one of the modules (Legacy of Eagles) and of course the White Dwarf articles. I used to be fond of early Champions (1-3E) and I must say the production credits on GH blew most other 1980s superhero adventures away...the only ones coming close were Villains & Vigilantes early mods (Death Duel with the Destroyers, Crisis at Crusader Citadel). Not just great art, but great maps and included cardboard heroes for all pertinent characters in the mod. Really great!

But I *hate* random character powers at CharGen. In my experience, people wanting to play a SH game already have a character concept in mind. Thus having random powers can be a dealbreaker if the rolls go wrong. Maybe not for a one-shot but certainly a campaign. You mention forfeit of powers if you can't rationalize them. Is there any kind of compensation for the loss in the game, or is it just "too bad"?

Mike, now getting kinda curious to find Golden Heroes!

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:16 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
DMMike wrote:
I never played it, but I did own one of the modules (Legacy of Eagles) and of course the White Dwarf articles. I used to be fond of early Champions (1-3E) and I must say the production credits on GH blew most other 1980s superhero adventures away...the only ones coming close were Villains & Vigilantes early mods (Death Duel with the Destroyers, Crisis at Crusader Citadel). Not just great art, but great maps and included cardboard heroes for all pertinent characters in the mod. Really great!

But I *hate* random character powers at CharGen. In my experience, people wanting to play a SH game already have a character concept in mind. Thus having random powers can be a dealbreaker if the rolls go wrong. Maybe not for a one-shot but certainly a campaign. You mention forfeit of powers if you can't rationalize them. Is there any kind of compensation for the loss in the game, or is it just "too bad"?

Mike, now getting kinda curious to find Golden Heroes!


You are spot on about the quality of the modules..big maps and cardboard minis were included.

And no, you got zilch for any forfeited powers. Could be houseruled easily enough. I wonder if that has been addressed in Squadron UK? SqUK is still random, from what I gather.

And I've seen the box set on Amazon and eBay for about 40 bucks.

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:20 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Another feature of the game that gets talked about often is its distinctly British flavour.

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:57 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
A further explanation of chargen: The number of "Power Rolls" a character gets is 2d6, divided by two (rounding up), plus 4. So, anywhere from 6-10. These may be used for (percentile) rolls on the Superpower Generation Table, or to upgrade an already rolled power, or they may be set aside for "Advantageous Backgrounds", such as "Rich- Inherited", "Contacts- Criminal", or "Brilliant Scientist- Mechanical", all of which will have in-game effects. They may also, as I mentioned earlier, be set aside for future character development. And, DMMike, I may have been wrong, it looks as though any forfeited power auto-converts to character development points for future use.

Speaking of which, the game also uses a bizarre, abstract and somewhat complicated experience system of DUPs, or "Day Utility Phase." Near as I can tell, this represents time. A certain amount of these will be awarded for adventuring successes. Some must be spent for development and improvement, and also for maintaining one's lifestyle in some cases. This apparently also represents "non-superhero" time, such as that which must be spent doing one's day job. It's a weird system, and I don't completely understand it. Some of these DUPs must be spent on game time/scenarios, with the spares being allocated as necessary to upkeep, and then, as wished to development and improvement. Also, when not playing an adventure, game time is said to pass at the same rate as "real time". So, if your group has concluded an adventure, and you played two weeks ago, then 2 weeks is assumed to have passed in-game. What is it with British RPGs and their need to have rules for paying the mortgage?

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:38 pm
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Unkbartig

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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Well, it beats Champions's "did you spend hero points to get tha tquarter to use the pay phone?" :lol:
Ok, getting something for lost power rolls is at least something. Also using one to up a certain power already rolled is tolerable as well. You get one or two powers, then either up them or buy those advantages at need.

Wow, that DUP system sounds strange. I'll need to get a pdf of the rules and see how that works. Seems excessive wheras a good GM could do that off the cuff. The obsession with time seems a holdover from FRPGs, where time and being able to avoid starvation is more important than in a modern supers game.

Mike, Looking up his DUP!

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:23 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
DMMike wrote:
Well, it beats Champions's "did you spend hero points to get tha tquarter to use the pay phone?" :lol:
Ok, getting something for lost power rolls is at least something. Also using one to up a certain power already rolled is tolerable as well. You get one or two powers, then either up them or buy those advantages at need.

Wow, that DUP system sounds strange. I'll need to get a pdf of the rules and see how that works. Seems excessive wheras a good GM could do that off the cuff. The obsession with time seems a holdover from FRPGs, where time and being able to avoid starvation is more important than in a modern supers game.

Mike, Looking up his DUP!


That I'm aware of, it's not/never been available in PDF format. The 2nd edition of Squadron UK is, but there appear to be some differences between the two, owing to Burley's understandable reluctance to be sued. The 1st Edition of Squadron UK was reportedly far more similar to GH, albeit with a few tweaks, but it seems to have disappeared entirely, for the same reason.

But yeah, there does seem to be a bit of needless complication about experience/advancement. However, as with most games of the period, GH does encourage tweaking and houseruling.

Simon Burley once wrote on a forum (somewhat cryptically) that he knew for a fact that Games Workshop would love to work with him on an updated version of Golden Heroes, but that he wanted to focus his efforts on SqUK or something like that.

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:54 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Excellent (far better than mine) in-depth analysis of this game (including DUPs and Campaign Ratings) I found on a blog:

https://d4d6d8d10d12d20sbehindtheskelet ... en-heroes/

And a post from RPGnet, briefly outlining the differences between GH and the current version of SqUK:

Quote:
I've read through the book now. It's quite different to the 2008 version. I would say the previous edition of Squadron UK was substantially the same as Golden Heroes while the new edition has changed quite a bit.

Most of the game is about how it was in previous versions but

-advantageous backgrounds have been changed around a bit and the default is now rolling to see if you get one

- there are fewer powers - a lot fewer - because the powers have been rolled together under similar effects; instead of separate powers for Armour and Tough Skin, or Gliding and Flight, or Replication and Sidekick, or Leaping, Speed and Teleporting, there's a single Protection Power, a single Flight power, a single Follower power and a single Fast Movement (?) power; every power now has multiple grades (now levels) available, and all powers have a 'Level 1/2' option, so you can squeeze an extra power roll out at the end of chargen by dropping two Level 1 powers to Level 1/2

-there are now five stats: Strength and Vigour (now Endurance) stay, Dexterity has been split into Agility and Dexterity and Ego (now Psyche) is calculated based on the total of the other four, so the higher the other four, the lower the Psyche (also, campaign ratings are now on a twenty-point as opposed to a thirty-point scale, so they're on the same scale as the stats)

-(this will be the big change in actual play, IMHO) there's a Fighting Fantasy style skill system: there are two types of skills - common, which have default bonuses of half the relevant stat (or campaign rating) and can have additional bonuses (anyone can use any common skill) - and trained, which have bonuses capped by half the relevant stat (or campaign rating; trained skills can only be used if you have a bonus in them) - skill bonuses are bought with a pool of points calculated from the total of the stats again, so, the better your stats, the fewer skill points you have and vice versa; to use a skill you roll 1d20 and add the skill bonus and any difficulty modifier (suggested modifiers range from -15 to +15): a total of 14 or less fails, a total of 15-17 succeeds marginally, a total of 18 or more succeeds totally, natural 20 is a critical, natural 1 is a fumble.

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:01 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Somewhat embarrassingly, the "Martial Arts" Power is divided into two types: Pugilism, and "Oriental Martial Arts". Man, the Eighties seem so long ago sometimes...

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Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:41 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Slight correction about frames. Earlier, I stated that faster characters get more frames. This is not the case. PC's have 4 frames, villains and thugs get 3, and mere mortals 2. Some super-baddies have 5.

A typical action takes 2 frames. Select actions take 1. Characters with super speed can use half frames, but only for movement. It's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the gist.

Higher initiative gets bonus frames, which are used first. Then the winner of initiative uses their frames, loser goes last. Except... you can "borrow" against your future frames, even for the next round, but only for defense. So, you can use frames out of sequence for defense only.

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Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:45 pm
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Mogrl

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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Gringnr wrote:
Another feature of the game that gets talked about often is its distinctly British flavour.


Not sure that works for anything but Dr. Who. And James Bond.


Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:15 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
serleran wrote:
Gringnr wrote:
Another feature of the game that gets talked about often is its distinctly British flavour.


Not sure that works for anything but Dr. Who. And James Bond.


GH may have had broader appeal if it were less "British". On the other hand, it's hard not to love an adventure module that sees the heroes fighting Morgan LeFay for the Holy Grail, and ultimately, the fate of Britain, all in the service of a cryogenically frozen Queen Victoria!

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Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:11 pm
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Still checking it out. Artwork is fantastic!

The game appears to be somewhat complex and detailed, but I see stuff that could be used in Victorious.

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Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:02 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Rhuvein wrote:
Still checking it out. Artwork is fantastic!

The game appears to be somewhat complex and detailed, but I see stuff that could be used in Victorious.


I've been reading it over, and it deffo has some rough edges. The Supervisor's Book explains that potential referees should read both the Players and Supervisor's books at the same time, section by section. Which seems kind of odd to me, because a lot of the same info is repeated nearly verbatim in both books.

It is apparent that GH, more so than any other supers RPG I've seen, is intended to mimic the four-color comics of the 1980s. The rules are tailored to this aim above all others, and are generally successful at it. Possibly to the detriment of the game, depending on how you like your supers.

As superheroes move more into the realm of movies, TV and video games, it seems much of the comic book gimmick of this game loses its relevance. I get it, and I like it. But, I have nephews who love superheroes, even though I don't think they've ever read a comic book. Know what I mean?

Overall, though, it seems very like a cool and unique, if eccentric and imperfect system. I would play it.

And, you're right about the art. It's great!

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Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:49 pm
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Unkbartig

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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Now I gotta find that adventure with Queen Vikie. What's the name of it?

GM Mike, always up to reading Victorianesque adventures!

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Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:17 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
DMMike wrote:
Now I gotta find that adventure with Queen Vikie. What's the name of it?

GM Mike, always up to reading Victorianesque adventures!



Queen Victoria and the Holy Grail. It was the 2nd published adventure. The first, Legacy of Eagles, was included in the boxed set. There was a third written, The Lancelot Caper, but never published.

There is a project in the works to update all of the GH adventures (including those published in White Dwarf and The Lancelot Caper) to Squadron UK rules and sell the book as a campaign, I think. They're being retconned into a single campaign or something.

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Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:26 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
So, I finally managed to get the material from the 1st edition of Squadron UK (which is basically the 2nd edition of Golden Heroes). It is indeed identical to GH. I cannot see any differences at first glance. In some cases, the text of the two games/books is identical. The art is new, and different.

It looks as though Golden Heroes, while British at heart, was inspired by American four-color comics. SqUK was intended to be a more British version, from the name on.

There were four scenarios written for the game. They vary in length and detail. A couple are more traditional, 30 or more pages with maps. The other two are around 15 pages, and only one contains maps.

Two sourcebooks were also published, Finest Hour, a WWII campaign sourcebook with rules for creating "Golden Age" heroes, and several linked adventures. This is a neat supplement The other, SuperFrance, is a book of French heroes, with notes on playing either French characters or British characters in campaigns set in France.

Too bad about Simon Burley's troubles with Games Workshop, he was really onto something here. And SqUK was starting to garner some recognition.

I need to check out the new edition of SqUK, I know it has been changed, but from what I've read, it retains some elements of GH. Must have been nerve-wracking trying to achieve that balance.

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Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:10 am
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Post Re: Golden Heroes- anyone played it?
Gringnr wrote:
A further explanation of chargen: The number of "Power Rolls" a character gets is 2d6, divided by two (rounding up), plus 4. So, anywhere from 6-10. These may be used for (percentile) rolls on the Superpower Generation Table, or to upgrade an already rolled power, or they may be set aside for "Advantageous Backgrounds", such as "Rich- Inherited", "Contacts- Criminal", or "Brilliant Scientist- Mechanical", all of which will have in-game effects. They may also, as I mentioned earlier, be set aside for future character development. And, DMMike, I may have been wrong, it looks as though any forfeited power auto-converts to character development points for future use.

Speaking of which, the game also uses a bizarre, abstract and somewhat complicated experience system of epowerco led adapter waterproof, or "Day Utility Phase." Near as I can tell, this represents time. A certain amount of these will be awarded for adventuring successes. Some must be spent for development and improvement, and also for maintaining one's lifestyle in some cases. This apparently also represents "non-superhero" time, such as that which must be spent doing one's day job. It's a weird system, and I don't completely understand it. Some of these DUPs must be spent on game time/scenarios, with the spares being allocated as necessary to upkeep, and then, as wished to development and improvement. Also, when not playing an adventure, game time is said to pass at the same rate as "real time". So, if your group has concluded an adventure, and you played two weeks ago, then 2 weeks is assumed to have passed in-game. What is it with British RPGs and their need to have rules for paying the mortgage?


I do play game sometimes,just heard of golden heroes,I spend lots of time on fifx and wow.


Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:53 am
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