I have read before in more than one place that Champions started as a set of variant rules for SH2044. I can't say for certain whether this is anecdote or actual history. If true, it wouldn't be the only game to be inspired by another. Tunnels & Trolls was written as a reaction to D&D, and Burley's own Golden Heroes was initially born of 1st Edition Gamma World adapted for supers.I've just heard of the death of Donald Saxman - creator of the world's first Superhero RPG - Superhero 2044.
We owe him a debt that can never be repaid.
The game rules were incomplete. The application of RPG assumptions to the Superhero game world skewed it. Eg. The "Superhero shop" where you bought equipment. "Heroes" ended up dripping with SMGs and the other sort of RPG. Everybody became The Comedian, half a decade before Watchmen.
Yes the game was unplayable as written and got a bad press.
But Donald Saxman DID it. He wrote the world's first SHRPG. He clearly self published. My first copy was a Xeroxed spiral bound thing that could have been produced in his garage but it somehow found its way to me in the UK. And this game gave so many of us a start. We bought it, we played it, we fixed it, we published my our own. If he could do it, so could we.
S'44 was directly responsible for Golden Heroes - and don't tell it me wasn't the inspiration for Champions. Champions is SOOOO S'44 done right. I bet loads of other older SHRPG designers will quote S'44 as in inspiration, even if only as an example of what NOT to do.
But it did so many things RIGHT that people forget. Great artwork. A fully detailed and playable game world with dozens of plot hooks in the space of - what - 32 pages. Everyone should get a copy of S'44 - first edition by preference - if only for the game world of Inguria. It's inspiring. And some of the rules are good. The ratings system is unique and makes a great basis for a postal game.
S'44 was a work of flawed genius which through its inspiration and failings turned a whole generation of us into SHRPG authors.
I owe Donald Saxman a great personal debt. Rest in Peace.
It's interesting that today, superhero RPGs are as prevalent as any other gaming genre. Saxman seems to have been the spark that ignited a massive fire.
Rest In Peace, my good man.