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Hero System Combat Applet

This is a Java applet providing a limited simulation of superhero combat under the Hero System or Champions roleplaying game rules, using Sam Bell's comic book character writeups. As the SimCity people say, this is a toy, rather than a game.

Please wait a small eternity for the applet to load and read in its characters data file. You will then see two scrolling lists of Hero System characters, three text windows, and three "Fight" buttons. Select a group, then a hero, from each list, and push a Fight button. Details of their combat will appear in the larger text window at the bottom. You can use the Combat Stats windows to see current characteristics and change tactics between button pushes. Read the detailed instructions about using this and the other buttons. Repeat until satisfied. Read on below the applet for more details.

This Program Requires a Java-enabled Browser

If you are seeing this text, your browser isn't Java-enabled. Sorry. If you want to use this page, pick up one of

Regarding Sam Bell

Sam Bell, who authored all these writeups, passed away January 21, 2000. His family have put up a tribute to him, but to me, a more eloquent note about him was a shorter letter his brother sent me. I put it up on this page, along with a few other memorabilia: Regarding Sam Bell. I didn't know him myself, we only exchanged a few emails about Champions, and how he avoided Java despite working for Sun, but I appreciate his writeups, and his permission to use them this way. Thanks Sam.


There are still more deficiencies than you can spread an Energy Blast over. Please with commentary, and tell me what is good, what is bad, what else is missing and which I should work on first. Some suggestions are enumerated below.

If you have problems loading the applet, write me, and if possible, tell me your web browser, operating system, and any message that may have appeared in the lowest text window. You may also want to just download the following two Zip-compressed files, unzip them into the same directory, and open this page, CombatApplet.html, on your local machine. It probably won't reformat your hard disk... 8-)

The Java classes and source code.

These would also be useful if someone else were interested in writing some of the below anticipated improvements, and knew Java. The applet is not meant to be a Java tutorial, there are already plenty of those on the net. I have nothing against extra participation, but I would like to keep the latest and greatest definitive version here, so if you make changes, please document and .

Potential Improvements

  1. Parse more of the characters' powers.
  2. Currently only the following character features matter to the program:
    Characteristics STR, DEX, CON, BODY, EGO, PD, ED, SPD, REC, END, STUN
    Powers Armor, Damage Resistance, Ego Blast, Energy Blast, Flash Defense, Flight, Gliding, Hand (to Hand) Attack, (Hand or Ranged) Killing Attack, Mental Defense, Power Defense, Running, Swinging, Teleport, Telekinesis, Damage Reduction
    Advantages Attack vs Limited Defense, Attack vs No Normal Defense, Charges, EB vs Physical Defense, NND Does BODY, No Range Modifier, Reduced END Cost, Reduced END Cost on Strength
    Limitations Increased END Cost, Charges, No Knockback, No Range
    Skills Martial Attacks, Martial Dodge, Combat Skill Levels (Overall, Combat, Hand-to-Hand, DCV, Weapon Group, OCV with specific Weapon)
    Other powers, all disadvantages, all perks, and all other skills are completely ignored. But at least now the program is good for more than just simulating a battle between bricks! However, there are still a lot of features in the Hero System, and it will take a lot of hard work to parse even a few of them in, and make them all matter.

  3. Add an environment for characters to fight in.
  4. Currently both characters are assumed to be forever in a featureless infinite corridor. There are no items to pick up or be knocked back into. It could be worse - before 0.10 the characters were always in the same hex! With an environment, Knockback, other items, and maneuvering would become more important. The environment could next be two dimensional, which would allow for maneuver, and might be more interesting to depict graphically; then it could be three dimensional, allowing flying characters to use that advantage.

  5. Allow for multiple characters.
  6. Currently combat is only one on one. This would include the option of teams slugging it out, or a complete free-for-all.

  7. Add more characters to the list.
  8. This current character list is based on a list Sam Bell donated to the PDX FTP Hero System Archive. If you are really eager to deal with a larger collection, I have a page using 321 Sam Bell characters. Also, following Jack Wilson's passing, his Champions Write-Up Page is being hosted by Shelley Chrystal Mactyre. A copy of this applet resides there, and can read his HTML format.
    There are several other collections of Hero System characters on the Internet that I could gather and make my program parse, specifically Tim Larson's Great Net Book of Real HEROs, and Mike Surbrook's Write-ups. All these collections overlap, but none is a complete superset of another.

  9. Allow users to input their own characters.
  10. Right now, there are two ways to change the character mix
    1. Edit/add characters on-line (lost next time the applet reloads).
    2. Download the code and files, and change the characters file the applet reads in.
    An improvement would be something like a Java version of HeroMaker or Character Creator, limited to the stuff that matters to the applet. It might be useful by itself, outside the applet, like Douglas MacDougall's HTML Hero.

  11. Allow more combat tactics.
  12. One of the strengths of the Hero combat system is the many options allowed to characters in combat. Currently the applet makes heroes attack immediately on their phase and dexterity, with the user participating by assigning skill levels, and choosing whether to move, dodge, or use a specific full power attack. The program throws in its two cents by eliminating clearly inferior choices - i.e. no movement away farther than the longest attack range, no high-END action when a lower-END one has tha same or better effect. I could add blocking, recovery, limited power use, detailed movement, holding whole or half phases etc. These choices could be made completely interactively (by the user), and/or I could add more intelligence to the program itself. I could even make the full list of actions, even "inferior" ones available.

  13. Improve the applet GUI.
  14. The screen above is really getting cluttered, and some browsers won't show horizontal scroll bars on the attacks list. This is partially fixed by the Separate from Page button, but something else might still be done - I'm open to suggestions. One is to let the combat windows for the 2 characters pop off the page and float freely, the way the whole applet now can - would that be better, or even worse? Should it be an option?

  15. Add more or less detail to the combat comments.
  16. The applet has reached the point where it is not actually telling absolutely every detail of what took place. It could tell more, or even less. Similarly, the combat line showing character current relative locations could in theory be enhanced (how?) or gotten rid of entirely (easy).

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Rated with ICRA ICRA, the Internet Content Rating Association is the apparent successor to RSACi. It maintains a World Wide Web voluntary ratings system. This page rates 1 for violence :-).


Java Hero System Combat Applet written by George Ruban,
The Hero System and Champions belong to Hero Games. Most of the characters in the lists belong to either Marvel or DC comics. All of these are used without the owners' permission. This applet is not intended to make a profit or be a challenge to any owners' respective ownership or trademarks, but rather as a tribute and a work of fan fiction.
Character write-ups by Sam Bell. Permission granted to duplicate and transmit, as long as this note is not removed.
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