Role Playing Games

Game Book Reviews


Book Line: ChampionsSKU: 222
Book Type: SettingFormats: Softcover, PDF
Author: Steven S. LongReleased: February, 2008
Cost: 24.99$ISBN: 978-1-58366-053-9
Page Count: 119Hero Designer: Yes (SKU: )
Common Abbreviations: SHDPrint Status: In Print

The Upside:

Stronghold is the Champions Universe Super Prison, made specifically to contain supervillains - and of course wrongly accused superheroes. The book covers everything from when a supervillain is captured all the way to incarceration.

Chapter 1 - The Supervillain In The Hands Of The Law. This chapter covers superhero law in the Champions Universe - and even if you don't use the CU setting it's generic enough that it can be adapted to any campaign with minimal changes. The first part covers everything Before The Trial, including the basic on laws governing supers, investigation of crimes and the impacts of 'sanctioned' vs 'unsanctioned' superheroes. Next the chapter covers how to handle a trial, including the basic of any trial, how to create a scenario around a trial (along with a random scenario generator), and other possible issues that might come up. The post-trial section covers super prisoner transport to Stronghold and other precautions of incarcerating a convicted supervillain.

Chapter 2 - Welcome To Stronghold. This chapter covers the location, history, the layout of the entire prison and security measures. The history includes how Stronghold came to be, the events of the great Stronghold Breakout and other bits of information that can be used to adapt Stronghold into the history of your campaign. This chapter also includes all the maps of Stronghold. Every section of the prison gets an individual map, along with a nice cutaway of the side of the prison. The last bit in the chapter is a brief description of other superprisons in the world including Canada, China, Russia and Europe. The best part of this chapter is the collection of all the maps, everything from a single cell to entire levels of the prison are mapped out in detail.

Chapter 3 - Life Behind Bars. And here we get into the details of Life Inside. Starting with exactly which supercriminals go to Stronghold, how the prison takes them in, how the prisoners are classified and where in the prison they're cell is likely to be. The next section describes the daily schedule that the prisoners undergo. Despite the rigid schedule the inmates have a lot of time to interact with each other. The next section describes the various ways that they do so, and the prison dynamics going on inside between the inmates. And given the nature of criminals the last part of this chapter covers Escaping. Or more accurately, it covers the Stronghold response to possible escape attempts and other issues that might occur such as a riot. Even if you don't use Stronghold this chapter has a lot of good information for setting up and running a prison in general, superhuman or otherwise.

Chapter 4 - Personnel. This chapter is split into two main sections - Staff and Inmates. Staff contains write-ups for all the important people who run the prison, and provides a number of persons that interact with the inmates. A lot of flavor is added to the prison with this section, giving a list of less than honest people who fuel the prisons smuggling ring, and those who are on the level and how they interact with the prison. Inmates provides six write-ups of supervillains that you can use either with in-prison scenarios, or as new villains in your campaign after either successful prison break, or as a recently released prisoner.

Chapter 5 - Running The Joint. This is a chapter of general GM advise on how to use Stronghold in various ways. The first part is how to adapt Stronghold to your own campaign, most importantly how to adapt it to other genres (Mage-Prison for Fantasy Hero as an example). Next is ways in which you can alter Stronghold to fit your needs. And the last part is a very short section on creating a Superprison from scratch with some pointers on what you will want to look at. And the last part of the book is Scenarios that use Stronghold as the center point. Five full scenario ideas are provided; Escape From Stronghold (an escape scenario), Just Let Us Go And No One Gets Hurt (a hostage situation), Riot In Cell Block Beta-2-D (a prison riot and after math), Heroes Behind Bars (the Heroes in prison!), The SH (a full campaign idea where the PCs are inmates).

Peppered through the text are excerpts from the journal of the inmate Requiem, providing some nice details to 'life inside' the prison. These help add atmosphere to how to create the feeling of being in a prison.

Even if you don't need a Superprison there's plenty of good advice in this book on how to set up a super-secure prison, or even just an average prison if your needs are that way. The Staff section can be used to fill out any prison in your campaign, and the laws can be adapted to a world where Vigilantes (a Dark Champions campaign for instance) are a common element.

The Downside:

The maps are awesome, but not all the maps are easily printed out for use. Taking some space at the end of the book to make the maps scale to the average battle map you can buy in a gaming store would have made them perfect.

The Otherside:

Stronghold can easily be adapted to any Supers style game, as it mostly provides a framework of how to set up and run a prison, and Super Law system, with very little in the way of Hero System specific facts. Even if you don't need a Super Prison the advise can be used to run any prison in any kind of campaign with a little bit of work.

Overall, if you feel the need for a detailed prison or set of laws in your campaign I definitely recommend this book. From the legal system that incarcerates a villain to life inside the prison itself this book covers pretty much anything you could need to run or use a prison in your campaign.