HERO is not Indie. The original Champions system was designed by Geoge MacDonald, who no longer owns HERO or Hero Games. Hero Games went through some wacky ownership craziness, and currently has a relationship with DOJ, but that isn’t quite clear. Steve Long, the writer of HERO 5th Ed, who’s mark is clear on the book (as clear as Monte Cook’s is on D&D 3rd Ed). Long was originally employed by Hero Games (under R Talsorian) as a writer, however, his role after the DOJ buyout became much higher. It’s not clear how much of HERO Long owns, but I suspect its a controlling interest. In his own words:
“To…my fellow owners of DOJ, IN., for helping me to realize another dream, of actually owning Hero Games.”
HERO may not be creator owned, but it’s certainly developer owned.
But that’s not what’s important to me.
Someone once said something along the lines of ‘Hero isn’t a game, its a group of rules for designing your own game.’ Over on Grumbling Dwarf, Nitrami had this to say about games in general (emphasis mine):
“When I buy a game, read thru it, and then spend time setting up a game for people to play, it is my game, and the players game. The creater of the game has created my insperation, with everything they have put into the game book I bought. But, once I have started running that game, its my game to run”
You can’t play HERO without the GM making some design calls and making it his own. Once I have my Shadowfist mod for HERO, I may not be able to sell it, but its mine, its the game I want to play designed the way I want to play it, I own that idea, and no one can take it away from me. If that’s not indie, I don’t know what is.