HERO System Basics
Q: What is the HERO System?
A: The HERO System is Hero Games's award-winning
roleplaying game system. Voted the Best Roleplaying Game of All Time by
InQuest Magazine, it offers you more freedom to create exactly the
character you want than any other system available.
The HERO System is unique because it's the only
game on the market offering players and GMs the means to create any
character they want, and yet keep that character balanced against other
characters and threats. It's a point-build system based around the
concept of special effects. The rules are written generically, allowing
the gamer himself to decide exactly what a power or ability does, and
then define it in game terms. For example, you won't find a "Lightning
Bolt" or "Wings" power in the book that says, "Here's how you blast
people," or "here's how you fly." Instead, the game elements are defined
generically. Instead of Lightning Bolt there's Energy Blast and Killing
Attack - Ranged; instead of Wings there's Flight.
As a player, you might decide, "I want my
character to be able to fly - he has wings." Instead of just writing
down whatever the game's designers say "Wings" do, you decide how to
represent Wings in game terms, using Flight and some Power Modifiers. A
character with the ability to fly by manipulating gravity would build
his power using Flight in different ways, since gravity manipulation and
wings, while both enabling a character to fly, work differently.
The result of this is that you aren't constrained
by what the game's designers think. You apply your own creativity and
the unmatched flexibility of the HERO System to create what you want.
Around the Hero Games offices, we like to explain
it this way: Most games are like boutique stores: they cover one subject
really well, but don't really provide anything else. A few systems,
including other supposedly "generic" or "multi-genre" ones, are like
department stores. They offer you lots of stuff, but you have to find
it, and they may not have something you want. The HERO System is like
Home Depot. It provides the tools to build anything you want - but you
have to know what you want and how to do the work.
Q: That sounds a little complicated. Is there an easier way?
A: The HERO System may sound daunting, but it's
much easier than it seems at first blush, partly because of its high
degree of internal consistency. Once you figure out how something works,
that same rules logic often applies in many other situations.
If you want to ease into the system, the HERO
System 5th Edition rulebook contains over three hundred sample abilities
- spells, superpowers, gadgets, enhanced skills, you name it. The index
lists every sample ability individually, making them easy to find. Just
look up what you want and use our sample write-up.
Another good source of ideas and suggestions is
our Working With The HERO System page. It's got a FAQ of basic questions
about the rules - how to do or create certain common abilities or
effects. Check it out, and feel free to send us suggestions for
additional questions for the FAQ if you don't find what you want.
If you're still having trouble, try posting a
question on the message boards here on the website. The hundreds of Hero
gamers who monitor them every day will gladly offer you suggestions,
advice, and assistance.
Q: What books and other products do you publish for the HERO
A: Check out the About Our Products page for more
Q: What's the difference between "Superheroic" and "Heroic"?
A: Generally speaking, the HERO System divides all
characters (and campaigns) into two types: Heroic and Superheroic. In a
Heroic campaign, characters are usually more or less normal people
(though highly competent and capable, compared to average folk). They
have Skills, Perks, Talents, weapons, and equipment. In some genres,
such as fantasy, they can do spectacular things like cast spells, but
they are not "superhumans" per se. In game terms, they do not pay
Character Points for weapons or equipment; instead, they pay for the
appropriate Skills (like Weapon Familiarity) and get gear as part of the
game (they buy it, steal it, build it, or what have you).
Superheroic campaigns feature characters built
with more Character Points than Heroic character (or at least they
usually do). Typically these characters possess superpowers, like those
of comic book superheroes, or similar abilities that set them apart from
normal people. Superheroic characters have to pay Character Points for
their weapons and equipment; they don't get anything "for free."
For more information, see pages 12-16 of the HERO
System 5th Edition.
Q: What's the current edition of the HERO System?
In August/September 2009, Hero Games published the 6th
Edition of the HERO System. It comes as a two-book set, Volume
1: Character Creation and Volume 2: Combat And Adventuring.
Q: Does Hero Games still publish sourcebooks for the 5th
Edition rules, or have any plans to?
No and no - now that the 6th Edition is out, it's the
only version of the rules we plan to support. However, as discussed
below, the fundamentals of the rules haven't changed; even if you don't
want to upgrade to 6E, you can easily use 6E supplements and sourcebooks
in a 5E game with minimal effort.
Q: What are the major differences between the 5th Edition and
the 6th Edition?
A: The fundamentals of the game - the type of dice used and how
they're used, Character Points, the SPD Chart, and so on - haven't
changed. The two "biggest" changes in most gamers' eyes are (a) the
elimination of the "hex" (everything's just measured in meters now,
making the game easier to learn and play), and (b) the "decoupling" of
Figured Characteristics (PD, ED, SPD, and the like all still exist, but
they don't derive from the "Primary" Characteristics at all). But beyond
that there are lots of minor tweaks to costs and values, changes to
several Powers, new Powers and Power Modifiers, and so on.
You can find a PDF
of pages 20-21 of 6E Volume 1, which summarize the basic changes that
affect character creation and conversion. It doesn't cover things like
new Combat Maneuvers, but it's a good place to start as you decide how
to upgrade your characters and campaigns to 6E.