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Steve Long

MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

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How many character points do your gods have? 

 

The honest answer is that I can't give you any real information, because I haven't calculated the costs yet. When I write a HERO System book, the adding up of the character sheets is the very last step. That way if I make any changes or discover any omissions, I don't have to go to the extra work of changing costs already calculated. I developed this method in self defense, and it has worked superbly. ;)

 

However, for purposes of satisfying your curiosity, I can quickly run through and add up a few sheets as they now stand. These are not final numbers, mind you, but they should give you some ballpark ideas.

 

Zeus:  2,654

Loki:  1,286

Kali:  2,759

Huitzilopochtli:  1,742

Perun:  2,459

Olorun:  1,647

 

Note that one of the factors affecting a god's or hero's cost is how well he's described in the sources available to me. Any god who gets a full character sheet is important enough and detailed enough to merit that treatment, but some are much better described than others. That means more stuff on their sheets.

 

Also worth noting:  gods rarely have Multipowers. I might use one for a multi-purpose weapon or the like, but usually not for specific divine abilities. I buy those separately so the god can use his Divine Power Pool to augment the power when necessary and desired.

 

The gods listed here provide some examples. Zeus is well-described and has lots of powers; so is Kali (in fact, the Hindu gods and heroes in general are expensive, because they're loaded down with powers, magical weapons, and whatnot). Perun isn't well described (no Slavic god is), but has lots of powers. Huitzilopochtli is generally powerful and well-described, but unlike Zeus his weapon is bought as an OAF, which really saves him some points. Olorun is neither well-described nor has lots of powers. Loki I'm surprised to see come in so low, but he's not that complex a god for HERO System purposes, and in any event there may be more to add to him.

 

I hope that offers a little insight into the process. ;)

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Hi

 

What I would like to see are the "limits"to Godly powers due to agreement of the

gods or other things.  For insance if a God goes to earth his Avatar is much more limited and not omnipotent as he might be in the dimension that is the Realm of the Gods, O;y,pus, Asgard erc.

 

Also I'd ;ike the rules to cover sons of deities uncovering their powers.

 

Certain powers can be used but not for certain effects.  For instane Zues cannot just hit Persues with a lightning bolt from heaven and kill him but can give limited magic items to his enemies, etc.

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Progress! It's taken me months longer than it should have due to my ongoing health problems, but I've finally finished the Incan and South American Mythology chapter of MYTHIC HERO. Woot!

 

Now to move on to the last major world mythology left to me (though by no means the last one I have to research and write about): Celtic! First task: update my bibliography. That should take me the rest of the day, at least.

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I'm rather assuming that Mythic Hero is going to be a book of Gods: a Mythic Hero book would have to contain something useful to use in my games, or a game I might create or play in.

 

I remember the old Deities and Demigods book in DnD and how, despite the fact that I bought it, I never really found a use for it: the characters portrayed were too powerful for even the mightiest of heroes and took on an almost arbitrary aspect because there were no rules for creating them - you could make up what you wanted to.

 

So I suppose the first thing a book of this sort would have to answer is 'what is a God?', then 'what is the place of a God in my game?'

 

Almost by definition a God is something that is beyond the bounds of the world we live in.  A lot of comic book characters are described as 'godlike' in their power, but are they?  Gods in story and legend could do whatever was needed for the story or legend, and were limited in whatever ways were needed. 

 

I would not be particularly keen on a villain/NPC book detailing the stats of Gods: at the sort of power levels we are talking about, Hero starts to break down unless you have very strict build guidelines: a 1000 point character can have a 100d6 Blast and still have 500 points to spend on other stuff.  Another 1000 point character could not usefully defend against that sort of attack without being very fortunate in the way they built the character.  In fact, at that level some powers become almost de rigeur: damage reduction being a case in point.

 

In addition the sheer variety of attacks becomes impossible to usefully defend against: a 50d6 NND will take down almost anything that is not specifically shielded against it.

 

The above examples also shows how unplayable the characters would be: if you are rolling dozens of dice for damage, you will be spending most of your time just adding up.

 

Gods should have weaknesses: not ones that allow them to be beaten in combat, because that almost never happens, but ones that allow them to be outsmarted, misdirected or tricked.  If a mortal beats a God, it is almost always because they are smarter, or luckier in some way, than the God they beat or that they had the help and guidance of another God.  You do not usually hear tales of mortals besting Gods in direct combat, not unless the God has deliberately limited itself in some way, or been limited.

 

Gods should affect the world in various ways: some as mere superstitious talismans, others as active participants in fate, but always as a plot device rather than an active antagonist.  You might defeat Hades by foiling his followers' machinations, but you are unlikely to simply punch his lights out...

 

...having said which, that actually happened in a game I ran where the characters were 250 point superheroes - but I had not statted up Hades and calculated his stun and KB, it happened because Hades was passing through a portal to the mortal world and the character, Fortress, struck at exactly the right time and, well, it made sense for the game.  I had not planned it, but I certainly took advantage of it.

 

That, I suppose is the point: even if we assume that most Gods are basically high powered superheroes, who plays games at that level?  The effect they have on the world should be as shadow on a screen.

 

If I had to say what I would want from Mythic Hero it would be rules for building a game that could stand the pressure of Gods as active participants in the affairs of the game world.

 

On a personal note, I am sorry to hear of Steve's health problems: nothing too serious, I hope.

 

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8 minutes ago, Sean Waters said:

Almost by definition a God is something that is beyond the bounds of the world we live in.  A lot of comic book characters are described as 'godlike' in their power, but are they?  Gods in story and legend could do whatever was needed for the story or legend, and were limited in whatever ways were needed. 

 

Well, that really depends on the gods you're talking about. Lots of gods from myth were in the world where people lived, just inaccessible parts of it. Some could be physically matched and even injured by mortals; many others could be tricked or trapped.

 

8 minutes ago, Sean Waters said:

 

I would not be particularly keen on a villain/NPC book detailing the stats of Gods: at the sort of power levels we are talking about, Hero starts to break down unless you have very strict build guidelines: a 1000 point character can have a 100d6 Blast and still have 500 points to spend on other stuff.  Another 1000 point character could not usefully defend against that sort of attack without being very fortunate in the way they built the character.  In fact, at that level some powers become almost de rigeur: damage reduction being a case in point.

 

I've never seen any published character with that massively imbalanced a build, so I wasn't expecting that here.

 

8 minutes ago, Sean Waters said:

 

In addition the sheer variety of attacks becomes impossible to usefully defend against: a 50d6 NND will take down almost anything that is not specifically shielded against it.

 

I've not yet encountered a mythology in which the gods metagame like that. ;)

 

8 minutes ago, Sean Waters said:

 

The above examples also shows how unplayable the characters would be: if you are rolling dozens of dice for damage, you will be spending most of your time just adding up.

 

Or multiply smaller numbers of dice, preroll results, used dice rolling apps, or any other speeding technique.

 

8 minutes ago, Sean Waters said:

 

Gods should have weaknesses: not ones that allow them to be beaten in combat, because that almost never happens, but ones that allow them to be outsmarted, misdirected or tricked.  If a mortal beats a God, it is almost always because they are smarter, or luckier in some way, than the God they beat or that they had the help and guidance of another God.  You do not usually hear tales of mortals besting Gods in direct combat, not unless the God has deliberately limited itself in some way, or been limited.

 

Wasn't that unusual in Greek mythology for gods to be bested by heroes -- check out the Trojan War, for example.

 

8 minutes ago, Sean Waters said:

 

Gods should affect the world in various ways: some as mere superstitious talismans, others as active participants in fate, but always as a plot device rather than an active antagonist.  You might defeat Hades by foiling his followers' machinations, but you are unlikely to simply punch his lights out...

 

...having said which, that actually happened in a game I ran where the characters were 250 point superheroes - but I had not statted up Hades and calculated his stun and KB, it happened because Hades was passing through a portal to the mortal world and the character, Fortress, struck at exactly the right time and, well, it made sense for the game.  I had not planned it, but I certainly took advantage of it.

 

That, I suppose is the point: even if we assume that most Gods are basically high powered superheroes, who plays games at that level?  The effect they have on the world should be as shadow on a screen.

 

Except in the superhero genre, supers actually do sometimes directly oppose mythic gods, or even are gods. I've played at that level, and know many who do. It is far above 250 points, though. But punching out Hades' lights can be quite satisfying. :D

 

 

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The problem with extrapolating from, for example, Greek myth is that the myth is written with a point in mind.  If a God is bested by a mortal then, I maintain, it is generally through trickery, luck, divine aid or the God limiting itself or being limited somehow.  The problem is that, like arguing who is stronger: Hulk or Superman? you can always find a counterexample in the source material.  Myths rarely make coherent sense, so creating a character sheet for a God will always be a matter of judgement.

 

I note from the examples of points that Steve gives we have a range of just over 1200 points to nearly 2800.  At 2800 points you can have virtually every power in the book, and then some at significant power levels: this is the level of power of Zeus or Kali: beings who can probably arrange a cataclysm something like a nuke going off.  You could certainly build a nuclear level attack at a fraction of that cost.

 

As for Gods not metagaming, can I introduce you to the Roman Catholic faith?  Mysterious ways, my friend....

 

That kind of leads on to miracles: Gods can traditionally arrange things so that massive effects happen: famines, floods, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, that kind of thing.  All perfectly buildable with Hero, of course, but a bit weird to have as a power - they don't often do the cataclysm thing that often, usually once once or twice.

 

Even in the modern world a 500 point character can be virtually immune to anything any number of normals can throw at them, including most military weapons.  You could say that is 'godlike'.  Now even if my 500 point power examples were over the top, I could quite easily see a 2000 point character having a 200 point power, and that is 40DCs of damage or, for a trickster god, perhaps, 40 dice of mind control, or a fully invisible 4d6+1 major transform...

 

I maintain that Hero does start to break down at higher levels because defences simply can not keep up with attacks: at low power levels a transform may not be that much of a problem simply because it will require a large number of hits to affect the target, but the higher the power level you are operating at, the broader the spectrum of defences you need as single attacks can become devastating: I worked out once that it would take about 60 character points to defend against 5 character points of attack, assuming the attack could be built however you like.

 

I'm also slightly concerned that we will have the 'Divine Zone' where Gods can create any effect they like with a 40 point EDM...

 

Now the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, or at least in the recipe, so who knows: but I think that the more points you have the more difficult it is to maintain game balance.  Gods tend to be described in absolutes or, at least, superlatives, and that does not sit well with me.  I am, as I freely admit, a curmudgeon but I would be happy to be proved wrong.

 

My favourite book is Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light (which is being adapted for Netflix, apparently, and which was the film that they were 'supposedly' making in the events portrayed in 'Argo').  That is how to do Gods, in my opinion.  Yes indeed.

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