Several years ago on these forums (January 1, 2010 according to my notes), I pitched a game for HERO Central called Starfall - Rise of the Gamma HERO. Here's the original pitch:
Rise of the Gamma HERO
The preacher read from the ancient book. "And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." He then turned to the crowd to explain the passage.
"First came the sword, as men turned upon each other with weapons unimaginable."
"Second came the hunger, and all who lived suffered the changes wrought by the tech."
"Third came death, as men simply fell over, their souls rent from their bodies."
"Fourth, the beasts of the earth rose up as men huddled in the shattered ruins, for Man had broken the sacred covenant that gave dominion over them."
The preacher skims ahead a few lines, then continues. "And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind."
"And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places."
"And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains"
"And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb"
"For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
The book is closed, and the preacher turns toward the crowd once more. "The Day of Wrath has come and gone. The Lord has judged the guilty, and brought the virtuous into his embrace. We know this because His word is spread far and wide, contained in every Inn of the Holiday."
"But what of those who remain, those who neither reached the heights of virtue nor the depths of depravity? We have been given a second chance, to work our way back into the graces of the Lord. And we must avoid the hubris that led to the Day of Wrath, when men worshiped the tech and lost sight of Him."
"This is not belief. This is fact. The town of Cassrock rebuilt much of its ancient tech, only to be smote barely a season ago by a Star of Heaven. Their fate is warning to us all..."
Starfall is a post-Apocalyptic setting for the HERO System (5th edition) – though it can be easily adapted to 6th edition HERO. The campaign takes place many decades after civilization has fallen, and the world has changed. The Great War unleashed many terrors, from nuclear fire to deadly transform viruses, and those who survived have been forever altered. Many people were mutated and became known as Muts, with some gaining exceptional physical or mental abilities. Animals were transformed, with a few even gaining sentience and taking the nickname of Beasts. The few humans that have survived unchanged are resistant to the many dangers of the Wastes, and are called the Pure.
The campaign begins in the village of Fedrex, located in a hidden valley in the mountains. The heart of the village is host to a massive building of ancient tech, next to a bridge over a waterfall.
Fedrex has survived because of the Rule of Cargo. Those who reach adulthood must prove their worth to remain in the village by securing Cargo - resources that the town can use for the benefit of its citizens. The more resources a citizen can secure, the higher their position in the village hierarchy. Those who bring small amounts of Cargo may only be given temporary citizenship, and be forced to quest for Cargo again after the turning of the seasons.
The current leader of the town is Daryne, a middle-aged Pure who returned to the village with ancient tech that makes the water safe to drink. His position as leader appears to be guaranteed for life, as he not only is responsible for acquiring the tech, but jealously guards the knowledge of how to repair it when it breaks down. The current members of the village council were part of the same expedition that recovered the device.
While limited amounts of tech are accepted by the village, particularly if it is needed to survive, many in Fedrex are fearful of acquiring too much technology. Last season, a great bolt of light lanced down from the Star of Heaven. Weeks later, a woman arrived as a refugee from Cassrock. The town had recently activated a device that awoke previously unusable tech. Unnatural lighting kept the town visible from miles away in the dark of night, strange vehicles began traveling the pathways laid down by the Ancients, and there were whispered rumors that a war party attacking Cassrock was felled from afar by metal wands that unleashed death on all who approached. These ancient wonders availed them not, as the Star of Heaven destroyed the device and killed nearly half the population of Cassrock in an instant. Many say that to depend on the tech is a form of worship, and the Star of Heaven will smite any who worship false gods.
The characters in Starfall are seeking to become full members of their village, either from reaching adulthood or as travelers seeking to settle in Fedrex. As no one may stay more than a season in Fedrax without having offered Cargo to the village council, groups often band together to seek out tech. While the impact of the Cargo is diminished by sharing it among a group, this is more than outweighed by the safety of traveling in numbers. The world outside Fedrex is very dangerous, as bands of mindless Beasts or savage Muts prey on solitary travelers.
Most characters will be one of three types - Pures, Muts, or Beasts. There is a fourth type, Weeds, that should only be used if the gamemaster and players are comfortable with including them in the campaign.
Descendants of the survivors of the Final War, Pures have remained unchanged despite the perils of disease, poison, glow spots, and countless other dangers. Some say the Pures were gifted with ancient tech that was woven into their bodies and passed along to their descendants. Others believe it to be a natural adaptation to the harsh environment - given the trillions that existed before the Final War, some small percentage would have the necessary traits to thrive despite the hazards. Several religions claim that Pures are the Blessed - not virtuous enough to have been taken into the Heavens, but still favored by the divine.
Regardless of the reasons for their purity, the Pure share several traits that protect them. Pure characters are required to purchase the following:
Bloodline of Purity (3 points Power Defense, Hardened, Resistant) - 6 points. In the Starfall campaign, this is the only way for a character to gain Power Defense without restrictions (Radiation only, Poisons only, etc) at character creation. This applies to all types of Drains, Transfers, Transforms, and related attacks. At the GM's discretion, it may even provide some resistance against NND attacks based on radiation, biological attacks, nanoviruses, or poisons.
Accelerated Healing (Regeneration, 1 BODY per Day, increased food intake) - 5 points. Pures who survive injuries will eventually return to full health. While they cannot heal back lost limbs or destroyed organs, the Pure can recover as long as they survive the initial injury and bloodloss. Pures healing from such injuries gain a vastly increased appetite. A lack of food can hinder their healing, possibly resulting in the injuries becoming permanent.
Stat Minimums (special) - Pures are the best of humanity, the ones who have survived and prospered in a harsh world. Barring illness, injury, or age, they are in excellent condition both physically and mentally. Pures may not buy down any of their stats unless there is an associated injury (reduced Running for having one leg, etc) and should have above average stats in most areas.
Tech Access (special) - Several devices of the ancients, particularly death-dealing weapons, will only function in the hands of a Pure. The few guardians of ancient tech that survived the Final War will recognize a Pure on sight. While this doesn't necessarily protect the Pure from harm, it will usually give the Pure a chance to negotiate or depart the area before being attacked. This is represented by the character not taking one of the Distinctive Features required by the other character types. In addition, Pures may choose to buy a single signature item of tech with points (maximum of 30 Active Points) at character creation, and are the only characters who have the option of acquiring tech via character points.
Sample tech item: Solar-Powered Civilian Laser Pistol - 1d6+1 AP RKA, OAF, 8 charges. 30 Active Points, 12 Real Points. This weapon has been passed down through the generations to the eldest child. Each new wielder receives the weapon in an elaborate ceremony, that ends with the current wielder placing the weapon in the recipient's hand and intoning the ancient incantation, "Transfer authorization to new user". The weapon runs out of power after 8 shots, but recharges after sitting in sunlight for a full day. [Note that weapons bought with points do not take limitations like Real Weapon.]
Muts (can be pronounced as either 'Mutts' or 'Mutes')
Muts are humans that have been changed in the aftermath of the Final War. Most muts show some physical sign of their mutations, and some have suffered massive alterations.
Mut characters must take the following:
Distinctive Feature: Mutated Human - 5 points. All muts must take this disadvantage, even if they have no physical signs of mutation. Many devices of the ancients can see past appearance to the true nature of a being.
Distinctive Feature: Mut - 5+ points. Muts with physical signs of their mutation may take this disadvantage. This may also be the basis for taking certain hunteds, as there are groups in the wasteland who hunt down muts.
Mutant Powers - Varies. The changes wrought by the Final War have given some (but not all) muts special abilities. Examples of such abilities can be found in the Post-Apocalyptic HERO book, pages 112-128. Powers have a limit of 30 Active Points, and all proposed powers will be carefully scrutinized for balance.
Sample mutant power: Kinetic Fist - +2d6 hand-to-hand attack, Double Knockback (up to 4d6 Double Knockback with STR). Note: This changes the default of the attack from Knockdown to Knockback. 17 Active Points, 11 Real Points. The mut has the power to magnify the force of a punch and distribute it along the foe's entire body, catapulting him backward.
Legends say that before the Final War, the only creatures capable of thought and reasoning were humans. However, part of the changes wrought upon the land changed many of the animals. Many became larger and more aggressive than their pre-War counterparts, and several became sentient. A rare few developed mutations unrelated to their form.
Altered animals, whether sentient or not, are known as beasts. Beast characters must take the following:
Distinctive Feature: Mutated Animal - 10 points. All beasts must take this disadvantage, regardless of form or level of sentience. Many devices of the ancients can detect them, and beasts are more likely to suffer an adverse reaction when interacting with the ancient tech.
Distinctive Feature: Beast - 10+ points. Beasts have significant physical differences from Pures and Muts, and are hard to disguise from those who hold prejudices against them. This may also be a basis for taking certain Hunteds, as several groups in the wastelands fear beasts and may attack them on sight.
Altered Form - Most beasts have special powers related to their form. These are similar to the mutant powers possessed by muts, save that beasts generally have physical mutations and almost never have purely mental powers. Examples of such abilities can be found in the Post-Apocalyptic HERO book, pages 112-128. Powers have a limit of 30 Active Points, and all proposed powers will be carefully scrutinized for balance.
Sample altered form power: Carapace - 6 PD, 4 ED armor plus Hardened advantage for Armor PD plus Hardened advantage on base PD (up to 8). 19 Active Points, 19 Real Points. Several beasts have developed natural protection from the rigors of the wasteland. The carapace is tough enough to blunt the force of even high-velocity piercing weapons. In addition, the beast has a limited resistance to energy-based hazards of the wasteland like fire and electricity. However, lasers have an easy time cutting through the carapace.
No one is sure how some of the plants of the Wasteland gained sentience. The most common legend is that a mut with the ability to control plants pushed her powers too far, and died. At the moment of death, her consciousness fragmented and was imbued into the many plants under her control, and passed along to the seedlings. Another legend states that in the last days of the Final War, desperate men tampered with plants to create guardians for their fading civilization. Several of these plants are hostile and/or insane by human standards, and the Pures have nicknamed them 'Weeds'.
Players interested in playing a Weed should work out the details with the gamemaster.
Other Character Guidelines:
Characters are built using the Hero System 5th Edition Revised rulebook (5ER) at the Heroic level (75+75). Power Frameworks are not allowed. Aside from the tech item allowed to a Pure, equipment is not bought with points. Starting equipment is based on character background, and should fit within the pseudo-medieval tech level. Firearms are not available at character creation, but may be bartered for if a supplier can be found. Specific notes on skills, powers, and disadvantages are listed below:
Normal Characteristics Maxima is a standard disadvantage for characters, though special permission can be given to avoid taking it (due to an excessively nonhuman form, cybernetics, or similar circumstances). Characters with NCM get 20 points for the disadvantage, as per 5ER page 329.
Combat Driving, Combat Piloting, and Transport Familiarity with vehicles are allowed, but most characters will not have access to a vehicle at the start of the game. It will be possible to acquire vehicles during the course of the campaign.
Concealment is also used for scavenging, as per the Post-Apocalyptic HERO book (pg 36).
Inventor can be used in conjunction with other skills to create primitive guns and other devices, but ancient tech requires resources far beyond what is available to the characters. The skill can also be used to figure out basic uses of ancient tech.
The language of the ancients is both familiar and strange to the denizens of the wasteland. It is possible for characters to figure out some words with INT rolls. Some scholars have taken the language Pre-Apocalypse English. Starting characters may purchase this language at no higher than the 1 point level (Basic Conversation). Characters may also purchase Literacy, and those who do are literate with all languages known to them (if those languages have a written version).
Survival must be bought with adders for different environments. There is one new environment - Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland, which allows characters to survive in areas with Bad Water and Glow Spots.
Weapon Familiarity may be taken with weapons the character doesn't have access to, if their background justifies the purchase. For example, a character who originally came from Lo may have used firearms in the past, even if they currently don't have a gun.
The Money perk is very rare in the wasteland. The few that have it generally derive their wealth from control of resources, either directly or indirectly. For example, a character who knows how to make weapons may have the Money perk, representing the bartering power of trading assembled weapons for raw materials or other supplies.
Reputation generally isn't appropriate beyond the starting area of Fedrex, as there is no widespread communications to carry the tales of the character throughout the wasteland.
LS: High Radiation only protects against environmental effects, not radiation attacks. It has the prerequisite of at least 3 points of Power Defense that applies versus radiation.
Power Defense must be bought versus a specific effect (radiation, poison, etc), with the exception of the Power Defense possessed by Pures. Power Defense bought versus radiation only applies to low-level radiation effects. Stronger radiation requires that the Power Defense be bought as resistant (via Damage Resistance), and some lethal radiation effects may require that the Power Defense be bought with the Hardened advantage. All purchase of Power Defense versus radiation requires special approval, as radiation is one of the major hazards of the wasteland.
Dependent NPCs in the Starfall campaign are often bought as 'floating' DNPCs. Examples include the "girl in every town", the "child in trouble", etc. While the DNPC changes from adventure to adventure, the standard rules about the character being obligated to protect the DNPC applies. Most DNPCs are only bought at the 8- level.
Hunteds only apply if the Hunted knows you personally. Simply being a mut or beast isn't enough to have the Order of the Pure as a Hunted - they have to have some reason to seek you out specifically. Hunteds work best as organizations, as most conflicts between a Hunter and a PC end up with one or the other dying. Hunteds are limited to an 8- roll except in exceptional circumstances.
Reputation requires special permission to take as a disadvantage, since the lack of communication between areas makes it difficult for a reputation to be sufficiently widespread to be worth points.
Order of the Pure (More Powerful, 8-): 15 points. A group dedicated to rebuilding the ancient tech, and the ascension of the Pure over the aberrations created by the Apocalypse.
Stargazers (As Powerful, NCI, 8-): 15 points. A religious cult that believes the tech of the ancients to be responsible for the Apocalypse.
Gang of 70 (More Powerful, Limited Area, 8-): 10 points. A gang that limits its active membership to 70 people (this does not include recruits seeking a spot in the gang). They are normally seen on the ancient road near the Great Var, but they have been spotted as far north as Unirad and as far south as Cassrock.
Darwinists (As Powerful, 8-): 10 points. A group that believes that the fall of the ancients is the result of evolution, and that Pures have been surpassed by the new races that arose after the Apocalypse.
Wasteland Gang (As powerful, Limited Area, 8-): 5 points. Any one of a number of small gangs that dwell in the Wasteland.
Everyman Skills (Fedrex)
Acting 8-, Climbing 8-, Concealment 8-, KS: of player's choice 11-, KS of player's choice 8-, Native Language (4 pts of Amrikana, no literacy), Paramedics 8-, PS of player's choice (job, hobby, or other area of interest) 11-, Shadowing 8-, Stealth 8-, Survival (mountains) 8-, TF: one subset of Riding Animals.