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Justice Inc. Bragging rights

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I just bought the Justice Inc. box set with the Lands of Mystery for only $10.00 plus $6.00 shipping and handling!  I can't wait for this to come in the mail.

 

Lands of Mystery sells for $90.00! on Amazon and i am getting it and the Justice Inc box set for $10.00!

 

WOOT!

 

Man I am playing this game!  This was in a lot of ways a ground-breaking Hero product.  It was one of the first to change how martial arts worked and just was a lot of fun.  I first played it in Job Corps and I played a WW1 boxer who used to be a demolitions man in the army.

 

Awesome!

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In the trash? Never having seen it I must ask, what makes Justice Inc so much better?

 

Its design/writing team. They had a sheer love of the pulps I'd rarely seen elsewhere in the hobby. Plus, the old 2nd/3rd edition spinoff games weren't nearly as bland as the genre books that came out for later editions of the system.

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I wouldn't call Steve Long's Pulp Hero book "trash." I know people who swear by PH. It's a different approach than JI: much longer on substance, but less in the flavor department. JI is more, "Here's how it should be," while PH is more, "Here are your resources and options." That's been Steve's go-to approach for all the Hero genre books. Which approach one prefers will color one's opinion of either book.

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You're right LL, Pulp Hero is definitely not trash, it is just aimed at a slightly different audience. More DIY than R&P (read & play). Regardless, the material in the PH books is quite good. As a general rule, though, I still prefer Allston and Stackpole.

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Comparatively speaking JI packs more play-ability, interest, and just plain fun in less than half as many pages than PH does in its whole bloated, stiff, impossible to hold open 400+ page mass that could break your foot if dropped on it.

 

PH suffers most of all from Steve Long's training as a lawyer. "Never use two simple words when you could use twenty-two complicated ones instead."

 

It's not so much bad as it is really disappointing, particularly in comparison to the original. Still it does have useful information so trash is probably the wrong place for it. Back shelf is more accurate.

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Comparatively speaking JI packs more play-ability, interest, and just plain fun in less than half as many pages than PH does in its whole bloated, stiff, impossible to hold open 400+ page mass that could break your foot if dropped on it.

 

Yes, well, this describes the Hero System core books in general, I think. The material that the 4e HSR fit into 260 pages was miraculous compared to the equivalent material in 6e1/6e2. One of the many benefits of an independent line editor...

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Justice Inc and Pulp Hero are two completely different products.

 

Justice Inc was a self-contained and complete game designed to allow a GM and Players to directly play adventures set in a specific type/year/theme of Pulp.  It was also a complete game aimed at that specific setting.  CharGen, Skill/Talent/Power availability.  Even an abbreviated world build.    I remember when I got my first set I was actually able to run the first adventure the same week. 

 

Pulp Hero on the other hand is not an actual adventure or even a setting.   It is a GM resource book that provides in-depth encyclopedic information about the entire spectrum of the fictional genre we call the “Pulps”.  I have loved the pulp era forever and Pulp Hero is probably the single most comprehensive and useful to a GM compendium on the Pulp Era I have ever seen.  It draws together a vast array of factual information suitable to the entire spectrum of possible Pulps.  Plus it has an equally wide and useful advice sections about building/designing and running Pulp adventures.  Just the timeline section is gold.   I have used it for far more than just Pulp. 

 

But these two products do highlight what I consider the primary reason Hero is sliding into non-existence.  While the rule system is fantastic for creating literally anything in game terms.  While the system has some of the most comprehensive support supplements to help you build anything.  It has absolutely nothing to teach you how to play the game so the new players have some kind of “game play” reference to frame their ideas. 

 

Today, in 2016, Hero is not so much a RPG as it is a programming code that will allow you to write a RPG. 

 

We all know what consoles are (XBOX/PS) so if someone handed you the code, theoretically you could write a game.  But 99.99999% of use prefer to just by the disc, load and play.  That other 0.00001% will write new games and do it well because they have played other games and understand how things work on a console.

 

Hero however, is like handing the code to someone who has never seen or played a console with a pat on the back and the phrase “trust us”. 

 

Yes, all the information is in the books, but not in a playable adventure.  What does a 3d6 damage attack actually do when one is actually rolling the bones?  When I set AP limits, what does that even mean in real world dice in hand gaming?   

 

I know someone that bought CC and a few weeks later when I asked him if he was going to run something he said no.  The book didn’t actually tell him enough to run the game.  Too much information.  When I asked him if he had tried a run through with the pre-gens in the book, he said they had but the included PC’s were far too complicated to figure out on the fly and have fun.   So I whipped out a couple very simple characters, simple Brick and a simple fly & single energy blast character with only a couple skills like Fly and Blast and Punch (CV’s) for the Brick.   After the run though the lights came on because we applied the theory in a very simple easy to understand run through.   But it wasn’t a win because his player group was already alienated and to them spending 2 days flipping through the 23 volumes of Pathfinder to make the perfect Murder Hobo was easier. 

 

But I digress…

 

Justice Inc was a fantastic “out of the box” play setting and I still use the Empire Club. 

Pulp Hero is one of the best Pulp gaming resource books ever written. 

 

But you can’t compare them to each other at all because they serve two completely different intents.

Edited by Spence

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So true.  One of the reasons I stopped running Hero after a while was because I got tired of doing all the work because people were so intimidated by the system.  They had no problem making 3rd edition D&D characters with its numerous splat books and mountains of feats.  That was because most of the work was done for them and they did not need to make everything from scratch.

 

That is one of the reasons I find myself appreciating 4th edition nowadays because the BBB is much more user-friendly then the later editions.

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People are a lot happier building characters in Dungeons & Dragons, but it ain't because of the mass of the material or complexity of rules. It's because the designers of Dungeons & Dragons understood one simple thing about character design: it's more fun if it's broken. 

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So true.  One of the reasons I stopped running Hero after a while was because I got tired of doing all the work because people were so intimidated by the system.  They had no problem making 3rd edition D&D characters with its numerous splat books and mountains of feats.  That was because most of the work was done for them and they did not need to make everything from scratch.

 

That is one of the reasons I find myself appreciating 4th edition nowadays because the BBB is much more user-friendly then the later editions.

 

 

I wouldn't go as far as saying the BBB was more user friendly.  I found the rules to be practically interchangeable all the from 3rd'ish to 6th.  And pretty close to the same understanding'wise.  The big difference IMO was support for "out-of-the-box" play.   Or better yet the utter lack latter on.

 

I am not going to argue sales figures, because I simply don't have real data.  But I will say I believe Hero's versions of modules did not fail because they were modules.  They failed because of the type of modules they were.  WotC's Adventures, Pathfinders Adventure Paths and TAG's Plot Points are all examples of what does work.  A small light setting (not a complete world) and everything needed for the players that is not in the core rules packaged and completely ready to go. 

 

I have run several PlotPoints.  Were they 100% what I would really like to run?  Absolutely not.  But unlike the game I would like to run or play, the PP was ready to launch.  Bam!

 

Shades of Black is really the only Hero Games supers adventure produced in the later years and it is a prime example of what I thin of as a problem.   Fantastic adventure.  Wonderfully written.  Nothing but goodness under the hood.  So what is wrong with it?  Imagine if they only published one adventure for D&D 5th designed to be played by 18th level Eldritch Knights only?  Everyone that bought it would say it was cool, but with all the players at 1st and 2nd level it wouldn't be played. 

 

Champions Battlegrounds was the shining star of official Hero supers products.  I ran those adventures several times.  The biggest issue was the lack of a map pack with a high enough resolution to print.  Unlike the Hudson City map, you can't blow up and print them without a completely blurred blotches instead of a map. 

 

Thrilling Places and Thrilling Adventures are beyond great.  While the maps do lose resolution, they can be printed large enough to use.  And for an Indian Jones style Pulp campaign the adventures are written to allow them to be plug-and-play regardless of PC build.

 

While the non-supers adventures were built for players groups with beginning PC's or with minor tweaking support more experienced players.  Most Hero supers adventures are either high power (we need to play the Champions at full points) or they are thematically designed to not fit a superheroic anti-crime city campaign.  I own most of the Official and Licensed adventures out there and most fall into the "this will make a great left field curve-ball threat in a few months once the players settle in and get comfortable with their characters and the game.  In D&D parlance all the 6th ed supers adventures are 10 level and up.  All those cool 2nd thru 4th edition adventures we used until the books fell apart don't exist. 

 

Now Pulp Hero was support well.  Over 22 adventures and mini-settings. 

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Yeah I'm glad I got into hero when it was first coming out so I have a huge collection of early stuff that's now insanely expensive and difficult to find.  I'd consider selling some except you can take my Lands of Mystery from my cold, dead hands.

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Yeah I'm glad I got into hero when it was first coming out so I have a huge collection of early stuff that's now insanely expensive and difficult to find.  I'd consider selling some except you can take my Lands of Mystery from my cold, dead hands.

 

I think Lands of Mystery is about the only one I don't have.  I've read it.  But I don't actually have it  :weep: 

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Essentially the first Hero System genre book -- ground-breaking for its day. Aaron Allston and Michael Stackpole... it doesn't get any better.

 

Congratulations!

 

P.S. I bought it decades ago. :P

 

Espionage came before Justice Inc.

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Top Secret had its moments. But for a spy game in the 80s I felt that Victory Games 's James Bond was superior. Still TS did have a lot of material that could be adapted over to either JB, Espionage or HERO's later entry into the genre Danger International.

 

If I were to run a spy game now I'd probably set it in one of the classic eras for espionage: Pre-WWII 1930s or the early Cold War 50s.

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Top Secret had its moments. But for a spy game in the 80s I felt that Victory Games 's James Bond was superior. Still TS did have a lot of material that could be adapted over to either JB, Espionage or HERO's later entry into the genre Danger International.

 

If I were to run a spy game now I'd probably set it in one of the classic eras for espionage: Pre-WWII 1930s or the early Cold War 50s.

 

I'm with you on all counts except VC's James Bond.  

 

I do like my Pulps to be 1930's spy games.  Cold War 50's is another great one, though I have tended to move them up to 60-70's to accommodate my players. 

 

As for VCJB, I never got a chance to try that one.  Back in those days if it wasn't on the shelf you probably didn't even know it existed. 

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Espionage came first, along with IIRC Border Crossing, an adventure for Espionage. It introduced a broader array of skills to the emerging Hero System. Justice Inc was a more complete genre book than Espionage, though, and introduced some additional elements like psychic powers. The next genre book that I recall was 1st edition Fantasy Hero, which was kinda messy, vis a vis the mechanics of magic. Then Espionage got revamped into Danger International. I don't recall whether Star Hero 1st edition was before or after the release of 4th edition.

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