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Character types that other game systems can't handle

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To be fair, Rand al'Thor would be difficult to stat in Hero. At the very least, expensive. Balefire costs more points than entire characters in some of my campaigns. Mat's fox head amulet is similarly expensive.

 

Perrin would be relatively easy in either system. The Aiel would be too.

 

Any channeler would be very difficult to build in a class-based system. The gholam would be difficult in either system and expensive in Hero.

 

On the balance, I'd probably use Fate for Wheel of Time.

As a starting character, Rand isn't that expensive. Any Power abilities are "Uncontrolled" as well as potentially requiring activation rolls. Once you get into the flow of things though, Rand must be getting XP at a flooding rate, as must all the major characters, especially the other Power users.

 

Aiel. Won't use a sword. Only use spears. How many magic spears are there in most fantasy material? Gimped. Players frustrated. Won't ride. Have astonishing stamina and fight near as well stark naked as they do in any armour (most don't wear armour: they're about the running). Sure you can make them Fighters or Rangers, but both those classes have abilities that they must ignore and require them to take Feats which are non-combat-useful which means they're not the terrifying adversaries they ought to be. What they need is an "Aiel" class...

 

What class is Perrin's wolfspeaking/wolf-dreaming? Or rather: what class was Perrin's wolfspeaking before someone read Wheel of Time and created a class that approximates it? 

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See, I don't think it's too difficult to do most of these characters in a class based system.  Obviously, some characters aren't appropriate for some games, but that's the case with Hero too.  Some of these characters are real easy when you remember that you don't have to start at level 1.

 

(many examples of how you have to break a class based system to accommodate certain concepts)

I've made this comment elsewhere, but I attempted to play Pathfinder once, and OMFG the proliferation of archetypes, feats, classes, races, specializations, and variants is mind-boggling. If there is a class-based system that is most likely to be able to handle a given character concept, it is surely Pathfinder. But wow do you have to wade through a lot of text to find it.

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I think other game systems CAN do the magic-using warrior type, but none of them do it remotely as well as Hero.

In Pathfinder, the Magus is quite powerful, they are a 2nd tier Martial and 2nd tier caster which retains full caster-level (meaning maximum damage fireballs and such). They also have the ability to cast arcane spells in armor, cast spells at the same time they perform weapon attacks (they "Two-Weapon Fight" with sword & spell), and place temporary enchantments on their weapons. They are one of the more popular "Burst Damage" classes in Pathfinder.

 

I haven't played one, but in 5th edition D&D there is a similar Eldritch Knight archetype for Fighters that gives them 3rd tier casting (what paladins and rangers have) without sacrificing any of their core "fighter" features (extra attacks per round, faster ability/feat progression, etc). I'll probably be giving it a try if I ever play 5th again.

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Getting back on Topic:

 

Kamijo Toma (of A Certain Magical Index and also A Certain Scientific Railgun) cannot be built as a class (in any system I am familiar with), and would be difficult to build even in Hero. He is a Competent Normal (High-School Student) with bad luck and the unusual ability to Absolutely Negate ANY Supernatural or Paranormal phenomenon; be it a magically summoned fire elemental, a magical artifact, or an Esper's Electrokinesis, Teleportation, or Telepathy.

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I've made this comment elsewhere, but I attempted to play Pathfinder once, and OMFG the proliferation of archetypes, feats, classes, races, specializations, and variants is mind-boggling. If there is a class-based system that is most likely to be able to handle a given character concept, it is surely Pathfinder. But wow do you have to wade through a lot of text to find it.

Even if you cut out all the "fluff", Pathfinder literally has thousands of pages of prewritten Game Elements. It suffers from so much bloat, power creep, and historical revisionism that many of its hard-core players are beginning to beg for a 2nd edition just to have a clean version of the rules.

All that data is simultaneously what I love and hate about Pathfinder. There is enough there I am able to run a campaign with little to no preparation, and there are enough modules I could keep a table busy for years without writing a single adventure of my own. Yet for all those thousands of pages there remain annoying holes in the rules. For example, Pathfinder has no rules for throwing an object for distance... and for all the classes/archetypes, there are no classes who are to the Wizard and Psychic what the Paladin is to the Cleric (a 1st tier martial & 3rd tier caster).

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In Pathfinder, the Magus is quite powerful, they are a 2nd tier Martial and 2nd tier caster which retains full caster-level (meaning maximum damage fireballs and such). They also have the ability to cast arcane spells in armor, cast spells at the same time they perform weapon attacks (they "Two-Weapon Fight" with sword & spell), and place temporary enchantments on their weapons. They are one of the more popular "Burst Damage" classes in Pathfinder.

 

I haven't played one, but in 5th edition D&D there is a similar Eldritch Knight archetype for Fighters that gives them 3rd tier casting (what paladins and rangers have) without sacrificing any of their core "fighter" features (extra attacks per round, faster ability/feat progression, etc). I'll probably be giving it a try if I ever play 5th again.

Ironically a Magus is what I played that one time. Kind of a weird class. I remember I had to switch his preferred weapon from a spear to a rapier, and I had to make him a particular shade of elf in order to get a certain ability I needed, and I was going to have to use a hell of a lot of Shocking Grasp, because Shocking Rapier is how a Magus stays competitive. So I was able to play the high-dex human wind mage that was my original concept. Sort of.

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In Pathfinder, the Magus is quite powerful, they are a 2nd tier Martial and 2nd tier caster which retains full caster-level (meaning maximum damage fireballs and such). They also have the ability to cast arcane spells in armor, cast spells at the same time they perform weapon attacks (they "Two-Weapon Fight" with sword & spell), and place temporary enchantments on their weapons. They are one of the more popular "Burst Damage" classes in Pathfinder.

 

And that demonstrates the weakness, as I see it.  Because they aren't a warrior with magic to enhance themselves, they're an armor-wearing mage with a sword.  Hero has actual hybrid concepts, the warrior who has spells to boost their power and give them magical combat abilities, not fireball-slinging knights.

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Aiel. Won't use a sword. Only use spears. How many magic spears are there in most fantasy material? Gimped. Players frustrated. Won't ride. Have astonishing stamina and fight near as well stark naked as they do in any armour (most don't wear armour: they're about the running). Sure you can make them Fighters or Rangers, but both those classes have abilities that they must ignore and require them to take Feats which are non-combat-useful which means they're not the terrifying adversaries they ought to be. What they need is an "Aiel" class...

 

What class is Perrin's wolfspeaking/wolf-dreaming? Or rather: what class was Perrin's wolfspeaking before someone read Wheel of Time and created a class that approximates it? 

 

One part Elves from Dark Sun, one part Monk (sans eastern mystic stuff), one part Fighter. Mix and pour. Obviously a little harder than that, but that is where I would start.

 

With variations on Monster Summoning and Speak with Animals, Perrin just doesn't seem that hard to me. I guess I might be oversimplifying but I am just not seeing the heartache. 

 

Mind you, I still prefer Hero to D&D. I was merely stating that those two would not be too difficult to build in a class-based system and D&D has resources I can immediately pull from. Relatively easy, but not necessarily the preferred method of building those characters. 

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As for bailfire I think it can be built as a powerful attack or perhaps drain with "all or nothing" and a linked EDM to a work the person ceased to exist in X seconds earlier where X is the body rolled. But I would love to see someone else's build for it.

 

I don't want to clutter this thread with Wheel of Time specific write-ups, but I am open to discussing that topic in another thread. (Thread. See what I did there? :D )

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What I Learned Playing Hero System

 

I learned that I don't have to play just "A Fighter."

 

There are a thousand ways to be a warrior, from Assassin to Zombie-Hunter, from rude Barbarian to cultured Duelist, from unprincipled Bandit to chivalrous Knight. And no matter how I express my character as a warrior, that still does not have to define the whole character. The deadly Gladiator who goes berserk in combat may, in between fights, long for the day he can retire and never again have to shed blood. The Ranger's skills at pathfinding, wilderness survival, and the stealthy infiltration of enemy camps, may be as valuable to her and her allies as her skill with bow and sword. The literate, cultured Mercenary Captain may have studied, in addition to history and tactics, just enough dweomercraft to sense the presence of magical energies, and may even have an assiduously practiced counterspell in store as a surprise for an ambushing wizard.

 

I'm not playing D&D anymore, and I haven't been for 20 years. Instead of having to use one of a limited number of character concepts concocted by the game designer, I can come up with any character concept I choose, give it the abilities justified by the concept, and if the Game Operations Director agrees it's reasonable, I'm ready to play.

 

 

 

 

I learned I don't have to play a "Mage."

 

I can play a character like the Gray Mouser, a dabbler in magick.

I can play an alchemist who brews potions and makes some items but doesn't "cast spells" as such.

I can play a character with a wild talent, untrained and perhaps untrainable.

 

If I'm running the game, I can have any magick system I choose. I can even have one like Runequest, where EVERYONE has some spells.

 

I'm not playing D&D anymore, and I haven't been for 20 years. Instead of having to use one of a limited number of character concepts concocted by the game designer, I can come up with any character concept I choose, give it the abilities justified by the concept, and if the Game Operations Director agrees it's reasonable, I'm ready to play.

 

 

 

 

I learned I don't HAVE to play a "Cleric" as defined by D&D

 

A religiously oriented character does not HAVE to have "spells."

A character good at healing people does not HAVE to be some kind of priest, nor do they HAVE to wear armor or be exceptionally good at fighting.

Contrariwise, a warrior who is skilled with a sword can also have First Aid, Herblore, and possibly even (setting permitting) a Healing Spell.

 

I'm not playing D&D anymore, and I haven't been for 20 years. Instead of having to use one of a limited number of character concepts concocted by the game designer, I can come up with any character concept I choose, give it the abilities justified by the concept, and if the Game Operations Director agrees it's reasonable, I'm ready to play.

 

 

 

 

 

I learned I don't HAVE to play a "thief."

 

Just because I want one or more of: Stealth, Climbing, Detect Traps, Disarm Traps, Pick Pockets, Pick Locks, Pick Locks on Pockets, etc. does NOT mean I MUST buy them all; nor that I cannot also have spells, martial arts, or the use of any kind of weapon or armor I care to. And it most certainly does not mean I have to take Kleptomania, or a Watched by the Watch, or anything else that restrains how I play my character or specifically defines me as a "thief."

 

Instead of having to use one of a limited number of character concepts concocted by the game designer, I can come up with any character concept I choose, give it the abilities justified by the concept, and if the Game Operations Director agrees it's reasonable, I'm ready to play.

 

 

Lucius Alexander

 

What I learned from a palindromedary....

Golf Clap!

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1st and 2nd edition D&D were tailored towards a specific type of fantasy game.  What started as Middle Earth crossed with Conan, ancient myth, and Arthurian Legend (with a little Cthulhu thrown in), eventually just became the D&D genre.  And they're both pretty good game systems for what they try to do.

 

With the Skills and Powers supplements in late 2nd, and then into 3rd edition and later, you started seeing the game try to grow out of that one genre and cover more varied types of fantasy.  At this point, having a guy who is an expert archer and not that good with a sword isn't that difficult.  I haven't seen the show you're talking about (or I sure don't remember it if I did), but it seems pretty simple.

 

Robin becomes a mid-level Fighter or Ranger, with no feats allocated towards sword combat, and everything pushed towards being good with a bow.  Sure, you'd still have your base +5 (or whatever) BAB that applies to any weapon he picks up, but that really pales compared to his +12 (or whatever) with a bow with rapid fire feats and other stuff.

Fair point that more recent editions can handle this better, especially when you add Feats into the mix. But even then: Robin wasn't just "not that great" with a sword, he had literally never held one before because commoners weren't allowed to own/carry swords. (He threw some XP at it later IIRC.)

 

And FWIW Robin of Sherwood is worth checking out. It wasn't terrific overall, but had some really good bits. I liked the fact that Robin was a commoner like in the original legends, before late-medieval authors decided only nobles could be heroes. Mixing in pagan myth gave it an interesting flair. And Judi Trott is still the best Marion as far as I'm concerned. (And it's a minor thing, but it always bugs me when movies/shows have the Sheriff working for Guy of Gisburne rather than the other way around, so I really liked that RoS got that bit right.)

 

Edit: At least that's how I remember it. Not having seen it in probably 25+ years, I have no idea how well it holds up today.

 

I disagree that Pathfinder and other level based games can give me the same options without the GM using Fiat.

Nothing wrong with GM fiat of course, but it presumes you have an experienced and savvy GM who know how & when to bend the rules without breaking them.

 

I've made this comment elsewhere, but I attempted to play Pathfinder once, and OMFG the proliferation of archetypes, feats, classes, races, specializations, and variants is mind-boggling. If there is a class-based system that is most likely to be able to handle a given character concept, it is surely Pathfinder. But wow do you have to wade through a lot of text to find it.

And yet PF players will complain that Hero is too rules heavy... [sigh]

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And yet PF players will complain that Hero is too rules heavy... [sigh]

 

Translation: Hero is unfamiliar and they have already invested a lot of time in learning a complex system. The investment to learn a new system seems steep. Plus, there is the urban legend that Hero==Difficult Math. I know this to be an urban legend because I am about as mathematically inclined as I am avian. I can build characters and play Hero just fine.

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Translation: Hero is unfamiliar and they have already invested a lot of time in learning a complex system

 

I agree, and I think presentation makes all the difference.  Champions Complete vs the massive 6th edition tomes, for instance.  Both should be out there, but Champs Complete gives an easier and cleaner intro.

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Translation: Hero is unfamiliar and they have already invested a lot of time in learning a complex system. The investment to learn a new system seems steep. Plus, there is the urban legend that Hero==Difficult Math. I know this to be an urban legend because I am about as mathematically inclined as I am avian. I can build characters and play Hero just fine.

Dude don't you know? As Hero system gurus we all have differential calculus at 18 or less?

:rofl:

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I think, for me, an important distinction is between what can be done with the rule set in question, and what feels right in play.

 

In play, most systems have rangers that just feel like fighters with a dash of druid type abilities.

 

In Hero, you can hone in on the feel of gameplay for the character much more precisely, in class based systems, you are inexorably tied to someone else's vision, and therefore, the general feel of playing it.

 

This is especially true for magic. Many other systems tend to have to come up with entirely different systems to model different types of magic, , and each of those magic systems tend to be patches onto the overall system, whereas Hero magic systems are all built on the same game physics. If your view of a fire mage does not match the view of the creators of the game system, be prepared for pained tinkering to get a passable approximation. Whereas, in Hero, you do not have to limit yourself to anyone's view of what your type of character is defined by, and the pained tinkering is not done to try to salvage your attempt at making an orc ranger that you like, but is merely the pained tinkering that comes free with every Hero book.

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A Grizzled vet ought to have all the feats. Using those tricks and specialisms is how he compensates for the reflexes and youthful stamina of his opponents and keeps the playing field level. And a BAB 3 higher than your 1st level party comrades will skew combat. Sure, if the ref is playing a game where everyone starts at higher level, you have more options, but taking those options will often mean you're not holding up your end of the party's needs.

 

So take that at first level. The concept is "fighter" with the twist "lightly armoured". Take any of the light fighter classes or rogue, and your AC is in the toilet compared to a fighter once you earn your first decent monetary reward. Unless you make DEX your highest stat rather than STR, and then your damage sucks. Sure, by the time you reach about 8th level, you're only trailing by one or two BAB, and you have lots of mobility options. But how useful are those if you're the only fighter in the party and letting the enemy big guys close on your squishier friends gets them killed? So effectively, as a character that just wants to be a Fighter (but be lightly armoured), rather than one who has ambitions to have other skills available to them (as you will probably have if you go Rogue for a couple of levels) simply gimps themselves for the concept.

 

 

And how does that work at first level? It takes, what, 13 weeks to go through a modern Basic? Or maybe they did some OCF at school, but now they're a lawyer.

 

 

"Balance" going up levels really bites (if you care about it) from the get-go. Try the "Fighter with minor magic" in DnD: you might as well just be a Fighter with one fewer levels. WRT "playing your concept", playing "hybrids" or "variants" bites from level 1. Its bite strength actually decreases as you go up levels, because there are options to use to try and shoehorn the rules into letting you play what you want. Effectively, DnD recognises the whole problem by having the proliferation of classes and prestige classes so that once you've "paid your dues" (assuming your ref doesn't let you all start at high enough level to be able to finess the rules so you have the "power suite" you want to play from the start of the game) you can actually have taken enough odd levels and prestige classes to play your concept. The many and various classes are proof that it's an issue that just keeps raising its head, and they're only ever going to be a stopgap solution.

 

And as a solution "lots of choice of classes" only helps if you know about the exact class that fits your character concept, and have the materials to refer to in order to use the class (else the GM is just making things up on the fly, which has its own problems).

 

 

The question was, can a level based game system handle X character?  And I think I've demonstrated that they can.  The question wasn't "can a level based game system duplicate X character at 1st level" or "are level based systems free of any problems".  Because clearly every game system has its issues.

 

But slamming D&D or Pathfinder because you can't perfectly mimic some character idea at the very beginning isn't fair.  Hero doesn't do that either.  You can't play an archmage at 100 points.  Not very effectively anyway.  A 1st level character is supposed to be someone at the beginning of their career.  Saying "I want to play a character who already has a lot of experience" is fine, but the mechanic for that is to play a character with a few levels under his belt.  It's not really a valid criticism to say "this game is bad because I can't play a 5th level guy in a 1st level game".

 

You also have to remember that D&D and its descendants basically operate with the assumption that you're going to be finding magic items along the way.  Bracers of armor and magic rings are an integral part of the game.  A lightly armored fighter will be wearing a ring of protection.  Just like a heavily armored fighter will be wearing magic armor as soon as he can get it.  While I don't like the Sears Catalog method of getting magic items ("I've got this many gold, let's look through this book and see what I can afford..."), the threats in the game are sort of tiered with an expectation that you'll be this strong before you encounter the next level of monster.  Inefficiencies in the class build can be evened out by finding a sword or whatever that has an extra little bit of oomph.  Your character is as much what gear he has as what class levels he took.

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The question was, can a level based game system handle X character?  And I think I've demonstrated that they can.  The question wasn't "can a level based game system duplicate X character at 1st level" or "are level based systems free of any problems".  Because clearly every game system has its issues.

 

But slamming D&D or Pathfinder because you can't perfectly mimic some character idea at the very beginning isn't fair.  Hero doesn't do that either.  You can't play an archmage at 100 points.  Not very effectively anyway.  A 1st level character is supposed to be someone at the beginning of their career.  Saying "I want to play a character who already has a lot of experience" is fine, but the mechanic for that is to play a character with a few levels under his belt.  It's not really a valid criticism to say "this game is bad because I can't play a 5th level guy in a 1st level game".

 

This meaningless without context. What constitutes an Arch-Mage depends your setting and magic system.

D&D for better or worse has certain assumptions on power level, what constitutes a high power spell, etc that not everyone likes. Nor does it translate well into most skill based systems

 

Nor do their ideas of what is a high level spell always work.

  • The golden oldie is the Wish spell. In AD&D it took a Wish (9th level) to raise a stat permanently.
  • How about Cacodaemon (8th I think)? That can be a much lower level spell in Hero.
  • In fact the whole spell level concept has to have special rule in Hero, Haven't found one for Wizard level I like

I don't use Wish spells BTW. There are better ways of simulating if it is needed at all.

I'm  running into this with Harn as well. What might be a a Level X power in Harn  Master is level Y in Hero unless I want jigger the rankings.

 

Would you say a Rune Rank (Priest, Rune Lord or full sorcerer) in RQ is weak?

Runequest shies away from twinkle twinkle and twenty orcs die in its magic. Though a Sorcerer with high enough multi-spell could pull it off. But their High level characters are dangerous in their setting.

 

D&D makes assumptions in world setting and style of play that doesn't always translate well into other systems . We discussed this in the paladin thread. I've tried tell people this in Rune Quest. If you want play a wandering Rogue you don't play an initiate to a Thief God. Those gods are city specific. Wandering Rogues initiate as Trickster. His shrines are everywhere and yes he has Thief and Murder aspects as well as Jester.

Thieves running with Paladins? Really? I Always stated that since Dwarves tend to be Lawful Good and their thieves suck a picking pockets and sneaking, that Dwarven Thieves are Locksmiths.

 

System matters as well. How damage works plays a part. Go read the threads on mimicking saving throws . My question is why bother? Why have two classes that based on European crusading knights(except one can't use a sword)?

Why can't mages heal? Why is someone mucking around in a cave in full plate? Now there is a game designer who has never been caving.

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If you attempt to build D&D spells into Hero you very very quickly discover how arbitrary and unsystematic they really are.  Charm Person and Sleep are vastly higher point totals than Detect Magic, for instance.  They're at those levels mostly because of tradition and grandfathering in old lists.

 

But really, that's the issue with most game systems, they have no meta system behind them for constructing anything, its just "well its kinda like this other ability that Gygax just decided on" rather than any overall system.  And that creates flaws not just in game balance but conceptual design.  Some classes are clearly more powerful and useful than others, although over time a great deal of effort has been done to try to make them more consistent.

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This meaningless without context. What constitutes an Arch-Mage depends your setting and magic system.

D&D for better or worse has certain assumptions on power level, what constitutes a high power spell, etc that not everyone likes. Nor does it translate well into most skill based systems

 

Nor do their ideas of what is a high level spell always work.

  • The golden oldie is the Wish spell. In AD&D it took a Wish (9th level) to raise a stat permanently.
  • How about Cacodaemon (8th I think)? That can be a much lower level spell in Hero.
  • In fact the whole spell level concept has to have special rule in Hero, Haven't found one for Wizard level I like

I don't use Wish spells BTW. There are better ways of simulating if it is needed at all.

I'm  running into this with Harn as well. What might be a a Level X power in Harn  Master is level Y in Hero unless I want jigger the rankings.

 

Would you say a Rune Rank (Priest, Rune Lord or full sorcerer) in RQ is weak?

Runequest shies away from twinkle twinkle and twenty orcs die in its magic. Though a Sorcerer with high enough multi-spell could pull it off. But their High level characters are dangerous in their setting.

 

D&D makes assumptions in world setting and style of play that doesn't always translate well into other systems . We discussed this in the paladin thread. I've tried tell people this in Rune Quest. If you want play a wandering Rogue you don't play an initiate to a Thief God. Those gods are city specific. Wandering Rogues initiate as Trickster. His shrines are everywhere and yes he has Thief and Murder aspects as well as Jester.

Thieves running with Paladins? Really? I Always stated that since Dwarves tend to be Lawful Good and their thieves suck a picking pockets and sneaking, that Dwarven Thieves are Locksmiths.

 

System matters as well. How damage works plays a part. Go read the threads on mimicking saving throws . My question is why bother? Why have two classes that based on European crusading knights(except one can't use a sword)?

Why can't mages heal? Why is someone mucking around in a cave in full plate? Now there is a game designer who has never been caving.

 

All I can really say is... what in the sam hell are you talking about?  You totally lost me.  We aren't talking about mimicking D&D game mechanics in Hero.  We are talking about playing certain character types in a non-Hero game.  This thread started out as a "pat ourselves on the back for being smart enough to play Fantasy Hero instead of some other game", and I responded that I think you can actually play most of the characters people were talking about in that other game system.  And now you're talking about trying to convert saving throws to Hero mechanics, when nobody was talking about doing that.

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Every game system has its strengths and weaknesses: Hero's is customization and building more precisely exactly what you had in mind; no other system does this as well or easily.  All games can build anything, but they are weighted toward other strengths such as simplicity and ease of learning, simulating particular moods or settings, etc.  

 

For example, in a class-based system, to make certain types of characters requires building an entirely new class, often with  new skills and spells from scratch with no guidelines or system beyond "try to not make it more powerful than what is out there."  Again, that isn't a slam on other systems, its just noting what hero does well and those systems don't.

 

Surely there's at least as much system arrogance in claiming Hero does nothing better than any other system than to claim it does everything better.

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For example, in a class-based system, to make certain types of characters requires building an entirely new class, often with  new skills and spells from scratch with no guidelines or system beyond "try to not make it more powerful than what is out there."

I would argue that this just proves class-based systems can't handle certain types of characters. You can't say a class-based system can handle Character X when the system's method of handling it is Calvinball.

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