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New to MHI RPG and Hero System

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Hi, 

Long time gamer and huge fan of the MHI novels.

 

Didn't realise there was a MHI game until recently and have come to have a look. 

 

In all my history of trying different rule sets, I have somehow managed to avoid the Hero System. Most of the groups I have associated with have always dismissed the Hero System as excessively complicated. Is the criticism justified? I see most praise the game for its ability to generate or replicate statistics for anything out there. How? How does this differ from other game systems? 

Is it easy to introduce a new gaming group to the rule set? None of my current gaming groups are interested in Hero system citing the criticisms above plus the claim of an outdated rule set. But given no one plays, I'm not so sure how real these comments are. So, it has to be a new group of interested gamers. Using MHI as the introduction as it is a common hook for this new group of essentially non gamers. 

 

Hoping to get into MHI and am curious as to the Hero System. 

1] Is it easy to pick up and run? A common criticism is that it is excessively maths heavy.

2] Is the MHI rule set complete? Or do I need other rule books? As I will probably be ordering direct from Herogames, might as well make any necessary purchases at the same time to save on shipping. I guess, one quick question is generating unusual monsters. I see there is a thread here about statting out monsters. Is there rules for that in the MHI game? Or do I need to expand the books to other games using the Hero System game?

 

Thanks in advance for any help 

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Welcome aboard!

 

Hero does have a reputation for complexity, and that is somewhat deserved in that the game has so many options. Basically Hero gives you the ability to create any character/monster you can imagine without being constrained by someone else's notions of how X ought to work. The downside is, the amount of up-front work can be intimidating to new players especially if you're starting from a blank page.

 

The good news is most of the complexity (& math) lies in building Powers; if your PCs are mostly normal humans with guns, character construction is pretty simple. The MHI book has plenty of pre-built guns & equipment, plus a few pre-built spells and such, so plugging those in is fairly straightforward. The other good news is that once you have the characters built, the game itself plays pretty quickly in my experience. Many GMs find that the easiest way to introduce new players is to skip character creation entirely and play a session or two with pre-gen PCs in order to get a feel for the system; then if you want to go back and create your own PCs, things will make a lot more sense.

 

One big advantage Hero has IMO is because it started out as a superhero game, it was designed to be able to handle any mix of genres, powers, etc, from guns to martial artists to superpowers to magic to whatever. So it makes mixing elements together much more seamless than many games, which is a plus for an urban fantasy setting like MHI.

 

Yes, the MHI RPG book is complete and is meant to be able to stand on its own. It uses the "Basic" Hero rules, with a few options and so forth stripped out. But it also stripped out a lot of the explanations of how things work - feel free to ask here if you have any questions. I would suggest you consider also picking up Champions Complete or Fantasy Hero Complete, which IMO do a better job of covering the core rules overall, and might make it easier for you as GM.

 

Re creating your own monsters: yes, there are rules for that in the MHI book. Monsters are built the same way as any other character, just with different Powers, etc. It's also very easy to take an existing monster build and modify it by removing X and adding Y.

 

Other books you might want to consider, not required but might save you some work:

  • Bestiary - more pre-built monsters
  • Equipment Guide - a ton more guns, weapons and equipment
  • Grimoire - a book of premade spells, geared more towards traditional fantasy settings, but easily adaptable to MHI
  • Hero Designer - character creation software, makes "the math" go away :)

Hope that helps. Feel free to ask any other questions or follow-ups you might have!

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Playing the Hero System is very simple.  The game runs smoothly, there are very few special rules or exceptions that you have to remember, and the game mechanics are logical and work well.  There are very few games that work as well as Hero.

 

Learning the Hero System can be a pain in the butt.  Most of the rulebooks aren't set up very well for new players.  Hero started as a superhero game, and so one of the big sections of the rules (probably the biggest section) is called Powers.  It's set up so you can build almost any kind of effect that you can think of.  A lot of people take one look at the rules for Powers and they freak out and say "I'm not reading all that".  It doesn't help new players that most of the rules for Powers are written fairly generically.  You don't have a "Fire Control" power, instead you get things like "Blast, Area of Effect" and "Resistant Protection Energy Defense".  They are not creatively named.  The guy who wrote the book is a lawyer, and it reads like it.

 

The MHI setting will generally have normal humans as its player characters, so the players really shouldn't even have to look at the Powers section at all.  The combat rules are fairly easy to learn, and character creation without Powers is super straightforward.

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Bigdamnhero,

Thanks for the intro to the system and guide to additional resources which may come in useful.

 

As a closet comic fan, Champions has a certain appeal. Also useful as my other favourite series is The Grim Noir chronicles and I can see a powers list as useful in setting up a game in said universe. And a Grim Noir knights game is probably going to be the closet to any super heroic RPG action I am likely to get. Any super heroic games we seem to start seem to degenerate into villainy before too long. Even when we played the Sacafe Workds setting Necessary Evil, where we did play villains substituting for heroes, the group seemed to revel in their villainy a bit too much. The notion of possible redemption just seemed a step too far for our group.

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Bigdamnhero,

Thanks for the intro to the system and guide to additional resources which may come in useful.

 

As a closet comic fan, Champions has a certain appeal. Also useful as my other favourite series is The Grim Noir chronicles and I can see a powers list as useful in setting up a game in said universe. And a Grim Noir knights game is probably going to be the closet to any super heroic RPG action I am likely to get. Any super heroic games we seem to start seem to degenerate into villainy before too long. Even when we played the Sacafe Workds setting Necessary Evil, where we did play villains substituting for heroes, the group seemed to revel in their villainy a bit too much. The notion of possible redemption just seemed a step too far for our group.

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Massey,

Thanks for the heads up regarding the system. Have to admit when I first saw the 6th ed rule book, all rules and no fluff, I personally shut down.

 

But if generating powered characters are the first hurdle, pregens and normals of a MHI game is most definitely the way to go! Learn the basics first then plumb the system afterwards to discover its flexibility and strengths.

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Massey,

Thanks for the heads up regarding the system. Have to admit when I first saw the 6th ed rule book, all rules and no fluff, I personally shut down.

 

But if generating powered characters are the first hurdle, pregens and normals of a MHI game is most definitely the way to go! Learn the basics first then plumb the system afterwards to discover its flexibility and strengths.

 

No problem, I'm happy to help out.

 

The Powers section isn't really that difficult to grasp, there's just a lot of info there and it isn't written in an entertaining way.  Every effect in the game, and almost any effect you can think of, can be written up with the Powers in the rulebook.  To play the game, you don't need to know what every Power can do, you just have to know what your Powers can do.  This is why pregen characters make things easier, because the player only needs to look up like 3 or 4 things.  You wouldn't need to read through every single spell description in D&D before you played a Fighter.  You don't need to read through all the Powers before you play a Hero game.

 

As you become more familiar with the rules, you'll see that once you understand how a particular Power works, you start to relax because it always works the same way.  Say the dreaded Doctor Radium has an ability on his character sheet called Gamma Blast, and it is listed as a 4D6 Ranged Killing Attack.  You look at the section for Ranged Killing Attack (RKA for short), and you see that you roll the listed number of dice, add them together, and that is how much Body damage the target takes.  So 4D6 will do somewhere between 4 and 24 Body, average of about 14.  From now on, any time you see a Ranged Killing Attack on somebody's character sheet, you'll know how that Power works.  It doesn't matter if it's called a Fire Burst, or Freezing Cold Attack, an RKA is an RKA,  It's the same Power, just with a different description.

 

Part of the problem is that some of the example characters will have a Power that has waaaay too much information for a beginner.  You'll see something like:

Mental Paralysis, 3D6 Entangle, Based On Ego Combat Value (+1), Entangle Takes No Damage (+1), Invisible (+1), Concentrate 1/2 DCV (-1/2), Extra Time Full Phase (-1/2), Eye Contact Required (-1/4), x2 End (-1/2), Visible to Mental Sense Group (-1/4).  Active Points 120, Real Cost 40.

 

And you'll look at that and your eyes will glaze over.  Don't worry about it.  My eyes glaze over too and I've been playing for 20 years.  Stick to easier character builds until you get the hang of it, and gradually that stuff will start making sense.  And once you know what each of those little things mean in that ugly convoluted sentence, you'll be able to read it and know exactly how that Power is supposed to work.  

 

Just to explain that mess, an Entangle is a power that immobilizes a target. Think of Spider-Man's web-shooters.  You roll 3D6 and that tells you how tough the Entangle is.  Based On Ego Combat Value (the current edition of the rules has a slightly different name for it), means that it's a mental ability instead of a physical one, and it is targeted by your willpower, and resisted by theirs.  Entangle Takes No Damage means that you can shoot somebody after they've been entangled, and you don't accidentally break them out.  Invisible means that people can't see it, since this is a mental attack it all takes place in the target's head.  Concentrate 1/2 DCV means that you have to really focus to use the power, you stand still and it's easier to hit you.  Extra Time means that it takes an entire action to use it, you can't move and attack, all you can do when you use the power is stand there.  Eye Contact Required should be obvious, you have to be looking at each other to use it.  x2 End means that you pay twice as much Endurance to use the power, so you'll get tired faster.  Visible to Mental Sense Group means that psychics and telepaths can see the attack, even though you paid to have it be Invisible.  Active Points is a measure of how much raw power the ability has.  Real Cost is how many points your character has to pay to get the ability.  The "pluses" (+1, etc) listed after a phrase means that the ability is an Advantage, making a power better but also more expensive.  The "minuses" (-1/2) tell you that the ability is a Limitation, making the power less effective but also cheaper.

 

Anyway, you probably didn't need to know all that, but I wrote it anyway, so I'm posting it. :)

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As a closet comic fan, Champions has a certain appeal. Also useful as my other favourite series is The Grim Noir chronicles and I can see a powers list as useful in setting up a game in said universe.

Just to clarify: the Powers list in MHI is very similar to the Powers list in Champions Complete, just missing a handful of the more complex Powers. So it's not that you have to have CC in order to use Powers, just that the write-ups might be a bit more detailed.

 

Any super heroic games we seem to start seem to degenerate into villainy before too long. Even when we played the Sacafe Workds setting Necessary Evil, where we did play villains substituting for heroes, the group seemed to revel in their villainy a bit too much. The notion of possible redemption just seemed a step too far for our group.

Yeah, a lot of players struggle with making the transition from D&D murder hobos to playing noble, heroic characters; it's just such a departure from the style of play they're used to. Plus, I think some players look at RPGs as a chance to be "bad" without actually harming anyone. Some of that can be handled by using (and enforcing) Psychological Complications like "Superhero's Code," "Code vs Killing" and the like. Some players also feel like they're going to be penalized for being "Awful Good," so you have to reassure them that you're not going to stick it to them if they do the right thing.

 

And some people really just want to kill monsters and take their stuff. [shrug]

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1] Is it easy to pick up and run? A common criticism is that it is excessively maths heavy.

2] Is the MHI rule set complete? Or do I need other rule books? As I will probably be ordering direct from Herogames, might as well make any necessary purchases at the same time to save on shipping. I guess, one quick question is generating unusual monsters. I see there is a thread here about statting out monsters. Is there rules for that in the MHI game? Or do I need to expand the books to other games using the Hero System game?

 

Thanks in advance for any help 

 

The Hero System is the best roleplaying system I have ever used in the nearly 40 years I've been playing tabletop RPGs. However:

 

1] There was a time when the Hero System was easier to pick up and run (than it is now), but that was over 20 years ago. You're stuck with the 6th edition which is IMO the most over-specified, unreadable mess that the system has ever had the misfortune to be codified by. However, the (slightly) good news is that you have the MHI core book to guide you through the system. I suggest staying away from the 6e tomes if you can; they will only make you (and your players) give up and try something else.

 

As for the math, the Hero System is a little math heavy, yes, but the math involved is nothing more than elementary school level stuff (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). If the thought of having to perform the same basic numeric manipulations fourth graders do every day in school scares your players, then you should give up on the Hero System right now.

 

2] The MHI book is very nearly all that you will need. From what I understand it does make a couple of references to things not in its pages, but such instances are rare enough that you can ask for that (missing) information here and the forum members will be glad to fill you in on the details. Again, no need to go running to the massive 6e core books for that stuff.

 

As for monsters, there's the MHI-branded stuff and then there's the Hero System Bestiary, which may be the only other book you'll really want at your side as you build up your MHI campaign.

 

Ultimately I believe that product lines like MHI are exactly what the Hero System needs to grab new players and show them the wonders of the game system. MHI may very well be the best possible introduction to the system we have right now. Nevertheless, no matter how well the MHI presents the system, there's simply no escaping the intrinsic complexity of designing/building a character from a budget of points, something your players may not be familiar with. The responsibility of designing their characters (rather than having much of it decided for them by dice rolls and tables) will only reinforce Hero's reputation for being hard to play. Be prepared for that.

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Hi, 

Long time gamer and huge fan of the MHI novels.

 

Didn't realise there was a MHI game until recently and have come to have a look.

 

 

There's novels?

 

 

In all my history of trying different rule sets, I have somehow managed to avoid the Hero System. Most of the groups I have associated with have always dismissed the Hero System as excessively complicated. Is the criticism justified?

It's not really more complex than, say, D&D. It IS presented differently. For example, someone's just explained the concept of a role playing game to you and handed you a D&D Player's Handbook and you say "I wanna be a wizard!" you will probably quickly understand that you start at 1st Level and thus don't have to look at ALL the spells in the book, just the ones you might have.

 

If you picked up, say, Fantasy Hero Complete and say "I wanna be a wizard!" well, in theory at least (barring things like the person running the game saying "no one gets X Y or Z powers) every power in the book might be available in some form even to a beginning character.

 

More on this further in, but I will say that a lot of complexity is "front loaded" - i.e. the part people seem to think is hard is actually creating the character, not playing the game once a character exists. Hero System is a point buy system where you are allotted a "budget" of points from which to buy Characteristics, Skills, Powers, and other "goodies" for a character. These all come from the same pool of points, so the more you spend on things like STRength and DEXterity, the less you have for Skills like Weaponsmith or Lockpicking.

 

I see most praise the game for its ability to generate or replicate statistics for anything out there. How? How does this differ from other game systems?

A lot of the flexibility and, pardon the expression, power, of the system comes from the Powers. Unfortunately, that's also the part that's most intimidating to newcomers.

 

First off, in the core Hero System there is no such Power as, say, Lightning Bolt. The Powers are deliberately "generic" so there IS, for example, a Power called Blast that is used for doing damage to someone at range. So if you want a character to throw lightning bolts around, you can buy the Blast Power. The more dice of damage you want to be able to do, the more points you spend. Let's start with a relatively weak lightning bolt, and say it does 6d6. That's 30 pts. We can call this the "Base Cost."

 

Now it gets more complex. When buying a Power you can (but don't have to) apply what are called "Advantages" - these make the Power both better in some way and more expensive. Say I want to have the bolt to follow a straight line and strike everyone who happens to be standing on that line. There's an Advantage called "Area Effect" that lets me do that; I can have a 16 meter long line for a +1/4 Advantage. The +1/4 means I take a quarter of the cost and add it on top; so the Lightning Bolt costs 37 pts. This is caleled the "Active Cost" or "Active Points" and represents about how powerful the ability is supposed to be potentially or under ideal conditions. Lots of people impose Active Point limits to prevent things like a fireball that can engulf the city or something outrageous like that.

 

Now you can (but don't have to) apply what are called "Limitations" - these make the Power less effective in some way and less expensive. Say I want the Lightning Bolt line to always start 1 meter away from the character. It has a range "by default" but I can apply a Limitation so it has No Range (it will still be a line running out to 16 meters, but the line has to start right by the character.) That's a -1/2 Limitation. And say the character has to make some kind of gestures with a hand - point a finger and the lighting appears. That's a -1/4 Limitation. And it also requires some words of power to be spoken; Incantations is a Limitation worth -1/4. So that's a total of -1 in Limitations. Now we calculate the Real Cost - the actual price in Character Points you pay. Take the total Limitation bonus (1) and add it to 1 (so, 1+1=2) and divide the Active Cost by that. In this case we cut the cost in half, and pay 18 pts for a Lightning Bolt spell.

 

Note that someone else could buy a Lightning Bolt and build it differently - more dice of damage, maybe no Incantation, maybe it needs a magic wand to work, etc. The Luminous Levinbolt of Lord Lucius is not necessarily the same as Frederick's Fulgeration, even if both could be called "a Lightning Bolt Spell."

 

 

Is it easy to introduce a new gaming group to the rule set?

In my experience, it's not that hard if you are willing to build their characters for them.

 

None of my current gaming groups are interested in Hero system citing the criticisms above plus the claim of an outdated rule set. But given no one plays, I'm not so sure how real these comments are. So, it has to be a new group of interested gamers. Using MHI as the introduction as it is a common hook for this new group of essentially non gamers. 

 

Hoping to get into MHI and am curious as to the Hero System. 

1] Is it easy to pick up and run? A common criticism is that it is excessively maths heavy.

Most of the math is done in character creation, not so much in play. Some abilities may lead to doing calculations on the fly: if a monster has Damage Reduction 75% Physical for example, you will have to cut damage done to them by guns and the like down to one quarter - but that should be rare. Maneuvers or circumstances may require you to cut Defensive Combat Value in half.

 

2] Is the MHI rule set complete? Or do I need other rule books? As I will probably be ordering direct from Herogames, might as well make any necessary purchases at the same time to save on shipping.

It is complete, in the sense that you can run the game on just that book. The complete Hero System does include material that is not in Monster Hunters. For example, some Powers were left out, some with in my opinion very good reason. For example, no one in Monster Hunter is likely to need the Power, Faster than Light Movement!

 

HOWEVER, some of the monsters are built with Powers that aren't in the book. I don't remember which specifically but if you are looking at a monster and having trouble understanding it, it may be that the relevant Power wasn't included. An unfortunate oversight.

 

Some great suggestions for other useful books have already been made. You may find the character creation software, Hero Designer, useful as well, as it automates the math and tends to warn you (or outright stop you, depending on how you set it up) if you do something "illegal."

 

I guess, one quick question is generating unusual monsters. I see there is a thread here about statting out monsters. Is there rules for that in the MHI game? Or do I need to expand the books to other games using the Hero System game?

 

Thanks in advance for any help

Yes, you can fairly easily modify monsters or build from scratch. One of the great things about Hero is that you can see the building blocks that were put together to make any given character or monster; fans describe this as "showing what's under the hood."

 

Lucius Alexander

 

And a PUFF exempt palindromedary

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Masey

Thanks for the tip and the example of the ego attack. Just watching the brief description of the power allows me to glean at the flexibility of the powers system. In any other system, entangle would refer to a physical power. But reading the description you put up, and the change on the descriptor and the 'stat base' (sorry not aware of the Hero terminology as of yet), you have changed what essentially a physical power to a mental one, but the net effect is the same, the target is immobilised. I am beginning to see the flexibility inherent in the Power system. 

 

I suspect I am also started to see where the potential limitation of the system could be. Being unused to such flexibility, and more used to being regulated by rules sets, this flexibility could potentially limited by narrow in the box thinking. You almost have to step outside your normal comfort zone to use the Powers in a creative way. 

 

 

BigDamnHero

In our group, the biggest issue in Necessary Evil was not so much the kill the opposition and take their stuff mentality. Instead, it was almost a black and white view of villains. Our group couldn't get past the fact we were villains first, and remained stuck in that villainous rut. Once a bad guy, always a bad guy sort of thinking. There was no thought in most of the gamers of the chance of redemption. It is almost like you said, they have been given permission to be the bad guy, and there was no turning back. :) But yes, a fun camp gain with some interesting characters, even though we remained within the Savage Worlds rule set

 

 

Zslane

Thanks for the primer on the rule set. I suspect, like all legacy games, with a rich background, the Hero System over its various incarnations has gotten rather bogged down in the rules. The more a game is played, the more players will find a way to 'break' the rules. The Hero System is not the only ruleset to get so bogged down on the details. Look at Pathfinder and the numerous books and rules it brings out. 

Where the current incarnation of the Hero ruleset seems to differ is in the way the rules are presented. I note that there re two major tomes for the 6e Hero rules. But these are released with any default setting of fluff. Having two amor rules tomes without fluff is more akin to reading an anatomy textbook than a gaming reading selection. Without the fluff, most gamers eyes will glaze over trying to engage and remember the rules. 

 

The trend towards single all inclusive rules with a default setting or at least genre splat (i.e. Champions, Fantasy Hero or Star Hero) at least dresses up the rules with some genre specific defaults. But nothing beats a rule book with some fluff (or in my case, I would prefer fluff with rules interspersed through it) to keep me engaged. I have yet to read the MHI rule book, but suspect you are correct, you need something that has the fluff to draw and engage the potential gamer, and let them learn the rules through reading the fluff and 'live' examples. 

 

 

Lucius

thanks for the information :) 

 

Thanks everyone for the help you have all provided. It reconfirms my decision to go down this path. I think the idea of using either pregens or GM created characters initially will do a lot to smooth everyone's transition into the game. MHI for me is a most definite entry way to the Hero System. I will pick up Champions as discussed for using to reskin a Grim Noir game at some stage and probably a bestiary to begin with :)

 

Time to go spend some money at the store :)

 

Thanks again. Hope to tap on the wealth of knowledge of the forum members as well as the generosity for their time in replying 

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Welcome! I loved the novels and the rule book and all the extra PDF's (scenarios, monsters, etc) that came with it! The MHI rule book is awesome in that it has fluff to get your through, specifically it has some pages of original fiction from the author of the novels in some places and even in the charts and racial descriptions the prose shows obvious collaboration between the author of the novels and the author of the game system. The note, for example, on the PUFF Chart that shows how much you get paid for the bodies of the monsters you have slain where it mentions that gnomes and orcs are worth the same and both races are aware and annoyed at this... :)

 

The flexibility of the system invites experimentation too. One thing I worked on but never got around to running was a Monster Hunter campaign set in the Roman Republic, with the player characters all employed by a reclusive, rich patron who was actually a vampire providing a paid service to the other rich families and eliminating competition. I was calling it, Monster Hunter Imperium. The elves were basically the Celts.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/monster-hunter-imperium/categories

 

I really don't know how well the license worked out commercially for Hero Games (the Kickstarter was the highest funded one they've ever had, but they sure do have a lot of the MHI books left in their warehouse), but it has been my dearest wish ever since that Steve Long and Larry Larry Correia would collaborate again to do a licensed Hero Book for Grimnoir Chronicles. Seriously, Steve Long is a huge Pulp era fan, it would be great!!!

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