Jump to content
dsatow

How do you build characters

How do you build HERO characters?  

35 members have voted

  1. 1. How do you mainly build HERO characters?

    • I build based solely on a role playing concept and will spend points on totally useless items just because they fit character concept.
    • I build based on what the team needs. If we don't have range support, I become a blaster. If we need strength, a brick.
    • I build a character who can run solo. They are self sufficient and can handle anything the team needs in whatever position.
    • I build a character on efficiency. They have a little bit of every defense and several other targeting senses. They have a variety of attacks to bypass the GM's defenses.
    • I build a character as powerful as can be given point and campaign limitations. I always want to be the last character down.
      0


Recommended Posts

Just a wondering on how other people build HERO characters.  I hear a lot of people who don't play hero say that we are all power gamers.  I am just wondering if this is an unfair stereotype and how people really build characters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went through my power-gaming phase. These days I have to purposefully try to *not* build them too powerful. Often I intentionally make the weakest guy in the group (at least by conventional standards). But I do still end up building a "solo" character most of the time. I want my guys to be self-sufficient.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I build characters to concept, "useless" skills and all. I really love skill monkeys. And every once in a while, that's what allows them to shine. I still remember fondly the one Pathfinder game I played in where my dwarf's knowledge of stonemasonry helped the group find a secret passage into the tower the party was supposed to break into.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering that one of the core principles of Hero is that you get what you pay for and another is that you spend no points on "useless" skills, etc, I'd suggest that that game lends itself to utility builds.

 

While true,

  1. if you run a character for literally hundreds of games, characters get hundreds of XP and will begin paying for items completely useless (usability less than 1 out of 30 games).
  2. some concepts are really cheap to build (bricks for instance).  The excess points are then can be built on versatility, flavor, increased power, etc.
  3. some people use the points to help flesh out the vision of the character.  Do you really need PS: Fry cook for your characters?  Probably not, but people buy it to flesh out the character.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually build to the first and second items.  I build to a concept, but will aim to fill the team's need.

 

Of course I refer to a time long long ago in a land far far away......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I try to go with 2>1>5>4>3

Thou one weird attack or power the GM is not ready for is likely to show up.   Kind of nice to have one person who has MD even if no one in the party is a psi.  A lot of prefab enemy teams have a psi.  Or a fire using blaster with one slot in the mult power with a AoE knock the mob out power.  Earth powered brick with a range 'knock the flier back to my power'  Not always useful stuff but the look of oops on the GM's face is so worth it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose #1 is closest to my style. I tend not to waste points, but then I rarely play in games with gobs of points to throw into a character. I also tend to get stuck on esoteric power builds which require a lot of points for a relatively small amount of utility

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like something unique to the character (whether its 'useless' or not) but overall I like to build *tough* - they can run solo, they're not going down easy.

 

I don't like being invulnerable, however - I don't use Desolidify in combat, avoid invisibility, high defense barriers with transparent, etc, and make sure (if the GM doesn't by setting PD limits) that I'll take 3 to 6 stun per hit on average from a DC cap attack.  I buy up recovery but not enough to counter any average damage against me in a round (so if I'm subject to on average six attacks, three hits, that inflict six stun each I might aim for a recovery of 10 to 12.  If I'm expecting to be hit 6 times instead due to excessive OCV vs DCV ratios in the game for a total of 36 (ow?) I might aim for a 20 - 25. I'm going down, but I'm lasting long enough to take someone with me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like something unique to the character (whether its 'useless' or not) but overall I like to build *tough* - they can run solo, they're not going down easy.

 

I don't like being invulnerable, however - I don't use Desolidify in combat, avoid invisibility, high defense barriers with transparent, etc, and make sure (if the GM doesn't by setting PD limits) that I'll take 3 to 6 stun per hit on average from a DC cap attack.  I buy up recovery but not enough to counter any average damage against me in a round (so if I'm subject to on average six attacks, three hits, that inflict six stun each I might aim for a recovery of 10 to 12.  If I'm expecting to be hit 6 times instead due to excessive OCV vs DCV ratios in the game for a total of 36 (ow?) I might aim for a 20 - 25. I'm going down, but I'm lasting long enough to take someone with me.

If the rest of the characters (PC and NPC) are built to a similar model. expect combats to grind out over a long time. Not a huge issue if that's what the group wants, of course, but that will be the result when a character loses, say, 20 STUN a turn and recovers 15.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most often when I am building a character they are an NPC (because I haven't gotten to play since 5th edition). So I try to build them as closely as I can to the Character Ability Guidelines Table. Depending on the character's theme, one or two metrics will be towards the high end of the range (or even the slightest bit beyond it), and the rest of the metics will be towards the low end of the range. Regardless of what I am building, I do a lot of research and try to build them in the most efficient and rules legal manner possible without sacrificing the concept to do so.

 

When I am building something for fun (such as when I built Bell Cranel in the Downloads Section), researching the concept is the most important step. I want my build to represent the concept as closely as I can. That means trying to include any odd quirks about their capabilities, paying attention to little details such as how high they leap, how much faster or slower than other characters they run, what the largest object they lift is, and the effects of their attacks on their terrain. Because many characters feature a meteoric rise in power over the course of their stories, I usually pick a singular point in a character's timeline to base my build on. This why I don't have to model everything that the character will ever possibly be able to do, just the things they have already demonstrated they can do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In theory, if I was ever NOT to be GM for a Hero System game, I'd build according to #1-#3, depending. The power gaming/munchkin thing was something my original group went through and were done with before we even started with Champions 2e, so it was never part of my experience with Hero System. It was only later on, as I went out into the wide world, that I realized folks viewed Hero System as an ideal powergaming RPG.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't consider "powergaming" to be a dirty word, but I do think that the idea that Hero is some sort of Power-Gamer's paradise is something of a mirage created by their lack of actual System Mastery. Anything a player can do in an attempt to break the game, I can undo with half as many points expended (or significantly less); assuming that as a GM I enforce all of those "Reasonable Circumstance/Condition" clauses peppered in amongst all of the really abusible game elements (such as Desolidification and Usable As Attack).

 

Conversely, games like Pathfinder are much more easily broken than Hero if you strictly follow the RAW (and don't have an extensive blacklist like organized play does). With enough system mastery you can build pathfinder characters that can one-shot (or single-round) any enemy their own level, be impossible to hit except on natural 20s, be incapable of failing certain skill checks, or become infinite Wish​ factories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure, you can powergame with all kinds of different systems. We went down that road as far as we cared to using AD&D, for example. I should hasten to add that I don't think people who enjoy powergaming are having wrong fun. It's just not my thing, much like heavily narrative games aren't my thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the rest of the characters (PC and NPC) are built to a similar model. expect combats to grind out over a long time. Not a huge issue if that's what the group wants, of course, but that will be the result when a character loses, say, 20 STUN a turn and recovers 15.

 

 

Indeed.  I've seen that fairly often and I *try* and avoid it ... but empirically every time I play and aim to take 20 or 30 stun through armor and after post 12 recovery during a full phase (to be defeated in two to 2.5 full combat turns if I have 60 stun) I end up taking 40 or 50 due to the fickleness of dice.  So I usually aim to take 15 and expect to take 25.  And then end up taking 5 or 10.

 

Especially in DC and defense capped games it's a balancing act.  Nobody wants to be taken out in the first segment twelve so there's a lot of building around 'averages' with a 'just in case' aspect but as soon as you have average anything in a controlled environment it can turn into a slog (defense cap set to 3xDC or higher) - or a blood bath (defense cap set to 1xDC). 

 

(Important enemy NPC in my games, for example, are meant to be defeated in 2 full combat turns if the dice co-operate.  Less important but still named in 1.  Anything else ranges from 1 hit to less than a full turn.  Since it's not uncommon for said 'important' enemy to weather 30 attacks against them per full turn there IS a lot of dcv, reduction, and defense juggling involved.  There'd be less if they'd ever dealt with the minions first or broke into mini-fights like in the comics where each person fights an enemy while the toughest guy keeps the 'boss' busy until the others step in to help ... but they... don't.  Teamwork rolls and full focus fire all the way.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering that one of the core principles of Hero is that you get what you pay for and another is that you spend no points on "useless" skills, etc, I'd suggest that that game lends itself to utility builds.

 

Several of my early builds of my current super hero included useless flavor skills and perks that fit the character concept. After several rounds of GM review and suggestions, these items are essentially free flavor items that cost no points. Granted, that's because they don't show up in game or only show up in exposition between scenes/adventures. My current build is much more utilitarian and combat-effective, but that's what my team needs. As the designated face-man and backup tank/brick I can't afford to be a glass canon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Especially in DC and defense capped games it's a balancing act.  Nobody wants to be taken out in the first segment twelve so there's a lot of building around 'averages' with a 'just in case' aspect but as soon as you have average anything in a controlled environment it can turn into a slog (defense cap set to 3xDC or higher) - or a blood bath (defense cap set to 1xDC).

It definitely changes the dynamic. Defenses of 3x DC means 36 defenses vs 12d6 so about 6 stun per hit. Combat drags on. 1xDC, first strike becomes a lot more valuable, cover, blocks and dodges should be way more common as everyone looks for that one hit to take out an opponent.

 

(Important enemy NPC in my games, for example, are meant to be defeated in 2 full combat turns if the dice co-operate.  Less important but still named in 1.  Anything else ranges from 1 hit to less than a full turn.  Since it's not uncommon for said 'important' enemy to weather 30 attacks against them per full turn there IS a lot of dcv, reduction, and defense juggling involved.  There'd be less if they'd ever dealt with the minions first or broke into mini-fights like in the comics where each person fights an enemy while the toughest guy keeps the 'boss' busy until the others step in to help ... but they... don't.  Teamwork rolls and full focus fire all the way.)

I see two approaches here. First, if it's four lower power NPCs and one "Boss Villain", then why would they not focus on the most dangerous target? Even if the bad guys are about equal in ower, one opponent downed beats 5 taking a bit of STUN. So can we do something to make the minions a target as well? Maybe they are hard to bypass. Maybe if they are ignored, they also use Teamwork. If they are not targeted, hey, toss all skill levels into OCV and damage bonuses - who needs DCV if they aren't shooting at you?

 

Mind you, if we take a game where the norm is 2x DC in defenses (so that 12d6 hit is averaging 14 past defenses), my Big Bad with a 15d6 Attack (25 past defenses will STUN a lot of Supers), 3x DC in defenses and decent STUN actually seems like a threat. If the PCs are built to the same standard, the Big Bad needs to be that much Bigger and Badder.

 

I can recall playing a 2.5 - 3x DC norm for defenses game and thinking I should drop all the villains' defenses about 10 points and add 3 DCs to their attacks - now hits would average 16 across the board instead of 6, and fights would end faster.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that "useless abilities" should cost no points. I commented on that in the SETAC process, and was glad to see it make its way into the rules. If I let you pay 3 points for KS: Chinese Cooking, then as GM, I consider that my undertaking to make it worth three points in the game. If I'm not prepared to do that, then you should not pay 3 points. The flip side? When you put a Vulnerability on your character sheet, I take that to say "I want the challenge of facing opponents to whom I am especially vulnerable - I will tell you how often by setting its frequency".

 

But I also don't build my character to a template. It's not a one man show. I rarely have a character with every conceivable defense - no one is invulnerable, and if you have defenses against everything, I expect lower defenses against typical attacks than the guy who chooses to have no exotic defenses. Unless, of course, your schtick is invulnerability, in which case I expect you will be below average somewhere else. I've built characters who are great on the team and do no direct damage, or less than the campaign standard, so pretty useless on their own. Flash and Drain are pretty potent if you have teammates!

 

So I probably fall in a mix of the choices - built to concept, efficient within that concept, but if you charge me points for abilities, I expect them to have utility more or less commensurate with the cost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see two approaches here. First, if it's four lower power NPCs and one "Boss Villain", then why would they not focus on the most dangerous target? Even if the bad guys are about equal in ower, one opponent downed beats 5 taking a bit of STUN. So can we do something to make the minions a target as well? Maybe they are hard to bypass. Maybe if they are ignored, they also use Teamwork. If they are not targeted, hey, toss all skill levels into OCV and damage bonuses - who needs DCV if they aren't shooting at you?

 

I can recall playing a 2.5 - 3x DC norm for defenses game and thinking I should drop all the villains' defenses about 10 points and add 3 DCs to their attacks - now hits would average 16 across the board instead of 6, and fights would end faster.

 

The 'minions' often do use teamwork if applicable (soldiers of VIPER, etc) - 6 damage three times is annoying to a character with 50 stun but if that 18 stuns them? That *feels* dangerous.

 

Also I have had some success with the 'For the Queen!' approach - a minion basically being a damage shield for their boss by leaping in the way and taking hits.  One of the most 'dramatic' (read: annoying) fights involved a mystical deathknight with a dozen flying shields that were Followers and not focus/manifested power Deflection.  It took them nearly a full turn of trying to guess how much Speed this guy actually had (and some complaining that you're not allowed to Block both ranged and melee in the same phase) before figuring out that the shields were separate entities using held actions.  

 

Overall, though, unless every fight is a gimmick fight it's very MMO - Aoe down the minions (or ignore them), focus fire the boss.  I already scribbled down some notes I've gleaned from the dynamic combat thread, though, for future sessions. Mwahahaha.

 

Funny you throw those numbers in your last paragraph, though - my current game *is* 2.5 x average DC armor cap and my 'damage' enemies are built *exactly* like that (+3 DC for -10 armor).  Damage sponge enemies are built the reverse - with 3.5 DC armor and -2 DC attacks.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×