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  1. You can have characters of differing power levels on the same team. You just have to be liberal with how you define those characters and their abilities. In other words, you can't be a stickler for the idea that Batman has a 20 Dex, 4 Spd, and 8 PD. Adhering to NCM makes things harder. Batman is a lot of things, but normal isn't one of them. Superman is going to hit harder than Batman, and he can take more damage. That doesn't mean he's always more useful to the adventure. In a no-points-limit scenario, Batman is a fast martial artist with a skill list a mile long and a monstrous VPP through his utility belt. He might as well be a Green Lantern who can't fly and who isn't vulnerable to yellow. I've built literally dozens of Batman writeups over the years, same with Supes. You can pretty easily get some good representatives of the characters, in a way where neither shows up the other, if you want to.
  2. I can honestly say, even as a nerd, I'm not sure how many more superhero movies I'm going to see. I'm starting to suffer from a bit of burnout. I'm excited about Infinity War and everything, and want to see Ant Man and the Wasp, but I don't think I've got too many new franchises left in me. I'm gonna pass on Venom, haven't seen most of the DC movies, haven't seen the last few Wolverine/X-Men movies, didn't see the new FF, and I really don't care about Captain Marvel or the inevitable Spider-Man and Black Panther sequels. This criticism isn't limited to superheroes, of course. I've missed the last few Alien and Terminator movies, and I'm not on board with more Avatar movies either. Last Jedi cured me of my love of Star Wars. Huge budget sci-fi action just gets overwhelming after a while. I need a break.
  3. massey

    Skill-based magic

    Is there much difference between a warrior buying "Deadly Strike" (or whatever it's called) to add +1D6 HKA to all swords, and a wizard buying "Fire Magic Expert" to add +1D6 RKA to all fire spells?
  4. massey

    Different REC based on powers used

    Put a limitation on your electrical powers that they have increased End use. 12D6 Energy Blast (fire) -- 6 End 12D6 Energy Blast (electricity), Increased End x2 -- 12 End Your electrical powers will now take twice as long to recharge. If you really want to get more complicated, you can buy some of your Endurance Reserve on a limitation "only for electrical powers". That way you don't run out of End any faster, it just takes longer to recover it. This will save bookkeeping. So... Endurance Reserve: 100 End, 10 Rec plus Endurance Reserve: +100 End, only for electrical powers. This means when you use your fire blast, you spend 6 End from the 100 in the main reserve. It recovers at 10 per turn. When you use your lightning blast, you spend 6 from the main reserve and 6 from the electrical reserve (in actuality it's the same End Reserve, it's just partially limited). So you won't run out of End any faster, it just takes longer to recover it (twice as long, actually).
  5. Sweet tea is awesome. Unsweet iced tea sucks.
  6. massey

    Changes in a world with superpowers

    I disagree on this. Banks are insured. Supervillains who rob bank vaults would be rare enough that it isn't worth the cost to prepare against them. How many teleporters are really jumping inside bank vaults?
  7. I've started a keto diet the last month and a half. I was always tall and skinny, but as I approach the big 4-oh I've gained a lot of weight. I hit 240 lbs and decided that was enough for me. Since going on the diet (ultra low carbs, no sugar, moderate protein and high fat) I've lost over 20 lbs. I'm going to stay on it until I'm under 200. Since going on this diet, I've really changed how I eat. It used to be that I'd cook maybe twice a week, we'd go out to eat at a sit-down restaurant maybe twice a week, and the rest was fast food. My eating habits were strictly in the "meat and potatoes" region. We ate a lot of Mexican food, and Chinese take out, and burgers and fries. There was a deep dish pizza place nearby as well, but sadly it closed down a couple months ago. I've basically eaten like a college student for the past 20+ years. On the diet, I cook at least 50% of my meals. The other 50% I will grab a salad or something from a nearby place. Lots of meals are now a piece of meat with lots of veggies cooked in olive oil and butter. I'm actually a pretty darn good cook (and I make kickass steaks, Pittsburgh style -- charred on the outside and rare on the inside). I'm definitely the cook in the house. My girlfriend is kitchenly-challenged. She's actually not that bad at it, but I'm significantly better. No weird prohibitions. Except I can't let my food touch, not anything that could transfer juices or stick to each other anyway. That's just vomit-inducing. Many meals in my home are eaten with sides on individual plates.
  8. massey

    Skill-based magic

    Breaking away from the D&D standard (which I think is a decent goal for Fantasy Hero — if you want to play D&D, just play D&D) requires coming up with your own game balance. It’s a weightier question than you might think at first, because you have to decide how your world works and what effect characters should have. Some fantasy mages are like super-fighters. The wizard is not only an awesome swordsman, he’s also got all sorts of screw-you powers that normal people can’t get. If you want to simulate this kind of fantasy story, you’ll make different decisions than if you are duplicating a different story. Some wizards don’t have access to the full D&D wizard suite. Thulsa Doom (in the movie anyway) was a warrior who could turn into a big snake. He also had a lot of followers and he could shoot a snake from a bow. Huh? And I think he had some sort of hypnotic vision. He basically had two or three good tricks that nobody knew he could do. Definitely not a normal D&D wizard. You could have some sort of zombie lord who can build a mighty army by animating the dead, but otherwise he has no spell magic at all. That’s his one magic power. For someone like that, it isn’t important for him to have all the blasty stuff, he’s just a normal adventurer type who happens to command an army. He doesn’t even need a spell. You could make him a “sorcerer” by buying undead followers just as easily. Most of these won’t be appropriate for whatever game you run. But they may be great for somebody’s game. You have to decide how you want your world to look.
  9. massey

    Skill-based magic

    I was just using Knowledge Skill because you had mentioned it upthread. Power Skill would work just as well. I'd suggest building some characters and experimenting with it to see which one you preferred. See what strikes the best balance. Another thing you might want to do, for spells that are found in game, you might require a 1 point purchase price for each one. Like buying a Program for a computer in Hero. This is a pretty cheap price, and it would give you some way to differentiate between characters who had found cool spells and those who had not. So Bob the Wizard has: 7 pts -- Power Skill: Magic 13- 6 pts -- KS: Fire Magic 14- 1 pt -- Flame Strike 1 pt -- Wall of Fire 1 pt -- Summon Fire Elemental (minor) They have to spend a nominal amount to get access to those spells, but they can't buy them until they actually encounter them (or maybe they can start with a few with GM permission). This gives them something to write on their character sheet and makes it seem like it's really "theirs". You might also consider some magic items that can boost the mage's power. A Tome of Fire Magic might look something like this: +30 End, fire magic only, OAF +3 to KS: Fire Magic, OAF the book also contains 3 new higher tier fire magic spells, and the bearer can use them without paying any points to learn them as long as he has the book and the book maybe replaces some of the spell components (no more carrying around bat guano for your fireball) A character who has possession of this book is definitely more powerful, but it's not overwhelming.
  10. massey

    Skill-based magic

    As far as our guy becoming a total badass by buying his "raise army of the dead" spell, that's for you and your campaign group to decide. You may just say "no, a spell like that is not available". But even if you buy the thing with points, you're probably spending at least 30+ points, even with a lot of limitations. It's an expensive spell. Sometimes its a staple of fantasy fiction to have these enormous world-affecting spells, so I wanted to leave that as an option. It's up to you exactly how you want to do it. If I ever run a Fantasy Hero game, I may try my system. I like the idea of people getting the starter spells, and anything beyond that is something that you encounter during the game. So yes, maybe Cloudkill is an Air Magic spell, but you have to find it in play to add it to your spellbook. It's like finding some rare weapon type. The warrior can't use a blunderbuss, even though he has the weapon familiarity, because he can't find one.
  11. massey

    Skill-based magic

    As far as the use for Power Skill: Magic, my post was kind of stream-of-consciousness and I changed my mind on things a bit as I was typing. At first I was thinking that Power Skill: Magic would just let you do basic stuff. As the post developed, I thought that maybe it should be more important. Maybe you can use it as a complementary skill for your more specialized magics? Or maybe the Knowledge Skill spell fields are far more limited in spell selection? With 19 points, let's say Bob has 30 spells. But a warrior could nearly take +4 OCV with everything for that price. And the spells are as balanced as you want to make them. Let's take a look at some standard D&D style spells. I'm going to assign some random skill roll penalties (I'm not going to stat out each spell in Hero, this is total guesstimating). I don't think having access to these would be overpowered. KS: Magic 13- Detect Magic, -0; Detect Poison, -0; Dancing Lights, -0; Mage Hand, -1; Prestidigitation, -1; Obscuring Mist, -2; Comprehend Languages, -2; Detect Secret Doors, -1; Detect Undead, -1; Sleep, -3; Magic Aura, -1; Silent Image, -2; Feather Fall, -1; Magic Missile, -2; Protection from Evil, -3; Web, -3; Detect Thoughts, -3; See Invisibility, -2; Blur, -2; Knock, -3; Spider Climb, -2 There you go. There are 21 starting spells that a mage could know that let him do obviously magical things that aren't too unbalancing. Most of these are utility spells that will only get used in rare situations. Now let's say he buys fire magic because so far he's a little light on offensive abilities. KS: Fire Magic 14- Light, -0; Flare, -1; Spark, -0; Scorching Ray, -3; Flame Blade, -3; Burning Hands, -2; Fireball, -4; That's 7 more spells and it gives him some more versatility and more offense. There's a little bit of overlap with stuff he can already do, but he's not doing too much that will have a really big effect. Most of what he gets just changes the special effect, or changes the area on what he can already do. In Hero, Scorching Ray and Magic Missile are going to be pretty similar. A minor change in special effect, a little more damage, but that's about it. This version has 28 spells total, for a grand total of 13 points (so far). But again, most of these are only useful in special situations. As far as real combat goes, he's got Sleep, Magic Missile, Scorching Ray, Burning Hands, Flame Blade, and Fireball. Which really just means he's got a few different RKAs with different advantages on them, and an HKA. Plus Sleep.
  12. massey

    Skill-based magic

    Lemme try again with a super bare-bones approach. Bob the Wizard starts with the Power Skill, defined as Magic, on a 13-. He paid 3 points for the skill, and 4 points for a +2 to the roll (let's leave out his base Int stat for just a moment), so 7 points total. With this, he gets access to a handful of simple spells. Let's say we have maybe a dozen "basic magic" tricks that he can perform. 5 Str Telekinesis. 1" radius sight and hearing Images with -0 to the perception roll. Simple, basic spells. He takes a -1 to his Magic roll for every 10 active points in the spell. So if he wants to get better at casting these basic spells, he needs to buy up his Magic roll. There are better spells that he can cast than just zero level cantrips, but of course they're going to have more active points and so will be harder to perform. So now Bob wants to be able to do Fire Magic. So he buys KS: Fire Magic for 3 points, which gives him an 11- roll with it. And he spends 3 more points so he's got a 14-. This now gives him access to basic Fire Magic spells. There are a dozen or so spells the GM has created, and he can now cast these just like the basic magic he could cast before. He uses his KS: Fire Magic as the skill roll for any of these spells, which is cheaper than buying up his Power Skill, but it only applies to Fire Magic. Later Bob decides he's going to learn Wind Magic (or Plant Magic, or Divination, or whatever). He buys another KS for that. Each time he buys access to a new type of magic, he learns somewhere between five to ten new spells. Some of them are minor, but some of them are pretty good. Fire Bolt may be a 2D6 RKA, Armor Piercing. Not bad at all. Of course, he needs to have a pretty decent skill level in Fire Magic to use it reliably. The basic spells you get are considered "general knowledge". Every fire wizard knows how to cast Fire Bolt. These spells are all pregenerated by the GM and are balanced against what warriors and other classes can do. No wizard is going to be overpowered just from the "starter pack" of spells. More powerful spells have to be discovered through adventuring, research, or outright point buy. Suppose Bob wants to be able to raise an army of the dead. That spell is not in the KS: Necromancy starter pack. He might have an Animate Dead spell that can raise 4 skeletons (Summon 50 point skeleton, slavishly devoted, x4 being = 40 active points, or -4 to KS: Necromancy roll). But Bob wants to be able to raise thousands. Well, he's going to need better magic than what he's got. Increasing the Summon so that he can have 1000 skeletons in one go would make it 120 active points. That's a -12 to his roll. Now maybe you're okay with letting a guy who buys KS: Necromancy at 25- to start raising armies of the dead. Or maybe you want him to find the spell through a quest of some kind. That kind of magical knowledge is probably jealously guarded. This is an excuse to send Bob and pals to look for the Necronomicon ex mortis. Now maybe Bob doesn't want to do a quest. Well he might be able to research a spell like that. He's a wizard, after all. This can be roleplayed out too. If he's got the Research skill, have him make some rolls. Assign a certain difficulty, declare that it takes a certain amount of time and costs a certain amount of money. As an example, maybe it takes you a year of research, and 50 gold pieces a day. At the end of each month, you need to make a Research roll at -3. If you fail, the month is wasted. After 12 successes, make a Magic Skill roll (unmodified) and a Necromancy roll (at -1 per 10 active points, but you can take extra time and use supporting skills and such to give bonuses) to make sure the spell actually works. If you fail the roll, it's an extra month of research for every point you fail by. Do that, and now you have your spell. Just add it to your spell list. But maybe Bob doesn't want to do research either. He wants his army of the dead spell now. Well, he's always free to just buy the thing with points, like a normal power.
  13. massey

    Skill-based magic

    Knowledge Skills are 1 point per +1 to the roll.
  14. When we played horror games, usually it was for a limited time. Everybody knew that we would only have like 6 sessions or something, because Bob had finished running his game, and Mike wasn't quite ready to start yet. Or Billy was going to get deployed overseas in a few months, and didn't want to start something long and involved. Taking a break in the month of October to play a scary game was also a hit. The idea of "normal guy versus the supernatural" has an appeal. You just have to realize you're not Rambo. For munchkin players, I found that giving them small scale stuff to fight keeps them happy for a little bit (you can kill a cultist, but the monster he summons flies away without seeing you). The monsters should be established as clearly outside of their weight class, something that requires a special weapon or whatever to defeat. 1st level D&D characters don't charge dragons. Even the most die-hard powergamer understands that. In fact, I think the roll players (as opposed to role-players) are the ones most likely to react appropriately if they think the monster is too tough to kill. Some Vampire the Masquerade player may love the idea of standing up to Cthulhu and delivering an impassioned soliloquy on how love conquers all. A point-crunching munchkin is going to run like his ass is on fire as soon as he realizes the battle is hopeless. But I didn't really put players in the situation where they were facing down hopeless odds. Not in a combat situation anyway. You find out that there are CHUDs living in the sewer below the city. You fight one of them when it comes out for a stroll late at night. It nearly kills you, but you manage to beat it to death with a lead pipe you grabbed in the alleyway. You hear movement behind you, and when you turn, you see a dozen pairs of their creepy, glowing eyes coming out of the shadows. You've lost a lot of Body and are barely standing as it is. You have to run. As long as the player chooses the clearly obvious action, he'll get away (they aren't interested in pursuing you, they're primarily interested in retrieving the body of their fellow creature). But now he knows that he can't just slaughter his way through the things. As far as playing doomed characters goes, it can be fun if you're in the right mindset. The way I see it, in horror stories people usually have one terrifying experience and then it's over. The sequels usually involve new people encountering the same monster. It's rare for somebody to become an Ash, fighting the same things over and over again. The character doesn't have to die by the end of the adventure, but you shouldn't expect them to keep coming back. I found that leaving them "on the run" can be pretty enjoyable. The players wonder what happens to them after the game ends. I played in a game where I was a camp counselor. Turns out the camp was a cover for a Dagon-esque cult. I was supposed to be a sacrifice. They already had a death certificate printed out for me and everything. I found out a lot of the rich, old money families in the United States had traces of Deep Ones in their ancestry. Sometimes, it manifests and one of the wealthy goes all fishy. They get sent to live in the underground lake near the camp. A lake with hundreds of half-fish men. Most of the people who sent their kids to camp there were part of that elite group. The movers and shakers of America. So I found a list of names in the camp office, and jotted down as many as I could. Names, addresses, etc. I stole a bunch of money, set the place on fire, and ran. I escaped the scenario successfully, but I still couldn't go home. I was officially "dead" already. A week later, someone ransacked my motel room when I went out for burgers. The cult leaders at the camp were dead, but clearly there was somebody who figured out that one of the sacrifices had escaped. So I had to keep moving. The only way I could get my life back is to start picking off the people on my list. They are out to take over the world. I am going to be a hero. If only they hadn't destroyed the list when they trashed my room. But I'm pretty sure I remember who was on it. We played that game like ten years ago, and I still wonder what happened to him. From an outsider's perspective, he's absolutely insane. He wants to kill all the fish people, the ones who secretly control the government? Riiight. From my own perspective, he's insane. He's not even sure who was on the list anymore. He's trying to do the right thing, but his perspective is skewed. He's a half step from putting on a mask and murdering kids at some random summer camp. At the very least, he's going to break into rich people's houses and shoot them as they sleep. Maybe some of them will even be the right ones ("Swenson? Swanson? Oh, Samsonite, I was way off!"). Wondering about what became of him is way more fun than just saying that he went on to have a happy ending.
  15. massey

    Skill-based magic

    It's not exactly what you're asking for, but I'd suggest having a few different magic systems. The most powerful, and the most expensive, would be just buying a big VPP or Multipower. At that level, the character has spent way more points than a warrior. It makes sense that he would be more effective. In fact, he should be. Chucking dozens of fireballs is very powerful, but if the guy has spent 80 points or so on magic, then hell yeah he should be able to wade through hordes of orcs. The next level down would be buying an individual spell. Somebody wants to cast Xen's Lively Lightning, a modified version of your basic Chain Lightning spell. Let them buy it as normal. With enough limitations stacked on it, they can make it cheap enough that it's not that much more expensive than buying it as a skill. Especially if you just make them buy the extra stuff and let them use the underlying "skill based magic" without buying it outright. So if the Lightning Bolt spell is a 2D6+1 RKA, then Xen's Lively Lightning might be a naked advantage. Area Effect Cone, nonselective. That's 26 points (in 5th edition, anyway). Now limit it with concentration, extra time, requires skill roll, gestures and incantations, focus (spell components), 4 charges (you can't do it very often at first), costs end. That'll bring the cost down to 5 points. That way people can tweak things if they want to spend the points, without being too out of line with the basic spells. At your most basic level, just write up some cheap spells and let the players access them with a skill roll. Since a warrior can swing a sword without paying points for it (needing only a 1 point weapon familiarity), a wizard can probably cast Burning Hands without unbalancing the game, even if he didn't buy the whole thing. I'd keep these spells somewhat in line with normal damage. If a fighter is doing 2 1/2D6 HKA with his axe, a 2D6 RKA Explosion that requires a skill roll and extra time is probably not unbalanced at all. Might even be a little weak, in fact. Your wizard buys KS: Fireball spell at his base 13- (from 18 Int) for 3 points, then +4 to skill roll for 4 more points. If it's a 50 active point spell, that gives him a 12- to cast it for 7 points. If anything, that might be a little weak. His spells with rapidly get very expensive, the more he buys. Taking Scholar would be a must, to reduce the point cost. The way I think that would go, you'd have "dabblers" in magic who would take maybe one or two spells. Bob the swordsman learns how to cast Fire Blade, and just leaves it at that. He spends his 6 points or something to get a boost to his damage, and he leaves the rest of the magic to the experts. Once you've bought 3 or 4 skills with spells, a Multipower is going to start to look appealing. Another possibility is something I had a GM fiddle around with once. We never used it, it was a magic system he wanted to use in a Champions game, but nobody ended up playing a mage. You bought Contacts with extra-dimensional beings. Make your Contact roll, they would grant you their magic spell. You'd get a default spell that the entity cast through you. So if you wanted to cast the Ruby Lance of Lyacon, you make your 12- Contact with Lyacon roll. If you're successful, you cast a 9D6 Energy Blast (or whatever it is). Just don't be surprised if, later on, he wants a favor in return. Cultists and other low level magic users would often take the Contact route, because it's a cheap and easy way to get access to decent magic. You've got a long way to go if you want to be Sorcerer Supreme, but it's the mystic equivalent of handing a soldier a machine gun.