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Fantasy Hero Books

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In a nutshell:

 

Fantasy HERO 6e is Fantasy HERO 5e.  It's also lots of interesting thoughts on ideas, backgrounds, builds, world design, character options, weapons, societies, creating adventures-- it's a rich introduction to Fantasy Role Playing, geared toward using the HERO System rules and helping you select which rules you do or do not want to use, thoughts on lethality, campaigning, magic and systems -- it's really, _really_ nice.

 

 

Fantasy HERO Complete is the one thing that Fantasy HER0 6e is not:

 

It's an actual game, playable out of the box.

 

Fantasy HERO 6e is something that FHC is not:  

 

Detailed, interesting, and full of answers.

 

 

Honestly, someone passingly familiar with HERO-- or even a HERO newbie but an experienced GM and world-builder-- could use FHC out of the box and be done with it.  However, the two together give you what you want:  portable, one-book rules, and that nice genre book to inspire yourself.

 

 

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One interesting thing about a that FHC also have certain options which even the two volume rules don’t have. It also has Ranged Martial Arts.  Fantasy Hero does go into more in depth information for the genre, so if you already have the rules go with Fantasy Hero. If you do not then I’d recommend FHC. Btw FHC has more stuff than Champions Complete.  Is there something in particular you are looking for?

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1 hour ago, DreadDomain said:

It does? Never realised if. What does it have CC doesn't?

 

There are some genre-specific things like background and professional skill packages, equipment lists, and so on. But I think they also include some talents that are designed specifically for fantasy like Weaponmaster and stuff like that.

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

There are some genre-specific things like background and professional skill packages, equipment lists, and so on. But I think they also include some talents that are designed specifically for fantasy like Weaponmaster and stuff like that.

Ah, I see. Fantasy specific elements then. Thanks, seems obvious in retrospect :)

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22 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

It's an actual game, playable out of the box.

 

Errr....   Play out of the box implies that I can buy the book on Monday and run it on Tuesday. 

 

It is a complete set of rules, but you can't play it out of the box. The GM will need to make all the design decisions and create an adventure before you can actually play.  For instance, it gives you a lot of advice on magic systems, but does not include a complete ready to play magic system.  If you wanted magic users you will need to define what magic is and then create the the specifics before your players would be able to create a mage.

 

Don't mistake my meaning.  FHC is a great game, but it does not pre-define anything specific setting wise.

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Fair enough:

 

FHC has a complete set of rules, from which a cohesive game can be played--once you read and familiarize yourself with them.  It has no world, so you'll have to wing that. 

 

Fantasy HERO has lots of world-building information and suggestions.  It has no game, so you'll have to supply one. 

 

 

That seems more accurate. 

 

:D

 

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, Spence said:

 

Errr....   Play out of the box implies that I can buy the book on Monday and run it on Tuesday. 

 

It is a complete set of rules, but you can't play it out of the box. The GM will need to make all the design decisions and create an adventure before you can actually play.  For instance, it gives you a lot of advice on magic systems, but does not include a complete ready to play magic system.  If you wanted magic users you will need to define what magic is and then create the the specifics before your players would be able to create a mage.

 

Don't mistake my meaning.  FHC is a great game, but it does not pre-define anything specific setting wise.

To be fair, the magic system is actually provided with certain Limitations and the Real Cost/3 for the final cost (which is more like the original Fantasy HERO). They provide some spells, and the PDF that goes with the book has a setting and an adventure, so it’s a lot closer to “playing out of the box” than most other HERO products. Not perfect, but probably playable after a weekend of prep. 

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5 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

To be fair, the magic system is actually provided with certain Limitations and the Real Cost/3 for the final cost (which is more like the original Fantasy HERO). They provide some spells, and the PDF that goes with the book has a setting and an adventure, so it’s a lot closer to “playing out of the box” than most other HERO products. Not perfect, but probably playable after a weekend of prep. 

I actually never though of it that way: how playable is it out of the box and what does it need to be playable out of the box? What you list here seems to be the crux of it but I would add that "playable out of the box" games have a somewhat implied play style.  FHC is quite loose in that regard (may be a bug, may be a feature). Coupled with a very small selection of spells, it makes FHC less play-ready than say, The Dark Eye, RuneQuest or Dungeons & Dragons even considering only their core/players books.

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3 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

FHC pretty much just needs an adventure.  It's got monsters, spells, magic items, pregenerated characters, a sample setting.  More than the D&D starter kit, to be sure.  

To be fair FHC is not the equivalent of the Starter Kit (even if they are in the same price bracket) but of the Players Handbook (which is more than twice the price but with a much better production value). The PH has more monsters than FHC (30ish vs 12ish) and way more spells (over a 100 vs 14ish).

I am not in the business of selling or defending D&D but reading both books makes it painfully clear it's a lot easier to jump in D&D.

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But now we’re at the Hero conundrum. If you list too many examples, then people take that as how X should be built instead of how you want it to be built. With all the templates you can create an awe full lot of monsters. I built a Kobold using the size temple and reptile template on a notable human and i also added warrior template too.

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2 hours ago, DreadDomain said:

To be fair FHC is not the equivalent of the Starter Kit (even if they are in the same price bracket) but of the Players Handbook (which is more than twice the price but with a much better production value). The PH has more monsters than FHC (30ish vs 12ish) and way more spells (over a 100 vs 14ish).

I am not in the business of selling or defending D&D but reading both books makes it painfully clear it's a lot easier to jump in D&D.


In some ways you’re comparing apples to mangos. The Players Handbook isn’t playable out of the box either. It’s devoted to just introducing character creation and basic gameplay. Even with the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual, you still don’t have a game to play “right out of the box.”
 

On the other hand, if you allow FHC to include the HS Grimoire and the HS Bestiary, then you’ve got an equivalent trilogy to D&D . . . but still no adventure to play, just like (D&D). Of course the production value is not nearly the same, but for less than half the cost you have a complete game to play. 
 

So in a lot of ways when it comes to reading one book and jumping into a game, D&D is less well equipped to do that than FHC. What D&D does so well, though, is make their books make people want to play, and they’ve set up the support network to play it. Any beginner can go find a gameshop on Wednesday night anywhere in the country and find a D&D Encounters game. That’s really the biggest difference, and that’s the benefit of having Hasbro prop your business up until it can get traction. 

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11 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

In some ways you’re comparing apples to mangos.

Am I? Maybe I am since I am comparing the "Complete" FH game with only a "Players Handbook".

If you buy one of these two books to create characters right away, drop the party in a generic dungeons or locale populated by a few critters, you can do it more easily and rapidly with the PHB than with FHC. Chances are with FHC your evening will be spent creating characters, even worse if a player wants to create a spell caster.

Assuming the same level of familiarity with the systems, I would also say that the jump is easier and quicker with only the core  book of RuneQuest or The Dark Eye (or Dungeon Fantasy but the basic game is a full boxset so it might be a bit unfair).

 

In FHC, character creation is looser, there are more decisions to be made and it is less pick and play than the others (mind you RQG and TDE have quite a few steps in character creation but it's much more directed). Bottom line, it will take more time and effort.

For the other games, you can easily select a priest/spell-user and choose from a selection of spells. Your options to do so in FHC is very limited with only a few spells given as a example, or unlimited with the ability to build anything. Bottom line, you will be limited or it will take more time and effort.

 

11 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

The Players Handbook isn’t playable out of the box either. It’s devoted to just introducing character creation and basic gameplay.

It may come down with what we believe we need to buy a book, read it and jump straight in. It may also depends how much prep time you expect to put it before you play. Personally, I believe the PHB has everything you need to play from day one. 

 

11 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Even with the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual, you still don’t have a game to play “right out of the box."

And there I believe the DMG is not needed to jump right in. Will you need it down the road? Maybe. Will you need it on day one? No. The same could be said for the Monster Manual. You want to play right away? You have 30 odd critters to play with. Sure, you will want more later.

11 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

On the other hand, if you allow FHC to include the HS Grimoire and the HS Bestiary, then you’ve got an equivalent trilogy to D&D . . . but still no adventure to play, just like (D&D). Of course the production value is not nearly the same, but for less than half the cost you have a complete game to play. 

At first I thought you where conveniently moving the goalpost but actually I believe we are now confusing how quickly you can play after you bought a book, with how complete a game is.

 

When I compare their playability out of the box, I talk about the former. It implies an ability to use the book quickly and enough material provided. FHC is not as quick to jump in (character creation) and not as complete (not enough spells).

11 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

So in a lot of ways when it comes to reading one book and jumping into a game, D&D is less well equipped to do that than FHC.

You mention "a lot of ways" but do not give any example of the many ways FHC is better suited than PHB when it comes to jumping into the game quickly. Would you mind giving a few?

 

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On 6/26/2020 at 6:24 PM, DreadDomain said:

At first I thought you where conveniently moving the goalpost but actually I believe we are now confusing how quickly you can play after you bought a book, with how complete a game is.

 

Not moving the goalpost, just not making my point very clearly! Let me try to restate.

 

So there are some mixed terms in the previous discussion: are we looking for a single book to learn to play a game, or are we looking to learn the game quickly? The point I was trying to make is that D&D does one or the other really well, but it doesn't give both. One other point that wasn't introduced, but is really important, is whether there's an experienced Game/Dungeon Master running the game.

 

I don't consider the Player's Handbook to be a game that can be played "out of the box." It definitely wasn't in 1e, and my experience of 5e is that it can get a new player up and ready to play pretty quickly if there is an experienced DM to run the game. This is the big "if" that I was trying to emphasize. If there is an experienced DM, just about anyone can learn D&D pretty quickly. I'll grant that. Even if nobody is experienced, D&D has a starter box (actually playing "out of the box") that gives some rules, some pregen characters, and an adventure that can get everyone up and running in a weekend if they read the rules and set things up. But the Player's Handbook was never designed to do this, at least in my experience. 

 

So, as far as learning quickly, let's assume that there is an experienced DM to set up a game that a new player can slide into with just the PH to make a character and learn the basics. Cool. But how is this any different than an experienced GM setting up a game of Fantasy HERO that anyone can slide into, perhaps with pregens, after reading the brief introduction and learning the basics? My point above is that it really isn't any different in terms of new players learning the game. 

 

If I shift the terms and say that it only takes one book to learn and play the game, then D&D doesn't qualify unless you're talking about the starter box. The Player's Handbook doesn't accomplish this. You need the other books, and some adventure, which nowadays are huge campaign books. So we're almost $200 into learning D&D and it's still going to take some time to learn and play the game effectively. With an experienced DM, as I said, it is more probable that newbies can learn quickly because they don't have to read all the books. No different than Fantasy HERO Complete in my estimation.

 

If I want one book to learn to play a game, Fantasy HERO Complete is that book. It's all there in one book, but it will take some time. A lot of time. Let's graciously add the Grimoire and the Bestiary and now we have a few books that provide pre-built stuff to populate a game with. And FHC includes a PDF of adventures and stuff that can be played with very little prep. If it's all new players, this is going to take some time, as I conceded already. BUT if we have an experienced GM, we only need the one book to get everyone playing, and that doesn't necessarily have to take very long. Pre-gen characters are the big difference here, but they simplify the game quite a bit because a lot of the rules revolve around building characters. Let's skip the chargen, as that's where all the time gets sucked up. With some pregens, the rules themselves can be learned very quickly if you have an experienced GM to lead everyone through them. 

 

People have heard of D&D, which has become the generic brand name like "Band Aid" or "Kleenex" that people use to refer to the whole genre. And it's beautiful and draws the eye. D&D obviously is the preferred game in any gameshop. That's a whole different discussion that has been debated to death already. They have the market share, they're propped up by a monster game company (Hasbro) that allowed them to take a loss for the first couple of years while they got traction. HERO System doesn't have that, unfortunately. The D&D books are beautiful and draw people's attention. They catch the eye. Nothing DOJ has produced in a decade can do that. So that's a comparison that Fantasy HERO Complete just can't win. I think, however, in terms of playability, ease of learning, and minimal of resources, FHC is at least as good as D&D as long as there is someone experienced to introduce people to it. Because we already know that nobody is going to be picking it up off the shelf on their own, IF it's even on the shelf at your FLGS. And that is where the comparison fails, as we all know.

 

Anyway, hopefully I made my points a little more clearly. I'm not trying to be argumentative, just trying to offer a fair metric by which to compare the games. I play D&D with a group online, so it's not like I'm saying that game sucks. But I think maybe people are a little too harsh on Fantasy HERO Complete and its potential as a one-book rulebook, if we include the PDF that comes with it. 

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How would you recommend one use the free Fantasy Hero Basic 1.1.0 doc, available in the downloads section, alongside FHC and FH 6th Edition?

 


and what is the history/background to the twist on the combat rules in that doc on page 70?

 

If the attacker’s total equals or exceeds the defender’s 
total the attack has hit. 


Offensive Combat Value + roll 
compared to 
Defensive Combat Value +11

 

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On 6/25/2020 at 9:11 AM, Brian Stanfield said:

To be fair, the magic system is actually provided with certain Limitations and the Real Cost/3 for the final cost (which is more like the original Fantasy HERO). They provide some spells, and the PDF that goes with the book has a setting and an adventure, so it’s a lot closer to “playing out of the box” than most other HERO products. Not perfect, but probably playable after a weekend of prep. 

 

After reading this I was just going to ignore the thread.

 

1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

Not moving the goalpost, just not making my point very clearly! Let me try to restate.

 

So there are some mixed terms in the previous discussion: are we looking for a single book to learn to play a game, or are we looking to learn the game quickly?

 

--snip--

 

And then I read this.

 

Also not to be argumentative, but simply wanting to clarify a simple concept.

 

Neither of the above posts even touch on "playable out of the box", they talk about game construction from full rule books.  These are completely different topics.

 

It is almost like talking about the pro's and cons of a bass boat and getting buried with comments about the benefits of owning a helicopter.

 

Basic concepts.

Building an RPG character is not playing an RPG.

Building an adventure and NPC/Creatures is not playing an RPG.

They are preparatory tasks that need to be performed prior to being able to actually play.

This is not a good thing or a bad thing, it just is.

 

D&D 5ed has had two (that I know of) introduction sets that provide everything needed to run a game for the DM and players.  Characters, Adventure, etc.  Plus guidance for the DM to run it.

FFG's Star Wars RPG has one introduction set for each of their three SW theme games (EotE, AoR and FaD).  They contain everything needed to play a game of Star Wars.

Chaosium has a Call of Cthulhu 7th intro box that has pre-generated PC's and an adventure plus guidance for new players and GM's.

Catalyst has a Shadowrun beginner box set that allows new people to play Shadowrun.

Pathfinder has one too

 

All of these are "playable out of the box" with little or no prep. 

Are these "sets" complete rule-sets? No, but they are "playable out of the box".

 

D&D's core three (PHB, MM, DMG) are not "playable out of the box".

PF's main rulebook is not "playable out of the box".

Star Wars RPG core books are not "playable out of the box".

Champions Complete and Hero System 6th are not "playable out of the box".

Call of Cthulhu, Pulp Cthulhu and Down Darker Trails are not "playable out of the box".

 

They are all complete core rule sets designed to allow players to BUILD games.  Some are more flexible than others, but they all perform the task well. 

 

Most games that are "playable out of the box" are designed to allow new players to actually PLAY a game and see if they like it.  Some are designed to play out multiple sessions and some even give the players a taste of limited character advancement.   But all of them have the purpose of "if you liked this and had fun, buy the full game and make your own adventures and characters".

 

There have been a few games that combined the complete core rules with the intro-set to present an actual full RPG that was "playable out of the box".  These are rare though. 

 

There is a difference between "complete rule set" and "playable out of the box".  One is not better than the other, they have different purposes.

 

In my opinion, the Hero System (any version) would have a greater benefit from a "intro playable out of the box" game than most others.  Most other RPG's are more structured and provide completed items (NPC's, Creatures, Equipment, etc.) that allow easier entry.  Hero requires the Players to literally build everything before play, which is a steep entry.  But most of the attempts I have seen founder when too much content is jammed in.  Such as character creation and a such.  But once again that is an opinion.

 

But "playable out of the box" means I open the box and play.  Not, I open the box, figure out how to generate a character and then figure out how to build an adventure and then try to play. 

Some people do not like Intro Boxes that are "playable out of the box" because they do not have all the rules.  But there are a lot of players out there that started playing with those intro boxes.

 

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5 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Not moving the goalpost, just not making my point very clearly! Let me try to restate.

 

At this stage, I believe we have an orthogonal conversion as we do not seem to be debating the same things. I even had to go back and reread what prompted this exchange :) . You seem to have understood that my position was that the PHB was playable out of the box and FHC was not. This is not quite what I said (or at least meant) and my statement was that "...it makes FHC less play-ready than say, The Dark Eye, RuneQuest or Dungeons & Dragons even considering only their core/players books". My statement is not about which game is playable out of the box nor is it about which game is complete, it is about how quickly you can play a game after you bought the book. 

 

Bill, Bob and Boris walk into a game store. They want to try a new fantasy roleplaying. Bill, will be the GM, Bob, wants to play a magician and Boris will be a burly fighter. The plan is to read and understand the rules and while Bob and Boris are creating their characters (they want to create their own), Bill will put a few critters and enemies together (he might create them of pick from a list if available) in a generic dungeon/prison/castle/maze/whatever and they will let their imagination flow. There are only 4 books in the game store and they are all games they have never heard of; PHB 5E, FHC, TDE and RQG. Which book will enable them to do it the quickest? Which option would be the slowest?

 

As explained above, my position is that FHC would be the slowest to lift and could also be the most difficult for Bob to get into.

 

That's all I am saying. No problem if you disagree (I believe you do) as you seem to imply that you cannot play a game with just the PHB. I'd like to understand what you believe is missing in the PHB tat would prevent Bill, Bob and Boris to whip a quick game?  

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5 hours ago, DreadDomain said:

That's all I am saying. No problem if you disagree (I believe you do) as you seem to imply that you cannot play a game with just the PHB. I'd like to understand what you believe is missing in the PHB tat would prevent Bill, Bob and Boris to whip a quick game?  


I think I was conflating what you said about “playing right away” with what @Spence said about “playing out of the box.” That’s my mistake, and I apologize to you both for my confusion. 
 

To get back to your point, I suppose Bill, Bob, and Boris could whip something up with the PHB, but just barely. The creatures provided are pretty basic if you’d like to fight a bunch of rats or a dire wolf. I just never would have even considered playing with only that book until you said it. It would be an interesting experiment for sure; it just never occurred to me before!

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17 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:


I think I was conflating what you said about “playing right away” with what @Spence said about “playing out of the box.” That’s my mistake, and I apologize to you both for my confusion. 
 

To get back to your point, I suppose Bill, Bob, and Boris could whip something up with the PHB, but just barely. The creatures provided are pretty basic if you’d like to fight a bunch of rats or a dire wolf. I just never would have even considered playing with only that book until you said it. It would be an interesting experiment for sure; it just never occurred to me before!

No worries mate. Still, you make a good point. PHB has a higher number of creatures in the book but they are mainly animals (and skeletons and zombies). FHC has a smaller selection but they are more interesting, more fantastical. There are also 6 examples characters that can be used as antagonists. I supposed they could also be used as pregens as well but they are not really balanced against one another. Because "pick a pregen" makes jumping into the game much quicker.

I went back through character creation of FHC again and tried to have the mindset of someone who buys a game and wants to play a fantasy character (as opposed to "I've been playing HERO for 30 years) and man, it's bad. Character creation starts at page 17, racial, cultural and profession templates are an afterthought at page 202. During character creation you plough through the powers system (p.51) with little guidance on how to use it within the context of what it means in fantasy but then you have typical advantages and limitations packages for various types of magic at page 212 and then sample spells at page 241. Everytime I look at this book, I like it a bit less (which sadden me really).

I cannot access Fantasy HERO 1E at the moment but if my recollection serves, it was a better book for fantasy (and I am a 6E supporter).

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9 hours ago, DreadDomain said:

I went back through character creation of FHC again and tried to have the mindset of someone who buys a game and wants to play a fantasy character (as opposed to "I've been playing HERO for 30 years) and man, it's bad. Character creation starts at page 17, racial, cultural and profession templates are an afterthought at page 202. During character creation you plough through the powers system (p.51) with little guidance on how to use it within the context of what it means in fantasy but then you have typical advantages and limitations packages for various types of magic at page 212 and then sample spells at page 241. Everytime I look at this book, I like it a bit less (which sadden me really).

 

Ugh! I HATE the layout of the book for exactly those reasons. Character creation stuff ought to be presented in the character creation section. Duh. But if you look at the original Fantasy HERO it's laid out pretty much the same. So are all of the 3e/4e standalone books. That format has lasted for decades, and I can't believe someone hasn't come up with a better layout yet! It irked me so much I started a discussion about it here which led to a very long discussion which resulted in at least one "Fantasy HERO Basic" document, and probably solidified some ideas to encourage other people to write their own documents as well. I won't rehash the discussion here, but it's worth looking at because so many great ideas came up along the way! 

 

In the end, I realized that pregen characters are simply the easiest way to teach the game. I tailor-make characters to my players' specifications when they first play, let them learn the rules, play a while, and then hopefully hook them enough to want to read the books and create their own characters. The PDF "bonus" stuff with Fantasy HERO Complete helps accomplish some of this as well, and makes the game more quickly and easily accessible for new players, but the book itself is a crazy impediment to new players learning the rules!

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On 6/28/2020 at 6:34 AM, Brian Stanfield said:

I think I was conflating what you said about “playing right away” with what @Spence said about “playing out of the box.” That’s my mistake, and I apologize to you both for my confusion. 

No need to apologize at all.  I was just trying to clarify what I actually meant not criticize.  In the last few months I've found my points being buried in the general spirited discussions and lost.  So I decided to clarify.  I have also stopped following threads when they depart from the subject or get too spirited, which has done wonders for my personal calm and blood pressure 😁

 

But I do agree with many points brought up by yourself and others.

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