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Creating an example hero: Chill

How to build a hero. Is it useful?  

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  1. 1. How to build a hero. Is it useful?

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So I figure I'd make a how to build a hero topic.  This is just how I build a hero.  Other people may build a hero differently.  If you already know how to build a hero easily, the poll is not for you.  It's for people new to HERO.  This is for 6th edition, but most editions I do the same.

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My first step usually is to find out the power level of the game.  In this example, I'll assume a standard superhero game which would be 400 pts with 75 points in complications. 


The power level is basically the average number of dice thrown at what CVs and at what speed.  For our example, the average power level is 12DC, at an 8 CV and 5 Speed. 


Sometimes, GMs will give you a maximum power level.  If the GM gives you this, they generally don't want you to make all your abilities hit these maximums on a regular basis.  This means, that without pushing, using maneuvers you will be using often, your damage and CV should not exceed these numbers.  As an example, say a GM has denoted a maximum of 15DC at a 8CV.  You create a character with a 60 strength.  This is well within the power level right?  But you add 60m(30") of flight and you move through targets a lot doing 18d6 of damage, the GM might have issues with that amount of damage despite the penalties to your CVs.


At 12d6 average damage, if we assume about 15 stun on average past defenses, that would mean 27 points of defense.  This is calculated by multiplying 12 by 3.5, the average on a 1d6 and subtracting the amount of stun we would take on an average hit.  The big takeaway from this is that we should have 27 PD/ED on average.  For more on this calculation read the next paragraph, but all you really need to know is the number 27 for defenses.


15 points of stun done on average is in most games a good gauge as to the amount of damage the GM wants to occur.  This makes about 3 hits on a player with 40 stun on average before they go unconscious.  Let's look at what happens if you increase your defenses to 30.  At 30 points, only 12 will get through on average.  A 40 stun PC would then expect to take about 4 hits.  Go to 33, then it's about 5 hits.  At 35, only 7 points of stun is leaking through and it would take 6 hits before going unconscious.  Now this is all well and good from just calculating damage, but you need to remember that most attacks will have around a 62.50% chance to hit if you are at average DCV.  So you can effectively double the amount of hits to attacks.  So at 30 points of defense, 4 hits would be about 8 attacks or about 2 turns of combat.  Most combats last about 1-2 turns, really.  Combatants start to run out of end, charges, and/or stun by the second turn on average.  You can do better calculations at 62.50% but for the most part doubling works fine.

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OK, so we know what our power level is.  We start to buy characteristics.  The first characteristic I buy is OCV/DCV.  It's your main mode to hit in combat.  In games prior to 6th edition, this would mean buying Dex.  In 6th edition, OCV and DCV is separated out.


We are using an average of 8 in both CVs.  So we set the value to 8.  We have a starting value of 3 and it costs +5 points to go up or -5 points to go down.  To go up to 8 means paying 25 points for OCV and 25 points for DCV.  


This is great for this example, but what if we want to hit a little more often or be more nimble and not be hit?  Well, you could add one or two more OCV.  In general, when you go up in CV, the GM expects you to give a little in another way.  So, if you go up in OCV then most GMs will expect you to go down in the number of dice you do.  Thus, in this example, if we wanted to have a 9 OCV, the GM might expect us to lower our damage from 12d6 to 11d6.  With a 10 OCV, the GM might be expecting us to lower our damage to 10d6 and so on.  Some GMs might allow a drop in speed so that you can hit more often but have less chances to do so.  In comparison, if you want to raise your DCV, you should lower your PD and ED.  Every 1 you increase your DCV over average, your PD and ED should drop about 3.5 on average.  So for a 9 DCV, your PD and ED should be about 23-24.  A 10 DCV and your PD/ED should be 20.


So how effective is +1 OCV or +1 DCV over the game average?  On OCV, +1 over the average means you will hit 12% more or go from a 62.5% chance to 74% chance( a difference of 11.5%).  But going to +2 OCV over average just means going to 83.8% (a difference of 21.3%).  And going +3 OCV over average is a difference of only 28.2%.  So what is happening?  Well, HERO uses a bell curve instead of a linear to hit chart.  In D&D/Pathfinder, a +1 means a 5% increase in a chance to hit.  This is a linear progression mainly because you are using a single twenty sided die.  So a +3 in D&D is a +15% increase in your chance to hit.  In HERO, the farther you get from a 10 on three dice, the less effective the bonus becomes.  You don't need major bonuses to hit to change the odds in your favor.  SImilarly, a +1, +2, +3 over average DCV will result in getting hit by an average OCV of 8 at 50%, 37.5%, and 25.93% on average.


It's a balancing game for the GM who wants to make sure everyone has fun and are about equal.  To be fair, this is much harder than just making a character.  A GM usually has to do this for EACH villain and also make sure the players do not run roughshod over the game.

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Next is a question of Speed.  How fast is fast enough?  Speed is the number of actions you can take every 12 seconds.  Its not only how fast you are, it also represents how quickly respond to difficult situations.  You can have a low dexterity but have a high speed.  So a combat veteran may be used to combat and act 4 times in a turn (speed 4) but still only have an 11 Dex.  A 18 Dex ballerina may never have had to deal with combat and thus only have a speed of 2.  Personally, I believe if you know you can bounce bullets you feel a bit more invulnerable and won't hesitate as much when the fighting starts.  So I tend to give characters with good resistant defenses a higher speed than what a normal human can achieve.  Top that off with training and real combat experience, I believe most superheroes can easily hit a 5 speed.


In our example, we are going to keep with the average of a 5 speed.  


There is a second reason to go with the game average, one which isn't talked about enough.  If you make a character with say a 3 speed and every other player is sporting a 6 speed, you are going to be bored for a lot of the game.  Unlike games like D&D/Pathfinder, instead of making all you actions occur on your time in a round, HERO micromanages actions.  You don't get 5 attacks in 1 turn on your action like in D&D.  You get 5 actions spread out evenly over the turn, interspersed with everyone else's actions.  Unless you understand this and how it affects your play, I do not recommend going more than 1 speed below average.


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For the next few stats (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Ego, Presence), your value will be probably somewhere from 8-20.  If you were designing prior to 6th edition, you already set a value for Dexterity as part of setting your base OCV/DCV.  We are designing a 6th edition character for now.


An average, run of the mill human has a value of 10 in these stats.  A value of 13-15 get you noticed with comments, "that person's fairly smart" or "they go to the gym".  A value of 18-20 makes that one of the characteristics which kind of define you.  Comments like "that ones a genius" or "they are a professional body builder/athlete" come up.  Again these are levels for a normal person or even a heroic person.  But for our example, Chill is a superhero.  If you've read comic books, the smartest superhero there make a normal human genius look dumb by comparison.  In those stats, you better off upping those comic book stats by about 10.  This doesn't mean that if Chill isn't exceptionally smart, he should have a 20 Intelligence.  No, rather, if he's noted in that characteristic, you should probably set the value 10 over normal.


There are 3 stats where a value of 13 or 18 make more sense than a 15 and 20 respectively due to cost savings.  Those stats are Dexterity, Intelligence, and Presence.    The reason these stats can save you points is because they are the primary stats for skills.   Especially for Intelligence.  A Presence of 15 is a little more useful because it gives you a better Presence attack   And a high Dexterity means you go earlier in a phase, but these aren't essential.  In skills, a value of 13 or 15 (likewise with 18 or 20) are equal; they both give the same benefit to skills relating to those values.  While there is not an urgent need right now on saving points, it helps to be prepared.  So at times, I will choose a 13 or 18 for Chill just because its more efficient.


One last note.  In the first paragraph in this entry, you'd note I stated your values is somewhere between 8-20.  What about that below average 8?  If you want to be below average in a stat, 8 is probably the lowest you should go.  8 is a value where you are not considered disabled but your ability is mediocre at best.  The overweight person who gets out of breath going to the refrigerator to grab the last piece of cake probably has a Constitution of 8.  The person who barely graduated high school with a GPA below 2 and thinks the chicken of the sea is actually chicken is probably an 8 Intelligence.  A value of 8 is substandard yet still functional.  I would not suggest going below an 8.  An 8 is effectively a disadvantage in play.  Going less than that can severely hamper you in many ways.  If you still want to go that route, in 6th edition, the two characteristics that you can probably go below that amount is Dexterity and Intelligence.  Again, I would warn you not to do it though.


Going back to Chill.  I see him drawn as fairly buff and going routinely to the gym.  He doesn't look like an professional body builder but you wouldn't think him physically weak in any sense of the word.  So, I'd give him a 15.  In comic book terms, he isn't doing any type of physical fighting or doing heroic feats of strength, so there isn't really a reason to bump this up any higher.  He's not known for his strength, so no +10 here.


Dexterity helps people go first before others.  It helps set your initiative.  So, in general, the higher up on the initiative table you are, the sooner you get to go or react to situations.  Dexterity is the main stat which represents how graceful you are and how much balance you have.  Chill isn't a klutz and I can see him dance pretty well on the dance floor.  He isn't an Olympic gymnast or professional dancer but he has better reaction times than a normal person.  I'd give him probably a 13.


Constitution is very superheroic.  If they didn't have super hero levels of Constitution, then every time they get hit with an attack, they'd just crumple up into a ball and wait till combat is over.  Given that, if he wasn't heroic, I'd probably give him a 15.  He goes regularly to the gym and engages in strength and endurance exercises.  So, being in a superheroic game, I'd buff this by 10 giving a final stat of 25.


Intelligence is hard to quantify for some people.  Just using IQ score would probably put most people around 8-13, but it isn't relative to heroic action movies and comics.  Besides which, Intelligence is not just about memory recall and logic.  It also represents speed of learning and attention to details.  I see Chill as being capable of going to college and probably a college student.  He's probably quick on the uptake as far as more mundane things, but can't wrap his head around more esoteric items.  I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and place him at 13.


Ego is strength of will.  While not impulsively buying stuff from the home shopping network, I don't see him resisting strong temptations or shrugging off mental controls either.  I'll just leave him as average at a 10.


Finally Presence.  Presence is the ability to take command of a room just by entering it.  The ability to face fear in the eye and not blink.  Chill is a comic book character and is probably less afraid of being hurt.  He has the confidence of his powers.  So a base of 15 + another 10 since this is a superheroic stat.  A 25.  This is a very good presence but in concept he could probably be toned down by 5 compared to other heroes.  For now, we'll keep him at 25.

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The next few stats were originally call figured stats or figured characteristics because their base value was derived from the characteristics we purchased in the entry before (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution).  In previous editions, you could buy back some of the figured characteristics to save some points or if the concept didn't match your version of the character.  You were allowed to only buy back one stat though.  This was in 5th edition and prior editions.  6th edition made this simpler by removing the figured values.  Because the starting values are set, there is no need to restrict how many stats you may want to buy down but then again, I wouldn't suggest buying any down below the starting values unless you have a good reason to and have enough experience with the game system to know how it will affect your character.


We've already calculated OCV and DCV earlier.  These stats and the next two were originally not characteristics prior to 6th edition.  They were derived from Dexterity and Ego respectively.  OMCV and DMCV are the mental combat version of OCV and DCV.  Since we are not making a character with strange mental powers like Professor X or the Martian Manhunter, we are going to leave these values as is.  If we wanted to make the character a little harder to mentally access, we could raise the DMCV value, but as noted perviously, I just don't see this character as very willful or psychically aware.  Unless you are creating a mentalist ( a person with mental powers), it would be a waste to raise your OMCV.  It has no use unless you have some power or the GM allows you to mentally block someone without training.


The next two stats are PD (physical defense) and ED (energy defense).



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