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Hi all. When does a piece of equipment generally need to be paid for in a Fantasy Hero setting?

 

I’m putting together my game word and want to do it right

 

is it relative to starting character power level? Can I have a powerful character find an item, powerful or otherwise, without paying for it?

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   It depends on how it used and who has ultimate control, the player or the GM. 
A wonderful sword that cuts like a lightsaber.....the player.

A wonderful sword that cuts like a lightsaber AND eats part of the welders soul for every kill....the GM.

Its all about whether the item is intended by the GM to be just another pice of equipment (all be it a really good piece) or as a plot device.

  Basically forget the Greeks, “Beware GM’s bearing gifts.”  Or the modern version “Here kid, the first hit’s free.”

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1 hour ago, Dads_mcgee said:

Hi all. When does a piece of equipment generally need to be paid for in a Fantasy Hero setting?

 

I’m putting together my game word and want to do it right

 

is it relative to starting character power level? Can I have a powerful character find an item, powerful or otherwise, without paying for it?

  1. Generally, normal equipment costs gold, but unique equipment costs points.
  2. It has more to deal with the kind of game you want to run, than power level.
  3. There's nothing in the rules that says you can't, but think about why you would do this.
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Typically if the player gets a powerful piece of equipment for free then the character can expect that it may be lost.  I just watched the original Clash of the Titans. Perseus was given a magical helmet - which he lost in a swamp. And his shield was destroyed by Medusa’s blood. So I’d say he didn’t pay for those items.

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1 hour ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Typically if the player gets a powerful piece of equipment for free then the character can expect that it may be lost.  I just watched the original Clash of the Titans. Perseus was given a magical helmet - which he lost in a swamp. And his shield was destroyed by Medusa’s blood. So I’d say he didn’t pay for those items.

 

That's an important point.

 

There's a normal sword.

 

Then there's a normal sword which appears in your hand any time that you happen to need a sword.

 

Normally you wouldn't pay for a sword. But guaranteed access to a sword is something else.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Really comes down to balancing, imo.

 

If you make players pay points to possess or attune (in 5e parlance) to a magic item you help prevent magic gear from creating an imbalance. 

If you don't have characters pay cp for their gear then you have to pay a lot more attention to overall character balance as the GM.  You'll have to insert or remove items throughout the course of the game to keep things reasonably close between characters.

 

Both approaches work just fine.  It's really just a matter of how you want to run things.

 

Probably due to the influence of D&D what I've historically seen done the most often is:

* Fantasy settings the gear is not paid for in CP.

* Super Hero settings the gear IS paid for in CP.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

On the boards, I’ve seen the argument that equipment is free and magic is paid for more for the reason “ That’s how we’ve done it and how it was presented way back when” over we do it this way because x,y & z.  Did the older books have a reason? I don’t know.

 

Probably because magic items are something you have while magical spells are something you know how to do.  They are closer to skills or powers than equipment.

 

Though even back in the Fantasy Hero 4 days we made wizards spend permanent CP for magic items (the old +2 Independent limitation) and they didn't always last for the campaign.

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This one!


I LOVE THIS ONE!!

 

Warning: I’m up a little late and when that happens I tend to ramble. So I’ve put my answer to your question up front, where it’s easy to see:

 

Answer 1: It actually doesn’t matter as long as you’re consistent. You’d be surprised how much punishment the HERO system can take and still put out a balanced game experience. To go back to @Ninja-Bear, it’s easiest to make all weapons free, because the cost was paid by the player when they invested in the Martial Art to use it. For example, Kusari-Gama. If I pick one of those up, I’m going to smash my own skull. Someone trained in it, however, is going to have the opposite experience. This is how I did it in Persona; you pay the points for what you want, you have the thing more as a manifestation of the point investment, rather than the other way around. If a bunch of points are paid for magic, great. Here’s your spell list based on the rules laid down for this system, etc.

 

Answer 2: There are a number of other things to consider before you can answer it. And based on the question, I’m making a couple of assumptions: That you’re doing some kind of high fantasy setting, that said setting involves the collection of gear and loot, and that said gear and loot is plentiful enough that it prompts the question. So if Kage, the Shadow Mage, doesn’t have 33 points available, he can’t pick up the enchanted hand crossbow? Or the bracers of archery? It’s downright skull breaking. So how else do you solve for it?

 

You can do this: Each character can soul-bind/befriend/attune (to use the 5th Ed D&D word) to X number of magical items. This is a campaign rule and costs zero points that the players can see, but you can see them. If you want to be hard and fast with it, you can give everyone their build cost in magical attunement. I build a 200 point Rogue, I can equip up to 200 points of magical gear. Or if you’re concerned, just, “gear.”  This can include spell books, spells as well as swords and shields. Going this route removes all of the messy player level book keeping from the equation, and leaves the GM free to run a game that plays like it should. 

 

Alternatively, each player may be limited to the Rule of 9; head, chest, arms, legs, two weapons, two rings and a necklace.

 

There’s no “canonical right way” to do it. In ... FH 5th Ed? Steve put forth the idea, as an option, gear is gold, magic is points. But that’s not always the case. And, more importantly, ignoring that is not necessarily going to create any kind of imbalance in your campaign. Your best bet, IMO, is to ignore this question entirely, and instead drill down to stat spread, skill selection, core powers/abilities, damage dealt, and damage that can be sustained, in addition to any other non-combat abilities that your casting classes are going to have. So let’s break down the reasoning:

 

In a traditional fantasy setting, there are three and a half core classes; Fighter, Rogue, and Wizard/Cleric. I say 3.5 because there’s a ton of campaigns and systems that just go with “magic” and that includes healing, there’s systems with all kinds of different ways to tap into other worldly... or natural but normally inaccessible... or... you get my point. The more critical question, in my mind, is not about point assignment or gold spent, but functionality and general balance. To that end, I would say that those three classes don’t really provide much framework. Whereas tank, blaster, scrapper, controller, etc., more traditional super heroic tropes, do the job much better.

 

The tank wears heavy armor, carries some variety of weaponry, has a shield. Do those cost points? Someone brought up: things paid with gold are fungible, things paid with points are not, however, there’s a counter to that, and that’s “everything has a point cost.” There’s a nasty rabbit hole you can fall down trying to reconcile the cost of a shield against gold against real cost in points to the character. Meanwhile, your casting classes have to spend points on their spells — unless you say they don’t. And you treat spells like equipment. Also an option. My late night rambling aside, here are my hard learned lessons from years of GMing Fantasy HERO:

 

1) Power level is, broadly, a lie. After a while it becomes nearly impossible to do a decent audit. I became much more interested in this question: Does everyone have roughly the same points invested in base stats and core skills? Do they all fall within the guidelines for CSLs, and are they utilizing the tools provided accordingly? Last, but not least, is their general DPR (damage per round) equivalent? A fighter who hits every round may not be as sexy as a Rogue with extra dice in Backstab, or a wizard who can throw chain lightning through an entire group, but that just means they’re doing their job. Standing up front, drawing fire, surviving, and dealing out punishment. The Rogue should be able to outpace the fighter in damage, because that’s the rogue’s job.

 

2) Damage output caps are critical. Decide early what your max number of KA dice is, AND your highest Active Point cost, and hold that line for a while as you continue to balance encounters and defenses. 

 

3) Remember: Defense wins championships. Unless you let someone buy an NND Killing Attack that’s disruptive, or the Wizard can call down oodles of Meteors every round. You don’t want that to happen, that gets gnarly.

 

4) This in a very looping way comes back to my point, and your question: when is it appropriate and how do you do it? My answer is “ignore the common application, and approach it differently.” We can math everything to death. Doesn’t mean we should.

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Hi, welcome. You're new, I'm new, but I can give this advice from running prior Point based games like Shadowrun.

Patchnotes. Generally an unpleasant thing, but actually super handy if handled correctly. More often than not, someone in my games ended up buying a skill/power set in Shadowrun that while innocuous, ended up providing truly ludicrous bonus's and allowed it to achieve disastrous results. One that forever sticks in my mind was a combination of Echolocation and a Tacnet. If one party member can hear it, they all can. And if they can hear it, they can see it. And if they can see it, the Sniper will shoot it.

 

You likely won't have this issue. But, you likely will have someone end up purchasing something that they felt was nice, felt appropriate, and broke how effective they were in total. Be upfront that you are new, and that you may make some critical error when considering edge cases, or even potentially general case scenarios. Or, as I had more often than not, two useful abilities that combine to produce horrific results.

If these come up, speak with the player reasonably. One of the things I have noticed and adore in Hero for patches like this, is Lockout. It nearly always prevents some stacking effect from running away from you, and it gives the player some points back if you have to apply it after the fact. Most certainly, let them re-invest their points if they wish, because the intended goal from that power/gear/purchase didn't work, but if they still want to keep it, apply Lockout with the other offending Ability, let them snag those point rebate, and spend it elsewhere.

 

 

Those above are pretty well right in how to treat found gear though. If the player wants GM Insurance against it, buy it with points. If they don't, let them find it, or develop it, or come across it as you so choose. Heck, if you really wanted to be Mathmatical, could treat it as Variable Power Pool with a restricted point redistribution, that the points can only be reallocated when the VPP, which in this case is the gear, is not available. Can only change it when you don't have one and all.  
 

Dilination between gear and magic need not exist, by the by. You can purchase with gold Armor and Swords yes. But also potions and scrolls and faulty wands and so on. Magic that can wear out, be consumed, and fade away. Just like Spells can be purchased with points to attain mystic powers, well. Martial Arts can be purchased to "Have" improved martial abilities. Powerful spells and mystic artifacts can be found and used up, or bought and kept. Just remember which was which.

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Thia Halmades good to see you post again! Btw I ran a quick scenario yesterday and I vaguely remember though I couldn’t find it rule. The rule was if a martial weapon just Could be broken down or combined into a new weapon but those different weapons didn’t exceed listed damage or ability then it was fine. For example a Silver Spear’s spear could be as small as a medium weapon but then could extend to regular length.

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If you're in a shipwreck, the equipment you bought with points just happens to wash up on shore with you (else the GM finds some other way to compensate you for the points which were lost along with the equipment).

 

On the other hand, the equipment you bought with gold most likely went down with the ship or you had to drop in order to swim.

 

;) 

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2 hours ago, archer said:

If you're in a shipwreck, the equipment you bought with points just happens to wash up on shore with you (else the GM finds some other way to compensate you for the points which were lost along with the equipment).

 

On the other hand, the equipment you bought with gold most likely went down with the ship or you had to drop in order to swim.

 

;) 

 

If there was one truly bizarre HERO trope I would utterly ditch without hesitation, it would be this. I remember reading it when I joined, and every time I see it my hackles go up. And I mean no offense, @archer because that’s what everyone has always said, but to my original point, it very likely ain’t so, for a whole bunch of reasons. Not the least of which is, how often are you in a ship wreck and land with nothing? Rarely. In a super heroic game, sure. The Silver Gunman finds his guns — that were bought as OIF, or that lack the focus limitation at all. It’s not about the points, it’s about the application of those points and reasoning from effect.

 

So to your point, if I bought Arsenal as a perk, where I can return to base and equip myself with any OAF gun up to X class, I agree it’s reasonable to find a similar store house on the island. Or, maybe I don’t, because the island is a story beat and it’s more interesting to watch a character who is reliant on heavy weapons trying to get off an island with nothing more than a coconut radio. There’s as many reasons to suspend something as there are to provide it. Especially things bought as OAF, or OIF (and I would argue plane - ocean - island is a reasonable way to end up disarmed). 

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Ok I reread Equipment section in 6th 2 volumes.  What I get for it is that if the character wants Equipment that’s better than normal-I.e. free then the Character should pay for it. So I just watched Born Invincible and the one villain had a Tonfa that could extend a secret Blade no biggie as the blade wasn’t and more capable than a sword blade. However the thing had a secret pincer hidden between the handle and main part which could grab a sword and break it! That would be something that the Villain needs to pay for!

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On 9/13/2020 at 6:44 AM, Thia Halmades said:

 

If there was one truly bizarre HERO trope I would utterly ditch without hesitation, it would be this. I remember reading it when I joined, and every time I see it my hackles go up. And I mean no offense, @archer because that’s what everyone has always said, but to my original point, it very likely ain’t so, for a whole bunch of reasons. Not the least of which is, how often are you in a ship wreck and land with nothing? Rarely. In a super heroic game, sure. The Silver Gunman finds his guns — that were bought as OIF, or that lack the focus limitation at all. It’s not about the points, it’s about the application of those points and reasoning from effect.

 

Oh, there's a reason why OIF is a Limitation.  It's because the equipment can go down with the ship.  

 

I'd assume that when you get back to civilization you can acquire duplicates, or spares, or replace them somehow, but "shipwrecked on a desert island" is not one of the conditions that allows you to do that.  ;)

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17 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

Oh, there's a reason why OIF is a Limitation.  It's because the equipment can go down with the ship.  

 

I'd assume that when you get back to civilization you can acquire duplicates, or spares, or replace them somehow, but "shipwrecked on a desert island" is not one of the conditions that allows you to do that.  ;)

 

This is actually my point; I believe in this post, somewhere, I pointed out that it’s just as interesting if not more so to watch the protagonist meander about without their OIFs while talking to a volleyball. If the points are paid, then that’s that, and I agree its one of the “absolutes” in HERO. What is often unsaid is that it’s a game; things can change, points can be refunded or redistributed. But if you just fell out of a plane and miraculously survived by your parachute catching on a tree, and your stuff is scattered hither and yon, I mean.

 

Good luck finding it. That’s also why I like the idea of “fungible gear score.” That way the math heads have a mechanic they can lean on, while the players can still, you know. Pick things up. 

 

Another point I would make is that its important for players to realize that sometimes things are fungible; you pick up a rocket launcher, you fire the rocket, you fire the second rocket, invariably someone wants to take it with them and call it loot, at that point the GM should say “that’s heavy ordinance and isn’t supported by your current gear; you’d have to pitch something or acknowledge that it’s a giant paper weight.” That’s an all new rabbit hole, though. Sometimes the rocket launcher is there for a scene. And just that scene.

2 hours ago, Gandalf970 said:

This Halmades I like your late night ramblings!

 

Thank you! I always strive to educate and entertain at the same time!

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  • 4 weeks later...

If it's "technology," it's cash. If it's a powerful item, it's magic and costs points. So, for instance, in Tolkien, a mithril shirt is magic, and costs points. But in a setting where the city watch wears mithril shirts and has repeating crossbows, that's all cash.

One way to avoid all this is to avoid trivial magical items and situations that require them entirely. Heroic fantasy usually works better if characters invest in CSLs rather than "+2 broadswords" and such. A better magical sword is Armor-Piercing, or intelligent, or ignores non-living armor and cuts only flesh, or simply sheds heatless light without fuel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

One thing I strive for in a campaign is to avoid Adventurer's League style stupidity.

 

You find a magic sword, but you can't pick it up.  Why?  Because you don't have enough treasure points for a magic sword...

 

Mostly characters in a fantasy game expect to find mystical and legendary items as they travel.  The trope is as old as The Hobbit where the Fellowship stumbles into elven swords in a random cave and one lucky Hobbit gets an artifact (The One Ring) after falling into a hole and tumbling into an even deeper cave.  Why it's just laying there in the dirt.

 

Sorry, Bilbo, you can't equip the ring.  It's like 200 cp = game ending immersion breaker.

 

And that gets balanced out with things like:

Player 1 - I want a Ring of Power!

GM:  It would instantly enslave you and begin your transformation into a ring wraith.

Player 1 - Oh, never mind then.  Hey, what gives with the hobbit?

GM:  Hobbits are resistant to its corrupting power, but not immune.

Bilbo Player:  Excuse me?

GM:  Now that you think about it, Golum was roughly your size...

Bilbo Player:  Um...

 

 

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My thought is that magic items shouldn't be paid for with Character Points. 

 

As the GM you are "running" the world, if the players come across any magical items after a fight or find hidden away in a tomb, it is because the GM (you) decided to put it there. And unless you are handing out tons and tons of CP, way above the standard rule suggestions (average 3 per session), the players would never be able to pay for magical items with CP.  Just going by the few examples in Fantasy Hero 6th, most magical items (not counting potions) cost around 30 CP and some go up to 60.  So by the general CP reward system in the books, that would take between 10-20 sessions to save up that much CP and that is without spending any CP on character development or improvement, just straight savings to use ONE magical item. So why would you (the GM) put something into the game that the players couldn't use? Just to piss them off? 

 

So it comes down to either giving the players tons of CP per session so they can afford to gain/use magical items, which would be very unbalancing for the other characters who don't want to use magical items because if you are giving out say 10 CP a session then those not trying to save for magical items will be dumping all their points into their characters and soon will max out all the CAPs you might have on stats, max damage, SPD, skills, etc... SO you end up with Halfling thieves with 20 in all stats, Max SPD (for setting), and tons of combat skill levels by spending the 60 CP that the Human Fighter was saving up to spend to get his 60CP Magical Sword. 

 

And if you decide on another type of point system for Players to gain magical items (say X amount of Magical Item CP per session) then you are still controlling where that CP gets spent (only on magical items) so you might as well as just control when magical items "appear" in the game and give them to the players then and cut down on the extra bookkeeping. 

 

If magical items are common in your setting (the old "magic shop" idea) where you can buy magic items, then you already have a built in mechanic to stop players from buying them. And that is by limiting how much gold/money the character have. You can make the magic items cost whatever you want, so a magical sword might cost 1000gp or 10,000gp. It is your call and since you are the one giving out how much loot the players gain in their adventures then you already are controlling what they can and can't afford to buy. 

 

So it all comes down to the fact that there is no need for the Players to spend CP on magical items, either they will never be able to afford to do so because of lack of CP, or if they can then those Players who don't spend their CP on magical items will become unbalanced to the rest of the group, or if you are controlling all the bookkeeping for another way, then you might as well just limit when the players find items and let them use them without the bookkeeping, and if magical items cost Gold, then you already have the rules/mechanic to control that by controlling how much gold and loot they gain from adventuring. 

 

And as for magical items you want the bad guys to use against the players, but not sure what to do with them when the players win the fight and you don't want them to have/use them, then make it so the magical items have conditions on them (+2 Sword used by a Goblin chief was made by Goblin mages and only Goblins gain the +2 magical bonus the sword provides; or the super evil bad guy has a powerful magical staff, but it only grants its magic to beings that have sold their souls to a demon; potion of healing only works for Orcs, magical ring of defense is Troll sized so won't fit a player character, and so on.)

 

 

 

 

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As another option... 

 

Treat them as superheroes, only they haven't had their "origin" yet.  Their origin involves gaining magic items.  Have them write up their characters as 175 points, or whatever power level you decide to start them at.  Except that mentally, you've decided that their power level is "really" 400 points.  

 

Alternatively, why not either let them write their characters up at 175 points, and you add magic items to bring them each up to 400 points?  Or let them write their characters up at 400 points, including magic items of their choice?  

 

If the players and the GM want to play in a game where characters have a bunch of magic items... why not just start out with that?  Why pretend that it's a "standard heroic" power level game?  Why go through the gyrations of placing magic items for them to find?  

 

In a way, this is something like the "resource pool" expanded to include magic items, which seems to be pretty common among Fantasy Hero games.  

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On 9/9/2020 at 4:21 PM, Ninja-Bear said:

On the boards, I’ve seen the argument that equipment is free and magic is paid for more for the reason “ That’s how we’ve done it and how it was presented way back when” over we do it this way because x,y & z.  Did the older books have a reason? I don’t know.

 

Presumably because a number of way-back-when games (Espionage!, Justice Inc., Danger International, Robot Warriors) included the lists of weapons and such for their genre, but didn't include lists of powers with which to build them.  ("Killing damage" and "resistant defenses" are properly game mechanics, not Powers.)  "Normal" equipment was whatever was expected in-genre for a spy, or a soldier, or a detective, or a federal agent, to carry, and in those games there was no point costs applied so there wasn't any point (pun intended).  It was expected that heavy weapons would need to be requisitioned (with rules given for doing so) or acquired on the black market.  Danger International did include some James Bond style gadgets, but they weren't statted up with powers.  (All of those games did refer out to Champions powers for building special gadgets, with a separate set of assumptions from standard Champions baked in.)

 

Fantasy Hero way-back-when did normal equipment the same way as other games did, but assumed magic items would be built using its subset of the power system which included different base assumptions from Champions.  I think fourth edition Fantasy Hero tried to stick with that, in order to make it as easy as possible for anyone who already had Fantasy Hero campaigns running to switch with minimal conversion needed.  

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