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Hero System: Beginner friendly?


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Hail again,

 

I have an opportunity to run a game session for beginning players next month, and I'm pondering whether to use Hero with an established setting or just go with the beginner sets I have accumulated (to gather dust) over the years.

 

Hero is such an opportunity for different genres, despite having lots of crunch. I'm wondering whether a Skyrim game or wild west stuff would go well with a new group.

 

Would you run Hero for complete beginners? 

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  Hero’s biggest plus and minus is its complexity. You can use it to do any genre in the world, but if you want to get the absolute most from your character, you’ve better have gotten an A in Algebra. 
  If however, you keep things simple, dump hit locations, ban Variable Power Pools etc. Just make it “roll three dice, did you hit?”  “Roll your damage!” You can bring your players along slowly to the more esoteric number crunches later.

  Whatever version of the rules you end up using make sure the game is more about having fun than puzzling out math problems. Or else why do it.

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Well the best intro I’ve done was (back in the day) 100 pt party of dwarves doing a basic dungeon crawl. I snatch part of the map from Keep on the Borderlands.  What I did was everyone was an average dwarf with there skills (I.e class). I swiped spells from Fantasy Hero 4th. Some things I would’ve changed if I would do it again is any important skill (read magic and security systems, at least 13-). Magic itself I would redo as my players we don’t fuss with END, make spells charges. Armor and hit location can be a pain, so I used the Average Def rule.  CSLs either 2 pt or the 8pt level. You can match these but probably no more than +2 total.  I did make the characters semi pre made in that I had most of the sheet listed out but where the book already had a skill list, I let them choose the skill. I would also maybe let them have say 5 points to change characteristics to further customize but only a certain few. And I wouldn’t be using STR Min nor martial arts either.

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1 hour ago, Tjack said:

  Hero’s biggest plus and minus is its complexity. You can use it to do any genre in the world, but if you want to get the absolute most from your character, you’ve better have gotten an A in Algebra. 
  If however, you keep things simple, dump hit locations, ban Variable Power Pools etc. Just make it “roll three dice, did you hit?”  “Roll your damage!” You can bring your players along slowly to the more esoteric number crunches later.

  Whatever version of the rules you end up using make sure the game is more about having fun than puzzling out math problems. Or else why do it.

 

I thought with premade characters and explanation of the mechanics (Roll low for everything else but damage) would allow me to run a game for new people.

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2 hours ago, bpmasher said:

 

I thought with premade characters and explanation of the mechanics (Roll low for everything else but damage) would allow me to run a game for new people.

 

It would.  HERO is exceptionally easy to PLAY - as stated earlier, roll 3d6 vs target number, lower is better.  Roll high for damage.  That's it.  The hard stuff is front loaded into character creation, but if you pre create the characters your players should be fine.

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Is use the oldest edition Incan get my hands on to start. Has to be pre-6th IMO. Failing that or add to that, pre gen all the characters. Base combat is easy (without martial arts or levels), and you can add in complexity later. It’s how Inused to run a hero at conventions back in the 90’s sometimes. 

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5 hours ago, bpmasher said:

 

I thought with premade characters and explanation of the mechanics (Roll low for everything else but damage) would allow me to run a game for new people.


    Exactly what I’m talking about.

    I’ve been railing for a while now for for the head honchos to come up with a downloadable free starter version of the game like other companies have done for themselves to bring new players/customers in the door.  You just happened to hit a hot button topic for me.  Sorry if I went overboard on you.

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I'm currently doing just that (on corona hiatus): playing HERO with a bunch of beginners.  As Christougher said, it'a easy to _play_.  If you just want to teach them how to play, you cant go wrong.  If you want them to learn the entire system and how to use to great things whole cloth or run adventures themselves, 

 

Well, thats another thing entirely.

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Would you run Hero for complete beginners? 

 

Yes I would.  I'd run Hero for almost anything for anyone.  But if you're going with complete beginners, I'd dial back all the options to minimum and introduce things slowly, like Endurance, etc. At its core, Hero is very simple and easy to learn.  Then you can add the options to get to where you want in terms of complexity and completeness of simulation.

 

Quote

I’ve been railing for a while now for for the head honchos to come up with a downloadable free starter version of the game like other companies have done for themselves to bring new players/customers in the door.

 

I guess I should focus on that once Western Hero is on the shelf.  Its a lower priority for me because its not going to be an earner but its definitely needed and in demand.

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8 hours ago, Christougher said:

 

It would.  HERO is exceptionally easy to PLAY - as stated earlier, roll 3d6 vs target number, lower is better.  Roll high for damage.  That's it.  The hard stuff is front loaded into character creation, but if you pre create the characters your players should be fine.

No, even very stripped down Hero is a little more complex than that. Speed - you can ditch it. What I did is everyone Speed 3, goblins Speed 2 and Boss Goblin Speed 4. It gives a taste of Speed but is very manageable. But the biggest thing is figuring OCV and DCV. This is why I recommend no more than +2 OCV and from two sources. Block and some more complexity and so does Disarm. 6th edition now has more free combat maneuvers available than before. It’s still very doable to do with beginners but if you’re not prepared for it, that’s what gets you in trouble.

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On 1/19/2021 at 1:31 PM, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

Yes I would.  I'd run Hero for almost anything for anyone.  But if you're going with complete beginners, I'd dial back all the options to minimum and introduce things slowly, like Endurance, etc. At its core, Hero is very simple and easy to learn.  Then you can add the options to get to where you want in terms of complexity and completeness of simulation.

 

 

I guess I should focus on that once Western Hero is on the shelf.  Its a lower priority for me because its not going to be an earner but its definitely needed and in demand.


   Granted, by its very definition a free downloadable starter for Champions won’t make anybody any money now.  But unless Hero Games starts bringing in new people really soon to want to play the games and buy the products then nobody’s going to be buying anything...ever.

  I’m just glad someone is at least considering the problem.  Thanks.

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On 1/19/2021 at 5:11 AM, Christougher said:

 

It would.  HERO is exceptionally easy to PLAY - as stated earlier, roll 3d6 vs target number, lower is better.  Roll high for damage.  That's it.  The hard stuff is front loaded into character creation, but if you pre create the characters your players should be fine.

 

As Christougher said.  Playing Hero is easy.  In fact it is FAR more easy than many of the so called easier RPG's are. 

 

If.

 

And this is a big IF.

 

The GM builds everything for the players, strips all the build annotation from the character sheet. 

 

For example, the Wizard only needs know that the Flame Strike does X damage and costs X end (or mana, or what have you) and uses X skill to hit (if any). 

Ditch, hide, burn at the stake anything even resembling build annotation. 

Ditch, hide, burn at the stake any hint of characteristic build costs.

A un-sanitized Hero character sheet has sent more prospective players running screaming from the gaming table than than have ever tried to play it.

 

I've run Hero at cons before and had a difficult time getting players until I stripped the annotation from the sheets.

The sheet should have everything spelled out in plain language. 

I had a laminated playsheet with all the common things on it.

If the character sheet didn't fit on one side of a 8x11 page NOT using micro sized print, then streamline and remove things until is does.

Same with the play sheet. 

You don't have to use fifty zillion rule options for the intro. 

 

But the thing hero has than virtually no other game has is when a player says "that was OK, but I wish the rules let you X", you can actually say "It can, I just made this intro simple".   You shouldn't be surprised how many times that will make a new player a Hero convert. 

 

If you are borrowing another systems starter kit to base the intro on, I'd recommend the D&D one or the Pathfinder one.  I refer to both of them as "Generic Fantasy Settings" because file off the place names and they are practically the same setting.  And 9 out of 10 people can immediately understand that setting enough to play and what their PC's role is.  Leave generic fantasy and you will also need to explain setting and PC roles.

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But unless Hero Games starts bringing in new people really soon to want to play the games and buy the products then nobody’s going to be buying anything...ever.

 

There is something to that, the more players, the more sales of other products, in the end.  Its like paying for advertising; its a net loss but hopefully brings in more customers so it ends up a gain.  Hopefully.  And it is a fact of life with gaming materials: once everyone who wants that product has bought it... nobody will buy any more of them.  I mean, that's true with everything, but gaming has  a much smaller, if more fanatical, pool.  So the more people we bring into the fold, the more sales overall.

 

So yeah, its an investment and that's worth doing.

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On 1/19/2021 at 11:16 AM, Tjack said:

I’ve been railing for a while now for for the head honchos to come up with a downloadable free starter version of the game like other companies have done for themselves to bring new players/customers in the door. 

 

I've been slowly working on a similar idea. I call it Champions Lite. I keep getting distracted with other things, so it's still a work in progress.

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2 hours ago, IndianaJoe3 said:

 

I've been slowly working on a similar idea. I call it Champions Lite. I keep getting distracted with other things, so it's still a work in progress.

Great minds think alike :whistle:

 

I've been working on a set of "quick start" rules to be attached to a "starter set" that includes pre-gens and a small adventure arc.   Right now I have two similar and still very very rough ones.  A generic fantasy and a supers.  The issue for me is balancing how much to include versus keeping everything as minimum as possible.

 

Zero build info, just enough rules info to function/feel right and copious references to the rulebook.  Plus a generous helping of teasers about cool options in the rulebook. 

 

My objective is an all-in-one genre specific packet that allows a group of people to test drive Hero.  Enough to play that specific adventure, but not enough to do much more without buying the rulebook.

 

 

 

 

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I don't want to be "that guy," but I do want it noted:

 

There are a lot of suggestions on what to leave out, what to work up to, etc,

 

I have taught this game to a group of kids, spendibg about 3 sessions (including character generation), all of whom can play without problems or confusion, and I have done none of those things.  We started out tracking END, STUN, BODY, figuring range modifiers, assessing skill roll penalties and bonuses, countong damage, figuring DEF (to include Resistan vs non), etc.   I didnt leave anything out, and they got it quickly, the same way we did when we learned to play.

 

These kids range from 7th to 10 (11th?) Grade, and frankly, they have had more problems letting go of the "he's an underclassmen so I shouldn't be seen with him" than they had learning to play.

 

I suspect that a lot of the "hard to teach" aspect centers on how sold they are on wanting do learn it in the first place.

 

We have all noted at some point that there is no difficult math ib this game.  There is more math than there is with other games, but again: it's not difficult, and it becomes rote in a session or two.

 

 

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D&D is a lot more complicated than back when a lot of us started playing it too, Hero is no worse by any remotest sense.  Yes, D&D 4th dumbed it down toward cue card 5th grade mentality, but it was still pretty complicated to build a character.

 

Hero has a reputation it doesn't deserve, especially if you've tried to play games like DragonQuest or Phoenix Command.  Its middle range complicated with super simple, new systems like Savage Worlds at the low end (for now, it will gain in complexity over time).

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  The question isn’t about “How hard is Champions to learn?”  but more “How do we get more people to try Champions?”

   Other companies have done it successfully for themselves by putting an FREE easy to learn version of their game rules on-line complete with pre-generated characters and an ready to play adventure.   The business model is based on “Here kid, the first hit’s free.”  
   And doing this with Champions, a game that the company is known for and uses a genre that is not only very popular right now, but that Hero Games has almost to itself.  This isn’t a Fantasy game that has to fight its way past D&D and Pathfinder.

   Right now anything with the Company name and backing would be better than the radio silence we have now.  
The thing that frustrates me the most is that I myself who gains  nothing from this, seems to be the only one who gives a damn. If the guys who own the brand are so tired of shoving that boulder up the hill than just find a someone to buy it from you like WotC/Hasbro did with D&D.

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2 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

D&D is a lot more complicated than back when a lot of us started playing it too, Hero is no worse by any remotest sense.  Yes, D&D 4th dumbed it down toward cue card 5th grade mentality, but it was still pretty complicated to build a character.

 

Hero has a reputation it doesn't deserve, especially if you've tried to play games like DragonQuest or Phoenix Command.  Its middle range complicated with super simple, new systems like Savage Worlds at the low end (for now, it will gain in complexity over time).

Couple of points. With D&D being more complicated perhaps that’s one reason you see the explosion of OSRs? One reason I’ve seen posted was the going back to the simplicity of less rules. 
 

Savage Worlds- I’ve tried it. Not bad, but for me, I need the Edges written out to know what the hang they are.  And the buzz on Savage Worlds is that Pathfinder is writing up Plot Point Campaigns set in their setting. (Glorian ?). 

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Thinking about how easy Hero is to start up, I think one of the problems is that there aren't enough examples of how to use the toolkit to make the setting you want.

In the Supers books there is usually somewhere that says "A strong guy should have these stats, a fast guy should have these. buy about this many active points of powers".  The published characters then generally follow that.

 

When you get to some of the Genre books it gets murkier.  I feel like I have seen a zillion threads that boil down to "how much armor should my dungeoncrawl paladin have?  and how should he compare to the thief?"  Some theoretical "how to play hero" web supplement should have a 4 person party & 2-3 standard enemies for them in as many genres as feasible.  Both to help new GMs pick which they like but also to give them a starting point.  Your Conan Expy will be built a lot differently than your Robin Hood Expy.

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