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bluesguy

Experiences teaching people Hero Game system

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Here's the "Attacks Table" I use on my character sheets. (Including my NPC notes.) It takes each of the character's major attacks (powers, maneuvers, etc) and lists out:

  • Attack Roll (OCV + 11 +/- any set modifiers)
  • any CSLs that apply with that attack
  • the Character's DCV while using that attack
  • Damage
  • Endurance or [Charges]
  • any Notes, such as AP, Area Effect, or whatever

(Hopefully the tabs will display right...)

 

Attack Roll + Skill Bonus (– Range) – 3d6  =  DCV hit

Attacks              Attack     Skill    DCV    Damage   END   Notes

Basic Attack          19-         +0        8         5½d6         3

Offensive Strike    17-         +1        9         9½d6         3

Martial Throw        19-         +1        9      5½d6+v/10   3      Target Falls

Martial Dodge        ---         +1       13          ---            1       Abort

Energy Rifle          20-         +2        8         12d6       [16]     STUN Only, no KB

Grenade Gun       19-         +2        8           9d6         [6]     4m Radius

 

The only downside is that there's really no way to create this table from HD, so it has to be entered manually. But I find putting all the data in one place also helps me identify any attacks that might be unbalanced.

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Something in another thread reminded me:

One particular character caused me a problem.  The player decided to play a kobold warrior,setting up the kobolds as a tribal culture near the borders of the empire.  His reasons for playing a kobold were simple:  smaller than man-sized, -2 to the opponents OCV.  He also took martial arts, but he only ever used one maneuver:  Defensive Strike (+1 OCV, +3 DCV)...And, of course, he bought the campaign maximum of and 8 or 9 base DCV.  The end result was that he effectively had a 13 or 14 DCV.  Tack on a few combat skill levels, and you have a nightmare -- a character who is only hit on a 3 on 3d6 vs any opponent with an average (even upper end of average) OCV.

That's why the Hero Gods invented Area Of Effect Attacks. Granted, in a gladiator game you (probably) don't have grenades, fireballs, etc. But you've got nets. And an NPC with an AOE Naked Advantage is a good way of simulating a "blizzard of blades" type of attack.

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I get the point you are making but my first thought when reading your post was "Playing Batman would still be pretty fun". :D

 

Only because Batman hangs on to the kryptonite and will use it when the man of steel gets too big for his britches... :)

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Something in another thread reminded me:

That's why the Hero Gods invented Area Of Effect Attacks. Granted, in a gladiator game you (probably) don't have grenades, fireballs, etc. But you've got nets. And an NPC with an AOE Naked Advantage is a good way of simulating a "blizzard of blades" type of attack.

 

Yep, I thought of that and used it...I think we may have also done some other things incorrectly (again, we were all relatively new to the system), so it proved far less effective than you'd expect.  (I think I was allowing them to abort to a defensive action [such as dodge or "dive for cover"] in a segment in which they had already acted...It was over a year ago, so it's hard to remember the details of every mistake I made.)

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Yep, I thought of that and used it...I think we may have also done some other things incorrectly (again, we were all relatively new to the system), so it proved far less effective than you'd expect.  (I think I was allowing them to abort to a defensive action [such as dodge or "dive for cover"] in a segment in which they had already acted...It was over a year ago, so it's hard to remember the details of every mistake I made.)

 

Whenever players use anything, within the rules, that makes it difficult for me or takes a style I dont want in the game I tell them.  If that changes nothing then I tell them that if they continue to use that tactic, then I too will use it.

 

When the tables are turned they hate that used against them,  It wasn't CV abuses for me, it was poison in an early RuneQuest game.  They used it all the time until their opponents began to use it all the time.  After several player characters died because of poisoned blades, they complained that it was not realistic for everyone to use poison all the time.  I replied that it was not realistic for them to use poison all the time.  They were using it for purely tactical advantage and therefore it was fine for me to use it too.

 

I told them that if they foreswore the use of poison except for particular purposes then I would not use it unless their opponent was particularly evil.  The use of poison would donote that inclination.  :-)

 

This was a learning step for me and my players.  No major arguments but mutual agreement not to be too extreme about useful aspects of the game and coming to a mutual understanding.

 

For the Kobold player, I would ensure that he was almost constantly faced with opponents who were also small enough to get the DCV bonus and also utilised the defensive benefits of the combat system so that their combats were a frustrating miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss while everyone else got on with the business of fighting properly.  It would be easier to mop up the kobold if he was isolated and his opponents worked tactically to attack him as a team - make him dive for cover with someone else waiting to target him on the same segment while he was prone...  :-)

 

 

Doc

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I was very fortunate. My first experience with Champions was back in 1983 when I had the good fortune to play with a group of absolutely stellar gamers from Flying Buffalo Games in Tempe, AZ. They were, for the most part, adults who had graduated from the hack and slash D&D mentality and on to the more mature heroics of Champions (to say nothing of their devotion to genre authenticity). The GMs there were so good at running Champions, that one learned the game's "best practices" simply by osmosis (it should also be noted that 2nd ed Champions had the advantage of being unencumbered by the hundreds of pages of "options" the system has today). It was that experience that I brought with me when I started my own campaigns several years later in another town.

 

By and large, I never try to drag casual players into a Champions/Hero System game. The system does not really reward those not willing to dig into it and learn it seriously. There are umpteen other RPGs for casual gamers; this system doesn't need to be one of them, IMO. This definitely limits opportunities to play the game, but it also minimizes frustration and maintains one's sanity as well. I can usually tell straight off the bat whether or not a prospective player is right for the group: if they are intimidated by the basic mathmatics required to build a character, then they aren't likely to be a good fit. If the concept of "active cost" is not intuitive (once explained), then they should probably go back to D&D/Pathfinder where the moving parts of the game engine are rarely so exposed. But if they see the elegant interplay between Advantages and Limitations, and grasp the notion that one raises active cost, while the other lowers real cost, then I know I'm dealing someone who won't be stymied with every other rule/mechanic in the game.

 

As for the unhittable Kobold, one must be prepared to exploit the myriad other ways to hit and hinder a target: AoE (dust thrown in the face could be ruled an ad-hoc AoE Flash attack if necessary), multiple attackers, attacks that target the mind, Presence Attacks, etc. You gotta get creative. And if necessary, put tighter limits on base DCV and combat skill levels. As for reasonable campaign limits, I'm pretty sure every version of the core rules and every genre book I've ever read has sections devoted to the subject.

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...

As for the unhittable Kobold, one must be prepared to exploit the myriad other ways to hit and hinder a target: AoE (dust thrown in the face could be ruled an ad-hoc AoE Flash attack if necessary), multiple attackers, attacks that target the mind, Presence Attacks, etc. You gotta get creative. And if necessary, put tighter limits on base DCV and combat skill levels. As for reasonable campaign limits, I'm pretty sure every version of the core rules and every genre book I've ever read has sections devoted to the subject.

 

There have been a number of good suggestions regarding the "unhittable kobold" problem.  One of the challenges that I faced in that particular campaign was the fact that I was trying to run a low-fantasy (magic rare) campaign...so, apart from things like nets, AoE attacks were going to be extremely rare.  The only way I could bring multiple attackers to bear was to completely outnumber the party -- and the opponents would have to be tough enough to keep the rest of the party occupied for at least a couple of phases.

 

But, that campaign is long past...We're in the process of building characters for another run at Fantasy Hero, but this time, we're taking a bit of a different approach.  Once the characters are built, I'll probably post them to the forums to get some feedback.

 

And, I think we've spent enough time on the "unhittable kobold"...I almost feel like, in addition to being an in-game problem, it has developed the power to hijack forum threads!

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I think teaching people Hero is best done at a minimal level.  They don't need to know very much at all about the rules, just how to interact with the game at the most basic level.  Here's how you roll to hit.  Here's how you do skills.  Here's how you do damage.  Lets play.

 

Using premade characters for newcomers allows them to step into play very quickly, in my experience, and gamers at least are quite familiar with the basic concepts of how rules work so they learn quickly.

 

The absolutely worst thing you can do is have three or four people trying to explain things all at once.  It becomes overwhelming and few things frustrate me as badly as trying to teach some guy how to play with kibbitzers throwing in extra details and anecdotes.  One teacher at a time.

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Another thought I had based on some facebook discussions: the character sheets.

 

Character sheets for novice players can be very, very minimal.  They don't need to know the point cost of anything, that's irrelevant to their play at first.  They don't need to know the modifier totals either.  +1/4, etc totally irrelevant to them.  In fact, you can get away with stripping modifier notations down to little or nothing.  You can skip endurance costs at first as well, they can pick that up as they go along.  Defenses should be written out in long form with explanations, not a quick summary that suffices for experienced players.  Its confusing with all those 18/25 (3) in the sheet even if you know the system well.

 

Their sheet can have things like this instead:

 

Blast of Doom: 12d6 Blast

Hover: 15m flight, 30m out of combat (x mph)

Force Field: 10 Resistant PD, 12 resistant ED when turned on

 

Physical Defense: 8  With force field: 18

   Resistant Physical Defense: 3   With Force Field: 13

Energy Defense: 10  With force field: 22

   Resistant Energy Defense: 3   With Force Field: 15

 

Writing up OCV and DCV can include the formula to make it extra easy.

OCV: 15+3d6 = DCV hit

 

Modifiers can be added by the GM and done in their heads or privately; the players don't need to know all that yet.  Encourage them to try different things, and give them rewards for it, so they do so again.  If they ask "can I run up and hit him?" Say "sure, you just have a slightly lower chance to hit but you can do more damage!"  not "that will reduce your DCV by .... what is your running?" and so on.

 

Time enough later for players to learn more complex rules, all they need to know is the very basics, and have a character sheet with the basics to make it work.  The more colorful, interesting, and easy to read a sheet is, the better players will catch on.  If the character sheet looks like a spreadsheet from an accountant, their eyes will cross.

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Agreed on all counts. Hide the complexity until either a player wants to know about it, or it becomes necessary for resolving some important action. Eventually, players will either want to dig deeper and learn the nuts and bolts, or they won't. In a campaign/group not consumed by power gamers and min/maxers, there's no reason I can think of why the more casual players can't continue to have boatloads of fun without ever looking behind the complexity curtain.

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Another thought I had based on some facebook discussions: the character sheets.

 

Character sheets for novice players can be very, very minimal.

Absolutely. Here's an example of the character sheet I use for con/demo games, which I had also posted to FB discussion mentioned above. It does take a little time to create, since you have to cut & paste from the HD export format of your choice into a custom Word document. But it's time well spent IMO to simplify the new player's experience.

Pebbles.doc

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My suggestion: unless you are starting with a supers game, simply configure your game so that it is presented just like typical rpgs that people have played before, just use hero mechanics during the gameplay.

 

For example, if your players are familiar with typical fantasy games (dnd, pathfinder) then run your game like those. design very basic characters with your players. character archtypes they will understand. give them basic weapons, armor and equipment from the fantasy hero book at no point cost. basic 75 or 100 point characters with workable stats and a fleshed out skillset to do their job and a few extra skills for background fluff. then away you go.

 

De-emphasize the character creation system at first to concentrate on the basic mechanics of the gameplay. if your players find that they like the mechanics then they'll want to dig deeper into the character creation system. this is when you introduce things like Talents/Feats into the game and allow the mages to start designing their own spells.

 

My last fantasy campaign i ran we had a player who wasnt a very experienced gamer...she had played dnd and a few other games but not extensively, so i worked very closely with her to get the type of character she wanted. she ended up wanting to play a Warlock (mentalism magic) and i helped her design some spells that fit her stereotype and she picked a few others from the Ultimate Grimoire. by the end of the game, many months later, she was totally into they system and character and was even designing new spells on her own.

 

Fortunately for me in that game i had no munchkins so i didnt have to contend with that player who wants to be good at everything, but the PCs we had were hyper competent in their specific field of expertise, which is exactly how i wanted things to pan out by the end game.

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I agree.  You can even set up the character sheet to be more familiar, in the layout of other games so that they can grasp it easier.  By stripping down the initial intoduction to Hero, you can win people over by its flexibility, power, and freedom that other games just cannot match.

 

If you think back, when you started playing D&D, did the DM throw the DMG at you and say "all you gotta do is learn this?"  No, he helped you roll up a guy and you started playing, and he handled the DM guide and all the rest.  For some reason we get the impression that we have to teach them all of Hero Games at once, and we don't.

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I've been finding that with some players combat skill levels can be confusing. 2pt seem easy. You either have that specific weapon familiarity or not. 5pt is either applies to all hand to hand or all ranged. But have the option of 2, 3, & 5pt can confuse a noobie. And yes the inclusion of weapon famaliarity itself can be confusing to. (I just list it all out).

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My suggestion: unless you are starting with a supers game, simply configure your game so that it is presented just like typical rpgs that people have played before, just use hero mechanics during the gameplay.

Of course then you run the risk of hearing "So if it's just like D&D, then why don't we just play D&D?" I agree you don't want to hit them with the full diversity of Hero chargen up front, but it's good to show them something that D&D can't do. I've occasionally brought in new players by asking them "Have you ever had a character concept or idea that you just couldn't make work in D&D/etc?" Then build it for them in Hero.

 

I've been finding that with some players combat skill levels can be confusing. 2pt seem easy. You either have that specific weapon familiarity or not. 5pt is either applies to all hand to hand or all ranged. But have the option of 2, 3, & 5pt can confuse a noobie. And yes the inclusion of weapon famaliarity itself can be confusing to. (I just list it all out).

Agreed. On the simplified character sheet I use (posted above), there's a column in the Attacks table that adds up all the relevant Skill Levels with that particular attack. Makes it simpler.

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Weapon Familiarity is straight up proficiency from other games, and if you present it like that everyone will nod and say "ok" because its just that common.  Skill levels get a bit confusing, so I encourage people to not have them for beginning characters, unless they are super simplified.  You can treat HTH levels like a dial: you have 3, and can dial it either way: OCV or DCV.  Leave out the ability to do damage with them for now, until they get used to it.

 

The biggest flaw Hero has for some new players is that it is overwhelming.  In a game you can literally do anything, some players just freeze up every phase.  So they end up doing the same thing over and over instead of trying something new or interesting.  Also frustrating, which was alluded to above, is the player who tries something and it doesn't work, so they never try it again.  I tried disarming, and I missed!  That's tough to deal with, and only having the enemy do it a few times or a more experienced player show them it can be done really makes a difference I think.

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I worked up this little sheet to help people just starting to play.  Its based on a Savage Worlds sheet someone did and I got handed when I learned that system and it was useful.  Just a quick reference for some options in combat and combat maneuvers.  I tried to strip it down to the simplest language, leaving details to the GM to handle.

Hero Combat Sheet.pdf

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That's a nice little cheat sheet, Christopher!

 

Hero's combat system was so intuitive to me when I first encountered it back in 1982 that I am largely unable to imagine how anyone else finds it overwhelming, but I realize that many do. I originally came to RPGs from a wargaming background, and you generally end up with a pretty deep understanding of combat simulation mechanics that way. Compared to the mechanics in many wargames, the Hero combat system is surprisingly simple.

 

When coaching new players, I ususally start by asking them if they'd like to punch, kick, or use one of their powers when their Phase comes up. I reduce their choices to only the most intuitive ones. If they are actually trying to learn the game as they play, as opposed to just sort of passively experiencing the game as a half-interested spectator, then it usually only takes a few Phases before they start wanting to try other things. Then the internal logic of the system does its magic and the vast array of options ceases to be an overwhelming cornucopia, and becomes a treasure trove of possibilities instead.

 

Sadly, I also feel it is necessary these days to advise newbies not to look at published characters for guidance on design. It used to be that I could show newbies the write-up for Mechanon and they would stick around to learn how his powers worked in practice. Since about 5th edition, this just hasn't been possible. The Mechanon write-up is now a great way to drive potential newbies to D&D.

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