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Experiences teaching people Hero Game system


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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 referen

Amen! I always use simplified character sheets that focus on playability and leave out most of the math. (You need to know AP cost for Adjustment Powers, but most of the other numbers are irrelevant o

So my wife of 18 years has finally decided she'd like to try out this weird hobby of mine! I'm talking her through the basics of how RPGs work, this is how you create a character, etc. And she asks "D

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Most of the time I'll ignore the massive effects of superhero battles. If it's a very gritty, realistic campaign, it could be appropriate...but I don't see myself running such a campaign anytime soon.

We don't ignore collateral damage on people, but we maybe soft-pedal it a bit. It mostly serves to give the PCs a chance to be heroic: "I push my flight to try and catch the falling civilians; yes I realize that leaves me wide open to Big Jerk Guy's attack." As long as you reward them for it, rather than using it as some sort of Gygaxian "gotcha trap, I think it adds to the fun.

 

Of course scale matters. My heroes' battles can smash up cars, knock each other through walls, and tear up the street pretty good. A building or two might get knocked over in extreme cases. By they don't level entire blocks.

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Maybe my take on this is a bit colored - I was living in Cleveland when the Avengers' New York scenes were filming there. Then I'd walk past all the decrepit Cleveland buildings on my way to university classes and think "Man, we're really doing a great job rebuilding from that Skrull Chituari invasion! Lookin' good, everybody!" 

 

Silly as it is, it gave a really strong feeling for what it's like when crap like that goes on in a city. Ordinary people? RUN RUN RUN and then live among the rebuilding scaffolds.

 

I'm pretty much with Bigdamnhero here - give people a chance to rescue civilians, because these are heroes, man. That's what they do.

 

Another fun thing from the brawl - my character got knocked into a storefront, which we'd written "Comic Shop" on. Clearing broken glass out of his hair, he suggested the guy behind the counter leave, which was met with "Are you kidding? This is the best day of my life!" 

 

...

 

At which point, you know, we tried to both protect, and put on a show for the dude. :)

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I think that's why I like Golden and Silver Age campaigns. To my mind, the heroes should be rescuing innocent bystanders from the machinations of the villains, not from the "collateral damage" caused by their own heroic efforts. There's a kind of cynicism inherent in that "gritty realism" that I simply have no interest in exploring.

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I think that's why I like Golden and Silver Age campaigns. To my mind, the heroes should be rescuing innocent bystanders from the machinations of the villains, not from the "collateral damage" caused by their own heroic efforts. There's a kind of cynicism inherent in that "gritty realism" that I simply have no interest in exploring.

Hmm, I remember cleanup detail being there since about always. I mean, the bricks and paragons get to wreak havoc and the speedsters and energy projectors get to evacuate people.

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I think HERO should encourage players - especially in Champions - to think about and write down what they expect the experienced version of their character to look like. It doesn't have to be written in stone like a level based system but it's useful stuff for the player and GM to reference later when the topic of spending XP comes up.  It's the most freeform part of the system.  Putting some structure around it up-front is much easier than after the fact.

 

HM

This thread has taken me a few hours to read in between distractions, and there's a lot I wanted to comment on, but then realized I'd probably never get around to it. I decided to do random quotes and comments and hope I get to everything I wanted to say.

 

I'm not a huge fan of this. I would like players to have in their head where they want their characters to go with XP, I wouldn't want mechanics written down. Something I learned a long time ago, if you give players 500 points and tell them to build characters, those same characters would look vastly different than if the players built on 400 points and got 100 XP over the course of time and adventures. In the former you'll see 14d6 and high defenses and they'd most likely be in a higher "power category".  In the latter you'll see more Contact: Police Chief, an increase in the Computer Programming skill, their flight may get better, and they'll get different defenses, all based on things that gave them issues, or they wished they had over previous adventures. Some characters may have started out as say a Martial Artist, but gradually shifted to a gadgeteer to fill that niche the party needed. I much rather the XP over time versions of characters.

 

I wish I could remember who, but someone posted a Wiki-like article called House Rules for Champions Mush. What an incredible document. It is incredibly long, and probably a little intimidating to newbies, but tell anyone new to just start with the charts. That alone will give them a jumping off point.

 

I realize the thread has moved on greatly since the first post, but...Hero System combats are very long in comparison to a Pathfinder or D&D game. There's more to keep track of (HP versus STUN, BODY, END) things are usually harder to kill because of all the defensive options. Killing attacks take two dice rolls (either Stun Multiplier or Hit Location), then you have to subtract defenses from damage, it's a lot and takes a long time. Not saying it's bad, but it will never be as "math free" as a Pathfinder or D&D.

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Things!

 

I'm not a huge fan of this. I would like players to have in their head where they want their characters to go with XP, I wouldn't want mechanics written down. Something I learned a long time ago, if you give players 500 points and tell them to build characters, those same characters would look vastly different than if the players built on 400 points and got 100 XP over the course of time and adventures. In the former you'll see 14d6 and high defenses and they'd most likely be in a higher "power category".  In the latter you'll see more Contact: Police Chief, an increase in the Computer Programming skill, their flight may get better, and they'll get different defenses, all based on things that gave them issues, or they wished they had over previous adventures. Some characters may have started out as say a Martial Artist, but gradually shifted to a gadgeteer to fill that niche the party needed. I much rather the XP over time versions of characters.

 

 

I can see the merit in both of those approaches. My S/O wrote up two versions of her character sheet for a V:tM LARP a few years back: character as she saw her coming in, and a filled-out with xp version. Now, did she deviate from that? Absolutely. But she found it useful to have that vision of the character in the future. I've never done it myself, but I can see the merit in that long view. Getting that without losing the dynamic, responsive quality that -- to me -- is central to the RPG experience? That's the best of both worlds. Maybe I'll try it?

 

 

 

I wish I could remember who, but someone posted a Wiki-like article called House Rules for Champions Mush. What an incredible document. It is incredibly long, and probably a little intimidating to newbies, but tell anyone new to just start with the charts. That alone will give them a jumping off point.

 

 

 

There is a thing! It showed up in the first reply to my first post! It is this thing! Super intimidating at first, but you're right on target - aim for the charts, and it's not so bad :)

 

 

I realize the thread has moved on greatly since the first post, but...Hero System combats are very long in comparison to a Pathfinder or D&D game. There's more to keep track of (HP versus STUN, BODY, END) things are usually harder to kill because of all the defensive options. Killing attacks take two dice rolls (either Stun Multiplier or Hit Location), then you have to subtract defenses from damage, it's a lot and takes a long time. Not saying it's bad, but it will never be as "math free" as a Pathfinder or D&D.

 

In my experience thus far -  a newbie trying to teach and learn from other newbies - it's more to keep track of on the low end, and maybe even a little less on the high end? I haven't seen the high end yet. Still! A tanky fighter in D&D needs to:

  • Remember their BaB & STR bonuses
  • Modifiers from flanking
  • How power attack works
  • How attacks of opportunity work, and track how many they use per round
  • And then track their HP.

Having recently taught a total newbie Pathfinder, it's less intuitive than a lot of gamers remember it being - primarily because its internal logic doesn't make a ton of sense. 

 

(Now, I adore Pathfinder, even if I want a break from it. Me & PF? Nuthin' but hugs. But we're gonna see other people for a while.)

 

Anyway. That same type of character, a Brick in Champions? Gotta remember:

  • their OCV & DCV
  • PD/ED
  • Track END, BOD & STUN as appropriate
  • Roll BOD, STUN and knockback when they attack.

Is that a lot? Yes. They are both a lot. But I feel like HERO has had fewer "But that just doesn't make any sense" moments, at least for me. Having said that? Yesh. Mathy. No good way around that, and it's never going to be Feng Shui. 

 

I am very curious what our second attempt looks like.

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In my experience thus far -  a newbie trying to teach and learn from other newbies - it's more to keep track of on the low end, and maybe even a little less on the high end? I haven't seen the high end yet. Still! A tanky fighter in D&D needs to:

  • Remember their BaB & STR bonuses
  • Modifiers from flanking
  • How power attack works
  • How attacks of opportunity work, and track how many they use per round
  • And then track their HP.

Having recently taught a total newbie Pathfinder, it's less intuitive than a lot of gamers remember it being - primarily because its internal logic doesn't make a ton of sense. 

 

(Now, I adore Pathfinder, even if I want a break from it. Me & PF? Nuthin' but hugs. But we're gonna see other people for a while.)

 

Anyway. That same type of character, a Brick in Champions? Gotta remember:

  • their OCV & DCV
  • PD/ED
  • Track END, BOD & STUN as appropriate
  • Roll BOD, STUN and knockback when they attack.

Is that a lot? Yes. They are both a lot. But I feel like HERO has had fewer "But that just doesn't make any sense" moments, at least for me. Having said that? Yesh. Mathy. No good way around that, and it's never going to be Feng Shui. 

 

I am very curious what our second attempt looks like.

I'm not sure those lists are fair. Bonuses from flanking aren't character specific. In Hero, they'd have to keep track of facing. Power Attack, while it may be character specific, it's a maneuver. In Hero, they'd have to remember penalties from a Haymaker, plus any skill levels they may have, plus any martial maneuvers that may be applicable.

 

Maybe I used a bad example, let me try it this way: In Pathfinder you have a number you need to hit the bad guy. You hit that number you roll your damage dice, add damage modifiers and that's what you do. In Hero, you have a number, you hit it, he may block you, you may not get through his defenses, he may dive for cover, etc. If you do hit him you roll your damage dice, count body, roll STUN Multiplier, apply defenses. It's a much more complex system and takes a lot longer to get through.

 

The other advantage to Pathfinder is that you start simple. At first level you don't have a lot of options and things mucking up the work. As you get more familiar you gradually get more options. In Hero you're in the deep end from the start. 

 

I don't want to make this sound like I'm complaining, Hero is my favorite system, and Pathfinder my second favorite, but combat in Hero can be a LONG affair.

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I'm not sure those lists are fair. Bonuses from flanking aren't character specific. In Hero, they'd have to keep track of facing. Power Attack, while it may be character specific, it's a maneuver. In Hero, they'd have to remember penalties from a Haymaker, plus any skill levels they may have, plus any martial maneuvers that may be applicable.

 

Maybe I used a bad example, let me try it this way: In Pathfinder you have a number you need to hit the bad guy. You hit that number you roll your damage dice, add damage modifiers and that's what you do. In Hero, you have a number, you hit it, he may block you, you may not get through his defenses, he may dive for cover, etc. If you do hit him you roll your damage dice, count body, roll STUN Multiplier, apply defenses. It's a much more complex system and takes a lot longer to get through.

 

The other advantage to Pathfinder is that you start simple. At first level you don't have a lot of options and things mucking up the work. As you get more familiar you gradually get more options. In Hero you're in the deep end from the start. 

 

I don't want to make this sound like I'm complaining, Hero is my favorite system, and Pathfinder my second favorite, but combat in Hero can be a LONG affair.

 

Oh, for sure! I picked that example, because in my experience, remembering the common bonuses and power attack tends to be what most of my newbies have spent their time on. It might not be that way for everybody, but in my experience, that's what playing a fighter tends to look like. 

 

No argument that there's a lot in HERO - I mean, I'm at that stage where I can't remember how this ish is supposed to go - I forgot that STUN multipliers are a thing on literally every Killing Attack I rolled. So, yeah. Lots of stuff!

 

My point was, that in my estimation, that "new game barrier" was pretty big for people learning Pathfinder too. Maybe skewed, because this was in a college gaming group where most of these lovely little newbies hadn't played tabletop RPGs before, so it kind of illuminated just how much stuff I'd taken for granted as being natural. :)

 

We'll see how much that holds true for teaching HERO to people without advanced math-y degrees! :)

 

Also, I ordered some damage trackers from the card game Sentinels of the Multiverse, that I plan to use to track END, and maybe STUN and BOD too. I found that I really liked that tactile element in the card game, and want to see if it translates well to HERO combat.

 

THREAD FORK: what kinds of peripherals/aids do people tend to use? What have you found useful?

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There are a lot of things to take into consideration when performing an attack, but most of the same situational modifiers are found in every other RPG combat system out there as well. Such modifiers apply to either OCV or DCV, just as they might to THAC0 or BAB or whatever.

 

In Hero it's basically: roll against the OCV/DCV "to hit" number. If successful, roll and calculate damage. Apply defender's damage mitigation, if any. Take damage. That's not much different than calculating a to-hit roll, rolling to hit, rolling and calculating damage, roll saving throw (if one applies), modify damage based on saving throw, mitigate damage due to other factors (spells), take damage.

 

I think the fact that computing damage is a little different is what makes people think the Hero System involves so many more steps, when in fact, it really doesn't. I mean, really, rolling a killing attack is a single dice rolling act; the BODY dice and the STUN multiplier die are rolled together and the damage components calculated at the same time. Describing it as two steps is a strange exercise in deconstructionism if you ask me.

 

Nearly every RPG system has its own unique way of determining to-hit chances, calculating damage, applying damage mitigation, and then applying damage or other status effects (stunning, etc.). I've not encountered any system with a comparable degree of outcome detail that had substantially fewer steps than the Hero System.

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The simple truth is that Hero is a game for and by high-IQ people. It sounds elitist, but I'm convinced that is the case. People with IQs below 100 struggle to grasp key concepts and usually hate it, those at around 100-120 can learn it, but need to be guided or particularly motivated to get over the hump, and over 120 IQ folks pick it up easily, and tend to be the ones who love its possibilities. 

 

I gave the 6e rules to one of the smartest guys I know, who is not even a gamer, and he digested it over a weekend and was totally enthused. It was quite eye-opening. I'd put his IQ at 140-150.

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At this point I think D&D/Pathfinder is every bit as mathematically complex as hero, with damage reduction and all the modifiers.  But people can and do learn; its just a matter of being willing to teach, having fun, and approaching it right.  I wish I could get that chance again.

 

I do think that D&D/Pathfinder has simpler building blocks - class, level, HP, roll d20 against armor class. Certainly in its more elaborate forms (Pathfinder) it has a lot of complexity, but it's still easier to sit down for the first time and play than Hero. And the network effects mean a lot more support in learning the game, both in terms of products and other gamers. D&D is successful because it suits people clustered around average IQ or slightly higher, rather than Hero which appeals most to people a standard deviation above 100.

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The simple truth is that Hero is a game for and by high-IQ people. It sounds elitist, but I'm convinced that is the case. People with IQs below 100 struggle to grasp key concepts and usually hate it, those at around 100-120 can learn it, but need to be guided or particularly motivated to get over the hump, and over 120 IQ folks pick it up easily, and tend to be the ones who love its possibilities. 

 

I gave the 6e rules to one of the smartest guys I know, who is not even a gamer, and he digested it over a weekend and was totally enthused. It was quite eye-opening. I'd put his IQ at 140-150.

 

I'm really uncomfortable with this line of reasoning. Frankly, there is nothing in HERO that requires high IQs, though there might be a correlation between people with a STEM focus and HERO system mastery. My hypothesis has more to do with the way that information is presented than anything else; simply put, until 6th edition, HERO has had a very dense presentation, and that's just not an effective way to communicate information to everybody. For some learning styles, it's great!

 

But it is entirely disingenuous - and frankly unworthy of this community - to posit that people who "get" hero quickly must have a higher IQ than others. 

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As the person who started this thread I would like everyone to again look at my initial post...

 

I want to hear about your actual "Experiences teaching people Hero Game system"

 

If you want to discuss the merits of game system X vs. game system Y then start a NEW thread.

 

The whole discussion about Pathfinder being easier/harder is not important for this thread.

 

The whole discussion about IQ and games is not important for this thread.

 

Thank you!

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What I have found is that it is easiest to sit down with somebody and walk them through character creation.  Ask them what kind of character they want.  Help them make it.  Keep it relatively simple.  There's no need for a power to have 15 different advantages and limitations on it.  Then play a short 1 on 1 session so the new player can grasp the mechanics.  Be prepared to tell them what number they need to roll to hit for several sessions.  It may help to ignore End and Knockback as well.

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My experience teaching the Hero System always boiled down to two primary factors: one, how into superheroes were they, and two, what previous RPG experience did they have. I had the easiest time teaching the system to superhero fans who had played D&D, at the very least, before. I had the hardest time teaching the system to people who had little or no RPG experience and who had little interest in superheroes.

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So, digging waaaaay back to my experience as a player, some 10 years ago, I sat down with my GM and told him what kind of character I wanted to play. He then wrote up the character, and explained how to do some basic things; attacks, rolling damage, etc. 

 

I'd do it differently - with a bit more of how the sausage is made - but I think that seeing a character concept satisfyingly come to life is exactly what's needed to spark curiosity in the system. Once that happens, people may want to do it on their own.

 

The missing step for me, was that intermediary between "my character was built for me" and "I have the book and no one to explain anything." Having someone to answer questions is, I think, highly useful.

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