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bluesguy

Experiences teaching people Hero Game system

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Yeah I definitely think its best to avoid complications in the first few episodes; add in stuff as you go along.  Knockback probably should be first, because its so much fun.  Endurance later, along with more complex recovery mechanics such as drains etc.

 

+1 for the joy of knockback. It's a legitimately unique feature of the system, and highly satisfying to engage with.

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Historically speaking, the rules have treated Knockback as optional in heroic level games, preferring instead to nudge players towards simpler Knockdown rules. But I never really saw the need to do that since Knockback isn't as prevelent in games with low DC attacks anyway. I mean, explosions could and probably should knock characters across a room, so I see Knockback as a perfectly "reasonable" and plausible mechanic even for heroic level games.

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I've given "Does Knockback" as an Advantage to things like a giant's club, so I'm obviously not completely opposed to it.

 

I suppose I have an issue with it as a default assumption because a number of things like the size templates and size powers are built and balanced with knockback in mind.  

 

Lucius Alexander

 

This tagline built and balanced with a palindromedary in mind

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Kinetic energy has a serious consistency problem accross genres. Not its fault, really - as a friend of mine once said, it's not a superpower if it doesn't violate one of the laws of thermodynamics.  :snicker:

 

Your friend mixes his metaphors. Those would be part of Newton's 3 laws of motion, not the four laws of thermodynamics.

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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. 

 

I think there is a lot of misinformation about intelligence in what I will call the "nerd community." I also think people have very skewed understanding of IQ and what it is for (and what it is good for). We all also want to think that we (or our group of friends) is in "the top ____" of intelligence. Some of us are right. A lot are not (studies consistently show that people, especially those that did somewhat well in school, consistently overestimate how rare their own intelligence level is).

 

A certain amount (but not much) of mental accumen is needed to grog the Hero system. Perhaps a greater amount to enjoy working with all those numbers. Still, it is 6th, maybe 7th grade math.

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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.

Agreed.

 

...combat in Hero can be a LONG affair.

It can be, but it doesn't have to be, especially for newbies. Use a flat xSTUN multiplier instead of a 2nd roll; or better yet, don't use Killing Attacks for the first game or two. Skip all the optional damage rules - except Knockback if playing a supers game, and even then the GM can do all the KB rolling. Have a good character sheet that leaves off all the character creation math, but lists OCV+11 for each attack along with relevant skill levels. Don't pile on a ton of Damage Reduction/Negation, and keep your builds simple. Once mooks go down, they stay down. Ecetera. Pare it down, and Hero plays as quickly or quicker than most D&D/PF games I've been in.

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

So I probably go a tad overboard with this, but I'm convinced that good GM prep is the key to running Hero combat without it getting bogged down.

  1. I have a one-page printout for that scenario's NPCs, with all their stats, attacks, damage tracks, etc. So rather than shuffling multiple papers, everything's on one page. (Of course this was easier to read before Physical Complication: Middle-Aged Eyes kicked in.)
  2. I have a corresponding page for the PCs.
  3. On my laptop, I have Hero Designer open, in case I need to look up some more detailed information about exactly how I built this power of that defense.
  4. Also on my laptop, I keep an Excel spreadsheet of the Speed Chart, with each character's actions plotted out by SPD & DEX. You'd be amazed how much it speeds up combat if you don't have to do the "OK, who goes on Phase 4? What's your DEX?" dance every Phase.
  5. I've also started having my iPad available for passing around maps, pictures, documents to the PCs, tho that's not really a combat thing.
  6. Lots of soda. Obviously.

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I made a parking garage (now somewhat worse for wear after some mooks got put through it), and a skyscraper out of foam core.

 

I also got some extra counters from the excellent card game Heroes of the Multiverse, which I used to track END, and my homie used to track the points put into his character's absorption power. Our new player used them to track STUN & BOD. 

 

I enjoyed having them around.

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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 "Do you have a couple character sheets for characters I'm already familiar with that I could see for comparison?"

 

That loud smacking sound you heard was me & my forehead. Yes. Yes I do. And no, I don't know why that never occurred to me before!

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I am not the most experienced GM when it comes to introducing players, but I found Heroic Talents to be easier than trying to make powers by scratch.  I run a heroic level Pulp/steampunk  game and even when I design the Heroic talents myself it decreases the amount of frustration for the first time player.  Pulp Hero , Dark Champions and the Widening Gyre have lists of pre-generated abilities.  I use 5th edition and have designed a few extra Heroic Talents myself.  Use the lists or talk to your players and write up powers for them. Then let them work out the skills and other abilities. It is the creation of unique powers that complicates matters more than any other part of the character generation system.  When the player is ready to write up something more difficult you can teach them how.

 

I am also working on an easier to understand character sheet, with combat necessitates on one side and noncombat on the other.  I'm also looking for ways to cut out the character generation artifacts from the  descriptions.  I'll keep the Hero Designer files for reference.

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So I probably go a tad overboard with this, but I'm convinced that good GM prep is the key to running Hero combat without it getting bogged down.

  • I have a one-page printout for that scenario's NPCs, with all their stats, attacks, damage tracks, etc. So rather than shuffling multiple papers, everything's on one page. (Of course this was easier to read before Physical Complication: Middle-Aged Eyes kicked in.)
  • I have a corresponding page for the PCs.
  • On my laptop, I have Hero Designer open, in case I need to look up some more detailed information about exactly how I built this power of that defense.
  • Also on my laptop, I keep an Excel spreadsheet of the Speed Chart, with each character's actions plotted out by SPD & DEX. You'd be amazed how much it speeds up combat if you don't have to do the "OK, who goes on Phase 4? What's your DEX?" dance every Phase.
  • I've also started having my iPad available for passing around maps, pictures, documents to the PCs, tho that's not really a combat thing.
  • Lots of soda. Obviously.

I found the more organized I am, the easier I run the game because im more relaxed and confident.

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I've taught a lot of people to play hero system, having started up no less than 5 groups over the years, plus converted a number of fellow GMs over to Hero. I've also successfully run Con games. The players in those have ranged from a few people with some Hero experience to people who had never played an RPG before, not even on the computer. The games I've run tend toward epic fantasy games (epic in the sense that they run for 4-5 years real time, not that they involved earth-shatteringly powerful characters), but I have also run shorter games: fantasy, pulp, WH40K, horror and the occasional supers game. I even ran a short, but popular fantasy supers campaign, based very, very loosely on Nine Princes in Amber, and most recently a game (detailed here http://www.herogames.com/forums/topic/88214-impromptu-hero-old-school-adventures-with-indie-style/?do=findComment&comment=2335876) where a bunch of Hero noobies generated new characters from scratch and played a full game, all in the course of a single evening.

 

I have found the following guidelines to be indispensible.

 

1) As GM, you have to be prepared to do the heavy lifting initially. That includes character generation and combat during play. The character generation pathway for new (or even experienced) players always starts with me explaining what kind of game I am going to run and then discussing what kind of character the player wants to play, so that we get something that fits. I also try to get the player to give me a reason their PC will become an adventurer. I use example characters a lot as illustrations - normally using cinematic or fantasy characters that the player knows as an example, rather than a character sheet. Only once we have a general archetype and rough background do I even begin to consider mechanics and with new players I build the character, with as much input as I can get. There is also an explicit agreement with the player that the design can be tweaked during the first few sessions, so it perfoms the way they want.

 

2) It is far easier, for everyone involved, to start with lower points totals and fairly simple constructs. I typically start fantasy games at 75 points (50 + 25 disad.s) and supers games at 250 points.

 

3) This should be self-evident, but if you want to hook your players you have to have a good game. If you are starting with players who have little or no RPG experience (especially adults), sending them into a hole in the ground to slaughter and loot random monsters simply may not cut it. I like to try and hook the players' interest in the story, rather than  worrying about the game mechanics initially. I find that mysteries or specific tasks (deliver the Mcguffin to the NPC, find out what happened to a missing person, etc) work well for this. The last campaign I ran started with all the PCs coming to a small town to compete in a series of games at a festival, and then solve a murder mystery that occurred during the festival. That let me highlight the mechanics of play in an environment that was unlikely to kill anyone off, while planting the seeds for the subsequent story arc. The campaign before that started with an assignment to find a a missing person and a lot of strangely unhelpful villagers. The one before that started with a lethal jack-in-the box and a rain of fishes ...

 

4) Ideally, mechanics should be transparent or invisible to players, unless they actually want them. To that end, I like to keep character sheets as simple as possible (the example linked to above was kind of an extreme in this regard) . This also means more heavy lifting for the GM. You really need to be able to adjudicate combat and skill use on the fly. I can totally identify with the players who want fantasy combat to be fast furious and easy to play. With Hero system and a good GM, it both can be and (IMO) should be. I play regularly in a Pathfinder group and can guarantee you that fantasy hero combat in my game runs faster and more fluidly. Partly that's because there are fewer temporary modifiers to track  in Hero system, but largely it's because I don't require players to deal with the minutae of combat - they can tell me what to do in plain language and I handle the mechanics, with some feedback like "You're really going to have to run as fast as you can to hit him over there - that's going to make it hard to land a hit". As time goes on, those who are interested get the mechanics, so they can do their calculations themselves, those who don't want it don't need it. They know what a haymaker or a moveby means in combat, so they can use it, even if they can't calculate it themselves. To make life easier on myself and the players I have simplified combat a bit, but nothing drastic.

 

5) Actually, I don't think there is a point 5. That's basically it.

 

cheers, Mark

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I am also working on an easier to understand character sheet, with combat necessitates on one side and noncombat on the other.  I'm also looking for ways to cut out the character generation artifacts from the  descriptions.  I'll keep the Hero Designer files for reference.

I'm on record as wishing for an export template that includes just the names and notes. Of course, that would mean I'd have to make good notes.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary likes notes, as long as they're not notes of classical music.

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I'm on record as wishing for an export template that includes just the names and notes. Of course, that would mean I'd have to make good notes.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary likes notes, as long as they're not notes of classical music.

 

This is about as close as I've seen:

http://www.herogames.com/forums/files/file/141-6e-no-points-shown-export-format-default-style/

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But that exports to HTML not to a text document, doesn't it?

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary agrees that would be pointless

 

Yes.

It also still shows points on Equipment, Characteristics built as Powers and Naked Advantages.

 

I've attached a few examples for comparison.

 

John Wick 6e no points.HTML

John Wick 6e.HTML

John Wick 6e.TXT

 

I still like the middle one the best since it puts all the Real Costs on the RIGHT column of the character sheet.

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